“Murray! Come back!” Sindy chased after her puppy. Murray was the cutest dog in the universe, but he had not learnt how to stay still for more than five seconds.
Sindy was getting super fit chasing her cheeky chum through the park. The excitable pup ran into the pond after the surprised ducks. Murray splashed about happily while it seemed to Sindy she spent all of her time calling him!
After a few minutes the naughty dog pricked up his ears. Murray spotted Sindy, forgot about the water and came bounding out of the pond and straight towards her. Sindy braced herself for a soggy cuddle. But Murray was so excited that he crashed into a group of official looking men with clipboards and tape measures. “Grrrrr!” growled one of them, a stout man with a large moustache and a bald patch on the top of his head. His blue pinstriped suit was covered with muddy water and his face was beetroot red.
“Can’t you keep your dog under control?”
“I’m sorry,” said Sindy, grabbing Murray’s collar. “He isn’t properly trained yet.”
The man turned away. “This is exactly why we need to turn this park into a car park,” he said to the other men. “Not to worry. Before long, that dirty pond will be filled in and all this untidy grass will be replaced with easily maintained neat concrete.”
Sindy’s heart sank. Surely it couldn’t be true.
Back home, Sindy looked at the local newspaper’s website.
confirmed her fears: ‘Local Park to Become Car Park’.
“Oh, no!” said Sindy. ‘Businessman Robert Gold, who owns the park, intends to turn it into a car park, paving over the whole area,’ she read.
There was a picture of the man Murray had splashed with pond water.
“This is the worst news ever!” said Sindy. “Where will all the skaters go if there’s no park? Where will the children play? What about all your doggie friends Murray?”
“Woof!” barked Murray.
Sindy texted her best friends Holly and Jasmine: ‘Can you come over? Oh and bring chocolate!’
“We could try to stop it happening—with an online petition,” said Jasmine after Sindy had explained everything. Within hours, the pals were amazed to see that their online petition already had hundreds of signatures.
“I knew it! Everyone wants to keep the park,” said Sindy. “Mr Gold is sure to change his plans now.”
“I hope so, but maybe an online petition might not be enough…” said Holly.
“Well, we could organise some kind of protest too…” thought Sindy out loud. “Good idea,” said Holly. “Let’s ask all our friends to meet up in the park. We can tell them about it on local forums.”
While Jasmine started getting the word out about their plans, Sindy and Holly began to make colourful banners and signs using an old sheet and Sindy’s poster paints. Murray wanted to join in too but ended up spilling the paint and treading bright purple footprints all over the floor. “Oh, Murray!” said Sindy. “I’ll have to clean this up before I get into trouble with mum—again.”
The following morning, Sindy, Holly and Jasmine headed for the park, along with Murray, who helpfully carried one of the girls’ banners. They were disappointed to find that nobody else had come. The park was empty and silent.
“Perhaps no one cares about the park after all,” said Sindy sadly. Just then Murray started to bark.
“Someone’s coming!” said Holly.
It was a man with a moustache. He was wearing a suit and carrying a clipboard. “Oh, no! It’s Mr Gold,” said Sindy. But this time he was smiling. Maybe he’d had a change of heart.
“Ha! he said in an unpleasant way. I knew no one would come to this silly protest,” he said. “It looks like the sensible people of this town want a car park after all.”
Sindy smiled—but not at Mr Gold. She’d noticed that behind him was her neighbour and her children. Behind them were many of their friends and their families and many more people they did not recognise: skateboarders, people on rollerblades, and lots of people with their dogs. They had all come to offer support. Murray was so excited that he bounded towards the crowd, knocking the clipboard from Mr Gold’s hand and sending all his important papers flying into the air.
Mr Gold’s smile turned to a frown. “Oops! Sorry—again,” whispered Sindy. She grabbed Murray’s lead while her friends chased after the papers.
“Grrrrr.” Mr Gold eyed up the crowd before stomping off angrily, just as a reporter from the local paper arrived with her camera.
The following day the friends made the front page. “It says that local support for the park means that the plans are likely to be scrapped,” said Jasmine.
“Cool!” said the girls. “I hope we’ve done it!”
They had and it seemed life had gone back to normal. Sindy continued to train Murray in the park every day. Gradually he started to learn to come back when he was called. Then one day, she arrived to find a notice on the park gate. It said that the park was to be closed permanently the following week—for “Re-development.”
Sindy could not believe it. She sat down on her favourite bench, stunned and was so sad that she didn’t notice that Murray had run off again.
A few minutes later, he came scampering back, barking loudly and nudging at Sindy. Then he ran off again.
“Murray!” shouted Sindy, chasing after him this time. “Where are you going?” Murray stopped at the top of a steep bank of grass and barked again. Sindy looked down the hill and saw a man in a pinstriped suit lying at the bottom. It was Mr Gold—and he was injured.
“Are you okay?” shouted Sindy.
“I slipped and think I may have broken my leg,” said Mr Gold weakly. “And I can’t find my phone.”
“Don’t worry,” said Sindy, “I’ll call an ambulance from my phone.”
While Sindy made the call, Murray bounded down the hill and ran off into the undergrowth. Moments later he trotted up to Mr Gold with his tail in the air. He was proudly carrying his phone in his mouth. The businessman smiled and patted Murray gently.
“You’re not so bad after all, boy,” he said.
“Woof!” said Murray.
As the paramedics carried Mr Gold into the ambulance, the businessman explained what had happened: “I was doing some measuring for the agreed re-development when I slipped. But I think I’ve made a mistake, thanks to Sindy and Murray’s kindness, I think I should think again. This town doesn’t need a new car park, but it does need a place for dogs like Murray to burn off steam and for children to play. I’m calling the whole thing off. The park stays.”
Sindy could not believe her ears, nor apparently Murray too— Woof! “Woof! Woof!” said Murray, before licking Mr Gold’s face.
Mr Gold frowned. “Don’t make me change my mind…”
Sindy, Holly and Jasmine celebrated with a picnic. The sun was shining, all the flowers were in bloom and the park looked more beautiful than ever. The pals tucked into a feast of delicious cheese sandwiches, crunchy crisps, cupcakes with pink icing, sweet cherries and lemonade. The only thing missing was the sausage rolls. Murray had eaten them all when they weren’t looking.