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Priscilla Anstey, the owner of a cosmetics factory in Washington, D. C., shows more concern for her business than for her daughter Gretchen. To supervise the little girl's upbringing, Mrs. Anstey hires Miss Elizabeth Munn, a stern disciplinarian. Upon arriving at the Anstey farm in Virginia, Miss Munn alienates Wilson, the handyman, and Mrs. Blevin, the housekeeper, when she proclaims that the waiflike Gretchen is undisciplined and demands order. Except for Wilson and Mrs. Blevin, Gretchen's only friends are the neighboring Eisdaar family, and when Miss Munn forbids her to join the family on a picnic, Gretchen breaks into tears. At bedtime that night, Gretchen tells Miss Munn about her pal, "Wolf," causing the governess to scold her for having an overactive imagination. Later that night, Gretchen slips out of the house to feed Wolf, a dog that she found trapped in a dried-up old well. Upon returning to her room, Gretchen is confronted by Miss Munn, who asks where she has been. Refusing to believe Gretchen's story of the trapped dog, the governess orders her to bed. The next morning, Gretchen is lowering herself into the well to offer Wolf some water when the rope snaps. At Gretchen's command, the dog leaps to freedom and runs to the Eisdaar house for help. After Gretchen is rescued, Wilson finds the dog's identification collar and puts it in the little girl's room. When Gretchen begs for permission to keep Wolf, Miss Munn summons Mrs. Anstey to the farm and announces that she is resigning as Gretchen's governess. Mr. Anstey, a busy aircraft executive, also comes to visit his daughter and persuades Miss Munn to stay by putting her in charge of the staff. Noticing that Wolf's neck has been rubbed by a collar, Miss Munn questions Gretchen, who denies that the dog was wearing a collar. Doubting Gretchen's word, Miss Munn searches her room and finds the collar with the identification "U.S. Army 82" written on it. Insisting that Gretchen must face reality and return the dog, Miss Munn notifies the Army about Wolf, and the next day two soldiers come to claim him. Heartbroken by the loss of Wolf, Gretchen and the Eisdaar children visit the army compound and offer to buy Wolf. The sergeant informs them that Wolf, a combat trained dog, has been assigned to active duty and that only a directive from the Secretary of War could release him from duty. As the children leave camp, Wolf sees them and escapes from the compound to follow them into the woods. Rather than give up her beloved Wolf, Gretchen decides to travel to Washington to petition the Secretary of War to give her the dog. Two of the Eisdaar children join her while little Fred Eisdaar returns home to mow the lawn. While the children hitchhike to Washington, the story of their trek receives newspaper coverage, and their parents anxiously gather at the Anstey house for news. When Miss Munn accuses Gretchen of lying about the collar, Wilson admits he put it in the little girl's room, and Mr. Anstey fires the governess. That night, the children arrive in Washington. To gain admittance to the house of the Secretary of War, Gretchen tells the butler that she is the Secretary's niece. After she is ushered into the surprised Secretary's office, Gretchen begs him to let her keep Wolf. Remembering the story in the paper, the Secretary calls Gretchen's parents. As the Ansteys and Papa Eisdaar drive to Washington, he patiently explains to the little girl that Wolf has been trained to deliver messages in battle and therefore has a special duty to serve his country. Gretchen accepts his explanation, and after she tearfully bids Wolf goodbye, the parents arrive to take their children home. All ends happily when Mrs. Anstey foresakes her job to come to Virginia and care for her daughter, and Gretchen receives a cuddly puppy as a gift from the Secretary of State.