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The alarm clock rang at seven o’clock, and Kelly groaned as she turned over to switch it off. She sat up, rubbing sleep out of her eyes, and stretched.

“Good morning.”

Kelly stared and blinked. Her dog Scruff was sitting in the doorway, one ear perked up in that absolutely adorable way that had convinced her to adopt him in the first place, looking at her.

“Did you just speak?” She shook her head. She must still be dreaming.

“Yes, I did,” Scruff said. “I must inform you that you won’t be going to work today.”

Kelly closed her eyes for a moment and put her hand up to her head. She must be dreaming, or running a fever or something.

“I understand that this is quite a surprise to you,” Scruff said, “However I can assure you that if you cooperate you will be well cared for.”

“Cooperate? What do you mean?”

A labrador appeared in the doorway behind Scruff, holding a familiar blue lead and collar in his mouth.

“Meet Goldie,” Scruff said. “He’s going to adopt you.”

Kelly stared. “Adopt- what the hell?”

“Oh, he has quite a comfortable home for you. You’ll be well looked after. You’ll have your own kennel, and you’ll be well fed. He’ll take you for walkies twice every day, which is a damn sight more than you’ve done for me.”

Goldie walked past Scruff and jumped up onto the bed, pushing Kelly backwards with his paws. He looked her right in the face with big, brown eyes, and she found her hands moving to take the collar and fasten it around her own neck.

“Good girl,” said Scruff sarcastically, as the labrador led Kelly out of her bedroom and down the stairs.

The front door was standing open, and Kelly was led outside in her pyjamas and bare feet. The street was in chaos. Dave, the big guy from down the street who owned a bull mastiff, was sitting in front of his dog with a stick in his mouth and tears rolling down his face. The blonde woman from number forty was crawling on her hands and knees after her chihuahua, a diamante-studded lead attached to her necklace.

Kelly stopped and stared, her mouth hanging open.

The labrador gave a tug on her lead, yanking her head forward and sending pain rippling through her spine.

“Heel,” he barked.

Kelly hurried to catch up to her new owner as the tears welled up in her eyes.

© Kari Fay