One night, Douglas heard cries coming from the woods near his ranch. Thinking it could be a bear, he took his dog and discovered a boy shivering in the cold. The following morning, the boy told Douglas where he lived, but the roads were covered in snow, so Douglas had a choice to make and it shocked the boy’s parents.
“There, there, boy. Good boy, Hank. Let’s keep going,” Douglas encouraged his dog as they trekked through the woods behind his ranch, deep in the more secluded parts of Root River Valley. He loved this area all his life and purchased the land after retiring from the fishing industry. This place was perfect because Douglas loved being alone with his pet.
Sometimes, wildlife approached his home, and Hank would scare them away. But today, Douglas heard strange cries from the forest and decided to investigate. It sounded like a wounded animal, although he couldn’t be sure. Who would be so far away from their home? There were no other ranches nearby for at least two miles, and it had snowed heavily.
The wind picked up, and Douglas was no longer sure where to go. But his dog had better instincts than him. Suddenly, Hank tensed and started pulling him towards something. The cries got louder and louder until Douglas could see a little boy huddled next to a tree. He was shivering and had no shoes, crying in his weak state.
“Boy, what are you doing here? Do you want to die?” the older man rumbled in a deep voice, scaring the kid. The boy looked up and stopped crying, but his teeth chattered. He couldn’t get any words out. Fortunately, Douglas was not too old to carry him back to his ranch and settle him next to the warm fire on top of a comfy rug. Hank sat near the child, providing even more warmth.
Soon enough, the kid fell asleep on the carpet before he could answer Douglas’ questions. He tired himself out there crying, but thank God I found him, the older man thought as he placed a warm blanket and pillow beneath him.
The following morning, Douglas woke the boy up. “Hey, come on. Come on, boy. It’s time for a hearty breakfast,” the older man said, shaking him a little too roughly. Then again, he had not been around kids that much to know how to be gentle.
The boy woke up, rubbing sleep away from his eyes, and looked up at the man who rescued him last night. “Where am I?” he asked, scared.
“Don’t be scared, boy. What’s your name?” Douglas questioned in a serious tone.
“I’m Jason, sir,” the boy answered, hugging the blanket tightly to his body. Hank came over and gave him a lick on the cheek, and the kid smiled.
“Come on, Jason. Time for breakfast, and let’s talk about you going off into the woods at night,” the older man commanded and waved so Jason would follow him to the kitchen.
The table was ready with a huge plate of pancakes and glasses of milk, and Jason started devouring it. Although he couldn’t be older than ten, he had a huge appetite.
Douglas prodded him with questions, and Jason finally explained that his dog, Mookie, had run away last night chasing a rabbit. Jason went after her and walked for hours, unable to find the pup. He tripped over branches, lost both his shoes, but kept going. However, his body caved where Douglas found him.
“Where do you live, Jason?” Douglas demanded, still eating his breakfast.
“My house is in Lanesboro, sir,” the boy answered as he licked the syrup off his fingers.
“That’s five miles away, boy. That was really dangerous. You should’ve waited for your parents instead of running off. You’re lucky that I found you, or something could have happened. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Ok, let’s get you home,” Douglas concluded, standing up and placing the dishes on the sink. However, he glanced outside and noticed that more snow had fallen. Jason’s parents must be worried sick, though, and the boy couldn’t remember their phone number. They could wait for some time, but the snowplows always took a long time to get to this area.
Douglas didn’t have a choice. He told Jason to stay in his home with Hank, and he would go find his parents. The older man put on his best snow boots and a jacket and trekked for five miles trying to locate Jason’s parents’ house. Fortunately, a lady at Preston Foods recognized the name and gave him their address.
He barely knocked on the door when a man answered in a rush as if he was expecting someone. “Oh… oh…,” he said, rubbing his forehead. “Yes? How can I help you, sir?”
“You’re Jason’s parents? He’s at my home. I found him in the woods late last night, but I couldn’t drive him over in my truck because of the snow. I thought you would want to know immediately,” Douglas explained. The man’s jaw dropped, and his eyes glistened. Suddenly, he hugged the older man roughly and called out to his wife.
“Melinda, this man found him! He found Jason!” he yelled in excitement. A lovely woman appeared in the doorway, and it was evident she had been crying for a long time.
“Really? Where is he?” she asked emotionally. Douglas explained again, and her mouth opened. “You walked five miles on the snowy road to tell us? I can’t believe it! How can we ever repay you for that?”
“Don’t worry about it. Just come get your kid. I had to leave him alone with my dog,” Douglas answered sternly, as he never liked displays of emotion.
Jason’s parents called their friend, who owned a snowplow, and they followed him back to Douglas’ home. The boy rushed to his parents, and they all cried while they held each other tightly. Jason’s dog had returned to their house last night, but they didn’t sleep a wink waiting for Jason. They had already called the police and were waiting for news when Douglas showed up.
“Thank you, sir,” the boy said when they were about to leave. “Can I come over some time and play with Hank?”
“Sure, kid,” Douglas said roughly.
Jason visited Douglas several times a month, and the older man taught him everything he knew about nature, fishing, and surviving in the woods. It was like he gained a grandson overnight.
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t go running off into the woods if you don’t know where you’re going. Doing so can be dangerous for anyone, even an adult. Luckily, someone rescued the crying boy.
There are real heroes in the world. Douglas could’ve ignored the cries he heard, but he followed them and rescued a kid. He also could’ve waited for the snowplow to come, but he wanted Jason’s parents to know he was safe.