In the last two years or so, I have made many new friends ... and to most of my friends the most surprising is Holly, a proper, old-fashioned sheepdog who was 10 last weekend.
I have never really had a dog in my life for any length of time before.
When I was growing up, pets in our house were strictly limited to goldfish or anything you can find living in uncharted corners of my brother’s bedroom!
And certainly none of the dogs I have ever shared any real time with has been as infectiously good-humoured and eternally optimistic as Holly is.
She greets every new day as something exciting, knowing – if nothing else – there will be at least two walks to look forward to before she is finally tucked in for the night.
She has taught me many things, some of which would have completely escaped me otherwise.
These include things such as:
l Frisbees are the centre of the universe.
l Ice cubes are not just for putting in your favourite drink, they are far more fun if you chase them around the front room.
l It is quite possible to live without a television, computer or android phone and still be happy.
l Being around is the most important part of being a friend.
l It’s OK to be lazy. If nothing is happening, relax.
l Curiosity is everything.
l Exercise is important.
l We waste far too much food – every part of just about everything is edible.
l Waking up – for any living creature – takes time.
l It is OK to bring the grandchildren into the house, but remember who was here first.
l An empty plastic bottle is a lot of fun.
l Nobody melts in the rain.
l No matter how far you think I can walk, I can always do more.
l If you are nice to me the first time I meet you, I will remember you for ever.
I am sure there are a few life lessons in there for all of us ... many more than you would ever learn from the cat of the household who just appears to be hell-bent on ridding the countryside of any form of small mammalian wildlife!