One of my favourite stories from RUFUS is Life Goes on Until it Doesn’t.
I remember writing it and thinking how often something like this must happen in real life.
I gave the unfinished manuscript of RUFUS to the person who I hoped would become my illustrator and she said that she was nervous as she read this story because “I really wanted it to end happily.”
As you probably know from reading the book, RUFUS does save the day, but RUFUS is not always around in real life.
This morning, I was going through my news feed and I came across this story. As I read it I too wanted to view a happy ending.
I understand that people can become desperate, but abandoning the one creature in your life who loves you without question only casts doubt on your ability to understand the things that really matter in life.
A little while ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing the then Deputy Leader of the Opposition in my home state. A little while later, he became the deputy Premier after winning the election.
I was a little cheeky on the day and put a few extra questions to him about animal welfare and his party’s plans, if any, to improve the situation. He kindly answered them (we have a shared love of basketball and have both been involved in coaching juniors, so I think he cut me some slack). To his credit, and his government, they have implemented some excellent changes to the way we deal with animals. They have also boosted funding to the RSPCA, the body that oversees the protection of animals in my state.
Dogs will directly benefit as the law is introduced over the next couple of years which will only allow ‘rescued’ dogs to be sold in pet shops. There is also a strong effort being made to stamp out ‘puppy farms’.
All of these initiatives are good, but they do not eliminate the central cause of the problem — people. The world is full of idiots and the trend is threatening to continue.
As I write this, the dog next door is barking because he wants to play with his humans. My dogs are curled up on the bed waiting for me to stop writing so they can go for a walk and the Dingoes across the road are on the lookout for us because seeing us means that there is a strong chance they will be able to join us on that walk.
Rather than being angry because of the actions of others I have decided to focus on the good things in my life, particularly the small fluffy things.
The article I mentioned:
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
eBook copies from:
Between now and the 19th of December you can go (or send a friend) to SMASHWORDS and pre-order RUFUS for half price…… less than a cup of coffee.
Use the coupon code HY83N and RUFUS will be waiting for you on the day.
I sent him off to the printers after two long days of pasting him up. He is available now as a paperback from Blurb (but don’t tell anyone because he is not supposed to be published until the 19th).
I should have the paperbacks (and a hardback with dust cover) in my hands on the 29th.
I’m very excited about this book and I’m hoping that my readers will love it as well. It is a difficult book to categorise because it looks like a children’s book, and they will enjoy it, but it is really meant for adults who are young at heart.
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.
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.
Ernie’s mistress is a writer just like mine.
He gets to drive around with her in her car just like I do with my mistress, but the difference being he’s allowed to sit on her lap while she’s driving.
My mistress would never put up with that.
Ernie is one of the few people I can actually talk to about deep stuff. He’s got those serious looking eyes, and he knows stuff. Our lives are remarkably similar. He spends a lot of time waiting for his mistress to stop writing so that they can be together.
It’s exactly the same at my house.
Ernie is much bigger than I am and he is white and doesn’t have much fur. He eats a lot more than I do. He thinks that he can do a much better job of protecting his mistress then I can. I reminded him that size is not everything.
Another thing that we have in common is that our mistresses drive very fast indeed. I like it, but Ernie gets nervous.
It’s fun to spend time with someone who’s mistress does exactly the same thing that yours does. It saves a lot of time, I don’t have to explain everything.
Writers are unusual humans they don’t do the sort of things that other people do. Sometimes they sleep very late and sometimes they work all night. If you are the dog guarding such a person you have to be flexible, you have to be ready for anything. You have to be ready to go at a moments notice, and be prepared to put up with your mistresses friends, some of whom can be quite strange indeed.
Ernie understands these things.
Ernie is very brave but he doesn’t like to talk about it, and it’s not just his size. A year or two back he was riding in his mistresses car when she lost control and skidded off the road. She was knocked unconscious and so was Ernie, but Ernie was the first to regain consciousness. He tried to wake his mistress up. He could smell the blood coming from the wound in her head so he knew it was serious.
He had to decide, would he stay with her or go for help.
His instinct was to stay with her, but he sensed that he needed to get help quickly. He ran as fast as he could until he came across some humans, he tried to make them understand that there was an emergency, but they were the kind of foolish humans who were afraid of dogs. They tried to beat Ernie with a stick.
He continued running until he found some more humans and this time they were much wiser. They understood dogs and they knew that something was wrong. They followed Ernie until he got back to the scene of the accident.
It turned out that his mistress was not badly injured, just knocked unconscious, but if Ernie had not gone for help she might have lain there for a very long time, and that would’ve been bad. When I asked Ernie about his bravery he just said he was doing his job. I knew what he meant. Every dog needs a job and every dog has a job. Ernie and I have the same job, we protect our mistress so that she can get on with her work.
Work is very important to our mistresses. They love to write. In our small way, we help to make that possible.
