Animal Aid: A School and Pet Club Presentation

Click to play“Take Me Home” is a play written by our Emmy Award Winning author, Donna Swajeski. The play also contains music written by another Animal Aid USA member, Melissa Pascoe. This play is meant for schools interested in being part of our Animal Aid Club. Its purpose is to teach children the importance of pet adoption. To see our “beta” play performance please click on the picture on the left. All one needs to do to participate in our club is print out the play and music (all below). It’s easy, fun and educational. We also encourage you to review Our Curriculum which outlines other ideas in which your school can participate. Our most rewarding curriculum besides our play is our Homeless Dog/Cat Sponsorship. This is listed in step 2 on Our Curriculum page. To have Animal Aid USA connect you with a shelter to participate in this program please email us here: talbotk@animalaidusa.org.

(Inspired by Karen Talbot and M.O.M.S Rescue)

Part 1 Take Me Home

Written by Donna M. Swajeski

Music by Melissa Pascoe
(THIS PLAY CAN BE PERFORMED WITH AS MANY CHILDREN OR ADULTS AS NEEDED BUT HERE IT'S FOR 7 ACTORS. THE STAGE IS SET UP WITH 7 PODIUMS. THERE ARE DOG PHOTOS ON THE 4 MIDDLE ONES: ANGEL,A GOLDEN RETRIEVER, SPARKLE, A MUTT, RUFUS, A BOSTON TERRIER, AND TROUBLE, A PIT BULL. A SCREEN IS BEHIND THE PODIUMS FOR THE FILM PORTION OF THIS SHOW.)

NARRATOR 1
Ever wonder when you see a homeless dog where he came from? Did you ever think that was once someone's pet? How did he get that way? This is where the story begins…

NARRATOR 2
Angel was a Retriever with eyes that twinkled like dark stars. He lived with his owner, Barney. Everywhere Barney went, there went Angel like his golden shadow. Barney and Angel played ball together. They took walks down shady lanes, and for a treat, Barney let Angel chase squirrels.

ANGEL
But just for fun. Barney taught me to love every living thing. The birds. People. (BEAT) Even cats. (SIGHS) It was a good life.

NARRATOR 1
Then, Barney lost his job. Angel didn't understand all this talk of the Economy. He only knew that, as hard as he tried, he could not get Barney to smile again…

ANGEL
Even when I dropped a ball at his feet to play fetch. That always used to work…

NARRATOR 1
One day Barney called to Angel. There were suitcases everywhere. Barney had lost his house. He had to move somewhere where no dogs were allowed. Angel slipped his nose under Barney's hand. He tried to tell him nothing mattered…

ANGEL
Not bones, or toys, not anything but being together…

NARRATOR 1
But Angel did not have the right words to say it. Barney scratched the tickly part behind Angel's ears. He said he'd teach Angel something that might save his life one day. It was the last gift he could give his friend. And for the next few days, Barney taught Angel a special trick….

NARRATOR 2
One morning, Barney was gone and another man took Angel away. Barney had taught Angel that people were good. So he eagerly poked his nose out of the car window as they sped along. He caught tantalizing trails of scent. Trees. Meadows. Pavements wet with rain…

ANGEL
How can anything bad happen when the world's so beautiful?

NARRATOR 2
Then Angel was taken into a big cement building full of cages...

ANGEL
It was called a shelter…

NARRATOR 2
And, there, Angel heard a noise. Like the loudest thunder. The sound of dozens of dogs barking…in collie…in German Shepard…in Welsh terrier. He tried to make out what they were saying but it was confusing. Angel was put in a kennel. Through the bars, Angel looked for Barney. Surely he was coming for him…

SPARKLE
Don't hold your breath, Big Guy.

NARRATOR 2
Angel turned to see a frail little dog named Sparkle in the next cage. Sparkle was a mixed up mutt. Half Poodle, half Maltese, half who knows what. The only thing whole about her was her heart, which was very big.

SPARKLE
They don't come back for you. You're stuck here now.

