Happy times

I’ve been blogging about sad subjects recently. In order to redress the balance I thought I would see what I was doing five years ago today. It seems like I was enjoying life and being on holiday in the Lake District in the UK.

It was my first trip, my first holiday if you will. We had sat in the car in a seemingly never ending queue of traffic along the motorways. When we arrived it was dark and I didn’t realise the beauty of the area until the following day.

Brotherswater. Stunning.

For a beagle or, I suspect any dog, the Lakes are a wonderful and magical kingdom of scents and sights. I went to Patterdale, at the lower end of Ullswater, for a week. We explored so many places that I could hardly take it all in.

I could get used to this.

It was fantastic.

Happy Birthday Lenny

It’s my protege’s birthday today. He is three.

We had a good walk this morning and then I saw that he got some extra kibble in his bowl. Not much, mind, but enough for me to notice. Apparently he’s on something called a “bit of a diet”. Anyway happy birthday little brother Lenny, I hope you’ve have a good day and I might even let you chew my ears as a treat. I suppose I had better let him say something.

I wonder if I’m allowed to eat bees on my birthday?

Hello everyone it’s me Lenny. It’s my birthday apparently and I am something called three. It’s good being three as I got extra food in my bowl for my second half of breakfast and my dinner. I hope I get extra biscuits later before I am forced to go to bed. So, I am determined to enjoy myself today and, who knows, maybe tomorrow I will be four and get extra, extra food? What do you all mean it doesn’t work like that?

If I sit nicely, I might get some extra food.

I’m off to complain to the management.

Think about it.

As I mentioned in a recent blog I have been struggling to find subjects to woof about. Maybe the pandemic has been going on for so long that my earlier windswept and interesting lifestyle has become staid and dull. I don’t know when this state of stupor will subside and I can go back to being wild eyed and footloose.

Anyway the Olympics have been on the tv and I have been watching some of the startling feats and abilities of some very talented humans and equines. I marvel at their feats and wonder at the stories of their endurance both through competing as well as the training in very challenging circumstances over the last eighteen months or so. Hugely technical tricks in the street BMX, pommel horse training in the back garden (whilst on Zoom call to the coach) and swimming as well as gym training at some unearthly hours to maintain fitness to retain a gold medal. All these activities take dedication and a fearsome will to win. I am not sure I have, or ever would have, these traits. I have a fearsome will to get treats or to beat Lenny at bitey face games, all the while running around the garden baying loudly. If there was an Olympic event of Beagle snout jousting, maybe I could enter.

I have also listened to some of the competitors say that they are going to take some time out for the sake of their own mental wellbeing. They feel as if they have the weight of the world upon their shoulders and it’s getting too pressured. I think this is a very brave thing to say. There is so much pressure put on some athletes nowadays that I am surprised more of them haven’t said they need to take a break earlier. When you have been at the top of your sport for years and years, you are unbeaten for a very long time and people are looking at you as the “Face of the Games” then the pressure mounts even more. Throw into the mix a pandemic, an extremely challenging and disrupted training schedule and general day to day family life, then I am in awe. To then hear people grumble and moan about the decisions which the athletes are taking is terrible. People who have probably never landed a double back somersault with pike on the vault or who have never swam under an hour for 100m breaststroke in the paddling pool in their garden. Truly awful to hear that people who have been fighting mentally and physically for years to achieve something that 99.9999999999% of people will never achieve, well its saddening. One of the athletes at the London Olympics recently took part in a documentary. She said that she was the “poster girl” for the Games, she was the archetypal “Face of the Games” and her face was all over magazines, billboards, transportation, murals etc and it piled so much pressure on her that she often wondered what would happen if she didn’t win gold. Thankfully for her she did win gold, and the pressure just lifted as soon as she crossed the line in the 800m final event. But for someone who has trained far beyond many peoples reasonable comprehension to have to think and worry about what will happen if I do not, or cannot perform AND WIN, is surely piling on pressure beyond reasonable limits. It is brave for people to speak up and say “wait a minute, I need to be mentally and physically right for this”.

And they’re off.

