Editor's note: Willy flies to the moon to get an exotic moondog for a pet, but instead finds true happiness with a scruffy but loyal Earth dog.

On a clear and pleasant evening in the early part of June, young Willy Joe Jehosephat stood gazing at the moon.

"Someday," said his mother, "he'll be an astronaut, I bet; but there's more to life than stars and space -- he needs a pal, a pet!"

"You're spending too much time alone," his father said the next day. "Let's go and buy a dog, and then the two of you can play!"

Will said, "I'd like to get a moondog -- that's the perfect pet for me. I watch them through my telescope. They're real, I guarantee!"

Will went out to the garage to build a rocket just his size. "When I get back," he said, "my dad is in for a surprise!"

With a flash of light the spaceship soared. "Moonward ho!" Will said. "I'll pick the perfect moondog and be home in time for bed!"

Stars whizzed past the windows. Willy went to get his snack, but found a mangy mongrel busy digging in his pack!

"That food was mine," Will grumbled, "but you're scrappy, and so thin!"

I'll ask the moondogs what to do -- perhaps they'll take you in."

Just then they reached the moon. Will's rocket skidded to a stop. He pulled his homemade helmet on, got out, and climbed on top!

"I'm Will," he called, "I come from Earth, in case you hadn't guessed. My dad thinks I should get a dog, and moondogs are the best!"

Then angry footsteps shook the ground; a shadow blocked the sun. The man in the moon came crashing in and made the moondogs run!

"I've got you now," the moon man growled. His breath was hot and sour. "Each noisy boy or dog I catch, I'm going to devour!"

Then Scrappy, loyal earth dog, bounded in to join the fight. He jumped and chomped the moon man's leg with one ferocious bite!

The moon man fled, but left his pants. He knew he'd met his match. Scrappy growled contentedly, and settled down to scratch.

Will gazed around the crater with a shy and guilty grin; "I owe my life to Scrappy -- he's the dog who saved my skin!" "What courage!" all the moondogs crooned, "Forgive us if we're wrong, but Will, the pet you ought to have was with you all along!"

Will gave the moondogs good-bye hugs, then climbed beneath the dome. "You'll love my mom and dad," he said. "Come on, we're going home!"

From MOONDOGS by Daniel Kirk. Text Copyright c 1999 by Daniel Kirk. Illustrations c 1999 by Daniel Kirk. Reprinted by permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.

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