Monday, 29 January 2007

Coming home.

If you head into the market town of Salisbury on the A36, you will pass over Skew Bridge. It lies at the edge of the Bemerton Heath Estate - of the council and, at that time, distinctly iffy variety - and the railway which it crosses marks the boundary between the tawdry and the twee.

After some commotion (blaring horns and frantic waving) it was here that the van drew to a halt. The side door slid open, and two strangers got in, one male one female; the male was preceded by a golden coloured creature of a similar size to my mother. Within seconds I found myself being raised high in the air, passed back into a pair of waiting hands.

Still in the air the girl stared at me, and I stared back. A grubby face. A black and white headscarf. Ragged, but colourful clothes. Metal rings through ears and nose. Young, so young. Not much older than me, if you ignore the strictures of time as it affects our different species. 17 years for a human isn't a million miles away from 6 weeks and one day for a canine, after all. Just taking our first steps in the world. Feeling our way blind, with so many mistakes ahead and yet to be made. And the eyes...

As I stared into those blue eyes, they melted. Fear, loneliness, disappointment, hurt, anger. They all gave way to the softness of a child who has finally found someone who it may actually be safe to trust.

At that moment, girl and pup learnt what was to be one of their most important lessons. That even when you have nothing -no roof, no heat, no food, no single place to call your own - home is with the one that you love.

In the beginning.

In the beginning there were two dogs, both with their roots firmly embedded in the New Age Travelling community. One was a rather soppy - if handsome - Collie/Alsation cross whose moniker has never been reliably confirmed. The other was a very proud, gunmetal grey bitch who went by the name of Trumpton. Her breeding was alledgedly Collie/Belgian Shepherd, but who can ever be sure in such lowbrow circles? She was tall, and her ears stuck up, of that much we are sure. After a timely encounter with our somewhat pathetic male, behind a delapidated bus on an illegal site somewhere deep in the west of Wiltshire, we can also confirm that she was pregnant.

Being a hippy with fond memories of innocent childhood days, it was fairly inevitable that Trumpton's owner would continue by plotting to name her offspring after the firemen who tended to this whimsical, afternoon television town. Oh how they dreamed together; not just of healthy pups, but of a perfect litter of six. Hugh, Pugh, Barney Mcgrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb.

On the 24th March 1994, six were indeed born. Number six was a black and white dog pup, unique amongst his grey, black and tan siblings. Fortunately for him - me - the automatic endowment of the name Grubb was averted at the last minute when pup number seven made a slithering entrance into the world of "behind the sofa in a council house in Trowbridge".

The next few weeks are all something of a blur, what with being a newborn and all. I can only assume that I did all the usual early puppyhood things. You know - opening eyes, sucking milk, learning to make my mess on the newspaper not the rest of the floor, being weaned from my mother ready for my proper entrance into the world....

And so it was time. On the morning of 6th May 1994, a warm Friday morning, I was lifted from the nest for the final time. Wrapped in a greying blanket, I was carried outside and installed in the arms of a willing passenger, settled into the front seat of a royal blue Mark 2 Transit van, and driven away to begin the rest of my life.

I am old now, and my memory is fading. Now is the time to tell the tale of the rest of my life before "fading" becomes "lost". I cannot always promise strict chronology, nor can I guarantee that my story will not have been corrupted by hindsight and the esoteric nature of such writings. I suspect I will simply be boring, at times. But at least I will be here, and continue to be here, even after I have gone.