This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.
He was proud of his ancestry, or at least his owners were.
It seems that he was in a direct line from Pavlov’s dog, the famous one who used to drool all over the place whenever the professor would sound his bell.
Now, when I say Pavlov you must not misunderstand, as I don’t mean Alexei Pavlov, the Russian mathematician who specialises in nonlinear output regulation theory, and not even Ilya Pavlov the Bulgarian businessman. I’m talking about Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, the bloke who won the Nobel Prize in 1904 for his work on the digestive system.
But I can see how easily you could make that mistake.
Popular wisdom has it that the dog used in the experiment was just a mutt, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Boris was a pure bred Russian Pavolich, a noble breed with a long heritage.
Chester was very lucky to be here at all for it seems that the professor was very handy with the knife, and Boris was one of the few dogs that survived Pavlov’s experiments.
My friends and I had had enough.
We had tried for years to stop it from happening, but no one wanted to listen. We did it by the book for a very long time. But over time even water will wear away a rock, and as young people we did not have the patience of a rock.
George and Harry came up with the plan.
It was going to be risky.
We all had a lot to lose if we got caught. But that didn’t seem to matter any more.
We just wanted it to stop.
It was our job to watch out for the guards while the girls unlocked the cages. We knew that it had to go quickly or we were in deep trouble. George was supposed to be a whiz with alarms, but I guess he missed one. I didn’t see the big guy come up behind me. But I did feel him. He grabbed me just as a stampeding herd of previously caged dogs came rushing by.
My friends had their own problems so I knew that I was going to have to get free on my own. It was not going to be easy; this bloke knew his business and he had me cold.
As it often does in these situations, time seemed to slow down. I could see my friends heading for the exits, and I could see the dogs doing the same thing.
Harry looked back and saw that I was in trouble. I screamed at him to keep going. He seemed to stand there for the longest time. I could tell that he was thinking about coming back, but that was the last thing I wanted, we all knew the risks, and we all vowed to keep going if anything went wrong.
Harry went against our ‘every man for him self’ rule, and turned to come back, but Chester beat him to it.
Chester had been heading for the exit with all the others when he must have heard me call out. Maybe he thought it was a game, I guess I will never really know. He turned and slid along the polished floor for several metres before he got his feet under him again, then he got up a bit of speed and launched his considerable bulk at the two struggling humans.
All three of us went flying in three different directions! I felt as if I’d been hit by a small elephant.
The guard got the worst of it though.
Chester didn’t hang around to see how I was getting on. He headed for the exit again. Maybe he thought that that was all there was to this game.
I didn’t hang around either. I figured that I had only a few seconds before the guard remembered what day it was, so I had it on my toes, as the English might say.
I used to see Chester quite a bit after that. One of my neighbours adopted him. As with all dogs, he was extremely happy to be alive, and he cherished every moment of every day.
I could learn a lot from Chester.
This is one in a series of stories that I am writing to continue the ‘George and Harry’ tradition. A long time ago, when my sons were young I would sometimes make up bedtime stories and often they would feature two characters; George and Harry. Sometimes they would be human and sometimes they would be animals and in that beautiful way that children have, it did not seem to matter.
At the time I did not write any of the stories down but now that my eldest son has a young family I thought that I would continue the tradition and put together a few stories for the time when they are old enough for me to send them along (they live a long way away).
I wrote this story a few years back and I found it again the other day. It probably needs a third act but for the moment here it is.
P.S. The George and Harry saga actually surfaced in real life. We had chickens when we first moved into this house but they were attacked one night when I forgot to close the gate. We rescued a few fertilised eggs and the boys borrowed an incubator. Only two eggs hatched out and naturally they named them George and Harry even though they were hens not roosters; again it did not seem to matter.