All About Animals: STORY 2. Adapted from ‘Dog in Danger,’ by Hiawyn Oram.

Suitable for Key Stage 1 & 2

Sidneys owner was going on holiday. He didnt know what to do with Sidney, so he put him in his car and drove. He drove sixty miles and then left him on a strange street in a strange town in the pouring rain. Sidney had never felt so frightened in his life.

He huddled in a doorway.

Whats happening ? he whimpered. Please someone tell me whats going on. Well, if you ask me, a dripping-wet Labrador was sniffing him all over, youve been abandoned.

Sidneys wet hair stood on end. ABANDONED?

Yes, said the Labrador.

Taken from your nice warm home and DUMPED. What did you do? Mess on the carpet once too often?

Before Sidney could answer, the Labradors owner appeared, calling, Blessed! Heres my beauty!

The Labrador bounded off. Keep on the move! she barked back. Thats my advice. Trust nothing. Let no one near!

Sidney put his tail between his legs and set off. Past warehouses. Between cars. Up the quay. Down the quay. Up and down backstreets. At night he curled up on dark doorsteps. But he didnt sleep. He kept his eyes open and his ears pricked. He tried not to think about the hunger pains.

Then one morning while slinking down an alley he noticed some dustbins. Grease and old gravy. He sniffed. It will have to do. He stood on his hind legs and knocked off a lid. It rolled down the cobblestones.

A woman opened a window. Get out of there! she yelled.

A man appeared waving a stick. Go on! Get out of it! Scavenger! Sidney cowered against the wall as the mans stick whizzed past. He was terrified.

He tore down the alley and into the road. He didnt look. He didnt think. There was a screech of brakes. Sidney heard himself yelp. Every part of him hurt. People were gathering around. Trust nothing, let no one near he remembered. Making a huge effort he picked himself up and ran for it. Then everything went dark

Mixed breed, dog, about five years old, I think. A vet at the RSPCA was examining him. General condition good. Hit by car. No broken bones. Badly shocked and very frightened.

The vet handed him to Matty the nurse. Youll be alright with us, she said. Im going to keep you here with me until youre feeling better.

If I ever do, sniffed Sidney. But within a few days much to Sidneys surprise he did feel better. Almost like my old self again. And since youve looked after me so well, Im going to do a few things for you. Then Sidney set about making himself useful. He kept the cats in order. He comforted stray dogs and appointed himself bodyguard to nurse Matty.

Oh Sidney, she cried, what are we going to do without you when youre gone?

Sidney was shocked. This was his home now, wasnt it? He wasnt going anywhere, was he? He jumped up and licked Mattys tears. Dont cry, he comforted her, I wont leave you.

Oh dear, dear Sidney. Nurse Matty picked him up. You dont understand, do you? If no one claims you then youll go to our re-homing kennels. And if theres no room there then we have to

A cold chill ran through Sidney. He decided to put it out of his mind and stay busy. He alerted the staff to a sick gerbil. He rescued a puppy from under the fridge. Then he went to a cardboard box that had appeared by the radiator in Nurse Mattys office. He sniffed carefully round it. He peered carefully over the top. Oh my goodness! He nearly jumped out of his skin.

In the box were four newborn baby hedgehogs so newborn their eyes hadnt even opened. You poor little mites! Sidney was most upset. Lost your mother to a car, I expect! Well, Im not your mother but the next best will have to do.

Then, very carefully so as not to crush them, he climbed into the box and lay down. And immediately the little hedgehogs stirred and squeaked softly. Then, one by one, they wriggled towards Sidneys warmth.

Its astonishing! Nurse Matty and the staff stared down. Hes adopted them! Sidney looked up proudly. Well of course! Four babes in need. Wouldnt you?

Sidney kept the tiny creatures warm and clean. He helped them to eat and drink and guarded them like a tigress guarding her young. And in his care they began to thrive. They opened their eyes. Their soft spines began to harden and they took their first wobbly steps. Nurse Matty and the staff were very proud of him. Sidney! they said. We think that without you those little things would have died.

Nurse Matty had tears in her eyes again. She smiled at Sidney. One rescue deserves another, she said. She strode into her office and picked up the telephone. A short time later four photographers and three newspaper reporters arrived. They wanted Sidneys photograph with the hedgehogs, of course!

Flash! Flash! Flash!

They also wanted Sidneys story. Nurse Matty gave it to them as far as she knew, and a few days later Matty told Sidney the great news. Youre a star, Sidney. Youre in all the papers. And best of all the telephone hasnt stopped ringing!

So what? barked Sidney. Matty explained that people were ringing because theyd read about Sidney adopting the orphaned hedgehogs. And now they want to ADOPT YOU!

Well I never! Sidney blushed.

But dont worry, said Matty, this time only the very best will do. And while Sidney got used to the idea of the hedgehogs growing up and leading their own lives, Matty began checking possible new homes for Sidney. She was very strict. She asked lots and lots of questions about how theyd look after him. And that was how a week later Sidney found himself at home with the Bests. There was Mr and Mrs Best, their children Ben, Susie and Fred. There was Nigel the hamster, Tigger the cat and Sarah, a Jack Russell puppy, all of whom had been rescued by the Bests already.

Best of all, Blessed the Labrador lived right next door! All of them soon adored Sidney. What a brilliant bit of luck! said Blessed as they talked over the fence. After all your troubles to be adopted by my good neighbours the Bests!

It certainly is! sighed Sidney. And do you know the best part? Even better than the long walks, the lovely food and all the grooming and the cuddles?

No, said Blessed, tell me.

I dont even feel adopted, said Sidney, I feel Ive always been one of the Bests.

Lets Talk! Issues for your class to discuss
1. What should you do if you see a stray dog running free?
a) Throw stones at him?
b) Walk away?
c) Ask an adult to help you help the dog?

2. What dangers does an abandoned dog face?