As a young boy, living in a small village surrounded by hillside
farms, I think I was around five years old when I first asked my
parents for a dog.
I saw the ‘sheep dogs’ rounding up the sheep for the farmer and I read about ‘Black Bob’ in the Dandy ‘comics’ and annuals.
But Dad said that there would soon be another mouth to feed and money was tight, so I had to make do with a sister instead.
I tried again a few years later, but that time there were school uniforms to be bought, and a few years later Dad became ill and there was no money to spare at all, certainly not for a dog.
I accepted the situation but sadly Dad never recovered and by the time I was in a position to be able to afford a dog of my own, I was into football and cricket and drinking in the pub with my mates. It wasn’t until I married at the ripe old age of 35 that I started thinking again about the dog I never had and it was another eight years before my dream was realised.
Tom, a Border collie puppy was put in my charge by our employers; a playmate for his sons at their home in the country. He was everything I had ever wanted, except officially he wasn’t mine.
Over the years Tom and I became inseparable; we worked together, we
played together, we went on holiday together, even slept together –
at least in the same room.
We had adventures and also got into some scrapes, played hide and seek, football where Tom was goalie, and we looked after each other.
He knew when I was ill the day I couldn’t go and feed the birds and llamas which was part of my job and wouldn’t leave my side until I was better.
He knew not to get too near my hand when I cut it badly, and he stayed by my side while I recovered from a hernia operation.
When it came time for us to move location, we had to ask if we could
take Tom with us as he was still officially not ours. There was no
hesitancy on our employers’ side as he could see that Tom had become
But our new life was different and at first I couldn’t find a job. There was plenty to do sorting out the house and our belongings but I wasn’t happy and Tom knew it.
At times whilst trying to get things organised and getting more and more frustrated, Tom would put his paw on me as if to say ‘let’s go for a walk’ saving me from myself.
I hope I returned his loyalty and when he
got old and he could no longer run around, I carried him on my
shoulders intermittently over the rough ground on our walks to give
his tired body a rest.
He was my friend to the end and I loved him as the son I never had.
I will always miss him but feel he is still with me, having a calming influence, something which is hard to explain.
As the times we had together meant so much to me I decided that I wanted others to read about them, and so over a period of about two years, with more than just a little help, I wrote a book entitled ‘The Special Years’ and it includes and hopefully portrays why I still feel he is with me.