a tale in weekly parts
Xander entered his house through the back door, and found his parents seated opposite each other at the kitchen table.
“I think Chav’s lonely,” he said.
“What makes you say that, love,” his mother asked.
“It’s just an impression I get,” Xander replied. “I can’t tie it down to anything specific, but I just feel it… here,” he added, touching his chest.
Al looked at him with raised eyebrows. Xander responded with the merest of nods of his head.
“You know the boy’s, erm, special, don’t you, Madge?” Al said to his wife.
“Well, yes. Of course I do.”
“And not just because he’s your son.”
“No. I know he has some unusual talents; abilities.”
“Well then. I think that if the lad thinks his dog is lonely, we should listen to him.”
Turning to his son, Al asked, “What are you thinking, son. Should we try to find a Jack Russell pup?”
“No, Dad. For a start, he will only play with a female. We know that. You’ve both seen what he’s like with other dogs.”
“He’s fine,” Madge said.
“Yes, he ignores them.”
“He plays with some.”
“Only with bitches.”
“So are you saying we should get a female puppy for him?”
While this was going on, Xander was relaying to Chav, what they were discussing. Chav, if Al and Madge had only noticed, was sitting unusually still and quietly, his gaze shifting between the three of them as they spoke, but resting more on Xander, who was communicating with him.
“No, Dad,” Xander said at last, “I think Chav would be happiest with a female about his own age. I’ll scour the rescue centre web sites this evening; see what’s about.”
“Rescue centres?” Madge asked, turning her nose up at the suggestion, “Why rescue centres? You never know what you’re getting from them. Why not go to a breeder?”
Entering the room, Kr’veth’neq’is said, “Firstly, because you can’t get a seven-year old dog from a breeder, they only do puppies. Secondly, because: isn’t it more important and valuable to offer a loving home to a dog that’s been neglected, maybe even mistreated? And thirdly, fire up your laptop, bro; I’ll help you look.”
“Are you sure?” Madge asked, “It doesn’t should like a very good idea to me.”
“Mum,” Xander said, “if anything were to happen to us, and Chav found himself on the streets, would you prefer that someone take him in and give him a good home, or that he remain on the streets, fending for himself, until finally picked up by the dog warden and thrown into kennels until they decide they need the space and put him down?”
“That’s different; he’s our dog. Someone would take him in.”
“And how would they know that he needed a home?”
“They’d see him on the r… Okay, have it your way.”
“But don’t come crying to me if what you end up with is riddled with fleas and worms and is bad-tempered and bites you.”
But neither Xander nor Kr’veth’neq’is heard that, as they were hot-footing it to Xander’s room to see what they could find.
Over the course of the next two hours, the siblings managed to pick out no fewer than eighty-nine likely candidates. They were moved by the sheer number of dogs that were in urgent need of the simplest thing: a place they could call home, with someone who actually cared about them, who loved them. With help from Chav, they narrowed the choice down to eleven female dogs of the right age and size. Once the list had been further reduced to a shortlist of just three, Xander emailed the centres for more information. He had almost instant replies from all three. All three dogs were available for immediate adoption.
“Find anything?” Al asked as Xander, Kr’veth’neq’is and Chav re-entered the kitchen.
“Down to three possibles,” Xander said, handing him the printouts of the three web pages.
“Hmmm. That crossbreed called Ixus looks like she could do with a break,” he said, “I think it’s terrible that anyone could treat a dog like that.”
“That’s our first choice, too, Dad. She’s ready to go; we’re just waiting to hear back from the centre that they’d be happy for us to take her tomorrow. The thing is, it’s a fair way away; could take almost four hours to get there, provided the traffic’s clear.”
Al was about to ask whether they couldn’t get there quicker with Jarvis, when Albert’s voice appeared in his head, “Too traumatic for a fragile canine,” he said, “best to stick to conventional surface transport.”
Instead of asking what he had intended to, Al simply enquired whether his children would travel with him, in the family car, or whether they would make their own way there.
“We’ll make our own way there,” Xander said, “but we’ll come back with you. At least, I will. I can’t speak for Kr’veth’neq’is.”
“I’ll do the same,” his sister said.
“And how will are you proposing to get there?” Al asked.
“We’ll bloody shimmer!” the pair cried out in unison.
They all laughed.
“We’ll need an early start tomorrow, then,” Al said, “best we get an early night. Goodnight all.”
The whole family, Albert and Jarvis included, said their good-nights, Waltons style.