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Animal Turns

Animal Turns For some time now I've thought it might be a good idea to put together a collection of my stories that feature ani...

Sunday, 24 May 2020

The Walrus and the Aunteater

Packham and India

 My grandson wanted a sequel to 'A Panda Called Mick ', so this is it. Being of an orderly mind, he wanted Packham to understand what was really going on this time, which is something of a tall order for a Chocolate Labrador but we've given it our best shot ;-)

Packham and India were racing each other across the field to try to be first to grab the, rather battered and distinctly smelly, tennis ball that had just been thrown for them.  Packham was first to it but skidded on the wet grass and missed it by inches. India, just at his heels, grabbed it from under his nose and galloped on with her tail in the air.

“Ahg god ther gall, Ahg god ther gall!” She said, triumphantly, in a sing-song voice.

Packham, who had been chasing after her, stopped suddenly and sat down.  He regarded her with a frown and then, tipping his head to one side, he said, quite politely, “Pardon?”

“Ah gaid, Ahg god ther…oh” India dropped the ball at her feet and continued, “I said that…”

But Packham had sprung up and whipped the ball from in front of her.

“Hah, hah, ha, hah, hah” He laughed in a sing-song way, “Nah, Ahg god ther gall”

“That’s cheating!”  India scowled, “It’s always the same, boys always cheat!”

“No, ee gon’t!” Packham retorted; his mouth still full of tennis ball.

“Do!” India shouted back, “anyway, I’m not sure we should be out here.  Not with the…” She looked all around her, carefully, before saying in a whisper, “not with the Panda about”

“Ah” Packham stopped cavorting around and sat down in front of her.  He dropped the ball at his feet and quickly placed his right front paw on top of it, when he saw India about to lunge forward. “I’ve been having a conversation with Flynn about that and I’m not sure I was absolutely right”

“You’ve been having a conversation with Flynn?  Did you have much to say to him?”  India asked, sarcastically.

“Well, all right, I was listening to Flynn then.” Packham admitted, “He doesn’t speak Dog, but he told me all about it” he added, importantly.

“I assume it doesn’t involve a Panda?”  India asked with one raised eyebrow.

“Well, no” Packham said in a low voice and stared hard at the ground, to avoid India’s gaze, “it doesn’t.”

“So what it is it then?  An invisible antelope?  A gorilla?  Perhaps it’s a gnu?” India sniggered.

“No, it’s none of those things”

“And you were listening properly this time?” India’s eyebrow was still firmly raised.

“Well, yes, only there was some important scratching that I’d got to do and I’m still looking for that dog biscuit that I’m sure I dropped in the crate, you know.  But I think I got most of it.”  Packham took a deep breath and tried to remember everything he had been told.  “It’s like this.  You know when you were a pup and you had to go to the vet’s and they stuck things in the back of your neck?”

“Oh, don’t remind me!” India lay down on the ground and covered her face with her front paws, “that was awful.”

“Well, you remember that you didn’t feel very well for a day or two afterwards?”

“Yeah, I don’t know why?” India nodded.

“Well, Flynn says that it’s because of a walrus.”

“A walrus?” India was astonished.

“Yes, they give you a little tiny version of this walrus that would make you really poorly if you caught it normally.  It’s called Maxine.”

“This tiny walrus is called Maxine?”  India now had both eyebrows raised.  “Why would they do that?  Sounds like a horrible thing to do to a puppy!”  She said, indignantly.

“Ah, but that’s the clever bit!”  Packham said, proudly showing off his new found knowledge, “what happens is, there are these helpful things inside you, called Aunties, that are really good at fighting things like walruses, and when they come across this little tiny walrus…”

“Called Maxine?” India suggested.

“Yes, called Maxine…then they can quickly jump up and down on it and kick it out.  So, they learn how to beat it when it’s tiny, then if the bigger version ever gets in, they’re ready for it!  Cool, isn’t it?”  Packham grinned.

“And these helpful things, these Aunties…?”

“Yes, they’re great.  They use their bodies to fight the walrus.”  Packham explained, “Auntie bodies, you see.  There’s a lot of them and they’re all really helpful.  There’s Auntie Bacterial, Auntie Biotic and Auntie Histamine for a start off.”

“So, like Auntie Jody who comes to help Mum?”

“Exactly” Packham nodded vigorously, “and look how helpful she is.  She wouldn’t have any problems with a walrus now, would she?”

“I shouldn’t think so” India agreed.

“But, if you don’t have this Maxine, and we haven’t got one at the moment, then we’re all at risk from these walruses and that’s dangerous because they’re…”  Packham realised that he was definitely getting out of his depth here.

“Aunt-eaters?” India suggested.

“Brilliant!”  Packham said, much relieved, “yes, Aunt-eaters, very good!  Where did you get that from?”

“I think I heard Flynn mention them when he was reading one of his wildlife books” India mused, “you know, I think I was happier when it was invisible Pandas we had to worry about”

“It’s not a problem” Packham said, reassuringly, “as long as people stay away from other people, then the walruses can’t get close enough to get in there.  The trouble is that no-one’s had the little tiny Maxine walrus, because there isn’t one, yet, so our Aunties aren’t ready for them”

“So, our Aunties are all sitting around knitting and drinking tea and things.  Then, if the walruses get in, they don’t know how to deal with them and might get eaten?”

“Exactly!” Packham beamed at this student, “you’ve got it!  But most of the time, the Aunties are more than a match for the walruses and they win.  It’s just that, sometimes, very occasionally…”

“They don’t?”
“No, they don’t” Packham agreed, shaking his head, sadly.

“Well,” India sat up and scratched her left ear, enthusiastically, “I’ve heard it all, now!  You’re sure you’ve got it right this time?”

