A Chapter by Tertia 🌒

Barney was an ex-metal detector dog and hankered after his old life. He would often race around the garden, his nose to the ground and sometimes forgetting where he was go out to the lane at the back. During the week I would secretly bury scraps of iron and tin for him and it would take him no time at all to find them; he knew the game. As he was trained he would stand by the unearthed piece barking loudly until I came out and picked up the metal looking please and praised him with strokes, biscuits and off-cuts of meat.

When I bought Barney from St Phillips dogs home he had come with a long history. As a puppy and young dog he was trained as a gun dog. He’d then worked for Scotland Yard in bomb disposal and then the CIA as a drugs and metal detector dog. He was retired through injury having been caught on the edge of a controlled explosion. He’d been paid wages for those twelve years which had gone to his owner and now at the age of thirteen was on a 50% pension of £45 a week for the rest of his life. No one had wanted him because of his age and high price. They hadn’t told anyone about his pension until I’d paid for him. I usually took Barney across the tumps or down to the beach where there would be stuff he could find, but sometimes we went to the fields that were littered with abandoned mine shafts.

One day we went to the fields. I opened the hatch and Barney raced out of the car, his golden brown coat catching the sun, his dark black eyes intent on some unknown target. I let him go and walked along the path while he was out of sight. There were a series of paths in the fields and you had to know which way to go otherwise you got lost or run into a dead end or a mine entrance.

‘Come on, Barney, come,’ I called and whistled. I walked on to a crossroads in the paths and turned left, keepIng me to the edge of the fields. I heard nothing from him. It was usual that he ignored me as he often got distracted. A couple holding hands walked by me, I said hello to them and it made me think of my loneliness and that the only friend I had in the world now was Barney. The wind had got up and the sky was looking broody. I gave out a loud, sharp whistle, but there was no sound of scampering of feet, no rustling of the grass or panting breath. I decided to walk on to the hedge and then turn back. I was annoyed. Where is that damn runaway dog I said to myself.

I started back, retracing my steps and calling out. I went back to the Subaru knowing something was wrong, but I wasn’t worried as he’d been in the police and the CIA. I passed the couple.

‘I’ve lost my dog,’ I said in a mock distressed tone. They laughed.

‘What type is he?’ the man said

‘He’s a brown Springer cross,’

‘We’ll keep an eye out,’ the woman said. I walked on by them and checked a couple of shafts before checking the entrance of the Mother Mine.

‘Barney are you in there?’ my voice echoed in the dark mouth of the tunnel. It was the entrance to a system of mines and was flat to start off with, but then suddenly dropped. I whistled a couple of times. Nothing. I moved off, but at the last heard a faint whimpering.

‘Oh my god,’ I ran into the mine and was hit by a wall of cold air and darkness. I felt the cold air coming up from below and turned on my torch. I shone it down the first shaft, he wasn’t there. He wasn’t in the second either, but there he was at the bottom of the third. He lay on his side whimpering. It was at least twenty metres down and there was no ladder. ‘I can’t leave you here. I’m going to get the fifty metre nylon rope. You stay here,’

‘Woof,’ Barney barked softly. I ran back to the car and got the rope, ran back and tied it to the top of the shaft. I scaled down the shaft. I was in my fifties and overweight and so it was difficult. I got to Barney, he was bleeding, he’d broken a leg and it looked like his ribs too. I went to pick him up and he growled, ready to bite. He had never done that before.

‘Come on I’ve got to get you out of here,’ I said in a low voice. He dropped his head and closed his eyes. I made my shirt into a sling to put him in and scrambled back up. I put him in the Subaru and drove to the vets.

‘Between you and me, your me dog has had it,’ the vet said solemnly. ‘He’s got three broken ribs and a broken foot, a punctured lung and has lost a lot of blood from the fall.’

‘There must be something you can do,’ I said.

‘There are other issues from the scans. To be honest because of his age, it would be better if...’

‘No. No way. Do whatever you can.’

