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  • James Glover

Story 7: Let's go to the woods!

Updated: Aug 23



While Dante was finishing his breakfast and checking that DeDe hadn’t left anything in her bowl, DeDe was putting on her country coat and contemplating how much the weather determined what she wore.  She has hats for the sunshine, mackintoshes for the rain and a puffer coat for the snow, but there were some days when, whatever the weather, she just wants to look smart. The one coat that makes her feel really special is her green quilted country coat from the famous Miss Darcy range. So whatever they decided to do today, she knew it was the perfect day for her country coat. 


Dante started to walk backwards not taking his eyes off the big nostrils for a second. The further he retreated the bigger and longer the nose became.

Once Dante was completely sure there wasn’t a crumb left in either of their bowls he lifted his head and saw DeDe standing by the front door ready to leave. "You look different" he said, "but I can’t quite work out why". 


DeDe sighed and explained that she was wearing her quilted country coat and although Dante wasn’t interested in fashion, he could at least take the trouble to notice what she was wearing. Then she remembered, as if to excuse his behaviour, of course Dante never does detail! 


As they shut the door behind them, Dante told her that he’d sent a positive thought to Harley, Phoebe and Lily-Poo telling them he’d decided they should go to the woods today. To get to the woods you have to pass Bertie’s house, so they stopped by to see if he’d like to come with them. They gave a loud Woof at his front door to let him know where they were going. 


Bertie didn’t need asking twice, he always loves a trip to the woods. He’d not been out of the house for the last few days because he’d been feeling a little bit under the weather. Luckily today he was feeling much better, so thought a run in the woods would perk him up! 


As they ran across the fields, the trees on the outskirts of the woods appeared tall and majestic in front of them. The closer they got, the more excited they became.


The woods have so many different smells from the beach. Dante had never smelt a squirrel on the beach, much the same as he’d never smelt a fish in the woods. He couldn’t understand why fishes didn’t come to the woods and why squirrels didn’t want to play on the beach even on sunny days. He soon gave up his thinking as today wasn’t for thinking it was much more for doing. 


Dante and DeDe had only had a little time for a few sniffs and a nibble of some fresh grass, when up came Harley, Phoebe and Lily-Poo to say hello. “Great” said Dante, “now we are all here, let’s go exploring”. 


As they ran down the path further into the woods the air became damp and the ground muddier on their paws. Phoebe squealed with delight and searched for the largest puddle she could find before diving in belly first with a big splash. “This is heaven” she said, “there can’t be anything better than a doodle wallowing in mud!”


DeDe gave Phoebe one of her disapproving looks, as if to say there is no way I am doing anything like that, particularly when I’m wearing my country coat.  Once Phoebe was completely drenched she climbed out of the puddle and shook off much of the dirty water. The brown drops flew through the air only just avoiding DeDe’s precious coat. DeDe gave her another disapproving stare, as if to say, keep all that dirt away from my coat PLEASE!


The others were almost out of sight as Phoebe was finishing her shakes, so the two girls sprinted up to join them. Harley had found a large stick that must have been twice as long as he was. Although it wasn’t heavy, it was difficult to balance in his mouth. “Why don’t you leave that where you found it” said Lily-Poo, “I am sure you’ll find something much more interesting along the way”. Harley couldn’t imagine anything more interesting, so took no notice of her. He continued to carry the stick until his jaw began to ache, then he dropped it without missing a stride. 


For a while they lost themselves in every succulent sniff on the ground and in the air. They took care to visit every tree and peer in every rabbit hole. Then all of a sudden they had the very definite feeling they weren’t alone. 


Harley smelt it first, and froze to the spot, uttering a low soft growl. “What’s the matter?” said Lily-Poo. Harley wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong, but he knew something wasn’t right.  There was definitely au unusual smell in the air, but he couldn’t quite place it, it wasn’t a squirrel nor a rabbit or a doodle, and it didn’t feel completely friendly. 


Dante took no notice and carried on searching out squirrels and looking down yet more rabbit holes just in case someone was at home. Then, all of a sudden, he felt there was something very big hovering just above him. He started to feel a little scared and small, before slowly raising his head to see what was there. His eyes took a while to focus but, when they did, all he could see were two very big nostrils almost touching his nose! 


He tried to let out a loud bark, but instead what came out was a high pitched puppy yelp! He tried again but still no bark came, only another puppy yelp. This was not at all helpful when you are trying to appear brave. 


Dante started to walk slowly backwards not taking his eyes off the big nostrils for a second. The further he retreated the bigger and longer the nose became. Eventually he saw at the end of the nose, were two large brown eyes peering down at him. For once Dante didn’t know what to do, should be turn and run, or should he simply be polite and introduce himself? Surely if he ran this chap would be able to run faster than he could and possibly eat him all up. 


So he decided politeness would be the better approach. He leant forward saying, “Hello there, I’m Dante and I’m a Camberdoodle, and you sir, are?” “Well, hello” came a very deep voice, “I’m Justin de Strathmore, and it’s very nice to meet you too”. 


Dante relaxed a little and decided that although Justin was enormous he had a friendly tone in his voice and probably wasn’t as scary as he looked. After a little chatting about this and that Dante thought he’d better introduce the others, so he turned around to make the introductions. To his shock there was nobody there! 


Dante turned back to face Justin and they continued their chat, because he wasn’t sure how Justin would react if he just ran away. Although Justin was too tall to be a doodle he appeared to be a nice chap and it might be good to find out more about him. 


Justin explained that he was an explorer and had just celebrated his 45th birthday in a low key sort of a way. 45 isn’t a significant number, and didn’t warrant anything special. By way of a small treat to himself, he’d arranged a mini break to Sussex. His home, he told Dante, was a castle with a big estate in the Highlands of Scotland, the place where he was born and where he would always return. 


He had three wives and seven children, which he enjoyed visiting from time to time but, because the wives and children made so much noise, he preferred his solitary life as an explorer. Dante didn’t know what to say about himself in return. His life hadn’t been half as interesting as Justin’s, all he knew was Camber, the beach and the woods around. He’d never travelled further than Norfolk for a couple of days, and that was only once a year to visit some doodles he had met on Instagram. None of his life had been anything near as exciting as Justin’s. Dante’s house only had two rooms upstairs and one room down, so it could hardly be called a castle. Although he did think it might be a tad warmer in winter than all the castles in Scotland! 


All of a sudden Dante heard some furless two legs’ voices in the distance, and without even a simple good-bye Justin jumped up and ran off deeper into the woods. Dante thought this to be a little rude, particularly as he had tried to be so polite. Anyway h

e stood up and decided it was time for him to think of home. 


As he arrived at the edge of the woods the others were doodle dashing in the fields. When they saw Dante emerge they came over to find out what had happened to him. Dante pulled himself up to his full height and broadened his shoulders, before going into great detail about how he had bravely fought off the beast and how his deep doodle growl had scared the big creature away. 


DeDe explained how scared they’d been seeing the big beast, and how they’d run out of the woods to safety. "We thought it was going to eat you", Harley added. They were all so proud of how brave he’d been and congratulated him all the way home. 


After supper and while Dante was dozing in his favourite chair, he heard a voice on the television say that a wild boar had been sighted in Sussex, he looked up and just caught a glimpse of a very becoming photo of Justin de Strathmore.

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