A Dog’s Life

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Rusty was a mongrel. He definitely had Yorkshire Terrier in him, but his other half was undetermined. His shaggy coat was a rusty reddish brown – hence his name, and at full stretch he stood sixteen inches tall. He wasn’t allowed in the house when no one was there, he had a very bad reputation. He would chew and gnaw on things, scratch things, open the fridge door (yes, he was that resourceful) helping himself to anything he took a fancy to. He would sit on every chair in the lounge, but would always end up on the sofa which he regarded as his personal resting place. He would make trips upstairs and cause his usual havoc with all the bedding. Basically, nothing in the home was safe from Rusty when he was left alone; something his owners came to realise at their own expense. At first they thought, because he was just a puppy, he would grow out of his mischief after some proper training but no, Rusty, they subsequently discovered was made and built for mayhem! If his owners were honest, then they would tell you that they thought he was slighly mad, and his habit of letting his tongue hang out to one side didn’t do much to convince them otherwise.

They could never get rid of him, they had become far too attached to their little canine devil and adored him despite his appalling but lovable personality. So in order to keep him from dismantling their home brick by brick they bought him a kennel which they kept in the backyard, and whenever they went out Rusty could use that as a temporary shelter. They decked out the kennel with soft warm blankets; he had a bowl for water, a bowl for food, a chew bone, several toys to keep him amused, and they even had a plaque made with his name on it which they attached over the entrance. They couldn’t have made him more comfortable if they tried.

But fortunately for Rusty, they made one mistake. His owners never bothered putting a long garden leash on him; the garden had a sturdy wooden fence surrounding it, and it was solid; there was no chance that he could ever get out unattended. That is until Rusty decided to start digging underneath it behind some shrubbery at the back of the garden. It took him a couple of days to claw away at the dirt, but by the end of the third day he had made an escape tunnel. Rusty didn’t have a canine equivalent for the word “cunning,” or any other word for that matter, but in his doggy mind he was more than pleased about his artful handiwork. He was now free to go on big adventures whenever he chose to, all by himself.

And that’s the way it went. Every day when his owners went to work Rusty would be put in the garden until their return. They had no idea that their lovable little rascal – in their absence, had other plans for how his own day should go. At first, he only ventured just outside the fence purely to get his bearings, but once he recognised the path which his owners used to walk him there was no holding him back. Off he would go, and somehow he always knew when the time was right to return home before his owners did. When they arrived home his owners would throw open the patio doors to find Rusty innocently wagging his tail at them and were blissfully unaware what he had actually been up to that day.

He had already introduced nextdoor’s cat to his brilliant white teeth, but the cat had scampered off before anything bad could happen. He never intended any harm to the feline, he just wanted to show it that he was the newly untethered boss of the entire neighbourhood. This baring his teeth tactic worked well – especially with other cats and dogs, but it didn’t impress humans that much who would just scare him off revealing the fact that was just a under-sized canine whimp. But Rusty, being a fast learner, soon learned that if he stuck his tongue out while walking and wagged his tail, it would have what he considered a desirable effect on humans. They would make sounds just like his owners did and stoke and pat him. Rusty would love all this attention and just lapped it up.

There were benefits in behaving like he did, too. Some people would actually give him tasty titbits while on his travels, and he liked visiting the local shops because it was there that he got the best treats. Small humans, he found, were most generous at giving treats. He didn’t know what it was they gave him but he sure liked it. As a pleasant surprise to himself, Rusty discovered that if he rolled onto his back and pretended to run upside down with his tongue lolling about, he would receive the best treats ever. This discovery was one of his proudest moments.

One day Rusty became a canine hero and he was never ever aware of it except for the two people he had accidently duped and a small crowd of onlookers. These two people had an agenda which was to rob the local high street bank. They had been planning to rob the bank for ages but on this day they would actually do it. Being a small town, the local high street was never really that busy on any given day, but on Wednesdays, they discovered when eyeing the job up, it was at its quietest. So at 11 O’Clock that Wednesday morning they pulled up close to the bank with their getaway car and prepared to strike.

Meanwhile, Rusty was making his merry way to the high street hoping to acquire more tasty treats for himself. He had been napping most of the morning but now he was wide awake and ready for his next great adventure. He rounded a corner and soon found himself in clear sight of the high street, his little legs carrying him along faster and faster as he approached.

