Last week we announced that Billi Tiner’s The Rescue Team is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of our student reviews and of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category:
Now we’re back to offer a free Kids Corner excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded this one already, you’re in for a treat!
by Billi Tiner
And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
Ellie gazed vacantly through the chain-link fence that spanned the front of her pen. The hot sun beat down on the tin roof covering the pen heating it up like a brick oven. The excessive heat caused Ellie to pant while she lay there staring out into the yard separating the row of dog pens from the building housing the cats.
Ellie, a one year old Border Collie, was all black except for a white stripe running down the middle of her face that expanded across her muzzle and into a collar around her neck. She also had four white stockings. Soft, brown, intelligent eyes rested on the bridge of her long muzzle. Ellie’s ears stood erect on the top of her head giving her an alert appearance.
Why am I here? Ellie asked herself for what must be the one hundredth time since being brought to the animal shelter. Ellie remembered vividly the worst day of her life. On that day, two weeks ago, Ellie’s owners, Tom and Janet, loaded her into their car. Ellie felt elated. She loved going places with Tom and Janet. She jumped into the car with her normal amount of enthusiasm. As soon as she settled herself into the back seat, she sensed that something wasn’t right. She could feel the tension in the air. Tom and Janet usually talked to her about how much fun they were about to have, but this time they were silent as they drove.
When they brought her inside the Colton County Animal Shelter, Ellie felt a cold fear begin to grip her heart. Ellie sat numbed by shock while Tom and Janet explained to the shelter worker why they were leaving her with them. They explained that Janet was pregnant with their first child and they would not have time for Ellie once the baby was born. The shelter worker tried to convince Tom and Janet to at least wait until the baby was born before making their decision. But Tom and Janet told the worker that their minds were made up and they weren’t going to change them.
Ellie could not believe what she was hearing. She loved children and had been overwhelmed with happiness at the thought of having a baby in the house. She couldn’t believe that Tom and Janet were going to leave her at the shelter. Ellie tried to think about what she had done to make them think she would not be good with the baby, but she was at a loss.
Now, two weeks later, Ellie still couldn’t understand why she was at the shelter. For the first few days, her heart had been filled with the hope that Tom and Janet would change their minds and return for her. But as the days passed, the hope had been replaced with sadness. She finally came to the realization that they were never coming back for her.
During the last two weeks, a few people had shown interest in adopting Ellie, but in the end they had settled on other dogs. Most people were interested in puppies or small breed dogs. They did not want a middle sized, older dog. At first, Ellie tried to get the attention of the people passing by her pen by running up to the fence, giving a bark, and wagging her tail enthusiastically. But her efforts had not gotten anyone to agree to take her home. Now when people stopped at her pen, she just looked past them out into the yard waiting for them to reject her and move on to someone else.
As Ellie sat lost in her thoughts, she heard a soft female voice say, “Well, hello there, beautiful. Aren’t you a pretty thing?”
Ellie turned her head and looked at the person who had spoken to her. A petite woman knelt in front of Ellie’s pen. Short, curly, brown hair framed an open, friendly face. Large round glasses sat on the bridge of the woman’s nose. Feeling drawn to the woman, Ellie stood and moved toward the front of her pen.
“That’s it, girl,” said the woman as Ellie moved toward her. “Come here and let me get a better look at you. My name is Anne, and the card on your pen says that you are Ellie. How are you doing today, Ellie?”
Ellie cautiously walked up to the front of her pen. She sat down and looked straight into Anne’s eyes. Anne gazed steadily back at her through eyes that were as blue as a clear summer sky. Ellie could see kindness and understanding shimmering in the depths of those eyes. Ellie felt a peacefulness creep into her soul as the two sat looking at each other for several moments.
Finally, Anne smiled and turned to get the attention of one of the shelter workers working in the yard. As one of the workers passed by Anne said, “Excuse me.” The worker turned toward Anne. After gaining the worker’s attention, Anne said, “I would like to take Ellie for a walk.”
“Sure,” responded the worker. “Let me just go and get a leash.”
Anne turned back to Ellie. “What do you say, girl? Does a walk sound good to you?”
Ellie felt a rush of happiness and began thumping her tail in response to Anne’s question. Anne let out a soft laugh and said, “Well, okay, then. Let’s go for a walk.”
The shelter worker returned and handed Anne a leash. Anne unlatched the gate on Ellie’s pen and stepped inside. She gently placed the leash around Ellie’s neck and led her out into the yard. It was the first time Ellie had been out of her pen since she had arrived. It felt great to finally be able to stretch her legs.
Anne led Ellie down a short dirt pathway to a small enclosure. As soon as they entered the enclosure, Anne removed Ellie’s leash and said, “How about a run?”
Overwhelmed with delight, Ellie let out a bark of happiness and took off running as fast as she could. She ran several loops around the enclosure, enjoying the sensation of the wind blowing across her face as she ran. She loved the feeling of freedom that always accompanied a good run. Ellie could hear Anne’s musical laughter drifting on the breeze as she ran around the enclosure. Finally winded, she slowed to a trot and went to stand in front of Anne.
Anne came down on her knees and asked, “Ellie, would you like to come home with me?”
Ellie felt joy flood her soul. She began to jump and spin in happiness. Anne sat back on her heels and grinning widely said, “I guess that means, yes.”
Ellie stopped spinning and returned Anne’s grin. “Well, don’t you have a pretty smile,” praised Anne. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog smile like that before.”
Ellie pressed her head into Anne’s arm. Anne put her arms around Ellie’s neck and gave her a hug. Then Anne said, “You and I are going to be great friends, Ellie.”
Anne stood and placed the leash back around Ellie’s neck. She walked Ellie to the main building that ran beside the dog pens. They walked inside and addressing the receptionist sitting behind a long counter, Anne said, “I would like to adopt Ellie.”
The receptionist beamed. “Oh, that’s wonderful!” she exclaimed. “We all think Ellie is so sweet. You made a great choice.”
The receptionist asked Anne a series of questions and had her fill out a stack of forms. As Anne signed the last form, the receptionist smiled and said, “That does it. Ellie is all yours.”
Anne bent down and rubbing Ellie’s ear said, “Let’s go home, Ellie.”
Ellie felt a bounce in her step as she walked beside Anne to her car. Anne stopped in front of a bright red sedan and opened the back door. Ellie jumped in and settled herself on the seat. As they traveled down the road toward what was to be her new home, Ellie stared out the window and thought about the abrupt turn her life had just taken. She couldn’t believe that she had been adopted by such a nice person. Ellie knew in her heart that she belonged with Anne.
They drove for several miles and then Anne turned the car down a bumpy gravel road. Ellie could see dust billowing up behind the car as they drove. Finally, after several minutes, Anne pulled to a stop in front of a small yellow house with green shutters. A wide porch covered the front of the house. Ellie could see a porch swing swaying slightly in the breeze. Several baskets filled with brightly colored flowers hung from the porch railing.
Anne climbed out of the car and came around to let Ellie out. “Welcome home, Ellie,” Anne said as she opened the door.
Ellie hopped out of the car and glanced around at her new surroundings. A tall oak tree stood to one side of the front yard providing a large amount of shade. Ellie spotted a squirrel dart up the side of the tree. The sounds of singing birds, chattering squirrels, and buzzing bees drifted along on the breeze.
“Come on, Ellie. Let me show you around the place,” said Anne as she walked up onto the front porch.
Ellie followed Anne up the steps and into the house. They stepped through the doorway and into the living room. Brightly polished wood covered the floor. The walls were painted a pale blue. A faint lemony scent filled the air.
Anne continued through the living room and into a kitchen. She reached into a cabinet and pulled out a metal dog dish. “Are you thirsty?” she asked as she filled the bowl with water.
Anne bent and placed the bowl on the floor in front of Ellie. After she drank her fill, Anne said, “Ready to see the back yard?”
Ellie followed Anne down a hallway that led to the back door. Anne pulled open a brown wooden door, pushed open a screen door, and stepped out onto the back porch. She held the door open for Ellie to follow her out. Wow, thought Ellie at her first look into the yard. It’s beautiful.
Thick green grass covered the ground like a blanket. Vibrantly colored flowers grew in patches spread out around the yard. Two large oak trees loomed up out of the ground marking each back corner. A dense forest lay beyond the edge of the yard.
Ellie glanced up at Anne with a questioning look to get permission to go explore her surroundings. Anne smiled down at her and understanding Ellie’s look said, “Go ahead and take a look around.”
Ellie bounded off the porch and begin to sniff around becoming familiar with the smells of her new yard. Anne sat down on the back porch and seemed content to watch Ellie explore the yard. After Ellie felt as if she had gotten a good sense of the area, she joined Anne on the porch. They sat in silent companionship for several more minutes until finally Anne said, “Well, Ellie, let’s call it a night.”
