Written and Illustrated by David Walters
In our last story Ellen’s family put crumb balls in the apple tree for birds to eat but Wire Dog didn’t understand the purpose of the crumb balls. He thought they were some kind of important decoration and he wanted to make sure nothing bad happened to them.
Even before the sun came up Wire Dog was awake and had already checked out the tree. Nothing had changed as far as he could see. Birds were chirping in the trees and bushes in the yards of neighbors and in the woods behind Ellen’s house but none had landed as of yet in the apple tree with the crumb balls. Wire Dog was glad about that. He didn’t want any birds to interfere with what the family was doing with the tree and the decorations, so any time a bird even flew close to the tree he would bark and scare the bird away. All day while Ellen was at school and her father was at work Wire Dog faithfully kept guard on the tree keeping the birds away. Sometimes however he would get tired of watching and he would go for a little walk or have a drink of water from his bowl. But whenever he did that he would quickly run back to make sure nothing had disturbed the apple tree.
When Ellen and her brother got home from school they ran out to look at the apple tree to see if any birds had found the yummy treat they put out for them. They looked at each crumb ball and pine cone for any evidence that a bird might have found the treat and eaten any of it, but it looked like nothing had been touched. Wire Dog barked and wagged his tail, proud of the good job he had done protecting the tree from birds or cats or squirrels or anything.
When Father came home from work he went out too and checked with the kids, but it didn’t look like a single bird had discovered the nice food the family was offering them. “Oh well,” said Father. “They will eventually find it. I guess we just have to be a little more patient.”
As Wire Dog watched Ellen talking with her brother and father about the tree he thought they were probably talking about what a good job he was doing of keeping the birds out of the tree. So that afternoon he tried more than ever to keep a sharp eye out for any birds that would try to land in the tree.
Sometime later, Ellen went outside and sat beside Wire Dog on the grass. A few birds flew by but none landed.
“Don’t worry Wire Dog. If you are patient and keep waiting eventually a bird will come along and find our little treats.” Ellen waited just a little longer then she patted Wire Dog on the back and said, “I have to go now, but you can keep watching for the birds if you want. I’m sure they will come along pretty soon.” And with those encouraging words Ellen went in the house.
Wire Dog thought Ellen was telling him what a good guard dog he was. That made him even more determined than ever to protect the crumb balls in the tree, so he hardly took his eyes off it for the rest of the day. Several birds landed in the tree and hopped toward the crumbs but before they could have a taste Wire Dog would bark and scare them away. He was kept busy until darkness came and all the birds went to sleep. Wire Dog slept too but in his dreams lots of birds kept coming and eating the things that Ellen’s family had put in the tree. He tried to keep them out but more and more and more birds kept coming and coming so that when he ran to one side of the tree and barked to scare them off many more birds would land on the other side of the tree. It was a troubling dream and so Wire dog had a very restless sleep that night.
Wire Dog was glad when morning came and the dreams stopped. Before the sun came up he was out guarding the tree and Ellen saw him there as she ate her breakfast and looked out the window. “Poor Wire Dog,” thought Ellen, “he wants the birds to come so bad. I wish even just one would come to the tree today to make him happy.” Then she hurried off to school with her brother.
All morning Wire Dog stayed close to the tree and again several times birds landed but every time he scared them off again. But later in the morning as the sun got higher in the sky Wire Dog began to feel a little tired and because of the restless night he’d had, his eyes began to droop and soon he fall fast asleep in the warm sunshine.
As Wire Dog slept a little bird landed in the tree and looked around. The bird saw Wire Dog sleeping near the tree. That made the little bird nervous so it hopped from one branch to another making sure everything was safe. When the little bird felt brave enough it landed on one of the pine cones and pecked at the greasy bread crumbs and then quickly flew away before the dog saw what it had done as of it felt somehow a little guilty. Wire Dog saw nothing but just kept sleeping. In a few minutes the little bird came back. This time it landed on a branch, looked quickly at the sleeping dog then jumped onto another pine cone and took another few bites before happily flying off to tell another bird what a tasty treat he had found. Before long two or three birds at a time were pecking away at the bacon fat crumb balls here and there in the tree.
When Wire Dog woke up he was horrified to see several birds eating the crumb balls that Ellen’s family had so carefully placed in the tree. At first he thought he might be dreaming but soon he was sure this was not a dream. As quick as possible he chased the birds away and was kept busy keeping them away until Ellen got home from school. She hadn’t been home very long before she heard him barking away at something outside. When she stepped outside Ellen saw Wire Dog barking at the tree and noticed a couple of little birds quickly flutter away into the air.
“Oh Wire Dog she said in a hushed tone. I know you are happy to see the birds in the tree but you must be very very quiet or you will frighten them all away.” Ellen then sat down and held Wire Dog close and put her finger to her lips so he would understand that he was to be quiet. Wire Dog was confused. He wanted to bark and bark, but he stayed quiet and still like Ellen wanted.
After a while a little bird landed in the tree. Wire Dog ears went up and he was about to bark but Ellen put her finger to her lips again and softly whispered “ssshhhh.” The little bird took a few pecks at the bacon crumb treats and flew away. “Did you see that?” said Ellen excitedly. “That was a bird and if you stay quiet and don’t frighten them, another one might come back.”
It took Wire Dog a few minutes to understand, but he finally figured out that Ellen actually wanted the birds to eat the bacon grease treats. Wire dog was glad this time that he couldn’t talk because otherwise he would have to explain that he had been chasing birds away for the last two days.
Wire Dog still felt a little foolish that evening when Ellen’s father and brother came out to watch for the birds and Ellen told them about how happy Wire Dog was when the first bird finally came that afternoon when they were sitting quietly together on the grass. Wire Dog made up his mind that in the future he would try to understand things better before he got too excited or over reacted to a situation he only partly understood.