Bill and Old Shep

( Intermediate Level )

Bill is a simple man. He has a wonderful wife, Cheryl, and four children. Two boys, Bill Jr., and Frankie, and twin girls, Maggie and Elizabeth. They have a small five-acre farm in Oklahoma. Their farm was their livelihood.

He raised enough livestock for his family consumption and grew a variety of vegetables. They owned one milking cow, one rooster, and several hens that would keep them in plenty of eggs. All other animals on the farm would be raised until it was time for the freezer.

Whenever his children asked for a pet he would say, “If it is not useful or we cannot eat it, we will not have that animal on our farm.” His eldest son always insisted his family needed a dog. “You said if it is not useful or we cannot eat it we cannot have one. A dog is the most useful animal on a farm. It will protect us and our farm.”

His dad couldn’t think of a rebuttal. He simply didn’t want another mouth to feed. In the end, he gave in and allowed them to get a dog. Before his dad could change his mind, Bill Jr. hurried to town to see if anyone had puppies.

He was told that Mrs. Green, at the corner store, had a litter of puppies ready to go to new homes. He quickly ran down to the store and asked. Mrs. Green told him there was only one left. She went into the next room and picked up the last of the litter.

Jr. looked at this small black and brown fur ball and smiled. “He is perfect!” Mrs. Green smiled, “So what are you going to name this little guy?” Jr. Looked at the puppy and said “Shep. I will call him Shep.”

Jr. Ran out of the store yelling back to Mrs. Green, “Thank You!” He wanted to get home before dinner. He took a shortcut through the neighboring farmer’s fields. He wanted to show off Shep to the family.

Bill was out at the barn getting the animals up for the evening when he saw Jr. He couldn’t quite make out what he was carrying but he obviously had something in his arms.

Jr. met his dad at the barn proudly showing his dad Shep. “Hm, I thought we were getting a dog, not a small tiny rat. What good will he be to us now? He is too young to protect us.”

Jr. wasn’t going to let his Dad’s words damper the moment. “Don’t worry dad. I know this one is the smartest of the bunch and he will catch on quickly. He will be protecting us quicker than you think.”

Jr. headed to the house to show his mom and his siblings Shep. His sisters and brother loved on Shep. He, in turn, began licking each of them on the cheek. “Alright you four, it is dinnertime. You need to put Shep up somewhere and wash your hands,” Mom said as she watched her children’s faces and smiled.

Bill had come in and was washing his hands at the kitchen sink. “So what do you think about Shep?” Bill answered, “I agreed to get a dog to help keep the wolves or big cats coming onto our farm. That guy will be a snack for any of them.

“Shep has made the children happy, Bill. You know how much your first dog meant to you when you were a kid.” Bill looked at her and smiled, ” Yeah, I guess you are right.

Two years had passed and Shep has turned out to be an excellent protector of the farm. He actually spent most of his time with Bill while the kids were in school. Bill’s thoughts had softened regarding Shep after the first month. He noticed Shep was a scrapper and wouldn’t back down from anything.

Shep would sit and watch as Bill worked and never missed a thing. When a bird flew by or a neighboring cat would wander onto the farm he was right there chasing them away. Somehow Shep knew this was his job.

Bill was busy mending the gate to the pasture that he hadn’t noticed the wolf scout walking adjacent to the fence. It hadn’t escaped Shep’s notice. He began to growl. As the wolf came in closer Shep’s growl became deeper.

This had caught Bill’s attention now. Something was upsetting Shep. He looked and saw Shep was looking in his direction. Bill turned around to see a wolf within a few feet of him.

Shep sprang into action. Whisking by Bill and on the heels of the wolf. The two had run off into the hills. Shep’s barking was heard in the distance.

Some time had passed and Shep hadn’t returned. Bill had finished the gate awhile ago but he had stayed waiting for Shep to return.

It was getting close to dinnertime and the kids were home by now. Bill picked up his tools and headed towards home. Looking back a few times to see if Shep was coming. Nothing.

Jr. had seen his dad heading home through the kitchen window and headed out to meet his dad. “Where’s Shep?

Jr. had taken full responsibility of Shep since he was a pup. The two were inseparable and were only apart when he was at school or at church.

