"The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's." – Mark Twain, Letter to W D Howells, 4/2/1899

fiction

Fetch, RUFUS at Amazon — paperback

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That’s right. RUFUS is now available as a paperback from Amazon’s US store (and their UK store and a bunch of others, but not the Australian store as yet).

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521770069

 


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“I know what dead people look like. I worked for a summer at our local hospital. I told my mother that I was gaining experience for my future career as a writer. I’m not sure if she believed me, but she let me go. To be honest, my goal was spending money, boys and parties; and I succeeded on all fronts. Along the way, there were several dead bodies.
A dead body is a dead body, but some dead bodies cause more problems than others.”

Excerpt From: Terry R Barca. “Rufus.” iBooks.


Belting Through The Countryside

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“Sir William met me at the front door and I’m not sure how he knew I had arrived, but I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. He suggested that I might want to freshen up before tea and I wasn’t sure if he was alluding to my appearance or just being polite.
He should try belting through the countryside in an open top Lagonda and see how fresh he looks.”

Excerpt From: Terry R Barca. “Rufus.” iBooks.


Rufus loves paperbacks

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Rufus arrived early (when does that ever happen at this time of the year?). The delivery guy failed to catch the attention of my dogs so I had to go to the post office to retrieve them. Dropped off a complimentary copy to my illustrator on my way home. She was at work and a customer wanted to know what all the fuss was about. My illustrator was very happy. I’m a little bit out of it at the moment. Just waiting for it to pass. It’s a shame because this moment is special — when a box of books arrives. Nothing is getting through the fog, but there is always tomorrow. These last few months have been full on. Four books published in almost as many months. I’m a bit tired, but also pleased to have achieved so much this year. Thank you to anyone reading this if you have been supportive during the year, it is always appreciated and very much needed.

If you are in Australia I can post you a copy $29 AUD inc postage

You can also purchase a copy from my printer. They will mail it to you anywhere in the world.

eBook copies from:

Smashwords (all versions)

Amazon Kindle

Apple iBooks


Doona Day

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It only happens every now and then, but when it does I have a special job to do.

My mistress gets sad.

Not because someone died or anything like that, although she does get sad when that happens. This is an unusual kind of sadness and she has a unique way of dealing with it.

“Today Rufus, is a doona day.”

Even though I know she has that unusual sadness I do get a bit excited; though I try not to show it.

A ‘doona day’ means we are going to stay in bed all day.

We might be sleeping or reading or just thinking about stuff, but one thing is for sure, we will be doing it in bed.

Naturally, I have to go outside and have a wee every now and then, and, of course, there is breakfast and dinner, but apart from that we are in bed.

My special job is to stay very close to her until she starts to feel better.

“You have magical powers, Rufus.” I love it when she says that. I don’t actually know what it means, but it is the way that she says it that tells me it is a good thing.

An added bonus comes when my mistress eats in bed; I get to lick up all the crumbs.

If the ‘sads’ hit during the warmer weather I have to stick my head out to cool down a bit, but it has to be very hot for me to come out from under the covers.

One of my special treatments for my mistress is to lick her toes.

She says that it tickles, but she lets me do it all the same. Licking things makes them better, my mum taught me that. It works when my toes get sore and it works on my mistress as well. Some people don’t like being licked and I don’t understand why, but my mistress explains it this way, “People who don’t like being licked are not worth worrying about.” I tend to agree.

After a lot of treatment from me, and lots of snacks and ice cream, my mistress starts to feel better. The house goes back to normal and I can relax, just a bit.

I’m always on guard.

I never know when my mistress will need me to look after her again.


Bernard.

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Looks can be deceiving.

Take Bernard for example.

He looks small and cute, and his mistress is French.

You might think that he lives in a handbag and eats paté all day, but no, he doesn’t. Okay, so he does eat the occasional croissant, and he once licked paté off the floor where some French bloke dropped it while talking to his mistress, but I don’t think that counts.

He does eat snails, but that is a whole other story.

Bernard is special.

All dogs are special, of course, but what I mean to say is that Bernard is especially talented.

You already know that dogs have amazing senses, and the sense of smell is particularly acute.

I sound like I know what I’m talking about, but to be truthful, I only discovered this because my mistress was doing research for a story.

It all started after I caught the murderer in the country house. It was one of my very first adventures. My mistress was very proud of me, and she wondered how I did it. I didn’t think much about it at the time; I just did what dogs do — I sniffed it out. I thought everyone could do it, but apparently not.