‘Yes, sure, your choice though,’ the vet said and went back to his work. Three weeks later I picked up Barney and a horrendous bill from the vets. Barney was just about able to walk, but when I got him home he rested and didn’t eat much. I went out walking on my own and Barney whimpered like mad when I went out the back door without him. I walked all the way to fields and bumped into the couple I had seen just before his fall.

‘We heard about your dog. Is he OK?’ the man said.

‘He’s on the mend,’ I said wondering how they knew. I looked at them, scanning them for clues, trying to read them, my mouth half open not knowing what to say without being rude.

‘Oh, we only know because. Well it’s a small community and word gets about,’ she said.

‘We’ll be out again soon, but won’t come this way. It seems like everywhere we go he finds trouble. Barney is an ex-metal detector dog. He worked for the police,’ I said proudly.

‘Oh really,’ they said in unison. They smiled at the thought of it as it was unusual.

‘He gets drawn to things and is unaware of the danger,’ I said going to move on.

‘Give him our love,’ the woman said.

‘Yes, I will. Thank you,’ I said, giving them eye contact. I then put my head down and went to the entrance to the Mother mine and untied the fifty metre nylon rope, checking the knot. It wasn’t the best and I was lucky it had held. I took a look down below with the torch and saw a pool of blood. I wondered how Barney had pulled through. He was made of tough stuff. I took the rope back and slung it in the back of the Subaru.Two months later we were out fully. I was careful where we went and kept Barney on the lead.

While Barney was sleeping I did a dry run for a new safer dog walk so I could let him run free. It took us through some back street houses, across a small section of industrial estate before it got out to the open countryside.

I kept him on the lead and only let him go when we’re half way across the first field. He bolted ahead the first few times, his ears back, his tongue slung out with excitement. This went on for two weeks, but on the fifteenth day the phone rang.

‘Hello,’ I said.

‘Is that you, Brodie?’ a female voice asked.

‘Yes, who’s that?’

‘It’s Sian,’

‘Sian, Sian, Sian,’ I said in a tuneful way, sounding undecided.

‘Dale’s wife,’ she said. Dale was my younger step-brother. He lived the other side of town, I didn’t see him much as we’d lost touch. I had gone to his wedding when he got re-married to Sian five or six years ago.

‘Oh, hi Sian, sorry I didn’ caught me off guard, your voice out of context,’

‘No worries,’ she said flatly. ‘I rang to say that Dale is in hospital. He’s had a heart attack,’ she started crying. I got upset too. Memories flashed before me.

‘Oh crikey, where is he?’ I said she didn’t reply and instead I found myself listening to her crying and not knowing what to say. ‘I hope he’s OK,’ the sobbing went on. After a minute it subsided and turned into nose blowing and deep breaths of fresh air.

‘At the Royal, ward 19,’ she said, her voice unsteady.

‘I’ll come in this week,’

‘Don’t leave it too late. This is serious,’

‘No, OK,’

‘Two till four. Bye Brodie, I’ve gotta go,’ Sian said croakily.

That day I took Barney out on our new route. I let him off the lead in the fields, but was so distracted about Dale, I hadn’t noticed that Barney had double-backed on me.

When I realised Barney wasn’t there a wave of panic washed over me and I floundered around not knowing what to do. I shouted, whistled and rattled the bag of treats, I went this way and that, turning back on myself and there was no response. I searched the immediate area and in my panic thought irrationally there might be mine shafts, knowing film well there aren’t any. Calming down, I retraced my steps. Back through the industrial estate, checking each unit one by one.

‘Barney, come to.’ I said and whistled loudly. The only response was the rushing of the breeze and the silence of the birds. I came to one of the last units, a scrap yard and somehow knew Barney would be there. Walking gingerly I called for him again. There was growling and snarling, Barney was in a stand off with a large Alsatian and didn’t look like backing down. ‘Come away, Barney now,’ I said angrily and he turned his head to me. The Alsation leapt forward and the two dogs span in a ball of dust. The Alsatian’s teeth had sunk in to Barney’s leg and once again blood poured out. I ran forward to get them apart, but as I did a shot rang out high in the air and the two dogs flew apart.

‘Get yer dag outta ‘ere,’ a gruff looking man shouted. He reloaded a rifle, not looking at me. Barney limped over and slowly we got home. The next day I took Barney to the vets and visited Dale in hospital. The vet, again was dismissive, but knew the colour of my money. Barney was given stitches, sedated and monitored overnight.

‘Your dog needs to stop getting into so many scrapes,’ the vet said as I was leaving. ‘Again he’s lost blood and the injury will affect his movement. You need to take more care,’ I nodded my agreement.

At the hospital Sian was crying at Dale’s bedside. Dale smiled when he saw me standing there with a gift wrapped bowl of fruit, he then fell asleep. I sat with Sian until we were told to go. On the way out we consoled each other in the car park. She was crying again.

‘I’ll be in tomorrow,’ I said.

‘Yes, me too, see you at two,’ she said. She walked off blowing her nose. When I got home the house was empty without Barney. I sat in the quiet just thinking. I didn’t eat anything or have a drink, I hoped everything would be back to normal, but knew Barney only had so long. Perhaps it was time to start planning a new Chapter...


© 2020 Tertia 🌒

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I love all the dog story, but I find myself wondering why there's a little bit of the brother story thrown in here? It seems like there isn't enuf of the brother story for the reader to sink his/her teeth in, so we're kinda left in a haze at the end. If this brother was worth putting into the story, then I would think that that final hospital scene would be a little more fleshed out . . . doesn't sound like it's even a mild concern to this narrator really. And this feels like a weird lukewarm contrast to the intensity with which you told the dog parts of this story. Your storytelling is top-notch & your sense of dialogue & action, everything, make this read like a professional story. The lukewarm brother mystery is only a small part of an overall well-written story (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 1 Month Ago

As an ex English Springer Spaniel owner many times over. I can empathise with your story. One of our dogs named Peanuts would insist on exploring forbidden parts of a wood. One day he got through the wooded area and went on to an electrified railway line. I managed to grab him just before he decided to go walkies, over the lines. We had lots of Springers. There was Winnie, William, Peanuts, Hellyar, to mention just a few! Now, all we have are photos and lovely memories! Thank you very much!

Posted 2 Months Ago

Tertia 🌒

2 Months Ago

Yes, similar, had a Cocker Spaniel blue Roan who was beautiful, taken early by the big C.

2 Months Ago

How sad! I'm sorry to hear that!
Tertia 🌒

2 Months Ago

Thank you, keep writing 😊
Your stories always make me so happy and exciting ...Dear tertia

Posted 2 Months Ago

Tertia 🌒

2 Months Ago

Ha ha, that’s good and thank you
This is different...I could visualise Barney's adventures well...quite a character that is never without a story :) A home without a dog is not a home...interesting tale.

Posted 2 Months Ago

Tertia 🌒

2 Months Ago

Thank you. There isn’t another chapter to this story because I haven’t written it, but if there .. read more
There are some similarities with disabled veterans and the dog in this story. It's good work.

Posted 2 Months Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Tertia 🌒

2 Months Ago

Thanks for the story, that was interesting - I could imagine this
Wild Rose

2 Months Ago

Vulcan is still around > Slower now but still loved, living the life of a family pet
Tertia 🌒

2 Months Ago

Nice 😊 work if you can get it

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5 Reviews
Added on May 16, 2020
Last Updated on June 20, 2020
Tags: Companionship, friendship, company, love, persona, strength, survival, CIA, metal, detector, police, runaway, risk, danger, pet, walk, happiness, death, attack, fall, mine


Tertia 🌒
Tertia 🌒

United Kingdom

I write Short Stories and will add content on an ongoing basis. I’m a working man with a demanding job and live in SW England, I’ve been writing in my spare time for over ten years and am .. more..


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