It was two weeks into Billy’s summer holiday when Tess noticed all the excitement. She recognised it as the time when the family started packing for their holidays. Billy’s Mum was a busy ironing clothes and his Dad was climbing up to the top of the wardrobe to retrieve dusty suitcases.
Sometimes Tess was allowed to go with them she loved to play in the sea with Billy, the seawater made her coat so clean fluffed it all up!
Tess was playing with Billy in the garden when she found out she wouldn’t be going.
“You’ve got to stay with aunty Marg Tess we’re going on an aeroplane they won’t let me take you.” Said Billy.
“It’s only for two weeks,” he added bending down to give her a cuddle.
Tess had stayed with Aunty Marg before. She'd made a good friend in the city where aunty Marg lived, so although she was disappointed not to be be going to the sea, she was exited she’d be able to see Jack again.
The evening before the family were going away Tess saw Billy’s Dad put her basket and bowl into the back of the car, she got ready for the goodbyes.
Billy was really sad to be leaving her.
“Why can’t she come dad? She can sit on my knee on the aeroplane!”
“Oh Billy you know we can’t take her, it’s only for two weeks she’ll get lots of fuss at your Aunty Margs.”
Billy gave Tess the biggest cuddle she had had all year.
“Bye Tess, see you in two weeks.”
“Come on Tess.”
Billy’s Dad shouted her and she trotted out of the front door and sat in the front seat.
“Get in the back Tess!” said Billy’s Dad.
Tess knew she had to ride in the back but she was always a little bit cheeky. Billy came running out after them shouting goodbye then they were on their way.
Tess didn't mind the car journey, Billy’s Dad had wound the back window down and Tess put her head right out. She tried to catch every different smell as they travelled but there were far too many.
Soon the countryside disappeared giving way to the suburbs of the city. Tess remembered the first time she’d taken this journey, how frightened she’d been. She was only a year old on that first trip, not prepared for the noise and commotion that goes hand in hand with a very busy city.
This time it was different, Tess was aware that people lived life at a greater speed here, she’d been taught all about stray animals, the dangers of speeding cars and lots more by her friend Jack the boat dog. .
The car soon pulled up out side a long row of houses that Tess recognised as the home of aunty Marg.
Billy’s Dad reached over and fastened a lead onto Tess’s collar and soon she was waiting outside the door in anticipation of a big cuddle. As the door opened Tess’s wag went into high speed.
“Hello you little fluffy pup” said Aunty Marg as she picked Tess up nearly squeezing all the life out of her.
“I can’t stay Marg” said Billy’s Dad, “I’ve got her basket bowl and plenty of food.”
Tess remembered that Aunty Marg gave her lots of lovely food when she stayed, she smiled to herself thinking about all those unopened tins of dog meat.
Billy’s Dad said goodbye trying not to show he was a little sad to be leaving her.
“I’ll put your bed in this corner” said Aunty Marg as she waved goodbye to Billy’s Dad through the window.
“I’ve got some chicken left over from Sunday dinner you can have, it’s better than that tinned stuff.”
Tess smiled to herself and went to bed with a tummy full of chicken, extra tired from the journey and tail wagging!
Aunty Marg got up early in the morning, Tess remembered she worked during the day. She refilled Tess’s water bowl, put some more chicken out then carried both bowls outside into the garden. Tess trotted behind very pleased with herself, well until she saw the long length of washing line Aunty Marg was attaching to her collar!
“Tess you have to stay in the garden again until I get home. I’ll have to put you on this line because you got out last time and worried us all to bits.
“Be a good girl I’ll see you later when I finish work.”.
Tess heard the front door close behind Aunty Marg, tried a few whimpers but she knew it was too late for that. She was trapped in the garden, she would’t be able to see Jack the boat dog. She hadn’t seen this coming and began to feel sad, very sad.
She lay down on the grass with her paws stretched out in front of her; then she put her head on top of her paws and started to think. The washing line looked too thick to chew through, but some how she had to get out of the garden.
