Saturday, 12 March 2016


Zara circa December 1987

was in the back garden filling my bird feeders the other day (as I
do every day) and, coming in through the porch door, I spied scratches
in the paintwork on the lower part of the exterior of the kitchen door in
front of me.  I'd seen them before, naturally (many times), but so used
to them am I now that they don't really register with me anymore,
so why they did on this occasion I'm not quite sure.

The scratches had been caused by not just one dog, but three.  First,
PRINCE, a mongrel we'd owned back in the early '70s that looked for
all the world like a 'miniature' German Shepherd;  then TARA, an actual
German Shepherd we owned from around the mid-'70s to 1986.  Finally,
ZARA (another German Shepherd), who I'd bought to replace Tara
when her time had come to an end earlier in the same year.

Zara circa 1987

What's interesting 'though, is that we'd moved away from this house
in 1983, when Tara was eight and a half years old.  Tara died three years
later, which is when I got Zara - and a year after that we moved back to
our previous house (as regular readers will be tired of reading).

So what's interesting about that?  Well, the back door of that other
house likewise has scratches from both Tara and Zara (made when they
were seeking re-entry after being out in the garden 'watering' the plants),
so both houses bear the marks of the same two dogs, but, in the case
of this house, made with a four year gap between them.

It had occurred to me a few years back to fill in the scratches, but
now I don't think I'll ever bother.  It's somehow oddly reassuring to see
the 'footprints' of our three dogs still there after all this time (Zara died
almost eighteen years ago), as fresh as when they were first made.
It's as if Prince, Tara and Zara are still around in some way.

Tara circa 1984

In fact, sometimes, when the wind is howling late at night, I seem
to hear scratching at the back door and a muffled whining, as if some-
thing is seeking shelter from the elements.  My first thought, of course,
is that my ears are playing tricks on me, but then my curiosity kicks in
and I make my way through to the kitchen to check things out.

Whenever I open wide the door, however, only the inky blackness
of the night beyond stares back at me - but the unmistakable smell of
doggie fur hangs in the midnight air, as if I've only just missed a canine
visitor or three wishing to remind me that their spirits yet linger out
in the garden in case I should ever forget them.

Never, my doggie pals - never.


   (I'll add a photo of Prince when I can find one.)
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