Spacepug and The Unicorn

Welcome to Story Quest, a weekly podcast where we bring your stories to life!

In this episode we bring Lorna’s story – Spacepug and The Unicorn – to life.

If you have a story idea, you could be like Lorna and have it turned into a Story Quest. All you have to do is send us your story idea here. We know you have the best imaginations and together we can create the most brilliant stories!

That’s just what Lorna did. You can watch the story they suggested come to life below, plus they tell us all about the inspiration behind the story at the end.

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Read along to Spacepug and The Unicorn here!

You can read along to the story while you listen. Just follow the text below. Don’t worry if you find a word tricky – you can pause the video whenever to give yourself more time

Space Pug and the Unicorn

Puddles was a pug who lived on a planet called Dogmania.  You haven’t heard of Dogmania?  It’s in our solar system, tucked behind Jupiter and the only reason you probably haven’t heard of it is that its orbit is just so that it’s always concealed in the shadows.  It’s a shame we haven’t visited because Dogmania is full of – well – dogs as you probably guessed but these are technically SPACE dogs.  They can talk and have built houses and fly rockets and do all sorts of other cool stuff.  And they’re not the only creatures on the planet.  Dogmania is home to the sort of animals you hear about in fairy stories – griffins, dragons, unicorns and things like that – so it’s a pretty amazing magical place.

(There’s a whole story about how the magical creatures got to the planet – basically several millenia they got fed up with humans trying to capture, ride or kill them and so spirited themselves away to their new home, in the shadow of Jupiter, but I’ll tell you about that another time.)

So that’s Dogmania.  Sounds cool doesn’t it?

Well one of the dogs in our story thought HE was EXTRA cool – but actually… He was kind of EXTRA annoying.  He was a pug.  Sorry, I mean a SPACE pug and his name was PUDDLES.

Puddles was only small (well you know what pugs are like and despite being Space pug he looked pretty much the same as an earth pug), but despite his diminutive stature Puddles had a big personality.  And by big I mean… Yep. Annoyingly big.  And this was a bit of a problem for the animals on Dogmania as he was in charge of keeping the streets safe – sort of like a dog policeman.  Or a police dog.  You get the idea.

He would strut up and down the streets of Dogmania looking for reasons to scold the animals, and the reasons usually were pretty rubbish.

“No loitering!” he barked at a poodle who was lounging in the shade of a tree.

“But it’s boiling – I’m just having a rest!”

Next it was a griffin who was minding his own business, queuing at the space cakery. 

“Hey you!  Scaly Drawers!  You can’t park yourself there without a permit!”

“I’m not parking I’m just STANDING!” huffed the creature.

“Well stop it! You’re causing an obstruction! Don’t make me take you to the Pound!”

The Griffin huffed again and sloped off.  It really wasn’t a good idea getting on the wrong side of Puddles.

The pound was a pretty horrible place in the orbit of Dogmania where the bad animals were sent.  Everyone was terrified of it and so generally people ended up doing what Puddles said.  And because everyone did what he said Puddle’s head got even bigger and he got even more bossy.  The dogs in charge of law and order took a bit of a dim view of Puddles but the streets had never been so safe, so he was left to get on with it, his way.

One day Puddles was mooching through the forest, when he spotted a unicorn.  The unicorn (who’s name was Hera) was idly munching on a very lovely starshine shrub.  Minding her own business and enjoying the cool breeze.

“ Hey you!” he barked. “I think you’ll find that’s willful destruction of an endangered species!”

Hera looked up in puzzlement.

“It was only a few leaves – how was I meant to know this bush is special?”

“I think you’ll find it was very well publicised on notices around the forest – look there’s one right there!” – He pointed at a tiny sign, placed at the top of a very tall tree.  Probably only a very fit squirrel or a determined owl would have been able to get close enough to see it.

“But I’m a unicorn.  I’m magic and all that but I can’t actually READ. Anyway that sign’s RUBBISH!”

Puddles chuckled and shook his head.  “Well REALLY – Unicorns are just the most useless creatures on this planet!  The most useless animals ever to exist if you ask me”

“Useless?  That’s a mean thing to say you horrible little dog!” snorted Hera, who carried on munching.  She didn’t care much for pugs especially annoying bossy pugs.

But Puddles was delighted.  A clear breach of the rules.  There was only one thing to do.

“That’s it!  Insulting an officer dog AND a contravention of the law.  It’s the pound for you!”  and  with that he  tossed  a rope around  the  unicorn’s neck and dragged her out of the  forest,  Hera  whinnying and throwing back her head in disgust.

“Unicorn for the Pound!” he barked as he strutted into the depot, dragging Hera on the rope with his teeth.

The dog on duty looked at Puddles wearily.  Then at Hera who was FUMING and then back at Puddles. “Well you’ll have to wait.  The Pilot for the pound had to go home, nasty case of space fleas I’m afraid.  Big as footballs they were.”

Hera shuddered at the thought but Puddles had other ideas.

“You’re as useless as this unicorn!  Well I’ll take her myself then!” and before the dog on duty could object he’d marched past and through to the runway.

“I .. don’t think that’s a very good.. idea” he whined, but Puddles had marched to the launch pad, bundled poor Hera into the hold of the rocket and jumped into the cockpit.

I mean, he’d never flown a rocket before but how hard could it be, he thought.

And for a bit things went alright.  He managed to get the rocket to launch by basically pressing all the buttons, and then managed to set the coordinates for the pound.  This was turning into a very exciting day.  Maybe one of his best!

But then… it started to be an even more exciting day… But for all the wrong reasons.  He hadn’t noticed that in his excitement he had began to do what quite a lot of dogs do, whether they’re in space or not.  He had started to DROOL.  And that gloopy drool was sinking into the computer console.  Liquids and electricity really don’t mix, and smoke began to appear, and then a terrible spluttering as one of the engines stuttered and then stopped.  

Uh oh.  It’s not looking good is it?

Puddles whimpered and whined and in a flurry started pressing more buttons but this made things worse and the rocket began to spin and spin and spin.

He could hear Hera being crashed around and whinnying in fright.

“Leave it to me!  I’m in charge!  I’m in charge!” he barked.

Hera called from the back – “what’s going on? I’m being tossed around like a pointy salad back here!”

“Everything’s under control!” he barked back.  But obviously it wasn’t – he could see smoke trailing in the window now – the other engine must have failed.

“Hit the emergency thruster!” yelled Hera.

The emergency thruster.  That sounded familiar.  He glanced around the cockpit and managed to find it – a large red button at the very top of the console.  Almost on the ceiling.  

“Oh dear” said Puddles, gulping.

The trouble was that Puddles was just too small to reach the button – he jumped and jumped on his stubby little legs but couldn’t get high enough to hit the control.  The rocket spluttered and began to speed up towards the planet.  His legs might have been useless but then he had a thought…

“Hera!  If I let you out can you hit the button? – but quickly!!”

Even though Hera was being buffeted around in the hold she took a moment to look at Puddles in a very unimpressed way through the hatch.

“Ohh NOW I’m useful am I?  I thought Unicorns were … what was it you said??  The most Useless animals ever to exist?”

Puddles was in a panic “I didn’t mean it!  Please help!”

“Say sorry.”

It didn’t come easily to Puddles.  I don’t think he’d ever apologised to anyone EVER but, you know, rockets plummeting out of the sky can change a person.  Or a pug.

“Alright!  I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!”

“And say that Unicorns are fabulous wonderful creatures who are NOT useless but are actually REALLY REALLY amazingly useful!”

“Alright!”  He gabbled.  “Unicorns are fabulous wonderful creatures who are not useless but actually really really amazingly useful!”

Scrabbling to open the lock on the hold door Hera burst through in a haze of golden sparkles, she cantered to the console and with a flourish hit the emergency thruster with  her rainbow horn!  With a crash bang and a wallop the thrusters kicked in and the rocket was back on track!


Hera was delighted but then looked at Puddles sadly.  “I suppose you want me to go back in the hold until we get to The Pound…”

Puddles had a think.  He didn’t often think.  His brain was quite small after all.  But even he could see that maybe possibly he had been a tiny bit in the wrong.  And Hera HAD just saved his life.

“No.” he said, “You can stay where you are.  And I’m changing course.  I’m taking you back to Dogmania.”

“But … why?”

“I got things wrong” he said quietly. “I was too busy enjoying feeling important to worry about what really matters – and that’s looking after each other.”

Hera whinnied kindly.

“If you hadn’t looked after me, well, we’d be as flat as a pancake on the ground right now.”

“Friends?” said Hera.

“Yes Friends!” said Puddles. And with that the pair began the return journey.

And once they’d got back and Hera was declared free, Puddles decided that maybe there were better things to do than go around bossing people around all day.  He found he really liked spending time with Hera and enjoyed tending her field, planting succulent magical shrubs for her to nibble on and listen to her stories about her time long ago on a strange planet called Earth.  And Hera delighted at the juicy starshine shrubs.  Puddles it seemed was an excellent gardener. So it turns out even Space Pugs CAN be useful too!

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