“Absolutely! If you think about it, it all makes sense” Packham said confidently.  Seeing India scratching had set him off and he started to do the same, which meant that his front paw moved away from the ball.  India saw her chance and leapt forward.

“Ahg god ther gall, Ahg god ther gall” She sang, happily.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” Packham grumbled, but pretty soon the two dogs were chasing and tumbling over one another, all thoughts of walruses, Aunties and invisible Pandas long forgotten.

You can find a lot more of these stories about Packham and India in the new collection 'Animal Turns' available in paperback and Kindle editions.  All profits from the sale of this book go to support the work of TURN Education C.I.C..  To find out more about TURN (and the roles of Packham and India) please follow this link:

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

A Panda Called Mick

From time to time I write stories for my grandson in which I imagine the conversations that might take place between his two Labradors, Packham and India.  I thought they might be a bit perplexed by all that is going on at the moment, so I thought it would be interesting to hear what they make of it all...

It was the middle of the night, in the kitchen.  Packham and India had been asleep in their crate, despite having the run of the house.  Packham had been having a really fun dream which involved chasing squirrels, although, in his dream, he had just fallen out of a tree, which made him wake up with a start.  He was just really enjoying a spot of vigorous scratching before settling down again, when he realised that India was lying, eyes wide open, staring into the darkness.

“What’s up?”  He asked of his young companion.

“I can’t sleep.  I’m worried” India replied.

“Worried?  What’s there to worry about?” Packham scratched a particularly itchy spot just by his right shoulder.

“Oh, it’s alright for you!  You could sleep if the house was falling down around us!”  India grumbled.

“Dogs need their sleep” Packham stated, “it’s a known fact.  Otherwise, we couldn’t do as much as we do in the daytime”

“Do?  What do you do, apart from eat and chase balls?” 

“Very important stuff, all of that” Packham huffed, “someone’s got to do it!  Anyway, what are you worried about?”

“Well, don’t you think it’s strange that no-one’s gone anywhere for ages?”  India sat up and looked hard at Packham, “Dad’s not gone to work, Flynn’s not gone to school and there’s no-one coming here to learn things off Mum.  What’s going on?”

“Ah, that’s it, is it?” Packham settled down by India, “I wondered about that too, then I heard them talking and I know what it’s all about, now”

“You do?  Well, go on then!”

Packham sat up and adopted the wisest look he could manage.  India thought it made him look as if he was going to be sick, but decided not to tell him.

“Well, it’s all to do with a panda” Packham nodded, sagely.

“A panda?  What’s a panda?”

“It’s a black and white creature, quite big”

“What!” India yelped, “we’ve got a field full of them, next door!”

“No, no” Packham shook his head, furiously and a cloud of bits of dog biscuit and old fur filled the crate.  “They’re cows!  These are fluffier.  Like bears”

“Flynn’s got teddy bears” India mused.

“Yes, well imagine one of them only black and white and about Dad’s size”

“Ooh, scary!”  India shuddered “What’s this got to do with no-one going anywhere?”

“Well, there’s this panda called Mick and he’s going around and making people poorly”

“Why would he do that?”  India wondered.

“I dunno” Packham shrugged his shoulders, which isn’t easy when you’re a Labrador, “he just does.  So no-one’s going out in case they meet this panda”

“Oh, right” India didn’t sound convinced, “but what about when people come here.  Why do they stand so far away?  I mean, you can’t lick them, get them to stroke you, play with you or anything!”

“That’s because it’s invisible”

“What’s invisible?”

“This panda” Packham knew that he wasn’t absolutely sure what he was talking about, but he certainly wasn’t going to let India know that.

“The panda’s invisible, so that means that everyone has to stand far apart?”

“Yes” Packham said, uncertainly, “because you might have the panda with you and not know anything about it”

“Sounds weird to me” India shook her head.

“I’m just telling you what I’ve heard”

“So, what are they doing about it?  I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s great having everyone home and everything…”

“Of course it is. I’ve never played so much in all my life!  I think it’s brilliant” Packham grinned.

“But we can’t all stay in, all the time, just because of this invisible panda, can we?”

“Don’t see why not!”  Packham replied, stubbornly.

“Well, it’s just not right, is it?  Surely somebody’s got to do something”

“I’ve heard…” Packham looked around the room, as if he was about to tell a great secret and didn’t want anyone else to hear it, “I’ve heard they’re coming up with a vacuum!”  He said, importantly.

“A vacuum?  What, like Mum uses on the furniture?  How’s that going to help?”

“Look, I’m just a Labrador!  They don’t tell me everything!  Maybe…” Packham frowned and thought really hard, “maybe they’re going to get this HUGE vacuum and it will suck up all the air and, sooner or later, they’re bound to suck up the invisible panda, and that will be that!”  Packham was quite pleased with that answer and wagged his tail, triumphantly.

“I’m not sure you’ve got that right” India said, quietly as she rested her head between her front paws.

“Huh!” Packham replied, indignantly, “how would you know?  You’re just a pup!  I’m the oldest and the wisest dog around here”

“Yeah, right!”  India giggled, “well, I’m going to sleep, whether there’s an invisible panda, or not”

“I WAS asleep until you started going on” Packham grumbled.

“Night, Packham” India said, sleepily.

“Humph” Packham sulked.

“I said, goodnight Packham” India persisted.

“Night India” Packham responded, eventually.

India drifted off to sleep, and dreamed of chasing after giant pandas carrying vacuum cleaners.  Packham went back to chasing squirrels but tried not to fall out of the tree, this time.

You can find a lot more of these stories about Packham and India in the new collection 'Animal Turns' available in paperback and Kindle editions.  All profits from the sale of this book go to support the work of TURN Education C.I.C..  To find out more about TURN (and the roles of Packham and India) please follow this link: