To my readers... although this is a fictional story, it is based on a real life dog named Sunshine. Sunshine was my first ever pet from when I was much younger, and is still my favorite to this day. He was acquired from a co-worker of my mom's... who found him and brought him in after his previous "owner" had abused and then subsequently abandoned him.
"To Chase The Rainbow" was originally published as an e-book on Amazon about 7 years ago. It was the very first story I'd ever published and I've decided to reproduce it here, mostly in its original form with very little editing. I hope you all enjoy!
To Chase The Rainbow
Joel was lying down on his living room couch, reading one of his favorite comic books, when the front door swung open. In walked Joel's mom and dad, and to the surprise of Joel… they had with them a brand new dog. Excited, Joel threw down the comic book and jumped to his feet. He ran over to greet his new pet. It was the nine year old's very first dog. Joel knew right away that he was a very special dog.
Sunshine was a brown and white dog, a mixed breed; and definitely part hound dog. A medium sized dog, not very big and not very small. There was one particular feature which Joel noticed right away. On the top of Sunshine's head… a white stripe that was shaped like a heart.
Joel was so excited. He had never had a pet dog before, but he always wanted one. Joel begged his mom and dad to let him take Sunshine for a walk. They agreed, and so Joel grabbed his jacket, put Sunshine on the leash, and they headed out the door. They walked around the neighborhood, Joel and Sunshine. Past a few rows of townhouses and up the street to the playground, next to the cul-de-sac… and then back home again. Sunshine was very friendly to everyone he met along the way; never barked once and certainly would never bite. Sunshine truly loved everyone, and he especially loved kids. Indeed, Sunshine was a very special dog.
Joel went to bed that Sunday night, but could hardly sleep so full of excitement. He couldn't wait for next morning, to tell all his friends at school about his new dog. Joel even secretly wished he could bring Sunshine in for show-and-tell, or even take him to school with him everyday! Every day thereafter, whenever Joel would get home from school, Sunshine would be there waiting for him; and greet him warmly when he walked in the door. Every afternoon, Joel would take Sunshine out in the back yard to play their favorite game, a game of fetch with an old green tennis ball. Occasionally, when they would come back inside, Joel would take Sunshine on a walk… and they would walk together, a young boy and his dog, to the neighborhood playground and then home again.
About three weeks passed and then one night, Joel heard Sunshine bark for the very first time. Joel would never forget that night. He had just gone to bed an hour earlier and Sunshine's barking woke him up, and woke everyone in the family up too. Wondering what would have caused Sunshine to bark so loudly in the middle of the night, Joel's mom and dad went downstairs but found nothing. So they opened the front door. There was nobody there, but there were marks and scratches around the doorknob. Someone had tried to break in, but Sunshine had scared them off! Sunshine didn't bark very often, but on this night Joel and his family were very thankful that it was Sunshine's bark, the menacing sounding bark of a hound dog, that had kept them safe! This special dog was a fierce protector, as well as a loyal friend!
Joel celebrated his 10th birthday a couple months after Sunshine had first come home. A year later, he turned 11 years old. Every day through all the time that had passed, Joel took good care of Sunshine. They were always so happy when they would walk together to the neighborhood playground, or when they would play fetch with the old green tennis ball. But one day, in the spring following Joel's 11th birthday, Sunshine began to get sick. Sunshine was an old dog, he had already lived a number of years before Joel met him…. and now, another year and a half had past.
One particular day in June, it was a day that Joel would never forget. It was the last day of school, and Joel's last day of 5th grade… and school let out early that day. Joel anxiously waited all morning, for he knew that he would take Sunshine for a walk to the playground, just as he had enjoyed doing so every day over the past year and a half. But the clouds began to grow darker as Joel sat on the bus, and on the ride home it began to pour down rain, and there was thunder and lightning too!
Joel got home and grabbed the leash, and Sunshine, even though he had become quite old and was getting more and more sick by the day, still came running. Alas, they would have to wait until the rain stopped. But as soon as it did, they were out the door… Joel and Sunshine, a young boy and his dog, on a walk together to the playground. By the time they had gotten to the playground, the sun had come out… it was beautiful, and quite bright too! All of a sudden, Sunshine began to tug on the leash, and let out a couple playful barks. "What is it, boy?" asked Joel. He turned and looked in the direction the old dog was barking. A rainbow had appeared, out in the distance above a row of townhouses that sat across the street from the playground. Apparently, Sunshine was fascinated with the rainbow. "But he's a dog" thought Joel. "Dogs can't see color, can they?" The old dog tugged on the leash again, yapping, as if to say to Joel "come, let's go get it!" So they both ran off, the young boy and his old dog, running… to chase the rainbow.
They ran through the playground, then past the basketball court, into the woods and along a path that took them down the hill and to the park. As they ran along, the rainbow began to fade, then it disappeared. They stopped, and Joel turned to look at Sunshine. The old dog looked back at him, and was clearly tired from all the running but at the same time, he seemed content; even appearing to smile. After taking a few minutes to rest, they turned and went home.
Joel woke up the next morning, eager to begin the first day of his summer by taking Sunshine on a walk back up to the playground. Joel grabbed the leash, jingling it so Sunshine could hear it, and yelled out, "Sunshine, come!" Joel anxiously waited for Sunshine to come running, as he always did whenever Joel grabbed the leash. But Sunshine did not come. So Joel jingled the leash a bit louder. "Sunshine, COME!" Alas, Sunshine did not come running around the corner. So Joel went over to where Sunshine was lying, and noticed that the old dog was still asleep. Somehow the jingling of the leash, and the command to come, had not been able to wake Sunshine up. Joel tried one more time, jingling the leash and collar above the old dog's head. "Sunshine, WAKE UP!" But Sunshine did not respond. Sunshine could not hear Joel, because Sunshine had died the night before.
Joel was so very sad, feeling as if he had lost his best friend. He cried every day, and every night… for weeks afterwards. But then, one night he had a dream. In his dream, he was back at the playground and he saw the rainbow again. Joel took off running towards it, just as he did with Sunshine on their last walk together. He ran, to chase the rainbow. The rainbow began to fade, then disappear… and Joel found himself at the park again. Then he saw Sunshine, his old dog. Sunshine went running towards him, and jumped into his arms. Joel couldn't help but to notice that there was something different about his old dog. It was as if Sunshine had a new body; and indeed he was no longer an old dog. He was no longer sick, Joel realized. He no longer felt pain; he was free.
When Joel woke up the next morning, he realized that he never really lost Sunshine… for he still had so many wonderful memories of his first dog, memories that nobody could ever take away. They were memories that made him happy, playing fetch in the backyard with the old green tennis ball, and walking to the old playground by the cul-de-sac. But most importantly, Joel knew that Sunshine was now at peace, having passed from this life to the next one. Sunshine was no longer an old dog, and he would never again be sick, neither would he feel any pain. Sunshine, the friendly dog who loved everyone, and who especially loved kids... with his brown fur, and the heart shaped stripe on the top of his head. The old dog, who was no longer an old dog, was now free. Free to run, and free to chase the rainbow. Free of sickness, and suffering; and free of all pain. And every time Joel saw a rainbow, he would think of Sunshine and he knew that he was there, and he would smile.