Date: Saturday, November 5th, 2016

On November 5th, 2016, the “Hyogo Prefecture Senior High School English Speech Contest” was held at the Akashi Civic Center. Ms. Miki Mizutani, a second-year student at Himeji Nishi High School, took part in the contest and got honorable mention. Ms. Mizutani won second prize in the Seiban region’s preliminary round, held in October, and qualified for this prefecture level contest. She practiced hard under the guidance of our ALTs, Ms. Lauren Hudson and Mr. Michael Smith until the day of the contest and gave a great speech!


Pawprints on My Heart

Is a dog just a dog? I think the answer is NO. We can bond our hearts together with dogs stronger than people. Today I’m going to talk about my dog, Anko.

He came to our house when I was 6 years old. I had never had a dog before. I was very excited and had not been able to sleep the night before. He was a tiny little male French bulldog puppy. My mother named him Anko after the color of his fur. We played a lot and grew up together. Everyone in my family loved him very much.

Anko could understand my feelings. He usually would lay down on the floor and sleep, but when I was sad and cried, he would wake up, look at me worriedly and come and sit beside me quietly. I felt like he shared my sadness. So, no matter how painful, I was able to overcome anything because he always supported me by just staying beside me. Dogs can share people’s feelings and sometimes encourage us without words, but dogs are different from humans.

Dogs age more rapidly than us. When I became a high school student, he had already become an old dog. He started to sleep more. His legs became weak. Although he could walk, he couldn’t run like he had when he was young. He liked running outside, so we took him to Yumesaki River one beautiful sunny day in April. When we got to the river, he started running as if he were young again. He seemed to be smiling at me. We ran and played together the same as when we were little. He looked happy and I was also happy. That day is one of my favorite memories. I believed that I would make more memories with him, but sadly that was not the case.

It was during exam week in May. When I came home, he didn’t come to greet me. I went into the living room. He was lying there and when he noticed me, he raised his head and looked at me. I noticed that his eyes were different from usual. They were incredibly beautiful. Then I realized he was not long for this world. He was breathing hard and it seemed like he was waiting to see everyone in our family. Although I had exams the next day, I never left his side. I patted him and talked to him a lot. Slowly his body grew colder. Suddenly he stretched and fell asleep again. But, he never woke up.

From Anko, I learned many things. First, dogs can support us. Dogs don’t learn languages, but they can still understand us and take action. Second, dogs can give us good memories. I have countless amazing memories of Anko. Third, dogs can teach us important things. Through the experience of saying farewell to Anko, I was reminded that our lives are unpredictable, so we have to value the time we spend with the people and animals we love very much. A dog is not just a dog. They are a teacher, a family member, and especially, a friend. When they leave, they leave paw print on our hearts.

I never forget all of the good times I had with Anko. The beautiful sky above Yumesaki river will forever be in my mind’s eye. I hope that he is now listening to my speech from that beautiful sky. Thank you for listening.