The Dog Trial

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

When Sam starts work at the builders yard, the person that makes the biggest impression is the guard dog, Mutley.

Sam Philips pushed open the creaking metal gate and went into the builder’s yard. He almost tripped over a pile of bricks as he crossed the cluttered yard. Movement caught his eye. He turned to see an Alsatian dog running straight towards him. He swore and raised his arms in an attempt to protect himself from the impending mauling. He closed his eyes as the beast neared, feeling the hot breath of the hound. A paw politely patted his leg.

Sam opened his eyes. The dog was sitting in front of him. He laughed and stroked the dog’s head. A man in a high-vis vest came out of a porta cabin.

‘Yes, pal? Can I help you?’

‘I’m Sam. I start work here today.’

‘Of course, yeah. I’m Connolly. And that,’ he pointed to the Alsatian who was currently spread out on the floor, licking himself, ‘is our new guard dog. It’s his first day, too. I hope you make a better labourer than Mutley does a guard dog.’

Connolly shook his head in disapproval.

Sam was introduced to the rest of the team and told that for now his role would be to help out where he could, and learn the ropes. Connolly was working on sites all across Greater Manchester and ran things from this hub. His second in command was Kathy, a pale woman with a don’t mess with me attitude. She reminded Sam of his sister, who, despite being the younger sibling, ran things the way Michael Corleone ran the Godfather crime family.

At lunchtime everyone was back in the yard. The staff would heat pre-packed meals in the microwave, dine on noodle pots or have sandwiches or toast. Those unfortunate enough to be having bread for their lunch found they had an added guest while they munched on their food. Mutley, the fluffy coated Alsatian, would sniff out his latest victim. Billy Gaffney, a barrel-chested Irishman, made himself comfortable on one of the battered old armchairs. He unpacked his spam sandwiches. He had no sooner peeled back the tin foil when Mutley appeared. The dog dropped in front of him as polite as a dinner guest. The hound’s eyes locked on Billy’s. Billy took a couple of bites from his butty. Finally he gave in. Brushing the crumbs from his beard, he shook his head.

‘Right, here you go.’ He said.

He handed the dog the remainder of his sandwich. Mutley gratefully wolfed down the butty as though he hadn’t been fed for days, and indeed, as if he hadn’t been snacking on the workers’ packed lunches for the past half hour.

The afternoon passed quickly. Sam got stuck in and worked hard, doing all he could. He had little skills but he was the pair of hands they needed. As he worked he would see Mutley parading around the yard. The dog would have a mooch and a sniff before flaking out and having a well-deserved nap. While he was sleeping, the builders worked around him. Every now and then when Mutley felt they were making too much noise, he would half open one eye, cast an accusing glance, before giving a deep groaning, growl that said, would you keep the noise down?

The workers would laughed but Connolly simply glared at the dog in disapproval. Sam heard him grumble about how Mutley was some flipping guard dog a dozen times that afternoon. Several times during the afternoon, when visitors called to the yard, if Mutley was awake and not occupied licking himself or engrossed in sniffing a particularly interesting section of the fence, he would go rushing up to the newcomer, tail wagging, and tongue flapping happily from his mouth. A quantity surveyor called Dennis had the pleasure of Mutley’s company for the entirety of his visit. The hound followed him all over the yard. Dennis, deep in conversation about a tender for Eccles shopping precinct, had to stop to tickle Mutley’s belly and rub his ears just the way he liked. Dennis laughed and called Mutley a villain.

‘Is this the company mascot?’ he asked.

‘That mutt is supposed to be a guard dog but he’s just not vicious enough.’

 

When Sam arrived at the builder’s yard the next morning there was a group of school children huddled around the gate. What was going on? Surely Connolly hadn’t opened the yard for school trips. The children seemed a bit young for work experience. As he neared he realised exactly what was occurring. The boys and girls in their school blazers, were reaching through the fence to fuss and stroke Mutley. Still laughing, Sam crossed the yard and went into the porta cabin. Connolly sipped tea from a stained white mug.

‘Have you seen the Littlest flaming Hobo, out there, entertaining his fans?’ Connolly said.

‘Bless him.’

Connolly swore.

Once the children had rushed off to school, Mutley had a similar day to his first on site. Lots of sleeping, sniffing and eating. The dog interrupted a meeting with an estimator to show off the new tennis ball he’d found. Connolly turned, red faced with anger, and launched a spirit level in his direction. As Sam was leaving that night he spotted the dog curled up, chewing on the spirit level, clearly pleased with his new toy.

It was almost four o’clock the next afternoon when a man in his twenties came to the yard. He looked more like a student than a surveyor. Sam put down the box of tiles he was shifting and went over.

