In the apartment with the radiator that whistled in the winter and the cherry tree in the front yard that bloomed in spring were a father, a mother, a sister named Claire, a brother named Joshie, and Joanie the cocker spaniel. Mother and father worked, brother and sister went to school, and Joanie was the sweetest dog — when the children were babies they could pull her long silky ears and she never snarled or bit, because she was such a sweet dog.
“Where is father?” asked Joshie of Claire one day. “And where is mother?” They had come home from school the day before and mother and father had been gone. There was no dinner, and nobody to tuck in Joshie before he went to sleep, or help Claire with her math homework. “I don’t know.” said Claire. “Don’t worry.” Joshie did worry although he didn’t tell Claire because he wanted to be a good boy. Sweet Joanie knew he was sad and looked at him with her melting spaniel eyes.
The next day before school there was no breakfast for the children and no lunch and when they came home from school there was no mother and father still and no dinner. “Don’t worry.” said Claire. Joshie worried. “I’m worried Joanie.” he said to the sweet dog. “I know you are.” said Joanie. “Let’s go find them.” And Joshie and Joanie went out the door even though it was dark.
In the middle of the street there was a carnival with people selling cotton candy and rides and a giant ferris wheel. “Look! There they are!” said Joshie. In one of the boats of the ferris wheel Father and Mother were laughing and eating a big cotton candy. Sometimes Mother held the cotton candy and father reached out and ate it. Sometimes Father held the cotton candy and Mother reached out and ate it. Sometimes Father tore off pieces of cotton candy and put them in Mother’s mouth and sometimes Mother did the same for him.
“Come home! Come home! Your children are starving!” said Joanie.
“Shut up, dog!” said Father. “We are having fun riding the ferris wheel! “
“Go home, dog!” said Mother. “We are having fun eating cotton candy.”
“Your children need you!” said Joanie and climbed onto one of the boats of the wheel. It continued turning.
“Go home, dog!” said Father. “We love going round and round!”
“Your children love you!” said Joanie and climbed one boat closer to mother and father.
“Go home, dog!” said Mother “Soon we will reach the moon.”
BARK! said Joanie. SNAP! went Joanie’s jaws on Father’s calf! “OW!” said Father and dropped the cotton candy.
The cotton candy hit the man who ran the ferris wheel. “No dogs on the ferris wheel!” he yelled and made Father and Mother and Joanie get off.
“Well I guess we should go home.” said Father.
“That’s ruined.” said Mother.
And they went home and made dinner for their children.
But Sweet Joanie was nowhere to be found.
Claire and Joshie went down the street and lying in the gutter amid the garbage of the carnival was their dog — the carnival and its rides were gone.
“Why are you here?” asked Joshie. “Come home.”
“I don’t deserve to be home.” said Sweet Joanie. “I am a bad dog.”
“Why.” asked Joshie.
“Because I bit Father and barked at mother. Bad dogs don’t deserve to be with nice people.”
“You’re not a bad dog.” said Joshie. “You’re the best dog there is.” And he took her home and fed her and gave her a bath. And the next morning while Father and Mother and Claire were asleep he and Joanie got on the bus and left town, never to return.