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Arthur’s New Beginning
by Annette Edwards-Hill
Arthur wasn’t sure about his new home. There were more people than dogs. He no longer spent the day lying outside with his brothers and sisters, sniffing, growling, picking at his fleas, sleeping in the sun. Now outside meant he had to do his business or to be pulled on a piece of rope attached to the new thing around his neck which smelt a bit like an old bone he’d dug up.
Arthur's family weren’t sure about him either.
‘Why does he put his tail between his legs?’ asked Aaron, ‘and shake when Grandpa rings the doorbell?’
‘He won’t chase the ball’, said Alice ‘and he keeps stealing my socks. Dog spit. Yuck.’
‘He’s a Whippet’, said Connie, their mother.
‘A what?’ said Aaron.
‘The opposite of a Labrador’ said Mike, Alice and Aaron’s dad.’ Not really a dog at all.’
‘A racing dog’ said Connie, ‘he’s the poor-man’s greyhound.’
‘What’s poor about him?’ asked Alice.
‘Look at him, he’s shaking again’ said Aaron. ‘If he’s a racing dog, why’s he living with us?’
Connie sighed, ‘the people who bred him said he’s no good for showing, he needed a home.’
‘Why not?’ asked Alice ‘he’s so pretty, look at those eyes.’
She put out her hand and stroked Arthur’s ears, Arthur leaned against her.
‘Apparently he doesn’t lift his feet high enough when he walks.’
Alice rolled her eyes, ‘well I think he’s very sweet.’
Alice and Connie took Arthur to the beach, Alice threw a stick into the foaming water. Arthur stood, his head held high, and looked at Alice’s extended arm. He didn’t move.
‘Fetch Arthur’, she said.
Arthur took off at a gallop away from the water and ran at high speed in a wide circle. Running he looked free, his tail now released from the tight muscles of his hindquarters, flying behind him.
‘Wow he’s fast’, said Connie
When Arthur got close to the edge of the water he turned and ran further up the beach.
When he had stopped running he stood still, panting, his tongue lolling from his mouth. He almost looked relaxed thought Connie. She clipped the lead back onto his collar and led him to the edge of the water. He took dainty steps backwards, then a leap as the water surged towards his feet.
‘I don’t think he likes the water either’, said Alice.
Arthur put his ears up and watched the other end of the beach. In the distance they could see another dog and its owner. The dog and its owner got closer. It was a black Labrador, who ran towards Arthur tail spinning like a lasso.
‘Don’t worry, he’s friendly’, called the owner.
Arthur hid behind Connie’s legs, she could feel the tremors of his body on the skin of her calves.
The owner got a bit closer ‘is that a Greyhound?’ he asked.
‘No, a Whippet’, said Alice.
‘A Miniature Greyhound?’ the Labrador’s owner tried again.
‘Not a Greyhound’, said Connie.
‘Looks like he could do with a good meal’, said the Labrador’s owner.
The Labrador was now in play-bow, forelegs on the sand, tail in the air. Arthur looked down his long nose at him and Connie pulled on his lead. As they left the beach, Alice heard her whisper ‘looks like your lab has had a few too many good meals.’
At home Arthur climbed onto the couch and slept.
Mike looked at him, ‘dogs don’t sleep on couches.’
‘He’s not really a dog’, said Connie.
Mike knew what to do. He’d treat Arthur like a normal dog. He’d adapt. They needed milk, he walked to the shop. Arthur on his lead, shivering, trailing then moving to Mike’s other side, away from the traffic as they turned onto the main road and trucks rumbled past.
Mike tied him to a sign outside the shop and went inside. He got his milk and chatted to Neil the shop owner, told him about his new dog.
‘Bet he goes like the clappers’, said Neil, looking out the window. ‘Where’d you tie your dog?’
Mike ran outside. The sign was on its side.
Arthur was gone.
Out in the open, it felt natural, Arthur ran like the wind. He followed the curve of the road, concrete grating on the pads of his paws. He ran faster and faster. Only the screech of brakes stopped him.
A car door slammed and he heard a voice. ‘Get in the bloody car.’
Tail between legs, Arthur turned his back on freedom and went home.
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