Buster and Arnie were two four year old Labrador dogs. They had lived together all their lives and with their owner, Ruby, since they were eight weeks old. Ruby was a kind, gentle soul who loved her dogs very much. To her they were the children she had never had and she spoilt them and fussed over them so much. Her "boys" as Ruby called them, went for long walks over the ramblings countryside that surround the house that Ruby had lived in since she was a child. She had never married and her dogs were her life. They had the best food that she could afford, lovely comfortable beds and best of all, they had each other. They had the perfect life and that was the way it would stay forever, at least that's what Buster and Arnie thought.1
One day, as Arnie was resting, after a long walk over the hills, he heard his Mistress speaking on the telephone. Arnie pricked up his ears when he heard the names Buster and Arnie. He listened closed and was shocked by what he heard. Ruby sounded really upset and it was obvious from the conversation, that she was speaking to her sister, Maud. Maud and Ruby had been left the house, when their parents died, but as Maud was married, with children and a lovely house of her own, she agreed that Ruby could stay in the house and could pay her a monthly rent, provided she left her half of the house to Maud's children, in her will. Ruby had eagerly agreed, and for the past six years had paid the rent, without fail, and the arrangement had worked out well for everyone. However, sadly, Maud had lost her Husband over a year ago and she was now telling Ruby that she needed her half of the money, as she was finding it a struggle to maintain her large home. Although Ruby's home was very nice, it was also very old and would need a lot of work to bring it up to modern times, so she knew that her half the value of the house wouldn't be enough for her to buy another property big enough for her and her "boys". Ruby began to cry and it was clear to Arnie that Maud was getting cross with Ruby, telling her that she should understand. Ruby said she did understand but what would happen to her and her "boys". She could never afford to buy a house and if she bought a flat she wouldn't be allowed to take her dogs with her. Maud was a very hard and practical woman, not at all like Ruby, and it was clear to Arnie that she had said that they would have to be re-homed. He heard Ruby gasp "Re-homed!! - I couldn't bear it and what if they are separated" exclaimed Ruby. Re-homed! Separated! - Arnie couldn't believe his ear, it was unthinkable. He couldn't lived without his beloved Buster, Buster had always protected him whenever he felt nervous, as he sometimes did. Alos, their lovely Mistress, how could anyone replace her? Noboyd could, of that Arnie was sure. Arnie went and found Buster and told him what he had heard. Buster was as shocked as Arnie but told him he felt sure everything would work out.2
Over the next few days, the house was full of hustle and bustle. Maud had arrived to help Ruby clear out some of her stuff that she had collected over the years and couldn't possibly take with her to a much smaller place. Estate Agents were in and out , making up valuations on the property. Then there were the people coming to view. Finally a young couple decided that this would be the ideal home for them to start their married life, and made an offer. Maud told Ruby that she felt it was fair offer and as the couple didn't have a property to sell, they would be ideal buyers, as things could go through very quickly. That wasn't what Ruby wanted to hear, although she knew that she really had no say in the matter. Maud had always told Ruby what to do and what no to do, even when they were children and Ruby had always been so docile that she followed Maud's instructions every time, and this, it seemed wasn't going to be any different.3
Maud had put Arnie and Buster outside in the garden. She told Ruby that she didn't agree with animals being allowed to roam all over the house. "They should know their place" she had told Ruby, on more than one occasion. Ruby had always ignored her sister on this point and "her boys" had always had the run of the house. Today, however, Ruby felt she had no fight left and just let her sister take over, whilst Ruby sorted through papers and cupboards with tears streaming down her face.4
