“Skout the Naughty Dog,” Friend, June 2006, 10–12
Ever since he was little, Jack had wanted a dog. Mom and Dad surprised him with a little tan puppy with big brown eyes and white paws. Jack named his new dog Skout, and soon they became great friends.
Jack worked very hard to take care of Skout and teach him how to be a good dog, but Skout was only a puppy and often made mistakes. One time he chewed up Grandpa’s umbrella, and another time he ate the pepperoni pizza and drank the pink soda at a family party.
Skout lived in the backyard behind a locked fence. Soon he learned how to dig a hole under the gate and crawl out onto the street. Every night Jack tried to patch up the spot where Skout escaped, and every night Skout found a new way to get out of the backyard.
One day Jack’s mother received a phone call. “Hello, Mrs. Reynolds, this is Mr. Hoolihan, your neighbor. I’m calling because your dog has been getting into my yard every night. He has ruined my new flowers and destroyed my garden! If that dog comes in my yard again, I’m calling the dogcatcher to take that naughty dog to the pound.”
“I am so sorry, Mr. Hoolihan,” Jack’s mother said. “We’ll make sure that this does not happen again.”
“It better not, or you can say good-bye to that naughty dog!” Mr. Hoolihan yelled.
The whole family felt terrible. After dinner, Jack and his father gathered some large rocks and bricks and stacked them near the gate to make sure Skout could not dig a hole under it or push it open. Everyone was so worried about Skout that they hardly slept.
The next morning before school, Jack ran into the backyard to check on his dog. He was almost scared to look, but there was Skout happily wagging his tail behind the gate. Jack sighed with relief. “Hi, boy!”
But just as Jack was filling Skout’s food bowl, he noticed something—a large chewed-up shoe. Jack had seen this shoe somewhere before, but it was too big to be Dad’s. Then Jack remembered—every night after working in his garden, Mr. Hoolihan left his muddy shoes on his front porch. If this was Mr. Hoolihan’s shoe, Skout must have been out again last night.
Jack ran to the front yard and looked across to Mr. Hoolihan’s front porch. Sure enough, one shoe was missing. Only Jack knew where the matching shoe was.
Jack was worried. If he told the truth, Mr. Hoolihan would be angry and Skout would be sent away. Jack quickly hid the shoe behind a bush and went inside.
“I knew those rocks would work!” Dad said.
“I am so glad that Skout was a good dog last night,” Mom said.
Jack dragged his heavy feet upstairs into his room. He sat on his bed and thought about what to do. Jack knew that telling lies was bad, but this seemed different. Maybe Mr. Hoolihan would think that somebody else stole the shoe. Maybe no one would ask Jack about it, and then he wouldn’t exactly be lying.
He looked around his room for an idea of what to do. He saw his scriptures on his bookshelf, and he saw a photograph of his family on the dresser. He saw his Sunday clothes hanging in his closet, and he saw a picture of the Savior hanging on the wall. The song “I Am a Child of God”* came into his head and he began to hum the tune. Jack’s frown melted away. He knew what he had to do—he had to be honest.
Jack explained the truth to his parents, grabbed the shoe from behind the bush, and walked over to Mr. Hoolihan’s house. Jack nervously rang the doorbell. Mr. Hoolihan answered the door in his pajamas with an angry look on his face.
“Mr. Hoolihan, I am very sorry, but my dog, Skout, was out again last night. He chewed up your shoe and brought it into our yard.” Jack held up the mangled shoe. “I will work to pay for some new shoes for you.”
Mr. Hoolihan grabbed the shoe, mumbled something about calling the dogcatcher, and slammed the door. Jack walked home with a few tears in his eyes. He went to the backyard and gave Skout a hug.
After Jack went inside, the doorbell rang. Mr. Hoolihan stood on the porch, dressed and with a little bit of a smile on his face. “Jack, I’m glad that you came and told me the truth. I owe you an apology for reacting so rudely. You can wash my car every Saturday for one month to pay me back for the shoes. And to pay you back for my bad manners, I would like to help you fix your fence so Skout will be safe in your backyard.” Jack could hardly speak; all he could do was smile.
“We cannot be less than honest, we cannot be less than true … if we are to keep sacred the trust given us.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, “We Believe in Being Honest,” Ensign, Oct. 1990, 5.