A Rex Harrison Short Story
Sergeant Gruber scratched his head. What was he supposed to do in this situation?
“You can’t pass him,” insisted Mike. “Dave is still off work because of him.”
Jason agreed, “Mike’s right. You can’t pass him.”
This was the crux of the problem facing Sergeant Gruber – he knew that he really shouldn’t pass Rex Harrison. The oversized German Shepherd dog was a menace. Dave was off work because Rex insisted on avoiding the pads when he went after his handlers in the drills.
It was as if the dog saw them as a sort of soft or easy target and thus beneath him. Getting bitten wasn’t a new thing, of course, the guys accepted it was just part of the job. Sooner or later, a dog was going to miss the padding you were gamely offering for them to bite. Rex though, Rex chose to ignore the pads.
He’d bitten twelve instructors. Twelve. It was twelve times as many as any other dog in the history of the academy. Dave had got the worst of it. Not content to go for an ankle when a padded arm was offered, Rex chose to bite Dave’s trousers.
Not the back of Dave’s trousers, let’s be clear about that. No, that might have been forgivable. Dave’s colleagues were still up in arms about it. Clearly.
Sergeant Gruber last spoke to Dave yesterday. He was recovering … mostly. The bigger issue, so far as Dave saw it, was that his wife didn’t know what he was making all the fuss about and even made a joke that the dog must have a jolly good aim.
Dave’s concerns aside, what Dave believed to be the bigger issue wasn’t the bigger issue at all. The bigger issue was that Sergeant Gruber was under pressure to deliver trained police dogs and no matter how many he produced, it was never enough.
“You’ve had two hundred recruits this year!” Sergeant Gruber recalled his most recent unpleasant conversation. “How is that you have such a high fail rate?” his boss had demanded to know.
Charlie Gruber would happily explain to anyone the complexities of training a dog … any dog, to do all the things that was required of a modern police canine, but the problem was that the people he needed to explain it to just didn’t want to listen.
The Metropolitan Police wanted police dogs. They wanted them now, and he sometimes wondered how long it would take them to notice if he sent them a poorly trained goat in a disguise.
Ultimately, he knew that if he failed Rex Harrison as his instructors expected, his boss would scrutinise the results and question his judgement. It really was a career decision he was being forced to make.
Rex Harrison hadn’t just passed every test, he’d aced them. The dog had an air of superiority that made it seem as though he was looking down on his human handlers. If you watched him, which Sergeant Gruber had on many occasions, you found yourself questioning whether the dog was watching the humans around him with disappointment.
“You’re going to, aren’t you,” accused Mike. “You weak sell out.”
“Hey!” Charlie Gruber had known Mike for years, and they had never fallen out. Heck, Mike came to Charlie’s daughter’s wedding. Mike was toeing the line right now though.
Scowling a warning at every face in the room, Sergeant Gruber picked up his stamp, rubbed it in the ink pad, and slammed it down on Rex Harrison’s paperwork.
He was a pass whether the instructors liked it or not.
“This is day one on the job, Rex,” remarked Constable Ruari McGee, the human holding his harness. “I have to get used to you just as much as you need to get used to me. You’ve had all the training and today we get to find out if you can cut it in the real world.”
Rex Harrison looked up at the human holding his harness. The man was chattering away, his words coming too fast for Rex to capture them all. However, none of his key command words were being said, so Rex wasn’t paying him much attention. Instead, Rex was sifting the air.
“Obey my commands, come to heel when I call, and above all don’t embarrass me. If you can do that, we’ll get along just fine,” the man continued to talk, the words going over Rex’s head. “We’re just going on a routine patrol today; nothing exciting. This will be all we do for the next few weeks. When I’m confident you are ready for something more, you will get the chance to prove yourself. Until then, the older, more experienced dogs will take the lead.”
Rex frowned a little, questioning why he needed to defer to the older dogs, but held back the comment in his head.
