Inspired by the true story of a dog named Rip who was the first search-and-rescue dog during the Second World War, Mr. Scraps is a heartwarming story of courage, love and devotion that will appeal to parents and children alike.
Available in every ebook format, Bobby, a seven-year-old rescue dog of dubious heritage, who lives with his Master and uses his sense of smell to navigate the world. His Boy is missing in action, his Lady has slipped down the rabbit-hole and there’s little excitement in his life. No sooner had his Master told him they were at war, though, than the terror-birds start dropping the egg-bombs that forever change his world.
Through Bobby’s perceptive canine eyes, ears, and nose, the reader experiences the life of a four-legged victim of war. Alone and terrified, he encounters only death and fire-stink until he is befriended by a scab-kneed boy called Lawrie who names him Mr. Scraps, and a fireman named Harry who realises how useful he could be.
In a daily game of seek-and-reward Mr. Scraps becomes the first ever search-and-rescue dog. Between them, he and Harry find more than three hundred dead or dying, and are almost killed in the process. After the war Mr. Scraps is awarded the Dickin Medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross) and when he finally slips down the rabbit-hole he is given a hero’s burial.
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Time lost all meaning during those ghostlike days when I paced the territory I vaguely knew like a confined animal. My ears permanently tuned for danger, I dreaded each night and longed for the moment when light crept up from the horizon. That at least usually brought some respite between the sleep-nights which only ever brought fear and fire-stink.
Exhausted and disorientated, I fled to one of my hidey-holes. Since my Master had gone I’d discovered a few safe places where I could lie ‘doggo’ but they were dwindling as the bombing continued to destroy all I’d ever known. There was a roofless shed in a back garden but that had begun to smell evilly of cat pee. I’d used an abandoned house, its curtains like ribbons flapping in the breeze, but it began to stink too strongly of gas. I’d huddled under an upturned bath tub one night which not only kept me dry but protected me from empty shell cases which hammered on the roof like black hail.
My favourite hidey-hole, though, was the ruins of The Golden Fleece public house where my Master and I had so often enjoyed a pleasant evening. That was where I headed time and again. Flopping to the debris strewn floor under a billiard table, I curled up in a ball, nose tucked into my tail, and kept a wary eye on the front door which had been blown off its hinges. Feeling a tremendous heaviness inside, I remembered the once comforting scents of this place with its beer and hot meat pies. My Master would dip his finger into the froth of his ale and let me lick it clean. Now there was nothing to moisten my lips and only the smell of petrol.
Catching sight of myself in a jagged piece of broken mirror that had fallen against a wall, I wondered what Mavis the barmaid would think of me now. I was spattered with ash and mud and my coat had matted into clumps. The paler patches around my eyes were barely distinguishable from the rest. I’d tried to clean myself but I soon ran out of spit. Giving up, I got up, turned around three times in a tight circle then settled with my back to the mirror. Rolling onto my side, I hoped for some shut-eye but every shout or vehicle movement outside jolted me awake.
Restless, I longed for cosy nights with my Master, the tendrils of his pipesmoke curling protectively around my head. I yearned to lie on something softer than masonry bricks and to lap clean cold water from a bowl. Every comfort had been stolen from my world. I smelled death around me day and night (the same odour my Lady took on towards the end). I’d tasted the metallic elements in blood and come to know the similar flavour of hunger. My eardrums had been afflicted by the shrieks and sighs of weapons, animals, and men.
Even the coming of day no longer guaranteed peace. The bomber-birds continued to arrive in great brooding flocks in the sky, six or seven waves of them daily. The wail of the sirens became an almost constant wall of sound from which there was no escape. Then the egg-bombs began to fall once more. Hour upon hour they came as I hid somewhere quaking and weary to my soul, each new explosion jarring my whole body.
The fire yolks spread quickly, melting tarmac and filling my lungs with so much smoke that I struggled to breathe. On some of the worst nights when the city was ringed with flames licking hundreds of feet into the air, I drew my cracked paws over my eyes and lay trembling. Only when the pulsing of the bombers had faded to the east and daybreak revealed the new shape of the world did I get up to try and sniff out some water.