IVAN’S TALE, this version is dedicated to Eve Clair O’Sullivan for her first birthday on September 2019, BY CATRYN POWER

IVAN’S TALE
By
CATRYN POWER

 

CHAPTER 1. ON MY OWN
I remember when I was born, my Mum constantly cleaned me with her tickly tongue, and kept me warm, when I wriggled under her belly. I also got plenty of milk from her. In the beginning there were three of us, but within a few days, my mum wouldn’t wake up, no matter how much myself and my two sisters prodded her or jumped up and down on her. Mum didn’t move all night. When we had tried all our efforts to wake her, we fell asleep next to her warm belly. By the following morning, we were all very cold and the three of us huddled together to get some warmth. Mum had got very cold and uncomfortable during the night. Late the following morning the farmer came in and  shook his head when he saw Mum. He brought some straw into our pen, and at the same time took Mum away. We never saw her again. The vet called that day and we heard him talking in a low voice to the farmer Joe McMahon and his wife Kathleen. The words ‘poisoned’ and ‘hadn’t a chance’ were whispered. For those few days with Mum, I felt very secure.

Within a few days, I was on my own. My two sisters were given to a kind-looking man and his young daughter. They talked to the farmer about their own female collie dog who had puppies that died, and that my two sisters would be fed by this mother. I was happy for them, but I cried as I missed them terribly. The straw was a poor replacement for the warmth of my sisters and my Mum. It was cold at first and the stalks of straw stuck into my puppy skin, sometimes uncomfortably. I had been moved into a box, and brought into the farmer’s kitchen, where the farmer’s wife fed me from a little plastic bottle. My lips got very sore from this hard surface. They even bled. Then it was difficult to eat for a few days. I had been placed in a little wooden box, near the fireplace. It was very lonely and I shivered a lot. A black cat, called Susan, often came into the kitchen and having looked at me with utter contempt, went on her way again. The farmer Joe and his wife Kathleen were very kind, but they never cuddled or tickled me. They were too busy with their animals and work.

During my stay on the floor of the kitchen, I had a few hair-raising moments. A black duck, called Jet, waddled in quickly one morning with Mrs. McMahon running after. Before he was shooed out, he had headed in my direction and pecked at me several times. What an odd creature! Jet actually pecked at my forehead and made it bleed. I yelped. With that Mrs. McMahon shooed him with her sweeping brush, as quickly as she could. She then dabbed my head with a piece of cotton with a horrid smell, and which stung me. A little later my head was much better.

Another day the two small children, Michael and Louise, from the nearby farm came into the kitchen, without Mrs. McMahon knowing. They picked me up and put me into a bucket, then ran out of the house and across the yard. They filled the bucket with mud from the pig sty and plonked me into it. I yelped and yelped, as I couldn’t move. I was stuck firmly in the mud. The two children, Michael and Louise, then brought the bucket, with me in it, and placed it in the milking parlour. Michael and Louise then ran off, laughing loudly at their fun! It was freezing in there. The mud was so cold, and it was raining outside. I continued to whine and whine. No one would hear me here, as the cows had been milked already and the parlour was cleaned. I would freeze here. What a naughty boy and girl! Then I heard barking. It was Sadie, the brown and white Collie. She
had come back with the farmer from tending to the cattle. I whined as loud as I could. Please hear me, Sadie!

