It was a chilly February evening. The ground was covered in snow that was refusing to move and there wasn't a gritter in sight.
Theo was lying beneath his favourite lamp post. He’d been waiting over ten minutes for Ernie to arrive. He seemed deep in thoughts of the worried variety.
Ernie finally danced around the corner, stick in his mouth, and sat next to his best friend.
“Yeo Theo, how are you doing?” Ernie asked cheerily, then began ripping bark off his stick.
“Good evening Ernie,” Theo said gloomily, “I have a lot on my mind just now to be honest”.
Ernie wasn’t too surprised at this news. He reckoned clever dogs like Theo had to have a lot of thoughts - otherwise what was the point of having brains with so much space in them?
“What’s on your mind today then, Theo?” Ernie asked.
“The same thing that’s on everyone else’s mind right now Ernie” Theo replied.
“Do you mean treats Theo?” asked Ernie.
“What – are you serious?!!!” Theo answered back with disbelief in his voice.
“Well, that’s what’s on my mind,” Ernie replied in a hurt tone.
“Ernie, they are always on your mind. However, believe it or not, there are some things more important than treats you know,” Theo said, trying not to sound too condescending.
“Like what? Treats make me happy, what’s more important than that?” Ernie asked.
“Well, even you must know about all this stuff with Brexit,” Theo answered.
As soon as Theo said “Brexit”, Ernie dropped his stick and tore off up the path.
He finally came to a halt. He glanced and sniffed around but clearly couldn’t find whatever he was looking for. He slowly trotted back to where Theo was sat looking very disappointed.
“Erie, why did you run off like that while I was talking you?” Theo asked in an annoyed voice.
“Because you told me to fetch it. But when I went to, I couldn’t find anything there,” Ernie answered in a disappointed voice. “Why did you do that?” he asked.
“I said ‘BREXIT’ not “fetch it!” Theo said in a ‘can you really be that silly’ sort of voice.
“Brexit? What’s that?” Ernie asked.
“It’s very complicated to explain Ernie, especially if you don’t already know anything about it,” Theo explained, wishing he’d kept his thoughts to himself. “In simple terms we voted to leave the European Union which is like a big club made up of different countries who do lots of things together,” he explained.
“So, it’s not like fetch it?” Ernie asked.
“Well, funnily enough, it sort of is….and it sort of isn’t,” Theo replied.
“How can something be and not be at the same time?” Ernie asked sceptically.
“Well, it is because Brexit is about our country’s humans trying to fetch something – but it isn’t because they can’t agree on exactly what ‘it’ is they want to fetch – and some don’t think we should fetch anything at all,” Theo explained as best he could.
Ernie’s cortical neurons were starting to grumble. They’d been trying to relax after a long day patiently modelling some of Ernie and Theo’s latest pet accessories. Any more of this and they’d be in open revolt. Ernie decided to sit down to digest what Theo had said. He scratched his ear and then his chin. After a long pause, he’d worked out his question.
“What will they fetch from this Brexit then, Theo – you know, the humans?” Ernie asked.
“Who knows Ernie? Who knows?” Theo replied, with a trace of despair in his voice. “Whatever they fetch many humans will be unhappy. Even if they fetch nothing,” he added.
“Well, we aren’t humans so it’s not our problem is it?” Ernie asked nonchalantly.
“You are wrong there Ernie, Brexit will affect everyone - even us,” Theo gravely replied.
“How can it affect us Theo?” Ernie asked.
“Well, let’s take an example you might understand,” Theo explained. “Say our treats come from Europe. If Brexit happens, their price might go up because the people who make them might have to pay extra to send them to England”.
“Theo, you worry too much,” Ernie replied with a smile on his face. “We get our treats from down the road not Europe!”
“Yes, I know Ernie, but any ingredients in them that come from Europe may cost more after Brexit so treat prices would rise,” Theo explained. “Other things might cost more too and the pound could fall. That might mean our humans having to cut back on our treats!”
“To make it more complicated,” Theo went on, “some experts say life might be better after Brexit, some say it might be worse…and others think it might not happen at all!” he concluded.
Erne hadn’t understood everything Theo said – partly because he got a bit bored of it towards the end and had stopped listening. He’d also noticed from the corner of his eye that a squirrel was scuttling over some nearby snow. He scratched his chin again, thinking about what to say to his worried friend.
“Theo, you are much cleverer than me,” he said. “But I will say this. Thinking about Brexit is making you unhappy. If you are not happy you know I won’t be either. Do you think we should let this Brexit thing do this to us? I know what I think. What do you think?” he asked.
Theo thought about what his little friend had said.
“Ernie, you are right, I shouldn’t let this make me sad and worried. It’s just that my mind can’t help thinking about these things,” he explained.
“I know Theo, I know, it’s just who you are,” Ernie answered. “But someone as clever as you must be able to find happier things to think about.”
Theo nodded in agreement. Just as he did so, he finally spotted the squirrel Ernie had seen earlier. It was on the move. A mischievous look spread over Theo’s face. Ernie’ tilted his head.
“Well, guess what I am thinking right now?” Theo asked, his eyes glinting.
“What?” Ernie asked in a curious voice.
“That I’m going to get to that squirrel before you do!!” Theo replied, racing off.
Ernie’s tail wagged and his cortical neurons settled back into their armchairs.
“Yeo Theo, I don’t think so, I saw him first!” he shouted and took off after his happy friend.
After a frantic few seconds, the squirrel got away - like he always did in these situations. However, unlike Brexit, the thrill of the chase had made Theo and Ernie smile and they happily trotted home for some well-earned tea.