The big red fire engine raced along the street. Its lights flashed. Its siren wailed.
It stopped at the end of the street just near Harry and his Mum. There was a storm drain right on the corner.
Some of Harry's friends were kneeling by the drain. Harry pulled his hand out of his Mum's hand and ran to join them.
"Don't get in the way, Harry," his Mum shouted as she followed him.
"It's a puppy, it's a puppy, trapped in the drain. This HUGE dog chased him in," said Billy.
Fireman Bob got down on his knees to see down the drain.
He couldn't see. He asked for a torch. Someone passed him a big black torch. He switched it on and they all saw the puppy's two little eyes and little button nose that had been hiding in the dark now reflected in the beam of light.
He had a little squishy brown face. "A Boxer dog," said Harry's Mum. "How sweet!"
"That's his name, then," said Fireman Bob. "Boxer." All the children agreed.
Poor little puppy. They could hear him crying. How would they get him out?
The pipe was old. They decided to dig around the crumbly drain to make a bigger entrance. It would have to be very much bigger if Fireman Bob was to climb down the drain.
Soon it was large enough for somwone small - perhaps Harry - to squeeze in far enough to reach Boxer.
Harry agreed to try. His Mum agreed to allow it. IF he was extremely careful. She could hardly watch! Soon Harry's feet were all that could be seen sticking out of the drain.
Mum and Fireman Bob held on to Harry's feet ready to pull him out when he reached Boxer.
It was hard to reach. Boxer was afraid. Harry was afraid too! Harry coaxed Boxer. Finally he had hold of him. Harry shouted, "Ready Mum!"
Fireman Bob and Mum both pulled hard. The boy and the puppy slithered out onto the grass-plop!
Harry had tight hold of Boxer. Boxer was very frightened and shivering.
He was very happy to be out of that dark place and licked Harry's face with glee.
Boxer wriggled and squiggled and waggled his funny little tail that was hardly a tail at all!
Fireman Bob laughed and ruffled Harry's hair and Boxer's floppy ears.
Where did he belong? No-one seemed to know. But they all wanted to take care of him now.
But Billy's Mum said, "No."
Harry's Mum said, "No," as well.
All the Mums said,"sorry, but no."
Fireman Bob thought that if he was a very good little dog he could stay at the fire station.
But the captain said, "no," as well!
What to do?
Oh, what to do?
Harry said, "Boxer will be good. We can all take turns to take care of him".
All the children agreed. They would collect money to buy a lead. They would take him for walks. They would teach him to be a good dog.
Captain said, "All right. Just till we find his home. Make sure he's a good dog. We can't have naughty dogs getting in the way!"
Boxer was happy to ride back to the fire station in the fire engine. Harry and Billy and all the children were riding too!
The boys and girls found a box to make a bed in the yard behind the fire station.
They fed him. Then they took him for his first walk. Boxer was proud. He was going to be on his best behaviour. He wanted to stay as mascot for the firemen. All the children promised he would!
(c) Marjorie Dobbs 1999
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