When Sadie saw the kitchen door open, she darted in, and seeing my empty box, she barked. ‘What’s up, Sadie? You are not allowed in the kitchen, girl!’ The farmer Mr. McMahon asked as he peered into the kitchen. ‘Where is the pup?’ The farmer asked. Sadie darted in and out of the farm buildings, all around the farmyard, into the hen house, the pig house, the machinery shed, and could not see any pup. At this stage all of the farm animals had been disturbed. The hens were in everyone’s way, clucking and gossiping. The piglets were jumping up and down on the adult pigs. The cats, including Susan, had run for cover, and had climbed onto the roofing of some of the sheds. With all of this noise, my whining could not be heard. Then Sadie arrived at the milking parlour. With all my might I tried to cry out as loud as I could, but I was so exhausted, that no sound came out. With that, I flopped in the bucket, as I tried to squirm in that cold sticky mud. Then the bucket turned over and made a loud noise as it bounced off some metal piping. Sadie arrived to find me barely moving, where I had toppled out of the bucket. The farmer came in swiftly and picked me up, saying ‘What the heck! Who put you into this mess? You need some urgent warming up, Pup. Good girl, Sadie. He tucked me under his coat, and brought me back to the kitchen, where Kathleen his wife was running around excitedly. She had just arrived back to the kitchen and had discovered that my box was empty. She frowned when the farmer placed me in her hands. ‘Who would do such a nasty thing? She asked her husband. He replied, ‘I have my suspicions. Sadie had followed us in and reached up to lick my face. Mrs. McMahon then got a small basin of warm water with suds, and washed me carefully, first taking off all of the caked mud. In a short time, she had tucked me in a woolly blanket in my box and placed me on a shelf near the big oven. I heard her locking the kitchen door, as I fell asleep with the soothing warmth all around me.

 

CHAPTER 2. THE ‘NOT SO NICE’ POSTMAN
I could hear a strange loud voice in the kitchen. I had been curled up in my box. It was very early in the morning. A large hairy hand appeared at the top of my box. As I cowered back the hand lifted me out by the scruff of the neck and left me dangling in the air. I yelped. The strange new voice and the hairy hand belonged to a tall man. He had black greasy curly hair, and on the middle of his face was the most crooked ugly nose. The farmer’s wife was in the kitchen also. “Mr. McMahon said that you were looking for a home for this little fellow?” queried the big man. ‘I was doing my rounds and I had a chat with him, as I was driving down the lane. I was just telling him that I was looking for a pup for the little one. She finds the Doberman too much to handle. A small dog would be suitable for our Sophia’, he continued. The farmer’s wife, replied ‘Tommie, don’t you think that you have enough with such a large dog already? And isn’t your daughter, Sophia, a bit on the young side for a pup?’ The big man laughed and said ‘Not at all, woman; we can manage two dogs. As for Sophia, she’s way above her three years and loves animals. Tell Mr. McMahon that I will take him off your hands. You have enough to do with the farm and all of that at his time of year. I will take him now in fact. It will save me coming back later. When I finish delivering the first lot of post, I will be going home for my tea break. So he will be grand’.

With that, before Mrs. McMahon could say anything, he had shoved me into the box, covered it and was going out of the kitchen door, when she stopped him. ‘The pup hasn’t been fed yet and in fact we have someone else that wants the pup’. She said as she offered to take the box from him. Tommie was too quick, and as he reached for his van, and put the box in the rear, he replied ‘Well, Mam, your husband said that he was mine if I liked him. Tell him I like him and he’ll be well looked after. The missus will give him breakfast. Good day!’ Tommie, the postman got into the van and drove off up the country lane. I was in my box and it wobbled all the time that I was in that van. The postman’s van jolted each time it stopped and started, for him to deliver the post so that I finally got sick all over myself. I curled up as much as possible in the box, but he drove so fast and over such bumpy roads that I felt terrible. There was a stench and the vomit on my fur dried out quickly, which didn’t help.

It must have been an hour later, he stopped the van, and as he opened the rear door, he exclaimed ‘What a stink, you little rotter! No way am I cleaning you up. Marella, my wife, can do that, if she wants a pup so badly’. He grabbed the box and banged the van door. As he opened the door to a very small house, a very small plump girl, with an equally very small plump woman were inside the hallway. ‘Daddy, daddy what did you get? Is it the guinea pig? Please let it be the guinea pig. I want a guinea pig. It stinks. Yuk.’ said Sophia, the little girl. ‘It’s a pup that a farmer didn’t want. Your mother can clean the pup. I had enough of him in the van. Here Marella, he’s all yours’, uttered Tommie the postman, with a look of disgust, handing the box to Marella. ‘Thanks Tommie. You know that we have enough of a dog with Snowie. You can’t keep getting Sophia everything she wants. She will be spoilt in no time at all’, Marella pointed out. Sophia kept saying ‘But where is my guinea pig? I don’t want another dog, especially a smelly pup. I want a guinea pig. I am going to cry until I make myself sick’. Her mother stared at her, without saying a word, until she quietened.

