Some people say loyal dogs have it easy, but I disagree, being loyal is a pain. Literally. Every morning at 6:30 am Adella pulls herself out of bed and goes out to her barn to care for her goats, Othello, Woody, Jigsaw, Checkers, and Sega. So every morning I crawl off my warm rug to join her. I mean, after all where would she be with out me, her loyal beagle Belle? One morning it started just like every other morning, we both got up then I waited patiently while Adella filled the water bucket. When she was ready, we tramped out into the snow. Adella and I had just rounded the corner of the house when suddenly I stopped dead. I had seen a flickering glow up ahead. Adella looked down at me. “What is it girl?” I wasn’t sure so I lifted my nose and breathed in the early morning air. In the cool breeze I smelled a smell that filled my little body with fear. Smoke! I started barking and ran toward the glowing which by now I had realized was fire. I turned around barking for Adella to hurry up. It was then that she realized what was happening. She gasped and then screaming the names of the goats, ran with me to the barn. When we got there we saw one whole wall and most of the roof engulfed in flames. We ran towards the dutch door but as soon as the bottom door was open part of the roof collapsed in front of it. Adella shrieked and jumped back terror in her eyes. I looked back towards the flames. Then something caught my eye. A small opening not yet filled with flames. One that was plenty big enough for the goats to fit through...and a beagle. I looked at Adella who was throwing snow at the door space trying to make it possible for her to go in. I was as scared as she was but the goats were my friends and there was no way Adella could get into the barn the snow was doing nothing to stop the flames. I knew the goats would be too confused and panicky to figure out what to do. I had to act and I had to act now. So taking a deep breathe I dove for the opening. I heard Adella scream, “Belle! No!” before my whole world was heat and dancing flames. Lucky for me the barn was small and I was able to find the goat easily. They were huddled in a corner scared to death. “Hey guys.” I said trying to reassure them. “I'm here to get you out, it's gonna be okay.” I walked towards them and gently started nudging them one by one toward the exit. “Come on guys, hurry that opening won't last forever!” I called trying to get them to move faster. Adella met the goats as they came out, pulling them into her arms and out away from danger. I counted them off in my head as they exited, Othello, Checkers, Sega, Woody... but one was missing. Jigsaw! I looked around trying desperately to find him, when I heard a soft bleat. I dashed toward the sound but my way was blocked by a burning roof beam that had fallen. “Jigsaw!” I called desperately hoping I could save him. “Jigsaw! It's gonna be okay! Just hand on!” I couldn't think of any other option, so cursing my loyalty I leaped over the flames. The pads on my feet where badly burned, but I hardly noticed. All I cared about was getting Jigsaw out. I squeezed into the corner where he crouched terrified and started licking his face. He looked at me his face full of fear but his eyes trusting. He trusted me to get him out alive. “Great.” I thought, “Just what I always wanted.” I told Jigsaw to stay close and do exactly what I said without hesitation. He promised he would. He didn't like the idea of jumping over the burning beam but remembering his promise he did, with only a moment of hesitation. Dodging flames and falling debris, we reached the opening. “Go Jigsaw,” I panted. “Adella is waiting on the other side.” He nodded and ran through. Just as I was about to follow, the opening finally collapsed. Outside I heard an anguished scream. “Belle!” and guessed that Adella understood what was happening, understood that I was going to die. “You won't take me so easily,” I growled at the flames. “Not this dog!” I remembered the pain on my paws from jumping the beam, there was no way I was going through those flames. It was then that I noticed the ladder. “Of course.” I thought. There it was leaning so perfectly against the loft, my way to freedom. Quick as I could I climbed up the rungs and into the loft. Once there I searched through the hay until I found the window. Sighing with relief I scratched at the already heat weakened material, banging against it with all my might. Finally the window shattered, and glass fell down into the snow. Fresh air rushed into my face, and with a feeling of absolute pure joy I jumped from the loft and landed right in front of the sobbing Adella. “Belle!” she exclaimed, scooping me up in her arms, not seeming to care about the smell of scorched fur. “Oh, my dear little Belle.” I licked her face weakly. All I really wanted to do was take a nap. Later the goats told me they used to call me “The Barn Buddy.” I asked them what they meant by “used to”. They just smiled and said, “It can take only a moment to make a man of a boy, and a hero of a barn buddy dog.” I laughed. They call me hero but I'm still a Barn Buddy. Barn Buddy Belle.