Dog Called Kitty

Dog Called Kitty

4.3 31
by Bill Wallace

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The puppy was small and fuzzy, with a friendly, wagging tail -- and Ricky was afraid of him!

No wonder, since he was attacked by a dog when he was just a baby. So when a stray puppy comes sniffling around the farm, Ricky tells it to get lost.

But the puppy keeps trying to play with Ricky. And every time Ricky's Mom feeds the cats, the little dog comes

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The puppy was small and fuzzy, with a friendly, wagging tail -- and Ricky was afraid of him!

No wonder, since he was attacked by a dog when he was just a baby. So when a stray puppy comes sniffling around the farm, Ricky tells it to get lost.

But the puppy keeps trying to play with Ricky. And every time Ricky's Mom feeds the cats, the little dog comes running. The cats aren't sharing their food, however, and the poor pup is slowly starving.

If Ricky doesn't overcome his fear, the little puppy may die -- but if he lets himself get close enough to feed it, he may find the best friend he's ever had!

Winner of the Texas Bluebonnet, the Oklahoma Sequoyah and the Nebraska Golden Sower Awards.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 3-5Bill Wallace's story (Holiday, 1980) of the bonding between a boy and a dog is not to be missed. This presentation, read by L.J. Ganser, is so softly dramatic that it not only captures the essence of gentle emotion but essentially transports readers to the Oklahoma farm where Ricky exhibits courage beyond belief. Ricky is terrified by dogs because as a toddler he was mercilessly mauled by a rabid dog and left to die. Sixty-three stitches later with no anesthesia, Ricky is scarred with the emotional and physical memories that constantly recall his tragedy. The softness of Ganser's voice reflects the softness of Ricky's heart when a puppy is left to starve because he responds with a littler of kittens for food but is rejected. Hence, the name Kitty. Ricky musters all his courage and feeds the puppy, building a closeness that only friends realize and conquering his all-consuming fear. With Ricky, readers suffer the loss and feel the anguish when Kitty is accidentally killed at an oil rig. Hope, however, still prevails and happiness does come through sorrow. Ganser brings life and emotion to a powerful story with his dramatic rendition. This touching and encouraging story add a further dimension to the significance of boy and dog relationships, and should be high on public and school library priority lists.-Patricia Mahoney Brown, Franklin Elementary School, Kenmore, NY

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt

The barn was partly dark inside. The last few bales were over in a corner. I grabbed hold of the wire on one and started dragging it toward the stack. When I did, I thought I heard a sound from behind one of the other bales.

I froze. Stood real still, listening. But when the sound didn't come again, I decided it was only my imagination and went on about what I was doing.

When I got hold of another bale, I heard the sound again. This time, I was sure it wasn't just my imagination. Real careful, I leaned over and pulled another bale out of the way. Then another, trying to see what it was I heard.

The last bale was leaning up against the corner. I tipped it over — and that's when I saw him.

It was the pup.

I'd forgotten about him coming down with our cats this morning. When I saw him hiding under the hay bale, it scared me.

I jumped so hard, my head hit the side of the barn. Tin rattled all over the place. And so did my head.

The little pup just lay there for a second. He tilted his head to the side and cocked his floppy ears, like he was trying to figure what I was.

Then, 'fore I knew what was happening, his face sorta lit up. All of a sudden, he was on his feet. His tail was wagging so hard that it shook his whole back end.

He yapped a couple of times, then started toward me.

Like always, the old fear took hold. I backed away from him. He only came toward me faster.

In a flash, I turned and started running. When I did that, the pup took in after me. He kept wagging and yapping. Chased me all over the barn.

I tried to get out the door once. But he got there before I did.

Finally, I got away from him by climbing up the bales of hay that I'd just stacked. He couldn't follow me up the bales. But he stood there at the bottom. He'd bounce around, wiggling all over the place. Then, he'd stop and yap at me.

"Get," I screamed. "Get away from me! Leave me alone!"