My mistress said that some dogs could detect individual ingredients in a pasta sauce. I could have told her that. It drives her crazy that her girlfriend makes a particularly good Napoli sauce, and she is not sure what the secret ingredient is. It’s Turmeric. A very tiny amount. I tried pointing at it in the spice rack using my nose, but she told me off for climbing on a chair. Humans can be very annoying.

Bernard, on the other hand, never gets told off for climbing on chairs. He is treated like a king — a small hairy king, but a king none the less.

His unique skill is finding things.

Rich people pay his mistress large amounts of money to find things that have been lost inside their huge houses, but more importantly, Bernard is asked to find things that are hidden in the houses of wealthy deceased persons — usually by greedy relatives who are sure that their dead uncle has stashed away a fortune.

Bernard comes to visit at least once a year.

His mistress and my mistress have been friends since my mistress was a student in France. She stayed with her friend’s parents for a year, and she says it was one of the best years of her life.

I was expecting Bernard to be a bit ‘up himself’, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was a very down-to-earth dog.

Appearances can be deceiving.

He likes watching soccer on TV, and he enjoys walks in the rain, but his mistress won’t let him. I splashed water on him one time so that he would know what it felt like. He was very appreciative.

I took him down to the local Butcher Shop, just to show him the sights and he had a splendid time. He got dusty, and some sand got stuck between his toes and he said it made him feel like one of those free range dogs. He was kidding himself of course. He wouldn’t last five minutes in the wild, but I let him have his dream. Who am I to step on anyone’s dream?

He told me about life in Paris, and it sounded pretty good.

French dogs are allowed into cafés, but I like it here. I’m too old to learn the French words for ‘walk’ and ‘treat’ and ‘get off the chair’.

I asked Bernard what was the most interesting thing he was asked to find, and he said that it was hard to choose, but it was probably a lost toy.

The toy belonged to a little old lady. She was very old and sick. She believed that she was going to die soon and she had been thinking a lot about her childhood. She had a favourite little doll.

She used to tell it her secrets.

One day, while playing hide and seek with her brothers and sisters, she put the doll down and forgot where she put it. She searched and searched, but to no avail.

She wanted to hold that little doll one last time before she died.

Bernard said that she offered a huge reward, but it would only be paid if he could find the doll.

His mistress brought him to meet the old lady, and they got on very well indeed. Bernard gave her a good sniffing and set off through the large old Chateau in search of the little doll. It helped that he is small because it stood to reason that the doll would be in a small hiding place just big enough to hide a little girl.

Bernard searched all day, and he was beginning to wonder if he might have to come back another day, but just as the light was failing, he wandered into a small room attached to the huge kitchen. It was full of dusty old boxes, and it looked like no one had been in there for a long time. To start with, nothing in the room seemed to smell like the little old lady had touched it, but after pushing a few boxes aside with his nose, he got a faint whiff.

The little doll had been nibbled on by moths and was very dusty, but she was in one piece, and she was exactly as the old woman had described her.

Bernard said that it was very strange, but he was sure that the little doll was calling out to him. He followed the scent and the sound directly to where the doll was lying, but when he got there, the doll stopped talking to him.

He gently carried the little doll back to the old lady. She was sleeping and woke as he jumped up on her bed. She didn’t care that the doll was dusty and moth-eaten. She hugged it and cried. Bernard knew enough about female humans to know that there was a chance that this little old lady was happy and not sad.

I asked him what happened to the doll and the little old lady, and he said that he was not sure. He heard his mistress talking about her a few times, but he did not know what her words meant. He did say that they got paid a lot of money because of his find and they went on a holiday to Trieste, and as a special treat, he got a ride on the famous funicular tramway. Bernard loves trams, and he and his mistress are going to visit Melbourne next year because they have the most extensive system of tramways anywhere in the world, not to mention the longest continuous piece of tram track.

Bernard loves trams.

You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but appearances can be deceiving.


Scamper

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Polished floors and dog paws and you are bound to get a name like ‘Scamper’.

Names are not as important to dogs as they are to humans, but that does not mean that we don’t care about our name, we do, but if you change it, and we like you, we will still come when you call.

Scamper is sad most of the time, but he hides it very well.

If I come to visit, and he is not expecting me, I catch the sadness in his eyes — just for a moment. He quickly pulls himself together and puts on the face that he thinks we want to see.

Scamper underestimates me, just a bit.