The young couple had said they would like to take the property over as soon as possible, as there was a lot of work they wanted to do to it, before their marriage in a few months time. Things were moving fast, too fast for Ruby who couldn't think straight. She was shocked when she heard Maud on the telephone, she was discussing the dogs and Ruby's heart pounded as she heard her say that it was "quite alright to have just one of them". When she put the phone down she told Ruby that she had found a home for Buster and was waiting on confirmation from Farmer Chapman that he would have Arnie."Bust they can't be separated" said Ruby "I won't hear of it". "You have no choice girl" said Maud, in her usual bossy and unfeeling voice. "We won't find anybody who is going to want two big dogs at such short notice, you should be grateful we have been able to re-home them and don't have to take them to the Rescue Centre." Ruby felt that her heart was about to break, but she knew that she had no say in the matter, she didn't know of anyone that would take the dogs and she would just have to go along with Maud's plans for them.5
The next morning a van pulled up outside the house and Farmer Chapman came to the door. He had decided he would take Carnie, he told Maud, but he would need to take him now as he was going off to market and wouldn't be back this way in the near future. "No" cried Ruby, but Maud told her not to be so silly, he was having to go sometime soon so now was just as good a time as any. Ruby called Arnie to her, she cuddled him and told him that she loved him and was so sorry. "He can't undertand a word you are saying" said Maud "all you are doing is making things worse for yourself - now get his lead and collar and don't keep Farmer Chapman waiting any long". Little did Maud know that Arnie could understand what was happening and he also knew that today was the worst day of his life. Buster could see what was happening and began to howl and pace the floor in despair and despite Ruby trying to comfort him, they both knew it would be long before he would have to go as well.6
It was a couple of hours after Arnie had gone, when there was another knock on the door. This time a young man, who introduced himself as David, said he was the person who had rung about Buster and wondered if he could take him with him now. Ruby knew that no matter how much she objected, it wouldn't make any difference. She consoled hereself with the fact that he seemed a nice young man. As Ruby watched from the window, she saw the young man's Wife was sitting in the passenger seat of the car. Her face looked stoney and she didn't even acknowledge Buster. This made Ruby feel very unsettled - she should have checked the people out first and looked at the home he was going to and to make sure that they were both dog loving people, but she hadn't been given the chance and it was too late now.7
Buster had never travelled in a car before and he felt quite unwell as the car seemed to bounce on the road. It soon became clear to Mary, David's wife, and she yelled at David to stop the car and "take that dog out for a walk in the air before he ruins the car seat". David did as he was told, he knew not to argue with Mary as she had never really wanted a dog and he couldn't think how he had got her to agree. "Don't worry boy" said David kindly, "she will soon come round" but poor Buster wan't too sure. During the journey it became quite clear ,from the conversation ,that Mary regretted saying David could have a dog ,especially a big one that would shed hair and couldn't travel in the car ! It was also obvious that Mary was the one who had all the say and Buster couldn't understand how David had persuaded her in the first place. "He must stay outside in a kennel" Mary told David "and we are only having him for a trial period, if it doesn't work out he must go". Arnie was hoping that if it didn't work out, which he was sure it wouldn't, he might be sent back to Ruby again. That night out in the kennel, alone and miserable he wondered how his beloved Arnie was, and what about Ruby - she would be missing them both so much.8
Back at Ruby's the next day, Maud had taken over packing up Ruby's things. Ruby had felt unwell - everything had happened so quickly and the loss of her dogs was such a big blow. She felt faint and had such a bad head that Maud had told her to go and lie down. She had told Ruby that she was being unfair and how she had let her live in the house these past sic years and she consdiered that Ruby was being very selfish now that she was in need of her money. Ruby knew she needed her money but if only she had given her more time. Now she was going to have to rent a small place somewhere and her beloved dogs had gone and had not even been kept together. 9
Ruby had a couple of weeks to find somewhere, and as she looked through the local papers she noticed an advertisement for a "live-in" housekeeper. Ruby thought that might be an idea, she wouldn't have to pay rent and she would be earning some money. Somebody to care for might help take her mind off losing her boys a bit, she thought. She decided she would ring the number and find out more about it tomorrow.10
The next day she rang the number and spoke to a Guy Harrison, the man who had placed the advertisement. He sounded nice and asked Ruby if she would be able to come along for an interview. Mr. Harrison told Ruby that he was a widower with a daughter, named Alison, who was 9 years old. He needed someone to look after the house, cook meals and to look after his daughter, as he was away a lot on business. Ruby liked him straight away, she thought he seemed a kind person and that meant a lot to her. He showed Ruby around the house and the room that would be her's if they came to an agreement. Ruby thought it was a lovely bright room with a large window that looked out onto a beatiful big garden that seemed to go on forever. She wondered for a moment if she would dare to ask if she could possible have animals there, but as if he could read her mind, Mr Harrison told her "I have a very strict rule and that is I do not allow animals". Ruby must have looked disappointed, as Mr. Harrison asked if that would be a problem. "No" said Ruby sadly, and then proceeded to tell him how the dogs had had to go to new homes and how Arnie had gone to Farmer Chapman and she just started to tell him about Buster when he interrupted her. "Please don't think I am being rude" he said "but I have to go and collect my daughter from school soon and I have another person to interview before that". Ruby was taken aback, she had assumed that she was the only person who had applied for the job and that she would be offered it. Now she could have just talked her way out of it, she thought. "I will ring you tomorrow" said Guy Harrison "and let you know my decision". "Thank you" said Ruby as he showed her to the door. Ruby felt sure that she wouldn't get the job now and felt it would have been ideal.11
Ruby had a restless night, not only thinking about how the dogs were coping, but also what the decision would be about the job. It was about 9.00 am when Guy Harrison rang. He told Ruby that, if she was interested, the job was hers. He knew that his daughter would like Ruby, he told her and the other applicant wan't suitable. Ruby coudn't believe it. She was delighted and for the first time in days she saw a glimmer of light.12
Ruby decided she would ring Farmer chapman to see how Arnie was settling in. "I was hoping to involve him in my shooting programme" he told her "but I am afraid that, so far, that hasn't worked out, he is far too nervous. Had I known I would never have taken him." he said "unless he improves over the next couple of months I may have to let him go". Ruby was horrified, poor Arnie would have been terrified when the guns went off, he was such a gentle soul and Ruby feared that he would never adjust to life on the farm. The thought of him being to strangers once more was soemthing Ruby couldn't bear to think about. Before she could ask anything else, Farmer Chapman told her that he had to go as he had cows to milk, and with that he bid her good day. Ruby burst into tears, she couldn't bear to think of Arnie alone and scared. As for poor Buster, she didn't even know how to contact the couple who had him, although she new Maud had their details. At the moment she really didn't want to speak to Maud as she knew that she would tell her to leave well alone, that they were with new owners now and were no longer her concern.13
Ruby had discussed with Guy Harrison her starting date, but before that he wanted to introduce her to his daughter Alison. Ruby was rather nervous as she knocked on the door, because she felt sure that if Alison took a dislike to her then her hopes with the job would be dashed. Rouby need not have worried, Alison was a delightful child and the hour they spent getting to know each other was very enjoyable. Ruby told Alison all about Arnie and Buster and showed her photographs of them, that she always carried in her handbag. Alison told Ruby that she loved dogs "I always wanted a dog" she said "but Daddy doesn't really like them and said that I couldn't have one". "Never mind" said Ruby "perhaps one day we will be able to talk him around". "Oh that would be lovely" said Alison, "perhaps we could get your boys back and we could all live together". How wonderful that sounded to Ruby but she felt sure that that would never happen.14
In the meantime, Buster was being brought back, for the second time, to David and Mary's house, by the Police. He had run away, yet again, and the police told them that they should chain him up, because if he got away again and caused an accident, they would be responsible. "This is his final chance" Mary told David "if he gets aways again I will tell the Police to take him straight to the Dog Pound". Although David was quite fond of Buster, he too was becoming frustrated with his behaviour and agreed that she was right.15
Guy Harrison had been away on business for a few days and Alison was delighted to see her Father's car pull into the drive. She ran to greet him and he smiled, a lovely smile Ruby thought, as his daughter hurriedly told him everything she had done at schooland all the fun she had had with Ruby, in aout five minutes. Then the little girl blurted out "Daddy, Ruby cried today". Ruby looked shocked she thought she had shed her tears in private, but now it was obvious that Alison had heard her. "Did she"? said Mr. Harrison looking puzzled. "Oh it wasn't anything, I'd read a sad article in the paper" she said. "It wasn't" said Alison, Ruby really misses her dogs, she cries all the time". Ruby didn't know what to say or do, she told Alison not to bother her Father anymore, he had had a long journey. She then said she would go and start dinner. Mr. Harrison had already made it clear to her that he would not allow her to have dogs and now she was worried that he may think she was trying to get him to change his mind, through Alison. Ruby was relieved that through dinner there was no more mention of Ruby's tears or the dogs.16
After a couple of days at home, Mr Harrison was off again on business. He was going to be a way for four days, he told her. Ruby took Alison to school as usual and on her return she could hear the telephoen ringing in the hall. She hurried to answer it - "Maud" she said "how lovely to hear you". It wasn't really true as Maud was the last person she wanted to hear, but she didn't want to hurt her sister's feelings, despite everything that had happened. "Well it's bad new Ruby" said Maud. "Bad news, what kind of bad news?" said Ruby. "Well dear, it's Buster" Ruby felt herself go cold as she waited for the rst of the sentance. "He's gone missing" said Maud "Mary took him for a walk three days ago and he ran off and hasn't been seen since". "Have they called the police and the recsue centres, perhaps someone will have taken him there" said Ruby with desparation in her voice. "They have reported it to the Police, but they have also told them that if he is found they don not want him back and to take him direct to the Dog Pound. They have run out of patience, he has never settled and has caused them nothing but problems". Ruby couldn't believe it, how could they be so uncaring, all he needed was lots of love, but instead he was left feeling sad and lonely and now he had run away. Maud was still speaking, but Ruby wasn't listening to her ramblings, she heard the words "don't worry" - how could she not worry when her beloved Buster was roaming the streets confused, hungry and sad. She told Maud she would have to go and said a quick goodbye..17
Ruby decided she would go out in search of Buster herself, but despite walking the streets for well over two hours, she could find no trace of hime and nobody she spoke to could remember seeing a dog wandering alone. She couldn't really spend anymore time searching as it was time to collect Alsion from school and she couldn't leave her standing waiting for her. When Ruby arrived she saw the children were in a huddle together in the playground and Alsion was amongst them. When Alison saw Ruby she came rushing over "Oh Miss Ruby" she said "we have found a dog in the playground and he is so thin and so dirty". Ruby's heart missed a beat, Buster, could it be her Buster. She ran to the area where the children we huddled and there lying quiety, looking lost and sad, was Buster. "Buster" cried Rub and knelt down beside him. When he saw Ruby his tail began to wag and although he was quite obviously weak with hunger, he got to his feet and came to her licking her face non-stop. "Buster oh I am so sorry you have had such a terrible time" she said as she cuddled him close to her. "Is it really your Buster Miss Ruby?" asked Alison "Can we take him home?" "Yes" said Ruby, whatever happens I will never leave him again. "What about Daddy"? asked Alison looking worried. "Well we will face that when he gets back" said Ruby. She the called a taxi and gently helped Buster into the back, and they headed home.18
For the next two days Buster was nursed back to health and was almost back to the old Buster that Ruby remembered so well, except it seemed obvious that something still wasn't quite right. It was clear to Ruby what was wrong - his beloved Arnie wasn't there with him.19
That night Guy Harrison was due home and as his car pulled into the drive Alison ran to greet her Father as usual. "Oh Daddy please let him stay, please, please"!. He was confused "calm down darling" he said "keep who, what are you talking about?" As he entered the house he saw Buster lying on his bed in the hallway. His smiling face quickly turned to a frown. "What is this dog doing here?" Ruby came from the kitchen, she hadn't expected Mr.Harrison until much later and had still been trying to think of a way to convince him to let Buster stay, now she was lost for words. "It's Buster, Mr. Harrison, he is ill and ......." but he didn't let her finsih. "I told you Ruby when you came for the interview - strictly no animals _ I am sorry but he will have to go". Ruby began to cry and Alsion started begging her Father, but it made no difference, Mr, Harrison wasn't going to change his mind.20