He tilted his head to the side and cocked his ears, giving me that dumb look again. His teeth weren't very big, least they didn't seem like it from up top of the haystack, but his tongue kinda flopped out the side of his mouth. It was probably long enough to drag the ground. And I was sure with all the jumping around he was doing, he was bound to trip over it. Only he never did.

I don't know how long he kept me up there. Mama called dinner again. I was scared to yell for help. As it was, I was in enough trouble with Dad and, if he had to come up and rescue me from this little pup, I knew sure he'd be mad as blazes.

I didn't know what to do.

"Get," I screamed again. I raised my fist. Shook it at him. ' Get, or I'll beat your head off."

He just lolled that long, sticky tongue out and cocked his ears again.

Next, I got my feet behind one of the hay bales and rolled it off the stack. It hit with a thud. Dust and old dry hay belched up around it.

For a second, I felt sorta bad, figuring I'd squashed the stuffing out of him.

But when the dust cleared, there he was. He was still bouncing around, wagging that bushy tail.

When I rolled a second bale off at him, he started yapping again. Acted like it was a game or something.

I felt ashamed of myself. The pup wasn't much bigger than a cottontail rabbit, and I reckon he was about as vicious, too. Only being scared of dogs like I was, I was scared to come down. Even if he was little and scrawny, he was still a dog. And I had good reason to be scared of dogs.

He could have kept me up there for the rest of the night if it hadn't been for Mama.

About the time I was fixin' to yell for help, I heard her open the back screen down at the house. She rattled the pans together and yelled, "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty."

The pup stopped looking at me and turned toward the door of the barn. When Mama called the cats again, he lit out for the house like somebody'd set his shaggy tail on fire with a match.

I waited for a second, then climbed off the haystack. At the door of the barn, I looked to make sure he was headed for the house. Then I lit out in a big circle so I could come up in front of the house instead of in the back where the dog was.

Just about the time I got to the front door, that pup must have got to the feed bowl where the cats were eating. You never heard such a commotion in your life.

Even from the other side of the house, I could hear the cats squalling and spitting. The pup yapped a couple of times, then yelped real good. He kept right on yelping as his voice trailed off toward the barn. I felt proud of the cats for running him off again.

Mama and Dad were standing by the back screen, watching. I scooted into my place at the table and waited' like I'd been there all along.

Mama shook her head. Turned back toward the table.

"Poor little thing. He'll starve if those cats don't let him eat with them."

Dad nodded.

"Somebody probably dumped him up the road, and he wandered here. Hard tellin' how long he's been without food. If it wasn't for Ricky being afraid of dogs, I'd..."

He stopped suddenly when he saw me sitting at the table.

"Where'd you come from?"

I shrugged and kinda smiled.

"Came in the front. This sure looks good, Mama," I said, trying to change the subject. "What is it?"

"Tuna casserole," she answered. She sat down in her chair beside me. "You usually don't like it."

I gave a half-grin and shrugged.

"Guess I'm extra hungry today. Stacking hay's hard work."

We all started eating then. I didn't much like tuna casserole but, the way things had been going, I didn't dare complain. Dad and Mama visited some about going to town and the weather. I figured maybe Dad had forgot about my fight. And I ate all hunkered down in my chair, trying not to bring anybody's attention to me.

Chuckie was the one who messed things up, though. Everybody was busy talking and eating. Nobody asked me anything, and I just pretended I wasn't there.

Right about then, Chuckie gave me that "little brother" sneer. That look that says "I'm gonna get you."

"Look what Ricky got on his foot, Mama."

"What?" she asked, not really paying much attention.

"Ricky stepped in the cow stuff," he announced.

I glanced down at my foot. Sure enough, I guess I'd been in such a hurry getting away from the pup, I didn't notice where I was stepping. Along with being on my shoe, there were big, green spots trailing through the living room to the front door.

Mama leaned around to where she could see what I was looking at.

"Oh, Ricky." She sighed. "And I just swept that carpet this morning."

"I'm sorry. I didn't..." "You get outside, right now," she said. "Go get that off your feet."