They set off, Constable McGee leading Rex away from the van they travelled in. Rex wasn’t a fan of the cage he was expected to clamber into each time – it was too restricting on his bulky frame, but the human had made it as comfortable as he could by adding a padded blanket to the base.
Nevertheless pleased to be out of it and moving, Rex continued to sample the air around him. London’s streets were awash with scents that fought for superiority. There were three … no four rats in the alleyway he’d just passed. Rex could smell their individual odours as surely as reading a book. They were feasting upon an abandoned slice of pepperoni pizza and were being stalked by a pair of alley cats they were yet to detect.
Ahead of him was a laundromat place next to a drycleaner’s and beyond them was a public house. The public house was closed, it being not long after breakfast time, but Rex could smell where beer and other alcoholic liquids had soaked into the wooden floorboards over the decades.
They were close to Tower Hamlets, a dingy suburb of London, patrolling the streets with no great purpose other than to maintain a police presence. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police believed community policing was at the heart of reducing crime. People should know there were officers nearby for the assurance and sense of security it gave them. The unspoken subtext was that it made those considering a crime have seconds thoughts. Arguably that was even more helpful to the community.
They walked a rectangular route, Constable McGee stopping to chat with three different pairs of old ladies who wanted to meet ‘his handsome dog’ and some kids who were skateboarding where they ought not to during school hours when they should be in class. They also stopped when they came across a drunk/drugged person who was walking the streets in socks and a shirt, but no trousers.
Dealing with the disorientated and confused man in his late thirties took up half an hour, an ambulance coming to take him once McGee was content the man posed no threat.
They were almost back at the van when the call came over his radio.
Rex’s ears pricked up – they had a crook to catch!
Griping because he didn’t want to go back into the cage, Rex complained, “We can go faster on foot at this time of day. It’s only down the road in Limehouse. You’ll get stuck at the junction. Did you not see the traffic there earlier?”
Constable McGee had no idea what the dog’s noises were all about, and gave Rex’s skull a shove so he could close the cage door.
“This will be interesting for you, Rex,” McGee said as he lowed the van’s rear door. “We’ll just go there and observe.”
“Observe?” Rex couldn’t see why he wasn’t expected to add value and continued to mutter all the way there. Mostly he complained about the time it was taking because they were stuck in traffic at the junction just as he predicted.
Finally out of the van and able to join the other dogs at the scene, Rex stopped to look at a footprint at the edge of a puddle. He gave it a sniff, leaning his weight away from his handler until he could get a good sample.
Forced to move on, he looked around. They were approaching a small, independent hardware shop. Rex’s nose detected the preservative oil used to coat the machines and tool inside, plus the heavy, base smell he always got from new steel. He picked up hundreds of other smells and strained to get inside where he knew the other dogs with their humans had congregated.
Dragging Constable McGee through the door, his nose picked up a scent that didn’t belong.
“Oh, look, it’s the new kid,” huffed Nelson, a four-year-old veteran German Shepherd. Rex had met him and most of the other service dogs a few days ago when he left the academy. Too enthusiastic and exuberant, Rex had instantly been given the cold shoulder by almost every dog on the team. Rex wanted to get out and catch bad guys, believing he had the skills and the smarts to be successful on the capital’s streets.
His contemporaries thought otherwise. They’d seen it and heard it all before. Most new dogs were just like him. Pumped full of daft ideas from their time at the academy, they had no idea how things worked in the real world.
Standing next to Nelson was another German Shepherd, this one a three-year-old called Roy Orbison. Though it was completely lost on the dogs, the instructors at the academy got to name the batches of puppies and had long ago elected to theme the intakes. Roy Orbison was in a tranche of dogs all named after American pop stars of the sixties.
Roy sniggered at Nelson’s comment. “We can probably relax then. Give Rex five minutes and he’ll have solved the whole thing.”
Rex chose to ignore them, sitting obediently at Constable McGee’s feet. While his human talked to his colleagues, Rex closed his eyes and sifted his way through the scents carried on the air. Above his head one of the officers was talking to the owner of the hardware place.
