GLOBAL MYTHS NO 3; Another story from the travellers' grapevine

A COUPLE OF years ago, a young couple arrived for a short break in the Thailand holiday resort of Phuket. With them was their highly strung five-year-old daughter. The couple hoped that the trip would help their daughter's erratic mood swings, and perhaps help her at school back home, where she was having trouble settling in.

They discovered the people were friendly and courteous, and gradually they began to relax. To their delight, their daughter immediately made a new friend; a little puppy which was clearly as taken with her as she was with it. With her new companion, she was a changed girl. And the fat little dog took to running around on its squat legs everywhere she went.

The two were inseparable and, towards the end of their stay, the parents began to worry about the emotional wrench that separating their daughter from her new puppy would bring. As luck would have it, the hotel manager had a high-level contact in a local embassy. For a large consideration, he told them, the dog could be spirited back to Britain by-passing the quarantine procedures. After some agonising, they opted to pay up.

The plan went perfectly. Back in Britain, the puppy arrived in a crate, clearly none the worse for wear. Although it was less energetic than it had been back in Thailand, it seemed reasonably happy, ate everything it was given, and took to sleeping at the foot of the girl's bed.

One night, about a week later, the parents were sitting in the living room when they heard screams from the bedroom. They rushed in to find the puppy savagely trying to chew off the girl's ear. After the daughter had been patched up, the couple took the puppy to a vet. The vet took one look and said: "I don't know what's going on here, but this is the largest Thai water rat I've ever seen."

Maxton Walker Send in the stories you've picked up on your journeys to: Global Myths at the address below