It all happened so quickly that if you blinked you would have missed the absurd chain of events which turned out to be so unfortunate for the unwitting bank robbers. Rusty had just reached the butcher’s shop when a young mother pushing a pram was coming out. She had hung her bagged purchase over one of the pram handles and had lifted the front of the pram up to swivel it round on its back wheels to face the other way. As the pram turned around the plastic bag swung in the air and caught the side of Rusty’s face. The sweet aroma of freshly cut blooded meat went straight up his nose and made him stop to investigate. Rusty couldn’t resist, he bit hard at the bottom of the bag and punctured it sending drops of blood to fall and splatter on the pavement. A few gnaws later the plastic bag split then slipped off the pram handle and Rusty now had a complete piece of prime steak hanging out of his mouth. With a silly doggy grin on his face, still clenching the meat with his teeth, he began wagging his tail at the young woman to thank her for the unexpected treat.

If there was such a thing as a dog dictionary, then Rusty needed a copy of it right now to help translate what the young woman was shouting at him. Being the whimp that he was and, knowing full well that she was somewhat displeased with him, he dropped the meat to the floor – more from shock than anything else, and scampered off down the high street. At that very moment one of the two robbers came running out of the bank and headed for the nearby car where his colleague waited. He collided with Rusty who was running a full pelt and sent him flying back toward the annoyed young woman. He happened to look down to see what the hell he just kicked, but unfortunately he was already off balance and crashed clumsily into an advertising board belonging to the butcher’s shop. His shoulder bag was sent flying and as it came to land it burst open sending rolled up bank notes to spew across the pavement in all directions. A gun also slipped out of the bag and slid across the pavement slowly grinding to a halt, and at first sight it looked real but only the robber knew that it was actually a model replica which had the same effect as the real thing on anyone who didn’t know the difference. By now everyone in the local vicinity had their eyes trained on the money, the gun, and the man sprawled out on the floor. Meanwhile, Rusty, fresh from his impromptu flying lesson, landed right next to the piece of meat so decided to reacquaint himself with it.

An alarm now sounded emanating from the bank. The robber on the floor staggered to his feet with an incredulous look on his face. He eyed up all the money spread out before him, his head darting this way and that way as if trying to figure out what to do. People were now coming out of the bank and were looking in the direction where the commotion was coming from. A car horn sounded and the robber gave another glance toward all the money before his common sense kicked in and told him that collecting it all up was futile and besides, with the alarm now raised meant that the police would soon arrive on the scene. He ran toward the car and slipped on the blood filled plastic bag which Rusty had kindly provided and fell to the floor once again. The man cursed as he scrambled back to his feet and continued with his escape. His colleague flung open the passenger side door and the robber jumped in and the car pulled away with the sound of screeching tyres.

Just before that event Rusty stood watching the mayhem, the woman with the pram was no longer shouting at him but she, along with everyone else was watching the man running from the bank and all that followed. When the alarm sounded, Rusty, who didn’t like strange loud noises took off in a panic still holding the steak in his mouth. He would have stopped to thank the woman again by a wag of his tail but this wasn’t the time to show his gratitude. In his need to get away from the loud noise he darted across the main road just as the robbers car sped off. The driver wasn’t expecting this canine intervention and tried to swerve clear of Rusty, he managed it but failed to miss a nearby parked car and went ploughing into the back of it. The air bags in the robbers car erupted and enveloped them both in safety cushions. Another alarm then sounded but this time it was coming from the car which was just hit. Rusty reached the other side of the road and sped off toward home to enjoy his tasty treat which by now was making him drool as dogs do. Just as he turned the corner, and with his doggy sense of hearing at full sensitivity, he heard another noise which sounded very similar to the two he had just heard.

The next day during their breakfast his owners were reading the local morning paper. To their fascination they read that the high street bank had an attempted robbery thwarted by a mystery dog. Several eyewitness accounts reported seeing the same thing, a small mongrel dog who happened to be in the right place at the right time to cause mayhem which consequently foiled a bank robbery. The police said that they were interested in tracking down the owners of the mystery dog so they could show their appreciation for having such a canny law abiding pet.

After reading the news story they both looked at each other with raised eyebrows then stared down at Rusty in wonder. Rusty was busy frantically wagging his tail hoping to scrounge a breakfast treat. They tossed him a piece of toast and went back to reading the rest of the news paper completely unaware of Rusty’s involvement in the story which they just read.

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