I loved weekends and even Lola agreed it was the best time of the week.
Why did I like weekends? I was swayed in part by the disappearance of the pets during weekdays. They took off for unknown destinations, I believe work related and we couldn’t grumble about it, as Sooz fed us well on the proceeds from her work.
While they were away we were put in charge of the security of the house and grand pets. I took the job very seriously I might add, barking at the pesky cockies, magpies and parrots when they flew into the bird feeder in search of food, pooping and squawking making a nuisance of themselves. And then there was the ongoing problem with the rabbits. They taunted me from the garden knowing I couldn’t chase them. On occasion, men turned up to check the metre box. I believe it was to do with the power to the house but I’m only guessing and a regular visitor was the guy who came to mow the lawn. Anyone entering the premises was followed closely by me – you can’t be too careful about people you don’t know. When I wasn’t chasing around after visitors, I spent time keeping the grand pets company: breakfast time, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and tea time. Sometimes I even stayed and snoozed with them. It was hard work, so much responsibility and I didn’t get much help from Lola. Argh, Lola, what could I say about her, probably the less said about her attitude the better.
So after a busy week, weekends were special.
We started them off with a lie in – no rushing off to do ANYTHING. Lazy was the goal, mine at least. Sooz made coffee for her and Pete and we got to have our breakfast in our beds – civilised.
Lots happened on the weekends, family and friends came to visit, or we went on excursions with the dog club, or visited the farm. Yes weekends were by far the best part of the week and sometimes the unusual happened, like a few weeks ago………
Ommph, came her reply.
‘The front door’s open.’
She was lying on her trampoline and lifted her head to look.
‘Why is the door open?’ I sauntered nonchalantly over to it. The door to the front of the property was NEVER left open. It was an entry and exit point to the house and was never, ever, freely available for Lola or me to wander out of. What was going on?
‘I wouldn’t go out,’ Lola voice broke my train of thought.
‘I’m just looking.’ My nose twitched ever so slightly as I poked it through the gap. The smells out front were different to the back garden. I knew every smell, hole, tree, bush, rabbit hole, fox entry points and most importantly, all the secret places where I stashed my bones. However, I didn’t know the front. And now, suddenly, out of the blue, the door was open. The lure was intoxicating and so I stuck my head through the gap.
I expected to hear Sooz yell, ‘WAIT!’
I was usually on my lead and under strict control whenever I had access to the front. Never was I able to fossick alone. But, Sooz wasn’t here. There was no WAIT or any other command coming. The decision appeared to be mine.
‘Paddington, I wouldn’t if I were–’
‘I won’t be long,’ I interrupted. ‘I’ll be back before you know it.’
‘–don’t come crying to me…’
I didn’t hear the rest of her words, as I’d stepped out into forbidden territory, but I guessed she’d be moaning loudly. Lola was such a fuddy duddy and was probably planning on dobbing me in.
‘Forget Lola,’ I told myself, as I bounded up the front steps. A familiar drone came from the bottom of the drive and I caught a glimpse of Pete’s car. I wonder where he’s going? I did a quick sweep of the surrounding area just in case Sooz was lurking close by. It was all clear and so I bounded off down the drive in pursuit of Pete.
It was a great feeling stretching out my legs as I galloped full pelt with my feet barely touching the ground. I left the drive and hit the road and with the breeze in my fur and my ears flapping around my face, I raced like a greyhound. I know this, because we had one in our dog club and boy oh boy could he move.
I pulled up at the bottom of the road. I wasn’t sure which way Pete went and I’d never been along this section of the road – alone. Noise from a house averted my attention. Perhaps the people there would know where Pete was.
I trotted up the drive towards the house. Their garden was very attractive with lots of colourful flowers in contrast to Sooz’s garden that was mainly open ground with trees and shrubs. I quite liked this garden it smelt sweet and I wondered whether it was worth bringing Sooz to see it.
I was so busy sniffing around the individual plants and getting acquainted with the different smells that I forgot there might be someone home. A noise brought my attention back to that fact and I looked into the face of an elderly man. He was peering through the window at me and my heart shot into my throat as I leapt off the ground – it was a good six foot leap from standing position. Lola, I thought, would have been impressed. Wow, I’m quite agile under stress!
The door slid open. ‘Hello and who are you?’
‘I’m Paddington,’ I said to the man. He looked friendly enough, but I decided not to approach him. You never could tell, perhaps now was a time to use my head and show caution. ‘I live up the road.’
‘I’ve seen you around. You’re the new dog at number four I think?’
What was he babbling on about? ‘I live next door. Sorry we haven’t been introduced.’
‘Come here doggy.’
‘Doggy! My name’s PADDINGTON.’ I spoke up, perhaps the man was deaf?
‘Jill. We have a visitor,’ said the man.
I looked past him, at a lady who now stood at his shoulder. She had a lovely wrinkly face and looked like grand pet Sylvia. She wore a large smile and I liked her instantly.
‘Hello. Aren’t you gorgeous?’ She cooed. ‘I bet he belongs to Sooz and Pete from next door. They’re the only people I know around here who own Bearded Collies.’
I lifted my head at the word gorgeous. ‘Of course I’m gorgeous, everyone says so.’