I have a buddy on my twitter and his dad is going through a tough time at the moment. He was brave and told people “listen guys I am struggling so I am going to try and find help”. No one as far as I ma aware has been rude, nasty or condescending toward his admission that he wanted to find help. We all try to be supportive and help him see that he is loved by many and that he is important to many people. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right words to say but this doesn’t stop me from trying. Often I see that he has tweeted and many people have already responded with simple messages which we all hope he will read and find love and comfort in. A straightforward reply of “we are here to help you” or “You matter, you mean something to us” we hope can help. I’ve said it before on here but my nan always said that if you can’t say something nice then say nothing. The world is pressured enough as it is, people are struggling and maybe aren’t as mentally or physically tough as once thought. It used to be seen as a sign of weakness to admit that you need help. That’s wrong.

Please! Be kind and thoughtful.

It’s ok to not be ok.

Is this age creeping up on me?

I’ve been a bit ill recently. No, you’re not getting any pictures of me recycling my food as that is personal. Of course my illness had nothing to do with me raiding the kitchen bin and finding all sorts of goodies in there including tea bags and bits of kitchen roll which needed to be shredded, chewed and in the case of the teabags eaten. Unfortunately at 5 am this morning, I decided I needed to be sick and my parents were left with the clean up operation. I feel better now, thanks for asking. Also a while back my diet was changed as it seemed that my belly couldn’t handle the food I was eating and there were many and varied trips to the garden at plenty of unearthly hours of the night. Maybe my body is trying to tell me something?

If I ignore him, he might sniff somewhere else.

I have been thinking quite a bit over the last few weeks about me slowing down too. Since we moved into our new house, I have these new fangled stairs to negotiate and I seem to be using up more energy every time I go up, especially when I am chasing Lenny. Then when I get upstairs I seem to seek out the bed under the desk in mums office or try to lay snoozing on one of the spare beds. This of course relies on Lenny not finding me and trying to bite me. When we are outside in the garden it may be smaller than our old one, but I seem more content to just stroll about and try to eat bees. Yes I know that is pretty stupid and I am regularly squirted with the water gun that has been bought just for this eventuality. However the bees seem to buzz around and I cannot help but try to catch a few of them. I have yet to succeed, much to the relief of the parents. Lenny and I seem to understand that the garden is smaller and that I like to have more time to sit on a bench to watch the birds land on the fence and then listen to the sound of the cars and trucks outside in the road. I suppose it is because I am allegedly 11 now that my body and mind is telling me to take things easier.

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with bee(s).

If only that were the case when we are out on our morning walk though. I seem to be permanently pulling at the end of the lead trying to get to the critters in the fields and hedges.

I am not saying that I am old and infirm, far from it. I think I am beginning to realise that when I am in the house and garden, I don’t have to run around like a hound possessed all the time. I have a good life and generally I am very healthy, it is just that there seem to be more occasions where my bones feel a little weary and my mind is telling me to relax and not chase that squirrel on the fence.

Come on squirrel, I’ve still got what it takes.

Did someone say squirrel.

A Sunny disposition

I wanted to return to one of the recurring themes which has allowed me to write this blog and, hopefully, keep people interested in reading it.

As some of you may know I, along with many others, had a beagle friend called Fred who lived in Germany with his parents. Sadly Fred made his longest journey on 22nd January 2021 and there were a large number of people who were extremely upset, not least his parents. Within a few months of Freds farewell, his parents rescued a lost soul called Ignaz (subsequently called Sunny due to his happy demeanour). This is his story of safety, love and security. Thus far.

I spoke with Fred’s mum, auntie Cathy and I am very grateful for her help in writing this blog.

Ok, I am going to start with the sad part (sorry) about Fred. Please don’t cry too much. When Fred passed over the Rainbow Bridge, you were both obviously very sad. However did his passing ignite a desire within you to get a rescue or did you harbour a desire to get a rescue anyway?

When Fred died we were so broken, the grief was unbelievable! He had been my side kick for 12 years and I had no idea what to do without him. I had always wanted to rescue a lab beagle and we said that the next Beagle would be a rescue or a lab Beagle. But we didn’t think we would do it so soon. We just started researching who could help us and then we found http://laborbeaglehilfe.de and Sunny (previous name Ignaz) was on there with his brother and we enquired, never thinking we would be able to get him. We thought it would take months and months to find a rescue but as soon as we saw Sunny, and found out he was still available, we were smitten and really wanted to give him a forever home! It didn’t end my grief but it certainly brought the light back into our lives. Definitely. I wish Fred was here as well – he’d be teaching him all the bad habits. I had Fred from he was 12 weeks old but I always knew that I wanted a rescue at some point.

The air of freedom. I love it.

