Story 16: A Doodle called Hugo needs help
Updated: Aug 28
It was one of those mornings when the rain just wouldn’t stop, and after one dash along the beach they were wet through and cold.
“If it doesn’t stop raining I’m going back to Chislehurst” said Lily-Poo as she shook the water off her coat. “I agree” said DeDe, “I think I’ll go home and read my book, this is simply no fun”
“I’m hungry” said Harley, “why don’t we go to the cafe for a biscuit before we decide what to do?” Everyone thought this a very good idea and before long they were out of the wet, munching biscuits by the open fire in the cafe.
Time stood still as the flames danced over the logs and they stared at nothing in particular for quite a while. The warmth of the room and the lingering sweetness of the biscuits gave them a sleepy and contented feeling.
Lily-Poo broke the silence to tell them about something that was bothering her, “I met a black doodle in Chislehurst Park the other day. His name was Hugo and I liked him from the moment I saw him. I tried to engage him in idle chatter, but he seemed hesitant to talk to strangers and ran off to the other side of the park. I followed him, dashing in circles around him to attract his attention, eventually he got tired and we sat down for a rest.
"You don't have to be friendly, I know my fur is dirty and matted and I smell. Most folks just pass me by."
“I noticed his fur was smelly and very long, and I could see his long toe nails curling under his paws. He had a cut over his right eye that must have been hurting. He seemed sad and didn’t want to say much. His sadness made me sad, so rather than sitting in silence I talked quickly about anything and everything to hide my embarrassment.
“All of a sudden Hugo interrupted me, saying, “You don’t have to be friendly, I know my fur is dirty and matted and I smell. Most folk just pass me by, and in any case I’m not used to talking to classy doodles like you. It’s normally only the angry vicious non-doodles that want to give me a hard time. Why do you want to sit with me?”
“Everyone needs a friend, Hugo, and I’d like to be yours” said Lily-Poo.
“I don’t need friends” said Hugo, “and anyway you wouldn’t want to be seen with someone as shabby as me”
At this point Phoebe interrupted Lily-Poo’s story, “Are you saying you met a doodle that was muddier than me?”
“Yes” said Lily-Poo “far muddier than ever I’ve seen you”
“I think I’d like Hugo” said Phoebe.
Lily-Poo continued with her story “When we’d finished sniffing the new smells in the park and I’d tried to lighten his mood by playing bitey-face, it was time for me to go home. Before I left I asked where he lived and if he’d like to meet again sometime. Hugo nodded towards the derelict shed by the park entrance, saying he crept under the broken floorboards at night to shelter from the rain. That’s where he called home.
“I explained I had friends in Camber and between us we would promise to him find a warm comfy home".
“When I got home, my dinner was ready, my bed was nice and warm, but I couldn’t stop thinking of Hugo. I hardly slept that night, because all I could hear was the rain pelting down outside and I kept thinking how miserable Hugo must be.
“As soon as there was a flicker of light through the curtains, I paced up and down saying I needed to go out. Luckily it didn’t take long before my two furless legs’ brother got the message and opened the back door. I grabbed a packet of biscuits and ran back to the park.
“It was raining hard and by the time I arrived at the shed I was soaking. I found Hugo under the floor boards half asleep. In a flash he grabbed the biscuits and ate them all in one go, with no ‘please, may I?’ or a ‘thank you’.
“I told him I was coming to Camber to see you today, and that we would think of a way to help him.”
Harley and Dante didn’t know what to say, they couldn’t imagine ever being really hungry or having nowhere comfy to sleep. They had nice homes and made sure their furless two legs offered a timely service for all their requirements.
DeDe spoke up next, “None of you knows this, but I had a time when I didn’t have a home and didn’t know where to go for food, and it's not nice at all. But there are kind furless two legs who dedicate their lives to helping doodles in distress. They helped me find Dante and arranged for me to come and live with him”.