The next morning, Anne let Ellie out into the back yard while she stayed inside to do some housework. Ellie was exploring the edge of the forest when she heard a small animal scream in pain. Without giving it much thought, Ellie rushed into the thick trees. She strained her ears to listen for any more sounds. Finally, she heard the faint sound of panting coming from somewhere to her right. Ellie turned and hurried toward the sound.
As she moved in the direction of the panting, the metallic scent of blood filled her nostrils. Something must be hurt badly, Ellie thought as she continued to move toward the smell. Suddenly, a frantic rustling sound and several more small screams ripped through the air very near Ellie.
Ellie turned her head toward the sound and spotted a small rabbit struggling frantically against a vine that was wrapped around its hind legs. The rabbit gazed with wide, terror-filled eyes at Ellie as she struggled.
Ellie realized the rabbit was in such a panic because of her. She spoke gently, “Don’t be afraid, little one. I’m not going to hurt you. I want to help.”
The rabbit continued to scream and struggle against the vine. She clearly did not believe that Ellie wasn’t going to hurt her.
“Please calm down, before you hurt yourself even more. I truly mean you no harm. If you just calm down, I will see if I can get that vine off of you,” said Ellie in a quiet, calm voice.
Abruptly, the rabbit stopped struggling and lay there panting heavily. Exhausted from the struggle, the rabbit continued to stare at Ellie as if expecting to be eaten at any moment.
Ellie slowly made her way toward the frightened rabbit. She continued to speak in a low soothing voice as she bent her head toward the vine. Ellie could see the rabbit’s muscles tense up in anticipation of the pain she was certain she was about to feel when Ellie sunk her teeth into her.
Ellie grasped the vine between her teeth and bit down hard. The vine broke and immediately loosened its grip on the rabbit’s legs. The rabbit tried to spring up and run away, but its legs were too damaged by the vine, and it couldn’t get its footing.
“You don’t have to run, little one. I will take you home with me, and Anne will take care of you,” Ellie said softly.
Finally, the rabbit spoke. “Who’s Anne?” she asked with a tremble in her voice.
“Anne is my owner,” answered Ellie. She was very pleased that the rabbit had finally spoken to her.
“You really aren’t going to eat me?” asked the rabbit.
Ellie gave a soft chuckle at the question and said, “I am really not going to eat you. Like I said before, I only want to help you. Now, I’m going to have to pick you up in order to carry you home. Will you let me?”
The rabbit looked deep into Ellie’s eyes and seeing only kindness there answered, “Yes.”
Ellie used her teeth to gently lift the small rabbit by the scruff of her neck. Then she carried the rabbit through the woods toward her house. Ellie knew in her heart Anne would help the hurt little rabbit.
Ellie emerged from the forest as Anne stepped out of the back door onto the porch. Anne watched as Ellie approached. Anne clearly looked curious to learn what Ellie carried in her mouth. When she drew close enough, Anne asked, “What do you have there, girl?”
Ellie came up onto the porch and gently laid the rabbit at Anne’s feet. Anne let out a small gasp and came down on her knees to get a better look at the rabbit. “Oh, you poor little thing,” Anne said sympathetically. “Don’t worry. We will get you fixed-up.”
The rabbit stared nervously up at Anne, but didn’t try to move away.
Anne glanced at Ellie and reached out her hand to rub the top of her head. “Good girl, Ellie,” she praised.
Ellie felt her heart swell with love for Anne. She had known that Anne would help the rabbit.
Anne turned her attention back to the rabbit and said, “Ellie, you wait here with her, while I go get a box for her. Then we will take her to see Dr. McNeil. She will know what to do for her.”
Ellie watched as Anne stood and hurried inside to search for a box. Then the rabbit said, “Thank you for helping me. I am really glad that it was you who came along. I was sure that you were going to eat me.”
Ellie smiled down at the rabbit and said, “Thank you for trusting me. I am glad that I was able to help. I knew Anne would know what to do.”
Just then, Anne returned with a box. She bent and gently lifted the rabbit and placed her in the box. Anne had lined the box with towels to give the rabbit a cushion. Anne said to the rabbit, “Hold on, little one. It is just a short drive to the vet clinic.”
Anne loaded Ellie and the rabbit into the car and headed into town. When they arrived at the veterinary clinic, they were greeted by the large, grey haired woman sitting behind a tall counter. “Hello, Anne,” the woman said. “What do you have there?”
“Hello, Silvia,” answered Anne. “Ellie brought home a hurt rabbit today and we would like Dr. McNeil to take a look at her. I planned to bring Ellie in for Dr. McNeil to examine anyway. I adopted her yesterday from the animal shelter.”
