In terms of dogs, the year started badly. My beloved border terrier passed away in his fifteenth year while I was in Suffolk – but this is not a sad tale. Toby had a happy life on the edge of the Cotswolds with more lovely walks than you can shake a stick at and a family who loved him. Though he hated most dogs (it’s a terrier thing), he developed a strong bond with a miniature schnauzer called Benson. They became ‘The Cone Brothers’ when coincidentally injured in the same week and made to wear the cones of shame.
It has taken until now to consider the prospect of a new dog. My husband works from home, and we already look after several dogs, which made Toby’s loss bearable. Bella, who belongs to my daughter, is the beagle equivalent of Miss World. She is a leggy girl with long eyelashes and ears the colour of burnished brass. She has film star aspirations and over 6000 followers on her Instagram page.
Another household canine distraction comes in the form of the gorgeous Sally, and it’s hard to imagine a more loving dog. Sally belongs to a family friend and started her life in Uganda. She wandered into a local factory as a tiny puppy, was adopted and brought back to England. Sweet natured Sally is calm and affectionate with never so much as a glance in anger. It’s as if she knows how fortunate she has been and is forever grateful.
Two weeks ago, we finally felt ready for another dog of our own. We look after Sally in the day, and Benson and Bella are occasional visitors, so the evenings were dog-free and far too quiet. We steeled ourselves for a long search as my husband wanted a puppy, and I desperately wanted to give a rescue dog a home. In the end, it happened quickly, and we both got what we wanted. Little Teddy, a cockapoo, arrived at The Dog’s Trust when he was only 11 weeks old, a squirming handful of exuberance and joy. Teddy is inquisitive, loving and full of character. He is our forever dog, and we will give him everything a dog could ever want.
The Dog’s Trust is a fantastic organization staffed with dedicated men and women giving love and hope to homeless animals. I can’t speak highly enough of their kindness and patience. Some of their dogs never find homes. I have sponsored one for many years who will never leave his home at the Glasgow Trust. Teddy came from Evesham and is already a huge distraction to my writing life, but worth every moment. My phone is full of photographs, and What’s App buzzes with constant pupdates. He has filled the dog-shaped hole in our lives.