FRIDAY took forever and ever to arrive and when it did, every second seemed like a whole minute and every minute seemed to take an hour to tick by on the clock in the hall. It ticked just as slowly on the clock in the kitchen. It ticked even slower on the clock on the mantelpiece.
At five to six, Stanley woofed to Mama to go out the garden and ran straight down to the tree and waited patiently for a tzu pal. He had followed Queen Coffee’s dress code instructions and was wearing his smartest tartan waistcoat and a bow tie. He hoped this was what she meant by his best “bib and tucker” because he already knew from experience that following the Queen’s instructions was a wise thing to do.
Time didn’t go any faster in the arden either.
He waited patiently, trying not to blink in case he missed his escort but he couldn’t keep his eyes open any more and he blinked several times, making the world before him go all blurry. He was hoping and hoping that he hadn’t imagined it after all. He shook his head and there before him was a small black and white curly furred tzu, wearing a dark blue beany hat.
“Hey, Stan the Man? Pleased to meet you pal, I’m Paddy Boo the Shih Tzu. Top model. Coolest dog on the planet. Fearless protector of family. I sleep with a pink bunny toy and I’m proud of who I am!”
For a second, Stanley didn’t know what to say and they looked at each other in silence. Then he couldn’t hold it any longer and he burst out laughing!
“What’s funny fella?” asked Paddy but he was laughing too!
“Come on pal, let’s be getting to the party” said the coolest dog on the planet and grabbed Stan’s paw.
“Hold tight, you might get dizzy the first time we go through the doors, you’ll burp for sure, although you’ll soon get used to it.”
Both boys knew, somewhere inside, that they were going to be the best of friends.
Paddy barked loudly and firmly and, right in front of their eyes, a rainbow coloured door appeared, a golden handle turned and there were two giggling fairies holding back a tiny half door each. Stan recognised them as the same ones who had tidied away his boots for safety.
“We’ll never get through there Paddy,” said a startled Stanley, looking at the tiny door.
“Hold on to your tail pal!” said Paddy, smiling.
As if by magic, well definitely magic, Stanley now found himself on the other side of the doors in the most beautiful land, dizzy and thankfully still holding Paddy’s paw.
They both burped.
“Come on Stan....follow me!”
He followed his new pal as they ran through a corridor.
He heard music and laughter that got louder the closer they got.
The first thing that hit Stanley was the smell; it was divine, reminiscent of Granny’s kitchen at Christmas – turkey, roast beef and bacon. Oh my goodness he was in heaven!
He glanced up above, gravy and milk bone garlands decked out the room from corner to corner. He looked back down at the tables that were set with bowls of biscuits and brightly coloured napkins lay to the side (presumably for wiping ones beard after eating thought Stanley, thinking perhaps that his current method of wiping his beard on the carpet was clearly not the best). In the centre of each table were enormous displays of roses made from bacon rashers – they looked delicious and Stanley couldn’t wait to have a sniff.
He could hardly take it in but the surprises just kept on coming! To his right he could see an ice rink and a snow covered ski slope. To his left was a tropical beach with tzus playing in the sand and – no, surely not – but yes it was... a trio of surfing tzus!
“What you think then? Is it what you expected?” enquired Paddy.
Stan was woofless.
Before he could even start on the food, a tzu stood on a chair and made an announcement over the loudspeaker.
“Tzus! Grab your boots and your partners...let’s get this party started with a “Paw Stomp”!”
Stan was almost deafened by the screams of excitement as all the tzus started running in all directions, pulling on cowboy boots and arranging themselves in parallel lines covering the whole dance floor.
“Paddy, what’s going on?” he said.
“It’s every tzu’s favourite dance this one Stanley. Never mind the “Furry Tail Fandango” or the “Shih Tzu Shuffle” - it’s the “Paw Stomp”! We have to grab our boots - yours will be over here somewhere...quick...let’s be getting them on. What’s even better is that Peekaboo the Shih Tzu is here tonight to call the moves and she is the best dancer in all of Tzu Kingdom!”