I don’t expect my friends to be happy all the time and I’m pleased to hang out with them even when they are a bit down — assuming they want me to, of course.

Scamper is one of those dogs who likes to please everyone, which is an impossible task, but it doesn’t stop him from trying.

He likes almost everyone.

I don’t.

He wants to please everyone and I think that most people should bugger off, but that’s me.

I can be a grumpy bugger.

Scamper’s humans are nice enough, but they don’t understand what Scamper needs. They feed him and make sure that he has fresh water, but they rarely play with him or take him for a walk, “Scamper has a lovely big backyard to play in so he doesn’t need to go for a walk.”

Yes, he does you ignorant humans!

Scamper, of course, would never say anything to his humans.

He just sits there looking sad.

I’ve thought about intervening, but it is not my place — not my journey.

I wouldn’t want you to think that Scamper is unhappy all the time because he isn’t.

He a dog and dogs are famous for being in the moment and finding the fun wherever it may be.

So, don’t feel sorry for him.

There is always the chance that his owners will work it out.

Life isn’t over until it’s over.


Scottie Facts You May Not Know

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The most important fact is that that’s not me in the illustration.

It’s very annoying. People think it is me and it really isn’t.

Those posters are all over the place and my friends keep winding me up about them.

“Nice poster Rufus.”

I’ve given up denying it, now I just give off a low growl.

The female is cute, but my mistress is much shorter and she would never get tangled up in a lead, and I wouldn’t tangle her up in the first place.

Don’t spread it around, but I did do that once when I was a pup. She fell over and bruised her knee. Amazingly, she didn’t shout at me. I was mortified. The last thing I would want to do was hurt her. I licked her knee and she said it made her feel better. I learned my lesson and I’ve been very careful so that it would not happen again.

I’m still trying to figure out what the poster is advertising, but I guess it doesn’t matter. They will take them all down in a week or two and replace them with something else.

My mistress likes the poster.

“If I grew a few inches, that could be me and you Rufus.”

No, it couldn’t.

My mistress has been working on a new novella.

I didn’t know what a novella was, but my mistress explained it to me as though I had asked, which I hadn’t, but I was going to. I like to know everything about her work, and not just that ‘it buys the dog biscuits, Rufus’. That is important, of course, but I like to know about her stories.

“This one is about a young woman who becomes a spy during the war.”

She didn’t say which war, but I did not want to interrupt her.

“She is very brave and manages to smuggle her secrets out from behind enemy lines. But that is not the best bit; it’s how she gets her secrets back home.”

I’d tell you what she said, but that would spoil it for you when you buy the book, but I can tell you that the book is called, ‘Keeper Of Secrets’. It’s very exciting and a bit spooky, just the way I like stories to be.

It was an unusually cold day for Spring and I was sitting quietly on the end of her bed as she read me the novella, cover to cover.

When she finished reading there was a short silence before she asked me, “Well, what do you think Rufus?”

My mistress always reads her stories to me and this was a long one. I looked her right in the eyes and gave her one loud bark. She knew what that meant.

“Wow, you like it that much?” I gave her another single bark just so she knew that I was serious.

“You are my ‘ideal reader’ and you never get it wrong. Thank you. An extra treat is coming your way.”

I didn’t need the extra treat, her praise was enough, but I wasn’t silly enough to say no.

This all started back when I was a pup, around the time I tripped her up.

She had been writing for a long time before I came into her life, but her books and stories were not selling well enough for her to give up her job.

My mistress was a Milliner. She made hats for all sorts of ladies to wear. According to her, she was very good at her job. She designed, as well as made, those funny little hats that ladies like to wear. She was always tired at the end of her working day, but she always made time to write. Sometimes she fell asleep at her typewriter.

“One time I woke up with the letter ’S’ imprinted into my forehead!”

Her favourite uncle left her some money. She was able to buy our cottage and there was a little bit left over to live on.

“If we are careful and don’t spend too much money we might have enough to last for a year. Someone had better start buying my books soon Rufus or I might have st share your dog biscuits.”

I was more than happy to share my biscuits with my mistress, but it didn’t come to that. She started writing early in the morning and late at night she would read me what she had written. I would give her one bark if I liked it and two if I didn’t. She caught on very quickly and together we wrote her first big hit.

From then on, she read me her work and if I didn’t like what she had written she would go away and write it again.

“You have an excellent ear for good writing Rufus.”

I even got a credit in her first book.

‘To Rufus, without whom this book would not have been written.’

