Logo Top Banner
slogan Alaska Timeline Alaska Kids About
Peer Work
Family & Community
History & Culture
Digital Archives
Narrative & Healing
Reading & Writing
Libraries & Booksellers
Teaching & Learning
Contact Us

  Search Litsite Alaska
Find us on Facebook

Peer Work

Home  >  Peer Work
The Tale of the Lost Tail
By Lucia Chappell
Genre: Non-fiction Level: Elementary 4-6
Category: UAA/ADN Creative Writing Contest

Lucia Chappell

"Jago! Jago! Where are you?!" I am screaming at the top of my lungs.

I can hear the background noise of others shouting similar words.  I knew this was a bad idea! Where could he be? He couldn't have gotten far in such little time. The tears streaming down my face might freeze soon if I keep this up. I feel the cold lurking at the tip of my nose. The tops of my ears feel like they will fall off if I stay out any longer. I don't allow myself to think about these things. All I can think about is finding Jago. I won't let anyone give up before the night is over. I am determined to find him before I go to bed. I will find him before I go to bed! At least that is what I tell myself.

Sorry, I will go back and explain myself. It all started on a (what I thought to be) normal camping trip. It is the afternoon on a Saturday and we just motored our skiff over from the harbor, to Moose Meadows. We rode for about thirty minutes to get to our destination. I am glad when we finally arrive on solid ground.

"Lucia! Come get one more!" I hear my dad holler.

I jog back to the boat to haul more dripping dry bags up the rocky beach. I set out to gather driftwood for our campfire. I smell the fresh scent of salt and seaweed. I hear the grass crunching under my sneakers. I am thinking about how I'm going to eat s'mores tonight. I space off while daydreaming about the fluffy, golden brown marshmallows. I see my dog, Jago, running joyfully on the rocky beach. Jago is a very old dog, but he is energetic. One more thing about Jago is, he is very afraid of fireworks. But, I don't think that will be a problem on this camping trip. Jago looks so free and happy.

"Jago! Come here good boy!" I say in a high baby voice.

I watch as he comes bounding my way with joy in his eyes. I can see his black fur glint in the sun. His white patches, scattered around his body, look like spots of snow on a black canvas.

That night we light a fire and huddle around it. I watch the glowing flames as I shovel my food into my mouth. The heat from the fire spreads throughout my face. I look up through the smoky air. I see a man I do not know. Who is he? The adults seem to know him. What is his name? I hold onto these thoughts in my head. I want to ask someone, but I am too shy. I just sit there thinking of possibilities.

I later learn that the new man's name is Matt and he is a family friend's new boyfriend. He seems nice, but I am still shy. I wonder if he will ever become as close to my family as his girlfriend.

Once we all eat dinner and the sun goes into hiding behind the mountains, we go to the boat to unpack our fireworks. I am excited to use the flaming torch to light the bursting fireworks. I have always been fascinated with pyrotechnics. My dad hoists out a variety of brightly colored explosives packed in a long box out of the boat. I can tell he is excited too. We march to the rocks and set up our pyrotechnics. After throwing a few Minnie Dynamites, I walk back to the fire and sit by my mom. I feel the glow of the fire in my eyes and everything seems fine. But, soon a bad feeling starts creeping through me. I remember my dog, Jago, is very afraid of fireworks.

"Mom, what if Jago gets too scared of the fireworks and runs away?" I ask.

"It's okay. I can see him. Why don't you go check on him?" she replies in a comforting tone.

I prance over to Jago and give him a hug. I can tell he is shaking so I sit with him for a few minutes. I tell him comforting things like, "They will be done in a little bit," and "Fireworks can't hurt you." I feel terrible. I don't want to leave Jago all alone but I was getting really cold so far from the fire. I get up and give him a kiss on his furry head. I inhale the scent of nature in his fur.

"I will check on you in a little bit," I say as I walk away.

For the rest of the evening, I watch the fireworks burst in the sky. Somehow they are both violent and beautiful. I drag my sleeping bag out of the tent and use it as a blanket. A feeling of happiness is spreading through me. This is a pretty good camping trip, I think to myself.

Once the fireworks run out and we get ready for bed, I call for Jago to come to the tent.

"Jagooooo!" I yell.

I wait. Nothing. Not even a crunch.

"Dad, where is Jago?" I ask in a worried voice.

"I don't know. He will come back in a bit," he replies, relaxed.

An image of Jago prancing, unharmed, out of the forest, plays in my head. I watch, but he doesn't. Panic shoots through my body like lightning. I tell my parents we have to look for him. They agree and we start calling.