ANGEL
But I didn't do anything wrong.

SPARKLE
None of us did.

NARRATOR 2
Sparkle explained that people come here to meet you and take you home if you're lucky. Suddenly Sparkle straightened up and wiggled her ears.

SPARKLE
Look sharp, Goldilocks. We've got visitors. (EXCITED) This is going to be my lucky day. I can feel it…

NARRATOR 2
Curious, Angel peeked out and saw a young couple strolling past. Some dogs jumped, some wagged and Sparkle tried calling to them.
SPARKLE, RUFUS
Hey, over here! Pick me. Yoo hoo!

NARRATOR 2
Sparkle watched them pass sadly. She explained that all the dogs are here because they have no homes. That's when Angel realized because Barney had no home, no job, he had to leave Angel. He wondered how Sparkle ended up at the shelter.

SPARKLE
I was the prettiest puppy. Stunning if you ask me. Then - I did a terrible thing.

ANGEL
You bit someone?

SPARKLE
Worse. (BEAT) I got old. I'm 12 now. Got arthritis and I’m almost blind. (PROUD) But once upon a time, I floated on a leash like a dream. Everyone on the block wanted to play with me. Now, I’m no one to nobody.

NARRATOR 2
And she curled up into a ball, hiding tears in her cloudy eyes.

NARRATOR 3
Soon a worker put a leash on Angel to take him outside. There, he met another dog. Rufus was a Boston Terrier with big eyes and big ears that stood up at attention.

RUFUS
You're new here, right? (CONFIDENTIAL) Well, here’s a tip. There's one dog you should avoid. Trouble, the pit bull. Mean as they come. Stick to your side of the yard or she might attack.

ANGEL
I know pits have a bad reputation. But I'm not sure why - since I don't really know any. (CURIOUS) How did you end up here?

NARRATOR 3
Rufus explained that his owners had a new baby and no time for him anymore. They'd turned him out onto the street the day they brought the baby home.

RUFUS
At first I ran around, feeling totally free. It was like the best kind of holiday. But then I got lost and walked miles, trying to find my way home. I was hungry and tired when the shelter picked me up. I thought my family would come looking for me. (BEAT) But they didn't.

ANGEL
I'm sorry.

RUFUS
At least I know what love is. I had some good years sleeping on comfy couches. Being taken care of by my family. Some come right here as puppies. All they know are cement floors, hunger, and fear. They have no one to hug them. Or teach them how to be good pets. I was very close to my family, especially, Billy, the boy who went to college. (SAD) I still don't understand why I was put out. I love babies.

SPARKLE
It's true. When puppies are brought in here without their mothers, Rufus comforts them. He's good that way.

RUFUS
I would have loved a new baby in the house. He could have crawled all over me and shared my toys. Why didn't my family see that?

NARRATOR 3
But Angel had no answer. When they were out in the shelter yard, suddenly a shadow crossed their paths. It was Trouble. A fierce looking pit bull. All the dogs scattered. Trouble's teeth gleamed. She had a 'stay out of my way' look in her eyes. But Angel had learned from Barney that all animals and people were good. So he walked right up to her.

ANGEL
Hello … I'm new here.

RUFUS
Uh, oh. (WORRIED) This is not gonna be pretty.
(TROUBLE TURNS TO ANGEL AND SPEAKS IN A MENACING VOICE)

TROUBLE
Back off! I don't want company. Leave me alone…
RUFUS
Told you. She'll never get out of here with that attitude.

NARRATOR 3
Rufus told Angel that every day more and more cats and dogs ended up on the shelter's door step. They had no more room. And not enough adoptors. Trouble stayed longer and longer behind bars. And just got angrier…

RUFUS
Take my advice, and stay away from her…

NARRATOR 3
So, being warned, Angel started to retreat from the pit bull. But then he saw something that changed his mind. Angel approached Trouble again as Rufus tried to stop him. But Angel wasn't afraid. Because he saw something…he saw…

NARRATOR 2
…That all the time Trouble was trash talking, her back legs were shaking. (BEAT) She's the one who was afraid…

ANGEL
That's why you act tough, right? That's why you make so much noise. You don't want people to see you're afraid!