At this stage I was hungry, tired and feeling sick from the smell and the journey. Marella got a basin, filled it with warm sudsy water. Once again in a short time, I found myself having a bath. It felt soothing until the little one, Sophia, kept ducking my head in the water, when her mother turned her head. After an age, Marella dried me in a soft towel and put me in another box, with clean newspaper. I whimpered, as I was hungry. With that, Sophia gave me a whack on the back, ‘Naughty pup, mustn’t make noise’, she shouted. Just then, Marella came back with a bowl of soft food, which she spoon-fed to me. Then I was put back in my box and was placed in a large tea chest in a very dark room which was probably a garage. The door was shut. Clang with a bang!

I fell asleep, but not for long. I looked up when I heard a growl. Looking into my box was this colossal head with black and brown splodges on its big terrifying-looking face, and on top of this head were the largest pointed ears that one can imagine. I cowered under the newspaper. With a shake of its head, and its flabby mouth, all manner of liquid showered down on me. I was lucky to be under the newspaper! It growled again and said gnashing his gigantic teeth ‘Hey kid, I’m Snowie, and I rule this house. So, don’t get in the way, like the last pup, or you will end up in my belly as minced and munched meat! If I could reach into your deep box, I would chew you now, but they obviously want to keep you for some reason or other. If you are lucky you might get a walk a day but apart from that, all you will see is the inside of this room’. With that, he growled and went into a dark corner. Soon after, I heard a huge snort, and then a constant mighty snore. Even with this noise, and great fear in my little body, I fell asleep softly crying, thinking of my lovely mum and my dear sisters and the kind farmer Mr. McMahon and his wife Kathleen. I think I even heard a sort of a sob coming from the mighty Snowie, in his dark corner.

 

CHAPTER 3. BEAGLE OR LABRADOR?
The following morning, I waited and waited for food but no one came. Even the large ugly dog complained. He decided to bark out loud, so I joined him. Even though my voice was soft, I thought that we made a good tune. Still no one came. Once again I had messed my box, and I tried to sit in a corner, where I wouldn’t get dirty. The smell was not pleasant. I was hungry and thirsty.

It was very bright when the young girl Eve came into the garage. She talked to Snowie, who was very happy to see her. She patted his head and put some nuts in a bowl and some water in a second bowl. Hurry up, I thought, I need those too. Eve then crept over to the box where I was lying. ‘Oh you little darling, what a mess you are in’ I found myself once more in a bath being scrubbed all over with sudsy water! What did I do to deserve that many baths? How lovely!

Eve continued talking to me.’ I bet that naughty Sophia wasn’t a bit nice to you. She got what she deserved this morning. She ran away from her mother Marella, when she was out walking, and ran into a field, where cows were grazing on the grass. Her mother called her, and she refused to come back. Marella headed into the field after Sophia who started to panic as the herd of cows saw her and galloped in her direction. Her mother picked up a big stick and shooed the herd back. In the meantime, Sophia had run to the field fence. She didn’t see the big cow pat under her feet and went sliding along through it until she stopped at the hedging at the field fence. She was covered in cow poo. She screamed and screamed until she made herself sick.’ Eve giggled and tickled me until I curled up in a ball, because it was too much tickling for me.

‘I wonder what type of dog you are’. Eve said, ‘You have big floppy ears and saggy lips and skin on your neck like a basset hound. Your paws are big like a basset’s but your face is like that of a beagle or labrador. I think you are a beagle. You like to go hunting and you will have a big bark, not now, but when you are a big dog. You will also have an amazing howl, and when you are teased you will make an extraordinary sound’. ‘Let’s go for a short walk. I will take you out later, Snowie. Poor Snowie, he has been locked in here for months and his owner will not walk this lovely dog. Tommie walks him when he wants to be seen with him, as he thinks it makes him look good. He is very strong, aren’t you Snowie? You are just a big noise! Little puppy, don’t be afraid of him; he’s all growl and no bite!’

