Gone to the Dogs by Mark Procter

There are two types of dog people in my experience:

Those who hear their dog’s voices, and those who lie.

I’m convinced that, if it wasn’t for Sprout quietly whispering in my ear throughout the day, my somewhat tenuous grip with reality would slacken and I would be cast into a dark place.

I was lucky to be born into a family of dog lovers, the first dog I was acquainted with was Jamba, a Rhodesian Ridgeback who arrived in a crate at Ashford station a couple of weeks after I was born, or it might have been the other way round, I’ve never stopped to think about it, best I don’t. There’s a photo of me and Jamba in his dog basket, one of us has a wet nose and big ears, and the other is a dog. He was huge, he didn’t really like adults, but loved children and was at his happiest when he had his head up the chimney when the fire was lit, I’m not sure if it was the heat he liked or it was just an oddness he had.

Mark and Jamba, you decide which is which.

When he had taken us as far as he could, we came under the watchful eye of Beaumont, what a grand name that was for a dog. I wanted to call him Botham, but when that was vetoed, Beaumont was approved as he was the other captain on a Question of Sport. The host was David Coleman, in the days before Sue Barker, which might also have been a good name for a dog. Barker, not Sue. I recall that my Mum and youngest sister went shopping one day to get a dress for a wedding and came back from Brighton with a Golden Retriever. He even had a role to play at my other Sister’s wedding when he was a page boy.

Beaumont in focus, as it should be.

There were a few years when I was without dog, this, on reflection was wrong.
The Dancing Queen had been together a couple of years, we inevitably discussed having children together:
T.D.Q.: “If we had a baby, what would you call it”
Me: “Mungo”
T.D.Q. “But what if it was a girl”
Me: “Mungo”
T.D.Q. “But that’s a dog’s name”
Me: “Best we get a dog then”.

Mungo

So we got Mungo, or to give him his full name, Mungo Mickey Rachel Podcast Procter the third. He was supposed to come out gardening with me, but he much preferred The Dancing Queen’s company ((Editor: who doesn’t) as if anyone edits this….) so he became her constant companion, running in the woods, walks in the park, comfort when the days were dark and joy all the time in between. As darling Mungo’s energies waned, he decreed that his responsibilities would be best if they were shared.

Sprout entered our lives, like Mungo he was a rescue dog, his full name is Sprout Skip Liam Peaky Blinder Eff Off Procter the First, yes he’s a Jack Russell, everyone said don’t get a J.R, they’re full off urine and vinegar, but loyal. He is certainly loyal, and he certainly knows his own mind and seems to arbitrarily decide whether he likes another dog or not and he gets me through the dark and wet days of Winter at work.

You notice I haven’t used the word “owner” once in this blog. Although cat people say dogs have owners and cats have staff, dog people know that they are owned by their dogs.

This blog was supposed to be a Valentine’s Day special in which I talked about the importance of love in my life and how finding that one special person to share my life with had made everything make sense.

Sorry, I’ve got to go, Sprout is demanding I rescue him from the sofa he isn’t supposed to go on.

Sprout