General

This little guy has been my companion in quiet moments and those blossomings of hilarity dogs bring. He has that look about him when he's puzzled, or excited or serious, all those emotions that are so similar to ours. He is my hot-water bottle in the middle of the night and the welcome wagon when I come home. He's my best friend.

General

With an elevated step comes a teddy-bear canine, one small enough to fit in the arms of a child. At first she is curious, then as Samantha crouches there is a chirping-bark. "Oh," she says, "are you feeling afraid, little one?" her voice as sweet as new blossom. Soon the dog comes closer to her outstretched hand and, after a few sniffs, gives a lick. "Kisses... why... thank you."

General

The dog's head is smaller than her neck. She stands in her harness of thick leather, tethered by the kind of rope you could moor a yacht with. For all that muscle she leaps like a puppy and then pushes her body into mine as soon as I'm close enough. In seconds my hand is covered in slobber, her tongue of sandpaper almost dripping with every lick. Her tail isn't wagging side to side but going round and round like a helicopter blade; any happier and I think those dinner-plate paws might catch some air. I want to take her home so badly but her owner says she can jump six-foot fences and chew through doors. So instead I'll have to settle for wet hands after school. I pull the beef treats from my pocket and she sits like a champ while I put them one at a time on her muzzle. With a flick of her head she eats them down in one bite and waits for the next- one by one until they are gone.

General

I never see Charlie move but every time I turn around he's right at my heels. If I stop for even a half a minute he lies down, the perfect mobile trip hazard. In the newly hot air of summer his coat is floating freely, forming a scattered layer of gold strands on the tile and becoming matted on the couch. Ryan said the couch should be yellow too but I scoffed at him so hard he just never mentioned it again. I wanted to be “clean,” to know where the dirt was. Well, I do know where it is, you can't miss blonde on red velvet. I know he just loves me, I love him too in my own way, who cold resist Charlie and his doggy eyes? I just wish he had an off switch and a non-shedding coat.

General

The one with “Raymond” and the wire mesh door has a way of watching me. His eyes are wider than a baby and he tilts his head one way and the other. I can't imagine what goes on in that over-protected cranium but he wags his tail like he wants to take-off every time I even take a mis-step in his direction. He looks like there's some labrador in him, possibly crossed with a German Shepard. He looks like a guy who could run all day and still be eager to go again. His jowls are almost grinning. He has the speed of a puppy but his teeth are adult. Then he turns around as if to leave but returns with a tennis ball, dropping it by the gate and looking me straight in the eyes. I don't think I'm gonna choose a dog today, I think he just chose me.

General

Now that summer is here I leave after the dawn instead of the wintry blackness. As I wing my work-pack onto my back the dog lady comes into view out of the light mist. Three dogs, and none of them leashed, trot inches from her side. They aren't a set, they look more like animals she adopted at random. There is the thick set Boxer, the gangly Great Dane and the tiny Maltese. She strides between them in her flower-power clothes, her grey streaked hair jumping as each hiking boot hits the sidewalk. I can hear her chatter to them like beloved children. Each dog is a picture of health, groomed, shining and tails moving faster than a nail gun. I can go now in ill-mannered haste and pretend I haven't seen her or wait until she arrives. It'll cost me ten minutes or more and I'll know fifty more things about those canines to add the many more that ramble around my neurones lost with no hope of ever being recalled.

General

The dog and I have an understanding; it wasn't there at first. Back in the days he was fresh from the pound he was a raw bundle of unspent energy, crammed into a canine shape several sizes too small for his personality. He grew to twice the size they thought he might, but that can happen with mutts. I reckon there's some ridgeback in there, some kind of bull-dog too. You'd think in a head that size there would be room for some brains but perhaps his skull is inches deep. My furniture still has his chew marks and the front door is clawed beyond repair. I had to replace every shoe I owned and the carpet too. Everyone told me to take him back, get a lap dog, but no way. Family is family. He'll leave my stuff if I buy him raw-hide bones and frozen marrowbones. He wont lie on my bed if he can have the couch. Two walks a day means he'll let me sleep at night. In return he adores me, cuddles up while I study and raises merry hell if anyone comes near the house.

General

I want to lie on the couch with a bag of chips and the remote control. There are at least a dozen episodes of Doctor Who I could be watching, but Bailey has his doggy eyes fixed on me. His eye brows twitch from side to side in that way he does when he's trying to figure something out and it just isn't working for him. For such a non-descript mutt of uncertain parentage he's pure cuteness overload. It's why I picked him from all the other homeless pups. Now that I want nothing more than to ignore him and wallow here in high fat food and distraction he's thinking healthy thoughts. He wants a walk, the longer the better. Then like he can read my thoughts his tail starts to wag and he jumps up at nothing like he's dancing. The chip bag crinkles under my closing grasp but my feet are already moving me to stand. My eyes flick to my forest boots and he goes loopy, racing victory laps around the dining table.

General

Without warning a bundle of caramel fur poked out her handbag, blinking through tousled strands with eyes of pure expectation. Without glancing down a manicured hand pressed down his head, re-submerging him in make-up and electronics. With a flick of her wrist he was sealed under the zip, encased in Italian leather. The bag bulged in random places as he squirmed and then came a series of high pitched yelps, pausing between rallies for a reply. At first the lady looked absent-mindedly out of the deli window, hitching her thumb into the waistband of her Levi's as if the noise was nothing to do with her. After a few minutes the volume increased and the eyes of her fellow shoppers began to scan for the source. Dogs were not allowed! I expected her to leave but instead she began to hit the bag. Before I was aware of my decision to act I was in possession of the soft brown leather purse and she was screaming “Thief!”

General

The dog lay on the ground oblivious to the dirt that clogged its cream fur into matts. It was young most likely but it moved only when necessary and its eyes were sunken and dull. Erin crouched down right next to it and offered her hand. Instead of sniffing her it just tilted its head away and closed its eyes in the most submissive gesture it could muster. From the curl in the coat she suspected it was some kind of poodle cross, a golden doodle perhaps. Gently she ran her hand down its back and slowly pushed her fingers to the skin below. He was so thin it was like dragging her fingers over a xylophone; even without the music it was quite the saddest song she had ever heard. This baby was starving to death. Slowly Erin moved her hands underneath the dog and lifted it with absurd ease, a bag of potatoes at the greengrocer would weigh more. Now that it was closer she almost gagged in a noxious cloud of ammonia. The dog buried its head in her old woollen sweater and she made for her car.

Family Life

I love my dog, she makes idiocy more special every day. She stops halfway down the stairs like just staying there is an option. She reacts to bags blowing in the wind the same way she does for squirrels. Though she pulls when we walk but stops if the leash is dropped on the ground. Every walk is as exciting for her as a person being offered tickets to a rock concert, even if she's done the exact same route fifty thousand times before. She thinks chasing motorcycles would be fun. The only time she makes sense is when the rain falls thicker than pigeon poop in Trafalgar Square. Then she just turns right around and makes herself comfortable by the couch.