Written by David Walters
Illustrated by Anna Tereshkina,, Enroc and Justo Borrero
Why would a dog act like a bird? Let’s see. One day Wire Dog was waiting for Ellen to come home from school. As usual, he was waiting on the steps with his head resting on his folded paws. Suddenly, he lifted his head when he noticed a Red Breasted Robin hopping across the lawn. The bird would take a few hops, then tilt its head to one side and listen. If it didn’t hear anything, it would hop a few more steps, tilt its head the other way and listen again. As soon as it heard something it immediately drove its sharp beak into the ground and pulled out a worm.
Wire Dog was amazed that the bird could hear the sound of a worm crawling in the soil below the grass. He didn’t think worms made any sound at all, but they must, because when the robin tilted its head, Wire Dog could see clearly that it was listening for the worm to make a sound. He watched the robin for a long time.
Finally, however, the handsome bird jumped into the air and flew away to some other unknown area. So, now that there was no one around to see what he was doing, Wire Dog thought he would walk out onto the lawn, tilt his head to one side, and listen for the sound of a worm crawling in the soil.
He listened here, and he listened there, but he couldn’t hear anything. He even tried hopping like the robin to see if that made a difference. Still he heard nothing. “Maybe the robin ate all the worms in this lawn,” Wire Dog thought. “Or maybe they have all gone deeper into the ground to hide from the birds and from me.”
Just then Wire Dog thought he heard something that sounded like a worm, even though he was not sure how a worm was supposed to sound. Now what? Wire Dog didn’t have a sharp beak to drive into the ground. His nose was too soft and his mouth was too big. He did have sharp claws though, and he knew how to dig. So, as fast as his legs would go, Wire Dog started digging in the grass, one paw after the other. Grass and dirt went flying between his legs. Down, down, down into the ground he dug. But if there was a worm down there, Wire Dog didn’t find it. Then Wire Dog went hop, hop, hop to a different place on the lawn, listened, and then dug another hole with his paws, but still he didn’t see a worm. So he moved to a new spot on the lawn and tried again.
“Wire Dog!” yelled Ellen. “What in the world are you doing?”
For a long time Wire Dog followed Ellen around the yard. He watched her fill in all the holes he had dug. He could tell that she was mad at him for digging all those holes but he couldn’t figure out why she was so upset. Nobody seemed to be mad at the Robins for catching worms.
The next day, while Ellen was at school, Wire Dog lay on the steps again with his chin on his paws. When a robin landed on the grass and started hunting for worms, Wire Dog watched very carefully to see if he could see a difference between what the bird was doing and what he had done. He watched and watched. It seemed to Wire Dog that the only real difference was that the bird was finding worms but he wasn’t. One after another, the robin would pull a long, wet worm from the grass and gobble it down. The more Wire Dog watched. The more he wondered if he would even like to eat a worm once he found it.
When the bird flew away again, Wire Dog put his chin back down on his paws again and thought. “Maybe I should not try to be something I am not. Maybe I should be happy that I am a dog, and grateful for all the skills and abilities I have as a dog. Robins can hear really well, and they have a sharp beak that is perfect for catching worms, but dogs have four legs. We can run really fast. We have a great nose for sniffing out things that others cannot smell. And we usually get along really well with people, maybe even better than any other animal.”
Wire Dog was happy when he thought about all the good things he could do; and he smiled knowing that Ellen would soon be home from school and they would play together. Robins can‟t do that.