DeDe went on, “What we need to do is take Hugo to one of these places and find him a nice cosy home to live in. No doodle should ever be left on the streets”
A silence fell over the group and they noticed Phoebe’s eyes were leaking. Harley snuggled up to her until she felt better. As Phoebe wiped the excess water away she said, “This is such a sad story, we all have nice homes and we have each other. Poor Hugo has nobody. How could his life be so cruel?” ......Sadly, nobody had an answer for her.
By now it was late and Lily-Poo had to get home as she needed to take more food to Hugo before bedtime. As they walked slowly towards Billy train, they started to make a plan. Tomorrow, rather than coming to the beach, they’d catch the train to Chislehurst with food parcels for Hugo.
Next morning, as the train pulled into Chislehurst station Lily-Poo was there waiting for them. After the usual hello licks and welcome dances, they walked towards the park. As they turned the last corner they caught sight of the derelict shed that Hugo called home. Lily-Poo gave a clipped bark to let Hugo know they’d arrived. He came running outside and before saying anything to anyone, ate the food they’d brought him. After he’d gobbled every last morsel, Hugo started saying his “hello’s”.
One by one Lily-Poo introduced Hugo to her friends and, once the formalities were complete, Harley and Dante made a thorough inspection of the shed. There were lots of different smells which might have been interesting, but on closer inspection, all they found were bags of rubbish full of old food cartons and a few fish bones. Why can’t furless two legs take their rubbish home, they thought.
DeDe, Phoebe and Lily-Poo kept a distance from the shed preferring to start a dash with Hugo. Hugo was unsure what to do at first since he was not used to so much female attention but, after a couple of dashes, he relaxed and DeDe was sure she saw him smile a couple of times.
When they’d finished sniffing every inch of Hugo’s living quarters Harley and Dante sat down looking directly at each other. They didn’t have to speak as they knew what the other was thinking, “How are we going to do to find Hugo a home?”
Harley then said, “It’s all very well coming to meet this chap Hugo if we don’t really know what to do next”.
Dante replied, “But sometimes when you don’t have a plan, it’s best to sit down and wait for whatever comes next”.
They watched the others dashing with Hugo while they waited for ‘the something next’ to arrive. In a strange way they felt responsible for what happened to Hugo. Although they’d only just met him, they felt they had a responsibility to help any doodle in distress. Underneath all that fur was a handsome chap who could bring love and happiness to any home.
While deep in their thoughts they began to feel sleepy. In fact they may have even dozed off for a second or two. The next thing they heard was Lily-Poo's voice, “I’ve made my mind up, I know what we’re going to do next”. While rubbing their eyes, they listened carefully.
“Now that Hugo has met you all I’m going to sneak him into my house. I’ll do this before any furless two legs get home from work. Then, when everyone has had their dinner I’ll introduce him and they will love him and want him to stay! What could possibly go wrong?”
Harley scratched his head and said, “I think there may be some flaws in your plan, but as Dante and I can’t think of anything better, we think it’s a very good idea”
For the rest of the day they got to know Hugo better, and helped him realize he needn’t live in the shed anymore. In fact it turned out Hugo was an expert doodle dasher and better at sharing bestest ballies than either Dante or Harley had ever been!
While resting after a particularly long dash, Lily-Poo told Hugo her plan. As she finished talking she saw that Hugo’s eyes were leaking and noticed they were refusing to stop. Eventually Hugo found a little breath to speak, “Nobody has ever been this kind to me, and I will never be able to thank you. With your help I will never go hungry or be afraid of stormy nights again”.
Nobody said a word on the way back to the train. On the platform they said their ‘Good-Byes’ to Hugo and Lily-Poo, each giving Lily-Poo an extra squeeze for courage. Hugo’s future was in her hands now and it was up to her to make sure Hugo found his forever home and the happiness he deserved.
Nobody spoke on the way home either, preferring to sit quietly with their thoughts, and the journey seemed to take ages. Eventually DeDe, Dante and Phoebe jumped off the train and said their ‘Good Bye’s’ to Harley, who had two more stops over the marsh to his home.