What processes did you have to go through in order to get Sunny? Did you meet him (Covid etc) before he arrived and how much did the rescue tell you of his past

The rescue process? We were looking for organizations that could help us and Klaus found laborbeaglehilfe and that was it. We saw Sunny and knew we had to try to give him his forever home. They are small but I think quite well known. We had a couple of very long phone calls with the rescue lady from http://laborbeaglehilfe.de where she asked about our experience with Beagles, where we lived, how often would he be alone, did we have a garden (we don’t!) and many other questions. We were then waiting for her decision and really hoping we could get him. We checked the website and saw that he had been moved to ‘reserved’ but we hadn’t heard anything. So then we were panicking that he was going to someone else! But thankfully not as we received confirmation that we had been successful.

We didn’t get to meet him until the day he arrived. I think it was mostly COVID that meant we couldn’t meet him first but also think they like to take them straight from the lab to their new home if possible. The ladies from the rescue came in first and checked out our house (and us too!). Then when they were happy they went outside and brought him in with another Beagle (Robin) to help him not be so nervous. We know he is from a lab that did medical testing but the rescue don’t tell you anything else – no testing details or location. They just said that this lab was one of the better ones in terms of the care they take with the dogs (apart from the horrendous testing obviously!). It’s scary to hear how much animal testing still goes on in Germany!

This is new. I wonder if I will be loved?

Were you expecting what walked through the door? Did you have expectations or pre-conceptions of Sunny and his behaviour?

When he arrived I sat on the floor and he came straight over to me which was great because we had no idea how he would be with people. He’s been very snuggly since day 1. The rescue people had us prepared for all the worst case scenarios. For instance that he wouldn’t come near us, that he wouldn’t be house trained, that he would jump on the table. However he was the opposite! Teaching him how to use stairs was the main thing but after 3 days he had it sussed and he’s now really confident with them. As for sleeping in an actual dog bed – forget it! He’s set foot in it once. Its only sofas and the big bed for this boy!

Wake me up when it’s lunch o’clock.

How did you approach the basics of showing him his new life?

He made great progress really quickly. Indeed his curiosity was stronger than his fear (most of the time). He’s such a sweet, funny little goof ball and it’s amazing to see his personality come out more and more. We were prepared for all the worst scenarios with him but he is so snuggly, well house trained and also has no interest in human food (unbelievable for a beagle!). We tried to get him into a routine as quickly as possible to help him feel safe and secure. Now he sits outside the kitchen in the morning impatiently waiting to go for his walk.

Did you speak to anyone else about taking on a lab beagle?

We didn’t speak to anyone about it. We just started looking, thinking that it would take a long time and suddenly he was almost here.

The house was so empty without a dog in it and we knew we could give a rescue a great life. It all happened really fast.

I have heard other people say that their dog who recently passed to the Rainbow Bridge had “sent” the current dog. Do you think Fred had something to do with Sunny?

I do think that he was ‘sent‘ by Fred. The day we heard we were getting Sunny, a Robin bounced across my path as I was running and I knew it was Fred telling me it was ok. We wanted a lab Beagle because it is something I am passionate about – ending animal testing. It was through following the Beagle Freedom Project that I came across the Twitter pack so it feels like it was meant to be!

Are you strict with him, given the possibility of his previous life being pretty awful?

We are not very strict with him. We figure he had a hard enough life and now he can enjoy the sofa and the big bed as much as he likes. We do make him sit and he is really good off the lead. We work with him on that so he is learning and getting good stimulation. Thankfully he is really keen to learn. We push him only if it’s things like going out for a pee etc. Really its to keep him to his routine but otherwise we are patient with him and let him make progress at his own pace.

What do you think are his best and worst habits?

His most endearing trait is his goofiness! He’s a bit a clown and falls over himself quite frequently. His one bad habit is he is a poop eater. Big time!

He has quite a nervous character so we have to watch him with loud noises and new things but his shaking episodes are not so frequent now. Recovery from trauma is not a linear process so we just take it day by day and if he has had a lot of stimulation and activity we will make sure he has a quiet day so he can process and recover.

He’s such a sweet boy – he really brought the life back into me after losing Fred. Life with no Beagle is not fun!

These people are great. It’s good to be loved.

Thank you auntie Cathy. I think Sunny is in very safe hands and will learn that love and safety are now his for the rest of his days. He’s a very lucky beagle. And yes, life without a Beagle is no fun.

