Scurvy Dog lived on his own in the basement of a
His coat was not in good condition:
he had the mange, a nasty dermatitis
and three or four other undiagnosed disorders.
His nose looked like it had been made out of an
old bit of perished rubber –
he could not recall the last time it had been cold
He did not belong to anyone.
He could not remember ever having had an owner.
Most days he took himself for a walk in the
He would go round the same places sniffing and
widdling, marking out his territory with scant
Then he came back to his flat and ate lunch.
He lived on things from bins.
“I found a piece of fillet steak once,” he said.
In the evenings he might go out and growl at some other dogs he knew –
chase the odd cat.
Or else he would just stay in and do a bit of scratching.
Children did not like him,
which was fine with Scurvy Dog because he didn’t like children much either.
He crapped wherever he wanted to.
When people shouted at him he thought: Hey, whose world is this?
I’m not the one who put all this concrete down you know.
I can’t dig up concrete, can I?
He was interviewed once for Animal Hospital
but was deemed too unpleasant to be cute
and not weak enough to be likely to “die during the night”.
His disorders were not interesting.
He blamed all his ills on the Scabby Cat who lived next door.
“It’s all that ruddy cat’s fault,” he would say, unjustly;
“If it wasn’t for that ruddy cat…”
At the end of his street lived an eccentric old lady who was always rescuing hopeless cases,
but whenever she saw Scurvy Dog she gave him a wide berth and contrived to be looking in the other direction.
Sometimes he would walk a few blocks from his home and taunt some of the wealthy pedigree dogs.
They looked down their long noses at him.
“At least I’m unique!” said Scurvy Dog.
The Vicar’s Dog was always taking him on one side for a little chat.
“Now then Scurvy Dog,” he would say.
“Have you thought any more about finding an owner?
Where do you think you’ll end up if you die ownerless?”
“Don’t give me all that Dog-Hell rubbish,” said Scurvy Dog.
When you’re dead you’re dead and someone chews your bones.
The Vicar’s dog was called Moreover.
Why are you called Moreover? Scurvy Dog had asked him once.
It’s in the Bible, said the Vicar’s Dog proudly.
In one of the Parables: ‘Moreover the dog…’ it says. Yes sir, Luke 16: 21.
Sometimes in the night Scurvy Dog would dream of green fields and sheep;
he was always chasing the sheep, who were big and slow like puffy clouds,
and he would bark and bark and run and run without having to worry about busy streets.
The Vicars Dog said: One of your parents must have been a Border Collie.
Scurvy Dog had a limp from the time when, as a puppy, he had been hit by a car.
It was only a dim memory.
He had been with another dog, a kind and friendly female, walking along the pavement.
He had found an interesting smell and when he looked up, she wasn’t there any more.
He began yapping and running to and fro trying to find her, but there were so many people and he didn’t know where she was.
He had run into the road right in front of a car.
His leg had always been painful since then.
He knew he would never be able to chase sheep even if he found any.
He didn’t know much about sheep, never having seen one except on TV,
but he had an idea they were good things to chase.
Lately he had been feeling tired after his morning walk, and sometimes he had a pain in his chest.
“Still haven’t found an owner, eh Scurvy Dog?” said Moreover.
There was an old man who lived in the same building as Scurvy Dog.
He didn’t seem to have any pets at all.
One day Scurvy Dog thought he might just call round and see if they could come to some arrangement.
He went and scratched at the door.
The man opened it and when he saw Scurvy Dog he got down on his haunches and held out his hand.
“Come on boy!” he said.
Scurvy Dog didn’t normally go close to people – he didn’t trust them –
but he was secretly worried about what Moreover had said.
He went up close and sniffed the man’s hand.
It smelled pretty bad, but then so did most people round those parts.
Suddenly there was a flash.
The man had tried to hit him with his stick.
Scurvy Dog ran off into the night.
He didn’t bother about owners at all after that.
And when the Vicar’s Dog came near he just swore at him.
December was very cold,
and the heating in Scurvy Dog’s flat had packed up.
One night he woke up and looked out of the window.
White clouds were hurrying across the sky.
The moon was shining very brightly
The sky looked just like a great big black field full of white sheep.
Scurvy Dog got up out of bed.
For the first time in years his leg wasn’t hurting at all.
He went over to the window and stood on the ledge.
“Oi!.” he barked
and the clouds all stopped and turned to look at him.
“Oi! Oi!” he barked again.
The clouds looked at each other, then back at him.
“OI, YOU LOT!” barked Scurvy Dog, “COME ’ERE!”
And suddenly the clouds were running hell-for-leather across the night sky.
The Border Collie in Scurvy Dog was wide awake and knew exactly what to do. With a single bound he was off the window ledge and chasing after the sheep.
He chased them and chased them and chased them back and forth and back and forth all over the night sky. And he never felt a twinge from his leg or a pain in his chest or any hint of tiredness.
And by morning
he had caught them all: