Looks can be deceiving.
Take Bernard for example.
He looks small and cute, and his mistress is French.
You might think that he lives in a handbag and eats paté all day, but no, he doesn’t. Okay, so he does eat the occasional croissant, and he once licked paté off the floor where some French bloke dropped it while talking to his mistress, but I don’t think that counts.
He does eat snails, but that is a whole other story.
Bernard is special.
All dogs are special, of course, but what I mean to say is that Bernard is especially talented.
You already know that dogs have amazing senses, and the sense of smell is particularly acute.
I sound like I know what I’m talking about, but to be truthful, I only discovered this because my mistress was doing research for a story.
It all started after I caught the murderer in the country house. It was one of my very first adventures. My mistress was very proud of me, and she wondered how I did it. I didn’t think much about it at the time; I just did what dogs do — I sniffed it out. I thought everyone could do it, but apparently not.
My mistress said that some dogs could detect individual ingredients in a pasta sauce. I could have told her that. It drives her crazy that her girlfriend makes a particularly good Napoli sauce, and she is not sure what the secret ingredient is. It’s Turmeric. A very tiny amount. I tried pointing at it in the spice rack using my nose, but she told me off for climbing on a chair. Humans can be very annoying.
Bernard, on the other hand, never gets told off for climbing on chairs. He is treated like a king — a small hairy king, but a king none the less.
His unique skill is finding things.
Rich people pay his mistress large amounts of money to find things that have been lost inside their huge houses, but more importantly, Bernard is asked to find things that are hidden in the houses of wealthy deceased persons — usually by greedy relatives who are sure that their dead uncle has stashed away a fortune.
Bernard comes to visit at least once a year.
His mistress and my mistress have been friends since my mistress was a student in France. She stayed with her friend’s parents for a year, and she says it was one of the best years of her life.
I was expecting Bernard to be a bit ‘up himself’, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was a very down-to-earth dog.
Appearances can be deceiving.
He likes watching soccer on TV, and he enjoys walks in the rain, but his mistress won’t let him. I splashed water on him one time so that he would know what it felt like. He was very appreciative.
I took him down to the local Butcher Shop, just to show him the sights and he had a splendid time. He got dusty, and some sand got stuck between his toes and he said it made him feel like one of those free range dogs. He was kidding himself of course. He wouldn’t last five minutes in the wild, but I let him have his dream. Who am I to step on anyone’s dream?
He told me about life in Paris, and it sounded pretty good.
French dogs are allowed into cafés, but I like it here. I’m too old to learn the French words for ‘walk’ and ‘treat’ and ‘get off the chair’.
I asked Bernard what was the most interesting thing he was asked to find, and he said that it was hard to choose, but it was probably a lost toy.
The toy belonged to a little old lady. She was very old and sick. She believed that she was going to die soon and she had been thinking a lot about her childhood. She had a favourite little doll.
She used to tell it her secrets.
One day, while playing hide and seek with her brothers and sisters, she put the doll down and forgot where she put it. She searched and searched, but to no avail.
She wanted to hold that little doll one last time before she died.
Bernard said that she offered a huge reward, but it would only be paid if he could find the doll.
His mistress brought him to meet the old lady, and they got on very well indeed. Bernard gave her a good sniffing and set off through the large old Chateau in search of the little doll. It helped that he is small because it stood to reason that the doll would be in a small hiding place just big enough to hide a little girl.
Bernard searched all day, and he was beginning to wonder if he might have to come back another day, but just as the light was failing, he wandered into a small room attached to the huge kitchen. It was full of dusty old boxes, and it looked like no one had been in there for a long time. To start with, nothing in the room seemed to smell like the little old lady had touched it, but after pushing a few boxes aside with his nose, he got a faint whiff.
The little doll had been nibbled on by moths and was very dusty, but she was in one piece, and she was exactly as the old woman had described her.
Bernard said that it was very strange, but he was sure that the little doll was calling out to him. He followed the scent and the sound directly to where the doll was lying, but when he got there, the doll stopped talking to him.
He gently carried the little doll back to the old lady. She was sleeping and woke as he jumped up on her bed. She didn’t care that the doll was dusty and moth-eaten. She hugged it and cried. Bernard knew enough about female humans to know that there was a chance that this little old lady was happy and not sad.
