The sun and moon were locked in a battle of dominance for the sky, a battle which was carefully observed by a few wispy clouds, which were soon carried off by the wind.
Eventually the sun was triumphant and it showed off its victory by climbing ever higher into the sky, helping its strong rays penetrate the remaining clouds, and showed its smile to everyone.
A young Beagle pup watched this event unfold happily from the safety of a stranger’s garden. Once the ordeal was over and the sun had claimed the sky as its domain, the youngster began clawing at the
soft mud beneath his pads. He eventually gave up
his digging and went off to find something more time consuming and entertaining. He stumbled over the small fence that lined the garden he had intruded and inspected his surroundings. There were no dogs out on walks at this early hour, which meant that his bins were still full and his for the taking. Many other pet dogs would try to steal his scraps of food, the food from the bin he had marked as his own.
Not yet feeling hungry, he lay down on a fresh patch of grass and thought about nothing in particular. His little, young mind was racing with unanswered and random questions that a puppy of his age would be creating by the bucketful. Why do the sun and the moon hate each other so much? Why does the moon make the world go dark, and the sun light? He was too young to understand such complex thoughts and he had no mother to answer his questions or a father to guide him.
His family were all dead. His father had been a handsome Beagle Harrier called Crash. He was named so because of has love of crashing into people and knocking them over, much like his son still did. His father was the sole provider of the family and he would take long trips onto the beach to find scraps of food. Crash was a beach dog, so he had his own patch of beach, a patch which his only surviving pup had inherited. His father had died in a territorial fight for another patch of beach. His mother was pure beagle and she was named Star because of her intelligent and bright eyes. She had starved to death along with her other pups when Crash was killed. She had originally belonged to a breeder but she had one day escaped longing for more in life than having litter after litter of pups, only to see them through their first 8 weeks before they were sold.
The youngster had survived because of a friend of his. This friend, who is called Alsatian, gave the pup extra food and showed him where the best feeding spots were.
The beagle pup, being only a greedy and somewhat selfish four month old at the time, decided not to share his secret with his family, resulting in their death. However, at his young and vulnerable age, not much could have been done anyway, and the pups was pretty sure Alsatian didn’t want his food shared between a whole family. He regretted that mistake every day of his life. Alsatian had filled the hole in the pup’s life after his family had gone, but not completely and the youngster still found himself longing for the play fights he and his brothers had shared, and the stalking lessons he had done with his only sister. The pup had come a long way since his playful puppy days. He hardly remembered the times when he would tussle with his siblings, or chase his own tail. He used to be boisterous, rambling bundle of fur. Now he was a streetwise stray with enough commonsense to get him through everyday and see him through every night. He was now 6 months old, still a pup, not quite a teen.
The Beagle half heartedly went on through the streets of his small island home, further questioning his lonely life and the point in it.
He shook his head in disgust; he should be concentrating on surviving, not letting his head be filled with unanswerable questions. The young pup decided to go to his patch of beach and see if he could find Alsatian. Slowly making his way through the winding streets and down sloping roads, the beagle scented the air and tried to make sense of the bombardment of smells that hit him. There is a large, aggressive dog down that road, a half eaten pizza was discarded in that bin, and someone marked their territory there.
He passed the local paper shop on his way. He didn’t know how to read properly, but Alsatian had started to train him. He could now read basic words in large font, such as the front cover of a newspaper. He read the first title he saw.
“Dogs Dis….Disap….Diesappeary” he tilted his head in confusion “What does that mean?”
Although he was a fluent reader compared to many other dogs who used up their time digging in the garden or sniffing other dogs’ rumps, the pup could not read long words. He gave up reading and decided to scour his patch of beach. He padded carefully across the sun baked paths of the local streets and arrived at the beach. The human beach, the part where the humans sunbath and swim, was very attractive. The sand was a bright golden colour and the sea was a clear blue. There was an ice cream van and a couple of kiosks as well as a gift shop on the rims of the beach. The dog’s part of the beach was nothing more than a speck of dirt compared to the human beach. The sand was a horrible brown colour, a result of decades of mud and dog poop. Where there wasn’t sand there were sharp thorny plants that would easily rip a young pups delicate pads apart. The pubs and the restaurants backed onto the dog beach, so the dogs could feast on the remains of meals and occasionally get drunk on spilt bottles of various alcohols.
The pup decided to head for the pub bins. At this early hour his chances of coming across a decent meal were better, as no other dogs had had a chance to investigate the pickings.
The pup had not only inherited his fathers land, but his love of crashing and bowling things over. He eyed up the nearest pub bin and charged. He still had the clumsy nature of a puppy and fell over his own feet before he had even reached the bin. He landed heavily on the ground and lay in an exhausted heap, panting for breath.
Suddenly the bin was knocked over by an unseen force, and the entire contents spilled over the pup. The pup was surprised by the sudden wave of rotting rubbish and yelped in alarm as a giant furry blur bounded over the bin and landed lightly behind the pup.
“It’s alright Buck it’s me” the shape barked.
“Alsatian!” shouted Buck happily as he clambered over banana skins and burger buns to greet his guardian. His friend was none other than Alsatian, the dog who had saved Buck from the starvation that had consumed his family.
