Vicious was the name neighborhood kids had given a black stray dog. I called him Shadow, because he was all black and he would appear out of nowhere. Nobody knew who Shadow belonged to and nobody ever came forward to claim him. He didn’t look like a stray, because he looked to well taken care of. I don’t know if I adopted Shadow or if Shadow adopted me. I think he adopted me though, because I was quick to defend him when the kids would be mean to him.
Shadow took to hanging out around my house, finding a place to sleep behind the garage. One night when it got cold, I snuck a blanket out of the house, opened the garage door and found a place for Shadow to sleep in the corner. I even took to sneaking food out to him. I even went so far as to using some of my own allowance money to buy a small bag of dogfood. Mom was very vocal about not wanting a dog around, so I didn’t dare ask to keep Shadow.
Then one day a kid on the street got bit by a dog. A black dog. Right away Shadow was blamed for it. I knew he didn’t do because he accidently got shut in the garage when we all went out for dinner. Shadow seemed to know he was in trouble, because he hid in the far corner of the garage behind dad’s tool chest. I knew Shadow was innocent, but I was afraid to say anything for fear of losing Shadow.
Later that night, dad came into the room. I knew before he ever uttered a word what he was going to ask, because the neighborhood kids were demanding I give up Vicious. “Where’s Shadow?” Dad asked, sitting down on the bed next to me. “Police have told me that if we don’t tell them where the dog can be found, we can be held responsible for future bites. And Dale is threatening to sue for medical cost for the bite his kid got.”
“Shadow didn’t bite Eddie.” I said. “Shadow got locked in the garage when we went to dinner. I just now opened the door for him to get out. And the gate to the yard has been closed. He couldn’t have got out of the yard to bite anybody.” Tears filled my eyes. I was determined to protect Shadow.
“I believe you, Sarah.” Dad said after some thought. “I knew Shadow has been in the backyard and you have been taking care of him. I will talk to Andy. See what we can do to protect Shadow.” Shadow now had another ally. A grown up. Everything was going to be fine now.
Every day, I made sure the gate was locked and Shadow was still in the backyard. For three days, I waited nervously for the verdict, certain someone would come take Shadow away from me. I was no fully committed to keeping this dog, even though mom didn’t want a dog. Surprisingly enough she never said a word.
One evening there was a knock on the door. Opening the door, I saw a couple police officers. I was certain they had come for Shadow. Dad came to the door, before I could say anything to defend Shadow. “Go upstairs Sarah.” Dad said. “I’ll take care of this.”
I wanted to stay and see what happens. I didn’t want dad to come tell me they had taken Shadow without my saying goodbye. So, I stayed next to dad.
“Good evening, Mr Henderson. Good evening Sarah.” The police officer said looking at both of us. “We just wanted to let you all know, we found the dog that bit Dale’s kid. It belonged to the new family up the street here. Turns out they were hiding the dog.”
I sighed with relief. Shadow had been cleared of all accusations. I couldn’t wait to tell him.
Dad looked at me. He looked relieved, as well. “Thank you John for coming by and telling us. Can you please tell Dale, so he can quit threatening us with a lawsuit?”
“I talked to him before coming over here.” John said. John looked at me. “Do me a favor, Sarah. Give Vicious a more deserving name, will you?”
“His name is Shadow.” I said, smiling broadly.
And that is how Shadow moved into all our hearts and house. He no longer sleeps in the garage. He sleeps at the foot of my bed. And mom don’t seem to mind having a dog around.