This story is by Saunerani Faga, aged 14.

The snow raged and the wind hammered at the wooden shutters as Mary watched over Bruno, her dog. The sheep dog was injured when he sprang in front of an oncoming horse carriage as they were rounding up the last of the sheep herd.  Earlier in the evening, a carriage with a woman passenger, adorned with a velvet hat screwed up her nose, gave a disdainful shout at the driver, and left Bruno limp with a broken hind leg. Her father was upset not only at the heartless attitude of the passers but what was he to do with the crippled dog and a moaning girl?

Every year on his daughter’s birthday they would sit on the hearth rug, by the fire and he would retell of her excitement when she opened her first birthday present.  Now her aged present lay motionless. There was silence as Bruno lay on his side and occasionally whimpered as he tried to shift his injured leg.

Mary’s eyes watered.  “Pa I’m going outside”, she cried. There was silence for a moment, and he nodded to gesture his understanding.  She gave Bruno a pat, stood up and reached for her tattered shawl hanging from a loose nail behind the door. She turned to see her father crouching next to Bruno one last time.  When she stepped out into the snow, half expecting Bruno to be by her side, she knew that this time she would have to take this walk alone.  Just then she heard a bang from inside her house.  She tried to squeeze her eyes shut to stop the flood of tears from escaping but she couldn’t.  Bruno was suffering too much, “My pain is nothing compared to his”, she tried desperately to comfort herself.

Half-blinded by the torrent of tears, she raced to the edge of the pond at the back of the house.  It had been her refuge whenever she wanted to be alone. Doubled over the rim of ice she sobbed.  Through every sob, she repeated, “I wish Bruno would live”. She wasn’t counting the time but in that instant everything seemed to stand still and then she heard a loud ….CRAAAACK! She raised her head slowly and saw another reflection on the other side of the pond.  The outline was surely of a human form, but there was nobody else there.  Yet the reflection was stretching and then it disappeared as quickly as it had come. As she slowly stood up, she felt a hand gently squeeze her shoulder.  She shuddered, she wanted to scream but a soft whisper stopped her, “I heard your wish”.  Not sure if it was shock or confusion that crippled her she wondered it meant. Just then, she heard a loud bark from home and the patter of feet.  It wasn’t just any feet, it was the bouncy kind, the kind that jumps up and licks you all over as if to say “Master, I like you…I like you a lot”.