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Let's All Be Frank About This

Jake the Dog and I were driving home from an errand. Just as we turned into the street where we live, Jake noticed a small dachshund puppy sitting forlornly on the kerb watching the world go by. "That little dog looks as if he’s wondering whether the cars would make good playmates," observed Jake. I agreed with him. Clearly something needed to be done before the puppy got squashed. So as soon as we got home, I walked back to where we had seen him.

When I arrived, he was still sitting there looking at the world. He stood up as I approached him and his tail started to wag in welcome. "Hello," he said. He was small and thin, very long and brown. He had enormous floppy ears and an infectious grin. His legs were so short and tiny that his tummy was barely an inch off the ground.

"Hello," I replied. "Are you lost?"

"I don’t think so," said the puppy. "I live over there." He indicated the house just behind us. "I got out," he said proudly. "Aren’t I clever?"

I picked him up and rubbed his ears. He wriggled with delight and licked my face. "Yes," I said, "you’re very clever. But I think it’s time you went home."

I carried him up to the front door. I rang the bell and knocked loudly but I got no answer. "There’s nobody home except me," explained the puppy. "I got lonely. I wanted someone to play with. That’s why I got out."

"Well," I said, "I think you’d better come home with me until your mum and dad get back."

"That sounds like a good idea," said the puppy. And so that’s what we did.

I took the puppy into the lounge and put him down on the floor. Jake the Dog sniffed him benignly and wagged his tail in welcome. Robin took one look at the puppy and melted into a smiling puddle of goo, completely overcome by the puppy’s cuteness. Gilbert the Cat looked horrified. "What’s that?" he demanded. "Take it away immediately!" He fluffed himself out to twice his normal size, arched his back, hissed and spat.

"A new game!" said the puppy, delighted. He bounced over to Gilbert and licked him on the nose. Affronted, Gilbert stalked out of the lounge, went into the bedroom and hid on the top shelf of the wardrobe. "I’m never coming out again," he declared. "Except maybe at dinner time. If you ask nicely."

"Can you look after the puppy for a few minutes?" I asked Robin. "I want to go and stick a note on his front door so that his mum and dad will know where he is when they get home."

"Of course," said Robin. She got down on her hands and knees and made cootchy-cootchy-coo noises. The puppy came to investigate and Robin offered him a piece of string. The puppy was ecstatic. Best game ever! I left them to it.

When I got back, the puppy was festooned with streamers. Robin was lying on her back on the floor with a silly grin spread all over her face. The puppy was jumping up and down on her tummy. "Again!" he shouted. "Again!"

"Why don’t you take him to the vet?" suggested Robin. "See if he’s microchipped so that we can report his details to the relevant authorities. Also see if you can get something for him to eat. I don’t think we should give him any of Jake’s grown up food. That might be a bit too rich for his delicate little tummy." She tickled the delicate little tummy in question. "Ooooohhh!" said the puppy. "Again! Again!"

That sounded like a good idea. I packed the puppy into an old carrying case that we used to use for the cats and took him out to the car. As I drove away, the puppy began to shriek. "FLEE! FIRE! FOES! FLOOD! FLEAS!" he yelled at the top of his voice. "SOMEBODY HELP ME! RAPE! MURDER! ARSON! KIDNAPPING! HELP! HELP! SOS!"

I drove to the vet with all the windows in the car tightly shut in case some misguided member of the public took the puppy at his word and tried to rescue him. Once we reached the vet and the car stopped moving, the puppy quietened down and looked around with interest. I carried him inside. "Hello," said the nurse on duty. "How can I help?"

"Can you speak up a bit?" I asked. "I seem to have gone suddenly deaf." I explained why I was there and the nurse made a huge fuss of the puppy. He wagged his whole body, rather than just his tail and he looked as if he was about to levitate with pleasure. The nurse got out a gadget and waved it over him, listening for a beep. It remained depressingly silent. "He’s not microchipped," she said. "But I’ll make a note of what you told me about him in case anyone reports him missing."

"Have you got some suitable food for him?" I asked. She vanished into the back and returned a few moments later with a bag of biscuits. "Thanks," I said. "How much do I owe you for it?"

She looked around to make sure we were alone. "Nothing," she said. "Just take it and don’t tell anybody where you got it from. He’s far too cute to spend money on!" She rubbed his ears and popped him back into the carrying case. I took him back to the car and drove home. "RAPE! MURDER! ARSON! KIDNAPPING!"

