Sarah Dizney: August 2013 Writing Challenge Winner

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My Life Story

“I saw your daughter sitting down at the corner.”

I don’t know if that’s exactly what the man said to my mother, but it’s how I remember her telling me about it. The day I ran away from home. Or rather, “ran away from home,” in quotes, since I just walked to the end of my street and sat on the sidewalk.

I was four years old, give or take. Upset that my single mother (at the time) was talking on the phone and not paying attention to me. So, instead of throwing a tantrum (I was a quiet kid), I (quietly) made a sandwich for myself and walked out the front door, Jason in tow.

Jason was our family dog. A beautiful German shepherd. My mom and dad got him when they were in college, before I was born. So I grew up with him. In fact, I still have a picture (one of my favorites) of me hugging Jason.

Some parents worry about dogs (especially certain breeds) being around their babies. Thankfully, my mother was not one of those parents. I have no doubt I am the animal-lover I am today thanks to Jason.

As I mentioned, Jason was a German shepherd. He was intimidating. He was protective. As a four-year- old little girl, I had not a worry in the world “running away from home” as long as Jason was at my side. Come to think of it, I don’t even know that I put a leash on him. I walked, he followed. And he sat regally by my side on the corner, as a man pulled up in an old car, window rolled down, offering me a ride home.

That man was a friend of my mom’s, though I didn’t know it at the time. To me, he was a stranger. And I knew better than to talk to strangers. To Jason, he was a potential threat — one he wouldn’t hesitate to take down in order to protect me.

Smartly, the man didn’t approach me, but instead drove to my house and told my mother where I was.

That’s all I remember of that day, and my “running away from home” experience. But growing up with Jason has made me the person I am today. Dog lover. Animal advocate. Animal shelter volunteer. Proud parent to three dogs (and three cats) of my very own right now.

I may not have told much of my “life story,” but this story tells my life. Animals are and have always been my life. When I think back through the years, an animal is always at the heart of every memory.

Throughout my life, I have struggled with self-acceptance, self-love, and self-worth. That is also my life story. One too lengthy to sum up in five hundred words. But thanks to the animals I have been blessed to have in my life, I have always known acceptance, love, and worth. For they are pure love.

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