Chapter 1. The first try

       The three dogs were on the road again. Their aim now was the nearest big park.
       - If I remember correctly we are not far from the park – about two hours of normal
running, - remarked Luke on the move.
       - It’s hardly “not far”. For someone it may be very far indeed, - replied offended
       - It’s worth it, friend. It’s a good chance to return home, - Ginger tried to encourage
the pinscher.
       So they were running again, for a very long time at least in the opinion of Freddie
and his sick leg, until finally they came to a remarkable view.

       The sun was setting down behind the horizon. Dozens of lanterns were lit in the big
park. In spite of late autumn, the evening was quite warm. Garlands of multi-coloured
lamps all twinkling and shining like a rainbow hung between the trees.
       - It’s so lovely, - said Freddie thoughtfully.
       - We keep together at all times, otherwise we can lose each other easily. There will
be many people here soon. Let’s sit down meanwhile near that big tree, - suggested
       The friends sat down fascinated with the park around them. The numbers of people
grew bigger, the air was filled with the smells of meals and sweets.
       Girls and boys accompanied their parents, many of them carried sweets and
       One girl in a funny suit was eating a big candy on a stick.
       - Mommy, mommy, look at the doggies! I want to pet them and give them my candy!
– and without her mom’s approval, the girl rushed to the tree where Ginger, Luke and
Freddie were sitting.
       - Attention, people, now they will notice us, - Luke managed to say.
       The girl came to them, squatted and began to stroke Ginger, patting his long ears.
Ginger was delighted and licked the kiddy’s hand.
       But the girl’s mother saw what was going on and cried loudly:
       - Mary, get away from the dogs now! They are stray and you must always keep your
distance from stray dogs.
       But the girl liked Ginger very much.
       - Mommy, they are good dogs and this long ears is the best, - answered she
       - Get away from them now, I mean it. Whose are these dogs? Why are there dogs
with no leashes at the park with so many children around? – said the girl’s mother
       The crowd stopped. Dozens of people stared at the dogs sitting under a tree.
       - Why, nice doggies. Look at their clever eyes, - said a man in glasses.
       - What do clever eyes have to do with it? You see they are stray, therefore they are
dangerous, - replied an old lady carrying a large bag.
       A voice from the crowd shouted:
       - What are you talking about? Call a policeman, let him decide.
       Luke gave a sign telling his friends to quickly follow him and desperately sped to the
other end of the park. Ginger and Freddie rushed after him. The park seemed
enormous, there were people everywhere, more and more in every direction. Some of
them looked at the three running dogs with sympathy, but some faces were scared and
even malicious.
       Luke quickly squeezed through a hole in the wall and soon the three dogs found
themselves on the other side of park fence. Smells, people, music and the hope to return
home soon – everything was left behind.
       - And what about the announcements, what about the good chance? – skinny
Freddie almost cried out.
       - Perhaps we shouldn’t have run away? – hesitantly asked Ginger.
       - Oh yes, we should have. You don’t joke with police, my friends. You can trust me
on this. It would be very difficult to prove you are not stray but simply lost, - replied Luke
       - Well, for instance, we still look better than those dogs I’ve had the honour to meet
at the city dump, - said the spaniel.
       - You’ve got it right with “still better”. Do you know how long will it take to look
similar? Two or three weeks of this life and your masters will hardly recognize you, - said
Luke with a bitter smile.
       - Mommy, I’m scared. What should we do? – the pinscher trembled again.
       - Calm down for starters. It will be dark soon and everyone will leave. Security
guards stay near the main gates at night and there is nobody in the park itself. We can
easily spend the night here and make a small round of litterbins even before the sunrise
tomorrow, - the police dog planned.
       - What for? – wondered Ginger.
       - You are a domestic spaniel, you. Better not to get used to do it daily but still you’ll
have to eat something tomorrow. After today’s feast, we’ll find something to stop the
hunger. Sweets, cookies, with some luck maybe even a few sandwiches, - explained Luke
       - I see. And why before the dawn? – asked the spaniel again.
       - With the first light the cleaners will come and empty everything so that we may well
stay with empty bellies. Also the cats can leave us behind.
       - Sounds reasonable. Only what will happen to us? – thought Ginger aloud.
       - Let’s think about it tomorrow. The day was hard and we earned some rest. You
earned -  I still have to pay someone a visit though. And I won’t be back soon, - said Luke.
       - I guess I know whom are you going for. For Bonnie the beauty, right? Of course,
Luke, we cannot just leave her alone. I wanted to remind you but now I see you know
everything yourself, - Freddie was delighted.
       - Of course I know. I usually need no reminders. Don’t forget I had been in the
service. I have my doubts about the beauty, but she sure seems a first class upstart and
smug to me. Still, we are gentlemen and we must help her, - said the police dog
confidently and began to prepare for the journey back.
       - Will you manage alone? – asked Ginger.
       - I don’t have a choice, I have to. Only hope she’s understood she must stay some
place safe these two weeks, - assumed Luke.
       - Bring her back soon, Luke, - exclaimed the pinscher.
       - Well, well, my dear Freddie, - smiled Luke. - You seem to have seriously fallen for
this white fluffy chatterbox.
       - Not at all! You said we cannot just leave her alone. I’m even ready to join you, -
little Freddie offered his help.
       - All right, all right, just kidding. Stay here, nurse your leg, and get well. I have a bad
feeling about this white and pretty...
       With these words the police dog ran back – to the big area with high buildings and
nice streets...

