As I sit at the kitchen table typing this, a whiskery chin rests on my knee; a pair of beady eyes gazes up. No, it’s not Mrs Castle, it’s one of the two hounds that currently dictate much of life in Castle Acres.
We’ve always had dogs. While I was growing up near Dereham our furry friend was Lisa, a cream Labrador with an allegedly posh bloodline that had the word Sandringham in it.
To be fair, she was a retriever of sorts and on at least one occasion proudly presented my mother with the carcase of a piglet thrown out on the muck heap at the pig sheds opposite. Farm hygiene was a little more relaxed in those days.
Then it was Susie, despised at first (A poodle? Seriously?) then adored; she was followed by a beautiful but mute golden American Cocker Spaniel called Spangle and a jet-black, less mute American Cocker called Boomer.
Boomer wrote his footnote in family lore by opening the bottom door of the Aga and eating, straight from the hot baking tray, a dozen fist-sized meringues. He sat, glistening with sugar and lightly blistered round the chops, enjoying the biggest rush a dog has ever had.
Once we had our own home, Mrs C and I collected a succession of beasts; a loopy spaniel, a greyhound and a labradog called Lottie. She was a Geordie dog allowed to roam the streets of Newcastle by indifferent owners.
Hit by a car, she lost a foreleg
and was rescued. A friend, knowing we were looking for a dog, brought her round. Lottie hopped in, looked around and lay down in front of the fire. I got down next to her and she gently put her surviving paw on my arm as if to say; “Divvent fret, man, I’ll be a canny pet.”
And she was too, full of joy and bright enough to work out how to open an inward-opening door with her single forepaw.
We’ve also had chickens – joyful creatures to have pottering about the garden – and currently share our home with a whippety thing and a Staffie cross. Ollie the whippet is the laziest dog ever, permanently auditioning for the lead role in Dog in a Coma.
Lexi the Staffie is busy, needy and quite adorable, despite possessing a snore that must show up on the British Geological Survey’s seismometers.
That’s the thing; as this issue shows we pet owners generally adore our companion animals, be they cat, dog, tortoise, rabbit, bearded dragon or chicken. They all inveigle their way into our hearts and when they go they break them.
Non-pet people just don’t get it. “What’s not to like about having a pet?” we say.
“Apart from the clearing up, the hair, the smells, the food and vet bills, wrecked furniture and the barking at the moon? Nothing,” they say.
Points well made, but so what? Life is better with an animal in it. Fact. Happy July!
Miss Needy and Mr Lazy
DOMINIC CASTLE, Editor, EDP Norfolk Magazine 01603 772758/07725 201153, dominic.cas[email protected]