Sylvia chuckled and said, “And she is already bringing you presents.”
Anne laughed in response as Sylvia walked around the counter to greet Ellie. “Hello there, Ellie. Aren’t you a lucky dog? Anne will take excellent care of you.” She bent at the waist to give Ellie’s ears a brisk rub.
Ellie liked Sylvia instantly. She could feel a warm kindness flowing out of Sylvia’s heart. Ellie wagged her tail to return Sylvia’s greeting.
Just then, a door off to the side of the room opened and a short woman with a mass of bright red hair stepped into the room. A smile lit the woman’s face as she spotted Anne. “Anne,” greeted the woman warmly. “It’s great to see you. Is this your newest addition?”
“Hello, Dr. McNeil,” returned Anne. “And yes, this is Ellie. I adopted her yesterday, but she isn’t the only reason I’m here. Ellie brought me a hurt rabbit this morning,” Anne said as she gestured toward the box sitting on the counter.
“Well, let’s take a look,” said Dr. McNeil as she moved to lift the box off the counter. Anne and Ellie followed Dr. McNeil into an exam room.
Ellie watched as Dr. McNeil gently examined the rabbit. Dr. McNeil told Anne the rabbit would be okay with a few days rest and some medication for the cuts on her legs. Dr. McNeil assured Anne that once the rabbit recovered, she would return it to the woods.
Dr. McNeil also gave Ellie a thorough examination. She told Anne that Ellie appeared to be in perfect health. A huge smile split Anne’s face at the news. She reached over and gave Ellie a big hug around the neck.
“Thank you, Dr. McNeil,” said Anne as she and Ellie prepared to head home. “So far, Ellie appears to be a wonderful dog. I’m so happy I found her yesterday.”
Ellie felt very pleased with herself when they left the veterinary clinic. Knowing that she had helped someone, and that she had made Anne so happy filled Ellie with a sense of purpose. She was eager to do it again.
Over the next few months, Ellie and Anne grew very attached to one another. Ellie loved Anne with all her heart. Anne and Ellie spent several hours each day hiking through the woods together.
Ellie continued to bring home hurt animals she found in the woods. Anne never failed to be willing to help and often ended up taking the animals to the veterinary clinic to see Dr. McNeil. Anne and Dr. McNeil started referring to Ellie as “Nurse Ellie”. Ellie felt a happiness with Anne that she hadn’t known was even possible.
One night in early fall, a thunderstorm rolled in without any warning. Anne and Ellie sat in the living room gazing out one of the windows that faced the front porch. They both stared in awe at the natural light show going on outside the window as lightning streaked across the night sky.
Suddenly, a large flash of lightning struck close enough to briefly light up the front porch. In that brief flash, Ellie spotted two large yellow eyes staring back at her. Ellie jumped up, moved quickly toward the front door, and began to whine.
“What is it, girl?” asked Anne as she moved to stand next to Ellie. “Is something out there?”
Ellie whimpered and reached out with her paw to scratch at the door.
Anne opened the door and flipped on the porch light. Ellie nudged her way past Anne, so that she could look toward the spot on the porch where she had seen the yellow eyes. Ellie and Anne both scanned the porch for any sign of movement. A strong wind blew heavy raindrops into their eyes making it difficult to see clearly. Suddenly, seeming to come from out of nowhere, a gray blur streaked past them.
Anne gave a startled yell as the creature bolted into the house. Anne and Ellie both turned quickly back inside trying to discover what had run past them. Anne swung the door shut behind them and then began making her way back into the living room. “Where did it go, Ellie?” she asked as she scanned the room.
Ellie walked beside Anne darting her eyes back and forth as she strained her ears for any sound. Finally, Ellie caught the definite scent of wet fur coming from down the hallway. She made her way down the hall following the scent. Ellie walked into Anne’s bedroom with Anne following close behind her.
“Is it in here?” asked Anne as they stepped into her room.
Anne’s bed took up half the room and was pushed against the far wall. A large blanket covered the bed and reached to the floor. Ellie walked up to the edge of the bed and used her nose to lift the blanket. As Ellie began to lift the corner of the blanket, she felt a stabbing pain on the end of her nose. Ellie gave a yelp and jumped back in surprise.
Anne stood directly behind Ellie. She was in the process of bending over to peer under the bed, when Ellie jumped back. Ellie’s sudden movement knocked Anne to the floor.
“What happened, Ellie?” asked Anne as she pushed herself up onto her elbows.