TROUBLE
(DEFENSIVE) No. I'll fight you if I have to. Go away. I'll never get a home or belong to anyone and neither will any of you. You're all so hopeful you'll be rescued and that's stupid we never get a happy ending. Look around! We've been thrown away like garbage. Forgotten. Because we're an inconvenience. We're invisible.

ANGEL
It doesn't have to be that way. I'll teach you something that someone I loved taught me. It can save your life. Because you have to reach out to people. (Beat) They might be as scared as you are.

NARRATOR 3
And Angel began to teach the pit bull what Barney taught him. And what was the trick? (Beat) How to give your paw to someone. How to shake hands. Trouble laughed when Angel demonstrated, lifting his paw.

TROUBLE
Fool! We'll end our lives in this miserable place. No sun, no kind words, no warm arms around us. We're never going to run and play or curl up in a soft chair in our very own home. We are never going to be free or loved or treasured.

NARRATOR 1
But Angel didn't give up. Because he had learned a valuable lesson. He learned that behind most bullies, there is just a frightened pup. Angel showed Trouble over and over how to shake hands although she ignored him. Soon Angel grew very sad for missing Barney as the weeks went by. Then one day there was news…

SPARKLE
Guess what? I heard from a bulldog who got it from a corgi that the shelter's having an adoption day! We'll have a chance to strut our stuff and find an owner. So get your beauty sleep tonight, doggies. Tomorrow you might find someone to take you home…

TROUBLE
Don't believe it. You can't trust anyone.

ANGEL
That's a terrible way to live.

TROUBLE
It's the only way I know how.

NARRATOR 1
Adoption day dawned and everyone was excited. The dogs were out in the yard, in their best collars. Hoping for someone to look their way. Angel was still sad. And Trouble was tied on a tight leash so she couldn't hurt anyone. She just stood there looking mad at the world…

SPARKLE
This is Trouble's last chance. She knows if she's not picked today, she will never have a home --.
(SPARKLE DISSOLVES INTO A COUGHING FIT AS THE OTHER DOGS LOOK WORRIED.)

RUFUS
Don't cough! You have to be perfect to get adopted.
SPARKLE
Hey, it's not my fault I caught a sniffle.
(SPARKLE HOLDS HER NOSE, TRYING TO QUIET HERSELF.)

NARRATOR 1
Adoption day was on a beautiful May morning. Visitors passed the cages of Sparkle, Angel and Rufus without a second look. There were so many dogs that needed homes. A woman named Nancy was walking by the shelter. She was having a rough day and stopped to sit on a bench. She saw the shelter's open doors and decided to walk in. She was looking at the cages when she suddenly stopped in front of Angel… because his eyes were as sad as hers. She asked a shelter helper…

NANCY(ALSO NARRATOR 2)
What's that dog's name? (BEAT) Oh, look, it's written on his card. (READS) Angel. (EMOTIONAL) Angel! Look at you, Boy. You look like your heart is broken. (GENTLY) Don't worry. I'm taking you.

NARRATOR 3
Then Nancy snapped the leash on Angel and with that sound, suddenly all the long walks and wonderful times with Barney came rushing back. Angel looked up hopefully and Nancy was smiling, the most beautiful smile he'd ever seen. He'd been picked just in time because the shelter was closing.

NARRATOR 1
But just as the doors were shutting, Trouble broke off her leash and made a run for freedom. She knew this was her last chance to escape.

TROUBLE
Out of my way. I'm getting out of here --!

NARRATOR 1
And as she rushed to the door, a child accidentally stepped in her way. The little girl started crying because she was scared of big dogs.

TROUBLE
I skidded to a stop, I didn’t want to run her over.

NARRATOR 1
The shelter people were rushing to Trouble…

ANGEL
This isn’t going to end well!

