I once had a dog called Barney. He was a short haired tri-coloured Jack Russell whose full name was Kirtley Barney, having been born in a barn in June 1978 at Kirtley Barn Farm in Cranford near Kettering. This was the home of my then Fiancée’s uncle Martin and Aunt Pat who’d asked us to pick a puppy from a recent litter of their Jack Russell bitch Megan: this was to be our engagement present. All puppies are beautiful but it soon became clear that the weakest of this little weaning family was a dog struggling to overcome his stronger siblings in the feeding pecking-order. This little dog was to become a major part of our and my life for almost seventeen years. As is the way of everything, Barney died on 1st May 1995, since when, much as I craved, I have been unable to offer the time and commitment necessary to care for another dog. However, for the last two years or more I have been walking other people’s animals the motivation for which was an initial attempt at increased fitness. The company that operates this animal care service also offer a home boarding package which, as its name suggests, means that one might have a dog to stay for a short period of time. Last weekend we had a beautiful dog called George to stay whilst his owners enjoyed a deserved weekend break in London. Well, ‘gorgeous’ George walked us off our feet. We discovered parts of Gretton we didn’t know existed (and I’ve lived here for 35 years) and, with the help of our friends Fiona and Ralph had a most rewarding and relaxing weekend. There is a day somewhere in my future when we shall have another dog of our own, a time when the time can be given to another little ‘being’ that should always be considered as an enhancement to family life. Until then I’ll continue to practice for his or her arrival.