The first dog I remember was a handsome black and white Collie called Bob. As far as I recall he came into our family and my life when I was about three years old. I'm sure he arrived as a fully-grown dog for I have no recollections of a puppy in the house.
Bob was a member of the family from the start and my father used to lay a place at the table for him, complete with cutlery and a chair to sit on. I don't think he actually ate from the table; I think the exercise was meant as an entertainment for us children.
One day Bob went out of the front door and I followed him. Up the road he trotted with me close behind. At the end of our road was a junction with a main road. Bob, off the lead and having no road sense whatever, walked out into the traffic and so did I. Suddenly I was grabbed and lifted back onto the pavement – my elder sister, fifteen years older than me, had noted my disappearance from the house along with Bob's and had managed to catch up with us before either of us came to any harm. In those long-ago days there was very little traffic. Most people could not afford cars and heavy lorries and trucks were creations for the future. The cars that were being driven then were neither powerful nor fast, though equally their brakes were not as swift to act nor as reliable. I suppose that Bob and I were lucky – we surely would not have survived such an event without incident or injury in our current vehicle-laden roads.
When I was four my family moved. My father had left the Royal Navy and had no wish to spend the rest of his working life in Chatham Dockyard. He and my mother decided to buy a business and we left our large, comfortable house and moved into a small flat above the shop. Of course, Bob came with us. It was not long before he developed 'a lump' which caused him pain and soon he had travelled on to his eternal rest. As an introduction to dogdom Bob could not have been bettered. He was gentle and obedient, an example for all other dogs.
The next dog in my life belonged to my sister, of which more anon.