Paddy was right, Stan loved the Paw Stomp and he tried his best to keep up the whole way through as he shook his fluffy booty with gusto. It didn’t matter who you partnered with – it was a dance for friends - and Paddy and him stuck together as the dance went back and forth – STOMP STOMP – and side to side - STOMP STOMP – and round in a circle and jumped - STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP!
The final stomps ended and all the dancing tzus collapsed in a heap together, laughing raucously with exhaustion!
The music changed pace. “Time for a Shih Tzu Shuffle” said Peekaboo. Everyone went off to change their shoes.
“I’m going to find someone special for this one, you don’t mind do you?” said Paddy “there’s plenty of girlies around for a slow dance” he said over his shoulder as he headed across the room.
Stanley didn’t mind. Paddy deserved a dance and he waved as he noticed him glide back on to the dance floor with a glossy coated black tzu, holding paws.
The lights changed to beautiful colours and the music
kicked in. Stanley recognised it as one of the songs that Mama tried her hardest to sing to him at home, whilst she twirled him around giggling in her arms in the lounge on their cosy evenings together. He could feel his body start to sway and, for a second, he felt a little bit sad and a little silly. He would love to get up and dance, just not on his own.
He headed off to the buffet – he hadn’t had a chance to have anything to eat with so much excitement.
There was definitely a bacon rose with his name on it and also, he heard, there was a gravy fountain to try too!
He happily munched away at all the wonderful treats then, through the dancing, music and hullabaloo he heard a familiar voice - Queen Coffee - and he spun round to face her.
“Stanley, how lovely to see you sweetie, may I introduce the King of Tzus? Bailey, Bailey...this is Stanley, the young vanilla tzu I was telling you about.”
He gulped at the thought of meeting more royalty and not just anyone....but the King! When he met Coffee he didn’t know who she was at first however this time he was all too aware. It felt different and he was ever so scared.
In fact, he was trembling all over at the thought of a big, important tzu with a crown and a robe. There was no need though because Bailey, King of Tzus, was the happiest and friendliest of dogs. Everyone loved
their King and he loved every one of them back even more and you could see why as an elder, yet spritely, white & black tzu danced in to view and over to where Stanley stood, mesmerised.
“Stanley...welcome!” said the King as he flung his paws around him as if meeting his bestest friend. He was tiny and his big smile showed none of the airs and graces you might expect from one so mighty in status.
For sure, he had his paws on the floor. He didn’t look like he’d be comfortable wearing a crown and that, if he did have a robe, he’d probably lose it in the park.
“Welcome, welcome young fella! You are the handsome one aren’t you?! Have you had plenty to eat? Have you tried the New York sausages? Would you care for some cheese? Can we get you a drink?”
“Questions, questions, questions my beloved!” Coffee interrupted her husband in her usual calm manner “The young man can help himself to the buffet, he’s more than capable!”
“In that case, let’s all dance!” said King Bailey and, with a shimmy and a shake, led all the tzus back on to the dance floor for a lively Furry Tail Fandango, scooping Stanley up on his way.
Wow. What a King!
PADDY Boo the Shih Tzu scout was shaken up and the tzus gathered around him on his bar stool to hear his latest tale. His friend Stanley was more than familiar with his funny and over-dramatic ways but he accepted them, because that’s what friends do. It had been the end of a great party in Tzu Kingdom, at which King Bailey and Queen Coffee had announced Paddy would be promoted to Chief Scout now that Coffee would be concentrating on her regal duties.
It was fitting, somehow, that his first shift in full charge of Scout Tower had resulted in him finding tzus in peril that desperately needed rescuing. Paddy did tend to embellish his stories; Stan mused, he certainly did look worried, even for him. As usual, the tzus who kept the bar gave him a glass of milk to steady his nerves as he began to reveal what he had seen through the Scout Tower telescopes...
