As Kevin sat intently in front of the old 19 inch Zenith television set with 'rabbit ears' and poor reception, his mother watched her little seven year boy move almost theatrically as he cheered Lassie on. "Go get 'em girl, go get 'em!" He'd look forward to each episode as Lassie would save the day on each and every airing of this show. His mother had memorized Kevin's question as it was sure to follow at the end of every episode of "Lassie." As usual, he quickly spun around while sitting 'Indian Style' on the floor and asked,
"Mom?, Can I have a Lassie dog? Please mom!?" As she gazed into his eager eyes she replied,
"Honey, I'd love to give you a dog like Lassie, but I've said it before--dogs like Lassie like to be outside and run." Desperately trying to convince him she added, "Kevin, I have told you over and over again that our yard is too small for a Lassie dog!" Kevin appeared pensive for a moment and then excitingly exclaimed,
"I have an idea mom! I'll teach the Lassie dog to stay by me all of the time so she won't get lost or hurt!"
"That's a really neat idea sweetheart, but Lassie is what's known as a Collie and you can't teach a Collie to stay by your side all of the time because they're outside dogs and I'm afraid your Lassie dog would run away. Do you understand what I'm saying honey?" Kevin looked down and was clearly disappointed by what he felt was his last ditch effort to gain his mother's favor as it would relate to his getting his youthful mind's hero--a dog and friend like Lassie.
Months passed and Kevin stopped asking his mother whether or not he could get a dog like Lassie. She noticed his increasing quietness and sadness with each passing episode and thought back to her childhood. Her parents surprised her one Christmas with a little scroungy mutt that she adored. She got this ugly little dog that Christmas when she was about her son's age and the guilt of not allowing Kevin to have a dog to be his best friend finally got to her.
One afternoon after yet another episode of "Lassie", she decided, right or wrong, to give in to Kevin's earlier repeated desire to have a dog of his own.
"Kevin?", she asked, "How about us going down to the dog pound today and getting you a dog? The dog won't be as pretty as Lassie, but I know we can find a dog that you'd love." Kevin's eyes lit up like a 100 watt bulb with no lamp shade as he exclaimed,
"Really mom?! Yes, I don't care anymore about getting a Lassie dog! Can we go now?", he enthusiastically asked.
"We sure can honey! Put your shoes on and let's go on down to the dog pound and find you the perfect dog!" Kevin jumped up and hurriedly put his shoes on and headed directly to the car. Upon arriving at the dog pound, she asked the old man who ran the shelter which dog out of all of the dogs there would be the most loyal and well trained dog for her eager little boy. Without a moment's pause, the man replied,
"Oh, that's an easy question to answer. Follow me back and I'll show you the perfect dog for your son." Kevin and his mother followed the old man back to the last cage on the right. "There she is ma'am. This would be the dog I'd choose and I'd already have her myself but we have a half-dozen dogs at home and just don't have room for "Fire." " She was taken back as she looked at this homely dog with little hair as the mutt looked like she had been badly burned. After she got over the initial shock of such a sight, she asked,
"Has this dog been burned and are you sure this would be the right dog for Kevin?" The old man looked at Kevin and noticed his eyes were misting with tears.
"Oh I'd bet my life on it ma'am!", he confidently replied. "Ma'am?", he inquired, "Did you not hear about the dog that laid on top of the little girl during the forest fire up on Red Bird Mountain? This was the dog that they featured in the local paper. This rascal saved the little girl's life and just about lost her own by covering that little girl with her body!" She answered,
"Well of course I did! Are you telling me that this is that dog?"
"Yes, it sure is. No one has taken her because of how she looks and I should have put her to sleep but it's hard to end a life that saved one!", he somberly replied.
"Do you want this dog Kevin? Sounds like you'd have yourself a hero like Lassie if we brought her home." Kevin's eyes had full-blown tears in them now.
"I want her mom! Can we take her back with us?" She quickly glanced at the old man who was moved to tears himself at this point.
"She's ours sweetheart." They took "Fire" home and she never left Kevin's side and was his constant companion--never once even attempting to leave the yard or run out of the gate if mistakenly left open. Every night Kevin would say his prayers when his mother would tuck him in and he never failed to pray that "Fire" would be healed and get her hair back.
After about five weeks, Kevin's constant prayers were obviously being answered as the once terribly misfigured mutt's hair rapidly began to grow back. Perhaps it was Kevin and his mother's imagination, but the more "Fire's" hair grew back, the more she resembled Lassie.
Kevin's mother decided to call the old man at the dog pound as her curiosity was overwhelmingly piqued.
"Hello," the old man responded on the other end of the phone, "Corbin County dog pound. My name is Joe and how can we help you today?"
"Hi Joe, I came in a month or so ago with my son and we got the dog you named "Fire."
"Yes ma'am, he replied happily, "I'm glad you called... been wondering how old "Fire" has been doing. How can I help you?" She took a deep breath and asked,
"Well Joe, I'm curious about just one thing and thought you might know the answer. What kind of mutt is 'Fire'?"
The old man softly chuckled before replying. "Ma'am", 'Fire' isn't a mutt."
Confused she continued, "If she's not a mutt, what kind of dog is she?"
He chuckled again and replied, "Fire's momma' and daddy are both show dogs. 'Fire' is a full-bred Collie."
"The smallest goal achieved stands taller than the grandest intention.
Do whatever your heart leads you to do--but do it."