The first time I set eyes on my hairy hound he was ten weeks old, a chubby little chap with deep brown eyes and paws the size of plates that he most definitely needed to grow into.
He slotted easily into our household and soon become the focus of much cuddling by my daughter, spoilt by long walks, fed delicious doggy meals and enjoyed many tasty leftovers and treats.
During his first year he went through three training classes and several pairs of wellingtons (his favourite teething ‘toy’ as a pup) and soon became the thirty-seven kilo lump you see today.
Even at five, he’s an effervescent soul that bounds everywhere and still takes off for his morning walk like there’s a party at the end of the village and he’s missing it. His favourite welcome is a head-butt as he tries to lather you in doggy kisses. When he does his business, he waits for me to gather my bag and lean down to pick up, only to step forward and shower me in tufts of grass in a feeble attempt at covering it up. But… he still manages to squeeze a smile out of me every day and my life simply wouldn’t be complete without him.
In recent years, he’s not only been a treasured friend and companion, he’s always transformed into my very own partner-in-crime.
It was while walking Bollo that I discovered the disused pump house and the Kelmarsh Tunnels used in my first book. I’ll never forget the first time we trudged through those tunnels, immersed in complete darkness apart from the odd ceiling shaft, and felt the true eeriness of the location.
Similarly, we spent hours walking around some very established housing estates to get a feeling for their layout which is where the idea came for The Rabbit Warren in book two.
More recently, I would never have discovered the picturesque village and beautiful surroundings of Clifford Chambers near Stratford-upon-Avon, which features in my new novel, if Bollo hadn’t accompanied me on my many research trips to the area and led me across the fields for his exercise.
Over the years we’ve become quite inseparable. So, as he reaches the grand age of five, I’m sending out huge birthday wishes to my dear hairy friend. You make both my home life and my writing one a happier, fun and more interesting place to be.