Once upon a time there lived a little girl named Zaza. Zaza was a rumbunctious six year old with blonde hair and a gappy smile. She lived with her mom, dad and baby sister Cahalta. Zaza had a life of fun and friendship but the one thing she lacked was a pet. After a little pleading her mum and dad decided to grant Zaza her wish and buy her a dog.
Many little girls like dogs that are pretty but pretty dogs tend to be haughty. Such dogs have fancy documents called pedigrees showing who their parents and grandparents are. This proves their ancestry all the way back to Queen Victoria. Some snooty little girls go for poodles that are crimped and shampooed till they smell like air stewards. These little girls are in a hurry to be stuck up grannies who lunch in restaurants daily and speak through their noses. Zaza was not like this. She was bursting with life and did not pretend to be a princess. She was the sort of girl who would go for day long rambles through the wild countryside with her boys cousins Birney and Denis – clambering over dry stone walls and squeezing past brambles to have a picnic in a cows’ field.
Not all dogs are lucky enough to have a loving home. In fact some are abandoned by their human families. Some live wild with their doggy parents but sadly some doggy dads and mums die while their puppies are yet young.
Most dogs are kind to humans. After all we all know a dog is man’s best friend. Just as there are a few nasty humans so too some dogs are mean. There can be vicious dogs who snarl and bite. That is why we do not let dogs roam around town. Dogs who are found wandering about town on their own are scooped up by the dog catcher. He will look for a collar. The collar will tell the dog catcher which family to return the pooch to. Those doggies with no home to go to are taken to the dogs’ home. The dogs are kept there for a week and fed. Adults have to pay money to the government called tax. Some of this tax money is used to pay for the dogs’ food in the dogs’ home. Grownups do not like paying tax so the government has to take as little of their grownups’ money as possible. This means the dogs in the dogs’ home cannot be fed forever. After a week in the dogs’ home are sent to the great big dogs’ home in the sky.
Zaza’s parents thought they should take a dog from the dogs’ home. These poor dogs have no human family and no doggy parents of their own.
Zaza and her parents arrived at the dogs’ home. They had left Zaza’s baby sister Cahalta with the grandparents. A cheery chap greeted them at the gate and ushered them in. His name was Seamus and he had a head of black curls and a braying laugh. Seamus wore a blue uniform of a dog catcher. They could tell that Seamus really cared for the dogs and only took them off the streets to save them from being knocked down by cars.
Zaza’s dad told Seamus what they wanted. ”We would like nice dog with good character – one who will be good with my daughters.”
”Does the dog have to look like model?” asked Seamus chuckling.
”Ah no,” said the dad, ”the dog must just be well-behaved and playful.”
”Are you looking for a boy dog or a girl dog?” asked Seamus.
”We do not want a boy dog or a girl dog – just a nice one, either girl or boy.” said dad sincerely. ”It is just like having a baby.”
Seamus reacted with peals of laughter. ”Come with me”, he said, his eyes were gleaming. Zara held her mum’s hand. Zara was skipping with excitement as Seamus opened a door and led them down a corridor.
On either side of the corridor were several cages each holding a dozen or so dogs. They came in all shapes, sizes, colours and ages. The dogs behaved in all different ways. Some were sociable and some were loners. Some were angry and others were calm. A few scampered about and others lay down asleep.
Zara ran up and down the corridor. She was overcome with excitement. The dogs sensed her mood and they barked eagerly- their tails wagging frenetically.
Zara saw a small yappy yellow dog. ”I want that one, I want that one!” she yelled. Her parents were not so sure. Zara grabbed her dad’s hand and led him to look into the cage where this dog stood barking.
Dad looked and mum and mum looked at dad. They could read each others’ minds. They both shook their heads. This dog did not seem to have a good nature. It was barking aggressively but this dog was so small that the bark did not seem angry to Zaza who was too young to understand such thing.
Seamus saw what the parents were thinking. ”Um maybe you should take a look at another dog.”
The parents nodded silently. Zaza began to lose interest in the yappy dog was now growling. All three followed Seamus towards the far end of the corridor. They walked right to the end – there was a door with the words ”end of the line”. They could see Seamus’ beaming face fall when he set his eyes on the words on the door. Then he looked to the left of the door. There was the last cage. In it was just one dog. This dog was a black and white border colley. The dog’s long coat shone with health and vitality. The dog barked a polite greeting to Zaza and her parents.
”This is the kindest dog you will ever meet”, said Seamus. ”I would love to have him for my own children. I have been working with dogs for 20 years and so I would know a good dog from a bad one. I would bring this fellow home but I already have five dogs and five children. I cannot afford any more. They do not pay us much in this job you know. I do it for the love of the dogs not for the money.”
The mum and dad nodded wisely. ”Yes, we can tell this one is best”, said mum.
”Well we said we would give Zaza the choice and she wanted the other one”, said dad. He was plainly unsure what to do. Should he let Zaza have her way even if she was making a big mistake.
”The thing is,” said Seamus uncomfortably,”this is this dog’s last day. If he is here tomorrow morning he is going through that door and never coming back.”