“Well, Feebs and I were up there just having a final look before we went to say goodnight to puppy Beth and tuck her in when I just heard some crying. I scanned around where I heard it from and there...just inside the door of an abandoned building by a harbour wall I saw them...one boy at first...obviously the one in charge....and then...four more puppies...in a...a...box.”
The tzus in the party room gasped. Already, they knew those puppies were in a bad situation, a situation with no love. As often, he was right. Something had to be done. At that point, Phoebe, Paddy’s girlfriend stood beside him. She had returned from the Comforter Wing where she had bedded down and given a goodnight kiss to her adopted puppy Beth; an orphan from another rescue some weeks earlier who now, thankfully, was already starting to look much better in the care of the comforter tzus and a teddy bear called Millicent who had recently been rescued with a tzu-in-peril, now called Maisie.
Maisie was now a regular visitor to the Kingdom from the fairy door at her new home, where she had a princess bed and a family to love her.
“Thank goodness they have each other,” said Phoebe, as she took Paddy’s free paw, “but, we only have a day or so to rescue them and bring them to safety before they end up in an even worse situation. Looking at it from a rescuer tzu perspective and where they are, the safest place for the rescue would actually be on the high seas but....”
“....that’s where it gets really tricky...” interjected Paddy as he took up the story, “...it’s a watery rescue.”
Wise King Bailey of Tzus walked over to the pair and tapped Paddy on the shoulder with a smile.
“Paddy,” he said, “it’s been a while since we did a sea rescue but we have experience – Tanner has led them before so we will just get the salty sea books up from the vault and plan it together. It’s all going to be ok; we just need to be prepared.”
Paddy looked up at his King, his eyes bloodshot and his brow furrowed.
“No KB, I don’t think you quite understand. It’s not a sea rescue itself that’s such a worry but where it is....”
The King looked at him blankly for a second and turned to Coffee for her advice. She mouthed a word to him and he shook himself into seriousness.
“Oh my dogness, you don’t mean that the sea rescue will have to take place at the place that we don’t bark of, not there, please...tell me it isn’t so?”
Paddy nodded and rubbed his eyes. Stanley took little Maisie’s paw and they drew closer, intrigued.
“Paddy, Phoebe,” said Queen Coffee, almost frozen to the spot with fear “you can’t, well, surely not there? Not the place that is only known to royalty, senior rescuers and Chief Scouts?”
The look on Paddy’s face said it all. Phoebe stifled a sniff. Stan and Maisie looked at each other with wide eyes. Nancy, Maisie’s newfound older sister and the Queen’s oldest friend, piped up.
“Not there. Not the very place where a former ruler went on a rescue and was never heard from again?”
Phoebe replied, “yes, the scariest place ever known to any tzu who has ever passed through the fairy doors”.
Stanley and Maisie could take no more – they were both scared but excited and, more than anything, they wanted to know what the elders and the tzus-of-experience were all talking about.
“What is this place that we don’t bark of, that is only known to royalty and senior rescuers and chief scouts, that is terribly scary and is where a former ruler disappeared to never be heard from again?” squealed an agitated Stanley.
“WHERE?” shouted Maisie, stomping her paw.
Together, all those in the know turned to the young pair and put a name to the most terrifying place in Tzu Kingdom.
THE special Christmas “Jingle Paw Stomp” was so fast and funny that there were giggling tzus in piles all over the floor. As well as stomping with their boots, they were jingling their bells throughout, even once they had finally fallen over due to the sheer speed of the dance.
Kiki and Lola were the last two dancing as the Stomp finished with an enormous crash. Maisie and Alice got a special round of applause for almost getting to the end!
“Wow...that really was loud,” said Colin, from his bar stool.
“It was too loud,” said Nancy, her ears pricked up.
“It sounded like an explosion to me.”
The room fell quiet so the sound of thundering paws made every tzu prick up their ears as Carmen ran in from the Welcome Room.
“Mayday Mayday,” she gasped, “Bonnie just called down from Scout Tower....it’s Santa Paws. He’s crashed at high speed in the Tzu Kingdom garden and he’s hurt – badly hurt.”