‘Alright, mate? Can I help?’

‘Yeah, could I have a word with whoever’s in charge, please?’

Sam waved Connolly over. His boss approached with a what can I do for you? shrug.

‘Hello, I’m Mr Partridge. I’m from St Mary’s school.’

Sam laughed to himself. He had an idea of what was coming. The puzzled expression on his face suggested Connolly didn’t have a clue.

‘My pupils have told me all about the dog you have here. They are really rather taken with the creature. I was wondering if we could arrange for the dog to come to school or maybe we could take the little feller to the park.’

Connolly’s cheeks burned red in anger.

‘That flaming dog! The so-called guard dog is currently having a nap under my desk, as he’s exhausted from chewing up my stapler all morning.’

While the teacher awkwardly headed for the gate, Connolly turned to Sam. He jerked a thumb towards the porta cabin and the sleeping Mutley.

‘If that dog isn’t growling and snarling soon he’s going back to the rescue centre.’

‘Come on, guv. It’s his first week.’

‘It’s your first week, too, don’t forget.’

Sam, unable to tell if he was joking, simply smiled and returned to his work.

 

The next morning Sam found Connolly and the others in the porta cabin, huddled around the CCTV monitor. A lad called Pete grinned.

‘Check out the footage from last night.’

Sam watched the grainy, black and white images on the small monitor. On screen was the empty yard. Then a hooded figure appeared at the gates. They aimed a hefty boot at the padlocked gates. There was no sound to accompany the images but the jangle of the chains must have rang out into the night. As the figure climbed the gate, a four-legged shape appeared in the corner of the screen. The dog charged at the intruder. Come on, Mutley, thought Sam. The dog reached the intruder and dropped to the floor. A second later the dog was on his back, paws in the air, having his belly tickled by the would-be burglar. Sam wondered what had happened next. Had things been stolen, the yard ransacked?

The intruder played with the dog for a few minutes, rubbing his ears just-so, and throwing a tennis ball. The dog dashed off to fetch the ball as quickly as his paws could carry him. If his duties had involved fetching a ball or ripping a newspaper to shreds, then Mutley was doing a great job. As it was, Sam had to admit, Mutley wasn’t the best guard dog. The intruder looked up at the CCTV camera, and shrugged, before turned and scrambling back over the gate.

‘What was that about?’

‘That,’ Connolly pointed at the monitor, ‘was a mate of mine. He was doing me a favour by testing Mutley, and the dog failed miserably.’

‘What are you gonna do?’

‘He’s going back to the rescue centre. I’ll take him back tomorrow morning. I’ve got too much on today to spend any time on that mangy fleabag.’

‘Is there no way he can stay?’ asked Sam.

‘Not unless he transforms into a savage beast overnight.’

‘Best hope for a full moon tonight.’ Someone laughed.

 

Sam felt sick when he arrived on site the next morning. Poor Mutley was going back to the rescue centre, all because he was too nice. It just didn’t seem fair. The dog was so good natured. He had these dark brown eyes that seemed so expressive, so kind.

Mutley came bouncing across the yard to greet him. Sam smiled sadly and threw the tennis ball for him for the last time. Maybe Sam could have a word with his landlord. If he explained the situation, perhaps she’d be willing to bend the No Pets policy to save Mutley from the rescue centre.

When Sam entered the porta cabin, Connolly was reading a tabloid newspaper. He checked his watch and tossed the newspaper on the table.

‘Right, I’m off.’ Connolly said.

‘Where to?’ asked Sam, hoping his boss had some urgent business to attend to that would prevent the dog going back.

‘I’m taking that hound back, aren’t I?’

He shrugged into his coat and left the porta cabin. Sam flopped onto the battered armchair. He felt more upset that he’d thought he would about the dog. He was mulling on the fate of the hapless guard dog and picking at a hole in the arm of the chair, pulling the stuffing out, absentmindedly, when there was shouting and yelling and swearing from outside.

As Sam got to his feet, Connolly appeared in the doorway. Connolly was wide eyed in shock and clutching his arm.

‘Mutley bit me. He just went berserk. I have to get my arm looked at.’

‘And the dog? Is he still going back?’

‘Well, I’m not taking him back, he’s crazy.’

As Connolly was taken to the hospital, Sam grabbed Mutley’s favourite tennis ball.


Submitted: May 20, 2021

© Copyright 2021 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

AdamCarlton

A dog with an unerring instinct for the bad guy! :)

Thu, May 20th, 2021 8:04am

Serge Wlodarski

Mutley knows what he's doing.

Thu, May 20th, 2021 12:20pm

Sumit Kumar Arora

Good story.

Thu, May 20th, 2021 12:25pm

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