Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 06


Marna was nodding eagerly.

“That’s just like Cally and her cats. She takes in all sorts of waifs and strays and moves heaven and earth to find them new homes. Second Chance Saloon, I call her cattery!”

“Seems like we’re kindred souls,” Tim joked, “though on opposite sides of the dog-cat divide. You can’t have been best pleased about me opening up here so close to your place, though.”

“Er, no,” Cally agreed. “To be honest, I was one of your most vocal objectors. But you’re here now so we’ll just have to try to get on.”

Tim gave her a mock salute.

“I’d like us to be good neighbours if not friends. And I’d like you to feel you can call on any of my experts at any time. Most of them handle all domestic animals, not just dogs.”

Cally nodded, her eyes straying round the yard where their footsteps had led them. Most of the other visitors had gone now, and she glanced at her watch.

“Thanks. It’s time we were getting back. Thanks for the offer. I’m not looking to make trouble, you know,” she said quickly. “I’m just worried that this place might damage my business. I’ve only been open for eighteen months myself, and . . . well, you know how important folks’ pets are to them.”

He held out his hand again and she felt his firm grip enclose hers.

“I understand. I really hope we can be friends, Cally. I think we might have a lot in common.”

As they drove back to the Cats’ Hotel, Marna was chattering nineteen to the dozen.

“Is he what you expected? He seems like a good guy. It’s going to be a terrific centre, isn’t it? It was kind of him to offer you the use of the facilities.”

Cally was only half-listening to her friend as she tried to form her own impressions of both the man and his new enterprise.

Finally she spoke as they pulled into the drive of the Cats’ Hotel, pulling on the hand-brake and switching off the ignition.

“You’re right – he seems like a good guy,” she said. “He really seems to care. I think we might actually get on quite well – so long as the noise of his place doesn’t disturb our cats.

“And talking of the cats,” she went on as she clambered out of the car, “can you do the last-round check for me tonight, please? I’m meeting Ged to see that new Clooney film.”

The Ged in question was the landlord of the local pub. Cally had been seeing him for the last few months – nearly a year, she realised with a surprised start. How had that crept up on her?

They went out once or twice a week, had fun, got on really well, but she was pretty sure he’d agree that it was no grand passion for either of them.

Even so, she was looking forward to tonight, and started planning what she would wear as she went in to take a quick shower, leaving Marna in charge of the cats for the evening.

****

Tim flipped open his laptop and began to read through his e-mails. He sat back in his chair as 17 messages labelled with variations of Enquiry, Dog boarding, My dog needs help, and Puppy training scrolled up. He rubbed his hands together then clicked the mouse to open the first one.

It was a reservation for an Alsatian to be boarded for two weeks in a month’s time if he could accommodate it. He flipped to another document on his screen and checked the diary. It was filling up at a very satisfactory rate, but yes, he could fit in Albert, the Alsatian. He fired off an e-mail of confirmation and turned to the next enquiry.

As he worked his way down the list, confirming, answering queries and offering advice with one half of his mind, the other half couldn’t help looking back over how things had gone over the last few days.

Since the leaflet drop and the open day, he’d been inundated with enquiries and bookings, and already had more than a dozen animals boarding with him, more than he’d hoped for at this stage. But word of mouth was a wonderful tool and his strategy of opening his doors and simply showing what he had to offer had paid dividends.

Although at the moment it was all perfectly well-adjusted domestic pets he had in residence, the next e-mail he opened was typical of the kind of enquiries coming his way.

Hi. I have a mongrel called Chap. He had a bad start in life – ill-treated before being abandoned – and has trust issues. He refuses to let me out of his sight. Your leaflet mentioned that you work with dogs with behavioural problems. Is this something you could help me with? Yours in hope, Imogen Carter.

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 aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.