Silver


A friend loveth at all times (Prov. 17:17).

When Great-Uncle Joe came down from up north to live on our farm, he brought his dog, Silver, with him. Uncle Joe didn’t stay with us in the farmhouse; he preferred to live in the old log cabin down by the pasture. It was just as well, for my six-year-old sister, Linda, was afraid of Silver—he was so big! Even Papa looked at the dog with suspicion. A touch of wolf in Silver’s mixed ancestry showed up in his howl.

Uncle Joe had so many stories to tell about the north woods that nothing could keep me away from the cabin. Gradually the dog came to accept me and even wagged his tail a little when I brought him a juicy morsel of meat.

Uncle Joe died the second spring after he came to live with us, and after his death, Silver attached himself to me. Though he looked like a German Shepherd, Mama could see only wolf in him, and she wouldn’t have him around the house. When Papa said that he’d give the dog away, I begged to keep him. “I’ll feed him at the cabin,” I said.

Papa hesitated, then gave the dog away on account of Mama. But Silver returned again and again. Papa was baffled.

One day in May when Linda and I were cutting across the pasture on our way home from school, Linda stopped to pick violets down by the stream. When we saw the bull, he was not much more than a stone’s throw away. It was Mr. Foster’s black monster!

Boy, was he a big one! He had broken through the fence into our pasture. The bull was a people-hater, and he’d gored Mr. Foster’s hired man and nearly killed him.

The bull saw us about the same time that we saw him. He took a few steps forward, then charged.

“Run!” I yelled, but Linda was so scared that she couldn’t move.

Suddenly Silver came racing into the pasture. He leaped at the bull and sank his teeth into his nose. I grabbed Linda’s hand, and we ran for the fence. Papa, who was plowing in the next field, heard my yells and came tearing down the hill. He leaped the fence and practically threw Linda and me over it to safety. The bull had shaken Silver off by then and was only a few yards from Papa when the dog grabbed his nose again, causing the bull to stumble as he threw Silver through the air. But the dog’s maneuver gave Papa enough time to scramble over the fence himself.

Silver, limping and bleeding from a gash in his hindquarters, crawled through the fence. I threw my arms around him.

Papa took Linda’s hand, and nobody said a word as we headed for the house. Silver followed.

When Mama saw him, she yelled, “Don’t let that dog in here. He has wolf in him.”

“That dog just saved the children’s lives—mine too,” Papa said unsteadily.

“What!” Mama really looked at us then. Shaken, she pulled Linda and me to her.

After Papa told Mama what had happened, I added excitedly, “Silver pulled the bull down by his nose! Uncle Joe told me that that’s how wolves get a moose.”

“That dog deserves a medal,” Papa declared.

Mama took a long look at Silver lying at my feet, licking his wound. “Maybe he would prefer a good meal.” She went inside and came out with a big bowl of scraps. “I guess he can stay here now,” she said.

Linda patted Silver. I was so happy that I turned cartwheels.

After that, Silver stayed around the house but never came inside; he was a bush dog. When I was outside, he followed me everywhere. He never lolloped around like most dogs, though; he had dignity. Each night before I went inside to bed, he gave me his paw to shake, then settled down in the woodshed.

Silver was my friend.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Don Weller