"Jago! Jago! Where are you?" is the sound I hear tonight.

Confusion fills my brain. How could such an old dog get so far that he can't even hear me? A tight feeling overcomes my stomach. I see my mom slowly getting less and less joyful. She isn't saying it, but I can tell she is worried.

After a while of failing to find Jago, my parents tell me we need to go to bed. I feel the tears well up in my eyes. My breathing becomes uneven. I gulp in crisp air. I tell my parents that he might not be okay by tomorrow, but they say I need to sleep. Jago could need desperate help now. I steady my breathing and take a deep breath so I don't start sobbing. A lump comes up my throat and a knot forms in my chest.

"Can we look for him tomorrow?" I manage to squeak out before crying.

"Yes, of course we can," my mom says.

I go to bed worrying about all the possibilities. What if he got eaten by a bear? What if he will never come back? I find myself spiraling in my own worries. I toss and turn tonight not being able to sleep.

The next morning I wake up, crusty eyed, and it hits me. We lost Jago last night! I burst out of the tent and remind my parents. We walk into the woods to search. I am feeling hopeful. Maybe he just needed to calm down. The whole time we are all screaming at the top of our lungs. I yell his name urgently over and over again. When we don't find him, we walk back to camp. I eat breakfast, but all I can think about is Jago. I hope he is okay. For the rest of the morning all the families search for Jago. Nothing. I hold back tears that I don't want everyone to see. My heart is heavy. I imagine Jago walking out of the thick, green woods. I imagine how happy I would feel. Then I imagine finding him half alive in the woods. Thoughts of how terrible it is that I couldn't find him flash through my mind. I am a terrible owner and I let Jago down. I try to shake my bad thoughts out of my head but they won't leave. 

We need to leave the site soon, so we start packing up. I feel guilty. Maybe if I had stayed with Jago, he wouldn't have run away. Maybe I could've saved him. My hope is drained. I feel helpless. I bet that is how Jago feels too. My heart feels like it is going to break in two at any second. Something interrupts my thoughts.

"I am going to go for one more walk to search," Matt explains to all the families in an excited and ambitious tone.

I watch as he walks onto the trail and disappears into the sea of green. I think about what Matt must be like. He obviously likes hiking, so that is fun. Maybe I should try talking to him and get to know him.

It has been an hour.

"Where is Matt?" one mom asks.

I am not as concerned with Matt being late as I am with Jago being lost. I start to think about life without Jago. I imagine how quiet our house would be. I remember his collar jingling every time he runs toward me to get belly rubs. My heart breaks and sinks down in my chest. Tears fill my eyes to the rim. I tell myself that everything will be okay, but I don't believe it.

We wait longer and then see something come out of the forest. What could it be? I look closer. I can tell it is Matt, but I am not sure what he is carrying on his shoulders. I hear people cheering in the background. Matt keeps walking closer. Then, what I see fills me with joy.

 It is Jago! I rush over to check on him. Matt gently rests Jago on the dirt floor of the forest. I see that Jago is wet and shivering. I don't care about that. I still wrap my arms around him as much as I can. My heart feels warm and full again. I feel like nothing could make me sad right now. I can see my mom's eyes well up with tears.

 Someone goes to the boat to get a blanket. When they come back, I help wrap Jago in it. I can see him slowly get warmer and stronger.

Once we know he will be okay, Matt tells us how he found Jago. He says he was walking past the trail and he heard something whimpering. He walked up a hill and peered over. There, wedged between two rocks in high tide, was Jago. He went over to Jago to free him. Matt said if he had gotten there any later, Jago would've drowned.

After hearing his story, I feel very grateful. I think about how it is crazy that a man that I just met saved my dog.

 Now, I really appreciate the lesson I learned that day. I learned that the most unexpected people can become an important part of your life. I also learned that you need to be grateful for the people around you. I was not grateful for Matt at first. Why would I be? I didn't know him well and I hadn't taken the time to know him. But, I should have been grateful. I didn't look deep into him, so I couldn't tell how kind he is. Back then, I would have never expected that Matt would become a very big part of my life. If I hadn't recognized how grateful I am for Matt that day, he probably wouldn't be as important to me. I learned that I should give everyone a chance because they might surprise me. I am forever grateful for Matt, because Jago was my best friend. If he hadn't found Jago, my life would be completely different.

  Contact Us       LitSite Alaska, Copyright © 2000 - 2024. All rights reserved. UAA / University of Alaska Anchorage.
University of Alaska Anchorage