Hello, I’m pleased to meet you

So there I was, two years ago today, waking up to what I thought was a normal day with the normal walks, small food portions, usual lack of tickles and generally being told to lay down and behave myself. Oh no, how wrong could I possibly be.

I found I was being hurried along through my walk, I then had my attendants watching me eat breakfast and finally found myself quickly returned to my harness. Off up the hill to the station and onto the train. We whizzed past fields, houses, sports stadiums and then into the tunnel before arriving at our first destination station. I stepped off the train and tried to breathe in the stale London air. Being moved along the platform at great pace, I wondered what was happening. It only got more intriguing when we left the station and I was allowed to walk through Regents Park so I could chase squirrels. At least that is what I thought I was doing there, but my parents had other ideas. Leaving the park and crossing the very busy road we descended into the bowels of the London Underground whereupon I was told in no uncertain terms to “Behave”. It was only appropriate for me to arooo and make everyone on the tube carriage smile. This was behaving, right?

We ascended to street level somewhere called Aldgate and I was swiftly marched across another wide road. I was enjoying this but I had no idea what exactly was happening. We stopped at a small cafe near the Tower of London and this unfamiliar pair of hands suddenly descended upon my ears. As I looked up I saw a face full of love and a pair of hands that just couldn’t leave my ears alone. Hola tia Carolina, como estas? I gently woofed at this new person who had come all the way to London, via Europe and most of the rest of the UK, from Argentina. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was so happy that I immediately grabbed the nearest piece of fried chicken laying on the pavement nearby and started to chew the bone. It took much persuasion and plenty of fingers (dads) in my teeth to make me drop this tasty morsel.

Hello auntie. Ooh look pavement food.

Once I had been denied a tasty snack it was decided that I was to show auntie Carolina around London. We walked around the Tower of London, across Tower Bridge, underneath London Bridge, past Sir Francis Drake’s ship, to Shakespeares Globe, across the Millennium Bridge, around St Pauls and thence back onto the tube to Buckingham Palace via St James Park.

I wonder if there is a St Dexter’s?

The humans had lunch there and I even managed to do some expert squirrel bothering, much to my mums distress as I pulled and jerked on my lead. The squirrel was being fed by a nice lady and it ran away rather quickly when it saw me trying to get to it so I could dental cuddle it.

But I like sandwiches mum!

It was mid afternoon that I started to tire and a decision was taken on my behalf that I should be returned home where I could rest my weary bones. So I sadly said my “adios” to auntie Carolina and started the long process of guiding my parents back through the hullabaloo of London to the train station and eventually home.

I live over there. Or is it over there?

I had a great day and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I hope she can come back soon.

New paths, new friends and old foes.

It was chilly this morning once we were out and about on our paws. We managed to prise mum and dad out of bed at a reasonable hour and we were quite impressed with our efforts. Come on, they said, we will take a stroll a little further than we have been before. We were intrigued with the lack of clarity over where we were about explore.

Out of the house and along the road, we soon found ourselves in the lanes through the countryside. We had walked it a few times so the views seemed to arrive quite quickly. The scents also came thick and fast and we had to slow down to make sure we got as many sniffs as we could. Past the church, right, then left, through the gate, along the path, through the next gate, along the track and we find ourselves standing at the lower end of a wonderfully quaint and very quiet Sussex village. Lenny and I decided that we shouldn’t make ourselves known to the residents until we knew why we were there. Mum and dad clearly had a purpose for coming this way as they were looking left and right as we walked all the while dad saying “I’m sure its just here on the left”. We continued along the narrow lane for another few minutes and dads face lit up as he realised they had found the pub that they had wondered about ever since we had arrived four weeks ago. It wasn’t open due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown as well as the more prescient fact that it was 9 am on a Sunday. Having satisfied their interest we all strolled on to the end of the lane fulfilled now we knew the purpose of our walk today.

Apparently its just around the corner

Turning round we walked back toward home. At this point dads had slid down my lead and I was told to stay close to him. Being an obedient Beagle Harrier I always listen to him, despite it being extremely boring when I cannot explore at the end of the two metre lead. Lenny then let out a long arooo and as I looked up there was another beagle walking toward us. We greeted this fellow beagle in traditional fashion, with all the humans feeling very embarrassed at the loudness of our greetings directly in front of someones house. We found out that our fellow beagle had been rescued by Beagle Welfare and rehomed about eighteen months ago. She was now living a wonderful life with walks aplenty, a comfy sofa or two and multitudes of scent possibilities. We parted company after a few minutes and felt happy in heart and soul. We agreed to say hello the next time we were in her village.

