Written by David Walters
Illustrated by Gabriela Rodriquez, Anna Tereshkina and Axel van Zyl
Have you ever wondered if a dog can count? One day Wire Dog trotted all around the yard looking for something fun to do, but he couldn’t find anything of interest. Then suddenly he heard a sound that made his ears go up and his heart beat a little faster. It was a sound he had heard many times before but he still got excited every time. It was the sound of a train.
Wire Dog ran toward the railroad tracks that were some distance away from the house. Wire Dog liked to run and as he drew closer to the tracks he heard the train whistle sound again. This time it was a little louder than the time before. That made Wire Dog even more excited, so he ran a little faster yet.
Wire Dog knew it was very dangerous to get too close to a moving train, so he stopped when he got to his favorite spot, which was on a patch of grass a safe distance from the tracks. When the train arrived, the whistle blew one more time. Wire Dog knew a lot about trains. He knew that the whistle was a warning to cars and people to stay back. He knew it warned animals to get out of the way. It is very difficult for a heavy moving train to stop, so everyone else needs to stop whatever they are doing and let it go by. As the train passed, Wire Dog’s head went back and forth as each train car went clattering by.
Wire Dog also knew a lot about the train cars. He knew that some carried animals, because he could easily smell them as they passed. He knew that some carried crops like grain or corn or cotton. He knew that some carried boxes of fruits, vegetables or packaged foods. Some carried cars, equipment, or petroleum products.
Wire Dog could tell a lot about trains by using his eyes, ears and nose, but there was one thing that he could not do. He couldn’t count the number of cars in a train like Ellen did whenever they watched a train together. Ellen listened to the whistle just like he did. Her head went back and forth just like his did. She could not smell what was in the cars as well as Wire Dog could, but Ellen could count.
Wire Dog listened and heard Ellen say, “one, two, three, four, five.” On and on she would count until she had counted every car in the train, including the caboose. Wire Dog guessed that Ellen must have learned to count at school. That made him wish he could go to school with her to learn such things. But whenever he tried to follow her to school, she always made him go back home and wait.
As Wire Dog watched this train alone, without Ellen, he tried his best to count. Each time a car went by he barked. “Bark, bark, bark.” Wire Dog barked once for each car.
When the caboose passed and the train clicked away down the track, Wire Dog slowly walked back home to wait for Ellen to come home from school. He wanted to tell her that he learned to count the train cars, but he was pretty sure she wouldn’t believe him.