The two dogs had lived next door to each other for three years.
One was a bearded collie that loathed the colour red, the other was a red setter that despised beards. This was the main reason that they had hated each other for the first two years and eight months. There were other reasons, but minor in comparison.
Things changed when the owners of each dog fell in love and knocked down the fence between their two gardens. This was a disaster for the dogs and as their owners stared lovingly into each other’s eyes, the dogs growled and scowled and tried to dig up each others’ bones, until a misunderstanding over who owned the stripy rubber ball resulted in a bitten ear and a nasty graze.
‘This can’t go on,’ thought the setter. ‘And as the oldest, most elegant and by far the most intelligent of us both, I shall be the one to make the first move towards peace.’
So he trotted out into the garden and as the bearded collie looked up from the hole he was digging in the setter’s favourite flowerbed, said in deep, dignified tones:
‘Woof, woofwoofwoof. Woof.’
This meant: ‘Look here, you. I’m going to the park in a minute and I’m going to run about really fast and sniff trees. Would you care to join me?’
‘Ruff. Ruff. Ruff ruff ruff ruff’ - ‘I too am going to the park. But if I do run about really fast, it’ll be nothing to do with you. It’ll be because my owner throws my brand new stripy rubber ball for me.’
‘Suit yourself, ‘ said the setter.
So the setter and the collie ran all the way to the park, both trying to be first, but without appearing to be together.
The setter sniffed a few trees, barked a bit then ran back. His owner hadn’t noticed a thing, because she’d been too busy staring happily into her neighbour’s eyes.
‘Hmm.’ thought the collie. ‘That really did look like fun. Perhaps if he asks me again tomorrow, I’ll join in.’
But the next day came, and the setter didn’t ask.
“Ruff?’ enquired the collie the next time they were at the park at the same time. ‘I’m going to dig those leaves up and see what’s underneath. You coming?’
‘Nah, said the setter haughtily.’ Did that yesterday. Boring.’
The collie thought of something very rude under his breath and got a stern look from his owner.
Oh dear. Would they never be friends? What could possibly bring two dogs together, united in joy with one common purpose?
Later, panting with the glow of the chase, the setter glanced over at the collie. ‘Well done, old chap. You really chased him up that tree.’
The collie laughed modestly. ‘I couldn’t have done it without your help. The way you sprinted over and barked – well – he knew he’d met a true professional all right!’
And they almost smiled at one another, just their owners concluded their first ever argument and privately made plans to replace the fence.