(Another model I crafted when teaching students how to write personal essays back in 2007.)

Witchy was the ugliest dog I’d ever seen, but I loved her quite a bit. I was only eight years old, so to me that small mangy ball of black and gray fur seemed the coolest pet ever. She was fiercely faithful to my family, barking insanely at any stranger who happened to come by. In the fall of 1978, Witchy got pregnant and had a litter of equally ugly pups. Like most mothers, she was ready to defend her babies tooth and nail. This instinct, however, would be her undoing.

One Saturday morning while I was watching cartoons, a horrible screeching sound came from outside, followed by a sickening thud and a heart-breaking yelp. My heart sank in nauseous apprehension — where was Witchy? I rushed outside to see what had happened, and there she lay, half-in and half-out of the ditch, blood oozing from her muzzle. A semi-truck was receding from sight down the road, gears grinding like some mechanical cackle.

As I cradled her bleeding head in my shaking arms, I was dumbstruck. She couldn’t die. Not Witchy. Death was something that visited other families, not mine. But her labored breaths grew shorter, and as she looked up at me with her eyes as black as oil, I watched her die.

The neighbors rushed over, trying to console me. My parents emerged from our house, unaware of the tragedy that had just occurred. The woman from across the road told us that Witchy, apparently freaked out by the unaccustomed sound of the trailer and wanting to defend her young, had run into the road and planted herself firmly in the path of the huge metal 18-wheeler. Barking bravely at what she thought was an attacker, Witchy stood her ground until she was pummeled by the truck.

After the death of my pet, I no longer wanted to get close to another animal, fearing that I would have to experience this loss again. Eventually, I would have other pets, but none of them meant as much to me as Witchy, who gave her life for those she loved.

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