A new occupation presents itself in this uplifting short story by Ellie Edwards.
I wasn’t ready for another dog, but I did miss canine companionship. So what was the answer?
Bassett for a couple of weeks. I wondered if you could help her out?”
She looked at her hands, apparently nervous about bringing this up.
“Bertie has never been in a kennel,” she continued. “He mostly likes to lounge around, so he wouldn’t need much looking after, but I know she’d feel happier if he could stay with someone in the village.”
“A couple of weeks?” I repeated dubiously.
“Maybe not even that.” Pam resumed gazing at the garden, judiciously saying no more.
She was a good friend, and knew me far too well.
So that was how I ended up with Bertie, who was a sorrowful-looking creature, with a stout little body and long, silky ears that spread on either side of him as he slept.
He had minimal energy, and generally preferred the briefest of strolls in the short grass opposite my bungalow to continuing into the woods.
Any time I tried to encourage him to venture further, his stumpy legs would become arthritically slow, and he would turn his large, sad eyes on me, imploring me to cease and desist.
He had me in stitches with this old-boy blackmail, because the moment I gave in and turned back towards home, he would trot along again very happily.
We settled into a modest routine of dinners and walks and bedtimes, so that when Mrs Leonard was declared fit enough to have her dog back, I confess I felt a twinge of disappointment.
“Bertie-boy!” she crooned, as we opened her gate and walked to the front door.
She must have been waiting at the window, and although her hip was clearly far from comfortable, she bent down slowly to stroke his ears and smooth his head.
He received this due dose of affection, nudged her with his nose as if to return the favour, then ambled past her and into the front room, where he settled himself by her armchair with his chin on his front paws and didn’t