NARRATOR 2
But -- suddenly -- a miracle happened.

RUFUS
Trouble slowly, nervously, put her paw out to the girl. Just like Angel had taught her.

NARRATOR 3
For a moment, time froze.

SPARKLE
Trouble's whole future hung on that moment.

NARRATOR 2
Then the terrified girl put her hand out, too, and took Trouble's paw. She circled her arms around Trouble and clung to her soft fur.

TROUBLE
I stayed very still. It had been a long time since I was hugged and it felt very, very good.

NARRATOR 1
"Daddy, I want this one!"

SPARKLE
Everyone was surprised. Most of all, Trouble.

TROUBLE
(STUNNED) Wait. Did she just pick me?

ANGEL
I told you! You can never stop believing that good things will happen.

NARRATOR 1
And Trouble left with the child, as meek as a lamb. She finally had her new start. Angel went to say goodbye to Rufus who was standing, smiling…(for yes, dogs can smile) next to Billy, the teenager who had loved him.

RUFUS
Can you believe it? When Billy learned what his family did, he looked everywhere until he found me. He never gave up. Because, he said, you never forget old friends. I have a home again!

ANGEL
Why is Sparkle's cage empty? Did she find a home?

RUFUS (SAD)
She's at the vet. She has no chance to be adopted now that she's sick. It's bad news for Sparkle. But good news for us.

NARRATOR 1
Nancy took Angel to his new home with a big yard full of wonderful places to dig. There was even a tree, full of squirrels. But inside the house, the hall was filled with suitcases. Angel froze. This is how it started with Barney! Was Nancy moving only to leave him behind again? She pointed to the luggage and told him her story.

NANCY
Today was Mother's Day and my mother died last week. Those are suitcases full of her things. I was going to give them away today but I couldn't. So I went for a walk instead and ended up at the shelter. Mom always said she'd send an angel to watch over me, so when I found out Angel was your name, and when I saw how sad you were, too -- I thought that maybe, just maybe, we could save each other. What do you think?

NARRATOR 1
For an answer, Angel licked Nancy's face and said with every thump of his wagging tail...

ANGEL
I'm yours. I will be loyal forever. I will guard you with my life. I will make you smile and follow you to the ends of the earth. I will sleep near you, rejoice when you are happy and when you're sad, I will be right by your side. No one will ever love you more.

TROUBLE
I would have died that day if not for you. I would've left the world believing that no one cared. All this incredible love I have to give, would never have been given.

NARRATOR 3
And though neither spoke the same language, Nancy understood every word. Angel grew to love Nancy as much as he had loved Barney. Because the heart is a great thing and can be given away more than once. A few weeks after being adopted, Angel was in the park when he saw a very happy Trouble.

ANGEL
What happened? You're a different dog!

TROUBLE
Well, something wonderful happened. The night my family brought me home, they changed my name from Trouble to Beauty. And that's what I became. Beautiful. I never wanted to fight but I had to survive on the streets.

NARRATOR 3
Because luckily, the little girl saw through Trouble, past her defenses, right to her beautiful soul.

NARRATOR 1
What happened to Sparkle who was left behind?

NARRATOR 3
The doctor said her time was up. She had lost her sparkle, her belief. And it was affecting her health. Sparkle felt like her world was ending. But then she heard a voice saying she'd be all right.

SPARKLE
Did someone say something? Speak up. I'm a tiny bit deaf…

NARRATOR 3
That's when Sparkle saw the janitor at the vet's office. He's the one who'd spoken to her. Miguel was a grandfather of many. His legs ached too and he was not as spry as he used to be. He'd heard the doctor say that Sparkle was too old. But he didn't see that. Miguel thought she was perfect, the way sometimes only old things can be. And to prove it, he adopted her.

