We've been thinking about this for ages. The last couple of weeks, it's been getting higher and higher in our priorities. Finally, on Friday night — well, Friday afternoon, but it looks like night at this time of year — off we went to one of Northern Ireland's dog pounds. Like many these days, they upload photos of the latest strays to the Web, and we'd seen an old collie with a white face that we liked the look of.
As it turned out, the collie was lovely, but, we reckoned, a bit too frail and doddery to put up with the insane bounciness of Phoebe. But just look who we met:
We've called him Monty. He's about two years old, and no-one knows his original name, but he's picking up the new one quickly enough. He appears to be a Staff-Lab cross, though I think there may also be some bison in the mix. He's as strong as an ox; is slightly frightened of Phoebe, not seeming to realise that he could probably kill her with one blow from his mighty paw; is friendly and dopey and affable and just loves us. In fact, he seems to love everyone, including other dogs and small children. He snores like a train — even when he's awake — and drools everywhere. When he has a drink, he dribbles it over half the kitchen floor, walks in that, then walks over the other half of the kitchen floor. He's largely untrained — doesn't even know "Sit" yet — but he's eager to please and nowhere near as stupid as he is dopey, so he'll get there. And he's settled in with us like he's been here his whole life.
Why would someone get rid of such a lovely dog? We'll never know, but my theory is that someone wanted more of a butch attack-dog and got rid of him for being sedate and loving. He's got a lot of bites on his ears, so has been in fights. Seeing the way he behaves with other dogs, the only way that happened is that he was attacked. Repeatedly. Shame.
By the way, careful viewing of that photo will reveal the sternly disapproving face of Boris, my mother-in-law's black Lab, in the background.