Ksssssss! The air brakes hissed like a giant tire with a leak as the
big, yellow school bus slowed to a stop at the end of the old, dirt
driveway. Almost before the doors opened, Jeremy bounded down the steps
and onto the pavement. Before the bus driver could say, “Bye Jeremy.
Have a nice break,” Jeremy was running down the driveway toward his
family’s farm house. The field between the road and the house was only
about as big as a football field, but Jeremy was so eager to get to the
house it seemed like it was a hundred miles long. About half way there,
he passed J.L., his daddy’s helper.
“J.L., J.L.! Are they here yet?” Jeremy called.
J.L. looked up from the fence he was fixing and started to answer, but
before he could get the words out, Jeremy was gone.
“You’ll find out soon enough, little buddy,” J.L. chuckled under
By the time J.L. could raise his hammer to drive the next nail, Jeremy
was at the edge of the yard talking to his daddy, who had just come in
from the corn field.
“Daddy! Are they here yet?”
“Well, now,” his daddy said, kneeling down and putting his hands on
Jeremy’s shoulders. “What do you say you and I go find out?”
Jeremy’s daddy led him around the house to the back yard, where
Jeremy’s mama was putting new wire on the chicken pen.
“Go ask your mama there if they’re here yet,” his daddy winked.
“Mama, Mama!” Jeremy shouted, running across the yard to the chicken
pen. “Are they here yet? Are they here?”
Jeremy’s mama smiled and pointed to the slightly open door of the
barn. “Go see for yourself.”
As his mama and daddy followed him into the barn, Jeremy saw the
family’s dog, Ginger, stretched out peacefully on a pile of straw in
the corner. Then, as his eyes got used to the dim light, he saw in front
of Ginger, almost hidden in the thick straw, five tiny puppies!
“They’re here, Daddy! Mama, they’re here!” laughed Jeremy.
Jeremy started to run toward Ginger and the puppies but stopped when he
felt his daddy’s strong hand on his shoulder. That hand had kept
Jeremy out of trouble before, and he was learning to pay attention to
“Hold on, now, Jeremy Dawson,” his daddy said. “Remember, those
puppies are very small, they’re not very strong yet, and they’re not
really yours. They’re Ginger’s. She doesn’t want you to handle
them, and neither do your mama and I. It wouldn’t be good for them.”
“When will I be able to touch them and play with them?” Jeremy
“When they’re a little older and a little stronger,” his daddy
said. “For now, just look. Don’t touch.”
The three of them walked over to the pile of straw. Jeremy bent over and
put his hands on his knees. The puppies were all lying very still,
snuggled close to Ginger. They seemed to be different shades of black
and brown, but in the dim light of the barn, Jeremy couldn’t tell for
sure. The one on the far left stretched its legs, the one in the middle
yawned, and the others didn’t do anything.
“They’re not doing anything,” Jeremy said. “They’re just
“Lying there, Jeremy,” his mother said.
“Lying there,” Jeremy repeated. “They don’t even have their eyes
“Of course,” his mother said. “They’re just babies—newborns.
You didn’t do much when you were that age either. But they’re
beautiful all the same. Five brand-new puppies, all made by the hand of
God Himself. You just leave them to Ginger, and they’ll be playful
little balls of fur in no time. Why, I’ll bet one day each of them
will be somebody’s best friend.”
“I guess you’re right,” Jeremy said. “Just look at them, Mama.
Aren’t they beautiful?”
“They sure are, Jeremy.” Jeremy’s mama knelt down and gently
stroked Ginger’s ear. “Five beautiful puppies—three girls and two
boys. Ginger, old girl, you did yourself proud.”
Excerpted from "Good Boy, Achilles!" by Eddie Ellis. Copyright © 2016 by Eddie Ellis. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.