There’s a wonderful irony in my being a director of a company like TrackerTags – from my childhood up until my late teens I was scared to death of dogs.
My Mum always said it began when I was a baby. She left me in my pram outside a shop – this was the late 60s and you could do that sort of thing then – and when she came back out, there was a big black labrador with its paws up on my pram, looking in at me. I was terrified apparently … not a good start.
Throughout my childhood, I thought every dog I met was going to sink its teeth into my leg. There was one memorable occasion on a family holiday in Wales – I was walking along a clifftop with my parents and a couple were walking their dog in the opposite direction, off the lead. I immediately panicked. Dad ended up swearing at the couple to get their dog under control, as he had visions of me disappearing over the cliff edge to get away.
All that began to change when I met the girl who became my wife – she is and always will be an animal lover and it was obvious that if we had a future together, it would be one with animals in it. She’d had a dog when she was a child and I knew it would be inevitable that she’d want us to have one. When it happened, it happened ridiculously quickly.
A friend of hers had a spaniel bitch that had produced a litter of puppies that were looking for homes and she dragged me along to ‘have a look’. Mum and pups were in a stable with a heat lamp. We sat down and one of the pups toddled over straight away and sat on my wife’s lap – it was as if he’d chosen us and we were immediately smitten. A few weeks later, after he’d grown a bit and was on solid food, he came home with us.
Our early days were fraught – it was obvious he missed his littermates – and that was when my life took a turn that no-one, least of all me, expected. We decided to go back and get one of his brothers as well. The difference was night and day – they kept each other amused when we were out and they would always cuddle up together at bedtime. Little did I know it at the time, but it was to set a pattern that persists to this day – we would never own less than two dogs at any one time.
And so it was that a complete ‘dog-o-phobe’ ended up in a household with two of them. They are nothing like the snarling, psychotic creatures I imagined, but wonderfully sensitive, empathetic animals, who ask for nothing more than your love and a warm place to sleep.