That night Ruby tossed and turned, she knew that she couldn't let Buster go and live with anyone else, but what could she do, where could she go. Feeling exhausted with worry she fell asleep. After some hours had past she was abruptly awoken by barking "Oh no, she thought this would be the last straw, Mr Harrison would be very angry. But then she heard Mr. harrison's voice "Good boy" she heard. She must be mistaken, but she was sure that was what he said. Then she saw flashing lights through her curtains. She pulled them back - the police! whatever was happening."Thank you sargeant" she heard Mr.Harrison say ". "Don't thank me, thank that dog" said the police offer. Mr. Harrison then saw Ruby standing there looking puzzled. "This dog of yours is a hero" he said "he stopped an attemped robbery". If he hadn't barked when he heard the burglar trying to break in, who knows what could have happened? I rang 911 as soon as I heard the commotion. The police came straight away and caught him in the act. By now Alison had awoken and had come downstairs to see what was going on. When she heard she ran over to Buster and gave him a big hug. "Can he stay now Daddy, pleeeese?" "Well" said Mr.Harrison, but this time with a big smile "I can't very well make hime homeless now, can I". Alison cheered and clapped and proceeded to tell Buster how clever he was and that he would never have to run away again. Buster gave her a bi lick and lay back down on his bed, he was tired as it had been a long busy night! Ruby was delighted, although she still felt sad that Arnie was still at the farm, unless of course Farmer Chapman had re-homed him and then he could be anywhere. She didn't want to think about it, tonight she knew that she just had to be happy that Buster was safe and was here to stay for good.21
The next day Mr Harrison told Ruby that he had a few days off and he would take Alison to school and collect her again at the end of the day. Alison loved it when her Father was able to take her to and fetch her from school, as he usually took her for a little treat afterwards. Sometimes to the park, sometimes for burger and fries and other times he would leave it entirely to Alison to choose what she would like to have or do. 22
Ruby was getting worried as they seemed to be extra late, then she saw the car coming up the dirve. What a relief she thought, as she saw Alison running excitely towards the house. Ruby had grown to love Alison as though she was her own daughter and she had to admit that over the months she had grown very very fond of her Father as well! As Alison burst through the door, hardly able to speak, Ruby could only catch the words "Daddy had bought a present for Buster" . "I hope it isn't a bone" said Ruby "I don't like dogs to have bones". "Oh no, no it's a much better present than that, look Miss Ruby, look!" As Ruby looked down the drive she saw the most wonderful sight she could have ever imagined. Running towards her was her darling Arnie. "Quick" said Alison "let Buster out". As Buster came to the door and he saw Arnie, Ruby was sure she saw him smile with happiness. For the first time in months her boys were together again, and as they greeted each other they began jumping and playing and their tales wagged so fast they almost spun around. Then in unison they both ran over to Ruby. She cuddled and stroked them both with tears of happiness rolling down her cheeks. How can I thank you, Mr.Harrison, you can never know how happy you have made me getting both my boys back together again- how did you get him? He told Ruby that he had remembered where she had said he had gone, at the interview. He also told her that it was lucky he had arrived at the farm when he did, as Farmer Chapman had not been able to find a new home for Arnie and was about to send him to the Dog Pound . He also told Ruby that as Buster had been such a good dog the night of the attempted burglary - he felt he deserved a very special present and reuniting him with his brother was the best gift he could think to give him. "You also deserve a special gift Ruby" he told her "you are very special too". Ruby blushed and thanked him - she felt so very very happy.23
Ruby and her boys lived happily with Guy and Alison Harrison for over another year and during that time they had become very close. So when Guy asked her to marry him, that lovely day, Ruby didn't hesitate, she accepted immediately. When Alison was told the news she was thrilled, she clapped and cheered, as she always did when she was happy and then ran off to the "the boys".24
The wedding day was glorious with Alison in a beautiful silk bridesmaid dress and instead of a posy, she had Arnie and Buster either side on white satin leads. Ruby thought she would burst with happiness as she looked at her boys and her new family, all together, as they set off to live happily together forever.25
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