"Hello," said Jake when the puppy and I returned. "Back already?" He sniffed the puppy’s bottom to make sure that it was the same puppy I’d left with. The puppy tried to return the compliment but Jake is a very tall dog and his bottom is very high up. The puppy tried valiantly, but no matter how high he jumped he couldn’t reach his intended target. So Jake’s bottom remained unsniffed. Frustrated, the puppy peed on the carpet in front of the television set. Jake sniffed the puddle of pee as the carpet absorbed it then he sucked briefly on the damp patch, rolling the result round and round in his mouth like a connoisseur judging a sip of fine vintage wine. He thought for a moment and then he delivered his verdict. "You’ve been eating far too much asparagus," he said firmly. "You’ve got to stop. It’s sending out all the wrong messages."

"Sorry," said the puppy, looking crestfallen. "But it’s just too yummy to resist."

Jake shook his head in despair. What was the younger generation coming to? The future looked bleak. "The country’s going to the humans," he muttered to himself. "Why don’t you go outside and explore the garden? It might keep you out of mischief."

"OK" agreed the puppy. "Where’s the garden?"

"Walk this way," said Jake, going out of the back door.

"I can’t walk that way," protested the puppy. "My legs are too short." Nevertheless he tried valiantly, his legs blurring beneath him as he struggled to keep up with Jake’s enormous strides. He almost tumbled head over heels down the steps in his haste but he managed to recover himself in time with only a minimal loss of dignity. "Oh look," he exclaimed in delight. "Grass." He headed  out bravely onto the lawn. He was so low slung that the grass tickled his tummy as he walked, and that made him giggle. Then he spotted something that completely took his mind off the tickling. There, in the middle of the lawn, shining whitely in the sunshine, was a gloriously gleaming bone. The puppy jumped on it and killed it with a single snap of his jaws then he dragged it back to the deck and settled down to give it a good chewing.

Jake was affronted. "Hey," he yelled, "that’s my bone. I haven’t finished with it yet!"

"Of course you have," I told him. "There isn’t a scrap of meat left on it and you sucked the marrow out of it months ago. There’s nothing left except calcium phosphate and collagen."

"Maybe so," said Jake. "But I do enjoy the smell of calcium phosphate in the morning." The puppy paid no attention to us. He was too busy gnawing. His teeth made grinding noises as he worked away on the bone. "Can’t you distract him or something," pleaded Jake desperately, "so that I can go and bury it somewhere safe while he’s not looking?"

I brought the puppy inside and gave him some of the food I’d got from the vet. He gobbled it up with every indication of delight. Then the palindromic God of Dog reached out a spectral hand and flipped his switch. He collapsed on to the floor, closed his eyes and began to snore gently. "Puppies have two speeds," observed Robin. "On and off." She went into the garage and returned with a little fluffy cat bed that we’d used years ago when we’d had kittens. She lifted the puppy up and put him carefully in the bed. He half woke up, briefly examined his new bed and then he snuggled deep down into it. He was asleep again in an instant. Clearly the bed met with his approval.

My phone rang. "Hello, I’m Jenny," said Jenny. "Thank you so much for looking after my puppy. Can I come round and pick him up?"

"Of course," I said. And so she did.

"Here you are," I said, showing her the puppy fast asleep in his basket. She gave a little shriek of delight which woke the puppy up. As soon as he saw her he jumped up and ran to her. He was so excited to see her that he peed on the carpet again. "That’s the second time he’s done that," I said.

Jenny was embarrassed. "Oh, I’m so sorry," she said.

"Don’t worry about it," I reassured her. "That’s what puppies do. What’s his name?"

"He’s called Frank," she said. "Some people think it’s a silly name, but I like it."

"Given that I live with a dog called Jake and a cat called Gilbert, it seems like a perfectly sensible name to me," I said.

Jenny gathered Frank up in her arms and they went off home together. And that, I thought to myself, is that.

But I was wrong. A couple of hours later, Frank returned, bringing his mum and dad with him. With a little bit of nudging from them, Frank muttered an apology for all the trouble he’d put me to. "So sorry about the carpet," he said. "I’ve brought you a thank you present to make up for it." He handed over a large bag.

Inside the bag was a thank you card signed by Frank himself. The bag also contained a six-pack of beer, a bottle of wine, and a box of chocolates. And a can of carpet cleaner.

I think I’m going to take up puppy rescuing professionally. I rather like the wages...

Frank More Frank

In Memoriam

Nicola Mary Green

1944 - 2020

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