My name is Sooty. I am an Experienced Senior Poodle. I know this because that is the position I applied for and the lady said I was the perfect poodle for her and she hired me at once.
But now I’m getting ahead of myself.
14 years ago I was a very clever puppy who went to live in a house with people. I had a nice life, everything was fine.
Then one day my human said he had to go away and he could not take me with him.
I did not understand what he meant.
He asked me to jump in the car with him just like he usually does so I thought “he has changed his mind, he is taking me with him.”
When we arrived, I heard a lot of dogs barking. We got out of the car, he handed me to a lady and drove away……just like that. I thought he made a mistake and he would come back, but no, he drove away.
I waited for him, and I waited and the car did not come back. Then the lady led me gently inside.
The people were very kind. I had a bed and food and made some great friends but I could not understand why my person left me there and went away.
Some of the other dogs knew where we were. They said it was a safe place but that we were there because nobody wanted us. I was shocked. What did he mean? I did not sleep very well that night.
One day, one of the nice ladies who looked after us came to see me with some news. She said someone had advertised for an Experienced Senior Poodle. It was a job for life, with a comfy bed indoors, a fireside, friends, nice dinners and walks. The only snag was I had to travel Far Far Away Across the Sea. I thought about it. “Will my person here come back looking for me?” I was still hopeful he might. “No”, replied the lady sadly, “he has gone away”. I thought some more and then I remembered that poodles are brave and resourceful and never say no to a challenge…..so I said YES.
So then we began the preparations. I had to visit the doctor for a checkup and injections (yuk) and then I had to wait for my passport. When it arrived it was lovely. It was blue, shiny and new, with a photograph of me (very handsome), official writing and stamps and everything. I felt very important all of a sudden and I was very proud of it.
When the bus going to Far Far Away and Over the Sea arrived, I said goodbye to the nice people . I had become very fond of them, but my job was waiting for me so I climbed onto the bus with my new passport and into my compartment .
There were quite a few of us on the bus. All heading for new lives and new adventures. We chatted for a bit and then settled down to sleep.
We travelled a long way. Every so often we stopped for a stretch legs and a snack. I was just in a nice sleep when the bus stopped again.
This time it was different. There was nothing to eat and instead there was loud shouting, flashing lights and a big commotion and more shouting. The bus door opened and a lot of very cross people looked at us. We were scared. They pulled us out of our beds and took us into a strange place with more lights. We were poked and prodded and stared at, not in a friendly way at all. Then they took us to another place and locked us in.
I asked a dog who was already there what was going on. “Oh”, he replied. “We are all in prison.”
Prison? I could not believe my ears. I had done nothing wrong. I had always been a very good dog, a loyal dog, a loving dog. Why were we all in prison? Nobody seemed to know why.
The days passed slowly in prison, one after the other. I was comfortable enough, but nobody seemed to like us. I heard words like dirty and foreign. What is foreign? I am POODLE. I might need a bit of a bath and a haircut but that is no reason to be in jail. Life is not fun when nobody likes you and you are all alone. The food was hard and hurt my teeth so I didn’t eat it much.
The one day I heard whispers. The bus had come back for us. Oh such excitement! I was so happy. I watched lots of my friends being led out to the bus, but nobody came for me. The door shut and the bus went away.
I cannot tell you how I felt that day. I tried to tell the humans that I am on my way to a very responsible job. The lady is waiting for me and I was supposed to take up my duties a week ago. Please why did the bus go without me?
“No Passport”, said the stern lady, and shut the door.
No Passport? I couldn’t believe it. My new passport with its stamps and writing and my photograph……I had seen it. What did she mean “no passport”?
Perhaps the lady in Far Far Away and Over the Sea would think I changed my mind and give the job to another poodle. I was close to despair that night. I wanted to tell the lady “Help I am stuck” but I didn’t know how to.
In the middle of the night, I woke up and remembered something I heard in the hotel. They said “she really really wants him” Then I thought….”she will wait for me if she wants me ” Then I thought I heard a whisper, although nobody was there. I heard, “I will get you and bring you home Sooty” and as well as the whisper I thought I heard a sound like wings, but then it was all quiet again.