I asked him what happened to the doll and the little old lady, and he said that he was not sure. He heard his mistress talking about her a few times, but he did not know what her words meant. He did say that they got paid a lot of money because of his find and they went on a holiday to Trieste, and as a special treat, he got a ride on the famous funicular tramway. Bernard loves trams, and he and his mistress are going to visit Melbourne next year because they have the most extensive system of tramways anywhere in the world, not to mention the longest continuous piece of tram track.
Bernard loves trams.
You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but appearances can be deceiving.
One of my favourite stories from RUFUS is Life Goes on Until it Doesn’t.
I remember writing it and thinking how often something like this must happen in real life.
I gave the unfinished manuscript of RUFUS to the person who I hoped would become my illustrator and she said that she was nervous as she read this story because “I really wanted it to end happily.”
As you probably know from reading the book, RUFUS does save the day, but RUFUS is not always around in real life.
This morning, I was going through my news feed and I came across this story. As I read it I too wanted to view a happy ending.
I understand that people can become desperate, but abandoning the one creature in your life who loves you without question only casts doubt on your ability to understand the things that really matter in life.
A little while ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing the then Deputy Leader of the Opposition in my home state. A little while later, he became the deputy Premier after winning the election.
I was a little cheeky on the day and put a few extra questions to him about animal welfare and his party’s plans, if any, to improve the situation. He kindly answered them (we have a shared love of basketball and have both been involved in coaching juniors, so I think he cut me some slack). To his credit, and his government, they have implemented some excellent changes to the way we deal with animals. They have also boosted funding to the RSPCA, the body that oversees the protection of animals in my state.
Dogs will directly benefit as the law is introduced over the next couple of years which will only allow ‘rescued’ dogs to be sold in pet shops. There is also a strong effort being made to stamp out ‘puppy farms’.
All of these initiatives are good, but they do not eliminate the central cause of the problem — people. The world is full of idiots and the trend is threatening to continue.
As I write this, the dog next door is barking because he wants to play with his humans. My dogs are curled up on the bed waiting for me to stop writing so they can go for a walk and the Dingoes across the road are on the lookout for us because seeing us means that there is a strong chance they will be able to join us on that walk.
Rather than being angry because of the actions of others I have decided to focus on the good things in my life, particularly the small fluffy things.
The article I mentioned:
Rufus arrived early (when does that ever happen at this time of the year?). The delivery guy failed to catch the attention of my dogs so I had to go to the post office to retrieve them. Dropped off a complimentary copy to my illustrator on my way home. She was at work and a customer wanted to know what all the fuss was about. My illustrator was very happy. I’m a little bit out of it at the moment. Just waiting for it to pass. It’s a shame because this moment is special — when a box of books arrives. Nothing is getting through the fog, but there is always tomorrow. These last few months have been full on. Four books published in almost as many months. I’m a bit tired, but also pleased to have achieved so much this year. Thank you to anyone reading this if you have been supportive during the year, it is always appreciated and very much needed.
If you are in Australia I can post you a copy $29 AUD inc postage
You can also purchase a copy from my printer. They will mail it to you anywhere in the world.
eBook copies from:
I’m always happy when one of my books makes it all the way to its publishing date. I get a little bit nervous — I want the ‘new one’ to do well in the world — to find a new home (or homes), but I try not to be too invested. After all, there are a lot of books out there and a lot of writers with similar high hopes. But, on this occasion, I cannot help myself. Rufus and I have been together for a while now. His ‘birth’ has been a long one and not without complications.
Part of the problem is that he is difficult to describe. Some folks are going to dismiss him as being a book full of stories for younger people, and it is true that his stories will appeal to them, but he was written to appeal to adults who are young at heart. There isn’t a category for this — I know because I have looked. Amazon does not have such a category neither does Apple. Smashwords is devoid of such a category so Rufus is going into the world without a suitable category (unless of course, you search tags under ‘young at heart’).
It is intolerably hot here today and the fans on my laptop are at screaming pitch as they try to keep my machine from melting. My dogs are lying in front of the fan and my wife is somewhere between here and the grandchildren who live about seven hundred kilometres away.
RUFUS can be found here:
I should have copies in my hands around about the 29th of December.