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"Mommy !" cried Becky, "come see my new dog." Becky's mother, Penny, had just finished washing the dishes when she heard her three-year-old daughter shouting from the backyard of their house at Spring Valley Ranch in Sonoita, Arizona. She was not surprised to hear the cries. Their home was situated in a remote area and had become a lonely place for Becky, especially since the death of their old dog. Becky's parents had been planning to buy her a new puppy for some time but while waiting, Becky seemed quite satisfied to make do with pretend puppies. Becky's cry came again, interrupting her thoughts. "Please hurry, Mommy. He's crying and he can't walk." Thinking that this was slightly odd, she rushed out. Rooted to the ground, Penny stared at the sight before her as a cold shiver ran down her spine.

Becky was sitting on the ground cradling the head of a wolf on her lap. Getting a hold of herself, Penny moved closer, hoping to extricate Becky from the dangerous situation. Becky herself seemed totally oblivious to the danger, while she continued to stroke and caress the coarse dark fur of the wolf. The wolf seemed quite comfortable with Becky. However, when Penny edged closer, it narrowed its eyes and exposed its fangs at her.

Becky had begun to feed the animal while Penny watched with a mixture of fear and confusion. The animal's thirst was insatiable and it suddenly hit her that it might be suffering from rabies. Her fears escalating, Penny slowly pulled Becky away and ran to her car. Speeding to one of the barns where Jake, a cowhand, was working, she screamed, "Jake, come quickly. Becky found a wolf and I think it has rabies."

Back at the house, Jake began to examine the beast. The Mexican Lobo did not have rabies but gangrene. Part of the hind leg was decayed due to bullet wounds. Penny was very tempted to take Jake's suggestion and put the beast to sleep, but sensing Becky's tearful face, she decided to call the veterinarian instead. Peeling away the rotten flesh, the doctor cleaned and treated the wounds.

Becky and the wolf, which she named Ralph, soon became good friends. The little girl took good care of it during its difficult recovery while Ralph, in turn, adored Becky.

Ralph was also a great watchdog. He never bit the hands of those who cared for him and was obviously very happy at the ranch. Despite this, however, he made it a point to disappear into the mountains for several weeks every year. While he was gone, Becky fretted anxiously about his safety since ranchers were often looking out for wolves, coyotes and other wild animals. This ritual continued for twelve years and Becky and her family often wondered about Ralph's other family -- his mate and the wolf cubs that he had fathered.

Inevitably, however, Ralph returned home one spring with another bullet wound. Becky was fifteen years old at that point. Together, Penny and her husband had managed to remove the bullet that was lodged in Ralph's body but his condition did not improve. He no longer behaved like Becky's constant shadow, but instead lay still, resting quietly in the backyard. Becky and her family tried desperately to pretend that it would never happen but the day soon came when they found Ralph lying motionless in the backyard.

Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. Why was Penny not surprised to hear Becky's cries about a dog ?
  2. What were the two feelings Penny experienced when she 'stared at the sight before her' (paragraph 1) ?
  3. Why was Becky 'totally oblivious to the danger' (paragraph 2) ?
  4. Explain in your own words what made Penny think the wolf had rabies.
  5. Explain the phrase 'put the beast to sleep' according to paragraph 4.
  6. 'He never bit the hands of those who cared for him ...' (paragraph 6) What does this tell us about Ralph ? Give one word to describe Ralph.
  7. Explain why Becky was worried when Ralph went away for several weeks.
  8. Why do you think Ralph disappeared during those weeks ?
  9. What was the 'ritual' (paragraph 6) referring to ?
  10. What does 'it' in the last paragraph refer to ?
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Penny was used to Becky playing with pretend puppies since the death of their old dog.


She was shocked and frightened (stunned and terrified/alarmed).


She thought the wolf was a dog and treated it like one.


When she saw the wolf drinking a lot of water without being satisfied, she thought the wolf had rabies. / When she saw the wolf drinking an unusual amount of water, she thought it had rabies.


It means to kill the wolf.
  6. He was a loyal/faithful wolf.
  7. She was worried he would be killed by the ranchers.
  8. Ralph probably had a family and wanted to be with them.
  9. It was referring to Ralph's disappearance into the mountains several weeks every year.
  10. It refers to Ralph's death.

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Comprehension 1


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