“So you didn’t get a good look at his face?” asked Constable Kate Spalding.
The store manager had been robbed, the thief getting away with a van load of new tools and equipment, plus the contents of the till.
“Sorry, no. I was in the storeroom at the back and whoever it was that robbed the place locked me in.”
Kate asked, “You said there was over a thousand pounds in the till, what were you doing with that kind of money at this time of the day? Aren’t most of your transactions by card these days?”
“Well, yes,” the man replied, sounding apologetic. “I guess I’ve always carried a big float. It makes it easy if people do want to pay with cash.”
Another of the officers, Constable Harry Kemp sought to confirm, “You’re the manager, not the owner, correct?”
Again the man sounded apologetic when he said, “That’s right. I’ll have to call the boss and let him know. He’ll not be pleased. This isn’t the first time we’ve been hit like this.”
“No,” remarked Kate. “It’s the third time in six months, the method and nature of the robbery the same each time. Each time it occurs when it is only you at the store and you always get locked in the storeroom.”
“That’s not true,” protested the store manager. “Last time I was locked in the toilet.”
Kate pressed on, “How come the owner hasn’t paid to fit a camera system so we might stand a chance of catching the thief behind it?”
“Oh, there are cameras,” explained the store manager. “Buuut, I sometimes forget to turn them on.”
Nelson, looking to have a little fun at Rex’s expense, asked, “Solved it yet?”
Rex opened his eyes and stood up. “Solved it? No, not yet. However, the man we are looking for has been near fish today, but he doesn’t work on a boat because the scent of the river we can all detect is coming from it, not from inside this room. I figure that means the fish market. The nearest one to here is Billingsgate just a mile or so from where we are standing.”
Nelson and Roy Orbison looked at each other. They had smelled all the things Rex was smelling, but hadn’t even attempted to add the clues together.
Rex continued, “Also, he is single because there is no trace of a female human’s smell mingled in with his and he’s badly overweight.”
“Overweight?” questioned Nelson. “How on earth can you tell that from his smell?”
“Yeah,” agreed Roy, challenging Rex to have an answer.
Rex would have given a sad shake of his head if such a gesture meant anything to a dog. Instead, he raised an eyebrow.
“Did you not notice the footprint in the mud outside? It rained for the first time in days after closing time last night so the puddle and thus the footprint are fresh. The business only opened an hour ago and it doesn’t look like this place does a lot of trade,” he commented, looking about at the dated and drab interior. “The shoe that left the print is a size thirteen extra wide. If you don’t believe me, go check for yourself. The footprint also stinks of fish and … something else. Something greasy. I’m having trouble pinpointing what it is, but I’m heading to Billingsgate Market to see if I can find it there. If the scents overlap, I’ll have found where our perpetrator has been. Given the depth of scent, I think we can assume he is there regularly and will be back there soon enough.”
Nelson and Roy Orbison were gawping now, their lower jaws hanging open in shock. Gathering himself, and remembering that he was one of the more experienced dogs and thus expected to train and guide Rex in ‘the way things work around here’, Nelson chose to scoff.
“You’re going to Billingsgate Market, are you? What if your human has other plans?”
Rex tilted his head to one side, thinking the question was a strange one to pose.
“Then I’ll go without him.”
Nelson and Roy fell into a fit of laughter.
Kate, Harry, and Ruari looked down at their dogs.
“What got into them?” asked Harry, tugging on Roy’s lead to make him stop the odd chuffing noise.
Kate had taken a statement from the store manager, Anthony Stone, and would file a report. There were no witnesses to the robbery and therefore nothing much the police could do. The report would be followed up to see if it could be linked to any other crimes in the area, but that would be handled by the detectives, not by the dog handlers who only got to respond this time because they were the closest units in the area.
Rex felt a tug on his lead.
Constable McGee said, “Come along, Rex. Let’s get back in the van. I think we’ll head back to the station and see what is going on there.”
“The station?” Rex questioned. “But didn’t you smell the fish? I know human’s have a terrible sense of smell, but come on. It was obvious!”
Nelson and Roy called after him as they were led to their vans. “Good luck catching the bad guy,” they laughed.
Disappointed with his human’s lack of interest, confused about what they were doing if they weren’t going to follow the trail of clues the criminal left behind, and pushed to act irrationally by Nelson and Roy’s goading, Rex decided to do what he knew was right.
Doing What is Right
Ruari opened the van and slipped off Rex’s harness.
“In you get, boy,” he clicked his fingers and pointed into the cage.
Rex took one look at it, turned his head to catch Nelson’s eye, winked, and was gone.
The shout of outrage came as no surprise, but Constable McGee’s flailing arms never even got close to stopping Rex as he neatly sidestepped his human’s legs and started running. Able to go from stationary to full speed in just a few bounds, Rex shot past the hardware store, rounded the corner, and tore down Ming Street.
All three police dog vans were chasing him before he got to the Limehouse Link Road, however keeping him in sight and catching him were two very different things.
Rex knew they were back there and acknowledged that it was a good thing. He could find where the criminal had been, but that wasn’t the same as catching him. Furthermore, even if he did find the robber and took him down, Rex couldn’t perform an arrest – he needed a human for that.
In his van, Constable McGee had some choice words to share with the world. Dogs fresh from the academy were supposed to be super obedient. He was going to catch merry hell from his boss when Rex’s escape became public knowledge. Which it would. Worse yet, having transferred to the Met only recently because his wife took a job in the city, he was still on a kind of virtual probation himself.
He hadn’t wanted to move, but his wife made it clear she was going with or without him when she got the job offer. He’d supported her for years while she studied, and now she earned five times what he did and decided she could call the shots.
With Canary Wharf to his right, Rex ran at a steady pace. He got a few looks from pedestrians as he went by and scared a bunch of seagulls who were squabbling over a bacon roll someone had dropped. Rex snagged it without breaking stride and swallowed it whole as the seagulls swarmed overhead and swore revenge.
He ran on, the stench from the fish market becoming stronger with each passing yard. The traffic on Upper Bank Street was too heavy for him to cross but a pedestrian overpass provided the safe route he needed.
The police officers in their vans couldn’t follow him and had been tracking his progress as best they could from the Limehouse Link. Seeing his dog finally slow as he reached the outer fringes of Billingsgate Market, Constable McGee messaged Kate and Harry – he was turning off to go on foot if he could.
Oblivious to what his handler was doing, Rex stopped running. At a slow trot, he made his way up to the entrance gate to the market grounds but there he stopped.
A human was looking at him.
Actually, the human, a security guard for the market called Arran Renfroe was looking at the jacket the dog wore. Along the German Shepherd’s flanks it read ‘Police’ in big, shiny letters. Arran couldn’t see a police officer anywhere, but if the dog was here then the handler couldn’t be too far away.
Was it one of those sniffer dogs that could pick up the scent of drugs? Arran had a joint in his top pocket and the dog was staring right at it.
Rex could indeed smell the marijuana in the man’s pocket but was paying it no attention. He had a one-track mind right now, and it was trying to figure out whether he needed to venture into the market or not. The scent of fish had brought him this far, but it was the other smell, the greasy smell that was proving hard to locate.
It wasn’t a smell he associated with the fish market, but it had to be close by.
Hearing the squeal of tyres to his rear, Rex twitched his head around to look over his shoulder. His human counterpart was getting out of his van, and he looked annoyed.
In truth, Constable McGee looked apoplectic with rage, but Rex wasn’t able to pick up the fine definitions between different human emotions. Either way, Rex hadn’t found the source of the robber’s scent yet, so no matter how loudly Constable McGee shouted, Rex wasn’t coming back.
He picked up his pace, running past the entrance to the fish market which left Arran breathing a sigh of relief.
The front façade of the market stretched on for a hundred yards, but coming to the far corner, Rex caught the first trace of the greasy smell in his nostrils and doubled his pace.
He knew what it was now, and it was going to be so easy to find!
Constable McGee had been out of his van and running to get the harness back on Rex when the dog took off again. Fruitlessly, he screamed the dog’s name and chased after him. He got five yards before he hit the brakes and ran back to the van.
Kate and Harry were both staring at their new colleague through their windscreens, disbelief and amusement fighting to be the dominant emotion colouring their expressions. Ruari was the new guy and even though he was an experienced dog handler, he was yet to prove himself. The wider team were going to love being regaled with this story.
Stopping the video she was shooting on her phone, Kate put her van back in gear and followed when Harry pulled out behind Ruari again.
Following his nose, Rex changed direction only once before he found what he was looking for. A snack shack sitting at the edge of the wharf stank of grease and fish. It also held the unmistakable, undeniable odour of the same man Rex could smelled in the hardware store.
Though humans appear to be blithely unaware, they all smell completely different. Better than fingerprints, the unique combination of sweat, diet, individual choice of soap and products carrying a scent all join together to generate a signature any dog could follow.
Rex ran around the small wooden building looking for a way in.
“Rex!” bellowed Constable McGee, stomping toward his dog. He said some other things that are entirely unprintable.
“Ah, jolly good,” barked Rex. “I can’t tell if he’s in there right now, but this is his place and the goods he stole from the hardware place are definitely inside.” Pointing at the door with his nose, Rex expected his human to open it and was greatly shocked when instead Constable McGee chose to snap his harness into place and begin dragging him away.
“I’m sending you back to the academy,” Ruari threatened. “I’ve never had a dog ran away before. Never. What on earth was going through your mind?”
Rex dug his feet in. “I was thinking it was a good idea to catch the criminal,” he whined. He wanted to bark and snap at his dopey human, but knew that would be considered bad behaviour.
Harry and Kate were both out of their vans too, and taking their dogs out because both Nelson and Roy Orbison were going nuts.
The moment Nelson’s harness was on, he had his nose to the ground and was pulling his human across the tarmac. When Roy did likewise, both Harry and Kate went with them.
“Hey, Ruari,” Kate called out. The new guy was fighting with his dog, trying to get him back to the van while the dog clearly wanted him to look at the snack shack.
By the time Ruari finally looked up, Harry was already at the shack and peering through the window.
“Well, I’ll be,” he choked out a surprised laugh.
Curious, Kate caught up to him and looked too. Her reaction was one of awe.
“Ruari, you have to come see this.”
Nelson and Roy Orbison didn’t know what to make of it. They could smell the same man who’d been in the hardware store, but neither of them had thought to pursue it themselves. They hadn’t really given it any thought at all. Their humans hadn’t asked them to do anything; the suspect was believed to have escaped in a motorised vehicle, so they were not going to be tasked with tracking his scent overland.
Truthfully, they felt a little embarrassed that the new dog, the young pup as they still thought of him, had found the missing property so easily.
With her radio, Kate advised dispatch that they were forcing entry to the snack shack and gave Harry the nod to break the glass in the door.
Constable McGee, bringing Rex with him despite wanting to lock him in the back of the van, couldn’t believe his eyes. Gawping at his dog, he asked, “How did you know?”
Rex twitched one eyebrow and tilted his head.
“I used my nose, dummy.”
His comment brought a snigger from Nelson and Roy, but before either could comment, Rex was pulling on his human handler’s arm again. Rex’s nose was twitching. Now that the glass was broken and the air inside was drifting out, there was something …
Kate was relaying what they had found to dispatch. Explaining that the snack shack’s owner was nowhere in sight, she tasked the person she was talking to with finding out who owned the food outlet. When her own dog, Nelson tugged at her arm, she twisted her torso around to see what he was doing.
Nelson was trying to get a better sniff.
Rex was being held back by his handler and couldn’t get close enough to properly sniff for himself. However, he’d caught a whiff on the breeze and already knew they weren’t done yet. A nod from Nelson when he picked up the same scent was all the confirmation he needed.
