My Aunt’s next-door neighbour had a white Labrador called Sandy. He had a pink nose and a waggy tail and he was my best friend. He let me sit in his basket and share his Winalot shape biscuits. We used to walk him in the spinney behind my aunt’s house. Once, he thought I was still in the forest and refused to leave. Normally such a good boy, he sat on his haunches and would not be moved. I had to go back in and get him.
No one has ever stuck their neck out for me like Sandy did. I knew that one day I’d have a white Labrador of my own, a best friend to my children and a protector of all things.
When my youngest daughter was almost two, Buddy joined our family. The breeder said that all the other puppies fell asleep after eating, but Buddy would press his nose up against the glass of the living room door, wanting human company. Buddy has been more than I could ever have hoped for. He is kind, gentle, loyal and very slightly simple.
Buddy has a scar on his nose from a benign cyst and a kink in his tail. He is scared of hats, red post-boxes, fireworks, thunderstorms, and anyone shouting on the television. He loves sausages, the skin off chicken, swimming in the sea, huge sticks, car trips and sleeping by the fire. When we pull up to the park, he sings with joy.
Wiener is a very small and long. She is very yappy and demanding. She likes to sleep where my pillow is. I wake on the spine of a sausage, bad breath on one cheek, whipping tail on the other.
I did not plan to get a miniature Dachshund. I planned to have a fourth child, but I had to have a hysterotomy instead. High on hormones (I buried my womb in the garden with a ceremony and everything which I made the whole family attend. Buddy dug it up later that day) I saw a woman on the school run with a mini Dachshund and thought it would be a replacement baby. She is not. She is more like a miniature Margaret Thatcher.
Wiener is stubborn and refuses to do as she is told. She barks at all dogs, especially those who are bigger than her. She goes off down rabbit holes for hours, not caring how many times she is called. She does not share food, and snatches from your fingers. Once, in a meat frenzy, she mistook my husband’s big toe for a lump of sausage. She likes licking faces, being called pretty, having all the attention, weeing on the carpet and pooping on the rug. She would kill anyone who tried to hurt any of us.
Enzo is a Brussels Griffon but gets called all sorts. I never even knew they existed until I saw one in the park and fell in love. I never planned to have a third dog. I didn’t mean to research ones for sale, drive to Kent and come home with a tiny black bundle of fur, but I did.
Enzo is smaller than you think. His teeth are half the size of tic tacs. He follows me everywhere I go and sleeps in my arms. He is the loudest snorer in the family. He had to have a grass seed removed from his teeth once and the vet told me he was the least brave dog he has ever met, but if I go into the sea, my little pal follows, braving the waves to be with me.
He is greedy, silly, fast and adorable.
Griffons were the inspiration for the Ewoks. George Lucas owned five at a time. Enzo loves being cuddled and toast and jam. Sleeping and chasing dogs in the park. He does not like being alone, the dark or being told no. His side-eye is the best in town. He is more famous than I will ever be.
Enormous THANKS go to my wonderful friend Tony Parsons for the beautiful portraits of Buddy, Wiener and Enzo.