Ernie misses the matchstick dogs

It was a breezy, cloudy Sunday evening. Ernie and Theo were both slouched under their favourite lamp post. It had been a long weekend. Ernie and Theo had been running their first ever stall at the Lowry Outlet Makers’ Market. They’d both been there to make sure their humans did a good job. You just have to do these things when your name is over the door!

They were chatting about how it had gone…

“Did you enjoy it Ernie?” Theo asked, “there were lots of different people there and I know how much you like meeting your fans! And our humans said we sold plenty of bandanas and treat jars.  Our Union Jack bow ties and bandanas for the Royal Wedding were especially popular.”

Ernie was watching two sparrows playing in a nearby bush, but he turned to Theo:

“I heard the humans saying they were putting names on lots of dogs’ bottoms. That must have hurt the poor dogs!”

Theo groaned, “No, they were putting the names on the dogs’ bottoms plaques we sell for them to hang their leads on silly!!”

“Oh, of course, I forgot about them,” Ernie replied absent-mindedly. The sparrows were still fluttering and he was thinking about giving chase.

“So, did you enjoy it then?” Theo patiently asked again.

“Well, to be honest Theo, I was a bit disappointed”

“Why, I had a great time even though I only went for one day!” Theo replied.

“Well, the thing is Theo, you said Mr Lowry painted matchstick men and match stick cats and dogs and I didn’t see a single one.  I was so looking forward to chasing a dog made of sticks. I did see a building near the market called the ‘Matchstick Man’. Maybe they all live in there, but if they do none came out when the market was on”

Theo took a deep breath, counted to three and then replied: “Ernie, they were called matchstick men and dogs because Mr Lowry painted them very small. He did this to illustrate how insignificant the people and animals were compared to the big factories they worked in and lived near. It was a form of symbolism.”    

Ernie listened carefully but he didn’t really understand what Theo was saying. He was in awe of his friend’s cleverness. He’d never been to school himself. He went to puppy training classes instead. They were great fun because he met lots of mates and got loads of treats just for sitting there.

“Well, I am sorry you were a bit disappointed Ernie,” Theo said, “I think the humans are going to go to again if they can because they sold loads of stuff!”

“Oh, I hope we do,” replied Ernie.

Theo was looking really puzzled now, “But Ernie, I thought you said you were disappointed by the market.”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong Theo, I really did want to see dogs made of sticks,” Ernie explained “but I made a new mate called Jez. He was telling me he was very poorly when he was little but he’d been ever so brave and got better. He’s full of beans now and we might seem him again if we go back to do the Lowry Makers’ Market”.

Theo was really touched by his friend’s story about Jez:

“That is a lovely story Ernie. I hope we do meet Jez again so we can catch up and find out what he has been up to”.

“Oh yes, that really gets my tail wagging…and guess what Theo!?”

“What Ernie?””

“Their humans had a stall called “Doggy Delivery” that sells some of the best dog treats I have ever tasted!!!”

Theo gave a wry smile and asked “Are you going to our next market Ernie?”

Ernie was getting very restless. He desperately wanted to play with the sparrows. “I don’t know, where is it Theo?”

“It’s the Huntley Country Fair and Dog Show near Preston on May 7th, there will be lots of dogs there so our pet accessories should be popular!” replied Theo.

“Oh yes, I’ll be there Theo – what will be going on?” As he said this, the sparrows started to take off and Ernie gave flight his ears flapping in the wind.

Theo shouted out, “I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow Ernie.” With that Theo started to trot home. He didn’t know if Ernie had heard him as he was galloping off and barking at the birds.   


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