Snowie perked his ears and looked at Eve. ‘‘All growl and no bite!’ Cheek. I will show her’. Snowie barked and then growled at Eve, but she just laughed and pretended to be afraid. Snowie was delighted, when Eve said ‘Don’t frighten the pup. He will think it’s a serious growl’. ‘Well done kid, I think we will get on very well’ Snowie said, as he lay down.

Eve and I walked along the seafront and it was cool and breezy. She rolled on the grass and left the sun warm me. Eve rolled on the grass with me too, and we both lay in the sun, until it was time to go ‘I wonder what type of dog you are’. Eve said, ‘You have big floppy ears and saggy lips and skin on your neck like a basset hound. Your paws are big like a basset’s but your face is like that of a beagle or labrador. I think you are a beagle. You like to go hunting and you will have a big bark, not now, but when you are a big dog. You will also have an amazing howl, and when you are teased you will make an extraordinary sound’.

‘Let’s go for a short walk. I will take you out later, Snowie. Poor Snowie, he has been locked in here for months and his owner will not walk this lovely dog. Tommie walks him when he wants to be seen with him, as he thinks it makes him look good. He is very strong, aren’t you Snowie? You are just a big noise! Little puppy, don’t be afraid of him; he’s all growl and no bite!’

Snowie perked his ears and looked at Eve. ‘‘All growl and no bite!’ Cheek. I will show her’. Snowie barked and then growled at Eve, but she just laughed and pretended to be afraid. Snowie was delighted, when Eve said ‘Don’t frighten the pup. He will think it’s a serious growl’. ‘Well done kid, I think we will get on very well’ Snowie said, as he lay down.

Eve and I walked along the seafront and it was cool and breezy. She rolled on the grass and left the sun warm me. Eve rolled on the grass with me too, and we both lay in the sun, until it was time to go.

 

CHAPTER 4. THE CARDBOARD BOX.                                                                                            It was a dark night.  I was curled up in a box, stuffed with newspaper to keep me warm. I could hear the wind swirling all around us. Eve held me in the box while we waited on the side of the road. We had left the house very quietly and walked for about two or three minutes in the rain. We stopped under a large chestnut tree and waited. The rain came down heavily at first and then it eased. Eve talked to me all of the time, in a soothing voice. ‘Not long more’, she said. Then a flash of light appeared. A Morris Minor stopped and a woman got out and opened a rear door. Eve placed me on the back seat. As she went away, she said ‘Good luck’ to me and the occupant of the car. I could see tears in her eyes, as she closed the car door. She waved and that was the last I saw of her for a long time. She had been very kind.

A hand reached into the car. I put my head down and hid in the box. The hand reached further in and as it was about to catch me, I snatched it with my teeth. ‘Ouch’, the woman called Lorraine, said, ‘It bit me, he actually bit me! Poor creature, he must be terrified’. She put her hand in again and this time got me by the scruff of the neck; I should have said ‘Ouch’ but in dog language, it would have made no difference to this human. As she stroked me on the head, it actually felt lovely and comforting. She scratched my ears and it was so good. She sat the box into the back of the car and as I sat in my box, it wasn’t that bad. It was much better than being in the van of the postman, Tommie. Picking up dogs in boxes and tickling their ears and head. Is that what this lady Lorraine does? But where were all of the other dogs? Not in the Morris Minor. Where were they then? So it was a trick. She really was going to do something horrid with me. No! Let me out of here! Help! I struggled to get out of the box. The girl went to the back of the car and placed her hands on my head. ‘Wow, Puppy, no one’s going to hurt you. Take it easy’, she said. She scratched my ears again. That worked.

I had never felt like that before; no stroking like that since I sat with my Mum. That seemed like ages ago. Lorraine continued talking to me while she was driving, ‘I have no intention of keeping you. It will only be until I find you a good home. I have advertisements everywhere, on the local radio and any newspaper that I could find. Some lovely person will want you. But you do have huge paws. I could not let you stay in those horrible conditions with the postman. You are going to be a big dog! Two dogs are much too many in my house’. As the Morris finally reached its destination, and the woman, called Lorraine stroked my head and ears again (oh so lovely), I began to enjoy this event. I had forgotten about anything horrid happening.

