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Once there was a little puppy. She was born on a farm out in the country, where she lived with her mother, her brothers and sisters and lots of other animals. Then, when she was about two months old, she went to live with a family who lived in town. The little puppy was all black, except for the big ruff of fur around her neck and the tip of her tail. They were white. Her coloring reminded her new family of a big chocolate sandwich cream, so they named her 'Cookie.'

Cookie was a kind of sheep dog. Sheep dogs have many important jobs on farms. They have to move the flock from place to place. They have to keep the sheep together when the shepherd tells them to. Most importantly, they protect the flock from wolves and other animals that may want to harm the sheep. There are several breeds of dogs called sheep dogs: Old English Shepherds, Bearded Collies, Australian Shepherd s and Border Collies are just some of them.

Cookie was a Border Collie. Since her family lived in town, and did not keep any sheep or cows or even ducks for Cookie to herd and keep safe, Cookie had to make do with cats, and toys and the neighborhood children.

She would run round and round the room, circling her toys closer and closer each time. Then Cookie would grab a toy and toss it in the air, pick it up and place it in the corner where she thought her 'flock' belonged.

Cookie grew up with three cats in the house, so the cats knew her and were not afraid of her at all. They played together all the time. Cookie's favorite game, of course, was 'herd the cats.' Cookie would crouch in front of the sofa in the living room and wait for one of the cats to come by. Very slowly, cookie would creep towards the cat. When Cookie was right behind him, Cookie would begin to bark and snap at the cat's feet to make the cat jump and run into another room. Cookie thought this was great fun. The cats were not amused.

Some of the children in the neighborhood were afraid of Cookie, because she barked at them a lot. When Cookie saw a boy or girl run past her yard, Cookie would run to the fence and bark for a long time. When some dogs bark, it is because they want something to bite and the dog is mean. Some dogs bark to give a warning to their family that a stranger is nearby. Cookie barked at everyone. It was her way of calling the children to come see her, so she could herd them, too.

Cookie grew up to be a very smart dog. She learned all her lessons quickly when she was just a puppy. Cookie would run and fetch a ball that was thrown for her, and bring it back to be thrown again. She could sit up and shake hands. She learned to play 'fly-ball' too.

Fly-ball is a game just for dogs. The dog runs down a long track, like a race track, then jumps with her front feet on a board. That makes a ball jump up for the dog to catch. The dog runs back just as fast as she can to give the dog to her person, then goes again. Cookie was just learning to play fly-ball, and wasn't ready to play it with other dogs. Right now, she just practiced at home with her family.

One day, the letter carrier had to bring a parcel to the door. He knew Cookie, as he spoke to her every day when he delivered the mail. Today though, he had a large package to take to the house. Cookie ran up to him and barked and barked. If the carrier didn't know her, he would have thought she was going to bite. But as soon as he said, 'Hi, Cookie,' she began to run in circles round him, so she could herd him to the door.

When the carrier was done, he left the front gate open just a little bit. Cookie didn't go out, though. She just ran to the gate and sat very quietly, watching people walk by. When Cookie was watching the street, looking for something to herd or protect, she saw the neighbor's little boy wander into the yard. She didn't see the little boy's mom or dad with him, or even his big sister. Cookie knew she finally had someone who really needed her protection.

Cookie watched the little boy very carefully. She knew he couldn't get into too much trouble if he stayed in the yard. Suddenly, Cookie heard a loud barking, far down the street, and it was getting closer! The mean dog that lived in the next block had jumped his fence again, and was coming after the little boy!