Af­ter Henry

A new oc­cu­pa­tion presents it­self in this up­lift­ing short story by El­lie Ed­wards.

The People's Friend Special - - THIS MANUKA DOCTOR SKINCARE RANGE INCLUDES PRODUCT -

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

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