Once upon a time there was a dog called Arthur. Arthur was a dog detective – searching for clues across the parks and commons of south London.
Maelie, a six year old girl who lived with Arthur, was explaining this to her daddy over breakfast.
“You know how he sniffs every tree and every bush and every bin and every other dog?”
“Yes, Maelie?” said Daddy.
“That’s because he’s a police dog searching for clues!”
“Come on now Maelie, Arthur wouldn’t work for the police.”
“Because Arthur works alone.”
Later on, when Maelie was walking on the common with Arthur and Mummy, Maelie thought about what Daddy had said over breakfast.
It was true, she thought. While Arthur did like some other dogs, like Zoomy, sometimes younger ones made him nervous.
Maelie couldn’t see Arthur working alongside other dogs and humans in the police.
“Arthur works alone, Mummy,” said Maelie.
“Yes Maelie. He’s a lone wolf. Or a lone woof!”
Mummy started laughing to herself. Mummy was silly sometimes.
Meanwhile, Arthur was dashing from bush to bush, from tree to tree. Occasionally he would do a little wee, which Maelie knew was the dog’s way of marking clues to come back to later.
Arthur was a beautiful Hungarian Visler, and he was amused by what Maelie had been saying about him. Because, though he wasn’t allowed to show it, Arthur understood every word Maelie had said.
He understood pretty much everything all the humans around him said, though the rules of cricket still confused him sometimes.
Why couldn’t dogs chase after the balls? Why use humans as fielders when whippets like his friend Zoomy would be much better at it?
The main reason why Arthur found what Maelie had said funny was because she had guessed almost perfectly. No, Arthur did not work for the police. But yes, Arthur was a dog detective, searching for clues and solving crimes for those people and dogs who most needed his help.
Like most dogs, Arthur didn’t care about money. He did the job for honour and respect. But sometimes the people he helped left him presents, like sticks or old footballs.
On this particular cold and sunny day, Arthur was searching for a lost dog. Animals have their own version of the internet, but the data travels through smells rather than through radio waves. Arthur could smell the worry of the dog’s owner, and the sadness of the dog who couldn’t find his way back to him.
“Don’t worry, little doggy,” thought Arthur. “I’ll find you and get you back to where you want to be.”
Maelie and Mummy were busy flying a kite, so Arthur took this opportunity to sneak off and check a nearby copse.
As he pounded through the undergrowth, sniffing all the bushes and trees as he went, Arthur knew he was close to the lost dog.
He sniffed to the west. He sniffed to the east. He dug a hole to see if the dog had become trapped under some tree roots, and he found some clues, including the scent of a badger and a scrap of material that had once been part of a dog coat.
In a sniff of inspiration, Arthur understood what had happened. A small dog, possibly a Pomeranian, had been digging excitedly at the mouth of a burrow.
The Pomeranian had thought it was a hole for rabbits, but in fact the hole had been the entrance to the underground home of a family of badgers.
The small dog, possibly a Pomeranian, came face to face with a badger, who had climbed up the dark tunnel to find out what was going on.
Startled, the small dog had leapt in the air in a fright, and had got itself…
Arthur looked up.
STUCK IN A TREE!
Arthur was very clever. He had smelled all the clues perfectly. Above him, in an old oak tree, was a Pomeranian, shivering with fright and shock.
“Mr dog, Mr dog,” barked the Pomeranian. “Please help me! I saw a scary monster and I ended up in this tree somehow. And now I can’t climb down because my legs are too short.”
Arthur tried his best to be calm and reassuring.
“Calm down, little one,” said Arthur. You didn’t see a monster – just a badger! What’s your name?”
“M-m-m-m-Maisie,” said Maisie the Pomeranian. “But how am I going to get down from here?”
“Don’t you worry,” woofed Arthur. “We’ll think of something.”
But Arthur wasn’t sure what to do. Maisie was in quite a high branch. Arthur was excellent at jumping and heading footballs, but the little dog had got itself stuck higher than his paws could reach.
But then, hurriedly entering the scene from the left, as urgently as if she was being pursued by a bear, was Maelie.
Maelie wasn’t being chased by a bear, though. She just liked running.
“Hello Arthur!” Said Maelie. “Mummy’s been calling for you but you didn’t come! So she sent me to get you while she holds on to the kite”.
Arthur needed to think fast. Quickly, he knew what he had to do.
“Maelie”, he said, “listen very carefully.”
“Arthur!!!” said Maelie, excitedly. “You can talk!”
“Yes, Maelie, I can, though my accent is quite Hungarian,” said Arthur. “But my being able to talk must be our little secret. Do you promise?”
“I promise,” said Maelie.
“Excellent. Now Maelie, I need your help. This little Pomeranian is stuck in a tree, and the branch is too high for me to reach!”
Maelie looked up at the tree, and saw little Maisie clinging on to a higher branch.
“Oh that’s easy, I can climb up there!” said Maelie.
Maelie’s mummy, Chloe, appeared next to them. She had a kite in her hands and a kite string tied awkwardly around her waist.
“The kite nearly escaped,” said Mummy. “I had to tie it to myself to stop it getting away.”
“Mummy, can I climb that tree?” said Maelie. “There’s a dog stuck up there!”
Maelie had remembered her promise, and didn’t mention Arthur’s secret.
“Ok then, Maelie. You go up and get him.”
So Maelie took off her coat and climbed carefully up the branches, until she reached the little Pomeranian.
She picked up the little dog in her arms, and handed it down to her Mummy, who was tall enough to reach.
“Woof woof,” said Arthur.
“Quiet Arthur, I’m helping this other dog,” said Mummy.
But Maelie knew what Arthur had really said. Arthur’s “woof woof” went into her brain and was magically translated into “Thank you, Maelie.”
“You’re welcome, Arthur,” said Maelie, after she climbed down from the tree.
Mummy looked very confused.
When they got home, Maelie told Daddy all about their adventure, and about how Arthur had found a lost dog trapped up a tree, and how happy the dog and the dog’s owner were to be reunited.
“Wow, Maelie. You’ve had quite an amazing day. And you know, I guess I was wrong about Arthur.”
“What do you mean, Daddy?”
“Well, I guess he doesn’t always work alone.
“Sometimes he has you.”