Once there was a dog named Dusty, a Cocker Spaniel with long ears the colour of autumn sun. He wasn’t the biggest dog, but he liked that just fine, being close the ground, smelling his way through parks and along riverbanks, searching for soft places to rest and stretch his legs. His fur was long and curly, chestnut brown at his back and sandy brown towards his paws. Dusty was a happy pup for the most part. He lived in a good home with good people who took care of him. They made sure he always had enough food to eat and every day at dusk would curl up with him on the rug in front of a warm fire. They’d stroke his fur and giggle as they buried their noses in his neck.
Though he was a happy dog, Dusty had a long face and droopy eyes. People who came to visit would sometimes ask he if was okay, because he looked a little sad. Dusty liked the attention, and even though sometimes in fact he was sad he tried his best not to show it. Everyone liked Dusty, they would often visit him when they themselves were a little sad, because he would always know how to cheer them up with a long walk or a cuddle by the fire. There was one thing though which made Dusty feel sadder than ever, it happened each and every day, and Dusty was sure it was the reason he wore a little sadness beneath his wagging tail and his deep brown eyes. You see, every day at around the same time, Dusty’s human friends would wake up, wash and eat their breakfast. They’d put food and water in Dusty’s bowls, scratch him behind is long floppy ears and then they would say goodbye and leave the house, closing the door behind them. The sound of that door closing was the last thing Dusty heard from his human friends every day. A hollow sound like the footsteps of a clumsy ghost. It signaled the beginning of silence in the house. A hollow silence, like a classroom without any children, like a coop without any chickens.
Dusty would stare at the closed door for a while each morning, his head cocked slightly to one side, mouth closed, his eyes drifting from one piece of furniture to the next. He longed for a creak from the table, a clatter from the crockery or a drip from the tap. But none would come to Dusty, not even the sound of chimes outside would sooth his wanting ears, for they were made only by the wind, and the wind had no interest in curling up by the fire. The wind had no nose to bury in Dusty’s neck nor hands to stroke his chestnut back. The wind was neither happy nor sad to see him, it showed no interest in his tricks and it made no effort to know if he was okay. Dusty grew to dislike the wind for these things. He would bare his teeth and growl at it whenever it came in to rustle the curtains or flip through the pages of an open book. He would bark at it sometimes, loud and angry barks with all his might. But even that was of no interest to the wind, which came and went just the same. So Dusty would give up, he would eat longingly from his bowl and sit longingly on his bed. He would walk longingly in the garden, sniff longingly at the shrubs, lie longingly on his back and stare longingly at the clouds that seemed so content to play with the indifferent wind.
By the time the sound of silence was broken, Dusty’s cheeks had drooped so low they were in line with his ears. But as soon as the door creaked into life, open to the sound of human voices, his cheeks would jump back into position and his tail would recommence conducting its happy tune. Dusty would bound towards his faithful friends mouth open and leap into their waiting arms. Only his eyes, still wet with longing, revealed the kind of day Dusty had. But his friends would notice only the sparkle the sun made as it dried the last of his daily tears. They would say how happy he must be with such glistening, deep brown eyes. And they would be right too, for Dusty was happy now, curled up the fire, fingers moving rhythmically through his soft brown fur.