We never had a dog in our family when I was a child. There just was not enough room and we lived in the middle of the city. I have never been very fond of any dogs. I also knew nothing about how to look after them or how to train them.

All that was about to change. Early one morning as I was leaving my house in Horrabridge to go to work I tripped over a scruffy bundle of fur on the doorstep. I had just had my first encounter with a dog. It turned out to be a stray border collie that had been thrown out from a farm. With two very young children and a busy life the idea of looking after a dog did not appeal. The decision was made to take him to the Plymouth Dogs Home. Arriving at the centre I left him cowering in the back with my wife as I strolled confidently into the centre. What greeted my eyes were sad faces looking at me from behind bars in cages. They were all trying to say to me please get me out of here for a better life. I made a hasty retreat explaining that we now had a dog.  My young family were delighted although I remained less than enthusiastic. Dog ownership is not cheap with food and vaccinations plus unseen vet bills when problems arrive. You also have to make time to see that they get proper exercise. For a border collie this means extensive walks.  Taking our new family member down to Fillace Park to watch my son play in a cub football match proved to be quite an event. With my thin piece of string as a makeshift lead I stood freezing cold on the touchline with my new companion watching the game. Suddenly the ball was crossed into the penalty area. Up and away the dog flew to chase the ball with much success to the great amusement of the players and spectators. He was now a village celebrity who was given the name ‘Striker’ resulting from his football skills. He was with us for 12 years and became a key member of the family, loved by all. Readers of the late Bridge magazine will have knowledge of my catastrophic visit to the vets. Striker had been attacked by another dog and had a badly cut face. I was called back from work now in my off white safari suit which I thought was really cool. At the vets it all went very wrong. I will spare the reader the exact details only to say I returned home in a biblical rain storm with my suit covered in brown stuff and my trousers split and covered in plaster from a towel rail my behind had dislodged from the surgery wall. There was little reaction from the family when I entered in nothing short of a mad rage.  They were well used to my accidents and just carried on eating their meal. The final humiliation  came the following week when on arrival at the surgery the vet insisted on taking the stitches out of Strikers face on the steps of the centre rather than me entering to cause even more chaos. When Striker made his final trip to be put down with aggressive cancer it was a great family loss. As I left the vets Reg Maddock asked me as I was at that time chairman of the parish council what was I doing about some drainage problems. I burst into tears unable to speak. He could not understand why I was so distressed when he only asked me about the drains. I did not stop to explain.  It was inevitable that we would get another dog. Jacko a border collie puppy was a great replacement for another happy dog owing 12 years.