       - I’d take a nap, - yawned Ginger.
       - Let’s rake more leaves then, like yesterday night, it’ll be warmer. My master would
have me put a sweater on because my fur is not as thick and long as yours, - the
pinscher once again complained of his fate.
       - I see. Well, let’s get to it. So that the “rugs” are ready for Luke and Bonnie’s
return, - suggested the spaniel and they began working.

       Luke was running as fast as he could. The darkness came. “I’m getting old”, - he
thought. “Or is it that unlucky leg? Anyway I have to hurry lest this doll should get herself
into trouble”.
       Luke ran even faster. “All right, here is that street, now turn to the right. The lights
are on already, strange but good, it will make my task easier. And here is the garage.
Weird how it smells of cats, though.”
       At this moment all his thoughts were interrupted by Bonnie’s shrill whine.
       - You, dirty street cats, get lost now. Don’t you dare even come close to me! To my
clean combed fur, - she cried.
       - It’s you who will get lost. It’s our territory. Or, maybe, you want us to pull out a few
hairs from your wonderful fur? – with these words one of the five cats surrounding
Bonnie bit her tail and dragged her toward the road.
       - What are you doing, dirty hoodlum, how dare you! – yelped Bonnie.
       The cat (whose name was Ray) dragging Bonnie to the road, unclenched his teeth
and cried:
       - Fancy I dare! Because of you police dogs tore off half my ear two years ago. It
was you who told them I was stealing fish from the window on the ground floor.
       - Yeah, I told them, so what? Hey, let me go now, where do you pull me, it hurts... –
squealed the lap-dog.
       - I want you to get it in full at least once, - answered Ray meanly and snatched her
tail again.
       - Let her go immediately, - the cat was startled by someone’s loud voice.
       Out of surprise he unclenched his teeth again and Bonnie broke free. The cat
retreated, his fur bristled.
       - Run, guys! – he cried and together with the other four cats disappeared in the
       - Right, beat it, go away! – cried Bonnie. – Ah, it’s you, police hound. No poor lost
friends this time? You came back because of Lora, didn’t you? Well, I can tell you she
had finished her promenade and now is probably fast asleep.
       - You give me this instead of gratitude again?! – in spite of anger Luke could not
help smiling.
       - I could manage everything myself, without you anyway. Nothing bad can ever
happen to me, my mistress always said so, - the lap-dog went on bragging.
       - She said it because she was nearby. But now she is not here, do you get it? Not
here! – said Luke loudly and distinctly.
       Suddenly Bonnie seemed to understand what was going on.
       - Luke, I am scared. So scared. What can I do? I have never been alone in the
streets. So dark and cold. And I am so hungry.
       For a moment she turned to a small frightened creature. Her arrogance
disappeared and Luke even felt pity for her.
       - Listen, baby, don’t worry. Worse things happen. But you cannot remain alone, you
won’t stand it even for a couple of days.
       - Why won’t I stand it? – Bonnie’s small muzzle proudly went up again. – Am I inferior
to you?
       - You are not inferior. It’s just that from your birth till today you have been sitting
either in your mistress’ laps or on a pillow, - said Luke.
       - So what? – asked the lap-dog angrily.
       - Baby, nobody will offer you free meals on a plate here. And you can see the world
is full of dangers.
       - Let’s assume I agree with you. What do you suggest I do during these two weeks?
Where can I hide and safely wait for my mistress’ return? – asked the lap-dog eagerly.
       - I think you should go with me. Ginger and Freddie are waiting for us on the other
side of the big park fence. It is safe at least till tomorrow morning, - said Luke confidently.
       - And what will tomorrow morning bring?
       - Tomorrow we go on with the search of Ginger and Freddie’s masters but you will
stay with us because you have no other choice, - Luke tried to convince the lap-dog.
       - Where is that big park? – she asked while stretching.
       - About two hours of lazy running, - answered the police dog calmly.
       - What??? – gaped Bonnie. – It’s impossible, I would never make it so far away. And
what for? No, I’ll stay right here behind the garage. You will return for me tomorrow
morning. And now I’m going to sleep, - and she yawned deeply.
       For the first time Luke became really angry.
       - Listen, you, small spoiled loafer, - he began severely. – Either you go with me now
or you stay here alone because I won’t come tomorrow. I have better things to do than
indulging your whims and have no time to run errands.
       - How dare you?! – resentfully began the lap-dog again but Luke did not listen to
       He turned and slowly trotted back.
       “At least I have done my best.” - he thought.
       - Hey, are you really going to leave me all alone here? – cried Bonnie to his back. –
Wait a minute, stop right there, will you!
       However, Luke did not slow his pace. Bonnie ran and after catching up with him said:
       - All right, I go with you. But how will I get back?
       - I know the way and I know your home. Trust me. And now let’s run faster.
Tomorrow will be hard and we need to catch some rest, - said the police dog.
       - But Luke, - said the lap-dog indignantly. – I am ten times smaller than you are.
You walk while I am already running. And it’s way too fast for me.
       - You are right, Bonnie. Well, then, you’ll have to give up your hide once again
because carrying you will be much faster, - suggested Luke.
       - Never. I’d better run myself, - she decided.
So they set toward the big park. Naturally, Bonnie got tired very quickly so Luke had no
other choice but to carry her carefully in his teeth.
       - Oh, my god, it cannot be true! I want to be at home, to eat and to sleep. Now is
exactly the time when they usually comb me. And what do I have instead? – Bonnie
almost wept.
       Luke could not answer and only thought: “I’ll have to listen to this for two more
weeks... But I must return her home safely”.
       He was very tired and his paw hurt more than ever.
       - Still far away? – asked Bonnie very quietly when Luke had lowered her to the
       - Almost there, you can go yourself now, - he answered.
       - Am I tired, - sighed Bonnie and obediently followed Luke.

