Chester was born in mid-October, so he was 8 weeks old the week before Christmas. We didn’t get a dog for Christmas, but it just so happened that our puppy was ready to leave his mother in time for Christmas.
I will recap, darlings, because I do like to tell a story from the beginning. I went to coffee with a friend – it was one of those charity things where the first person asks 8 people, each guest asks 4, those ask 2 and they each ask a friend, everyone concerned giving a donation. I don’t think I did, I just gave the money, because I wasn’t going to ask a friend for a cup of coffee and expect her to pay for it.
Anyway, Bridget was there, and I mentioned that we were looking for a mongrel puppy, and she said that the man who delivered their horse feed had said that their dog had had puppies, and she might have one. I asked her to pass on my phone number, and a day or two later, Z phoned. I didn’t phone myself of course, that would be silly, her name is Z too. Anyway, we went to visit and there were four black pups, three of them female, and three blond boys. The largest and palest, they were going to keep. In the car, I’d said to the Sage that I hoped there would be a blond boy. There was a choice of two, almost identical. One had a few white hairs on his head. I wanted him. Without saying so, I asked the Sage for his choice. He said the same pup. They were three weeks old then and, Z being hospitable, we went to visit every week.
That Christmas was, intentionally, a quiet one. We didn’t have a tree, because we thought that would be asking for trouble. There is an oak beam holding our ceiling up, I just asked the Sage what the upright beam is called and he said a wall plate, and the curved bit joining it and the beam is called a knee. We nailed a fir branch into the knee and decorated that. I forgot all about that and, a couple of years later, thought we’d got some damn big woodworm.
To the end of his days, Chester adored Christmas. Most of all, he loved opening presents. We bought him various treats and wrapped them, but soon discovered that it was the unwrapping that he most enjoyed. So we’d wrap individual biscuits, or sneak back the same hide chew and rewrap it, just to see his excitement at receiving another present. He never touched anything belonging to another member of the family, but pounced excitedly on the parcels he was given.