I’m no pet lover.
Really I’m not.
I used to stay straight-faced when Carlson shot Candy’s dog or Lennie killed a puppy in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”.
Pets have done little for me, having been brought up in a home where there were no pets as such.
The subconscious you see.
I’ve followed that cycle – until last Christmas when Santa delivered two giant African Land Snails to Ruby, my daughter.
I acceded to her pet demands because I thought caring for animals – admittedly molluscs – and dealing with death would be beneficial to her, when they passed away and went to snail heaven (somewhere I envisage like Norfolk’s road networks).
The snails, Mishell Obama and Sheldon, died this summer and a hunt for a replacement began.
Now I’m no feline fan.
I don’t really see the point of a cat – disappear from site, snidey and unloving – and in my mind a perfect representation of bosses.
This is formed by my subconscious though and ignorance of cats.
So I went all alpha male and insisted on a dog, as I know my days of leaving the house to teach are over, as my career is over.
Thank the lord.
We rescued a border collie.
We didn’t see one held up at gunpoint in some field surrounded by gangsta sheep, but this one had been sent to a rescue centre for rehoming.
I had never ever wanted an animal before Snailgate.
But back in early September, I impulsively adopted Cassie. She even has her own Facebook page (search Cassie Walton).
She’s done marvellous things to my mental health too.
I’d been told by a dog lover and ex-pupil, Steve Grogan, to get a dog and when I went up to Manchester and met Ozzy and Lars, his two Yorkshire terriers, I was smitten.
After France, we took the plunge and adopted this lovely border collie.
Dogs help with depression.
Let me just state this unequivocally.
She makes me happy, active, more productive and less self-absorbed and morose because her needs are greater than mine.
She’s been a working dog, presumably on minimum wage, and so demands long walks daily.
I’ve discovered routes from the door that I didn’t know about and the 3 to 5 mile daily treks even in rain or coastal winds are repetitively joyous.
I see the season change daily.
I meet other dog owners and chat.
Cassie is obedient and playful and likes running ahead and will never let me get in front.
So if I was to travel back in time, pick up Steinbeck’s classic, I’m sure now I’d feel a pang of loss like Candy when his old dog is shot in the back of the head by that tosser, Carlson.