More days and nights came and went . The bus did not come back.
Sometimes I remembered the whisper in the night and felt hopeful. Other days I thought I would be in prison for ever and everyone had forgotten about me. It was not a nice feeling. I began to feel tired and not very well
One day I heard people talking excitedly about Christmas and holidays. I remembered Christmas from my old home. This did not seem anything like that sort of Christmas when everyone was happy and there was fun and laughter and extra food in my bowl.
On Christmas day it was very quiet in the prison. Most of the humans had gone home. Suddenly I heard voices and my name being spoken. I heard someone say “Here is his passport, now you must let him out!” and then my door opened, and a lady with a kind face picked me up and carried me out into the sunshine and to her car. Oh my word that was the best Christmas present I ever had!
The Kind Lady took me into her house.
There was a soft bed and water to drink and delicious food At first I was too tired to be hungry, but I did eat some dinner and have a very big drink of water and then I think all that worrying in prison must have made me tired because I fell fast asleep .
Oh my word, what a lovely comfortable place this is! I think it must be a 5 stars hotel. There is everything a chap could possible want.
The next morning I went to see the doctor because I caught a nasty cough in prison. He gave me some cough syrup and some medicine to make all better.Then we went back to the hotel and I had a bath in warm water, more delicious food and slept in a pile of soft fluffy towels beside a warm thing she calls a radiator. I slept and slept and slept.
I do like it here. The Kind Lady calls me Grandpa and she massages my sore legs and back. I wonder if I could get a job here. It is not Over the Sea but it is Quite Far Away and really lovely. Every day I feel stronger and happier. The Kind Lady’s name is Lady Ingeborg. I love her.
As I got stronger I began to remember about the job in Far Far Away and Over the Sea. I asked Lady Ingeborg if I was still expected. I told her I would be very happy to stay here and help her instead. She smiled a very Big Heart smile and said “your job is still waiting Sooty, if you would like to go. The bus will come back for you if you want”.
I thought about it.
It was very hard to decide.
I do not want to say goodbye because I really really love her
But then I remembered that I am POODLE. A poodle’s word is his bond. I cannot let everybody down. So I tried to stand up very straight and brave and I said “Yes, I will go because I did promise. But before the bus comes I will help you in the garden, and sleep in my soft bed and eat delicious dinners”. Really I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could because love makes you feel like that.
Lady Ingeborg gave me my very own polar bear to cuddle called Frankenstein and my very own coat covered in stars. Oh my word I felt so special.
The day the bus came for me I was all ready. Lady Ingeborg had packed my belongings in a blue suitcase. I checked that my passport was there, my polar bear called Frankenstein, and my special coat with sparkly stars. I looked at the suitcase and I looked at the Lady Ingeborg and I had to swallow hard because I could feel a big lump of sadness in my chest. I nearly said “I changed my mind”. She gave me a very big hug, so big I could feel all the sparkles in her heart. I looked away in case I cried. Then I climbed onto the bus.
I can tell you that Far Far Away and Over the Sea is a long time on a bus! Every time the bus stopped I worried that the police would arrest us again. But no, when we did stop it was for dinner and stretch legs. Are we there yet? I asked the driver. “Oh no Sooty”, she replied. It is still quite far away and we are about to cross the sea now. I got back into my compartment and fell sound asleep so I didn’t even see the sea.
The next day when the bus stopped some of my fellow passengers got off the bus. Their new person was waiting for them. By the time almost all the other passengers had got off I was beginning to wonder if they forgot about me. But then I heard my name……”Sooty you are next, get ready and don’t forget your suitcase”. I was too tired to be excited but I held on tight to my suitcase and the bus stopped. The driver helped me out and there was my very own new human waiting for me. She picked me up and gave me a big hug. I could feel her cheeks were wet so I knew she loved me.
“I’m ever so sorry for being late”, I said to her. “Please don’t cry!”
“Oh Sooty”, she said, “you aren’t late at all. You are just in time for dinner”.
Everything was going to be all right after all. I was home at last.