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Cooper was a small, clumsy dog. He was also very curious and smart. Wherever something exciting happened, he made sure he was there. His short legs sometimes held him back, but what he lacked in height, he made up for in courage.
Cooper lived with his family on a large estate with an apple orchard. There was always something happening on the farm.
Big tractors and trucks regularly went back and forth across the property. They brought back empty crates and picked up the harvested fruit that had been packed for delivery. The empty crates would get piled high in the corners of the yard creating many great places to hide.
But even with all that activity, Cooper sometimes got lonely. When his big brothers wrestled, Cooper would throw himself in between them, eager to join in.
“Get out of here!” his brother would shout. “You’re too little!”
It made Cooper a little sad, but he could usually find something new and exciting to do. Today, the little dog was especially bored. “I wish I had someone to play with too!” he said, whining to himself.
Just then, he spotted a little green caterpillar crawling very slowly up the tire of a big truck. A farmer was loading the flatbed up with boxes of ripe apples. They smelled very good.
The caterpillar was small and the way up to the apples was very long. But she had a huge appetite and the smell of the apples attracted her instinctively.
Cooper the Dog watched the little caterpillar for a while. Then he reached for her with his paw, but he was too short.
“Hey!” he called up to her. “Do you want to play with me?”
“Sure! Come up and join me,” the caterpillar replied. “We can play hide and seek. But you’ll have to wait until I’ve eaten. I’m really hungry.”
Cooper was happy that the little caterpillar wanted to play with him. He wagged his tail. He only had one problem. “How do I get up there?” he asked.
“Do like I did, it’s easy! Just crawl up,” the little caterpillar said.
“But I can’t crawl!” exclaimed Cooper.
“Then I can’t play with you!” said the caterpillar. She had reached the top of the tire now and Cooper couldn’t see her from below.
The little dog ran around the truck and found the loading ramp. It was still open. He could run up there quite easily. Now in the flatbed, standing in front of the crates of fruit, he tried to find the caterpillar.
He jumped on one of the boxes and started looking for her among the apples. The little dog sniffed from one apple to another, but there was no trace of the caterpillar.
“I’ll never find you like this!” said Cooper in exasperation. “I thought hide and seek would be easier.”
Just then, the caterpillar stuck its little head out of an apple. “Peek-a-boo!” she cried, and in a flash she disappeared back inside the apple. Cooper picked up her scent and found the small hole in an apple where she had been. But the little caterpillar was no longer inside.
“Here I am!” she called from another fruit box, peeking out from a crisp apple. Cooper jumped towards her but only found another little hole in an apple. She had disappeared again.
They were having so much fun that neither one of them noticed when the truck started moving.
The little caterpillar had eaten her way through a lot of apples during the game and was now very full.
“I’m tired. I’m going to take a little nap,” she said.
Suddenly, the truck jerked to a stop. The driver opened the flat bed and discovered the little puppy among the many crates of fruit.
“What are you doing here, Cooper?” the driver asked in amazement. He took Cooper off the truck and gave him something to drink. “Well, it looks like you’re a little runaway! I’m sure everyone’s missing you back at the farm! Let me just unload these boxes and put all the apples in the juicer and then we’ll go home. Wait for me here, okay?”
Cooper suddenly felt queasy. His fur stood up on his back like it often did when he sensed danger. He had seen what happened to apples when they were unloaded. They were poured onto a treadmill, washed, and then crushed by a large machine that poured golden-yellow apple juice into beautiful bottles.
“Oh no! The caterpillar is headed for the juicer! I have to save her!” thought Cooper. He began looking for the little caterpillar in each crate that was unloaded by the driver.
“Cooper, you’re in my way. Get out of here!” the driver said. But Cooper showed him his innocent puppy dog eyes so he couldn’t stay mad at him for long.
Cooper almost gave up hope of ever finding the little caterpillar. He sniffed the remaining crates. When the second to last crate was unloaded, Cooper felt defeated. He only glanced at the crate sadly. Just then, he saw a little green head peeking out of an apple.
He ran to his friend and saw that she was still asleep. “What luck!” Cooper rejoiced. He barked quite loudly and gently nudged her with his paw. “Wake up or they’ll turn you into juice!” he yelled.
The caterpillar didn’t seem to hear him. She stretched casually and asked, “Why are you yelling?”
“I’ll tell you all about it later. Quick! Crawl onto my back and then let’s get out of here!”
By the time the last crate was unloaded, Cooper and the caterpillar were off to the side, watching everything from a safe distance. Cooper told the caterpillar what had happened during her nap.
“I’m so glad I found you in time! Now we can be friends forever,” Cooper said joyfully.
Realizing the danger she had been in, the little caterpillar said, “You’re my hero and the best friend anyone could ask for!”
“It’s time to go home now!” the driver said. Cooper ran happily back to the truck with the little caterpillar hidden in his fur and they all drove happily back to the farm.