Susan Varg clearly envisaged that when her ever-loving husband Ivar announced he was going to purchase and train a police dog, it would be massive, something akin to the Rottweiler, German Shepherd variety.
Something huge, powerful, complete with frightening, snarling fangs, a mastiff capable of ripping a vicious criminal to bits. What she now observed was a quivering tan and white lump, with oversized ears and pleading eyes that encouraged love and kindness. Still, it had four legs and a tail so Sue ascertained it probably was canine, even if it did not qualify for her assessment of what constituted “Police Dog”criteria.
‘What is it?’ she asked. There was a sarcastic touch to that question. ‘Please do not tell me it is a dog, I can see that for myself. What is expected of it within the police force? Maybe licking criminals to death?’ At this point the conversation changed when the questionable beastie, quite carried away with excitement at all the attention, peed on the carpet. ‘Oh, I see. Licking is definitely out. Maybe your dog intends to piddle them into submission. I give up officer, I confess to everything, just don’t let the dog loose.’
Ivar Varg was probably the most patient law enforcement officer ever recruited, a jovial, plodding individual who walked the beat for many years then worked his way up to the rank of Detective Inspector. He wandered within the mysterious environs of the Homicide Department. Ever since his youth he had owned a dog. Now, in a moment of inspired ingenuity, he cogitated upon the theory of training a dog to assist him in his criminal-catching activities. Hence he set about studying the possibility. He googled all he could discover about different doggies, finally settling upon a breed that was both affordable and available.
Ever obliging Sue thought that, if it was not to be of the huge variety, possibly a good old Aussie cattledog or a kelpie might fit the bill. Certainly nothing like the pathetic specimen, whose piddle she was now trying to remove from the carpet. Little did she realize that the creature about to become a permanent feature of the Varg household, and an important addition to the Homicide Department, was a cute, very lovable, cuddly-with-bedroom-eyes, piddling basset hound. World renowned for its scent hunting ability and total determination to track a quarry through manicured lawns and up high buildings, its affability to everything human and, most extraordinarily, an ability to talk. Some believe bassets howl and bay rather than go “Woof!”, but strangely they also use a low murmuring whine, which sounds to many folks as if the dog is “talking” – which indeed it is, but only a privileged few are able to converse. Ivar Varg was, eventually, one such person.
‘Does it have a name?’ Sue asked.
‘Of course, and a most noble name at that. When I collected him from the breeders he gave me that long, sad, eternally suffering Jewish look that said “Oy-yoy-yoy! Please help me escape captivity, take me out of here”. I have called him Mr Bernstein after an old Jewish friend of mine. When I was in my late teens, Mr Bernstein, who owned a local non-ferrous scrapyard, took a liking to me because I was able to write his few letters in English for him. Also he had a soft spot for anything European.
“You know Varg” he once said, “you have a Nordic name. In Norwegian it means Wolf. It is a good name for you, Ivar. You have the intelligence and cunning of a wolf.” When I had finished my letter-writing he always gave me a few dollars for my trouble. Yep, I liked Mr Bernstein. He’s popped off the planet now, though you could say via me he has reincarnated, with four legs instead of two.’
Here are the first two pages of my just-completed 270-page collection of short tails from Mr Bernstein solves a murder or two . Mr Bernstein, a bloodshot-eyed basset,
has a nose for crime – which is why he feels
right at home in Homicide Division.
With his able two-footed crime-fighting partner,
Detective-Inspector Ivar Varg, and his slightly less
able junior partner, an unruly jack russell named
Manny, Mr Bernstein Solves a Murder or Two
takes the reader on a wild ride through the
overactive underworld of a resort area
somewhere on the east coast of Australia.
No murderer is safe with the ten-legged team
of Varg, Bernstein and Manny hot on their tail.