‘I thought there was someone on Wicks Road that had one,’ continued the man.
‘No David, I don’t think so. Try and get him to come in.’
‘Come here doggy,’ asked David.
‘Come here darling,’ cooed Jill.
I took a step toward Jill. How could I resist being called darling? She looked so nice and after all said I was gorgeous. If I asked nicely, I wondered if she had a morsel of food. My stomach growled. ‘I’m terribly hungry, I don’t suppose–’
‘Come in,’ asked David.
‘–yeah, okay, sure,’ I pushed past him into the confines of the house and into Jill’s arms. She hugged me, scratched me behind my ears and I was lost to the moment. I heard the door close behind me and turned to see I was trapped.
‘Let’s have a look at your tag,’ said Jill. ‘There might be a number or more importantly a name.’
David bent down and both of them inspected my collar. ‘I’ve already told you my name’s Paddington.’ What was their problem?
‘His name’s Paddington,’ said David.
‘Yes, yes. I’ve told you. Thank goodness you’ve got it now.’
David stroked his hand over my head. His hands were big and weathered, but felt nice and I decided these two people were safe. I looked at Jill. ‘I’m so hungry–’
‘He looks hungry,’ said Jill looking at me. ‘David, why don’t you call Sooz and I’ll rustle up a bit of left over roast beef for him.’
‘Roast beef. I love it. Thanks Jill.’
I followed Jill into the kitchen while David picked up the phone and called Sooz.
‘No answer,’ he said to Jill. ‘I’ve left a message.’
‘They’ll be beside themselves with worry if they think he’s gone walkabout,’ commented Jill. ‘Here you go Paddington.’
I took the beef strip from her fingers. Saliva erupted from the back of my throat as the flavour burst along my tongue. Jill was obviously a good cook. ‘Can I have some more please.’ I looked longingly at her.
‘Sit and you can have another piece.’
I sat and looked up at her with as much devotion I could muster. I didn’t want Sooz to think I’d changed allegiance. The beef strip barely touched the sides, but Jill was generous and offered me more and I tried to remember my manners and take it carefully so as not to take her fingers with it.
After lunch, I thought it was lunch but I’d lost track of the time, so it could have been tea for all I knew – I spent some time making myself acquainted with the house. It was different to my home and I spent a couple of hours sniffing out the aromas. David and Jill were nice to me and made me at home and when they sat down for a coffee and biscuit I sat with them.
‘You like your stomach,’ remarked David offering me a piece of his biscuit.
‘Yum, thanks David. I’m very partial to those ones. I think Sooz buys that type. Can I try a bit more to make sure?’
‘Don’t give him too much,’ said Jill. ‘You’ll make him sick.’
‘No need to worry about me. I’m never sick.’
It was getting late and I was starting to feel anxious. I returned to the sliding glass door to look into the garden. Would I ever see my pets again? Perhaps Lola was right I shouldn’t have left.
The phone rang and David answered it.
‘Hello. Yes we have him here. Okay see you shortly.’ Jill and I watched David put the phone down and waited to hear who was on it.
‘Was that Sooz?’ Jill asked before I could.
‘Yes,’ said David. ‘She’s coming to get him.’
I wasn’t worried really, I knew she would come and find me. The drone of Pete’s car alerted me to their arrival and as I watched from behind the glass door I saw a very stern Sooz walking towards the house. ‘Oops.’
‘Hello David. Sorry about Paddington.’
‘What do you mean? I’ve been visiting the neighbours,’ I said losing my smile. Her voice sounded cold and harsh and I realised I’d probably caused them hours of worry.
‘He’s been fine,’ said Jill. ‘David popped around to the house but you were obviously out hunting for him.’
‘We’ve been searching for the last couple of hours and just got back. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been around the block,’ grumbled Sooz. ‘I only just checked for messages. It was such a relief to know he was with you guys. We thought he may have been stolen.’
‘Stolen! Why would anyone steal me?’
‘Paddington, you and me are going to have a serious talk when we get home,’ said Pete sternly.
I stood between David and Jill and looked up at them. ‘Can I stay overnight with you? It will give them time to calm down. Please?’
‘Come on Paddington, let’s get you home.’ Sooz clipped the lead onto my collar.
‘Are you sure Sooz? I mean, if I’m a trouble I could stay and look after David and Jill. They gave me beef and biscuits. I quite like it here.’
‘Come on Paddington. Thanks again – see you later.’
‘See you. Bye Paddington,’ said Jill patting me along my back.
Sooz tugged the lead and I followed her to the car. Pete got into the driver’s seat and I was ushered onto the back seat. Silence descended in the cabin space and I wondered what punishment was coming my way for running off. Sooz might not feed me – OH NO, I couldn’t stand it. To go without my dinner that would be the worst thing ever.
Lola greeted our arrival.
‘Ha ha ha! You’re in for it now. I tried to tell you, but no, you wouldn’t listen to me. Well you deserve everything you get for worrying Pete and Sooz. EVERYTHING!
I jumped away from her snapping teeth just in the nick of time. She nearly had my ear. Lola was slow, but there were times she put on a burst of speed, especially when she was trying to bite me.
Life was back to normal and my adventure over and the front door- has never been left open since that day.