SPARKLE
Because for every person young or old, there is the right dog waiting. You can be the hero to him and give him a hand. And, in return, dogs can teach you how to be a leader, a kinder person, a better friend. When you get your forever friend, you only have to promise …

NANCY
To handle your dog with compassion. Feed him, walk him, and look after his basic needs. Even if times get rough, you won't abandon him but will find a way to take care of him, just like any other member of your family. Because dogs are not disposable.

NARRATOR 3
They have feelings. Rights. They have hearts. They are counting on you.

ANGEL
Like you can always count on them. It's a two way street.

TROUBLE
If you give homeless dogs the gift of a second chance, they'll give you back unconditional love. All you have to do is open your heart and…

ALL DOGS
Take us home!

ANGEL
You can make a difference in a homeless pet’s life.(Beat) This is how one very special family did.

Now we transition to part two, our documentary segment

NARRATOR 1
It started as a school project for Karen Talbot from New Jersey, her husband Dante and son Matthew. Their school decided to gather food for homeless dogs. But when the family went to the Georgia shelter that they'd "adopted" and saw it was overcrowded with dogs that had once been loving pets, Karen knew she had to act. So she formed an organization called M.O.M.S. The making of miracle stories.

NARRATOR 2
Karen and her volunteers started working with a shelter in GA where the public wasn't allowed. They connected with a woman in Georgia named Meike Wilder, who had formed a group called Carpathia Paws to help shelter animals. Carpathia was the name of the only ship that came to rescue the Titanic. It seemed a fitting name. Because Meike fought for the right to get inside that shelter by purchasing a million dollar insurance policy herself. No matter that it took almost every cent she had. She and Karen formed a partnership. 2 women dedicated to speaking out for voiceless animals. And soon that partnership swelled into a movement…

NARRATOR 3
Now, every month mothers and children led by Karen, from NJ, caravan down to Georgia to meet Meike at the Hinesville shelter. That's 13 hours each way. The south has no spay and neuter laws and an epidemic of deserted animals. It's an area where strays roam the streets looking desperately for food, puppies are dumped on the sides of roads, animals are shot or hit by cars on a daily basis and sick animals are often left without medical care. And a miracle indeed, did happen... in over 2 years, Karen's placed 2000 dogs in loving homes. Along the way, she's made great friendships, touched many hearts and has given families their best fur-ever friends. Here is their story…

SHOW THE DOCUMENTARY

That’s the Thing

Lyrics/Music by Melissa Pascoe
(Download music tracks from http://www.Animalaidusa.org)

We will be together forever
You can see that I’m a lot like you used to be
We will take every moment
Use it up, and smile a lot, and live thankfully

Hold a hand (hold a hand)
Touch a heart (touch a heart)
Shout and sing (shout and sing)
Friends for life (friends for life)
That’s the thing, that’s the thing (that’s the thing)

Hold a hand (hold a hand)
Touch a heart (touch a heart)
Shout and sing (shout and sing)
Save a life (save a life)
That’s the thing, that’s the thing (that’s the thing)

You walked in, the light shone behind you
Beautiful, and magical, you opened the door
Suddenly you changed every moment
Of my life as I knew it before

Hold a hand (hold a hand)
Touch a heart (touch a heart)
Shout and sing (shout and sing)
Friends for life (friends for life)
That’s the thing, that’s the thing (that’s the thing)

Hold a hand (hold a hand)
Touch a heart (touch a heart)
Shout and sing (shout and sing)
Save a life (save a life)
That’s the thing, that’s the thing (that’s the thing)

Every day I wait to see your face and then you come ‘round again
Now I know I’ll never see the day when we are lonely again
I would try to see the brighter side of every moment alone
And now you’re here, and you are dear, and you’ll take me home,
Take me home,
Take me home.

Hold a hand (hold a hand)
Touch a heart (touch a heart)
Shout and sing (shout and sing)
Friends for life (friends for life)
That’s the thing, that’s the thing (that’s the thing)

Hold a hand (hold a hand)
Touch a heart (touch a heart)
Shout and sing (shout and sing)
Save a life (save a life)
That’s the thing, that’s the thing (that’s the thing).

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