I have only ever once 'owned' a dog.
Before that.....my father had a Springer spaniel, Tess, for a good while, who he lovingly trained as a working 'gun dog'.
Tess happily lived in her specially built outdoor run and 'kennel'...a rather splendid stone-built affair, with sleeping platform, dining area and patio frontage, and Tess became the boundlessly energetic focus for additional long country walks and general doggy activity. The bond between Father and Tess was almost a cliche in its closeness. When he became terminally ill, she too reached the end of her joyous life, and however cloyingly corny it may sound, I like to think of them being together still.....Tess at my Father's heel.......
Later, as I plied my trade as an outdoor pursuit instructor, and my young family and I lived in idyllic rural surroundings, I decided that all would be complete with the addition of a four-footed furry friend.
A hill-farm nearby kindly offered a choice from a litter of Collie 'sheep-dogs'.....and the carefully selected prime choice canine came to stay. But not for long, sadly. An altercation with a passing land-rover put paid to the hapless pup. ( a witnessed event that still brings a jolt of grief).... another visit was made to the farm-yard litter, from which all had been found homes, and so the single remaining, unclaimed runt-puppy was 'chosen', and
as it turned out, this was a happenstance that was to prove to have the best of all possible outcomes.
Right from the start, she would accompany me every day 'out on the hill'.
Jess became a joyfully smelly and serene old lady of a dog in her final years, much loved and cared for by my now more grown up family, as she padded about the house and garden in constant companionship, habitually warning the postman that he was on her turf, yet tail-waggingly welcoming visitors.
My wife and I had parted company by this time (quick, call Jerry Springer)..and so my contact with Jess became somewhat lessened.....a sad fact, amongst others, that I keenly felt.
Good old Jess eventually shuffled off her canine mortal coil at a grand old age, at home, her head resting on my daughter's lap.
As I said at the start, I have only ever once 'owned' a dog......