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Barkwell Finds a Way

Barkwell Finds a Way Barkwell looked like an ordinary dog. But he wasn't an ordinary dog. He had a strange power. He could change into any kind of dog in the world -- and even some that never were before.

Barkwell was walking down the street. This time he happened to be a great dane. When he had his choice, he liked to be a big dog. It made him feel more important. But sometimes it was very handy to be a small dog. Especially when he was hungry.

Across the street Barkwell noticed a boy sitting on the curb, crying. "That boy looks like he needs a dog," Barkwell thought. "But I think a great dane would be a little too much dog for him. So he ducked behind a parked car, and a moment later a frisky spotted terrier trotted across the street.

The boy looked up. A strange dog was licking him. "Hey! You're a friendly dog. You're almost as cute as Snicker was." And with that he started to cry again.

Barkwell moved closer and snuggled against the boy. Holding him tight, the boy buried his face in Barkwell's fur.

"Charlie! Charlie! Oh, there you are. What are you doing?"

"Hey, Mom, look at this dog. He came right up to me. He's so friendly. Can I keep him?"

"Are you sure he doesn't belong to anyone?" she asked, worriedly. Charlie's dog, Snicker, had just been killed by a truck the day before. She did not want her son to get attached to another dog and then lose him too.

"He's got no collar, and he acts just like he belongs to me." Charlie scampered up the steps to his house, and Barkwell followed right behind him.

"Good boy, Friendly," Charlie said. "You're my dog now."

The next week was filled with happy days for Charlie and his new dog Friendly. In the mornings, they walked to school together. And when Charlie got out, there was Friendly waiting for him.

They ran around and played games together. Charlie was amazed at all the tricks Friendly knew.

But Barkwell was getting restless. He wasn't a one-boy dog. He liked to be free. But it wouldn't be fair to just go off and leave Charlie. He knew that Charlie loved him very much. And he liked Charlie very much, too. He thought of a plan.

So the next day, while Charlie was in school, Barkwell visited the nearby dog pound. He walked right up to the steps and barked at the door. The dogcatcher opened the door and looked at him. Barkwell walked right in. The dogcatcher scratched his head. "This is the first time a dog ever came here by himself!"

He locked Barkwell up in a pen with several other dogs. As soon as his back was turned, Barkwell turned into a tiny chihuahua. He slipped through the bars of the pen and wandered from one pen to another. At last he spotted the dog he was looking for. He whispered into the dog's ear, and the dog nodded, "It's a deal."

Now Barkwell turned himself into an even smaller chihuahua -- the smallest one there ever was. He was no bigger than your thumb. On the floor he saw an empty cigarette pack that someone had dropped. He scooted across and slipped underneath it. Holding the cigarette pack over him he sneaked toward the door. Nobody noticed him. As soon as someone opened the door, he slipped out.

Now it was time to put the second part of his plan into action. Quickly he changed back into Friendly again. He raced homeward. When he was three blocks from Charlie's house, he stopped and began to howl. He howled and howled. The neighbors were so annoyed, they called the dogcatcher.

When the dogcatcher appeared, Barkwell scampered ahead, straight toward Charlie's block. The dogcatcher raced after him in his truck. Charlie was coming home from school. He was worriedly looking for Friendly. Imagine how he felt when, only half a block away, he saw Friendly being caught by the dogcatcher!

He raced over and pulled at the dogcatcher's sleeve. "That's my dog!"

"Sorry, Sonny," the dogcatcher said. "He doesn't have a license. I've got to take him to the pound." And he put Barkwell in the truck and drove off.

Charlie ran home sobbing. That evening his father took him to the pound to get Friendly back. They looked through one pen after another. Finally, Charlie pointed to a spotted terrier and shouted, "There he is! That's Friendly!" The dog barked and wagged his tail.

Charlie and his father left the pound with their dog and a brand new license tag. Suddenly, under a street lamp, Charlie bent down and looked at his dog. "Say, Friendly, you look different somehow." The dog barked and licked his face. "I guess maybe not," Charlie said, and hugged the dog.

Across the street a proud great dane barked approvingly. Barkwell's plan had worked, and now he trotted off into the darkness.




©1972, 2013 The Silversteins