Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 05

“Well?” Marna pressed.

“OK, just for a little while – just to see if he has any ideas that we could pinch for here.”

So, come two-thirty, they’d both cleaned themselves up, had one last check round the cat pens, and piled into Cally’s car to drive along the road.

They drove past the T-junction where a new sign for the kennels caught Cally’s eye.

“Those two men I saw earlier in the week must have been putting that up.”

The Retreat,” Marna read out. “Unusual name for a dog kennels.”

There were already at least a dozen cars cramming the small car park when they got there, so they turned and parked on the verge outside the gates.

“Ready for a fast get-away,” Marna joked.

The two girls strolled through the entrance, their eyes swivelling as they tried to take in every detail at once.

Stone buildings that looked newly refurbished with freshly painted woodwork and red-tiled roofs made up three sides of a yard, though through a gap she could see a run-down cottage behind one of the buildings.

A gate led into a kind of paddock. On the far side of the paddock was a paved area with rows of wooden animal runs.

Marna caught Cally’s eye.

“Pretty neat set-up.”

“He must have spent a fortune.”

Nothing looked shoddy or second-rate, and Cally found herself respecting an owner who put so much care into animal accommodation. Especially when he seemed to have put that before his own comfort, if the cottage was anything to go by.

“I wonder which one’s him?” Marna was looking around, though there was little doubt once her eye picked out the guy in the well-pressed khaki green cords and knitted sweater. “Him?”

Cally followed her gaze, and felt a tremor. She’d only caught a glimpse, but she suspected it was one of the blokes she’d seen at the crossroads.

She was still staring when he looked up and their eyes locked.

He broke away from the group of people who’d been clustered around him, and approached.

“Hello, and welcome. Feel free to look around. Have you brought your dog?”

Cally shuffled a bit.

“Actually I’m more of a cat person.” She stuck out her hand. “I’m Cally Tate – of Cally’s Cats’ Hotel, just along the road.”

Cally saw his eyebrows rise slightly. Did he know about all her objections to his development? She had no idea.

“Well, Cally, I’m happy to meet my neighbours. I’m Matthew Timmons, but everyone calls me Tim. I hope you will, too. There’s coffee and doughnuts in the shed. Please help yourselves, and I’ll catch up with you later.”

As he wandered off to greet more arrivals, Marna nudged Cally.

“He’s a charmer. And good looking. A definite plus in the neighbourhood. Come on, let’s grab a doughnut.”

Clutching foam cups of coffee and a sugary doughnut each, they wandered round, both growing more impressed by the minute, so that when Tim caught up with them a short time later, their praise was genuine.

“You’ve got a terrific place here,” Cally said. “The treatment rooms – will you have vets on-site or bring them in?”

“I won’t have a vet here. It’s too expensive and the surgery in the village seems pretty good from what I’ve seen. But I hope to bring in dog behavioural experts and fellow trainers. I was a dog-handler in the military,” he explained, and patted his left leg. “That’s where I picked up this – it put an end to my time in the service.

“I see the dogs that have behavioural problems as being like me. The docs never wrote me off, and made every effort to get me mobile. I don’t think animals with problems should be written off either, unless there’s really no choice.”

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”.