"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

Posts tagged “childrens story


Guarding the Reader



Bed Time


artist unknown




Windy Days


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.

Howling at the Moon.

Moon Dog 460px

I’ve heard it said that humans don’t understand why we do it; howl at the moon. Worse than that I’ve heard it said that humans think it is cute.


I ask you?

My ears are cute.

FiFi the poodle is cute, but howling at the moon is heaps more serious than that.

Sorry, I got a little bit annoyed thinking about those ‘cute’ comments.

Ask any dog and they will tell you that it is a solidarity thing and a community thing and a dog thing. I can explain some of it, but some of it only makes sense if you are a dog.

It’s a bit like football and humans.

Everyone knows that football makes no sense at all, but humans get very passionate when they watch it and when they talk about it.

Don’t even get me started on Cricket.

What the hell is that about?

Us dogs don’t poke fun at humans for trying to hit a small white ball into a very tiny hole so why do they pick on us.

Dogs know that somewhere in the world a dog is howling at the moon even as we speak.

It ties us all together.

We know that we belong.

My mistress is very good when it comes to the moon.

“Full moon tonight Rufus. How’s your voice? Ready for a good howl?”

“My voice is very good indeed, and yes I am looking forward to it.”

Naturally, I tell her this with my eyes and not my voice, but she knows what I mean. She is very smart, for a human. Her sense of smell is not as good as mine but she sure can cook, and she doesn’t mind sharing.

I particularly like sausage night.

Not too crazy about the mashed potatoes and peas, but the sausages are excellent, and she doesn’t mind how long I lick the bowl. Sometimes I can lick the bowl clean into another room. Sometimes I do it just because it makes her laugh.

I love to hear her laugh.

It’s heaps better than when she cries.

I don’t know what to do when she cries.

Mostly, I just stay close by and wait until she is feeling better.

As I said, laughter is much better.



Every group need a thinker and Barry was ours.

I say a group, but that’s a little bit too grand for who we are.

It would be more accurate to say that we’re just a bunch of dogs who like to hang out together. Not every day mind you, we all need our personal space and we all need a bit of time alone. That was one of Barry’s great strengths; utilising his time alone.

When we gathered together we would bring a problem to Barry and he would go away and think about it for a very long time. He never failed to come up with an answer. Sometimes we didn’t like the answer, but that wasn’t Barry’s fault.

Barry’s favourite place to do his thinking was in his master’s leather armchair. The leather armchair was heaps older than Barry and Barry felt that that gave him an edge.

“This armchair has wisdom stuffed right inside it,” Barry was heard to say. He said cool stuff like that all the time and if I had been born with opposable thumbs I would’ve written some of it down. Fortunately, I have a very good memory for a small black dog so I remember most of Barry’s wise sayings. Sometimes when we get together and Barry isn’t with us, the other dogs will ask me to quote something wise that Barry once said.

“Never leave your bone out in the rain.”

That was one of Barry’s.

It wasn’t earth-shatteringly wise but was still very good advice. No one likes a soggy bone and sometimes we need to be reminded how that bone got to be soggy in the first place.

“Always look behind you when you’re going on a long walk, you never know who might be following you.”

Before Barry said that one, many of us didn’t look behind us when we went on a long walk, but now you will not see a local dog cover more than 100 metres without taking a quick look behind him.

We call it ‘the Crazy Barry,’ and because of it no strange dog has ever been able to sneak up behind us.

It’s one of the things that makes us so strong.

Someone said that the Russian submarine fleet used to do something similar during the Cold War. But I’m pretty sure that Barry’s move was original.

When the local cats became a real problem we turned to Barry.

Usually, Barry would come up with an answer within a day or two, but this wasn’t just any problem, there were cats involved.

And anyone will tell you that cats just aren’t like anyone else.

They are inscrutable.

I don’t really know what that word means, but Barry said it, so it must mean something.

For about a week and a half, every dog in the area who wanted to look wise said ‘inscrutable’ as often as possible.

I wasn’t one of those dogs.

My human vocabulary is already larger than every other dog in the area with the exception of Barry.

So I have nothing to prove.

