I didn't want him. He was ugly, he stunk and he was the color of pumpkin goo. He couldn't even walk right.

I wanted a real dog, a dog I could play with, a dog that would run beside my bike. Not this funny looking mutt with his hair sticking up all over.

It was Mom's fault, of course. I'd told her I wanted a dog, a big dog. So, she comes home one day, with a crippled Cairn Terrier.

"What's a Cairn Terrier?" I asked her.

"Toto," said Mom. "You remember Toto, from the Wizard of Oz?"

"Toto! I don't want a yappy little dog like that." What was she thinking? "That's O.K. Mom, just take it back. Thanks anyway."

"No, its not O.K.," Mom snapped. "Didn't you hear what I said? He's crippled and the pet shop owner wouldn't take him to the vet."

Like it's my fault!

"I'm sorry," Mom said after a minute. "I'm sorry I yelled at you, Robert. I'm just really angry. This little puppy should have the same chance to run and play as any other dog. Here, take him outside for awhile."

"What, me? I don't want him!"

She shoved the ragged little thing at me, so what could I do?

I went out on the deck and set the puppy down. "Come on," I said, not very happy. The puppy looked at me and then wagged his tail uncertainly, like he wasn't sure why he was here.

"Yeah, I don't know why you're here either. Come on." I walked down the steps and into the yard. I turned around to see if he was coming and watched him stumble down the stairs. He landed on his chin.

What a klutz. "You O.K., Fella?"

He looked up at me and wagged harder. "Come here," I called. I walked out into the yard and the puppy followed, his back paws dragging the ground with each step. He sniffed the grass and rubbed his face in it. Then he flopped down and rolled on his back with his feet waving in the air.

He looked kind of funny. He popped back up onto his belly and wagged at me again. "I guess you've never seen grass before, huh?" I asked him.

He got up and bounced over to me, like a rabbit.

"Ru Ruff!" the puppy said in a big deep bark. He didn't yap at all.

"Hey, Robbie, what's that you've got?"

I looked up and saw my best friend Scott hanging over the fence. Oh great! Scott made jokes about everything. He'd think this funny looking dog was a joke.

"Its my Mom's dog," I said.

"Dog?" Scott exclaimed. "It looks like a rat. What's wrong with its hair?"

"I donno."

Scott crawled over the fence and ran toward me.

"Ru Ru Ruff!" said the puppy.

Scott stopped dead in his tracks, his mouth open and his eyes as big as saucers. "Did that come out of him?" he pointed at the puppy. Scott laughed so hard he held his stomach. "I didn't think anything that little could sound so tough. I thought you wanted a big dog."

"I told you, this is my Mom's dog. Where were you this morning?" I asked, changing the subject.

"We went to watch my Uncle Andrew race."

"Race? I thought your Uncle Andrew couldn't even walk. You told me he got messed up in a car accident last year."

"Yeah, he did," Scott said.

"So how did he race if he's crippled?"

"He's got one of those really fast wheelchairs. He practices all the time, to get his arms in condition. He won today, got a trophy and everything. He said I can try it out some time. Hey what's your dog doing?"

The puppy was pulling something out from behind a bush.

"That's my hat," Scott suddenly shouted. I saw Scott's dirty old hat he'd lost.

He went chasing after it and the puppy bounded away. They ran and hopped all over the yard, the puppy just ahead of him. I didn't know a crippled puppy could hop so fast. I hopped a few times and the puppy hopped after me. We hopped all over the yard. Then I tripped over my shoelaces and fell down. The puppy hopped onto my shoulder and stuck his nose into my ear.

"That tickles!" I laughed. I laughed so hard I couldn't stand up.

"That dog sure is fast," Scott said, laughing too.

"He's faster than you."

"Robert, time for dinner," Mom called from the back door.

"Gotta go," I said.

"O.K., give me my hat back, if you ever catch that dog," Scott said.

I ran for the house. The puppy dropped the hat and hopped after me. When I raced up the steps, the puppy stopped. He didn't know how to get up the stairs. He put his front paws on the first step and tried to pull himself up, like a guy on the gymnastic bars at school. He whined and pulled with all his might, but couldn't do it.

I jumped down and got behind him. "O.K. little guy," I said, lifting his back end. He scrambled up onto the step. He put his paws up on the next step and looked around at me. I lifted again. Each time, he tried a little harder. On the last step, he almost got up by himself.

I washed my hands really quick and sat down at the table. We were having broccoli. I hate broccoli. When Mom wasn't looking, I pushed a piece over the edge of the table and watched it disappear. The puppy was right under my chair.

"Hey, Mom," I asked. "Do you think that if I exercise my puppy's back legs, he might get better?"

"He might. He'll probably never run and jump like I know you want him to, though."

I thought about him struggling up the stairs. He tried. He tried real hard. "I think he will."

"Well," Mom said quietly. "I guess we'd better think of a name for him."

"Andrew," I said. "His name is Andrew."

~ ~ ~

A/N: This is one of the children's stories I submitted for publication. I hope you enjoyed it. It's actually a fictionalized account of my own dog, Andy. The owner of the pet shop he was in had injured him, but I didn't know how. It was obvious that there was neurological damage, but I could see no wounds.

The creep who owned the pet shop refused to take him to a vet despite the fact that little Andy could only drag his back legs behind him in his little cage. After a long campaign of "polite" harassment and a call to the lawyer of the Cairn Terrier Rescue Society, I finally got custody of the puppy.

It took three years to get a correct diagnosis for Andy. During those three years, he taught himself how to walk, run and jump and grew into the most cheerful little dog I've ever known. Cheerful, except when he'd move just wrong and would send himself into terrible pain.

But this fall we finally found a fabulous animal neurosurgeon who was able to put together the missing pieces of Andy's puzzle. According to the MRI we had done (at a human hospital! :) Andy had three herniated disks and also a huge scar on his back that would be consistent with a fall from a great height against a sharp, hard object. (Like the metal filing cabinet that I saw that was below his cage in the back room. Andy's cage was also near the ceiling - a location that was just asking for an accident to happen with squirming puppies!)

Andy's doctor did major surgery to clean up the disks and repair them as much as was possible. That means that the neurosurgeon had to cut his spinal column open!!!!! YIKES! It was a very scary time for us and an even worse one for little Andy! But he is now walking without pain. He still moves oddly, since his nerves are not fully functional and he has some life long restrictions, such as never jumping down from furniture - it might damage even more what's left of those fragile disks. But at least he's pain free. At the moment he's rolling around on my rug with his feet sticking up in the air with his favorite toy! :D

Be really, really cautious before you buy a puppy from a pet shop. They're all smiles up front, but you'd be horrified to see what goes on in the back room. Boycotting pet shops that sell puppies and kittens is the only way to stop the horrific neglect and abuse that happens when people sell little living souls as pieces of merchandise. Find a kind-hearted and reputable breeder instead. Or better yet, save a loving and homeless pet at your local animal shelter.

Thanks for reading my rant! :D *Nebride gets down off of her soap box.*