A lonely boy from a poor home becomes an unlikely hero when he decides to find out why his neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking.

Ethan Hough was a 13-year-old boy who was being raised by his impoverished parents. They made sure he was well-fed, but the family lived from hand to mouth for the most part. It was one of the reasons they took family planning very seriously — they could never afford to have another mouth to feed.


It was the only life Ethan knew, but he hoped that one day, things might change for them. They lived in a three-bedroom bungalow that they had used as collateral when they took out a bank loan several months before.

They spent the loan on Ethan’s mother, who fell victim to the novel coronavirus back when the virus first started its rampage.

It was a lot of money, but his mom had survived the ordeal, to the relief of both males. When she finally returned home from the hospital, Ethan’s father, John, threw a small celebration within the family to welcome her.

However, the joy had not lasted past that night because they received mail from the bank asking them to pay up their loan or lose the house the following day.

John tried to come up with the money, but there was only so much he could do except beg for a loan extension. They got a couple of additional months, but that was all they would have. The couple tried to keep their financial woes away from their son, but Ethan was a very clever boy. He knew but kept quiet about it while praying things got sorted out.

Ethan was not only clever, but he was also kind and lonely. His parents didn’t permit him to leave home at all because they feared he would be bullied because of their financial status.

“Kids can be so mean,” they would tell each other when in truth, they were simply ashamed of themselves.

Ethan had no friends, didn’t go in for sports, and was always the first to head home as soon as the last bell rang for the day. His classmates saw him as a weird geek and often avoided him.

Little did they know he was only obeying his parents’ instructions. “You have to study very well so you can become a rich man and support this family,” his mom would always tell him.


“My boy will secure us a rich retirement,” his dad would say.

That was a very egoistic position, but his parents did not see things like that. They believed it was their right to demand such a thing from their boy. They believed he would change their lives — if only they knew how right they were.

During the summer holiday one year, Ethan started to hear barking coming from his neighbor’s house. An old woman lived alone in the house. She was known as Carla, and she had no family to speak of.

Like Ethan, people in the neighborhood avoided communicating with her because they thought her insensitive. Her only companion was a big dog named Rocky, and Carla spent all her time with him.

When Ethan noticed that the dog kept barking for two days straight, he approached his dad to tell him. “Dad, have you noticed the dog barking this whole time? I think we should find out why,” he said.

“Oh, Ethan. What could be wrong with her? The crazy old lady must be playing with her ragged dog and that’s it. I just wished the dog wouldn’t make so much noise.”

Ethan was unsatisfied, but he let the conversation die down. While his father was in the garage, he decided to slip out from their home and check what was happening.


“The dog sounds frantic,” thought Ethan. He came to Carla’s house and knocked on the door, but no one answered.

Instead, the dog’s bark intensified, piquing Ethan’s curiosity even more. Knowing his parents could summon him at any time, he quickly circled the house to the backyard and peeped through the window.

The vantage point let him see into the living room, where he saw the woman lying motionless on the sofa while her dog ran circles around her nervously while barking.

Sensing something was really wrong, the boy took a rock from the ground and broke the window to reach the doorknob and unlock it. The dog heard the intrusion but would not leave the woman’s side, confirming Ethan’s suspicion — something was wrong.

“Help me, please,” he heard the woman whispering as he stepped inside.

It appeared that the woman had lost use of her legs and had been lying on the sofa for a while without moving and eating. Luckily she had a bottle of water near her.

Ethan quickly called 911 on his cell phone and described what happened. In a few minutes, the sirens were hooting in Carla’s driveway.

When she was being transferred to the ambulance, she thanked Ethan for saving her life. “Thank you, boy… It is the first time in the last 20 years that someone has worried about me except for my dog….”

A few days later, Ethan learned that Carla died in the hospital. The doctor who treated her visited him at home to deliver the news personally — “Carla’s last wish,” he said.

“She told me that she left her house to you and your family as thanks for what you did,” the doctor revealed.

The news shocked Ethan, but his parents were happy. They would have a new home to live in after they lost their old one to the bank. At the same time, they tried to keep a lid on their excitement because they knew the price was Carla’s life.

The incident helped them understand that money was not the only thing that could save a person; kindness could too. Several days later, while his parents were preparing to move to Carla’s house, Ethan sat on the porch, still upset because of her death.

Suddenly he heard rustling, and he immediately raised his head to see Rocky coming towards him. When the big dog reached him, he put his head on the boy’s shoulder.

It was so spontaneous, and it made Ethan hug him and cry. From that moment, they were always together, and Ethan’s parents stopped treating him like a means to an end and started raising him in the way all parents do it.

What did we gain from this story?

Trust your gut; it is seldom wrong. Carla would have died much earlier if Ethan had listened to what his father said about the dog barking. Thankfully, he did what he thought was right, and it helped him prolong her life, even if it was for a little while.
Children are not a means to an end. A child should be taken care of because it is the parents’ responsibility, not because they expect that in the future he/she will give them a good retirement plan.

Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.


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