Ernie doesn’t remember much about his family, but he does remember his mother. He says that she was very wise and in the short time they were together she taught him everything he needed to know about being a dog.
Ernie’s mistress writes romance stories; you know the ones, all kissing and hugging and people falling in love. The stories go on for pages and pages. Humans are very strange when it comes to choosing a mate. Dogs are much smarter. When we decide to choose a mate we choose someone we think will be good with a family. Families are important.
Ernie’s mistress doesn’t have a mate and neither does mine. We’ve talked about this problem and we both agreed that it creates a lot of challenges for us. If they had a mate our job would be easier because there would be someone else to look out for them as well as us. As it is, we have to be on our guard as each new boyfriend comes on the scene. We have to work out if they are safe and if they are good for our mistress.
This is not easy to do.
We can work out most things about humans by just sniffing them a lot. But when it comes to boyfriends this only gives us some of the information. Dogs have a sixth sense when it comes to people, but this is helpful only up to point. The rest of the decision comes from our experience. That’s why puppies are hopeless in this regard. It takes an experienced dog to really look after a human. You have to have seen a bit of life. Humans can be sneaky, particularly male humans. They say one thing and the dog can tell that they mean something different. Sometimes I wonder why it takes my mistress so long to work this out. “Why do I always fall for the bad boys? Why do I always make the same mistakes with men?” These are good questions but I guess humans have a long way to go before they become as smart as dogs and in the meantime my mistress doesn’t have to worry because she’s got me to look out for her.
Ernie says that his mistress’s latest boyfriend seems like a good one. So far he seems to be telling the truth which is a good thing. Ernie says that his mistress is a very bad judge of men so the fact that she seems to have found a good one takes a lot of pressure off him.
I probably won’t see Ernie again for a little while but when we get back together again I know that we will enjoy catching up and it will be fine to find out if his mistress’s latest boyfriend worked out well.
In the meantime I know he will be on his guard.
He’s a good dog, brave, loyal and true.
I’m proud to call him my friend.
Chopper is as white as I’m black.
He’s the white dog of the family.
No one knows how it happened, and we don’t hold it against him, we are dogs after all, we don’t judge you on the colour of your fur.
If you contribute to the pack we don’t care how big, small, skinny or fat you are. Do your job, stay out of trouble and the pack will accept you.
There were many rumours and some of them were ‘off the wall, bat shit crazy’, but the most logical explanation came in the form of a large Samoid named Killer.
Killer was one of those dogs who don’t know when to shut up, and who spend all their time trying to show other dogs how tough they are. It gets very old very quickly. Most of us tried to avoid him and his owner kept him locked behind a large wooden fence. Wooden fences a fine, as far as they go, but they get old and the posts rot and the fence begins to sag. Killer had a sense that his fence was on the way out and he worked on it ever day for many weeks. He was a big bloke and just by leaning on the fence he managed to get it to move just a bit each day. Eventually the inevitable happened and Killer squeezed through the gap he had so diligently created and proceed to rampage through our small community. It is said that he mated with every female he could find before his owner caught up with him, and one of the unfortunate females was Chopper’s grandmother.
So now, with each new litter, there is at least one white pup mixed in with all the black ones.
I have a soft spot for Chopper.
He gets lonely and he does not get to visit with my mistress and I very often. When he comes to stay I show him around all the sights. He particularly likes visiting the butcher shop, but that can require a bit of stealth on my part because the butcher hates dogs. I don’t know why and I don’t particularly care either, but I do know that he can be dangerous. The Pomeranian that lives across from the park still walks with a limp, and all he did was wee on the corner of the butcher shop.
Chopper’s favourite thing is sitting on chairs.
I must say that he sits very well and there is even a photograph of him sitting on a chair. His mistress has a large version placed prominently on her piano; I’ve seen it. Chopper showed it to me the last time we went there for a visit. His mistress also carries a very small version of it in her wallet. She used to have a photo of her children in her wallet, but she took it out. Apparently they never call her and she is fed up.
“Just one bloody phone call a week. That’s all I ask. Is that too much, I ask you?” She wasn’t talking to me but if she had been I would have agreed with her.
If my mum was still alive I would visit her every day.
We should always remember where we came from.
Apart from sitting on chairs, Chopper is also very good at carrying stuff. Not big stuff obviously, but small important things. He regularly carries his mistress’s handbag. The bag is nearly as big as he is, but as long as he keeps his head up he can manage it, at least from the car to the front door. His mistress loves him for it and he is very proud to be able to help her. It is very difficult to understand what he is saying with a mouth full of handbag, but it usually doesn’t matter much because Chopper is not a great conversationalist. He mostly likes to talk about things he has seen on television. Strange things like people dancing and singing. It all seems a bit unnatural to me, but Chopper loves it.
The best thing about Chopper is that he takes one day at a time.
I’ve never heard him worrying about tomorrow.
He lives in the moment.
What more could you want from a friend?