I have always been a doggie person. I was born into a doggie household so, if I had suffered from any dog-driven allergies, it would have been really ruff, because I would have had to have been re-homed.
My parents bought a Corgie puppy, Honey, when I was in my pram and she became my best friend and confident.
14 years on, and having just been delivered back to the homestead for the summer holidays, I was ecstatic. Finally released from that borstal-like boarding institution that my mother referred to as school, to enjoy weeks on end in the summer sunshine with the ever faithful Honey by my side. N.B. Please note that this was the bygone era when the U.K. had proper summers.
My recently, but very-merry-widowed mother was nowhere to be seen and neither was Honey. I ran around the house and garden calling her name; Honey, not Mummy and came across the gardener, who delivered the core-shattering news that Honey was now buried under the cherry tree in the paddock. I found her grave and sat with my back propped up against the cherry tree until after dark, which was when my mother decided to rock up.
My mother had, apparently, forgotten that I was due home that day. I startled her and she panicked, thinking I had run away from school because my face was covered in tear-stained mud.
“Why didn’t you tell me about Honey, Mummy?”
For once, she was speechless.
After Honey’s demise, I spent around 8 years in the dog-less wilderness, until my step-father bought me a beautiful Springer Spaniel puppy who I wanted to call Bessie.
This was over-ruled my mother who insisted she should be called Tessa, because nobody in their right mind would ever call a pedigree dog Bessie.
Tessa and I escaped to the Channel Islands a few years later, by boat. Tessa loved me so much and was insanely jealous of anybody coming anywhere near me, which made relationships very difficult. At 14, Tessa, like Honey, thought enough was enough and, in the absence of a cherry tree, let alone a paddock, Tessa is buried in the pet cemetery here.
I was devastated. Alone again in the dog-less wilderness, vowing never to own another dog again because it is just too painful when something happens to them, but I was desperate for a furry friend, so I went catty. I am still catty. I have 3 little darlings who pop into the field, kill off the small mammal population, eat one half of the corpse and kindly bring the other blood oozing half into the house to show just how much they love me. Then, on their way out, they projectile vomit the undigested half on to the carpet.
Four years ago, the cats got a shock when we brought home a Shorkie and called her Cassie.
The thing is, you see, just before my arm was twisted, I had said … no. Actually, I whined …
“No, no, no! I don’t want another dog until I retire!”
It didn’t take Cassie long to find her way into the very core of my heart and the shit she sometimes has to put up with is quite something.
She is the only one that never complains when I sing. I can sing my way through a whole performance of Blood Brothers when we are out walking and she never bats an eye, or an ear. Although I do have my suspicions that she may be selectively deaf. For example, “Come here!” can often be a tricky one to hear. I am always bending her ear when I have stuff on my mind and she quietly agrees with absolutely everything I say.
She is my constant companion, my leveler, and my muse. She never answers back and everything, perhaps with the exception of bath time, is her favourite thing.