Faith was not her usual contented self. She wasn’t happy about anything. Food tasted bland and her tongue felt like she had been licking out the cats’ bowl. With every breath foul, she drooled away whatever had died between her teeth. Her hair was sooty too from the morning’s adventure and she badly needed her nails trimmed.
Ken brought fresh water. ‘What’s the matter, girl? I hope you’re not getting sick. You’re going on a little holiday this afternoon.’
Faith lifted her head and licked his chin. She liked holidays and wondered what excitement they would have. Last time they went on a holiday she romped for hours on a farming property and chased butterflies until she was dizzy.
‘Yeah, I think you will enjoy a few days at the training school. I found one just right or you.’
Faith couldn’t believe her ears. What are you saying? What have I done? She whimpered.
‘It’s all right, Faith. Marnie will give you a shampoo and manicure while you’re there. You’ll like Marnie.’ He tickled her belly and scratched behind her ears. ‘You did great this morning finding that missing boy we thought had been caught in the fire. I don’t know how you found him but you did. Even the fire chief was surprised since you haven’t had any training for that sort of thing.’ He attached the lead to Faith’s collar and stood. ‘I’ll miss you, girl, but we both need a break. Come on, I’d better get you there before it gets too late.’
Faith sat in the front passenger seat beside Ken, her favorite place. He talked as he drove and tuned in to her favorite radio station. She had mixed feeling about the days ahead. I wonder if Marnie will clean my teeth. Maybe I’ll be able to taste my food again. She looked down at her toes where ash clung to her and nails. I’m surprised Ken let me sit on the seat the state I’m in. She looked out the side window. I guess if he’d hosed me off after work, I’d have been to wet for the cabin of the fire truck. Come to think of it, I’m glad he didn’t. There is no way I’d be dry enough now for Ken to let me travel in his new Twin Cab Ute. She sighed and tried to enjoy the passing view. She felt Ken’s hand rub her ear and listened to him sing along to the music.
After Faith had said her goodbyes, Marnie gave her a warm bubble bath, followed by a pedicure and a good brushing. Ah, this is the life. She closed her eyes while enjoying a good towel dry.
‘Have you ever seen one of these, Faith?’ Marnie held up a weird shaped gun.
‘It’s an electric dryer,’ Marnie continued. She aimed the gun at a nearby wall and flicked a switch before it began to purr. ‘See, if I point it at my hand, warm air blows out.’ She then lifted Faith’s paw to demonstrate.
Oh, this is sooo…good. She rolled onto her back to enjoy the rub and warmth. Mmm… I wonder if I get to take that gun home.
After she was totally dry, her favorite food of chicken and vegetables awaited her back at her kennel.
‘I think you deserve an early night. We have worked to do tomorrow. Good night, Faith. Sleep well.’
Faith yawned and turned in circles on the padded bed before settling down. She had just closed her eyes when they suddenly sprang open. Work? What Work? I thought this was supposed to be a holiday. Oh…that’s right. Ken said something about a training camp.
It was after an enjoyable breakfast when Marnie came for Faith. ‘Let’s get you to the gym.’
‘Gym? You have got to be joking.’ She considered returning to her comfortable bed but that would be disobedience. She hung her head. Groan. OK, where’s this gym?
Marnie led Faith around the perimeter of a room before stopping by a haphazard pile of hessian sacks that smelt of dirt, potatoes and straw.
‘Good girl, now I want you to have a good smell of this jacket.’
Faith sniffed the jacket that Marnie held in front of her. Then waited.
Marnie then led her back across the room to where a man was polishing his shoes and sat beside him. ‘Jack, this is Faith. Faith, meet Jack.’
After the introductions Marnie showed Faith the jacket again. ‘Faith, help me find the person who owns this jacket.’
Um… well it don’t belong to your friend here. The shoe polish made her sneeze. She sniffed the jacket again before pushing her way behind Marnie. With her nose to the floor she walked in a wide circle.
‘That’s it, Faith. Keep going.’ Marnie stood and followed her; the lead suddenly tightened between them causing Marnie to lurch forward.
Oh come on, Marnie. Catch up. Faith headed back to the sacks, sniffed some more than went around them. Behind the sacks was a door that stood slightly ajar. Using her paw she opened the door wide enough to get through. There behind the door sat a little girl.
The girl giggled. ‘She found me, Mummy.’
Marnie bent down to pat Faith. ‘ Yes, she did, Sarah.’ She handed Faith a small doggy chew. ‘ Good girl.’
‘Can we do that again?’ Sarah stood and hugged Faith around the neck. ‘Please, Mummy.’
‘Yes, but remember Sarah, finding missing children…and grown ups, isn’t a game.’
‘I know, but it is a bit like hide and seek.’
‘I suppose it is but try and be serious.’
Sarah made a serious face. ‘Like this?’
Marnie laughed and Faith licked Sarah’s face making her giggle again.
‘OK, you two. Let’s get back to work.’
For the rest of the morning Marnie, Sarah and Jack took turns of hiding but Faith never knew who was next or where they were until she had sniffed them out.
‘You’re going to make a good tracker,’ Marnie told Faith while she filled a bowl with fresh water.
‘Will I make a good missing child, Mummy?’
‘I hope you will never go missing but just think of all the missing people Faith will help rescue in the bush or after a disaster.’
‘What if they get lost in the Mall?’
‘I’m sure Faith will find them. She’s one smart dog.’
Once Faith drank her fill she nudged Sarah with her nose and pawed gently at her shorts.
‘You know, Sarah, I think Faith would really enjoy chasing that tennis ball that you have in your pocket. Why don’t you take her out to play with her while I phone Ken to let him know how her training is progressing.’
Faith barked and danced in a circle.
‘She is smart, Mummy. I think she understands everything we say.’ Sarah carefully opened the gate that led to the grass area behind the row of dog enclosures. ‘Come on, Faith. It’s playtime. No more training until tomorrow.
© Chrissy Siggee