Written by David Walters
Illustrated by Olivia Smith and Candace Foy
Dogs have good noses and good ears, but there are some things they just can’t do. One day while Ellen was at school, Wire Dog went for a walk. He traveled to the edge of town and through an open field. After a while he came to an old shed. Wire Dog liked to sniff. So he started sniffing the ground all around the old shed. Like all dogs, Wire Dog could smell better than people. With his nose he could tell if a man or animal had walked by an area, and sometimes he could even tell what they had been doing. In this case he could tell from the smell that a mother cat had made several trips back and forth, in and out of the shed and that she had probably been carrying baby kittens out of the shed. He guessed from the smell that it had been about two days since she had been there. Wire Dog thought the babies were probably born in the shed, but the mother must have moved them to a better place.
Just then Wire Dog thought he heard a sound, so he stopped in his tracks and put his ears up. Everything was quiet, so Wire Dog put his ears down and went back to sniffing around. Then, there it was again, a tiny mewing sound from somewhere inside the shed. Wire Dog had heard that sound before. It was the sound of a baby kitten. Wire Dog could tell from the weak sound the kitten was making that it had been left alone in the shed for quite a while. Wire Dog guessed that the mother was not coming back. He could not tell why the mother had abandoned one of her babies. Maybe she had been hurt. Maybe she was lost. Or maybe someone had come along and closed the door, trapping the little kitten inside and the mother outside. Whatever had happened didn’t really matter. The most important thing now was to help that kitten soon or it would not last much longer.
Wire Dog ran all around the shed looking for a way in. He could not see more than a little crack here and there in the walls, but nothing big enough for him to crawl through or for the kitten to crawl out. He found the door and scratched on it with his claws, but the door would not open. What could he do?
Suddenly, Wire Dog thought of Ellen. She would know how to undo the latch and open the door. So off he ran as fast as he could go.
Wire Dog was out of breath when he got back to the house, but he arrived just as Ellen was coming home from school. He barked and barked to get her attention. He wanted to let her know that something was wrong. Ellen just thought he was excited to see her, so she bent over to give him a pat on the head. But just as she did, Wire Dog turned and ran toward the field. He didn’t run far before he turned around and barked excitedly again.
Ellen thought he was just being silly, so she started toward the house. But Wire Dog barked twice, ran quickly toward her, barked three times and ran again toward the field. Ellen could tell now that something was wrong. “What is it boy? What’s wrong? Ellen asked, as she walked toward her dog. When Wire Dog saw that Ellen was coming toward him he took off on a dead run toward the field. Ellen walked at first, but soon realized that Wire Dog wanted her to hurry, so she started running in an effort to catch up to her dog.
They ran out of town, through the field and eventually to the shed. Wire Dog stopped at the door and waited for Ellen to arrive. She was out of breath when she got there and asked, “What is it, boy?” Wire Dog swished his tail and barked at the door. Ellen said, “This is not our shed. We can’t go in there.” But Wire Dog barked again and then Ellen thought she heard a sound from inside the shed. “Quiet boy,” she whispered to her dog and then they both listened, carefully. The kitten made a tiny meowing sound that Ellen and Wire Dog both heard this time. “A kitten must be trapped in the shed. I think the owners would allow us to go inside to help a little kitten,” Ellen said as she undid the latch and opened the door.
It was dark inside the shed, but soon Ellen found the kitten under some wood in a place where even the mother cat would have had trouble removing the kitten. By carefully lifting up the boards, Ellen was able to remove the kitten and gently held it in her hands. It mewed and mewed as if to say it wanted its mother. Wire Dog wagged his tail when he saw the tiny kitten in Ellen’s arms.
“We need to find the mother cat,” said Ellen to her dog. “Which way did they go?” Wire Dog needed Ellen’s hands to open the door, but now she needed Wire Dog’s keen nose to figure out where the other cats had gone. Wire Dog put his nose to the ground and soon found the scent that showed the path the mother cat had taken. Wire Dog led the way sniffing along the grass until they came to a farmhouse. Now it was Ellen’s turn again to do the talking. Ellen knocked on the farmhouse door. A nice woman appeared and Ellen held out the kitten. “My dog found this kitten abandoned in a shed nearby. Have you seen a mother cat with kittens around here?” Ellen asked.
“Oh yes, we certainly have,” said the woman at the door. “Our cat brought home a litter of four kittens two days ago. We thought four was all she had, but I guess we need to thank you for finding one that was left behind.”
“Don’t thank me,” said Ellen. “It was my dog that found the kitten, and it was his nose that led us here. Wire Dog watched as Ellen handed the kitten to the woman, and wagged his tail. Then Ellen and Wire Dog raced for home.