Authors: Duncan Ball
This book is dedicated to you.
It’s not for your sister or your brother or your
parents, your teacher or even your best friend.
It’s only for you and no one else.
Selby is not just the only talking dog in Australia and, perhaps, the world but he’s also the only dog in the world who has had nine lives. More than nine lives. I’ve lost count of the number of times Selby should have died but managed to survive against all odds.
As the readers of these books will know, Selby rings me up and tells me his stories and I just write them down. But when he rang a while ago to tell me about his most recent adventures, I have to admit that I began to doubt him. Hour after hour, I listened spellbound as Selby told me about his most horrible, frightening (but sometimes funny) stories ever. How could a dog survive all these things? Read this book and you’ll see!
‘Remind me,’ Dr Trifle said. ‘What did we win and how did we win it?’
‘Remember the competition that was in the newspaper about finding a symbol for a new computer company?’ Mrs Trifle said.
‘Oh, yes. I think you read it out to me.’
‘Well, the name of the company is DogsBody Computer Systems and you must have sent in a photo of Selby. They loved it and you won.’
‘That’s funny, because I don’t remember sending anything in.’
‘There’s a good reason for that,’ Selby thought, as he trotted along beside the Trifles. ‘Because
didn’t sent it in —
The Trifles and Selby were in the city looking for the office of DogsBody Computer Systems.
‘Here it is,’ Mrs Trifle said.
She led Dr Trifle and Selby into a big office building. They got into a lift and went down to the floor below.
‘Who would name their company after a dead dog?’ Dr Trifle asked.
‘It’s not named after a dead dog. A
is sort of a servant. It’s someone who does all those things that you don’t want to do.’
‘Wouldn’t it be great to have your own personal dogsbody?’ Dr Trifle said. ‘If Selby knew how to talk, he could be our dogsbody and do all the things we don’t want to do.’
‘Which is why nobody is ever going to find out my secret,’ Selby thought. ‘I may have a dog’s
but I’m never going to be a
Finally they arrived at a door that said:
DogsBody Computer Systems
Our computers do the work so you can play
Just send your brain on holiday
Inside was an open-plan office with three men and a woman sitting in front of their computers all wearing little headsets.
‘I don’t think I could work here,’ Mrs Trifle whispered to her husband. ‘There are no windows. You wouldn’t know if it’s raining or sunny or even day or night.’
‘Computer people live to work,’ Dr Trifle said. ‘They’re too busy to look out windows. And night and day mean nothing to them. They work all the time.’
‘That sounds awful,’ Selby thought. ‘Work is bad enough, but working all the time would be horrible.’
‘Hello,’ Dr Trifle sang out.
‘They can’t hear you,’ Mrs Trifle said. ‘They’re all listening to their little music-player thingies.’
Mrs Trifle waved her hand in front of one of the men’s eyes. He quickly pulled off his headset.
‘Could you tell me where Mr Zak is?’ she asked.
‘Hey, guys, I’m Zak. You must be the Trifles. And this must be the famous Selby. Hiya, Sel. Thanks for coming. I’m the boss here at DogsBody Computer Systems.’
‘Pleased to meet you,’ said Mrs Trifle.
‘Hey, dudes!’ Zak screamed. ‘Come and meet Selby and the Trifles! That’s Jason. We call him “the Wizard". Eva is “the Genius” and Miles is “the Mastermind". I call myself Top Dog. Get it? The top dog at DogsBody Computer Systems?’
Jason, Eva and Miles huddled around Selby and patted him while Zak took lots of pictures.
‘Selby’s really neat!’ Eva said. ‘Put the glasses on him like in the photo.’
‘Glasses?’ Dr Trifle said. ‘Was he wearing glasses?’
‘Yes, and they looked just like yours,’ Jason said, taking Dr Trifle’s glasses and putting them on Selby. ‘There. Just like in the photo you sent us. He looks sort of … well, I think
is the right word.’
‘If it’s not, it’ll do,’ Selby thought as he turned his head this way and that while Zak took more photos.
Snap snap snap.
‘We’re going to use Selby’s face in all our ads,’ Eva explained. ‘Oh, and here’s your prize.’
‘Goodness me,’ Mrs Trifle said, opening the little box Eva handed her. ‘What is it? Why, it’s a …a …a … what is it?’
‘It’s one of our computers,’ Zak said. ‘We call it TINY.’