The press all wanted to know who Rufus was, and for a long time she kept them guessing.

“A bit of mystery is good for my image, so don’t tell anyone, will you Rufus.”

I didn’t tell, but they worked it out eventually. My mistress didn’t mind.

‘Author Dedicates Book to Dog.’

“Great headline Rufus. Should be good for a few thousand more sales.”

  


Windy Days

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Someone once said that everyone needs a hobby.

That someone was not a dog.

It’s the kind of thing that you would expect a human to say.

I don’t give hobbies very much thought. Personally I’m way too busy. Life is full and there’s always something new happening.

But, if we must talk about hobbies, I will tell you about Gabby and her mistress.

Gabby’s mistress had a part-time job working at the local bookstore. She didn’t need to work full-time because she had saved up her money, paid off her cottage, and lived frugally. At least that’s what Gabby called it. Personally, I thought that frugally was some kind of fruit salad, but apparently it means that she didn’t spend a lot of money, so she didn’t need a lot of money. She loved books so a bookstore makes sense. But it’s not her occupation that I’m here to talk about.

She had the strangest hobby.

Every day she read the five-day forecast in the newspaper and watched the TV news just to doublecheck. If strong winds were forecast she would make preparations.

As hard as it is to believe, her hobby was leaning into the wind.

Conditions had to be just right. Anything less than 10 miles an hour and it just didn’t work. Anything over 50 miles an hour and there was a risk that they might both get blown away.

They had several favourite spots where they would stand and lean into the wind.

The correct clothing was also important. Gabby didn’t need clothes but her mistress always wore a big yellow dress buttoned up at the neck. Button up boots were optional, but preferred.

Naturally, summer winds were best, but winter gave the maximum number of opportunities.

Gabby’s mistress preferred the town Square, but standing on the pier or the foreshore meant that people did not ask her what they were doing. People often stand and look out at the water, so no one thought she was strange.

I asked Gabby what she thought of their hobby and she gave the kind of answer that I expect from a dog. She said that she just likes being wherever her mistress is and she doesn’t care what she’s doing as long as she can be there. The bonus for Gabby is that the strong winds bring in interesting aromas from far away. Admittedly, most of those aromas concern fish and seaweed, but dogs don’t care. A good aroma is a good aroma, no matter where it comes from.

Gabby once said that she picked up the aroma of a roast dinner. The smell must have been coming from a fishing trawler just offshore. The captain was eating well that night.

Gabby has considered asking for a pair goggles that she has seen dogs wearing on motorcycles. The bugs really hurt when they get in your eyes, especially at that speed. In the short-term Gabby simply closes her eyes and lets her nose do all the work.

After a long day of leaning into the wind, Gabby and her mistress sit in front of the fire and drink tea with scones and jam and cream. Gabby isn’t really a big fan of tea, but she does like scones.

I have some very weird friends; Gabby isn’t one of them.

She’s quite sane, but I’m not too sure about her mistress.


The Lead

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“Lead is one of those confusing words Rufus. It can mean that you are showing someone the way and it can mean the thing that I attached to your collar when we go for a walk. But I sometimes wonder who is leading who.”

My mistress was trying to explain to me why I have to have a collar and a lead when we go walking.

I appreciated the effort, but it didn’t stop me from being annoyed.

Naturally, I preferred to walk along next to my mistress with the occasional short excursion. I need to sniff stuff from time to time, just to know who has been around and how they are getting on.

There are special occasions when I don’t mind being attached to a lead, such as when my mistress is receiving a writing award. She is a very good writer so she often gets invited to award ceremonies. It is one of the few times that I am allowed to attend.

“You are an important accessory Rufus. The photographers love to take photos of you and that helps with my profile and that helps me sell books and that means that I can afford to buy dog biscuits.”

Anything that helps my mistress buy dog biscuits is okay with me.

Even if there weren’t dog biscuits involved I would still enjoy these occasions just because I enjoy being with her. I worry when I’m not with her because it is my job to protect her and I can’t do that if I cannot see her.

Train journeys is another time for me to wear a lead.

The railway people tend not to like dogs and they make a huge fuss if there is a dog on the loose.

I once had to hide behind a pile of suit cases just to get away from an angry stationmaster.

“I’m going to write a story where the murder weapon is a dog lead and I will dedicate the story to you Rufus.”

She doesn’t have to do that, but it will be nice to see my name in print.

It almost makes it okay to have to wear a lead.

Almost.