“So what have we got here then?” Alsatian queried as he nosed through the pile of food. Although it was Buck’s land, Alsatian had access to all of the dustbins as he was the one who defended Buck’s borders against rogues as Buck was too young and too useless of a fighter to do so. Buck joined his friend, but in a more ungraceful way; he dived muzzle first into the pile and began chomping at everything.
He found a nearly intact hamburger, a pizza slice and a hot dog. The pickings were good and Buck knew he would be sleeping with a full belly tonight.
“Alsatian, what does Dogs Diesappeary mean?” Buck asked.
“You mean Dogs Disappear. Some local dogs have gone missing, snobby pets I presume. They can’t take care of themselves when their humans are away” Alsatian explained “Better keep your eyes open and your ears pricked”.
“Is it just happening on this island?” the curious youngster continued.
“No. Everywhere so I’m told”. The pups never ceased to be amazed by Alsatian’s vast knowledge and ways to get information. Buck decided to drop the subject and move onto another set of questions. He glanced quickly at the sea and grinned.
“Why does the sea eat up the beaches, but then spit it back out again?”
“Well it’s the tides. They come in when the winds pick up out at sea. The waves become bigger and wash up further. Once the weather out at sea calms down, so do the waves” the German shepherd dog helpfully said.
“So its just one big temper tantrum that the seas having” Buck continued.
“Yes, I suppose it is”. Alsatian was quite happy to answer Buck’s questions of life, in fact he enjoyed it and the way the pup worded them.
“Where do pups come from?” Buck yapped, for the question had been one that had been bothering him for a very long time. All pups seemed to have that particular question in them from day one.
“I’ll tell you when you’re older” Alsatian giggled.
“Do you have a family?” That question hit home a little too hard. But Alsatian wasn’t going to keep his foster son in the dark. Secrets eventually revealed themselves, usually with bad consequences.
“I have a mate and three pups” he sighed “They were some of the first dogs to disappear”.
“How old are you?” Buck said, brightening up.
“You should never ask a dog his age” Alsatian scolded.
“No you should never ask a female dog her age” Buck corrected.
“Ok. I’m five and a half years old”.
“That’s old” Buck gasped.
“No it’s not. I can live to be up to fifteen. Enough with the questions”
The pair carried on rooting through the bins remains, but found nothing of much use. Alsatian led Buck up to the lapping sea and they cooled off their scorched paw pads.
Buck started rolling around in the sand, covering his patched fur in the stuff.
“What’s the sand for?” Alsatian asked.
“You don’t need camouflage” Alsatian insisted.
“Yes I do” Buck retorted.
“So you can’t see this coming” the young pup said as he charged into Alsatians side. The blow hit him in the flank hard, but not hard enough to inflict any injury.
“What was that for?” Alsatian bellowed, outraged as he fell to the floor.
“I need to sharpen my skills. Its time I started helping defending my borders”. Alsatian gave a thoughtful hhhhmmmm and then galloped of into the distance.
He returned a few moments later with a black and white patched sphere in his mouth. The German shepherd threw the ball at Buck, who backed away warily, cautious to anything he had never seen before.
“Attack it. It’s just a lot of air with plastic around it. It’s called a ball and we, as dogs, chase it all the time” Alsatian ordered. Buck did as he was told and charged in his ordinary manner at the ball. He collided with the plastic object, but slid straight over it as it rolled under him. Suddenly determine to defeat this round menace, he charged again and again.
“Dive in forepaws first. Hook your claws into it” Alsatian encouraged.
Buck, excited with determination, spun round to face his enemy. He bunched his limps behind him and squatted on his haunches. In one quick second he launched himself forward, pounced and hooked his claws into the ball. He drove his blunt claws through the plastic flesh of the ball and found that air was hissing out of the holes he had made.
He pulled back his legs in fright, but his claws were hooked in deep so the ball came with him. He jumped up and landed heavily on his side whilst trying to scrape the ball off with his hind legs. He had to perform a whole forward flip before he was able to shake the sphere off.
Tired and impressed with his efforts and no longer afraid on the ball, he stamped on the deflating remains, pushing all the remaining air out.
“That’s it, never let your guard down” Alsatian advised, still amused from Buck’s display of fright.
Once the ball was nothing more than a scrap of
plastic, Alsatian went about his usual duties of
defending Buck’s borders.
“Can I come?” Buck asked as his guardian was just about to leave.
“Sure, I can sharpen your skills pretty well” Alsatian agreed “First let’s make sure your bins are safe”.
Teacher and pupil strode proudly towards the bins, pushing out there chests and raising their muzzles to make themselves look more intimidating. The sight was more amusing than frightening, though. Alsatian had a perfect pose, whilst Buck was still attempting to raise his muzzle. The sun shone brightly into his eyes and temporarily blinded him, forcing him to lower his face.
“Why does the sun blind us?” Buck asked.
“Because us on earth need light. Without light, no food will grow and we will be forever in darkness” Alsatian said. Buck didn’t understand the answer as Alsatian was day dreaming again. He would do that often when the subject of his family were raised.
Alsatian’s legs suddenly buckled beneath him and he smashed his head violently against the sand. His eyes slowly closed and he drifted into the peaceful shadows of sleep.