I credit my exceptional vocabulary to the fact that I am the dog of a writer, and everyone knows that words are a writer’s tool.

We went back to see Barry after a couple of days, but he said he had not worked out the ‘Cat Problem’.

In the end, it was almost a week and a half before Barry rejoined our group. He had been sitting in that big leather armchair thinking every day since we posed a problem.

Barry had endurance and perseverance, whatever that means.

We all gathered around and held our breath as Barry prepared to speak. You could’ve heard an owner banging a dog food tin 100 kilometres away, it was so quiet.

Barry turned to our collection of dogs, and with those big soulful eyes, he looked at each one of us before speaking.

“My friends you have posed the most difficult problem I have ever had to think upon. I considered many solutions but in the end I rejected them all. There is only one thing for it, we must enlist the help of the Mighty Tiddles.”

Naturally, being dogs, we had heard of the Mighty Tiddles, but none of us had ever seen her in person. Some said she had been dead for many years, and others said that her owners had taken her away, well out of our area. A couple of the crazy dogs said that she had sprouted wings and flown over the rainbow. We tolerate all views in our pack, even to the point of putting up with the concept of flying cats and rainbows. Everyone knows that rainbows aren’t real.

A meeting was immediately held and I was elected to be the dog who would go and ask the Mighty Tiddles if she would help us with our problem.

This was to be the most dangerous adventure I had ever embarked upon.

I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say there were rivers, sharp rocks and strange smelling milk cartons, all of which stood between me and the Mighty Tiddles.

The pack had faith in me, Barry had faith in me, and I was not going to let them down.

After three days of torturous travelling, I stood before our group and introduced the Mighty Tiddles.

Her first words to the group were, “I understand you have a problem with the local cat population.”

We agreed that we did indeed have a problem.

“If you wish to regain control of this area from the cats, you must do exactly what I say, no more, no less.”

We were all impressed with her no-nonsense attitude, and the fact that she hadn’t scratched anybody.

“Go forth into your town and seek out anything that is small and shiny. Gather these things together and bring them here.”

When the work was done there was a huge pile of shiny objects and we stood back and admired our work.

The Mighty Tiddles told us to place these objects in very specific places. No more than 3 metres from a cat door; no more than 2 metres from a front gate, and so it went, very specific instructions.

We had gone to great pains to get the Mighty Tiddles to come, so we would have been foolish to ignore her advice.

I took the Mighty Tiddles back to where she had come from and returned to my friends to find out if our efforts had been successful.

I didn’t even need to ask because every dog I met had a smile on his or her face.

The local cats were completely confused by all the small shiny things, and to this day they are well under control.

There was some talk in the group about erecting some kind of statue or monument to the Mighty Tiddles, but this was rejected because we felt it would eat into our sleeping time.

Someone suggested that we should reward Barry for his wise counsel so we organised a raid on the local butcher shop.

There were some minor injuries, but I manage to get away with a leg of lamb.

Barry was very appreciative.

He said he would not thank us straight away, but instead he would think about it for a while and deliver his thank you at a later date.

He did and it was magnificent.

Barry continues to think in his big leather armchair and we continue to bring him problems to be solved.

Barry never lets us down, but we have never had to solve such a serious problem as the time when the cats got out of control.

Something In The City.


That was how my mistress described what her brother did for a living, he’s ‘something in the city’.

Like a lot of things that humans say I didn’t understand, but after talking to his dog Maisie I found out that he travels into the city and works in a tall building in a tiny office.

Maisie knows this because one day they had a ‘Bring your dog to work day.’ Maisie said it was a lot of fun, but they’re not going to do it anymore. When I asked her why not she said that a massive dogfight broke out when a Dachsund named Fritz tried to hump a German Shepherd named Daisy. She didn’t like the attention so she bit him on the bottom. Naturally Fritz was none too happy about being bitten on the bottom so he latched on to one of daisies legs and gave it a good shake.

It all went rapidly downhill from there.

Other dogs joined in the fight for no other reason than it looked like fun.

Maisie said they were all rather silly and she’d prefer not to have anything to do with them.

