(Photo of Cameron Castro)


Puppy Love

I am a three-month-old golden retriever.  I am a very young puppy. I currently live in an alley behind a local store in Minnesota.  One month ago, my family was taken into a shelter by the local animal control. My mom noticed the animal control guy and told me to run as far and as fast as I could.  I did what my mom told me to do and when I finally looked back, nobody was there. The animal control worker captured my entire family. I was now alone. I had no food, no water, and nowhere to sleep. I was determined to find my family, so I still had hope.  Every day I would search the city looking for my family. I made sure that I was careful when I was out and about, so people wouldnÕt notice me. People were very scary to me, since they had taken my entire family away from me in a blink of an eye.

It is been four months since IÕve seen my family.  I am starting to lose hope of ever finding them again.  I have made a home by sleeping in a cardboard box and I get most of my food from a big bin outside of a local store.  I think a person knows IÕm out there because I have noticed that there has been a plate with food outside the store for the past two days.  I am thankful for the food, but still very suspicious of the workers. I got used to my life and it seemed pretty good because I had food, a place to sleep, and I would stay away from the people so they couldnÕt take me away.  One morning, when I awoke it was raining. I had never seen rain before and didnÕt understand why I was getting wet and where it was coming from. It gave me a cool feeling that I didnÕt necessarily like, but it made these water puddles in the street and mud puddles in the dirt that were very fun to play and run around in.   I got so distracted by the puddles that I didnÕt realize a person was staring right at me. I stopped playing immediately and was frozen in shock. A man started to walk directly towards me. Still frozen with terror, I just stood there and watched him walk closer and closer to me. He held his hand out in front of him. I wasnÕt sure why, but then I smelled something delicious, so I walk towards him to find out what it was.  Once I got close enough, he reached down to grab me and picked me up. I struggled and tried to run away, but he spoke to me in the kindest softest voice that made me calm down, ÒItÕs okay, donÕt worry. I am just trying to help you.Ó I was very scared, but I trusted that he wouldnÕt do anything mean to me. The man took me all the way to his house. I looked around this unfamiliar place and wasnÕt sure what to do. The man made me a bed with soft pillow and gave me food and water in these bowls that were on the floor.   I decided this place wasnÕt so bad and I could get used to this lifestyle. The next day the man took me out of the house and put this string around my neck. I did not like this at all. I tried to get out of it, but I was unable to and eventually just walked with the man beside me. He would do this every day and I liked walking around to smell the scents of the streets and neighborhood. One day he took me into this big building. I was very hesitant of this new place. It smelled weird and good all at the same time. The man held me and rubbed my back to help me feel better.  I was very nervous. We were now inside the building and I could see other animals and wasnÕt sure what to think. I wanted to see the other dogs and see if any of them were my family, but I never got the chance because we went into a special room. I was sitting in the room and wondered if I was going to be able to see the other dogs, but no other dogs came into the room. When the door finally opened I was disappointed that it was a person. This person that came in was wearing a white coat and was very excited to meet me. She was touching me and the man and the lady started to talk.  The man introduced himself as Bruno to the lady. The lady took me into a room and had me step on this metal thing that gave her a number. She then looked in my ears and at my teeth. She seemed very curious about every part of me. She wasnÕt hurting me, so I let her touch me and move me around. She was talking to Bruno and they seemed to agree on something in regards to me. The next thing I know, the lady was coming at me with a sharp pointy thing. She poked me in the back of the neck. It hurt at first and then it seemed to make me feel very sleepy. Bruno left the room and I feel asleep in the back room with the lady.   When I woke up, I had a pain in my belly and this plastic cone thing around my neck. I was scared, but Bruno was right there for me and made me feel more relaxed. On the way back to BrunoÕs house we stopped at another building. This building was more crowded with people than the other one. I also saw a lot of dogs too, but it had a lot of other animals that IÕve never seen before. There were these colorful things in water, furry things in cages, and many other creatures. Bruno grabbed this big bag of something that smelled pretty good. He also grabbed this squeaky thing that caught my attention and I liked the sound of it.  He then went up and used this weird machine. Bruno said, ÒI think IÕm going to call you Cinna.Ó The word Cinna came out on this tag. Bruno then added the tag to this thing that went around my neck. I liked the sound that it made so I didnÕt mind having it there. Bruno then scratched my head and behind my ears. That was the best feeling ever. I kind of enjoyed having Bruno in my life. 

The next morning Bruno walked towards the door, so I went too. This is what he usually does when he put the rope around my neck and walks me around.  When I got to the door Bruno said, ÒNo. Stay. I will be right back.Ó I did not understand what was happening as I sat and watched him drive away through the window.  I got so sad and scared. I was not sure if he had left me there or if he was ever coming back. I remembered when my family left and wondered if Bruno was leaving me too and I would have to start all over again.   I was not able to get outside, so I decided to take a nap in my bed. 

