Boris the Maremano sheepdog lived on a mountainside in central Italy. He was a playful creature with a thick creamy-white coat, keen brown eyes and a black nose that was constantly sniffing. Boris had a very important job. He worked for farmer Moretti, herding and guarding a large flock of sheep that lived on the lower pastures of the mountainside. You see, there were hungry wolves lurking in the mountains; wolves that liked to eat tasty sheep for their supper.
But Boris guarded his sheep so well that even the hungriest wolf stayed far far away. In fact, most of his sheep had never even seen a wolf...it was only Auntie Barbara, the oldest sheep, who had ever seen one.
'Do wolves really exist, Auntie Barbara?' asked Rochelle, the littlest lamb, one day.
'Oh yes,' Auntie Barbara replied. 'I saw one once, with my very own eyes. It was a long time ago, but I’ll never forget it.' Auntie Barbara lowered her voice. 'It had sharp teeth and a long shaggy mane and it looked...hungry,' she whispered.
Some days there wasn’t much for the sheep to do except wander around nibbling the grass and wild mint. On these days, Boris played tricks on the sheep to pass the time. He would hide behind rocks and pounce out on them. 'Surprise!' he would bark. And the sheep would laugh: 'Bahahahaha!'
Then, one April Fool’s Day, Rochelle, woke up early, she was in the mood for mischief. 'Boris is always playing tricks on us. Why don’t we play a trick on him, for April Fools’ Day?' she suggested. The other sheep thought this was a great idea. So they rolled around in the wet spring grass until their creamy white coats turned green. Then they scattered themselves around the pasture and pretended to be bushes.
It was almost time for Boris’s morning roundup. They could hear him barking hello in the distance.
'Quick! Here comes Boris!' Rochelle called. 'Let’s give him a bit of a scare!' Then all the sheep started bleating: 'Help! Help! A wolf!'
When Boris heard them, he hurtled into the pasture.
'Keep still and don’t make a sound!' Rochelle whispered to the others.
Boris skidded to a halt. He looked around...he saw rocks and grass and lots of new bushes, but he couldn’t see a wolf...and he couldn’t see his sheep either.
'That’s funny!' he thought. He listened intently. He could hear the birds tweeting and a stream babbling but he couldn’t hear a wolf and he couldn’t hear the sheep either. He could smell something else though. Sheep! Yes, definitely sheep, but where were they? Why couldn’t he see them he wondered?
'I smell a trick,' said Boris. He crouched down low and moved forward slowly. There was something funny about those bushes.
As he moved closer he noticed they had...little sticky-outy ears...and smiley faces... Then suddenly one of the bushes let out a familiar sound: 'Baaaa!'
'Those bushes aren’t really bushes,' Boris thought. 'The sheep are playing a trick on me. Well, I will play a trick back,' he chuckled.
Then he spoke in a loud voice so the sheep could hear. 'Oh disaster! The sheep have been taken by a wolf! I must find them and rescue them straight away.'
Then he bounded off over the hill, back to the farm house.
'Now I will pretend to be a wolf,' he chuckled to himself. 'That will scare them!' So he grabbed his wolf onesie from under his pillow and he squeezed into it. He checked his reflection in the hallway mirror, gave a satisfied growl.
Then he galloped back to the pasture where the sheep were still pretending to be bushes.
'Little sheep! Little sheep! Yum yum yum! I’m going to eat you one by one!' gruffled Boris, in a low down, wolfie voice.
Auntie Barbara took one look at him and panicked. 'It’s a wolf!' she blathered. 'Quick - scarper!'
The sheep stopped pretending to be bushes and with a chorus of frantic bleating they scattered in all directions.
'April fool! It’s only me!' cried Boris, chasing after them. 'I was just pretending to be a wolf to give you a little scare!'
And with that he tried to unzip his onesie...but the zip had stuck and he couldn’t get the hood down.
'Can one of you help me get out of this onesie?' he howled.
But the sheep were too busy bleating...they made so much noise that farmer Moretti came running, brandishing his shot gun.
'Wolf?' he cried. 'Where?' Then he spotted Boris. 'I see it!' he shouted. Poor Boris, his trick had gone very wrong. There was no time to explain. He bounded up the mountainside, far away from farmer Moretti and his sheep, and straight into the path of...a real wolf!
'Hello, cousin!' said the wolf. 'What are you doing all alone on the mountainside? Come back to my den and join my pack.'
So, for a couple of days Boris lived very with a pack of wolves who lived high on the mountainside. How he managed to get back to Farmer Moretti and his flock of sheep is a tale for another day...but you can be very sure that Boris the sheepdog never played tricks again.