A Dog’s Life

The story of Beau­ti­ful Joe

Kayak (Canada) - - CONTENTS - Il­lus­trated by Har­mony Bark­man • Writ­ten by Allyson Gul­liver


The odd-look­ing dog gazed up at the un­fa­mil­iar lady who was stand­ing inside the front door and care­fully re­mov­ing her long gloves. She seemed very nice, but per­haps she would think him ugly, as so many peo­ple did. “You must be Joe,” Mar­garet said, a friendly smile on her face. “I’ve heard so much about you!” And to the dog’s de­light, she bent down and scratched him on the back of his head, in his most favourite, hardto-reach spot. Heav­enly! She didn’t seem to mind his clipped ears and his miss­ing tail one bit. “I see you’ve met Beau­ti­ful Joe,” her brother said as he set down her suit­cases. “What do you think?” The woman smiled. “He’s every bit as nice as your letter said he would be. But he’s not quite what I ex­pected when you men­tioned his name. Why did you call him that?” “It was my idea, re­ally,” said an­other young woman who came into the room car­ry­ing a tray of tea things. “The poor fel­low had been through so much, and we could just tell he was em­bar­rassed about how he looked.” Robert smiled. “You do imag­ine things, Louise. I prob­a­bly would have just called him Joe.” “Oh, but he is beau­ti­ful!” Mar­garet cried. “You can see it in his eyes, how much he loves your fam­ily, Louise.” “What I will never un­der­stand is how that man could be so cruel to cut off his ears and tail like that,” Louise said. “An­i­mals are ours to care for, not to harm.” “Lucky for Joe that your fa­ther saw what was hap­pen­ing,” Mar­garet replied. “I bet he gave that man a thrash­ing he’ll never for­get!” Louise smiled at Beau­ti­ful Joe. “I just hope when the judge scolded that farmer for his cru­elty to Joe and his other an­i­mals that it sank in, but with some­one like that, you never know. The in­spec­tors who went out

to his farm were shocked at the state of the horses and cows, too, but they went to bet­ter homes.” “Even if Joe could have cho­sen for him­self, he couldn’t pos­si­bly have picked a nicer home than yours,” Mar­garet said. Turn­ing to her brother, she added with a saucy grin, “I think that also means they’ll treat you well af­ter you marry Louise, too, Robert. Al­most as well as Beau­ti­ful Joe!” The three of them laughed, but the dog didn’t hear a word. He was fast asleep by the fire. Mar­garet gazed down at the con­tented dog who had been saved by the Moore fam­ily. “Such a story you have to tell, Joe. If only some­one could write it for you . . . ”

HAL­I­FAX, N.S., 1893

Mar­garet stared at the letter on the ta­ble. She’d been star­ing at it for 20 min­utes, ever since it had dropped through the mail slot in the front door. She just couldn’t bring her­self to open it. She took a deep breath and picked up the en­ve­lope. “Dear Mr. Saun­ders,” the letter be­gan. Mr. Saun­ders? Of course — she had used her mid­dle and last names, Mar­shall Saun­ders. The con­test judges had thought she was a man, just as she’d in­tended. For the mil­lionth time, she sighed and won­dered why women weren’t taken se­ri­ously as writ­ers. Well, as any­thing, re­ally.

The Amer­i­can Hu­mane So­ci­ety is pleased to award you first prize in its story con­test for your en­try ‘Beau­ti­ful Joe.’ It awak­ens an in­tense in­ter­est, and sus­tains it through a se­ries of vivid in­ci­dents and episodes, each of which is a les­son. When I read the story, I felt that it was a stream of sym­pa­thy that flowed from the heart. The story speaks not for the dog alone, but for the whole an­i­mal king­dom. Con­grat­u­la­tions and best wishes, Hezekiah But­ter­worth.

“Good heav­ens, Mar­garet — you look like you’ve seen a ghost!” Robert said, see­ing the stunned ex­pres­sion on his sis­ter’s face. “I won! My story won!” Mar­garet said. “No,” she cor­rected her­self, “Beau­ti­ful Joe’s story won. I just wrote it down. What’s more, they want to make it into a book.” “That’s won­der­ful news!” Robert said with a grin. “Louise will be so happy!” He pulled Mar­garet out of her chair and danced her around the kitchen as they both laughed. “Three cheers for Mar­shall Saun­ders!” he cried. “And three cheers for Beau­ti­ful Joe!” K

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