As Dante & DeDe walked up the hill to home, Dante pondered on what an unusual day it had been, and thought this may be the reason he felt so tired. It had been a serious day, with plenty of concerns and he couldn’t wait to get to bed.
After supper Dante and DeDe snuggled into bed and fell into a long deep sleep. Nothing disturbed them until the sparrows starting chatting. DeDe woke first, and the moment she opened her eyes she remembered everything about their trip to meet Hugo. Had Lily-Poo been able to sneak Hugo into her house? Had the furless two legs agreed to help him? She couldn’t wait to see Lily-Poo and hear what had happened.
Soon it was time to get the train to Camber, and as they ran down the hill to the station, DeDe could see Dante was in better spirits and humming his little tune. That’s what she liked about Dante, he never let things get him down for too long. A sad day is always followed by a happy one, she thought.
When they got to the beach they were surprised to see Lily-Poo already there! They rushed over to greet her eager to know what had happened to Hugo. They quickly settled down and Lily-Poo started to talk.
“After Hugo and I left you at the station, we ran quickly back home and I let him in the back door. Luckily, none of the furless two legs were home, Hugo had a good look around so the place didn’t feel too strange for him. He tried out my bed and sniffed my toys before eating what was left in my bowl. We were both exhausted after our day, so went for nap by the fire.
“We were woken by loud voices shouting about a terrible smell and something about a dead rat or other. There was much running around, looking here and there to discover where the smell was coming from. All this noise and commotion made Hugo frightened and he ran for the door. When he found he couldn’t get out, he hid under the kitchen table. Sometimes our furless two legs are silly because if they had asked me about the smell I would have introduced them to Hugo gently and it wouldn’t have made him so scared.
“Eventually after more shouting about smells and laundry and kids trainers, the furless two legs found Hugo crouching under the table. Suddenly their voices changed from shouting about smells to lots of ‘Ooohs’ and ‘Aaaahs’ and ‘Come here lovely boy!"
"For the rest of the evening I could have been invisible. I got no cuddles or treats or anything, it was all about Hugo, and he got to sit in all the best places. Of course, he had to have a very long bath first, which I could tell he was not pleased about. Once Hugo was dry he smelt of mandarin and apple blossom, which the furless two legs thought preferable to ‘under the shed dirt’ and thankfully they started to close the windows.
“Once Hugo was dry I thought we would settle down nicely and watch a little tele but, no, the furless two legs had other ideas and wouldn’t put their little black boxes down. I reminded them I was here and that I needed cuddles too but, no, everything was still all about Hugo. Had they forgotten that without me Hugo wouldn’t even be here? I’m the hero, not him.
“While everyone was busy tapping and talking on their plastic black boxes, Hugo and I lay by the fire as it had been a very eventful day. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. I could see Hugo instantly recognized a vague scent above the mandarin and apple blossom. As the scent got stronger Hugo became excited and wouldn’t stop dancing.
“Two furless two legs walked into the room, both with very leaking eyes, and everyone started to talk very fast. There were more leaking eyes and by now Hugo was barking and dancing like I’d never seen him before. All this excitement had not been part of my plan! Why so much noise and activity, when Hugo should be settling quietly into his first night in his new home?"
“After what seemed hours of talking and excitement I began to understand that these furless two legs, at our door late at night, were in fact Hugo’s furless two legs! Yes! Hugo had furless two legs all the time, he had just lost them! Apparently Hugo had been reported missing for a long time. All that time his furless two legs had been looking for him, but they hadn’t thought to look under the derelict shed in the park."
“After even more talking Hugo's furless two legs made their way to the door to go home, before they left Hugo and I played one more bitey-face. I think it was his way of saying thank you’"
“Once the front door shut, peace and quiet returned and I had the choice of where to sit. I noticed I was given extra treats before bedtime, which must mean I been a good girl in helping Hugo. I tried to drift off to sleep, but every time I was nearly there, I woke thinking - what is that funny smell?”
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