Dogs come in fashions. Not so long ago there were hundreds of German shepherds everywhere. At the moment there’s a fashion for border terriers. This is a good thing: when it comes to dogs, border terriers make for a great choice in compact all-round dog-ness.
I passed one the other day. It was still a puppy and it hadn’t quite cottoned on to the idea that its freedom was limited by a collar and lead: it was being half-dragged along the pavement by its mistress. The puppy rekindled the memory of a holiday I once spent in the north of England during the month of August. My brother and I loved running around the heather of the moors – and we even enjoyed spending one whole day picking bilberries. At the end of the holiday my parents bought a dog, a border terrier. They called the dog ‘Barnabus’ or ‘Barney’ for short. And so, at the end of the holiday we piled into our car and brought Barney home. He was placed in a cardboard box – and my father made sure that Barney was made comfortable by adding a soft woollen blanket to in the inside of the box. My brother and I spent the whole of the journey home fussing over him. We picked him up and stroked him endlessly – our hands still stained with the blue-purple juice of the bilberries that we had so recently picked. We hoped that he would not be too lonely now that he no longer had the company of his brothers and sisters. In this respect I think we were quite successful.
Barney had a good life. He had friends everywhere.
But one day on a hot afternoon in June he was run over by a van. By way of closure, the deceased Barney was returned to our house in a good-sized cardboard box. The box was noticeable larger than the one which had been originally used to bring him home when he was a puppy.