“So what do we do?” asked Roy, snorting in a noseful of air from the shack to find the scent for himself. They never would have found it if Roy’s handler hadn’t broken in, but there was no denying the smell was there now.
It was strong too. Too strong to have come with the stolen gear and that meant it was fresh.
Nelson said, “We wait for them to figure it out. They’ll catch this guy, and they will figure the rest of it out from there. They always do. It’s not our job to solve the crimes. We find things when we are asked to.” Nelson felt like the ground was shifting under his feet and he wasn’t sure he liked it. The new dog had done something no other dog had ever done – followed a bunch of random clues to solve a crime.
Rex sighed. “Really? That’s your plan. Hope the humans figure it out? Look at them. They’re not even sniffing in the right place.”
“What else would you have us do?” Roy demanded, not used to being talked down to by pups whose whiskers had barely finished growing.
Rex bunched his muscles. “Well, I think we should help the humans. Isn’t that our job? They have the things that they are good at doing,” Rex conceded generously. “I couldn’t have broken that window to get inside. They also have their weaknesses,” he pointed out.
Nelson couldn’t argue with that. “He’s not wrong. It drives me scatty when my human won’t use her nose to find things.”
“Exactly,” said Rex, getting ready to do something he already knew would be unpopular. “The only question is whether the two of you are with me?” Rex watched Nelson and Roy look inward at each other. “Or are you just a bit too old now?”
Not waiting for a response to his taunt, Rex shot forward. Driving off with his back feet, he snapped his human’s arm in a direction it didn’t want to go and broke the tight grip Ruari was keeping on the harness.
Constable McGee was pulled off balance and fell. Landing with an undignified ‘Oooofff’ and kicking up a cloud of dust, he got to watch as Rex shot forward three yards and stop. There, the brand new police dog spun around to prance excitedly.
“Come on!” he barked at Roy and Nelson, and much to their own surprise, both dogs did exactly as Rex had. Breaking free of their handler’s, they ran after Rex who was already pivoting back to face the way he wanted to go.
With curse words and ignored commands being hurled at their backs, all three police dogs rounded the corner of the fish market and vanished from sight. Ruari slapped Harry’s hand away when it was offered to help him up. He was altogether too angry to see sense.
“That dog is a menace!” he growled. “I don’t care what the boss says. I don’t care what my wife says. I am not working with Rex Harrison for another minute. I’m going to catch that dog. I’ll … I’ll run him over if I have to, but he’s going back to the station, and I’m done with him.”
The Dog Knew
Arran, his heartrate back to normal, had been replaced at the front gate and was sneaking across the road to get a coffee. There was a little place that backed onto the DLR rail line. Away from everyone, he could smoke his joint in peace. It would make the rest of the day a breeze.
Patting his uniform’s top left pocket to reassure himself the rolled weed was still there, he froze when he heard the sound of claws on the pavement. They were coming his way and they were moving fast.
Twisting around to face the approaching danger, his breath caught when he saw it was not the one dog like before, but three! There were three police dogs streaking toward him like they were in a race to see who could bring him down first.
Panicked fingers ripped the joint from his pocket and he threw it at the street as he backed away.
“Here!” he yelled. “It’s not mine anyway! I was just … I was holding it for a friend. An acquaintance really. In fact, I don’t even like the guy.”
His back hit the security railings surrounding the fish market and he stopped, his eyes wide in horror as the three dogs bore down on him.
They raced by, never giving him a second glance and with a gasp of air, Arran breathed yet another sigh of relief.
They weren’t after him at all.
The joint was still on the pavement, and now that his nerves were frayed, he felt he needed it more than ever. Just as he stooped to pick it up, three police dog handler vans power slid around the corner and began powering up the road toward him. All three hit their strobe lights and sirens to clear the road and that was the last straw for Arran.
Stomping on the marijuana to destroy the evidence, he hustled back inside the confines of the fish market.