Bill explained to his son what had happened. “You left him out there? How could you? What if he is hurt?”, Jr. was visibly upset. “He will be alright son. He had done his job and protected me and the farm. He will be back. Now, let’s head in and get ready for dinner. Your mom is waiting on us.”

Everyone was eating and talking about their day during dinner except for Jr. His thoughts were on Shep. Wondering if he was hurt. This had not gone unnoticed by Bill.

Dinner had finished. The children’s homework was completed and still no Shep. It was getting close to bedtime for the children. They had school tomorrow and had to be up early.

Jr. asked his mom if he could take the flashlight and go outside for five minutes and call for Shep. Mom looked at him then at Bill, “Sure, five minutes. I am sure he will find his way back home. Your dad says he is a smart one.”

Jr. grabbed the flashlight out of the cupboard in the kitchen and ran outside. His voice was heard inside. “Shep. Come on boy. Where are you.? Shep. Shep”

Bill stood at the window watching his son. He felt guilty for not staying and waiting a little longer for Shep. He could have looked for him before he headed home.

Jr. reluctantly came inside after five minutes of calling for Shep and whistling. He looked at his mom and dad. His face is sad with despair. “Good night.” With his head hung low he headed to his bedroom.

Cheryl finished the dinner dishes while Bill sat in the living room looking out the window. Somehow he felt he let his son down. “Cheryl, I am going out for a bit. Don’t wait up. I am going to try to see if I can find Shep.

He grabbed the flashlight his son had used, his truck keys and gave his wife a quick kiss. He headed out the front door with a mission to find Shep.

He didn’t want to admit it but he, too, liked that dog. He was a great companion for him when he worked. He shared his lunches with Shep. He talked to Shep as if he understood everything. “It is hot out here today boy, isn’t it? Shep would look and wag his tail.

Bill had traveled along the fence line where he saw Shep and the wolf. He got out periodically shining the flashlight off into the distance calling his name. “Shep. Come here, boy.” Still nothing.

He was about to give up when he spotted what looked like a pair of eyes off in the distance. He stopped the truck and got out. He shined the flashlight towards the eyes.

Shep, Is that you?” There was movement giving Bill the hope that this was Shep. He started to walk towards the figure. “Shep?” Again movement. He walked a little faster. Then the walk became a run.

It was Shep. He was lying on his side in a tuft of long grass. Bill dropped to his knees surveying what he said. Shep licked his hand as it brushed his muzzle. It was too dark to see much of anything so Bill picked him up carefully and placed him in his truck on the passenger side.

Bill hurried home. Cheryl had seen the truck lights coming and met her husband outside. “I have Shep. Help me inside with him.

Cheryl had tended to Shep’s wounds. Actually, there weren’t as bad as they both thought. Once they cleaned him up they saw a few deep puncture wounds on Shep’s front legs and hindquarter and a few scrapes along with his ears.

Shep, most likely, found the place where Bill had found him to regain his strength and rest. Bill offered Shep food and water. He drank a little. “You will be alright boy. Thank you for protecting me. If it wasn’t for you I might not be here.

Cheryl did all she could for Shep. She washed up and told Bill she was heading to bed. “I will stay here with Shep tonight,” As he grabbed the afghan blanket off the back of the sofa. “You head to bed and I will see you in the morning.” Bill curled up next to Shep and drifted off to sleep.

Morning came and Bill rolled over and Shep was not by his side. He sat up to see Shep with Jr. licking his face as Jr. hugged him. “Don’t ever scare me again Shep. You were brave to save poppa. I knew you were useful. Poppa just had to realize this.

Jr. looked over to see his dad watching the two of them. He smiled. “You were right, son. Shep belongs here. I cannot imagine our lives without him.

Now let’s have breakfast. I hear momma in the kitchen and you have to get ready for school.” The two-headed to the kitchen with Shep gingerly following a few steps behind.

