A Scout is Kind. A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. Without good reason, he does not harm or kill any living thing.
“Okay, guys, controllers down. Everybody up and out,” Tad’s Mom called. Tad, Wyatt, Conner, and Rusty were sprawled all over the floor of the den after staying up until after midnight playing the special release of Keleron VIII. No one would dare admit it, but they were getting a little tired of pursuing alien beings.
“Rule at the Cartwright house is for every hour you spend staring at a screen, you spend an equal amount of time staring at sky. Out you go before your faces morph into mini computer screens,” Mom repeated.
The boys reluctantly put down the controllers and headed out the back door.
“Hey guys, let’s act out the battle for the Beta Quadrant here in the back yard. Conner, you be the Quest team leader. Wyatt and Rusty, you be the escaping Marf trolls.”
Tad and Conner immediately joined ranks and headed for the side of the garage while Rusty and Wyatt began to work on a battle plan at the edge of the swimming pool.
Then Rusty yelled, “Tad, Con, come quick. Maybe you ought to bring a stick or some Raid or something.”
Tad and Conner rushed over where Wyatt and Rusty were crouched down next to the edge of the swimming pool. There was the strangest looking lizard Tad had ever seen with something oozing out of his back legs.
“Wow, wonder where he came from,” Wyatt asked.
“Guys, he looks scared, and all kinds of beat up. That stuff coming out of his back legs can’t be normal. I’m going to get my mom,” Tad said.
“Yikes, what on earth is that thing?” Tad’s mom squealed and jumped once she got close enough to see the lizard. “Make sure you don’t put your hands near him. He may bite, and he might be venomous,” Mom added.
“Mom, can we keep him? I’ll take care of him. Can I, Mom, can I?” Tad pressed closer so he could flash his puppy dog eyes at his mom.
“Let’s get him into your old aquarium for safety – ours and his – until we figure out what to do.” she answered. Well, Tad thought, at least she hadn’t said no, exactly.
The boys got the old aquarium down from the top shelf of the garage and washed it out. Rusty and Wyatt held it in place while Conner and Tad lifted the lizard by pushing the side of a cardboard box under him. The fact that he didn’t even try to run away showed them just how badly hurt he was. By the time they got him settled with some leaves and dirt from the flower bed, Mom was back.
“I called the school office, and they gave me the number to Max Foster, the Reptile Retriever. You know the man who comes to your school with all the snakes and tarantulas? I left him a message and he’s going to call me back. Until we hear back, no one is to handle him. Some reptiles don’t react well to the oil on human skin,” Tad’s mom explained.
The boys promised to be cautious. For the rest of the afternoon, they shuffled in and out of the garage, checking on Leonardo, the name they gave the lizard, bringing him dead bugs and leaves to eat. He wasn’t showing any interest in the bugs, so the boys didn’t know if it was because it was something he didn’t normally eat or if he was just too badly hurt. The good news was that the fluid finally stopped oozing out of his legs.
Later in the afternoon, Mr. Foster came out to the garage to meet the boys and take a look at Leonardo. “Hi, fellas. I understand you guys are looking after a friend. Let’s see what we have.”
Tad led Mr. Foster into the garage. He told him about all the things they had tried to feed him, with no success. “Is he going to make it, Mr. Foster? Can I keep him? “
“Well, Tad, there are a few things you need to know before we talk about a permanent home for him. I really want to thank you boys for doing such a great job of fixing a temporary holding area for this guy. What you have here is a bearded dragon iguana. As you noticed, he’s injured and it’s going to take some time for him to heal. You were smart not to handle him much because you could have made his injuries worse. Good guess on the bugs, but he’d rather have vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. This guy is fairly young. When he’s grown, he’ll be around 7’ long, and need a cage about the size of your bedroom. Lots of people don’t do their homework before they get one of these, and get overwhelmed as they grow.“
“Whoa, seven FEET long? How cool is that!” The boys all exclaimed with excitement at the possibility of a seven foot lizard living at the Cartwright’s house. Tad’s mom, however, was obviously NOT catching lizard fever.
“Tad, I hope you understand the point Mr. Foster is trying to make here. Most people simply don’t have the room to house a seven foot lizard, including us,” his mom emphasized.
Tad thought it was worth one more try. “But Mom, I promise I’ll take care of him. AJ can move into the laundry room and he can stay with me. Please, Mom, pleeeeeeze!” Tad flashed the puppy dog eyes again, just in case.
“Son, you’re away at school all day, and going camping in a few weeks. We have vacation coming up. Especially while he’s recovering from his injuries, he’s going to require a lot of care.” There was the NO he’d been expecting.
“What’s going to happen to him, Mr. Foster? Isn’t there anything we can do?”
“First things first. I’ll take him to the Rescue facility where we’ll treat his injuries and give him a chance to heal. Next, you boys can come out to the Recovery Compound and volunteer anytime. We always need extra help, if you don’t mind a little dirty work.”
“Mr. Foster, is there any way to tell what happened to him? He was already hurt when we found him, honest,” Wyatt explained.
“I could tell that right away, Wyatt. His injuries are several weeks old. If I had to guess, I would say from the marks on his legs and back that someone tied or chained him up. These reptiles can be extremely aggressive when they feel threatened. Maybe his previous owners forgot about him and he escaped to find food, or possibly he fought with another animal. We’ll probably never know for sure. Unfortunately, it’s fairly common. That’s why we developed the Recovery Compound – to deal with these animals when their owners lose interest.”
Mr. Foster got Leonardo loaded in the back of his truck. They all promised to visit the Compound soon. And then, it was time for Tad’s friends to go home. The Keleron VIII marathon was officially over.
A few weeks later at a Cub Scout meeting, Mr. Bolton announced that their next outing was going to be at the Rescue Compound! Tad and his friends were super excited about getting to see Leonardo again.
Once the den got to the Compound, Mr. Foster divided them up into teams and put them to work. Some cleaned cages, some were on the feeding crew, and some were helping bring the animals in and out of the clinic for medical checkups.
As they were finishing, Mr. Foster called them all together. He told the whole den about the iguana rescue, and about how the den leaders chose volunteering at the Compound as this month’s outing so everyone could meet Leonardo. Mr. Bolton thanked the boys for living up to the point of the Scout Law that says a scout is kind. Then Mr. Foster took them all to meet Leonardo. That’s when they saw it. Right there on Leo’s cage was a sign that read, “This animal was rescued by Tad Cartwright, Conner Davis, Rusty Small, and Wyatt Spencer of Cub Scout Pack 913.” Hey, they were famous!