Stuart’s mom saw how sad he was, so she sat down with him and explained that real dragons were very hard to come by. She said that even if they could find one, it would be too expensive to buy and they probably wouldn’t be allowed to keep it—just like the man on the news who got in trouble for having an illegal pet monkey. There were lots of laws about exotic animals, and dragons were definitely exotic.
Stuart felt better after talking with his mom. He still wanted a pet dragon, but he realized that if he was going to get one, he’d have to take matters into his own hands. If his family couldn’t buy a live dragon, then he’d have to make one out of a dog.
One sunny afternoon, Stuart went to work. He carried all of his craft supplies out to the backyard, then whistled as loud as he could. Seconds later, Snickers, the family golden retriever, came running around the corner. If you’ve ever had a golden retriever, then you know they love attention and are always ready to play. Today was no exception; Snickers couldn’t be happier than to let Stuart turn him into a dragon.
Stuart started by cutting big triangles out of cardboard and painting them green. With a little string, he was able to prop them up in a line down Snickers’ back. Then he used his crayons to draw lots and lots of scales on pieces of construction paper that he taped to Snickers’ side. He also cut out a dragon mask that he drew and used a rubber band to keep it on Snickers’ head (making sure, of course, that Snickers could still see and breathe easily). After adding some decorations of popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, glitter and a few other supplies he found around the house, Stuart finally took a step back to admire his work. Snickers wagged his tail rapidly and let out a bark of approval.
“I agree,” said Stuart. “You make a fine dragon if I ever saw one.”
Stuart was so happy to finally have a dragon! He was also anxious to show him off to the neighborhood. Grabbing Snickers’ leash, which made the dragon very excited, he took his new pet for a walk through the park.
The dragon sure drew a lot of attention that day. Parents pointed and little kids stood in awe as he marched through the playground. Both Stuart and Snickers were so proud, they walked back and forth across the park four times just to make sure everyone saw them. It was all going well until the fourth lap when they ran into Chad Wilson, the big third grade bully.
Chad wasn’t alone. His sidekicks Steve Campbell and Ronald Jackson stood on either side of him. The three of them were the meanest and toughest kids in school, and it was usually best to steer clear of them. Today, however, Stuart didn’t have a choice because once the bullies saw him with his dragon, they cut across the playground to block his path.
“What happened to your dog?” asked Chad as he walked around Snickers.
“He’s not a dog, he’s a dragon!” said Stuart.
Steve burst out laughing. “Oh, the baby has a dragon!”
Ronald pretended to be afraid. “I hope your dragon doesn’t eat us, baby!”
“You’d better be nice to me and my dragon,” said Stuart, “Or he’ll breathe fire on you!”
The bullies just laughed more when they heard this. Snickers didn’t like that at all, and he let out a bark of disapproval.
“Oh no,” said Steve. “The baby’s dragon is sad!”
Stuart clenched his fists. “I’m warning you!”
Chad walked right up to Snickers and ripped one of the pages of scale drawings off of his side. Then he crumbled it up and threw it on the ground.
“I think we need to teach you some respect,” said Chad, punching one fist into the other.
Stuart and Snickers took a step back as the bullies moved closer. Just before they were within arm’s reach, Snickers let out another bark and a giant fireball shot out of him. The flame was so close to Chad Wilson that it singed his eyebrows. The three bullies froze in shock, then turned around and ran out of the park as fast as they could.
Snickers let out a happy yap and wagged his tail again as he looked up at Stuart.
“Good boy,” said Stuart.
He sure was glad he added the flamethrower to Snickers’ costume.