IALMOST TWINS Nobody ever spoke of old Spot's master as "old Johnnie Green." Yet the two-boy and dog-were almost exactly the same age. Somehow Spot grew up faster than Johnnie. He had stopped being a puppy by the time his young master learned to walk. And when Johnnie was big enough to play around the farm buildings his parents felt sure that he was safe so long as "old Spot," as they called the dog, was with him. Spot thought himself years older than the small boy; or at least he always acted so. If a goose hissed at ...
IALMOST TWINS Nobody ever spoke of old Spot's master as "old Johnnie Green." Yet the two-boy and dog-were almost exactly the same age. Somehow Spot grew up faster than Johnnie. He had stopped being a puppy by the time his young master learned to walk. And when Johnnie was big enough to play around the farm buildings his parents felt sure that he was safe so long as "old Spot," as they called the dog, was with him. Spot thought himself years older than the small boy; or at least he always acted so. If a goose hissed at little, toddling Johnnie Green, old Spot would drive the goose away, barking in a loud voice, "Don't you frighten this child!" If Johnnie went into the stable and wandered within reach of the horses' heels Spot would take hold of his clothes and draw him gently back out of danger. And if Johnnie strayed to the duck pond the old dog wouldn't leave him even to chase the cat, but stayed right there by the pond, ready to pull his young charge out of the water in case he happened to fall in. Spot seemed to enjoy his task of taking care of Johnnie Green. It wasn't all work. A great deal of pleasure went with his duties, for Johnnie Green never wanted to do anything but play. And Spot wasn't so grown up that he couldn't enjoy a lively romp. For that matter, he never did get over his liking for boisterous fun. Still, there were some kinds of sport that he didn't care for. He wasn't fond of having such things as tin cans tied to his tail. He disliked to be harnessed to a toy wagon. He hated to have his ears pulled. Yet there was only one offense that ever made him growl. When Johnnie Green took a bone away from him Spot couldn't help warning him, with a deep, rumbling grumbling, that he was going too far, even between friends. But he never snapped at Johnnie. That growling was only Spot's way of teaching Johnnie Green manners. Fond as he was of his young master, Spot did not care to spend all his time playing childish games. There were grown-up things that he liked to do-things in which a toddler like Johnnie Green couldn't take part. Around the farmhouse there were always the cat to be teased and squirrels to be chased into trees. In the pasture there were woodchucks to be hunted; and even if he couldn't catch them it was fun to see those fat fellows tumble into their holes. Then there were the cows. Spot loved to help Farmer Green drive them home late in the afternoon. He acted very important when he went for the cows, always pretending that it was hard work, though he really thought it great sport. Sometimes when Johnnie Green wanted to play with Spot the old dog couldn't be found anywhere. He might be over the hill, visiting a neighbor's dog. He might be in the woods, looking for birds. He might even have followed a wagon to the village. As Johnnie Green grew older he roamed through the woods with Spot. And when Johnnie's father at last let him own a gun, old Spot was as pleased as Johnnie was. "I've been waiting for this event for several years," Spot told the Muley Cow. She did not share his delight. "For pity's sake, keep that boy and his gun out of the pasture!" she bellowed. "It frightens me to have him come near me with his blunderbuss." Old Spot gave her a pitying look. "It's plain," he said, "that you don't come from a sporting family, as I do, or you'd never speak in that fashion of a nice new shotgun. You know I'm a sporting dog. I'm a pointer. I point out the game for the hunters." The Muley Cow gave a sort of snort and tossed her head. "It's lucky for Johnnie Green," she sniffed, "that I'm not a sporting cow, or he might not have any butter on his bread." IITEASING THE CAT When Miss Kitty Cat came to the farmhouse to live she soon showed old dog Spot that she could fight like a vixen. The first time he cornered her she put some scratches on his nose that he never forgot. And after that he always took great pains to keep out of reach of Miss Kitty's claws.
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