After a few weeks, Dr and Mrs Gee came round for a drink – other people would have been there too, just a regular pre-lunch Sunday get-together, and they apologised. “We hope that Jess isn’t being a nuisance, we haven’t the sort of garden where we can keep her in and she hates being shut up all day.” My mother assured her that it wasn’t a nuisance at all, she was a lovely little dog. “We’re looking for a good home for her, actually.” “Well, we’re a good home…” So Jess wasn’t taken back that night and she stayed with us for the rest of her long life: she lived to 17. Once Richard, her erstwhile owner, came round to take her out for a walk, I don’t suppose he had been very pleased that his pet had been given away. I answered the door to him, certainly Jess was thrilled to see him and greeted him lovingly, but I don’t remember that she pined at all when he went away.
She was a medium sized dog, a Welsh border collie mixed with I’m not sure what. I don’t have any photos of her to hand, but this one is not unlike (I think it’s the kind eyes and sweet expression that makes it so) except that her colouring was black, brown and white. She was a pretty little thing with long soft hair that tangled terribly. If she wasn’t groomed frequently she used to get quite matted and it wasn’t unusual to have to take scissors to the ‘feathers’ on her back legs.
Dear little Jess, I think she was rather taken for granted. She was never any trouble, never made any demands. When there were puppies in the house she was an indulgent auntie, but she reserved most of her affection for people. Not one person in particular, anyone who was kind to her was instantly loved. Her little fetish was licking feet. If anyone went barefoot then she was there the moment one sat down, licking lovingly. A child didn’t think this was odd, just funny, especially when she licked between my toes and tickled, but now I look back it was quite unusual that it was taken for granted and not severely discouraged. I think that she was so hopefully eager to please that no one could quite bring themselves to disappoint her.