Here is a little taste of my new book, ‘Taya Bayliss – Dog Sitter’. I hope you enjoy it.
The thief moved quietly around the room, from cabinet to cabinet, from table to table, picking things up, placing some items back in their positions and some into a black plastic bag.
This is so easy, the thief thought, walking along the corridor to enter the next room. The curtains were partially drawn, making this room shadowy and quite dark, even though the sun shone brightly outside.
The thief peeped through the gap in the curtains. There’s that wretched dog again. It visited the retirement village often and was quite a favourite with the residents. Now it was wandering around the garden, going from one old person to the next, accepting an ear rub or a pat at each stop.
The thief watched as the dog took a ball of wool from the rocking chair on the sun terrace and trotted off toward the gate that led out into the car park.
As long as you don’t get in my way, dog, the thief thought, smiling at the idea of two sneak thieves at work in Tall Pines Retirement Village.
From her perch on the railing that surrounded the tiny porch, Taya Bayliss observed Minette, Mr Dumont’s almost fully grown poodle, trotting briskly down the laneway. Her doggy lips curled back in what looked like a grin, she held a ball of purple wool carefully in her mouth.
Taya smiled at Minette, clicked her fingers, and held out a hand in greeting. Minette bounced up to the porch, dropped the wool, and kissed Taya’s hand with her long tongue. She seemed to be waiting for praise- to be told what a clever dog she was for hunting down and retrieving such a wonderful thing as this purple ball.
The city in the summer was an interesting place for a curious dog. It was full of smells both lovely and disgusting, pieces of rubbish in which to roll, and many hidden treasures for a passing pup to discover.
Taya patted Minette’s big head and tickled her floppy ears.
‘What have you been up to, Minnie,’ she asked. ‘Where did you find this? Are you going to take up knitting?’
Minette ignored this silly human suggestion and rolled over on to her back, cradling her ball of wool in her front paws. She began unraveling it. Taya giggled as she watched her. She is such a lovely dog. Taya had known Minette since Mr Dumont’s son, Pascal, had brought home the tiny, woolly puppy, which had now grown into a thirty kilogram dog. Mr Dumont had told Taya then that Minette was a poodle crossed with a golden retriever. She was a big, gentle, playful dog with a coat of golden, curly wool. She liked to greet people with a hug, standing up on her back legs and cuddling them. This could be quite startling if the person wasn’t expecting to be hugged by such a big dog, but Now Pascal was working overseas and Minette’s energetic and adventurous nature was becoming a problem for the Dumonts.
Glad of something to do, Taya jumped down from the rail. These school holidays were turning out to be long, hot, and dull.
‘Come on, Minnie. We have to get you home before anyone knows you’ve been out adventuring. You don’t want to be in trouble again, do you?’ she said and led the way along the laneway. Minette followed, wool in mouth, trailing a long line of purple behind her.
On one side of the lane was a parking lot that led to a supermarket. On the other side was an assortment of fences that closed off the small yards behind the shops that opened on to Grange Road. Mr Dumont’s yard had a rock wall with an iron gate. Taya checked it.
‘Minnie, the gate is still locked. How did you get out?’ she asked.
Minette turned her woolly head to look at Taya and made a huffing sound. With the wool still in her mouth, she turned, walked back to the neighbor’s gate and gave it a push with her head. It opened. She walked across the small yard to the side fence, crouched down on her belly and shimmied under the rickety pickets into the Dumont’s backyard. Taya watched in amazement.
‘Min, you are unbelievable! If Mr D. knows you can do that, he’ll chain you up.’
Minette huffed again and trotted to the back verandah where Mr Dumont liked to sit and smoke his cigars while he read the newspaper. Taya opened the gate, walked down the gravel path and sat down on the verandah beside Minette. Minette looked at her and made a wuff, wuff, wuff sound that sounded as though she was laughing. Taya laughed too.
‘Yeah, well, you might think this is funny, Min, but remember what happened last time you went out on one of your adventures? You took that policeman’s hat off the back of the chair while he was having coffee. Mr D. really freaked out that day. He was going to send you to the animal shelter. Think about that! What are we going to do with you?’
Minette wuff, wuff, wuffed again. She didn’t seem to be concerned about the situation. People puzzled her sometimes. They were very useful for filling up a dinner bowl or a water dish and for ear scratches and belly rubs, but they didn’t understand fun like dogs did.
She lowered her big head and nudged Taya. Taya giggled. Minette nudged her again and then performed a deep bowing stretch. She walked over to the edge of the verandah, jumped down and disappeared into the bushes.
‘Right then,’ Taya said. ‘Looks like we’re playing Hide and Seek. Coming, ready or not, Minnie!’
Counting to ten as she went, Taya followed Minette to the bushes. She could hear Minnie’s wuff, wuff, wuff coming from under the foliage. Kneeling down, Taya stuck her head into the middle of the bush.
‘Okay. Come out, come out, wherever you are,’ she called softly, looking around for a large woolly paw or tail. What she saw caused her to gasp in complete amazement.
‘Oh my goodness, Min. What have you done?’