Release date: September 2020
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We believe every child should have access to excellent, relevant, fun Christian books. Our mission is to end Christian book poverty for older children. We want to give you every opportunity to reach out with hope, life, light, faith, forgiveness and grace to all the children on your heart. Simply and graciously, with a book. Nobody’s Dog is a book full of fun, adventure, hope in sadness, friendship, prayer and trust. The time is now.
The Dog in the Park
“There’s that dog again,” said Luke.
“Are you sure it’s the same one?” asked Mum.
“Yes,” said Luke. “I can tell by its tail. It’s got a bushy tail like a fox, with a bit of white at the very end.”
Mum came over to the window and looked down at the park with Luke. Spring was almost here, and the trees had fresh buds all ready to burst out. There were the first yellow daffodils nodding their heads in the flower beds. But it was still cold outside, and people walked along with their coats on and heads down against the chilly wind.
Lots of dogs were being walked, because it was Sunday afternoon. Some were on leads and some were off, chasing balls or sticks or just running.
But this dog was all on its own. It was a medium size dog with a feathery tail and small cocked ears. It had a brown and white coat and would have been quite pretty if it wasn’t so thin. It stood on the grass near the laurel bushes, watching the people passing but keeping a good distance from them.
“It’s a stray dog,” said Luke. “It doesn’t belong to anyone.”
“Oh, I’m sure it must do,” said Mum. “It’s just wandered off, that’s all. There aren’t any stray dogs in the park. Or if there are, the Dog Wardens will soon round them up.”
“What will they do with them?” asked Luke.
“They put them into kennels,” said Mum. “If their owners don’t come, they’ll try to find a good home for them.”
“But what if nobody wants them?” asked Luke.
“Well…” Mum looked uncomfortable. Then she said, “Luke, you’ve got action figures all over the table, and I want to set it for tea. Come and clear it away.”
Luke came and began to gather his toys together. He knew Mum didn’t want to tell him what happened to unwanted dogs. That meant it must be something nasty.
He didn’t like the thought of something nasty happening to the brown and white dog. He had seen it several times during the winter, from the window. Once or twice on his way to school he had seen it through the park railings. It looked lonely and sad, but he saw that it always kept well away from people and other dogs.
Pets were not allowed in the flats where Luke and his mother lived, except for little ones in cages, like budgies or hamsters. Luke had a hamster himself, round and brown, which picked up food in its little paws and stuffed it into its cheeks until they were full. Then it spat all the food out into a store it had made at the back of the cage.
Luke was very fond of Hammy, but there wasn’t a lot they could do together.
Luke liked living on the third floor of a block of flats, though Mum did not. She had put their names down for rehousing. She wanted somewhere with a garden, and hoped it would be soon. But Luke liked being able to see out over the roadway and into the park. He liked travelling up and down in the lift, and even climbing the stairs when the lifts weren’t working. He didn’t mind not having a garden. But he did wish they were allowed to keep cats and dogs.
Luke and Mum had their tea and then they went to church as usual. Luke kept a look-out for the brown and white dog as they passed the park. But the dog wasn’t about.
After church, he asked Mum if they could go into the park for a while. Mum said they could, as the evenings were getting lighter now, and they were well wrapped up.
“But stay where I can see you,” she said.
There were still people about in the park. The ice cream van and hot dog stand were beginning to pack up for the day. Daffodils were bright yellow against the grass, and tulips were showing their first bits of red. Luke ran round the circular flower-bed keeping a look-out for the stray dog. Mum turned up her coat collar and sat down to rest on a bench.
There were still some dogs about, but all of them were with somebody. Luke hoped that the Dog Warden hadn’t come and taken him away. Then, suddenly, he saw the dog. It was standing quite near, at the edge of a clump of bushes, watching him but ready to run at any moment. Its ears were down and its tail between its legs, as though it expected to be chased away. Luke saw that its ribs showed under its brown and white coat. It was hungry.
“Hello, dog,” said Luke softly.
The dog just stood and watched him. Then, suddenly, it turned and dived into the bushes. It disappeared among the dark green glossy leaves, but next moment Luke saw it come out at the back of the bushes. Then it ran off out of sight behind the shelters.
Luke parted the leaves and went a little way into the bushes, peering about in the dark green gloom. There, deep in the bushes, was a kind of scooped-out hollow in the ground. The leaves and twigs around it made a sheltered, secret hiding-place. This must be where the stray dog lived, with an escape exit at the back.
“Luke!” called Mum. “What are you doing? Come back over here, please.”
Luke let the leaves fall back and ran over to Mum. He remembered the dog’s hungry brown eyes and the way its ribs stuck out. “Mum,” he said, “could I have a hot dog?”
Mum looked doubtfully across to the hot dog stand. “I think the man’s packed up for the night.”
“Not quite,” said Luke. “If I’m quick.”
The man served him a lukewarm hot dog with the last scrapings of fried onions. Luke ran over and pushed it through the leaves, putting it on the ground just in front of the scooped-out hollow.
“Whatever are you doing?” asked Mum.
“It’s for Bushy,” said Luke.
“Who on earth is Bushy?”
“The dog,” said Luke. “The stray dog. I think he lives in those bushes. And he’s got a bushy tail. I thought Bushy would be a good name for him.”
“Oh, Luke, said Mum. “It was kind of you, but don’t ever try to touch that dog, will you? Especially if there’s food about. Dogs like that can be dangerous.”
“Bushy’s not dangerous,” said Luke. “Just lonely and sad.”
“All the same,” said Mum. “Remember what I’ve told you. That dog will probably be taken away soon. Dogs like that just aren’t allowed to run wild here, and a good thing too. Just forget about him. Come on, it’s cold and it’s getting dark.”
Luke followed her, putting his cold hands into his jacket pockets. But he knew he would not forget the brown and white dog.