Standing up Tess tested the length of the washing line. She could reach the hedge and saw the gap she’d squeezed through before. She was right at the end of the washing line turned around with her tail to the hedge.Tess was getting angry at the line, she struggled against it by pulling backwards. As she did Tess felt her collar ride up her neck. It was just possible, maybe she could slip her collar.
She pulled and pulled until she felt the collar tight against her ears. If only she could tuck her ears in the collar would slide straight off.
Tess wasn’t about to give up, after the fourth attempt when Tess thought her ears would be pulled right off, the collar slid over her head. She was free.
Tess stayed in the garden for a while, she thought about aunty Marg feeling a little guilty.
“I’ll have to be back before Aunty Marg gets home.” She said to herself.
“I don’t want to worry her this time.”
Tess pushed her nose through the hedge, she was on her way.
Twenty minutes later Tess found the entrance to the canal that ran through the middle of the city. She ran along the towpath happy recognising familiar smells, sights that told her she was not far from her friend.
When she passed past the loud barking Alsatian that she always said hello to she knew she’d arrived.
Jack saw her straight away and jumped off the boat as if he was on springs.
“Tess! What are you doing here?! Oh what a lovely surprise!”
Tess explained about the holiday, how she was staying with Aunty Marg then about the washing line!
“Jack I really thought my ears would come off!”
Jack licked her ears and told her that she still had the loveliest ears, prettiest face and best waggy tale, (which was wagging rather fast by now.) In the whole world.
Soon they were sitting by the boat catching up on all the news.
“Is everything alright Jack?” Said Tess she knew him well enough to know he had something on his mind.
“Tess do you remember when you came to see me last time, we met some friends of mine who were homeless?”
“Yes I was thinking about that in the car on the way here.” said Tess.
“Well they’ve always managed to survive, stayed healthy fed their families because of the scraps left outside cafes, people giving them tit bits.”
“I remember they all seemed to manage well I was slightly jealous of the freedom they had.”
“Things have changed Tess, over the last year or so more and more Fox’s have moved into the city because their homes have been destroyed. They have families to feed they’re very clever Tess, often getting to left food before the dogs. I was just on my way to see Barney with a few bits. He has a young family to feed.”
“Jack I’ll come with you, theirs food in the garden where I’m staying we can get that on the way!”
The two friends were soon loaded up with food on their way to see Barney and his family. They crossed the canal walked through the park, birds were singing squirrels were racing about. Then something happened, Jack spotted them first then Tess realised something was wrong.
As they passed a big oak tree they saw the first fox. Behind him another, and another. Before they knew it, six or seven foxes cornered Tess and Jack against the tree.
“That looks like tasty food,” said the first fox.
Tess was not prepared for hostility but she ready, she wasn’t going to stand down.
“This food is for our friends.” she said, “You need to move out the way, let us pass we’re all trying to survive aren’t we?”
Jack was ready as well; he was a tough little dog who wouldn’t lie down without a fight.
“You will give us that food or we will take it from you.” Said another fox.
“Then you’ll have to take it from us.” Said Jack stepping forward to protect Tess.
Tess’s heart was pounding, she was glad Jack was with her just as Jack was glad Tess was with him. Together they were a great team.
There was silence for what seemed like an hour until through the skulk of foxes walked the tallest strongest looking fox Tess and Jack had ever seen.
“I’m with you.” Said Jack.”
“I Know.” Said Tess. “I’ve missed you so much.”
They looked into each other’s eyes and both felt incredibly close in face of the danger.
By this time they were almost face to face with the large fox. Tess and Jack were ready for the worst.
The fox was now standing over the two brave friends then he stopped and turned to Tess.
“What’s your name?”
“My name is Tess,” she said bravely hiding her nervousness.
“Are you from the country?” continued the fox.
“Yes” said Tess “I’m staying here for two weeks while my family is on holiday.”
The fox came even closer until he got within touching distance of Tess’s nose and then bowed his head.
“Then you’re the Tess that saved my sisters life.”
A feeling of emotion started to creep up inside of Tess.
“Are you fox’s brother?”Asked Tess.
“Yes,” said fox. “She told me what you did for her, we all owe you a big debt of gratitude. We need to talk Tess, we need to talk.”
Tess and Jack were soon following the fox’s back to the their den, they paused at the entrance.
