Chapter OneEdit

There were dogs surrounding me as I sat down in the middle of the cement floor. Gentle German sheperds, glossy chocolate Labradors, friendly Jack Russells... I well and truely loved all animals, but dogs were the best. I was a volunteer at the animal rescue centre, Help for Paws. I spent everyday there, feeding, cleaning and talking to the animals. Sometimes, when there's a case of animal cruelty, I would be the first to jump in and help immediately. The staff at Help for Paws were kind--hearted and generous, understanding my love of animals. 

Oh, sorry. I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Amy Katina and a huge animal lover. At age twelve, I am the youngest of the three Katina children. My brother Mac who's fifteen and my sister Abigail, who's eighteen.

A few times I asked my parents and older siblings that we should buy a dog. But the only answer to that was "No." Only because my family thinks getting a dog might mean leaving it all by itself in our flat while everyone's working and not knowing the right amount of food to feed it. Once, I even wanted a puppy for my birthday. You can probably guess the answer to that question. 

"Amy, we can't afford a dog what with the hours me and your Dad are working," Mum explained to me one night. "And Abigail will be off to Uni soon, while you and Mac are dealing with school work. Everyone will be super busy."

Before I could protest, I folded my arms and leaned back on the sofa. I knew when I was beaten. But everytime I pestered Mum or Dad for a dog, they always told me the same thing: busy, busy, busy... Until now.

A leaflet had been posted, and it was about Help for Paws. They pleaded for volunteers and I asked Mum if I could join. She doubted it at first before speaking to the Head Staff, Kimberley. She reassured Mum that everything will be well with me helping out. After school and at the weekends, with my parents working, I either asked Abigail to drive me there or I cycled over. 

Despite having mountains of homework to do, I desperately wanted to spend every minute, hour, day and week at the centre. But now my teachers and parents know about the heap of writing and projects I needed to sort out. Even one of my class teachers knows that I'm helping at the centre, since her nephew works there. 

"Amy, you've got to straighten yourself out," she said in a strict voice, "Please spend at least one or two hours on homework. Otherwise there'll be instant detention! You hear?"

"Yes, Miss," I grumbled, but didn't do what she said. I got the detention, but refused it.

So, not doing homework or going to the detention, I got sent to another --this time with the Head Tecaher. I ended up missing out on the baking competition I entered 'cause of the SLT det. I was ashamed of myself --especially when the school sent a report home about my progress. 

"Dention with Head of School?" Mum's eyes were as wide as saucers when she read the report. "Lack of homework?"

Dad turned to me. "This is a warning, Amy," he said gently, "Start doing homework and hand it in on time. Otherwise, we'll have no choice but to pull you out of volunteer work."

"Dad!" I cried out in shock. 

"That's a firm deal," he said sternly. 

And, since then, no more detentions were set for me as I spent half an hour on homework after school. Once I was finished, I was allowed to head down to the centre, helping with the rehoming. 

It's a nervous and exciting time for me --you never know if the dog could be vicious towards its new owners who already own a dog. But most of time, things turn out great for the dog and its quite pleased to be with its newfound friends. As soon as the rehoming papers have been signed, as well as a small gift for the animal, him or her is happily taken home with its new owners.

Help for Paws longest resident was Strike, a vunerable but handsome Dalmation. He was left tied up in the park by his owners and came close to starving to death. Luckily, the vetinary clinic at Help for Paws nursed him back to health, giving him clean water and good food. Then the animal behaviour specialist trained with Strike to see how gentle he was with humans. He was a really affectionate boy, and so the centre put him up for adoption. 

Unfortunately, visitors showed little interest in Strike and he spent four months here, at the centre, while animals are usually rehomed within two weeks. Eventually, a couple spotted him and chose to greet him, before deciding that "He's the one."

Every single day, cases of animal cruely like Strike come through the doors of Help for Paws, and it just leaves me shocked. But when an unwanted animal finds a loving, new home, my throat aches with happy tears.

I'm bound to get a dog soon, but I guess it takes more than just pester power to persaude Mum and Dad to get the family one. 

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