While I was sleeping someone walked up to the door. The sound of the doorknob turning woke me up, so I ran to the door.  I thought it was Bruno coming back for me, when I realized that this person didnÕt smell like Bruno and he was wearing something over his face so he was hard to see.  He grabbed me out of the house and put me in his car and drove away. As soon as we got in the car the man started talking on the phone. I did not know what was happening.  The only thing that I could hear was that his name was Jacob and he told the person on the phone that he had the puppy. I was upset thinking that I was never going to see Bruno again.  He was the only person I trusted and that was nice to me. I hoped that Bruno would look for me, so as we were driving I would try to leave clues for Bruno to find me. The first thing I threw was my favorite chew toy that I had in my mouth when Jacob took me.  After some time passed, I managed to get my collar off, and threw that out the window as well. I watched as my collar flew out the window and I had a flashback to when I got it. I was happy and protected and taken care of by Bruno. Oh how much I missed him. I looked around the car for something else to throw out the window. Glancing around the back seat of the car, my eyes stopped on pieces of paper.  I didnÕt know what was on the paper, but there were a lot of other papers just like it. I decided that was going out the window next. I had thrown them out the window and a short while later the car came to a stop. The car stopped in front of a building. It was the biggest building I had ever seen. Jacob picked me up and carried me all the way to the door. I was wiggling and trying to get away from him, but wasnÕt able to escape Jacob.  When we walked in the building, I couldnÕt believe my eyes. 

    This building was so big and it was scary.  There were all these noises coming from the back of the building that sounded like other dogs.  We walked all the way to the back door, which was covered by a thick piece of wood. As we went through the door, I couldnÕt believe my eyes.  There were thousands of dogs trapped in metal cages. Jacob dragged me to an empty cage, and threw me into it. I landed right on my back, and let out a yelp due to the shock and pain of the cage.  Jacob gave me a smirk and if I was outside of the cage, I would have bitten him so hard. I was angry and scared. I wondered if Bruno noticed I was gone and if he was looking for me. 

    I was getting worried.  I had been in this cage for what seemed like forever and wondered what was going to happen to all of us dogs stuck in these cages.  I was still holding on to the hope that Bruno would come looking for me and take me back to his house where I felt safe. 

I overheard Jacob talking on the phone about taking us on a plane and going to somewhere he called Mexico.  I didnÕt know where that was, but it sounded far away and I didnÕt like this new lifestyle in cages. I much preferred Bruno's house and wanted to get back there as soon as possible.  I felt like I was never going to see Bruno again. 

The next day Jacob came in and started to load all of the dogs and their metal cages into a van that had no windows.  He took me and nineteen other dogs to this big airplane that was right outside the big building that we were in. He stacked us up one by one until the whole plane was full of dogs in metal cages.  I gave up all hope of ever seeing Bruno again. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a car driving super fast towards the airplane with two other cars right behind it. The cars had flashing lights on the top of them and they had a sound coming from them.  The people stopped the cars and ran towards Jacob. As they got closer, I realized that it was Bruno and two police officers. I got so excited that I almost caused all of the cages to fall and crash onto one another. I was so excited to see him and thankful that he didnÕt abandon me after all.  Jacob saw the police officers coming and ran toward the front of the plane. He was trying to start the plane and take off. I wanted Bruno to run faster, but I didnÕt think that he could. I was hoping that Jacob didnÕt have enough time to get away. The police officer said, ÒPut the gun down and place your hands on your head kid.Ó  

ÒThe name's Jacob,Ó retorted Jacob. Jacob brought the gun up and had it pointed at the police officer. Bruno said, ÒYou donÕt need to do this, so why are you doing it.Ó

ÒI needed some extra money and this is the only way. What are you going to do to me?Ó Jacob responded.

ÒThatÕs for the judge to decide,Ó said the cop.

 In all the excitement, I started to realize that I could move my cage, and break it open to escape.  I did and was able to help the other dogs do the same thing. I was listening for any sign of Bruno, but all that I could hear was yelling. I went outside of the airplane and noticed that Jacob was standing holding a gun up to Bruno and the police officers. Out of instinct all of us ran out of the back of the airplane and ran directly toward Jacob. Once we ran out there was no going back. I ran as fast as I could so Jacob would not have any time to react to our attack.  I heard Bruno yell for me and I wanted to go to him, but I was so consumed by anger that I wanted to stop Jacob even more. I charged towards Jacob because he locked us up and he was threatening the only person who ever loved me and I couldnÕt stand that. I looked back to see if Bruno was okay, then I heard a loud BANGÉ

            I see my mom.  We are in a huge park with everything I could imagine in it.  It is a park that seems to go on forever. It has big trees, with a whole field of flowers.  They are a bright yellow. It is the most beautiful place that I have ever seen. All of my brothers and sisters are there too.  They all come running out of the flowers one by one. We play for hours and hours. I never get tired, nor do I ever want to stop.  All that I want to do is spend time with my family. After what seems like forever I ask my mom where we are. She replies with a calm voice and says, ÒWe are in a better place.Ó 

© Cameron Castro

Bio:  Cameron is referred to as a pool rat. He spends more time at the pool than he does at his own home. However, the little time he does spend at home he is working on his writing.  Cameron hopes that his writing can give others an out of body experience they wouldnÕt get in everyday life. Whether he is teaching local kids to swim or connecting with people through literature, Cameron is always making a positive contribution to his society.