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Loyalty, affection, intelligence, and a lion's heart: Koro, the courageous canine hero
Ichigawa bolted out of bed and rushed to the door. The sound of beams falling when mini earthquakes struck was all too familiar. He looked about his home in a small district of Tokyo. Cracks had started to form in the wooden beams. He looked outside the window at the road, and huge chasms had formed on the gravel. He found his mother rushing about in the kitchen collecting whatever provisions that were available. Bags of garlic, miso, seaweed, rice and other essentials were in bags and lying on the kitchen table. Koro, the little family Akita "inu" or dog, padded softly after his thirteen year old master.
"Pack your things," said his mother, Mikka, with anxiety and threads of woe in her strained voice. "We're leaving Tokyo. There was a tsunami in Sendai just today," Tears welled in her eyes, for she appreciated the gravity of the situation more than Ichigawa would. "The whole town was wiped out. Your father is ini Sendai on business. You know what to do," she continued quietly, looking for understanding on Ichigawa's face. The boy nodded and returned to his room to grab whatever things he could. He started packing without emotion, knowing that his feelings of panic would only come later.
His mother looked at Koro and sighed heavily. In the circumstances, it was hard to leave with Koro, for the little dog would only be a burden. Still, Koro had been with the family for the past five years. The dog was Ichigawa’s best friend. She felt a tug of affection for the little canine and patted its head. "I'm really sorry, little fellow. We can't take you with us." The little dog tilted its head to one side and looked at her, its little mind trying to understand her words. Slowly, with the seriousness of Mikka's words striking him, it padded up to her and touched her cheeks with soft licks.
A sudden movement jolted them back to reality, and cracks began to appear on the walls behind them. Without hesitation, Mikka grabbed Ichigawa's hand and dived under a table. The normally resilient walls shook uncontrollably but there was nothing that they could do; their screams were silenced by the noise of falling cement.
In the midst of the chaos,Ichigawa still focused indignantly at his mother, his brows coming together furiously. Even in this critical moment, his mother was becoming his worst enemy. "How could we just leave Koro like that? You know he's a part of the family. How could you be so......" He turned to find his mother, an asthmatic, giving hot gasps of breath. The son in him reacted out to her immediately. "Mother.." he wailed. But there was nothing he could do as debris continued to fall around him,blocking the table and overing everything in its path. Mother and son were trapped and immobile; both soon fell unconscious.
Hours later, Ichigawa and his mother were covered in a shroud of darkness. Ichigawa could feel the panic rising within him. His mother lay in blissful unconsciousness, not aware of the rubble, debris and dirt around her. He worried as the oxygen began to deplete. There was but a tiny hole which he could use to see through the pile of concrete around him. He heard footsteps of rescue workers treading softly on the rocks near them, but they could not hear him calling out. Assistance seemed so close, yet so far.
Abruptly, there were sniffing noises near him. He gazed through the available little hole and a wet nose slotted itself through. Encouraged by and grateful for the presence of a sniffer dog, Ichigawa began to call for help again. After a long stretch of time, the rubble around himself and his mother was cleared; they could finally see the light and were brought to safety.
The rescue workers lay him and his mother on stretchers near the rubble. Ichigawa thanked the heavens that he was alive, but he kept thinking of the little wet nose that poked through the hole. Where was the little sniffer dog that had saved his life?
The same wet little nose suddenly nudged his hand. Ichigawa turned painfully to his side to see which sniffer dog the nose belonged to. He came face to face with a smiling rescue worker. "Here's your savior," she said. "He helped us and our dogs by telling us where you were," Ichigawa stared but could not believe; the nose was Koro's. With thanks in his heart, he hugged the little family "inu" which had helped to pull them out of the rubble. Koro painfully stretched his hand outwards and patted his head. There was no doubt that leaving him behind would have been the real disaster.
Copyright (C) by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
No part of this work is to be reproduced without permission of the author.
Other short stories by Michele Liew
- Fighting for a rare chance at friendship : a short story
I hope that you enjoy this short story that tells us about the importance of not judging others too quickly.