It was the last day of January.
Ernie and Theo were lying under an oak tree, sheltering from the heavy rain that had been falling all morning.
“What a miserable day,” Ernie observed, “it’s very soggy underpaw.”
“Yes, it is a miserable day and not just because of the weather,” Theo said gloomily.
“Why else is it miserable Theo” Ernie asked.
“Ernie, surely even you know what’s happening today?” Theo replied.
“Yes, my humans and I off to the church hall for coffee, cakes and treats later,” Ernie answered, his tail wagging, “I love Fridays!”
“Ernie, do you ever read the news?” Theo said, shaking his head. “Today's the day we officially leave the European Union,” he explained.
“Oh yes, I heard my humans talking about that at breakfast time,” Ernie said, “They fetched it in the end then!”
“Fetched it?” Theo said, looking very puzzled.
“Yes, you know. Brexit…they fetched it!!” Ernie explained, his tail wagging.
“Ernie, it’s not a game you know!” Theo said with a trace of anger in his voice.
“Well even if it isn’t, it's no good getting angry about it,” Ernie replied in hurt voice.
“I'm sad about leaving,” Theo said. “It's all the Little Englanders singing, dancing and waving Union Jacks that are getting me a bit angry,” he explained.
“I’m a little Englander and I like dancing,” Ernie said, in an even more hurt voice.
“But you’re not a little Englander!” Theo said. “You’re a cross breed.”
“I’m not as cross a breed as you are right now!” Ernie answered back.
“No, not cross as in angry cross!” Theo said exasperatedly. “You’re a cavapoochon!”
“I know what I am thank you Theo!” Ernie replied, getting a bit angry himself.
“And a cavapoochon is a cross breed,” Theo explained.
“Actually, the experts say cavapoochons are a very placid, friendly breed” Ernie said, in his best placid, friendly voice.
Theo’s patience was running out. Brexit was bad enough without all Ernie's nonsense. He took a deep breath and decided to try again.
“No, a dog's a cross breed if its mum and dad are different breeds,” he explained. “You are actually as much German and French as you are English.”
“Theo, I come from kennels in Leyland. You can’t get more British than that,” Ernie replied smugly.
“Yes, I know you were born in England,” Theo said, trying to hide his frustration, “but your ancestors are from Germany, France and England.”
Ernie went quiet. This news was a lot for a little dog to take in. Questions queued up in his mind faster than British lorries might soon be backing up in Calais.
“Theo, I’m confused. I only have one mum and one dad, don’t I?” he asked.
“Yes, of course you do!” Theo reassured him.
“How can my ancestors come from three different countries then?” Ernie asked.
“Well, your dad was a poodle, which is of German origin,” Theo explained. “Your mum was a cavachon. She's a cross breed like you. Her dad was an English King Charles spaniel and her mum was a bichon frise, which originated from France.”
“So, I am as much European as I am English,” Ernie said.
“Well a bit more European actually,” Theo said, “You aren’t alone. Lots of other dogs', and even more people's, ancestors are from many different countries.”
“Does this mean I'll have to emigrate to France or Germany now we've left the EU?” Ernie asked in a worried voice. “I don’t know anyone there. I can’t speak their languages. I'll be lonely. I don't know what their treats taste like!!” he added.
Theo started laughing.
“No, you're a British citizen, so you can stay here,” Theo said.
“That’s a relief." Ernie said. "I remember when my humans moved house. That was bad enough. Why there's so much fuss about us leaving,Theo?”
“Because right now, we don’t really know how it will affect our future,” Theo explained. “Many folk think life will improve now we've left, others aren't so sure.”
“When will we actually know who's right, Theo?” Ernie asked.
“Nobody really knows that either. Even though we're leaving today, there's lots still to agree about how we'll get on with our European neighbours,” Theo replied. “Then it'll be a question of us all waiting to see how it all works out in practice."
Ernie wasn't very good at waiting and seeing. But he realised there was no point asking Theo more questions about Brexit now. So, he changed the subject.
“My new ear muffs are working a treat Theo,” he said. “I don’t even know Henry’s there when he starts hoovering up after my human’s been making her bandanas.”
“I knew they’d do the trick,” Theo said, smiling. “I might get myself a pair. They'll come in handy to block out all the noisy 'we're leaving' celebrations tonight!”
“That’s the spirit Theo, I'll be wearing mine too. I don't like fireworks!” Ernie chuckled. “Oh, I meant to tell you. My humans and I went to Ikea today. Norman Gnome tipped us off about a delivery of dogs’ bottoms. We went to top up our stock of them. We got some of their meat balls. What you doing for tea?”
“Well, I’ve nothing planned," Theo replied, "are you inviting me round?” .
“Of course!” Ernie replied, “Even I can’t eat a bag of Ikea meat balls on my own!!”
“Splendid, Ernie” Theo cried. “What better way to commemorate leaving the our European friends than by eating some of their meat balls!”
And so off they hurtled homewards, two hungry hounds hot on the scent of delicious European pork and beef.