Was it something I said?

Lenny and I made sure that the “beagle brakes” were liberally applied most of the way home so we could enjoy the scents of the hedgerows for as long as possible. Happily for us a cat ran across the road in front of us toward the end of our return home and we managed to ensure that the feline fiend knew we were in the area. For some reason we don’t get on with cats. Whilst we were trying to introduce ourselves to the cat, it appears that we had invented a new pastime of “Beagle wrangling” so it sounded like it was worth while taking our stroll today.

I’ve worked hard today

Mission accomplished. Time for a nap I think.

We need to talk about Lenny

Same breed, different dog. This is a phrase I have been hearing quite often since we have moved kennel. Apologies, since we have moved home.

My parents have been pondering on the difference between Lenny and myself. Specifically the time it has taken Lenny to settle into his new environment, which was about thirty minutes, and myself who hasn’t properly settled after three weeks. Lenny seemed to walk into the house and explored as soon as the external doors were closed. He strolled about sniffing and checking every room with the result that, after thirty minutes or so, he was asleep on the sofa. I strolled about with him, again checking every room. However I seem to be of a mind that this is still a strange place. As a result I haven’t really slept properly since we have arrived, every time someone leaves or enters a room I want to know what’s happening and if a parent happens to be outside the building I pace around the room and then lie very close to the door, awaiting their return. According to some this isn’t very helpful as, opening a door with a beagle behind it, seems to be a hazard to health and human access. Who knew? Lenny just lays in a tight ball, nose tucked under his tail, almost as if he knows that he is safe and secure.

Sleep well my little protege.

At my last kennel (sorry my last home) I was almost the same behaviourally when someone left the house, or went to retrieve something from the garden, garage or even another room. It is a difficult thing to quantify really but I think I have some inner fear of being left behind once more. When I first adopted my parents back in December 2013, I had been in and out of a home and rescue so I didn’t know what to expect. We worked hard to help me overcome my initial fears of belonging to a place I could trust and rely upon. I had my moments where I could relax and was sometimes found sleeping with a “silly grin on my face”. I suppose I was getting used to the daily cycle and starting to relax when, like a hand grenade, Lenny was dropped into my world. He seemed to feel at home almost immediately whilst I didn’t know what had just happened and was readjusting to a new aspect of my life.

Good grief.

Fast forward to the current home and Lenny wanders in, sniffs, strolls about and then leaps onto the sofa for a snooze. I wander with him, sniff, stroll about, sniff some more, whimper when someone leaves the room and then lay on a chair with my eyelids drooping shut whilst I try to keep them open just in case something is happening. It’s not even as if we have different things here. We have the same sofas, the same chairs, the same beds all over the house, the same blankets, harnesses and leads and the same food in the same bowls. The routine of eating, snoozing, going for a walk and bed time remains pretty much identical. Lenny’s brain seems to just switch him off like the proverbial light, whilst my brain is asking “what’s next, what am I missing, why is this happening”. I think my parents fear I will not be able to settle, that my brain is so “hard wired” that even if I am so tired I can hardly stand on my paws, my brain will still try to tell me not to sleep properly in case I miss something.

Wake up Lenny, something might have happened.

The conundrum remains unanswered. I will have to stay awake and alert for more clues. Lenny, stop sleeping as you are supposed to be helping me.

Well, that was all a bit exciting

After I had experienced the theft and then return of all my toys, beds and food, it was apparently time to settle in to my new home. I call it my new kennel but my parents insist it’s a home. In any case it is warm, comfy and very different to my previous kennel, sorry I mean home. For a start its on two levels and has these strange things called stairs. Lenny and I have wasted no time in chasing each other up and down these strange stair contraptions that take us to another place called “upstairs”.

