A cranky man yells at a little girl and shoos her away for untying his dog from a metal stand. Surprisingly, the dog comes running to the girl’s house the next day and barks at her until she follows him.
8-year-old Tina Murphy was happily strolling down the streets of her new neighborhood to a local bakery. She and her parents had only recently moved to New York, and when she discovered that a bakery selling her favorite muffins was only a few houses away, she was delighted about the relocation.
“Mommy! Daddy! I love our new house!” she told them the day they arrived. “And I love that we have a bakery here!”
Tina’s mom, Sandra, pinched her cheeks sweetly. “Too many sweets will make your teeth go bad. Do you understand, naughty girl? No muffins and cakes until mommy agrees!”
Muffins and Tina were inseparable
She frowned. “Come on, mommy! That’s unfair! Daddy!”
Her dad, Edward, laughed. “I will let you in on a secret, Tina,” he said. “The store owner doesn’t like children who eat sweets regularly from his store. He thinks they are bad children, so let’s not ruin your chances of getting your favorite treats, okay? Let’s not visit it so often….”
Tina believed Edward’s words and nodded happily.
Several days after this, Tina was finally going to devour her favorite muffins, and she couldn’t contain her happiness. She walked as fast as her little feet could, clutching the dollar bills tightly in her grasp.
When she arrived at the bakery, her eyes were gleaming like a hungry man’s eyes would at the sight of food. She excitedly ran inside and the bell on the door chimed as she entered.
“Excuse me, sir,” she said at the counter. “I would like to have three muffins for myself. The chocolate ones, please!”
The seller smiled at her. “Alright, you make your payment at the cashier’s. I’ll get your order done quickly.”
Tina’s mission was complete. She finally made it to the bakery!
“Umm…okay, thank you!” she replied.
After getting her order and paying her bill, Tina happily exited the store. She was eager to get home and enjoy her favorite dessert. But just as she was about to leave, she heard a whimpering sound close to her.
Tina looked around and noticed a dog chained to a metal stand outside the bakery’s building. She could tell the dog was agitated and attempting to get rid of the collar around his neck since he couldn’t breathe.
Tina dashed up to the dog and began untying him from the pole. “Don’t worry, doggo. Just give me a minute,” she murmured as she undid his leash. “Is that better?” she asked as she freed the dog, who could breathe now.
Just then, the dog’s owner came out of the bakery. He was a grumpy man named Robert. “You stupid girl! What did you do?” he lashed out at Tina as he picked up the dog’s leash and tied it around his neck.
“Shh…Mommy shouldn’t know about you; she’ll be mad at me!”
Tina sprang back, terrified and startled, and clutching her box of muffins close to her. “He couldn’t breathe. I – I was helping him,” she explained, teary-eyed.
Tina dashed home with her muffins.
“Whether he breathes or not, it’s none of your business, you little girl! GET LOST!” he yelled at Tina, and she ran away with her muffins, terrified. “He’s bad! I don’t like him….” she told herself as she hurried home.
The next day, Tina was playing in the front yard of her house when she heard a barking sound. She noticed the dog from the day before barking outside her home.
“Oh, it’s you!” She ran to the dog happily, recognizing the collar around the dog’s neck. “Do you live nearby? Did you run away from your grumpy owner? I really don’t like him,” she told the dog as if he would respond. Then she let him in through the front gate.
“Shh…Mommy shouldn’t know about you; she’ll be mad at me!” But the dog wouldn’t stop barking at her and began pulling her dress as if wanting to show her something.
“Okay, okay, I’ll come with you, but we’ll be back fast, okay?” Tina looked back and saw Sandra working in the kitchen by the window. She hurriedly followed the dog and was confused when it came to a halt in front of a house not far from hers.
The dog led Tina to a nearby house.
As the dog ran inside the house, Tina followed him, and there she saw Robert, unconscious. “Oh no, what happened to him?” Tina didn’t know what to do so she ran to the house next door and called for help.
Robert’s neighbors rushed him to the hospital, and Tina returned home with his dog. She told Sandra what happened, including how she met Robert and the dog.
“You shouldn’t have done that, Tina! You should have told me you were leaving the house!” Sandra scolded her.
“Sorry, mommy. I called the neighbors to help him. Can we please keep the dog with us until he comes home? I don’t want to leave him alone.”
“Well, first and foremost, we need to go see him at the hospital. Let’s leave the dog at our neighbor’s house until then. And you’re not going to leave the house like this again, is that clear?”
Tina nodded. “Sorry, mommy.”
Robert was taken to the hospital.
Later that day, when Sandra and Tina went to see Robert at the hospital, they discovered he lived alone. His wife had left him 36 years ago, and despite his desire for a family, he was never blessed with one.
“I’m sorry I yelled at your daughter yesterday,” he told Sandra, crying. “My dog, Charlie, he’s the only one I have. If he leaves me, I’ll be alone again, so I panicked when I saw your daughter removing his leash.”
“It’s okay. You don’t have to feel bad about it,” Tina told him. “Since Charlie and I are now friends, I forgive you. I’ll look after him until you’re healthy. But you must promise me something!”
“Oh, sweetheart, anything….”
“I want to spend time with Charlie once you get home. Promise me you’ll never be mad at us!”
“Oh,” Robert sputtered. “I won’t. I promise.”
“Okay then, we are friends too now!” she said and hugged him. Robert’s tears didn’t stop falling.
Tina and Robert became friends.
From that day on, Tina visited Robert in the hospital every day after school. One day, she brought him her comic books and a basket of fruits. “When I was sick, mommy made me eat fruits and veggies. It’s not that I liked it, but you need to eat them to get well soon. And these comics won’t make you feel bored here….”
“Thank you, Tina,” Robert laughed. “Now, I will get well soon…”
And well, that did happen. Within a week, Robert was discharged from the hospital. When he came home, Sandra and Edward often visited him, bringing him meals and checking on him every now and then.
Meanwhile, Charlie and Tina had struck a new friendship, and Robert and the Murphys had become like a blended family living in different houses. Not to mention, Tina had become the granddaughter Robert had always yearned for.
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t give up hope; there’s always a silver lining if you look for it patiently. Robert always wanted a family but lost hope when he wasn’t blessed with one. Years later, that changed when he met Tina’s family, who embraced him wholeheartedly.
You can’t judge someone by their actions. While Robert’s yelling at Tina was harsh, he did it out of fear. Inside the grumpy man was a lonely soul longing for family and company.