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Living Grateful Essay

“Always be grateful for what you have now, because you never know what could happen next.” The loss of a loved one can be a life changing experience that affects an entire family very deeply. Simply the fear of potentially losing a loved one can be more than enough stress and sadness to handle. My case is immensely less extreme than many other people have been through. However, it was a life changing experience for me and it changed the way I live and think on a day-to-day basis. I was four years old when my dad picked me up from daycare with a huge surprise. I lift myself into the truck and there, in my seat, was sitting a little Australian shepherd puppy. I remember thinking she was the cutest puppy I had ever seen; She had the brightest blue eyes looking up at me. She came all the way from Texas, so we named her Texana. She has been with my family for 14 years now, and I cannot imagine it any other way. Recently, my family has been through a terrible scare, which ended with a better outcome than we all were expecting. This experience changed how I view life in so many ways.

The summer of 2019 was a very hot summer, reaching into the nineties often. One week, though, was supposed to be the hottest we had in a long time. 

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Texana has been an outside dog all her life, so she was used to very cold winters. However, the heat can be a little much for her being almost 15 years old and having a thick coat of hair. One day my dad texted me and told me he didn’t see Texana when he left for work in the morning, which was unusual. I was immediately worried because that day was supposed to be extremely hot. Right after practice, I went to look for her. I walked the woods around the house for hours and went down to the lake and called her name what seemed like hundreds of times. She doesn’t have great hearing, but she is not the type of dog to ignore when she is being called for. As the hours went by, I got more and more worried. I walked lap after lap of the same land, where it was unusually silent. I heard no birds, no wind, no creaking of the trees. I walked overgrown trails, where I was poked with all kinds of thorn bushes and walked into many spider webs. Normally I would avoid those kinds of things, but cuts and spiders were the last thing on my mind. I was expecting to walk upon my dog laying there having died of a heat stroke; That was my worst fear and I had almost accepted the fact that it was going to happen. I left the house that night feeling like I had failed Texana. I spent all night on Facebook posting her picture to lost dog pages and waiting for someone to reply saying they had found her. As the night progressed, that never happened. The next day I went and searched the land around the house and lake, then drove all the roads near the house. As I drove, I turned every corner expecting to see her there, but she was 

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nowhere to be found. At this point Texana had not been seen for two days. On the third morning, the outcome is what nobody expected.

I went to the house before practice on the third morning Texana was missing to look for her one last time. I pulled up in my car, expecting this day to be just like the last two. As I walk into the garage to get dog food to call her with, I see a big brown thing out of the corner of my eye. I don’t think too much of it considering she is a white dog, so I grabbed her water bowl and clean it out in the sink inside. I walked back out into the garage and saw the unexpected. Texana was sitting in front of the door looking up at me, covered in mud and looked absolutely miserable. I cannot even describe how happy and shocked I was to see her in front of me. I hugged her for a long time, even though she was wet and muddy. Then, I took her outside and hosed her off, fed her many treats, and spoiled her for the entire day. I pampered her a lot and even took a nap outside with her. I came to the conclusion that she must have realized she was getting overheated, and she went and laid in the lake. It just surprises me that she didn’t come to me when I yelled her name and that she was down there for two entire days and nights. Nevertheless, I was insanely happy that she was back. The outcome of the situation was the least expected thing I could imagine, and it completely changed my views in life.

This experience of almost losing something that important to me has taught me very much. Some people may think “it’s just a dog”, but Texana is more like a little 

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sister to me. This experience obviously isn’t even close to as bad as losing someone like a real sibling or parent, but it was the closest I have even come to losing a loved one. I have learned to appreciate the time I have with Texana and spend more time with her, as well as I still spoil her more than I probably should. We sit and enjoy the view of the lake and listen to the noises of nature together. Not only have I learned to be grateful for Texana, but also other things in life. Today I walk through life, appreciating every moment that I have with everyone and everything. It has helped me to think before I say things to people because of the fear that it will be the last time I talk to them. I now try harder to get along with family members and friends even when we argue. I have made it a habit to express appreciation to people who are close to me. The quote that can best sum up what I have learned is “Always be grateful for what you have now, because you never know what could happen next.”