       ... They ran around the right side of the park and finally saw Ginger and Freddie
who had just woken up and were wagging their tails.
       - You have been gone for a long time, we were worried, - said Ginger.
       - Hello, Bonnie, - said Freddie shyly.
       - Hello, thin legs. Hello again, reddie, - answered the lap-dog tiredly.
       - How was the trip? – asked Ginger.
       - I have never had such a horrible experience in my whole life, - declared Bonnie. –
So far and scary. I am so tired and I want to sleep.
       - Here you are, madam, - said Luke, smiling. – choose any of the rugs. – He pointed
to dry leaves gathered so diligently by Ginger and Freddie.
       - Are you out of your mind?! I will never sleep on the bare cold ground and dirty
leaves. Also, I want to drink and I have to wash my paws and get my fur combed, -
Bonnie was full of indignation.
       - Just a moment, we’ll call for the maid, - laughed Luke. Freddie and Ginger also
burst out laughing after him.
       - Now, this has gone too far! – Bonnie kept on being angry. – It’s cold, dark, wet and
you are laughing at me.
       - No, Bonnie, no, we were not making fun of you, - said Freddie. – If you need
something, just say and I’ll do what I can. Don’t worry, the time will fly and you once again
will be clean and beautiful.
       - That will do, I am tired of your chatter, - she said. - Let’s sleep. I choose that rug
over there, near the tree.
       Bonnie came to the heap, sniffed it over and reluctantly lay down burying her pretty
muzzle in the leaves. Others were also falling asleep. Somewhere a car drove by with
loud music playing.
       - Luke, - whispered Bonnie.
       - What happened? – he asked.
       - I am scared and cannot sleep. Tell me something interesting, of your service, for
example. Why are you not in the service now? And how come you know Lora? – the lap-
dog bombarded Luke with questions.
       - Unfortunately, my service was finished after a wound I got in the foreleg. Didn’t
want to live in the shelter either, I am used to being useful, cannot sit idly. As for Lora... –
Luke fell silent for a moment and went on. – Their apartment was burglarized two years
ago, Lora herself hardly escaped. And I could not find a trace. So she told me what
direction they chose to disappear. Then I followed the traces quite quickly and the
criminals were arrested in a few hours. Got an official note of excellence for that. But in
fact I owe this to Lora.
       - And you haven’t seen each other ever since? – asked Bonnie.
       - After running away from the shelter I wandered around the city and became very
tired and hungry. Don’t even remember how I finally found myself in your street. Lora saw
me from the window and understood everything. For the next two days she was leaving
food on the sidewalk for me when they took her outside. I was embarrassed, felt like a
beggar and thought she helped me out of pity. Of course, I left. – he finished sadly.
       - That’s wrong, she told me once about you, how smart and brave you were. She
has not forgotten you, Luke, - smiled the lap-dog.
       - Enough of this, Bonnie, we must get up early and it will be a hard day tomorrow.
Close your eyes and try to sleep.
       - I still cannot believe this is happening to me, - whispered Bonnie already falling

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