Unlike the temperature, the sun was slowly falling. Ernie and Theo were taking what shelter they could by lying almost hidden under the bushiest bush near their favourite lamp post.
“Can you ever remember it being this hot?” Ernie glumly asked his best friend.
“No, we’ve had hotter summers, but they were before my time – and certainly yours!” Theo replied. “The good news is,“ he went on, " it’s due to get a bit cooler soon. That’ll hopefully put the smile back on your face, I can’t ever remember seeing you looking so sad.”
“Oh, it’s not the sun that’s making me glum Theo,” Ernie groaned, “I am almost getting used to that we’ve had it so long”.
“Well, whatever is it then?” Theo asked.
"It’s been a terrible week Theo, you’ve no idea,” Ernie cried, “I didn’t know if I was coming or going because I did both”.
Theo was often confused when Ernie answered his questions so he asked Ernie where he had actually been going to and coming from.
“It was like this Theo, ” Ernie explained, “I started the week in my house, then I went to my brother Erik’s house for a few days and now I’m in another house and it isn’t my house and I don’t know when I am going back to my house. I am a very confused little dog”.
Theo was the brightest canine in the neighbourhood and beyond. However, he could be forgiven for being just a little bit bewildered by Ernie’s explanation of his abject state, especially the last bit of it.
“Ernie, how do you know that the house you are in now is not your house?” Theo asked.
“It’s got no stairs. I Iove sitting at the top of my stairs and they aren’t in the house I'm now in that isn’t really my house. I can’t run up them to my human’s craft room to get her to stop making her dog leads and bandanas and give me a cuddle.”
Now he’d started explaining, Ernie couldn’t stop.
“Erik’s house has stairs. We chased each other up and down them when I was staying there. I don’t know when I am going back to my stairy house from the stair-less one. At first, I thought I was on holiday but I don't think that now. I haven’t been to the beach and I always go to the beach when I go on holiday,” Ernie cried.
As Ernie’s explanation unfolded, Theo remembered his humans talking about Ernie’s humans moving from their big old house to a newer bungalow. So, when Ernie had finished, it was Theo’s turn to do some explaining:
“Ernie, your humans have moved to a bungalow. You went to stay at Erik’s while they packed everything up in the old home and moved it to your new one. They were probably worried about you getting hurt while they did this and knew you’d enjoy a little holiday at Erik’s house.”
Ernie did have fun with Erik. They’d sat together at the window watching the world go by. Erik was growing up, so he no longer chewed Ernie’s ears as much as he used to. They’d happily eaten each other’s food and almost stopped fighting about who had which toy!
But after remembering all the fun, Theo's words made Ernie realise for the first time that he was never going back to the big, old, stairy house. He started to cry. For once, Theo was lost for words. Instead, he just nuzzled up to Ernie and gave him a nudge. Ernie smiled bravely through the tears. “Yeo, Theo – gotta go,” he mumbled and trotted off, (new) homeward bound.
“See you soon Ernie, it’ll get better, believe me,” Theo replied as he headed home too.
The following day, there was a knock on the door of Ernie’s new bungalow. Ernie’s human opened the door. Theo burst in followed by his humans. Ernie was tearing down the passage way as fast as his legs would carry him. He began spinning round and barking.
“Well, come on Ernie stop making me dizzy and show me around the place,” Theo said.
It took Ernie another minute or two to calm down, so Theo took matters into his own hands and began to trot around the bungalow. He found the craft room festooned with Ernie and Theo’s newly-made pet accessories. He almost stopped to do a quality check. He never forgot his name was over the door. For once, though, his directorial duties could wait. He came back into the hall and nearly collided with Ernie who had stopped spinning but was now searching for his best friend.
They both ran through the dining room and kitchen into Ernie’s brand-new garden. It was yet another hot summer’s evening. They started to chase each other around the parched lawn. Theo picked up a tennis ball and began to roll around the grass on his back. After a few minutes of this he sat up and spoke to his little mate.
“Well, Ernie, you didn’t tell me about this yesterday!” Theo said. “Who needs stairs when you’ve got a lovely big garden to play in?”
Ernie had become completely engrossed in chewing one of the many little sticks he’d dragged out of the border, so much so that the lawn looked like autumn had come early. He looked up when Theo asked his question:
“I must have forgotten, Theo,” he replied.
“It’s not like you to forget Ernie,” Theo chuckled.
“Oh, that reminds me Theo, where is our next market?” Ernie asked.
Theo looked slowly up to the sky. He seemed to be counting. He appeared to take some deep breaths. He then ran over into a quiet corner of the garden, lay down, closed his eyes and started chewing very hard on his ball.
Sometimes, as Theo knew, our actions express our feelings far more eloquently than any words can.
Ernie meanwhile had started barking. It sounded like a happy bark.