MATES: Giles and his precious pal

AS you may be aware by now, I live in relatively splendid rural isolation in a renovated cottage overlooking a lake. The Casita del Lago has a fair bit of land with it as well, and includes olive and fig trees.

One of the questions that I am frequently asked is why I don’t have a dog at the Casita. I suppose the main one is that, with my manic schedule, I am rarely at home that much so it wouldn’t be fair to keep a dog inside, and I would never have one chained. Friends also drop by to use the terrace on a regular basis when I’m working, so a guard dog would be out of the question as well.

Plus there’s the surprise factor. Years ago my friends had a lovely old black Labrador, Jason, who they left in the garden. Coming back on holiday one time I decided to surprise them at night by leaping over the wall into their garden. A black shape came bounding around the corner and I knelt down to say hello to Jason.

Except Jason had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, and they now had a Rottweiler called Tyson. Who didn’t know who the intruder was…

70 kilos of teeth and muscle tore towards me and I set a new world record for the kneeling high jump, clearing the garden wall with a high-pitched scream.

Then there was the time, Lolo, the neighbour’s dog (the neighbour lives two kilometres away) decided to say hello and leap through the terrace doors on my first night at the Casita. I was chopping garlic at the time. I screamed, he howled and I almost lost a finger.

Luckily Fifty Shades, my feline companion, can more than look after herself. She once memorably leapt like a pint sized Puma on a friend’s terrier that came too close to her kittens, causing the poor hound to flee.

Although I can’t have a dog full time at the Casita, I’ve been quite happy to dog sit. One of the finest was Bailey, christened ‘The International Jet Set Shi Tzu’. Totally unphased by the constant chaos that makes up a freelancer’s life, I was able to take Bailey to the radio with me, where he crashed on the studio sofa, on Olive Press deliveries, where he rode shotgun in the 4×4 and even to interviews, where he was often better behaved than the people I was interviewing. ‘Mr. B’ recently crossed over the Rainbow Bridge himself, and I will miss the occasional small, snoring presence by my side on the sofa.

Bye Bye Bailey. You were such a good boy xx

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