‘Oh, I get it,’ Dr Trifle said with a laugh. ‘T-I-N-Y must stand for Techno Integrated Nano Yielder.’
‘No,’ Zak said. ‘We just called it TINY because it’s small. It may be small but it’ll do anything you want it to. You’ll love it.’
‘Thank you very much,’ Mrs Trifle said.
‘Psst!’ Eva said. ‘Tell them about the SOS.’
‘Oh, yes, I completely forgot. Would you mind if Selby came along on the Shore Ocean Shore Yacht Race with us? Now that he’s the symbol of DogsBody, we’d love to have him on board. It’ll be great publicity for us.’
‘A yacht race?’ thought Selby. ‘I’m not really a sailing sort of dog.’
‘A yacht race?’ Mrs Trifle said. ‘Yes, I’m sure he’d love it.’
‘Good. It starts tomorrow and finishes in a couple of days — maybe a week.’
Selby thought. ‘A couple of days — maybe a week. I don’t know about this.’
And so it was that Selby found himself on board the
the newest, longest, most modern yacht in the world.
Selby sat on the deck with the DogsBody people while Dr and Mrs Trifle stood nearby on the pier.
‘They don’t really seem like sailors to me,’ Mrs Trifle said to her husband.
‘Why do you say that?’
‘Because all the other yachts are out in the harbour at the starting line while the DogsBody people are listening to music and playing with their laptops. Oh, Zak!’
‘Yes, Mrs T?’
‘Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the race?’
‘We don’t have to do anything,’ Zak said. ‘TINY is programmed to do everything. When it hears the starting gun, it’ll turn on the motors. Then the motors will pull up those big pieces of cloth.’
‘Do you mean the
‘That’s right. Then the computer will measure how fast the air is moving.’
‘Do you mean the wind speed?’
‘Yes, and it points the boat in the right direction.’
‘You mean it
‘I think that’s the word, and it pulls the strings that move the big stick back and forth.’
‘You mean the
‘The boom? No, it starts the motors when it
the boom,’ Zak said. ‘The computer does absolutely everything. There are cameras that tell the computer how much the water goes up and down, and about the weather — everything.’
‘Are you sure you’re all going to be okay?’ Mrs Trifle asked.
‘Don’t you worry about us, Mrs T. We’ve got stacks of computer games. We won’t be bored for a minute.’
Just then the starting gun fired and the computer blinked and the sails shot up.
‘Hey! There’s a picture of me on the sail!’ Selby thought. ‘And it’s gi-
I am sooooo famous!’
The wind filled the sails and the yacht pulled slowly away from the pier. Then it came to a sudden stop.
Zak scratched his head. ‘There’s something wrong with the computer!’
‘No, I don’t think that’s the problem,’ Dr Trifle said, untying the rope from the pier. ‘Okay, off you go. Goodbye! And please be careful with Selby. He doesn’t know how to swim.’
‘That’s all right, Dr T,’ Zak called back. ‘We can’t swim either.’
sailed out of the harbour and into the open sea. The DogsBody people played with their laptops as they passed one yacht after another.
‘This is soooooooo good,’ Selby thought as he lay on the deck, his ears flapping in the gentle breeze while he watched the sunlight dancing on the waves. ‘My brain just went on holiday. Come to think of it, so did this dog’s body.’
Later on, Selby and the others went down into the cabin.
‘Time for lunch,’ Miles said, opening some
packets and tipping them into bowls. ‘Uh-oh, I think we forgot to buy dog food.’
‘I guess Selby will just have to eat people food,’ Eva said. ‘Hey, look, you guys! Selby just ate a couple of pretzels and now he’s eating chips! He seems to like our food. We’ll microwave the pizza later.’
‘Oh joy, oh joy,’ Selby thought. ‘These computer dudes may not know anything about sailing but they sure do know how to eat.’
And on they ate till empty packets and cold pizza slices covered the little table.
‘Hey, guys,’ Eva said, pushing some buttons on the little computer. ‘At this rate, TINY says we’ll win easily. Five days, three hours, fifteen minutes and three seconds — it’ll be a record.’
A helicopter from a television station buzzed overhead taking pictures for the evening news and then sped off.
Selby went back on deck to soak up the last rays of the afternoon sun. There was no land in sight now, just waves, waves and more waves.
