So let me introduce dog no. 1, Susie. We rescued Susie when she was three and a half, retired for failing to regain her speed after injury. She was our first dog and will therefore always have a special place in our hearts, even though she can be a right stroppy mare at times. She didn’t get a companion for another year but that didn’t bother her as she immediately adopted us as her pack, with her at the top. We used the linear confines of the towpath to train her and she was sufficiently obedient to be able to accompany A up the full extent of Heartbreak Hill without putting a foot wrong. In that first year, her two ‘pieces de resistance’ were thus.
She’s got four new pals now and she bosses them frightfully. Put a foot wrong and you get growled up the bum. But she is a musketeer at heart so she will protect the pack fiercely even though she is fairly beastly to them. Perhaps the most remarkable thing she ever did was come and find us one night. We had hopped onto the boat behind for dinner, leaving our front doors slightly open (it was a fearfully hot night) but guarded by a chair. At 11 o’clock, I heard an unmistakeable tinkling of a dog’s collar and there was Susie, hanging her elegant nose over the bow and giving us her best ‘dirty stop-outs return home immediately’ look. Who needs your mum when she’s around?