Written by: Angel

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livelihood – noun: necessities of life

consumption – noun: using a resource

rebuttal – noun: argument

litter – noun:  animals born at one time ( a litter of kittens, a litter of puppies )

neighboring – adjective: next to or very near

obviously – adverb: understood

proudly – adverb: pleasure or satisfaction 

damper – noun: subdue

protector – noun: a person or animal that protects

scrapper – noun: fighter

back down – phrasal verb: withdraw

mending – verb: repairing

scout – noun: ahead of the main group so as to gather information of strength

adjacent – adjective: near, next to, or joining

sprang – verb: move or jump quickly

whisking – verb: move in a direction suddenly and quickly

on the heels of- phrasal verb: following closely after

visibly – adverb: noticed

unnoticed – adjective: not noticed

despair – verb: without hope

mission – noun: the important assignment

companion – noun: a person or animal that spends a lot of time with you

periodically – adverb: time to time not routine

dropped to his knees idiom: literally falling to one’s knees

muzzle – noun: nose and mouth of an animal

puncture – noun: small holes

hindquarter – noun: the back half of an animal including leg

regain – verb: use of again after losing it

afghan blanket – noun: blanket (throw blanket) crochet or knitted

gingerly – adverb: in a careful way

Question ( s ):

What do you think about the relationship between Bill and Shep?


( Intermediate level )

Jenny grew up in a small town in Iowa. She had lived with her grandparents from the age of four. Now, at 15 years old, Jenny wondered about her future. She dreamt of her future. Was she ever to get out of this little town?

The odds were against her. Her grandparents lived a modest farming life. As most farmers, they struggled from year to year. Barely making enough to pay the bills and having enough left, to tide them over, until the next planting season.

Her mother, Amy, was a struggling young and unwed teenager herself, when Jenny was born. Living in a small conservative community, she was met with much disapproval.

After Jenny was born, Amy left her small town to get a fresh start. Leaving the disappointment of her parents and community behind her. She knew her daughter would be just fine in her parents’ care.

One day, she hoped to return to reunite with Jenny. Hoping she understood why she had to leave her with her grandparents.

As for Jenny, she had her own struggles. Going to school took great effort. For most of her middle school and now in her high school years, Jenny was bullied.

Her grandparents did the best they could in raising her, but the extras they could not afford. They bought her clothes from the second hand store, in the center of town, or relied on donations from families, when their children had outgrown them.

Wearing second hand clothes never really bothered Jenny until she was made fun of one day in class in fifth grade. One of her classmates laughed and pointed at her saying that the dress used to be hers. She had recognized the stain on the collar and proceeded to say how that stain happened.

From that day forward, Jenny was the target for her classmates. Taking every chance they could to point out what she was wearing and whose clothes they might have belonged to.

Jenny would keep to herself, both at school and at home. She would spend hours in her small bedroom, just dreaming. Wishing things could be different.

Every Sunday, Jenny would help her grandfather with his daily farming chores. She helped tend to the animals, mend fencing and even helped in the fields.

She spent many hours with him and listened to his stories. Some were true and some, she knew, he made up just to see her reaction.

He asked her, one day, why she was spending so much time, alone and not out with friends. She, reluctantly, told him why. Jenny knew her grandparents worked very hard and were proud of what they have. She did not want to hurt his feelings but she told her story.

Her grandfather stood quiet for, what seemed to be forever, then looked down at her, smiled and said, “My dear Jenny, when people are unhappy ,with their own lives, they lash out at others. You showed a reaction, by visibly getting upset. This is what they look for. Somehow, they feel better about themselves when they make another miserable. Next time, try not to show them how upset or embarrassed you are. They will soon become bored and find the next person to intimidate.”

Jenny hugged her grandfather for understanding. He, always, knew the right words to say.

That evening, Jenny thought about her grandfather’s words. Wondering if it would make a difference. She knew how mean her classmates could be.

Summer vacation is coming soon. Another month to go and school would be out for three months. Jenny knew this last month would be long. She had to study for her finals and face her classmates.

Jenny realized this was the process of growing up. Finding yourself. Realizing what matters in life. She was not going to let others damper her dreams.

Since she had grown up around animals, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She needed to achieve the best grades she could.

With her grandparents not having a lot of money, she needed to get a scholarship to a university. This was her dream and she wanted to make it come true. No one would take away from her.

One thing she knew, be happy for what you have and not what you don’t have. Why should the opinions of others matter? Why do we need acceptance, from people, to be happy?

Jenny had loving grandparents, a warm, cozy home, and food to eat. It doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are happy and loved.

Written by: Angel

If you appreciate what I do:

Follow me on:

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5


wonder: curious

dream: images, thoughts

modest: one’s abilities, achievements, limited or small

conservative:  traditional values

disapproval: unfavorable opinion

struggle: restraint

effort: attempt

bully: a person who harms or intimidates those who are vulnerable

second-hand: already been owned or used

target: aim of an attack

chores: a routine task or job

reluctant: hesitant

miserable: unhappy or uncomfortable

embarrassed: shame

intimidate: to make someone feel timid or fearful using words or actions

damper: influencing in a negative way

disappointment: sadness over an action

Question ( s ):

Have you ever been bullied or bullied another?

Do you think bullying is a real concern?

What advise would you give someone if they told you they were being bullied?

Grandma Lucy

( Intermediate level )

After 47 years of marriage, Lucy found herself, looking out at the pier, alone. Her husband, Bill, had just passed away the month before.

He had struggled with his health for many years. Finally, his body was too tired to fight any longer.

She remembered his last words to her, as he lay in the hospital bed with his life leaving his body, “Be happy, my love, for I will be, forever, with you.” He always had a poetic way with his words.

After his passing, Lucy found herself not wanting to eat nor get dressed. Her life companion was gone. Her home felt empty. She felt empty.

They had two wonderful sons together. One was a physician in New York and the other was a software engineer in Texas. Each begged her to come live with them, after Bill had passed, but she refused.

She did not want to leave the house that Bill had built for them. She knew she would not be happy in a city. Cities were too busy and too noisy.

She loved hearing the birds sing in the morning. The breeze rustle through the trees and the frogs croaking. The quiet and simple life was what she wanted.

She had wonderful neighbors who would check on her often. Sometimes, having a casserole, saying they had extras. She knew they were making sure she was eating.

Most of the children in the community called her Grandma Lucy. They, too, would knock on her door and have wild flowers in hand, as a gift, for her.

She would head into town, once a month, to grocery shop while her husband fished. She would spend a short time at the park, before she shopped, watching the children play. Sometimes having a few sweets in her pocket to give to the children.

Lucy knew she had to be strong if she was to keep the house and stay alone. She needed to get back to normalcy. Somehow, she needed to find the courage. Each night Lucy would say to herself , “Tomorrow will be the day.”

The day had finally come. The day where she felt she had the strength to face life alone. Lucy woke up with the sun shining through the window. She looked out at the trees and noticed the leaves were beginning to change their colors.

Summer was coming to an end. Winter would be coming soon and things had to be done before the cold weather set in.

She got up and headed to the kitchen. Put the coffee on to brew and headed to the shower. By the time she was done with her shower the coffee was done.

She poured a cup of coffee and walked slowly outside. She found herself walking towards the pier. She had so many memories there.

She remembered watching her husband fish. He was always proud of every fish he caught. No matter how big or how small, he would tell a story of his struggle to land the fish.

She paused, for a moment, and looked out at the sunrise. What a magnificent view. She inhaled and sighed.

She remembered how Bill loved to wake her up and drag her outside to watch the sunrise. He would say, “Today will be a wonderful day!”

As she watched the sun rise higher, kissing the sky, she felt the warmth of the sun touch her cheek. She put her hand to her cheek and she whispered, “Oh Bill. I knew you will always be here with me. Thank you for loving me. I will be ok. I love you.”

She turned and headed back down the pier to her home. Feeling a calmness now, she was ready to start the next chapter in her life. She knew, now, she had found the courage.

She dressed, put on a sweater and put a few sweets in her pocket and headed to town to buy a few groceries.

Written by: Angel

If you appreciate what I do:

Follow me on:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5


pier: a platform leading out from the shore into a body of water

passed away: polite expression for die

physician: doctor

casserole: oven baked, all in one meal, usually containing meat, vegetables and potatoes.

community: group of people living in the same place

normalcy: being normal

courage: the ability to do something that scares or upsets you

brew: make coffee with hot water.

whisper: speak very softly

calmness: feeling calm, no worries or problems

Question( s ):

How do you feel about Lucy’s choice to stay and not move in with her son(s)?

Would you be able to find courage?