Authors: Chris Kurtz
I listen. It's no secret that dogs have better hearing than either rats or parrots. Garbage truck! Ha! This wolf is one sly fellow. That's the thing about wolves, the secret for their incredible hunting success. They show up where you least expect them.
“If he calls again, I'm going to answer,” I say. “Wolves like their brothers to answer when they call. Then they come a-running.”
“Do wolves climb up the fire escape, or do they prefer the elevator?” asks Hector.
“Hey, bucktooth,” I say. “Never underestimate a wolf. They are the most intelligent, crafty predators on the planet. And someday, if I get the chance, I may go hunting with them.”
“Milk bones,” says Heckles.
“What?” I say.
“Make sure that you tell your wolf
buddies that you want to go hunting for milk bones, because anything bigger or faster than a cookie in the shape of a bone is going to kick your tail.”
Now I'm mad. I bark very loudly and very ferociously at Heckles.
He flattens himself against the wire of his cage. “Please don't hurt me, oh wild thing,” he says. I can tell he isn't really afraid.
“Come to think of it, maybe you do have a wild brother,” says Hector.
Finally. I thought I would never get through.
“Wolves have fleas. Wild fleas. Congratulations. You could be the brother of a wolf's wild flea.”
I hear a sound like a parrot choking. Or trying not to laugh.
Sometimes when Glory should be sticking up for me, she doesn't remember.
“Watch it, Heckles.” I walk over to him. “Someday the door of that cage might come unlatched and you'll have to face these.” I show Hector my teeth.
“If this cage ever comes open, I'll march out
and bite the âChi' right off your âhuahua' before you can even turn around.” Hector shows me his really scary yellow biters. I look away. To tell you the truth, they could give a dog nightmares, and even though I don't know what it is, I'm pretty sure I don't want to lose my “Chi.”
Glory interrupts my thoughts. “Lobo, let's consider this. Don't wolves hunt at night?”
Glory asks hard questions sometimes, and when I'm worried or confused, I start licking. That tongue gets going, and I want to stop, but I can't.
Right now, my tongue is doing its thing. Toes. Back leg. Tummy. All I can think about is why I had the bad luck to be born in a city where wolves hardly ever go.
Just then a garbage truck revs its engine outside, and I can hear it driving to the next pickup. “Run for your life. Flea brother was right,” says Hector. “Do wolves have four wheels, eat garbage one can at a time, and howl at streetlamps?”
Ha, ha, ha. I walk away, but I turn around just before I reach the corner. I look the dumb rat right in the eye. “That howling sound, my friend, is what is known as a sign! It's a sign that I'm
going to find my pack someday, and that's a promise.”
Wow. I can't believe I got a sign. Now I've got to stay on the lookout for the next sign. And then another sign and another. And then someday, a wolf.
Mona is yakking on the phone in the kitchen. I'm hungry, and she's between me and my food. I try to scoot by. That doesn't work out.
“Come here, big boy.” Wolves love being called big boy. So do wolf brothers. Is she in a scratching mood? She holds the phone to her ear with her shoulder and picks me up so we're face-to-face. Meanwhile, my legs dangle over the floor. Wolves hate dangling legs. So do wolf brothers.
Then she starts yakking to her mother again. Dogs have sensitive ears, as I said before, just
like wolves. And none of us likes getting yakked over.
Without any warning, in between yaks, she kisses me on the nose. Of all the things wolves hate most, it's nose kissing. It's embarrassing. Wolf brothers aren't too crazy about it either.
Quickly, I slide an extra dollop of drool on my tongue and wait for the next nose kiss, because nose kisses never come in singles.
. I hit the bull's-eye on the second kiss.
“Ewww!” She puts me down pretty fast. I scamper to my food bowl. She might remember that lick next time she wants to yak in my ear and dangle my legs and give me nose kisses. You can train people if you have the know-how.
“You're a bad, bad dog!” she says to me. But she's laughing and telling her mother all about it while she wipes off the slobber.
Before I can get a bite of food, I hear an awful squawk. Glory is in trouble! I know just who the attacker is. Heckles! His mind must have snapped from grouchiness. He's finally figured a way to open that cage of his and is chasing her with his big yellow teeth.
Glory is very important to me. When I was a lonely little puppy, whimpering in the night, she was there for me, a voice in the darknessâa parrot voice, telling me that everything would be all right. And when that wasn't enough, there were songs and stories.
Now she's in trouble. Heckles might be chewing off Glory's “Chi” right now. If she has one.
I rush back for the rescue, woofing and howling. Actually, I'm still working on my woofing and howling. It might come out more like yipping and yapping. But it can still strike fear in the heart of the bravest scoundrel.
“Hey, Lobo,” Mona yells, “quiet!” This makes me woofâokay, yapâeven louder. If she knew what was happening to Glory, she would be depending on me to save her.
