Towpath, Washington, D.C.

My name is Towpath. I am a happy dog.

When I am out walking with my family persons, other persons sometimes look at me and they smile. They smile because I wiggle a lot when I meet them, and I lick their faces when they lean over.

They look at my pink and brown markings that are all over my belly and my side and my bottom. Some persons think they are nice and pretty. They say, ‘Those are pretty markings. What kind of markings are they?’ And my family persons tell them, ‘They are burns.’

Sometimes the other persons get angry. They say they would like to hurt the persons who did that to me. But then they stop being angry. They say ‘He sure seems like a happy dog.’

They say that because I am always wiggling my bottom and shaking my little tail. I used to have a bigger tail. It was long and pointed. Then it got burned. So my doctor persons cut it off. It was cut off when I was four months old, when I was little.

That was almost three years ago. I like my new little tail. And I like my new family persons. I am a happy dog.

I used to be sad. I was sad after I was burned, and then I was all by myself on a strange road near the woods. I didn’t have any friends and I didn’t know where to go.

I walked through the woods. I was thirsty. There was a big river really close, but I couldn’t walk any more. My burns hurt too much.

Then a person came running up to me. He didn’t kick me or yell at me. He looked at me and said nice things to me and picked me up.

He carried me through the woods and made a bed for me in the grass beside the road. He sat with me and said more nice things to me. The flies wanted to bite my sores, but he wouldn’t let them.

Then a car came. The person who found me lifted me up and we got inside. There was another person inside. She said nice things to me too. I wanted them to be my new family persons.

We went to a place where it was cool inside. There were dogs and cats and other persons there. Some of the dogs and cats looked sad and afraid. It was a dog and cat hospital. We went into a little room, and the persons who lived in the hospital came and said more nice things to me.

They put me on a table and looked at my belly and my sides and my bottom. That’s where my burns were. They looked in my eyes and my ears. They listened to my heart. They put a needle in my leg and took out some of my blood. After they looked at my blood, they told my new family persons that I was dying.

My new persons were sad. They hugged me. They said more nice things to me. But they were sad. And then they left.

That night the persons who lived in the hospital put more needles in me, and it stopped hurting so bad. And then they put me in a cage, and they left. I was afraid. But then I fell asleep.

In the morning the persons who put me in the cage came and opened my cage. They were surprised and happy. I was not dead.

They brought me out of the cage and put some pills in my mouth and I felt better again. They put a bowl around my neck so I could not lick my sores. And then my new family persons came back. They were happy too.

They called me Towpath. That is where they found me when I was all alone. They carried me to their car, and we all went to their home.

When we got there they put me on a soft bed. They said it was my own special bed. They put some pills in my mouth, and I went to sleep. When I woke up, my new family persons were still there.

They sat by my bed all the time. They gave me water and food. They gave me pills when I could not stop crying.

I could not walk very far so when I had to go to the bathroom they had to carry me to the bathroom. I could not walk very far because my burns hurt too much. I wanted to lick my sores, but I couldn’t because there was a bowl around my neck.

Each day they sat next to my bed. Sometimes when I did not want any more water or food, they would just look at me and talk to me. And then they would hug me.

After a few days, my burns did not get better. They started hurting more. My red marks got bigger. My new family persons took me back to the hospital. The hospital persons were afraid when they saw how big my sores were. They said some of my skin was dying, and if they did not cut it off, the rest of me would die too.

My family persons were really afraid. They hugged me. They said, ‘Don’t worry, Towpath, we will come back.’ The hospital persons gave me a shot, and I went to sleep.

My family persons went home and they were sad. They didn’t know what to do.

So they told all their friends about me, and showed them my picture, and asked them to think nice things about me. All their friends told all their other friends. And pretty soon there was a whole lot of persons who liked me and wanted to be my friend.

When I woke up I had a big blue bandage around my whole body. And my tail was really short. I was really sleepy. But when I stopped being sleepy, my burns started to hurt again. So the persons at the hospital made me sleepy again.

Almost every day I had to come back to the hospital to get another bandage. The burns hurt a lot. I couldn’t help it. I cried.

My family persons tried to make me feel better. They hugged me and gave me more pills, but the pills didn’t work any more. When I was crying and couldn’t sleep, they lay down next to me and held me. Sometimes they held me all night until it was morning.

They were worried that I would never get better. They were afraid because my burns hurt so much, and they could not stop them from hurting.

I thought they might leave me alone like my old family persons did. But my new persons did not leave me. Some of my new friends came to visit me and gave me new toys to chew on. And some of my other new friends who lived far away sent me letters. They said they hoped I got better.

The hugs and the toys and the letters started to make me feel happy again.

And I started getting better! At first I started walking in the garden. Sometimes I bumped into things and fell down. But I didn’t care. I liked walking in the garden and smelling all the flowers, and smelling the places where the deer were.

At first I was afraid to walk down the stairs, but then one day I tried it, and even though I was afraid and I cried and it took a long time, I did it! And my persons were so happy.

After a while my burns stopped hurting and I did not need bandages any more. I met lots of new dog friends who liked to play with me. Some of my person friends liked me so much they took pictures of me and put them on magazines where lots of other persons could see me and like me.

Then some of my other person friends took another picture of me and my family persons, and put the picture on posters in a big city where everybody could see them, and then everybody could see how nice we are, so they would not hurt their dogs and leave them all alone like me.

I am all better now. My person who found me takes me for long walks along the river where he found me. I like to splash in the water and run as fast as I can in the sand! We meet lots of other persons who want to meet me too. Some of them even know my name! They say, ‘Is that Towpath?’ 🙂

Some of them don’t know me. They ask about my markings. And my person tells them about my markings. And then they are sad. But then I wiggle my bottom and lick their faces when they lean over. And then they are happy.

I am a happy dog.


Parent: Will