Lenny and I also wasted no time in taking our parents out to explore the local area to try and sample the delights it has to offer. So it was that dad woke up with a beautifully executed beagle kidney pounce nice and early on the first full day and he was dispatched to make a cup of tea. We don’t want him slacking now, do we? Within a short time we were exploring the village and met a beagle who lived close by. He was very well behaved and wasn’t on a lead which was both surprising and disappointing. Surprising that he was well behaved and equally as disappointing that he wasn’t up to shenanigans. I suppose we will have to make up for his polite behaviour. Not yet however as we still had to scent where the local critters lived. We went down the road, across a road, up a road, across another road, under a bigger road, over the bridge, along another road and then found another road to walk along. All the while our noses were no more than 5 centimetres (that’s 1.9685 inches to old money aficionados) off the ground. We had to take in all the new smells that the village had to offer us. We had to be careful though as street lights were in different places to those we were used to and we found ourselves too regularly almost upon them. We returned home and rested whilst mum and dad did some unpacking of their belongings. Our stuff had already been unpacked and put away in cupboards, so it was good to see them get their priorities right. We went out a couple more times on the first full day and fell into our beds for a long lazy snooze. In fact I was so tired that I snoozed on Lenny’s bed which was a bit dangerous as he is a bit of a vampire. I think he was equally tired so didn’t bother trying to attack me.

Hope Lenny doesn’t notice!

The peace and tranquility was shattered on the first Sunday we were here however. We went out across the fields and were having a great time exploring and seeing new places to enjoy in the future. Suddenly Lenny was pulling and jerking on his lead whilst all the time baying at the top of his voice. Whatever could have possibly caused this commotion. As I looked up, there were seven Roe deer prancing through the field in front of us, maybe 100 yards away. It would have been rude of me if I hadn’t joined in the general commotion so I duly obliged mum and dad by doubling the volume of baying. I am not sure they were all that impressed as we were swiftly turned around and we walked a different path all the time listening to mum and dad muttering something about “why didnt we get Labradors or Poodles?” Then we went out on our final constitutional of the day and a fox must have wandered past the front of our home a short time before. We managed to bay, pull and jerk for the entire walk around the block whilst conveniently forgetting that we had “things” to do. We were quickly reminded of our duties however. Apparently it’s lucky we don’t have neighbours yet.

To be explored.

Then, during the week, we found the lane which leads to the path which leads to the pub which isn’t open yet. Mum and dad seemed happy to have found the path to the pub.

Lenny, that’s not the pub.

We have behaved ourselves really well so far, even if I do say so myself. There has been quite a bit of disruption to our daily routine. There has been so much unpacking and moving things about that we sometimes didnt know if we were coming or going. We haven’t yet been allowed out into our garden as the turf and soil need time to bed in apparently. It is tantalisingly out of reach for another week or so.

Garden racing will have to wait I suppose.

And another

As if yesterdays sad blog wasn’t sufficient for the near future, I heard today of another kind and happy soul who has made their way to the Rainbow Bridge in a distinctly untimely fashion.

My friend Fred lived in Germany with his parents. I came across Fred early in my Twittering career and he has remained a resolute and funny pal ever since. Most weekends I would see that he was accompanying his mum on her Parkrun and he was clearly the centre of attention for the volunteers who were there to make sure everyone got around safely. Let’s be honest, he was always going to be the centre of attention, the handsome devil. Even when it was time for dinner I would see Fred waiting im-patiently beside the counter for his mum to hurry up and make the food, cut up the fruit and ensure that he had something tasty to eat. Typical beagle you may say. There is nothing wrong with making sure our parents do things right and on time, say I. Whether it was sunshine, rain or snow (I wonder if he ever had all three?) he was outside and enjoying his life running around being silly and making everyone smile.

I shall be there in spirit.

His parents were supposed to be married last year and Fred was to be the ring bearer. I suspect they will be sad when they do finally have their lovely day and there is no four legged pal to accompany them to make sure they do it all correctly.

Eleven years of wisdom, not grey fur.

So when today I saw that he had succumbed to a number of nasty tumours, I was saddened to see that he had made the longest journey. His parents made the bravest, and the most difficult, decision to release him to the company of those who have passed to the Rainbow Bridge before him. As with Lucy yesterday there will be far too many of our friends and allies who will be awaiting his arrival. He leaves behind a legacy of fun and a life lived fully. Run free Fred, free from cares, woes and troubles. You are once again young, healthy and you now have the warmth of the everlasting sun upon your fur.

Come on mum, run faster!

We only get one go at this life. Live that life like Fred. And Raffa. And Gunner. And Lucy. And Pruny. And Charley. And Seb. And Bean. And Port Hunter. And far too many others that I apologise for not mentioning.

Officially, I’m not actually in the kitchen.