Quarter of a mile away, Rex, Nelson, and Roy Orbison were panting hard but none of them were going to be the first to slow down. They had crooks to catch and though they wouldn’t admit it openly, Roy and Nelson were feeling more invigorated than they had in years.
They were a little concerned about the repercussions of running off, but it was too late to return now. They needed to see it through.
Two minutes later, panting harder than ever, they arrived back at the hardware store.
“Now what?” gasped Roy, thankful he could slow down.
Rex slowed to a walk too. They were in the carpark outside the hardware store staring at the building. They could hear their handlers, the wailing sirens filling the air as they bore down on the dogs’ position.
Getting enough oxygen in his lungs to speak, Rex said, “Now we have to find them.”
In the vans, Kate was leading. She was talking to Ruari and Harry, all three trying to guess where the dogs had gone since they weren’t able to keep track of them the whole way.
“They must have gone back to where we started,” she guessed.
Ruari didn’t see why that would be true. “Why would that be more likely than anywhere else?” he questioned. He was all for just going back to the station without the dogs.
Kate frowned, her forehead forming deep creases. “Where else could they have gone? Your dog ran directly from the hardware store to where the stolen goods had been stashed. I know it sounds daft, but I think he knows something.”
Ruari spat out a laugh. “The dog knows something? What? Like he’s following the clues to catch the bad guy? Can I rename him Sherlock Bones?”
Kate chose not to reply, and Harry stayed silent. The new guy was not making any friends today.
Questioning her own sanity, Kate turned into the hardware store carpark in time to see three tails head down the side of the building. She pumped a fist in the air.
“They are here!” she yelled into her radio.
The dogs were there all right, but they were leaving.
“This is unbelievable,” said Nelson, trusting his nose, but struggling to understand how Rex had figured it all out.
Rex said nothing in reply. They were close now, the dual scents hanging in the air more than enough to confirm the conclusion he drew back at the snack shack. The narrow passageway ran between the outer wall of the hardware store and the fence of the property next door – a wine wholesaler.
There was broken glass they needed to pick their way around and that slowed them down. However, despite the sense of urgency they felt, it was better than cutting their paws, and they could tell their target was stationary.
Coming around the side of the building, and peering through the fence into the hardware store’s loading yard, Rex let a smile tease the corners of his mouth.
He didn’t need to say anything; gloating about being right would just make him sound big headed.
Standing in the shade of the building, Anthony Stone was smoking a cigarette and sharing a joke with an overweight man. That the overweight man was the one from the snack shack was in no doubt in any one of the three dogs’ minds – he stank of fish and grease. Nor did they question that the scent they found in abundance at the snack shack was that of the hardware store manager. The two men knew each other and to Rex that could only mean one thing – they were in it together.
When Rex and his fellow police dogs began barking, Kate and Harry sprinted to find them. Ruari was being too much of a grouch to follow, electing to wait by the vans because, “The stupid dog will just run away again anyway.”
When they found them, the dogs had the store manager and another man cornered against the fence in the loading yard. The three dogs were positioned so they were fanned out to cut off any possible avenue of escape and contrary to their training, were just standing there, their lips pulled back to show their teeth, but not attacking.
“It was the strangest thing,” Kate later explained to her husband at home. “That new dog knew. Don’t ask me how, but he knew where to find the stolen gear and then he led us all the way back to the hardware store where the manager was getting his split of the cash that was stolen. He’d turned the cameras off and helped his accomplice to load a van with easily saleable tools and machines. Then he locked himself in the storeroom. Once we identified the other man as the bloke from the snack shack, they both confessed.”
“What about the new fella?” Kate’s husband enquired, trying to act like he was paying attention even though he was watching Gold Seekers on TV and really didn’t care about Kate’s miracle dog.
“He calmed down and agreed to keep working with Rex Harrison.” Kate sucked some air between her teeth. “I don’t see him lasting though.”
Kate scratched at an itch under her chin. “Either one of them. The dog might be the brightest one they ever trained, but if he can’t obey his handler, he’s not going to be a lot of use as a police dog.”
The Complete Series
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