It took some time for the office workers to separate all the dogs and Maisie said that she got an extra treat for not being involved in the fight. Apparently the office manager threatened to resign if they ever had another ‘Bring your dog to work day’.

We only see Maisie and her master once a year at Christmas time.

He is way too busy to travel ‘all the way down to the seaside’ to visit us during the rest of the year. My mistress said he is a very important person. But I got the feeling that she was just making excuses for him. I know that she misses him and loves him very much, and she would like to spend more time with him.

They were great friends when they were children and my mistress said that this is most unusual for human children. Brothers and sisters don’t normally get along that well, but they did. He is a year or two older than her, which is not much in human years. They went everywhere together and had heaps of adventures. He would stick up for her if she got into trouble, and he got into the occasional fight when other boys were rude to her. He even took the blame a couple of times when things got broken during their adventures.

My mistress says that he is the best brother ever.

But she says it with a certain amount of sadness in her voice. I wish he wasn’t so busy all the time because I know my mistress would love to see him much more than she does.

I have an ulterior motive for wanting him to visit more.

I really enjoy spending time with Maisie.

She looks a lot like me only with white fur. She’s a little bit smaller and to hear her tell it, that’s okay.

My mistress had a painting made from a photograph that our stationmaster took last year. You can see me and Maisie right up the front, I’m carrying the newspaper in my mouth. We both have Scottish ribbons around our necks which everyone says looks cute. I’m not really into cute all that much, but one has to make concessions around Christmas time. You can see my mistress and her brother in the background. She had her hair dyed blond that year for some reason. She has let it go back to its natural colour now and I like it much better.

I actually barked at her a few times when she changed it to blonde because I thought she was someone else.

That was very embarrassing.

She laughed, but I felt bad.

It took me a couple of weeks to get used to it.

You can also see her brother carrying parcels and a warm rug. It’s a long journey by train and the heaters in the carriages don’t always work well. I know this from experience. I have travelled on trains with my mistress, although we usually drive everywhere. From time to time she likes to travel by train. I like trains and it is fun, but I’d much rather be in the car.

My mistress had the painting turned into a Christmas card and she sent one to each one of her friends. She has a lot of friends. She says that girls usually have lots of friends. I’m not sure what being a girl has to do with it, I’m a boy and I have lots of friends, admittedly, most of them are dogs, but there are a few humans mixed in.

Christmas is a very happy time and not just because we get to see my mistress’s brother and Maisie. Lots of other people come to visit and there is lots of laughter in the house. I love to hear humans laugh. Sometimes it sounds a little bit strange, but I know they are happy, and I’m a big fan of happiness.

One of my most important jobs is to make my mistress happy, and when she is, that makes me happy.

Humans give each other presents at Christmas time. It’s a bit like getting a really big treat if you are a dog. Last year Maisie and I got a bone wrapped up in Christmas paper. Even though they tried to disguise it with paper we knew what it was, we could smell it from the other side of the house. Humans really are silly sometimes. You cannot hide things from dogs, we will sniff them out eventually.

My mistress’s brother usually goes home two days after Christmas, but last year my mistress talked him into staying around until New Year’s Day. I’m not sure what New Year’s Day is, but I know that humans make a lot of noise in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping. Maisie and I don’t like those loud noises. I tried to be brave, but Maisie hid under the bed. It didn’t matter what I said to her she wouldn’t come out until the noise stopped.

The humans had a party at our house last year for what they called New Year’s Eve. There were a lot of people wedged into our small house, and some even spilled out onto the lawn. A couple of them went to sleep and no one seemed to be able to wake them up. I sniffed them all over just to make sure they weren’t dead. No one likes dead people cluttering up the yard. They weren’t dead and they made terrible snoring noises. One of them even threw up, which is okay, dogs do that all the time.

When the party was over there was a mess everywhere, but everyone went to bed and didn’t care about cleaning it up. Maisie and I were awake very early, as usual, and we had a lot of fun tearing up bits of paper, and sniffing everything just to try and work out what it all was.

My favourites were the paper hats.

They had little bits of stretchy string tied to them, I’m not sure what that was for, but it was a lot of fun to play with.

We found a few almost empty bottles and the liquid that was in them smelled very strange. Maisie licked a little bit of it and she got quite dizzy. Naturally, being a gentleman, I stayed with her until she started to feel better.

We both tried to wake up our owners the same way we do every morning, but on this day they just would not wake up. Maisie’s master even used some bad words while he was telling her to go away. She was a little bit shocked, but she knows that humans can be very strange, so she didn’t take it personally.

A lot of time went by and we were both wondering if we were ever going to get our breakfast. Fortunately, the people at the party had dropped some very tasty things on the floor, so we decided to hunt around and find as many of these tasty things as we could. That way, we would make it through till dinner time.

We hung around for a long time waiting for our owners to wake up, but eventually it became clear that they were going to sleep for a long time. We decided to go down to the beach and see if we could have one more adventure before Maisie had to go home.

That was a lovely Christmas and I remember it fondly.

My mistress says that Christmas is not too far away and I wonder what stories Maisie will have to tell when she gets here.

I’m going to tell her about all the new friends I have made this year.

I hope you will be invited to our house for Christmas because I would love to meet the people who are reading these stories.

Now, if you will excuse me, I will have to get back to my mistress.

I’m pretty sure she’s going to need me today.



If George Orwell had not saved Patrick’s great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather, Patrick wouldn’t be here.

I’ve seen the photograph.

In the background of that photograph, Hemingway is standing and talking to some other soldiers. Patrick loves listening to his mistress read Hemingway so he said he would much rather that his ancestor had been saved by Hemingway, but George Orwell is not a bad writer either.

Patrick is very well read.

I say well read, but Patrick can’t actually read he doesn’t need to, he’s a dog.

But he does listen to his mistress when she reads the classics. Fortunately, his mistress loves Hemingway.

Personally I like detective stories. The Thin Man or any story with a dog in it. When I was a pup Aster was my hero.

I like it when my mistress reads stories where the bloke gets the girl.

It’s not just books that Patrick and I enjoy we love old movies as well. Patrick’s mistress loves old black and white movies and Patrick has a favourite; Rin Tin Tin. As I said before Aster is my favourite.

Unlike my other friend Ernie, Patrick has never actually saved anybody, but he says he is prepared to. He keeps himself sharp and he practises every day.

He is quite sure he could tackle a burglar. He has even imagined himself saving a baby from drowning. Patrick is a very good swimmer.

The truth of the matter is that Patrick spends a lot of his days sitting on the rug in front of the fire. Most of his adventures happen inside his head. But there’s nothing wrong with that. My mistress does that every day, that’s how she makes a living. “An imagination is a wonderful thing, Rufus. It can take you anywhere in the world. You can have as many friends as you want and you can be as bad or as good as you want to be. If you want to save the puppies from the burning building you can do it and not even get your fur singed. You can cross the raging river and save the family trapped in their car without actually getting your paws wet. It’s great fun.” My mistress talks to me like that sometimes.

Usually when she’s come up with an idea for a new story.

I can hear the excitement in her voice and I know she’s going to be happy for a little while, at least until the story is finished.

It’s a whole different story when she’s between ideas. Sometimes she gets very sad.

She sits and stares out the window for hours. On these days, I don’t go for my walks. I stay as close to her as possible, it’s part of my job; I know she needs me. She strokes my fur and I know she feels better. On these days, I try not to bark too much or chase birds.

“You have magical powers Rufus, you always make me feel better.” I like the idea of having magical powers, but really it’s just love.

Maybe love is a magical power.

Patrick’s mistress works in the city and this means that Patrick is on his own for long periods of time. He tries to make the best of it, but he gets very lonely. His mistress usually catches the same train home every night and Patrick is usually at the station waiting for her. Fortunately, the station master is very kind, he likes dogs. If Patrick’s mistress’s train is late, he gives Patrick a snack and lets him sit in his warm office until the train arrives. Trains make a lot of noise and Patrick has to control himself so that he is not frightened. His love for his mistress is greater than his fear of the train.

Dogs have excellent hearing so Patrick can hear the train coming when it is a long way away. The station master is always impressed that Patrick knows when the train is coming. He opens the door to his office even though the train isn’t due for several minutes.

When his mistress gets off the train Patrick runs to meet her. He is very excited but he knows that he is not allowed to jump on her. He really wants to jump on her, but instead he just spins around in circles.

Patrick’s mistress always makes a big fuss of him when she first sees him.

In the winter, they walk straight home, but in the summer they often stop at the cafe in the village and have a cup of tea. The shopkeeper won’t let Patrick come inside so his mistress sits outside at the little table.

This is one of Patrick’s favourite things.

His mistress calls him a Cafe dog. He’s not sure what that means, but he thinks it has something to do with the cups of tea.

Sometimes other people walk past with their dogs and Patrick would very much like to bark at them. Just to let them know to keep their distance, but he knows that his mistress does not like him to do that, so he just growls under his breath. The other dogs get the message either way. When Patrick’s mistress goes on holidays she takes Patrick with her.

Their favourite place to holiday is by the seaside, which is strange because we live very close to the ocean. Patrick explains it this way, “My mistress likes to look at different bits of the ocean, not just the bit where we live.” I guess that makes sense, but I stopped trying to understand humans a long time ago. These days I just go with the flow, it’s simpler that way.

Patrick has an interesting collection of bones and he sometimes shares one with me, which is very kind because most dogs will not share a bone, but then again Patrick is not most dogs, he’s a friend of mine.

Ernie takes flight.


I told you a little bit about Ernie and his mistress and her boyfriends, but I don’t think I told you about the boyfriend that had the aeroplane.

He had been a flyer during the war and when he got back home no one saw him for a long time. He lived by himself in the hills near Tecoma.

After a little while, people noticed that he had begun to fly again. His uncle had died and left him an inheritance. He had been living on that money, but now he decided to spend some of it on an aeroplane. As he put it, “I’m not much good at anything else so I might as well do the thing that I’m good at.”

Ernie didn’t understand what he meant by that, but he did like that aeroplane, and for a little while the flyer and his mistress were happy together.

The aeroplane didn’t have a top on it, it was a lot like riding in a convertible except that you were up in the air. Ernie used to rush out to meet the flyer whenever he landed in the fields near their house. On a beautiful still sunny day and Ernie heard the magic words, “Let’s take Ernie with us.” These were the words that he had longed to hear.

Wind in his hair and bugs up is his nose.

The boyfriend picked him up and sat him on his mistress’s lap.

Takeoff was exhilarating.

Once they were in the air Ernie could see for a very long way. The world looked very different from up there. They stayed in the air for what seemed to Ernie to be a very long time. It was great fun but as they say, what goes up must come down and as the plane headed for the field Ernie waited for the bump.

It was all over way too quickly.

Ernie jumped out of the plane as soon as it stopped moving.

He ran around in circles, he couldn’t help himself.

He also did a great deal of barking.

The plane made a great deal of noise, which hurt Ernie’s ears, and being hit in the face with bugs wasn’t much fun, but all in all it had been a magnificent experience.

At least that’s the way Ernie tells.

Personally, I like to keep my four paws on the ground, but that’s me.

If God had wanted small black furry dogs to fly he would’ve given them wings.

He didn’t, so I’m staying right here on the ground.

Rufus: and a Room Full of Christians.


Birthday cake tastes funny.

I know this because people kept feeding it to me.

“It’s dry and tasteless, but you’re welcome to it”.

I didn’t know what they meant, but I also didn’t care; food is food.

It’s unusual for my mistress to take me to a party and even more unusual for me to be allowed inside.

Very shiny floor; hard to stand up.

Lots of very small humans to play with.

They have sticky fingers and they think it is fun if I lick them.

The big humans seem to be very judgemental. Dogs don’t judge. We just like some people and avoid others.

For a long time, I thought that the person having the birthday was named Jesus, but it turned out to be a woman named Jean. She is very old, even for a human.

I never did find out who Jesus was, but everyone seemed to know him.

The little humans played with me and the big humans patted me and some even scratched me behind the ears.

Birthday cake, bits of ham and something called potatoes.

I had an excellent day, but my mistress wasn’t happy.

“No bloody booze at the party. Bloody Christians!”