Having a dog is one of the most significant aspects of my persona. Without one, I don’t feel whole; walking without a faithful (misbehaving) pooch never feels quite right. I’ve had a dog in my life since I was twelve years old and my parents and I bought a border collie pup from a farmer in Yorkshire. She was the runt of the litter and cost £39 – it was supposed to be £40, but the farmer gave me a wink and offered me a £1 change. Hence, the new member of our family was called Penny, as in ‘In for a…”.
Penny was an amazing dog. Well behaved (unless there were rabbits…and there usually were!), very smart and particularly patient. She knew all my secrets and never told a soul. When she had puppies, I was ecstatic. But my parents said “no”. It was just before I was due to go to University and they didn’t want another dog themselves.
My favourite of the puppies was, again, the runt of the litter – Ryac. [I named all of them after character from my favourite TV show at the time – except one, who my Mum insisted on naming Blossom.] Ryac was adopted by a very Posh-and-Becks couple who had another dog called Fonzi, so they renamed him Richie. He was the last of the pups to leave our home.
About three months later, a girl turned up at the door holding this bundle of fur and excitement in her arms. She was a mess – tracksuit pants, scuffed trainers, an oversized jacket and I’m not even sure she’d brushed her hair; miles away from the polished model-like woman who had bought our pup. Turns out, the couple had split up and while the guy had taken Fonzi, she couldn’t look after Richie so wanted to bring him back rather than leave him at a shelter. It must have been an incredibly difficult thing to go through – which I understand much more now, having had to give up a rescue dog myself last year when it became clear we just weren’t the right fit for her.
So, Ryac returned to us and he’s still at home with my parents: having just turned the grand ol’ age of seventeen! Of course, my Mum altered his name slightly – she calls him ‘Rye’ (the colour of his fur), but he’ll always be Ryac to me!