Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 16


As he drove home alone, Tim’s thoughts lingered on the girl he’d just left behind.

“So,” he muttered to himself, “she’s single now.”

That was a surprise. A pleasant surprise, he acknowledged. He’d never have stepped on another guy’s toes where a girl was concerned, but he’d found himself thinking about her a lot through the routines of his day. And now the field was clear.

But it was Ged who had broken up with her. She seemed OK about it, but he’d never been great at reading women, and certainly didn’t know Cally well enough to know for sure.

Maybe she was really broken-hearted over Ged and was putting a brave face on it.

As he pulled into his own yard, he gave himself a shake.

“Leave it, Tim. Best leave time for the dust to settle.”

Give him dogs any day. Those he could understand! Like Chap, Imogen’s nervy little mutt. His mind switched gear, planning the treatment session scheduled for the next morning.

****

Imogen arrived prompt at ten as arranged. Tim stood to one side of the yard and watched her lead the animal towards him, noting the adoring look in the dog’s gaze which hardly left her.

Every one of Chap’s actions, every nuance of his behaviour, was a vital clue to feed into the treatment. Tim was nodding as he greeted Imogen.

“Morning,” he said, his voice rising slightly as Chap began barking at him for having the temerity to speak to his mistress. “Right, I have a plan. But it might seem harsh and I’ll need your co-operation. OK?”

Imogen frowned.

“Harsh? You’re not going to hurt him, are you?”

“No, of course not! But it’ll be tough at first for the little fella. And for you. I can’t promise it’ll do the trick, but I’m confident. Come into the office and I’ll explain. Did you bring his favourite toy with you?”

Imogen nodded and fumbled in her pocket to produce a dog-eared pink foam rabbit.

“Good. Now, you’re going to tie Chap up out here,” he went on as she made to lead him in, “and give him his toy.”

Imogen opened her mouth as if to argue, then meekly did as Tim said.

“Now close the door behind you,” he said as she followed him into the office.

Chap’s eyes followed every movement, and as soon as he couldn’t see Imogen any more when the door closed, the howling and barking began.

Tim seemed to be ignoring it as he began to outline his treatment plan, and Imogen did her best to focus.

Two minutes later, Tim broke off.

“Now, pop out and give him lots of fuss, but leave him tied up, then come back in here and close the door again. And make sure to give him his toy. I bet he’s been ignoring it.”

Tim remained at his desk while Imogen followed his instructions, and they went through the same routine again and again over the next 30 minutes.

“What he’s learning here is that you always come back and always give him lots of attention. I want you to keep doing that over the next few days: leave him for as short a time as you can manage – just minutes would be ideal, but I know it’ll be tricky when you’re working. And always give him his toy. Bring him back to see me on Tuesday, and we’ll move on.”

Imogen spread her hands.

“Is that it? It doesn’t seem so harsh.”

“It’s not at the moment, but you’re both going to have to learn to stretch these two-minute absences out until you can leave him for hours at a time almost without him noticing.”

They listened to Chap barking furiously, and Imogen grinned.

“I’ll believe it when I see it!”

Once Imogen had left with Chap jumping excitedly at her heels, Tim returned to his desk and his computer, where he pulled up a page he’d been saving. He checked the number on-screen and picked up the phone.

“Hi. You’re trying to find a home for a two-year-old German Shepherd? I’d like to come and see her, please.”

He glanced again at that empty corner of his office, visualising a dog occupying it, and smiled. At least that was one new relationship he would know how to handle!

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”.