“You want me to do what?” I asked Chloe! “You heard me, Woody. I want you to take the prize money.” My ears must have still been water logged. “Why, Chloe?” I asked. “Because you are a survivor. It’s hard to believe that the pup who survived alone in the rain is the same one who packed a plug-in blanket.” Everyone giggled. “But Chloe, we’re tied in the challenges. You won the backpack challenge, I won the fishing challenge.” “Yes, Woody, but you survived a real situation – not a challenge.” I tried to remind Chloe that she had survived in a real situation by rescuing me, but she wasn’t listening. “I’ll agree with you on one point, Chloe. I have come along way!” Again, everyone giggled – and agreed. “Tell us about it, son.” Dad said.
“Well, I learned that to survive in the wilderness, you have to make smart choices and be prepared. My life would have been easier if I’d packed my hat instead of pupsicles. I learned it’s great to work together to accomplish a task. When Chloe and I put our heads together, we mapped our journey, escaped a snake and were there for each other when things got sticky.” Mom and Dad looked pleased. I continued, “I learned shortcuts aren’t always shorter and I learned being able to read and communicate is necessary in surviving.” “Anything else?” Mom asked. “I learned we must follow the rules even when nobody is watching. And if everyone does his part, then life will be smoother and happier for everyone. I learned when you find yourself in a pickle, it’s important to keep a cool head and stay positive. And, if you’re ever in the woods alone and you don’t have a cell phone or a compass, a harmonica could save your life!”
Mom, Dad and Chloe laughed! “We should camp more often, especially now that I know how to survive at camping,” I suggested. Dad agreed that we would be camping regularly, but then he said something that surprised me. “Woody, you didn’t just learn about surviving in the wilderness.” “I didn’t?” “No, you learned about surviving in real life. Think about it. All the points you listed apply to real life. Your mom and I are always talking about how important it is to be able to read, follow directions and communicate with others. We are always talking about staying cool in tough situations and making smart choices.” Dad was right. The light bulb in my head turned on. “Now I know why Mom is always reading books to us and teaching us new words. I’m sorry, Mom, sometimes I thought you made us follow directions because that’s what Moms did. I didn’t realize you were helping us be survivors.” Mom gave me the best hug. I realized something else. “Now I think I know why you won’t let me spend all my time in front of the TV playing my WOOF game. You knew there was a great big world outside that was more exciting, colorful and challenging than any computer program or DVD in the world.” Mom looked at Dad, who was holding Chloe, and said, “By doggies, I think he’s got it!” Chloe crawled off Dad’s knee and joined me in Mom’s lap. “That’s why you have to take the prize money, Woody. You earned it!” I thought about it for a second. “That’s so generous of you, Chloe, but you know, the WOOF game I wanted isn’t exciting anymore. I don’t need the money now.” “Yes, you do!” “I do?” “Definitely!” I was confused. Why did Chloe think I needed the money so badly? “I hate to argue, Chloe, but I don’t want the game anymore. I want to do something for you. You rescued me in the woods – and besides, you come to my rescue all the time!” Chloe looked exasperated. “Woody, by taking the money, you will be doing the family a big favor.” “I will?” “Yes,” Chloe answered. “I want you to use the money for harmonica lessons!” Everyone roared with laughter. I gave Chloe a bear hug and thanked her for the generous gift. Chloe had just taught me one more thing. I wasn’t the harmonica virtuoso that I thought.
“It’s been a long day, pups,” Dad said. “Let’s get a good night’s sleep. We have lots of camping left before we head home in a few days.” Mom tucked us in our sleeping bags, read us a story and we said our bedtime prayers, being thankful for our safety. I snuggled up to Chloe. I took my right paw and wrapped it around Chloe’s paw. In my left paw was, you guessed it, my harmonica.
Thanks to LG&E/KU both E.ON companies and KPA for making this project possible. Thanks to the Kentucky Secretary of State for sponsoring the new podcast. For podcast and questions and activities go online to www.kypress.com.