‘This is the life,’ he thought. ‘I wish this could go on for months, or even years.’
For the next two days the
sliced its way onward as the last of the seagulls turned back towards land. The DogsBody people cuddled Selby and patted him while playing their computer games and feeding him more chips, more dips and many many slices of pizza.
‘I don’t think I can handle another chip or slice of pizza,’ Selby thought. ‘How can these guys eat this stuff all day every day? How can they drink all those fizzy drinks? Right now I’d eat a plateful of brussel sprouts. Even a Dry-Mouth Dog Biscuit would look good.’
That afternoon the waves got bigger and the yacht pitched and rolled. One by one, the DogsBody people took off their headphones and looked up from their laptops.
‘Gosh!’ Miles said. ‘We sure are tipping a long way over.’
‘We sure are,’ Zak agreed. ‘You don’t think we could tip right over, do you?’
Once again, Eva touched the little screen on TINY the computer.
‘Don’t worry. If we lean over any more then TINY will pull in some of those pieces of cloth and we’ll go back up straight again.’
‘But what if a big wave comes along and slams into us from the side and we tip upside-down?’ Miles asked.
Eva pulled out her pocket calculator and punched the keys.
‘The chance of a big wave coming along is only one in seven hundred and sixty-two,’ she said. ‘And I’m sure TINY would know what to do to keep us from going over.’
‘Gulp,’ Selby gulped. ‘One chance in seven hundred and sixty-two. Why couldn’t she just have said it’s impossible?’
That night, as the others slept in their bunks, Selby lay wide awake feeling the boat roll from side to side.
‘I just hope TINY knows what it’s doing,’ he thought. ‘If only I could just forget about it and get some sleep. All that horrible junk food is upsetting my tummy. And all this rolling from side to side is making it worse. What I need is a nice cup of warm milk. Warm milk always helps me get to sleep.’
It was while Selby was reaching up to get the milk out of the fridge that it happened. Suddenly, the one-in-seven-hundred-and-sixty-two-of-a-chance
wave slammed into the side of the
Geek. TINY quickly blinked into action, turning the boat sharply. And that would have been okay except the sudden movement made Selby drop the carton of milk. And that still would have been okay if the milk hadn’t spilled all over TINY.
Motors whirred, booms boomed and the rudder rudded violently.
‘Oh, no!’ Selby thought. ‘The computer’s gone bonkers!’
Miles sat up in his bunk.
‘What’s happening?’ he said.
‘Something’s wrong with TINY,’ Eva answered.
There was a loud
and then another
as water spurted up through the floor of the cabin.
‘We’ve hit something! Everybody out!’ Miles cried.
Selby scrambled up onto the deck with the DogsBody people close behind. The boat bashed against the rocks of an island. Selby clung in panic to a rope and watched as pieces of the yacht were torn away.
is breaking up!’ he screamed in his brain. ‘I’ve got to get off this death trap!’
‘Jump to the rocks!’ Eva shouted. ‘Everyone jump!’
Geek heaved forward and the DogsBody people jumped onto the rocks. Selby hesitated as the yacht was dragged away again. Another wave crashed into the side of the boat, slamming it against the rocks and knocking Selby over. He struggled to his feet as two waves swept over the
pulling it further from shore.
‘Oh, no!’ Selby thought. ‘I left it too late!’
‘Come on, Selby!’ Zak yelled. ‘Jump!’
‘I can’t!’ Selby thought. ‘It’s too far to jump now!’
Suddenly a huge wave roared in, crashing down on what was left of the yacht.
It was a terrified dog that leapt for his life, shooting through the air like a lost cannonball, and landing right in the arms of Eva.
‘Gotcha!’ she said. ‘Hey, good jump, Sel! That was neat!’
As the sun rose the next morning, the DogsBody people sat shivering on the beach, brushing the sand from their wet clothes. Selby followed as they got up and wandered silently around the little island.
Jason was the first to speak.
‘Far out,’ he said.
Zak spoke next.
‘Amazing,’ he said.
Then it was Miles’ turn.
‘What are the odds of this happening?’ he asked.
Eva’s pocket calculator had survived the shipwreck.
‘Nine hundred thousand to one,’ she said.
‘Forget the odds,’ Selby thought. ‘It’s happened.’
Selby looked at the DogsBody people who by this time were sitting quietly with their heads in their hands.