Its taken me two and a half months to put pen to paper so to speak, always seem to get some grit in my eye when I try.
Last November I had to take our Golden Retriever Milly on her final trip to the vets, she was the most wilful, stubborn, characterful and adorable of dogs you could imagine. Born with a heart defect and given a life expectancy of six years, she reached six and then developed an immune deficiency, she managed to live until she was almost ten. Thrown out of puppy and adult dog training as being unruly and a bad influence, stealing the Sunday football leagues football and humping it in the penalty area, pooping on my Garrard 301's platter and introducing herself to every department at the Liverpool Small Animals Hospital after slipping her lead, once met never forgotten. Yet she was the softest and most caring/nurturing and patient of dogs with our grandchildren. We still hear her padding the hallway and flopping down between rooms, she is very much missed by us all and irreplaceable .
However, the house is not a home without the sound of paws pacing the hallway and on Monday we travel to Cumbria to collect our 'batty flattie' pup. A male black flat coated retriever and if true to type an ideal family dog if you can survive licks, attention seeking behaviours, mischief and a continually wagging coffee table clearer. I can't wait.
We still can't agree on a name, my daughter and granddaughter want to call him 'Captain Cuddles' - I don't think so somehow, but Captain wouldn't be too bad at a push, I suggested William but swmbo refuses to call out Willy in public, a right old spoilsport.
We couldn't have a white/champagne coloured female after Milly, so have gone for the exact opposite with a black dog, but still of a gundog breed.
My wife and I have both been vetted by the Kennel Club and have been determined suitable to own a Flat Coat, I'm not bragging about it, I just find it funny that I can introduce the wife as Kennel Club approved, there has to be some mileage in that.
So roll on Monday morning, I have that same feeling that I remember having as a child at Christmas.