“Over the Meadow,” Friend, Aug. 1992, 40
It had rained. Teddy stopped and raised his nose to sniff. His black tail, combed by the wind, streamed behind him.
Bramble was more anxious to get out and get going. She leaped over the ditch and raced wildly through the field. Then even she stopped to sniff the marvelous smells. She could smell a mole and a gopher, as well as a deer. Where was Teddy? What a slow poke! she thought.
Teddy was leisurely making his way to Bramble. He never understood why she had to go so fast and never stopped to enjoy the fresh air, the trees, and the damp coolness of grass on her paws. It was all marvelous!
When Teddy caught up to Bramble, he sniffed her ear in a friendly greeting. Then both dogs went to investigate a promising gopher hole. Bramble was first to start digging. Then Teddy joined in and stuck his nose and paws into the hole she had started. This they both enjoyed. It didn’t matter that they rarely caught a gopher or a mole; just the joy of the hunt was enough.
Finally they tired of digging and moved on. Suddenly Bramble turned and leaped sideways into the long grass. Another leap. Then another, and another. Teddy was mystified. What on earth was she up to now? He went to investigate. As he got closer, Bramble leaped backward and landed right on top of him. Yawp!
Then a frog leaped past him and made for the marsh. Teddy and Bramble were too busy sorting out who had run into whom to follow it. After several playful growls and tumbles, they forgot all about the frog.
Then off Bramble went again, running through the long grasses, her ears flying out so, it looked like she might take off. Teddy traipsed on in the plodding, thoughtful way he had. Soon he lost track of Bramble. Oh well, he thought, I’ll probably find something much more interesting than she will.
Soon Teddy caught a familiar scent. It was a bird smell, and it was close to him. He cautiously moved forward, then stopped with a front paw raised and a back paw barely touching the ground. He stayed in this tottery position for a full minute. Then, sensing that the birds knew of his presence, he carefully inched forward.
Suddenly a bird flew up in his face and landed in the grass several feet behind him. Bramble would chase that bird, thought Teddy. But I smell something more interesting here. So he continued edging forward. And there at his feet was a nest. Three little birds were in it. They didn’t have feathers yet. Teddy was enchanted. He lay down and watched closely. The mother bird tried to scare him away by screeching over his head, but he ignored her and continued to watch the little ones. They sat in the nest and, if he breathed on them, opened their mouths wide. Teddy wagged his tail. He wanted to be their friend.
The baby birds were calling for food. Finally the mother bird couldn’t stand it any more. She flew down and landed on the opposite side of the nest from Teddy. He was surprised to see her, but he wasn’t really interested in catching her. She inched forward and began to feed her children. Teddy watched, fascinated. It looked like she was pushing food way down into their tummies. He was glad his mother had never done that to him.
The mother bird finished, then glared defiantly at him. Oh well, Teddy thought, it’s probably time to get back home, anyway.
Meanwhile, Bramble had discovered a deer scent that was getting stronger. She followed her nose and ran faster and faster. She was startled when she looked up to see the deer only a short distance in front of her. The deer was startled, too. It raised its tail like a white flag and leaped through the bushes. Yippee! thought Bramble. She started running and leaping, faster and faster, after the deer. When she panted to a stop, she had no idea how long she’d been running, or how far. She only knew that she was in a clearing in the forest and that she was very, very tired.
She heard a slight noise and raised her head. The deer was in the clearing, too, and two fawns were with her. Bramble was excited, but she was so tired that all she could do was lie there and watch them. The deer moved about, flicking their tails and their ears. This must be how Teddy feels when he just sits and enjoys the wind, she thought.
At that moment the wind changed direction, and the deer raised their heads in alarm. They smelled dog! With three tails waving, they turned their backs to Bramble and leaped deep into the forest. Bramble had no desire to follow. She was tired and wanted to get back to Teddy and tell him that she thought she knew why he liked to go slowly.
After leaving the baby birds, Teddy ambled back across the meadow, feeling happy and somewhat frisky. So when a rabbit scurried in front of him, he chased it. He felt his muscles stretch and the wind ruffle his fur. The rabbit quickly found its hole and disappeared, but not before Teddy had gotten a good run. His whole body tingled, and Teddy thought that now he knew why Bramble liked to run so much.
Just then he saw Bramble returning across the meadow, walking very slowly. She saw him and speeded up slightly. They met and went through their usual ear sniffing, nose touching, tail wagging ritual. Then they told each other of their day’s experiences. Bramble had decided that Teddy’s way of walking slowly and observing was nice sometimes, but she really preferred speed and excitement.
Teddy had decided that Bramble’s way of chasing and leaping about was nice sometimes, but he really preferred slow, quiet journeys of discovery. He promised to take Bramble to see the baby birds every day if she would be very quiet. Bramble said that she would if Teddy would come with her to the deer grove and play tag on the way there. They both agreed and knew that they had each learned a valuable lesson: They could learn a lot from each other.