I can see it in my mind. Feathers everywhere. Glory being dragged to her doom. I dash up to the evil one's cage. I will scare him off just in case Glory is still clinging to life.
Then I see something that stops me short.
No feathers. No blood. Heckles is making a tunnel under his sawdust.
I look up.
Glory has her head cocked to one side, and one of her eyes is staring down at me in a confused sort of way.
I bark louder.
“Lobo, what is your problem?” Mona sticks her head around the corner. She's still on the phone.
My problem is that I am trying to do my job and maintain security and keep her beloved parrot from becoming rat chow. Except it turns out to be a false alarm because someone is playing with me. I glare at Glory and give another yip.
“Lobo, behave yourself.” Mona stomps on the floor and uses that really scary voice that top predators hate.
I yelp. I admit it isn't the bravest of yelps in the world, but a lot of critters with less heart would tuck tail, scuttle underneath the sofa, and tremble. Not me. I have the heart of a wolf and I don't ever forget it. I tuck tail and scuttle underneath the sofa where I can watch for danger. My body is only shaking because the air-conditioning is making me cold.
Heckles pops his head out of his tunnel and
sniggers. A snigger is not a sound wolf brothers like to hear. I consider baring my battle weapons, my deadly fangs. But then I remember the scary voice and decide against it.
“What was that all about?” asks Glory.
I poke my ears out. “You squawked. I was ready to rescue you from danger.”
“I am not in any danger,” says Glory.
“So why the cry of fear and desperation?” I am determined to get to the bottom of this. “Perhaps I should tell you a story of a boy, or in this case a parrot, who cried wolf.”
“My calling to you does not mean bark your head off and make a fool of yourself,” says Glory, “and anyway, I am the one who told you that story when you were just a puppy.”
“Oh,” I say.
“It was a get-your-tail-in-here-and-pay-attention squawk. I was calling you because I heard something interesting while I was listening to Mona's conversation.”
“What did she say?”
“She said â¦” Glory paused and preened. “Perhaps I shouldn't tell you. It could give you
ideas. You could get in trouble if you don't think before you charge ahead.”
Now I'm curious. I sit very quietly and politely to demonstrate just how thoughtful I really am.
“That was her sister on the phone. We're going to Yellowstone Park for the family reunion this year!”
Knock me over with a feather! I knew it! It's my next sign!
I leap up and run in a circle ten times. Glory knows Yellowstone Park means just one thing to me.
I wake up the next morning with a soaring heart. We are going camping. I have to get in shape to become a top predator.
And run with the wolves.
The lazybones of the world are still asleep. It's the perfect time for my first serious training exercise. Yellowstone might be wolf heaven, but it's no poodle party. There will be mountains to climb, rivers to cross, wide-open land to explore, and miles to run.
Chances like this don't come around more than once.
Ever since I heard the news, I've been planning out a special track to help me get ready. It's time to test it.
Mark. Set. Go! I race through the kitchen, streak under the dining room table, and leap up onto the coffee table.
Unfortunately, there is a pile of newspapers, a half can of soda, and a bowl of popcorn on the table. Using my wild instincts, I land on my feet as the newspapers slide off the table. Bang! The bowl of popcorn hits the floor.
White, buttery shapes fly around my head. I duck. I sidestep the rolling can with soda pouring out, and bound forward before the last kernel of popcorn stops bouncing.
Hah! Back around the track. Let me tell you, it's not easy taking corners on a hardwood floor. Dog feet aren't made to stick on smooth wood, so mostly they slide. I take at least five extra running steps on every turn.
Dog claws don't help much either. Mostly dog claws make running a lot louder.
Suddenly a fluffy yellow and pink bedroom slipper in the shape of a fish comes flying out of nowhere. It just misses my ear.
Red alert! Prowlers have gained entry and are trying to take out the guard dog with a shoe gun. My instincts switch from training mode to watchdog mode. I bark. I stop and spin around to spot the intruder.
Dear, sweet Mona is standing in the hall just outside the bedroom door. The bandits must have awakened her. She looks terrible. Her hair is sticking out everywhere. She looks like she could use another two hours of sleep. And she has her arm cocked back with a weapon in her hand. It is a fluffy yellow and pink fish in the shape of a slipper.
She has the same weapon as the intruders! What a confusing coincidence. I decide to ignore the confusion and focus on the job at hand.
I bark again and do a 360 to keep the enemy pinned down.
Mona must have the same idea. A second slipper comes whizzing through the air. No, not whizzing exactly. Fluffy bedroom slippers don't whiz so much as they flutter. The problem is, it's hard to aim a slipper, and instead of hitting the intruder it hits me. Right in the ribs.
I yelp to let her know that she missed her target, but she disappears into the bathroom.
She must think I've already scared off the bad guys. I sniff around just to make sure, and try not to step in the sticky mess of soda and popcorn. All clear. That was a close one.