I eased up from the table. Chuckie sneered again. Then, sure nobody was looking except me, he stuck his tongue out.

One of these days, I thought, I'm gonna tie a knot in that tongue of his. Now wasn't the time, though. I was in enough trouble as it was. Besides, if I so much as looked mean at him, he'd yell and I'd catch it.

Without a word, I went on outside like Mama said.

Just as I feared, Dad started asking me about the fight when I got back. I told him as best I could that it wasn't my fault. Only that didn't seem to make him any happier.

He made me tell every bit of it. Even though I didn't want to, I knew by looking at him he was in no mood for me to fool around and not answer.

"How did it end?" he asked.

I kinda bit down on my lip.

"Well, I was whoppin' him good and...and...and..."

"And," he snapped. "Go on."

"And then Sammy's dog came running up and started barking at us. I got scared and ran."

"Where to?"

"'Round back of the stadium. I climbed up on the fence."

Dad looked away. Shook his head.

I slammed my fork down in my plate.

"I couldn't help it," I said. "I can't help being scared of dogs. And I couldn't help getting in that fight, either. It wasn't my idea."

Dad whirled around in his chair.

"I'm not worried about the fight," he snapped. He blew a short blast of air up his forehead. Held his breath, like he was trying to calm himself. "Sometimes a man has to stand up for what he thinks is right. Fightin' never solved anything, never does anybody any good, but it happens sometimes. I can understand that. What I can't understand is why you act like a blamed idiot every time you get near a dog."

I glared across the table at him.

"What'd you want me to do? Stay there and get chewed up, like when I was little?"

I was shaking all over. Worse than that, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I was mad at Dad for gettin' onto me for something I couldn't help.

"Now don't start that clanged bawlin'," he barked. "You're gettin' too big for that foolishness. You're not a little baby anymore, Rick. It's time you started growin' up. Started takin' on some responsibility."

Mama reached over and touched Dad lightly on the arm

"Now, honey. Don't be too hard on him. You know he can't help how he is about dogs. After what happened to him when he was a baby, I don't blame him a..."

"That was a long time ago," Dad cut her off. Then he turned back to me. "You can't let something that happened that long back keep gnawing at you, son."

With Dad yelling and Mom taking up for me, I felt like I was trapped in the middle. A single tear rolled down my cheek, and I tried to wipe it away before Dad could see.

"I can't help being scared of dogs." I sniffed. "I just can't help it."

Dad shook his head.

"It's one thing to be scared of something. But you can't let fear run your life. You can't let it stampede you, make you do crazy things that you can't even remember. It's something you got to overcome. Fear is something you got to control. Somethin' you got to beat before it beats you."

"What do you want me to do?" I yelled. "You're always pickin' at me, but you never tell me what you want me to do!"

The knots in my stomach were so tight, I was shaking all over.

"Ricky," Mama scolded. "Don't talk to your father in that tone of voice."

I didn't realize I was almost screaming until Mama stopped me.

Dad's eyes got real tight. I bit down on my lip. Wished I hadn't lost my temper and yelled like I did.

I figured any second Dad'd stand up from his chair and start taking his belt off. And I reckon I deserved it, too. Only he just sat there. His voice was real calm when he said, "Go up to your room. Now."

Copyright © 1980 by Bill Wallace

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Meet the Author

Bill Wallace grew up in Oklahoma. Along with riding their horses, he and his friends enjoyed campouts and fishing trips. Toasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories to scare one another, and catching fish was always fun.
One of the most memorable trips took place on the far side of Lake Lawtonka, at the base of Mt. Scott. He and his best friend, Gary, spent the day shooting shad with bow and arrows, cutting bank poles, and getting ready to go when their dads got home from work.
Although there was no "monster" in Lake Lawtonka, one night there was a "sneak attack" by a rather large catfish tail. Checking the bank poles was not nearly as fun or "free" after that point, but it was the inspiration for this story.
Bill Wallace has won nineteen children's state awards and been awarded the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for Children's Literature from the Oklahoma Center for the Book.

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