Willy was my grandpa's dog, and I hated him. He was small for a pointer, but fast and strong, with glossy black and white fur. And he was mean. He was as mean and angry as a bull. He even bit my grandpa once in a while. Hardly anyone could go near him. Then one day my parents told me I would be spending the summer at my grandparents. At first I was excited, two whole months with my grandparents! What could be better? Then I remembered, two months with my grandparents meant two months with Willy. I arrived at my grandparents early in the morning on the first day of summer with a suitcase in each hand and a nervous smile on my face. I walked up the porch steps taking in the familiar views of my grandparents land. The garden, the barn, the pond, the fields , and stretching as far as the eye could see big beautiful forest. I put one of my suitcase down and was about to open the door when it burst open and my grandma came into view. “Annie!” she cried, throwing her arms around me, “It's so good to see you! Are you hungry?” I looked over my grandma's shoulder at my grandpa smiling at me. I smiled back. Maybe this summer would be as carefree as I had originally hoped, but then I heard a low snarl and a growling bark. Turning around I saw Willy standing in the yard about 3 seconds away from pouncing on me. My grandma grabbed my arm and suitcase and pulled me inside. We got the door shut just before Willy slammed into it, shaking the whole door frame. I turned to my grandpa, exasperated, “Why in Heaven's name do you still have that dog around? He's horrible!” Grandpa shook his head, “He's not horrible, he's just misunderstood and he's a great hunter. Besides I have a feeling that that dog has a purpose and once that purpose is done, he'll leave us well enough alone.” My grandma rolled her eyes. “Well he better do it quick before some one gets killed, be it him or his victim.” Grandpa opened his mouth to retort but Grandma patted his arm and spoke over him. “Come on now we have a hungry granddaughter, and you haven't had breakfast yet either, so come on, and I'll make us some waffles.” The summer weeks flew by and except for a run-in with Willy every once and a while, it was pretty uneventful. We worked in the gardens, around the house, and the barn. Grandma made wonderful meals and at night we would sit in the living room with ice-cream or a big bowl of popcorn and watch a movie or play a board game. The summer was just about perfect...until the fire. It happened after our movie was done and we'd all gone to bed. I was about to fall asleep when something jolted me awake. It was a smell. Not an everyday smell but certainly one I recognized; smoke! Three seconds later the fire alarm went off and orange light filled my vision. The fire was in my room! I rolled out of bed and dropped to the ground, trying to keep my head below the smoke. I strained my ears to try and hear my grandparents by I could hear nothing over the roar of the flames. I had to get out. Escape was now my only thought. I had to get out of the fire. I made it out of my room just moments before it was entirely engulfed. I managed to work my way down stairs but once there I was lost. I could see nothing but flickering orange lights and billowing black smoke. My eyes, nose and throat stung from the smoke and the heat was terrible. It was like being roasted alive in a giant oven. Worse was that I didn't know where to go. Suddenly something smelling of scorched fur slammed into my side, sending me rolling. Once I stopped moving I raised my head and saw Willy standing beside me and where I had been kneeling just seconds ago a giant burning roof beam now lay. “Willy?” I gasped amazed. But just saying one word brought too much smoke into my lungs and I started coughing. Willy lowered his head and gently began licking my face. Then in his strong jaws he grabbed the collar of my pajama shirt and pulled me up on my hands and knees. He pulled hard on my shirt, trying to get me to move. “I can't Willy,” I gasped, “I don't know how to get out.” My lungs ached from talking to Willy and breathing in the smoke. I felt Willy let go of me. I peered through smoke trying to see him, afraid that he had left me. Finally I saw him and couldn't believe what he was doing. He was pointing. His whole body from nose to tail was ridged and one front paw was pulled up to his chest. For a moment I could do nothing but stare. The one thing I hated about him above all else, his hunting, was now saving my life. He was showing me the way out. I reached up and patted his head then started crawling. Willy stayed close to me and whenever I got confused he pointed to show me the way. It seemed like an eternity to me but it must have been only a couple of minutes when the front door came into view. Relief coursed through me. “Thank you Willy, thank you,” I breathed, then together we burst out of the house. The instant I left the house everything was a blur. Flashing lights, spraying water, tons of people shouting and running around. A fireman ran up to me, threw a blanket over me and handed over to the ambulance people who covered my face with an oxygen mask and took me over to my grandparents, “Annie!” cried my grandma. “Oh Annie, we were so worried!” She flung her arms around me in a bear hug. I hugged back relieved that both her and my grandpa were okay. I looked at my grandpa over my grandma's shoulder, “Grandpa, where's Willy?” My grandpa looked confused, “Willy? Why?” “I just wanted to make sure he was okay.” “Oh he's just fine. Or, at least he will be, he does seem to be having trouble breathing though. Probably just excited.” “No, Grandpa, it was the smoke, you have to get him help.” My grandma finally let go and looked at me. “Annie, Willy stays outside, he doesn't like coming in the house, you know that.” “Yes I know, but Grandma, Grandpa, he saved my life.” and I told them how Willy had pushed me out of the way of the falling beam and lead me out, literally pointing me in the right direction. My grandpa looked down at Willy who had shown up half way through my narrative. Everyone was quiet for a moment then my grandpa threw back his head and let out a laugh. A loud, long, deep, belly laugh. “Hahahaha! Told ya! I told ya didn't I?! That old Willy had a purpose that just needed to be fulfilled. Now he'll leave us well enough alone! Hahahaha!” Three years later Willy died, and though he wasn't real friendly he certainly did “Leave us well enough alone.” Well, except for me. He and I spent a lot of time together, especially since I spent those last three summers at my grandparents. I'd throw balls and sticks for him to chase, or we'd go swimming in the pond, but most times we just walked in the woods, slow and steady like two old friends walking down memory lane, and I guess we sort of were, because every now and then Willy would point, not to hunt, but just to show me the way.