Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 03

Imogen Carter tipped her head back and gazed up at the blue sky above her. What a perfect day! Hardly a cloud to be seen, and a warmth in the breeze that spoke of summer coming. She spread her arms wide as though to embrace it.

Next thing she knew, a ball of fur came racing at her from behind and almost knocked her over as it hammered into the back of her legs.

“Chap! Watch where you’re going, you daft thing!”

Chap was her dog, a brown-and-white mongrel that she had rescued a few months back.

It had been a day like today, early spring rather than summer, and with a chilly breeze reminding the unwary that summer was still a long way off.

She had decided to pop out from the newsagent’s for a quick breath of air over lunchtime instead of going to the supermarket as she’d planned.

After the long, wet winter, the blink of sunshine had seemed too good to waste, and there was always tomorrow to go shopping.

She was just thinking about what she could find in her fridge for supper when a strange noise reached her ears.

She stood still and strained to listen. There was the breeze rustling the leaves of the hedgerow; a bird singing as it soared overhead. Her path across the field was too far from the road to hear traffic noise.

She couldn’t pick out any other sound. Had she imagined it?

“There it is again,” she muttered to herself. “Where’s it coming from?”

Her head cocked so that her ear could lead the way, Imogen left the well-tramped grassy path and crept towards the hedgerow, her eyes scanning all around.

At the edge of the field, she halted again. Finally she discerned a patch of white against the brown shades of the hedge.

A dog! Slowly she moved closer, murmuring softly.

“It’s OK, don’t be scared.”

Curled up in a ball, it barely stirred, but its eyes were fixed on her and she could hear its small whimpers. It sounded weak.

She kneeled down a few feet from it and watched it for a minute or two. It didn’t look dangerous. Or rather, it didn’t look as though it had the energy to be dangerous. Slowly she stretched out her hand and saw it flinch instinctively.

“Poor thing. Has someone been mean to you?”

Imogen didn’t know much about dogs. She’d never had one as a child, in spite of her pleading. But she had no doubt that the dog’s reaction meant it had been mistreated.

“You’re only a baby, aren’t you?”

It looked young, or perhaps it was just small and undernourished.

She was still holding out her hand, and without taking his gaze from her face, the pup finally dared to stretch forward and sniff her fingers before ducking back again. Imogen didn’t move, and the pup did it again.

Slowly, as if sensing that she might be his one chance at rescue, he crept forward, and when he licked her fingers she could have cried.

The dog gave another little whimper, and very carefully Imogen gathered it into her arms and lifted it, drawing it against her body. She struggled to her feet, muttering soothing, senseless sounds to the pup in her arms, then headed back towards the village, hoping that the vet’s surgery would be open.

She’d have to phone the shop, too, to explain. She hoped Teresa could cover for her. Teresa owned the newsagent’s and owed Imogen a favour or two.

“Can someone help me, please?” Imogen nudged the door of the vet’s open with her shoulder and carefully rolled round the edge of the door. The pup had barely stirred in her arms all the way here.

There was no-one in the waiting room, but two assistants were behind the counter and at once lifted the hatch and bustled through.

“Oh, poor thing – has he been run over? Take him into room one. I’ll phone Pete. He’s been out on his rounds but he popped back for some extra medication.”

Imogen had just laid the pup on the examination table when Pete came in.

“What have we got here? Sheila said she thought he’d been run over.” As he spoke his hands were already gently exploring the dog’s emaciated body. His expression changed.

“This sorry animal’s in quite a state. What do you know about it?”

Hastily Imogen explained about finding the dog while she was out for a walk.

“Hmm. Sounds like he’s been abandoned,” Pete commented. “We’ll check to see if he’s been chipped, though we’d have to think twice about allowing him to go back to an owner who let him get into this condition. I’d like to keep him here for a few days for observation and to rehydrate him. Poor lad.

“Thanks for bringing him in. I think you might have saved his bacon.”

Imogen gazed at the animal’s brown eyes, still fixed on her face, and reached out to stroke the matted forehead.

“If no-one claims him, I’d like to give him a home. Would that be all right?”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.