“A fox’s den is very secret,” said the leader of the fox’s.
“You must promise never to reveal the where a bouts of our home.”
“We promise,” said Tess and Jack
After they promised the two brave dogs followed the fox’s down the dark passage into the heart of the den. Tess wondered how anyone could miss it because of the smell!
“It smells like my masters feet after he’s been walking in his wellies” whispered Jack to Tess as they sat down to discuss the recent events.
Fox wanted to know exactly what had happened to his sister and how Tess had saved her by rubbing up against her then using her own scent to fool the hounds. The big fox had a tear in his eye when Tess had finished.
“Tell me how I can help you Tess,”he said. “You’re the bravest most caring dog I have ever known.”
“Well.” said Tess, “We were on our way to a friend or ours named Barnie. Barnie has a family, he is a stray dog. Fox’s are wild animals used to fending for yourselves because you’ve never had any masters.
Barnies a domestic animal, he’s simply not as good at fending for himself in the wild. Barnie used to rely on the scraps left outside the café’s, but since the fox’s have arrived he’s not been able to get these because fox’s get there before him.”
Can’t you see we have to help dogs like Barnie?”
The big fox got to his feet.
“You’re right Tess listen. From now on I will tell all the fox’s that live in the city, to visit the homeless dogs and make sure their food isn’t being taken. If you can give as you did to help my sister we can give to those who need our help.”
Tess moved towards the fox putting her nose against his and smiled.
“I think we’re friends,” she said. “Just like your sister and me.”
The big fox was full of emotion but had to remain strong because all the other fox’s were looking at him.
“I’ll stand by my word Tess, I’ll stand by my word.”
Tess and Jack said goodbyes and took the food round to Barnies. He was so pleased to see them and as he fed his family the two friends told him what had happened. First about Tess helping her friend then what fox had agreed to Barnie was pleased. he liked the fox’s and knew they could live together.
“The time!” Tess shouted scaring everyone. “I’ve got to get back to the garden before Aunty Marg gets home from work.”
Jack and Tess raced round to the garden, Jack said goodbye and promised to call and see her tomorrow.
Tess got into the garden just in time.
“How did you get off your lead Tess, oh you poor thing you’ve had all your chicken come on let’s get you some more.”
Tess was curled up in bed early that night. The events of the day had taken their toll.
Aunty Marg made sure that she couldn’t get out of the garden for the rest of the holiday, but Jack made sure he visited every day, which made time go too quickly for both of them.
At the end of the holiday the garden was full of animals saying goodbye to Tess.
“Say hello to my Sister when you get back to the countryside” said big fox.
“I will, you won’t forget what you said will you?”
“I won’t Tess don’t worry.”
Barnie and his family were there to say goodbye, along with some other dogs that lived as strays. They were all sad to be saying goodbye to Tess.
Jack was the last to go.
“It’s been good to see you Tess, maybe one of these days we’ll come your way on the boat, the canals near you.”
“I’ll look forward to it Jack.”
Jack moved forward and the two shared the closest of moments.
“Miss you already Tess.”
It was difficult to part, Jack had to cut the goodbye short it was too painful.
Tess was upset and went inside after he’d gone. She saw the signs and knew Billy’s Dad would be coming soon. Things would soon be back to normal, she was going to miss Jack so much though.
After an hour Tess had spent sulking in her bed, she heard a car pull up outside. Racing to the window she saw Billy’s Dad walking towards the front door. He was not on his own, Billy was with him! He was’t going to miss the chance to see Tess as soon as possible and begged his dad to let him come.
Aunty Marg opened the door and everyone was reunited. Billy had missed Tess so much.
The goodbyes were soon said and Aunty Marg gave Tess another of her big cuddles.
“Come on everyone, said Billy’s dad. “Get into the car your Mum will be wondering where we are.”
They were soon on their way driving through the city until it gave way to the countryside. Tess tried to see the boat where Jack lived but she couldn’t.
She put on a brave face, sure she’d see Jack soon but for now she was back with Billy and they still had the rest of the holidays to play!
Next Adventure Is 'Tess And The Badger' Soon!