Ellie’s nose stung like fire. The sudden, unexpected pain brought tears to her eyes and momentarily blurred her vision. Ellie shook her head to clear it. She glanced down at Anne and was overcome with remorse for having knocked her to the floor. Ellie nuzzled Anne in apology.
“Oh, Ellie, your nose is bleeding,” cried Anne as she got a look at Ellie’s wounded nose. “What is under there?”
Anne got to her knees and threw back the edge of the blanket covering the bed. Both Ellie and Anne peered beneath the bed to get a look at what had caused Ellie’s injury. They spotted a small gray kitten that looked to be about six months old huddled against the far wall. The kitten peered back at them with wide frightened eyes.
“It’s a kitten!” exclaimed Anne. “And it looks scared to death.”
“It’s okay, little guy,” said Anne soothingly. “You don’t have to be afraid. Ellie and I won’t hurt you. We like cats. Don’t we, Ellie?”
Ellie gave the kitten her most friendly smile. She could see the kitten relax slightly. Ellie tried to convey with her eyes that the kitten was safe here. The kitten looked less frightened, but still ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble.
Anne got to her feet and said, “Come on, Ellie. Let’s go put some medicine on your scratched nose, and give the little fella some space. He’ll come out when he’s ready.” Anne led Ellie from the room.
A few hours later, Anne fell asleep on the couch in living room while watching television. Ellie got up and padded back down the hallway. She slowly approached Anne’s bed and peered beneath it. The kitten had also fallen asleep. It must have sensed Ellie’s presence, because it awakened with a start.
“Hello,” said Ellie in her most pleasant tone trying not to frighten the kitten. “My name is Ellie. What’s your name?”
The kitten looked back at Ellie for a long moment and then finally answered timidly, “Brat.”
“Brat?” Ellie asked in surprise.
“Well, that is what Sue and Will called me all the time. So, I guess it’s my name,” answered the kitten.
“What were you doing out there in that storm, Brat?” asked Ellie.
“I’m not really sure,” answered Brat.
“What do you mean?” Ellie asked.
“Well, two nights ago, Sue and Will had a terrible fight and Sue stomped out of the house. Then yesterday morning, Will put me in a cardboard box, loaded me into the backseat of the car, and drove me out of town. We drove a long way down a bumpy road. Will finally stopped the car along the side of the road. He got out, walked around to the back of the car, and opened the door. Then he reached into the box, pulled me out, and sat me in the grassy ditch beside the road. After he sat me down, Will got back into the car and drove away.”
“That’s awful!” exclaimed Ellie shocked by Brat’s story. “What happened next?” she asked.
“I stayed there for several hours. I didn’t know what to do. At first, I thought that Will was going to come back to get me. But after a while, I realized that he wasn’t coming back. I still didn’t know what to do. Then the storm rolled in out of nowhere. The rain started beating down on me and I started running in no particular direction. I couldn’t really see where I was going, because the rain was coming down so hard. Finally, I spotted light coming from this house. I’ve never been as glad to see anything as I was when I spotted your porch. I had just jumped onto it, when that lightning flashed and you saw me through the window. Then when the door opened, the only thought I had was to get inside where it was warm and dry. I hate being wet!” Brat stated emphatically.
Ellie grinned in response to that statement and said, “Most cats do.”
Brat smile back. After a brief pause, Brat said apologetically, “I’m sorry about your nose. When your nose appeared under the edge of the blanket, my heart about burst through my chest. I panicked and did the first thing that came to mind. I swiped it with my claws.”
“No problem,” answered Ellie. “I guess I’m just lucky you aren’t that big. Otherwise, you could have done some real damage.”
“The woman who was with you seemed nice,” said Brat.
“Anne is the best. You will be happy here with us,” answered Ellie.
“You mean that you think Anne will let me live here?” asked Brat, clearly not believing what he was hearing.
“I know she will,” said Ellie confidently. “Anne won’t leave you on your own. She adopted me and I’m sure she’ll adopt you, too. That is, if you want to stay here with us. Would you like to live here?”
“Yes,” answered Brat. “I think that sounds great.”
“Good,” answered Ellie. “Go ahead and get some rest. Tomorrow I will introduce you to Anne. I know that you will grow to love her, too.”
“Okay, Ellie,” agreed Brat.
Ellie turned to walk back to the living room to sleep on the floor beside Anne. As she reached the doorway, Brat called out, “Ellie?”
Ellie stopped and looked back over her shoulder. “Yes?” she answered.
“Thank you. I didn’t know dogs could be so nice.”
Ellie smiled and replied, “You’re welcome, Brat. I’ll see you in the morning.”