Mum’s face turned pale. Zaza suddenly realised the seriousness of the situation. ”I want this one”, said Zara definitely – she pointed straight at the black and white border colley and she danced gleefully.
”That’s done then. We’ll take this one please!” the dad was as pleased as punch.
The adults had to sign some papers and pay some money to help the dogs’ home care for the dogs. They promised to take the dog to the vet for his injections and buy all the things the dog needed. ”Do you promise to take good care of the dog now Zaza?” asked Seamus. ”I do – I do promise!” she said loudly and nodded her head strongly.
”Now what’ll we call him?”, said mum.
”We’ll call him Happy!” cried Zara joyfully.
”Ok it’ll be Happy”. said mum.
”There was no dog born with a better name for him,” laughed Seamus.
”By the way we have all been calling this dog ‘he’ = this is a boy isn’t it?” asked dad.
”Yes, he’s a boy all right” answered Seamus.
Happy was a little nervous getting into the car. He had never been in one before. But because of his easy nature he did not bark much. Before long they were at granny’s house and Happy was sniffing at the baby Cahalta.
They took Happy home that afternoon. Happy had a couple of accidents on the carpet before he was house trained.
Happy became more confident around the family. He was taken for faily walks and was always good to his human family. Zaza was clumsy occasion and stuck her finger in Happy’s eye. Happy was forgiving and never snapped at her. The family and Happy grew to love each other ever more.
After a year or so a baby brother arrived name Liam. Liam was not much fun at first. All he did was cry and fill nappies. Some dogs are jealous of such babies but Happy was so kind hearted that he did not resent the baby or run away.
A year after that the family decided to move to a far away country called Libya. They could not take Happy with them because Libya does not allow dogs from other countries to come in because some dogs have a disease called rabies. Dad tried telling the Libyans that Irish dogs do not have rabies but they would not trust him.
It was about a week till they were to move away. Zaza was upset at having to leave Happy behind. The parents told her they would give Happy to her cousins Birney and Denis. They would come back and visit Happy twice a year. Cahalta had grown up a lot and she too was a little down hearted that the world’s loveliest dog was to be left behind.
Happy was a brainy dog. He must have realised something was not quite right. A few days before the family were going to hand him over to Birney, Denis and their parents something happened. Happy was sitting happily in the garden when mum hung the washing out to dry. Then she went in to do more housework. She came back an hour later and Happy was gone.
”Happy, Happy where are you?” shouted mum. She was getting a little distressed. Then she noticed by the garden gate a large hole had been dug under the gate. Happy had dug his way out. Mum was worried for Happy. How was she going to tell the children?
When Cahalta and Zaza got home from school they were very upset to hear about Happy going away. ”Um, well, he has probably gone to find his friends”, said mum, trying to make the situation seem not so bad.
In every free moment dad had he drove around the area looking for Happy. He went to the park where they used to take him for a walk but no sign of him. They were giving up hope.
One evening on the way home from work dad saw a group of teenage boys waling by the road. They had Happy. His car screeched to a halt. The boys looked around when they heard the sharp noise. Happy looked around too. He barked gladly. The boys had Happy on a rope around his neck instead of a lead. Happy strained at his rope and panted towards dad. ”Hello sir, what do ye want?” said one of the boys suspiciously.
”Ah well lads the thing is that’s my dog you have.”
”Ah no tis not sir. Tis our dog now. His name is Prince.”
”Well when did you find him?”
”About five days ago – down at the park.”
”That’s when he ran away from us.” said Dad.
”’Ah well his name is not Happy – tis Prince. Isn’t that right Prince?” Happy barked in a way that seemed to say no.
”No, your name is Happy!” said Dad. When the dog heard the name Happy he almost jumped in through the car window. Happy barked keenly and panted with enthusiasm.
”We are travellers, like” said the leader of the boys. ”We have a right to a dog the same as anyboyd else.”
”You do of course. I will tell you what. If I give you 50 pounds could I have the dog and you can go and buy another?”
”Ok you can have him.”
Dad got out and opened his wallet. He handed over the 50 pounds. The boys took the rope off Happy.
”Welcome back Happy!” said Dad. Happy jumped up and gave dad a slobbery lick.
”His name’s Prince” said the boy anrgily. ”All right Prince” replied dad.
In a flash dad had put Happy into his car and waved the boys goodbye. Then dad called Happy by his real name all the way home.
Happy bounded into the house and almost knocked Zaza over when he jumped into her arms. She cried for joy.
The next day they had to give Happy to Birney, Denis and their parents. Zaza and her family all kissed Happy a tearful goodbye before they drove to the airport.
They came back to Ireland to visit Happy twice a year. Birney, Denis and their parens looked after Happy splendidly. He had a wonderful life on a farm. He rounded up cows and climbed hay bails. He had many play fights with other dogs and he had many doggy girlfriends. He became the father of a few pupppies. He had a very full and fun life. After many, many years it came time for Happy to go to the Great Big Dogs’ Home in the Sky. His spirit lives up their with all good dogs and his black and white coat lie beneath a large rock in front of Birney and Denis’ house.
There never was a dog with a better name than Happy.