The car had arrived at in Ballincollig with lots of houses and shops. My box, with myself inside, was taken from the car and into the house. I was then transferred from my box and placed on the floor of a hallway. There in front of me at the end of the hallway was a huge orange and very hairy animal, which they called Dotty. I had heard of a fox but never saw one previously. Dotty bounded towards us, leaping and barking. He had very short legs and seemed to fly each time he jumped. Then his eyes saw me, and I curled into a ball. Oh no, he’s going to eat me, a fox’s dinner, and I thought life was bad in the last place. He bounded almost on top of me. As I toppled over, I tried to set myself upright again. He placed his wet snout on me and I froze. Then he started smelling me and licking me all over. He licked me with such force that I tumbled over several times. Lorraine laughed at this activity. I really didn’t know whether I should pretend to be dead, or to just enjoy. Dotty turned me upside down with his snout and rolled me around. He then started barking and panting, while he performed an amazing spin, like a whirling dervish. He was so fast. After several minutes, I realised that Dotty meant no harm. He was no fox! I learnt that he was a Corgi, a dwarf dog used to hunt cattle a long time ago in Wales.

I was given some soft meat, the like which I never had before, in my short life. It was covered in gravy, they said. I was in heaven. Dotty was not with me for the night’s sleep. Maybe he didn’t sleep. I heard him nearby bouncing around and still sniffing long after I was put in my box with a lovely soft fleecy blanket. I heard Lorraine say ‘Dotty, go to bed. Be quiet. You can see that pup tomorrow.’  I had a good end to my day. I wonder how long I will be here before I am moved again. 

 

CHAPTER 5. ‘THE TASMANIAN DEVIL’                                                                           Lorraine tried to tie me up with a rope the following morning. I thought she was a good person. So I got a mighty fright. She tied the rope around my neck, lifted me up in her arms, and brought me out of the house. Once again I was so scared. Then she sat me on the footpath and pulled me a little by the rope. I was having none of this cruelty, so I lay down, resting my head on my front paws. Lorraine laughed and looking at me she said ‘So you are having none of this?’ She gave the rope another little tug. What to do next, I was thinking. Lorraine tried tugging my leash numerous times but it was no good. I would not budge. She couldn’t do anything to me. Hurray! I won the rope battle.  I then rolled over on my back and I received the most wonderful tickles. She called me ‘A little rascal’.

I heard some huffing and puffing and Dotty the corgi came bounding out of the house. He nearly knocked Lorraine over. ‘Walkies, walkies’ he roared excitedly ‘Let’s have a race, shortie. Come on. Let’s have some fun. Race, race, race. See who is fastest’. Dotty was so busy being stark raving mad at the thought of a walk that he had not licked me all over or pushed me with his snout. With that Lorraine put a rope around Dotty’s neck and a young girl called Ella took the rope and walked with him. Dotty tried to run with his very short legs. I ran after him with a huge effort.

As I ran after Dotty the Corgi, Ella was saying ‘Woh boy, take it easy, slow down, Ivan. ‘Who is Ivan’, I asked Dotty. He shouted back ’That’s your new name. Lorraine said you looked like an Ivan’ whatever that is. She did say that you had a face with flabby jowls, just like some singer that had a similar name, Van, and you couldn’t sing. Another thing, the rope is a leash, not a rope, you goose!’ I replied ‘I am a goose? What’s that?’ ‘Never mind. Don’t ask so many questions. You have a lot to learn.’ Dotty shouted as he laughed. Dotty was so clever. I wish that I could be clever like that­ someday.

Lorraine and Ella brought Dotty and me to the regional park so that we could run loose for a while on our own. On the way home and passing the castle, there was a large noise coming from a side road. I ecognised the sound of Enemy Number 1, The Tasmanian Devil, or Henry as his owner called him.

Henry had a whirling sausage-shaped body which came hurtling at me at a mighty speed. He was a brown and white dog who hated everything that looked like a dog. He may have been a Jack Russell breed of dog but one couldn’t be sure. His owner, the lollypop man had left him off his lead, and so he was a nuisance to everyone especially those who had a dog. He flung himself on top of me and tried to bite me on the tail but missed. He ran around us several times growling and snapping. He was going so fast that he went into a spin and lost control and rolled onto the road. A large truck had to put on its breaks and try to stop as quickly as the driver could.  With a big screech of the breaks, the lorry halted and out came the frightened male driver, who was now an angry driver. Lorraine had lifted me up in her arms, as we looked on. The driver roared at the lollypop man ‘You should have that animal on a leash and control it in some way. I nearly drove over him, and as for stopping suddenly, the driver who was behind me was shocked and was lucky that he hadn’t bumped into the rear of my truck or another car. I could have driven over your dog, but I am too kind to do that. Please put him back on the leash, or I will get very angry and you will not want to see me like that.

The lollypop man put Henry on his leash and kept muttering ‘My Henry does nothing wrong. It’s that young beagle that is at fault’. The driver went red in the face and roared at the lollypop man. ‘The pup did nothing wrong. Don’t blame him. You should make sure that this doesn’t happen again. I think that you are not even able to mind a cat, never mind a mad dog such as yours’. The driver then got back into his truck, and was just about to drive off, when some children who were watching all of this, got off their school bus, meowing very loudly and saying to the lollypop man, whom they disliked, singing ‘I think you are not even able to mind a cat, a cat, a cat’. The lollypop man was red-faced and scurried off with Henry as quickly as he could.

When I had been living with Dotty and Lorraine for a few months, one morning when we were going on one of our usual short routes, for a walk, we stopped at the field where the castle was located. I rolled in the grass and Dotty chased me. We ran up and down the moat of the castle.

Then I could hear Lorraine calling us ‘Dotty and Ivan, come on’. She was waving furiously. As I was at the edge of the river, I walked into it, and paddled along the water’s edge. Then I heard a lot of noise and commotion. I looked up and saw Henry bolting towards me. There was no sign of his owner. He headed straight for the water and my direction. At the same time Dotty had been sniffing around the little field, when he heard the noises. Then Henry entered the water and started swimming towards me. What to do I thought? The water seemed a safer place, so I went in further and as Henry came towards me, I went out even further in the water. Henry could even pounce when he was swimming. So pounce, he did and grabbed my bottom with his sharp front teeth. I screeched and screeched as his teeth sunk into my flesh. Then in a flash, Henry let me go. Dotty had charged out and zoomed across the water in no time at all. Once in the water, he pushed Henry who had been hanging off me with his teeth. Then an unbelievable thing happened. Dotty caught Henry by the neck and pushed Henry’s head into the water, and held it under the water as if he was being drowned. In fact, he would have drowned only for Ella arrived and went into the water to stop Dotty. With that Henry swam as if Dotty had been following him. Henry ran out of the water, and across the road in between the traffic, and up a side road. He wasn’t seen for days. It turned out that he would always be afraid of Dotty. So in future any time that Henry saw us, he scampered across to the opposite side of the road, to avoid been attacked by the brave Dotty. However, if I was on my own Henry, the Tasmanian devil was always ready to attack me. I would never be a fighter. The lollypop man would always have that bully Henry off the leash, so that whirling dog was a constant pest and he would always single me out. However, Lorraine and Ella would always come to my assistance.

 

EPILOGUE                                                                                                                                         Ivan did not know that he would stay with Dotty and Lorraine until he was a very old dog. He would have many happy adventures with his owner Lorraine, and Ella and his canine pal Dotty. He would encounter many enemies such as Henry, the Tasmanian Devil, and Crow, the mad Black Labrador and other naughty dogs many times. He might even meet the lovely Eve Clair, and the ‘not so fierce’ Snowie as well as the farmers Mr. and Mrs. McMahon again. However, Dotty would always be there to mind him.

© 2014-2020. CATRYN POWER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

 

 

 

 

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