I have a dog fixer. Thirteen years ago Val put me in touch with the couple who bred Matt. And now she has connected me with Dave & Jacky, who had a two year old Springer they have been 'running on'.
However - he was not for me. I had hoped he would be right, but when I saw how he was with Jacky, I knew he wasn't the one.
Fortunately this was not the end of the tale.
Dave & Jacky had been contacted by a couple who had taken one of their pups a couple of months beforehand, and who had decided they couldn't keep him. They have a small baby, and Springer pup & small baby were too much in one house. (Imagine - choosing to give the pup back...) I think the contact had only been made on the day I went to see the breeders, so it was all a bit fresh. With no obligation I drove on to see the five month old dog.
He was a black and white pup. Exactly what I had been looking for. It took me less than ten seconds to say yes. His old owner handed him over with tears and gratitude; I received him in like manner.
He had another name; but I have re-Christened him for his new life. He is now Harry.
Harry is (apart from his colouring) physically very like Matt. Facially he is occasionally scarily similar. But in personality, he's much more like Charlie - a life-and-soul-of-the-party dog. He wants to meet everyone. He barks at stuff, and gets excited, and runs on the wind that blows across the fields.
But he also ambles around the drive at the front of the house, and plays in the garden, and never runs off - so in that respect, he's simply Harry.
I think I need training. I've never had a dog this age before. Having said that, he's already bonded to me. He's brilliant off the lead, and (unless he gets distracted by other dogs) comes back to me whenever I call.
Driving down to the south coast last Friday to see him, I wondered if I should do it. Did I really want another dog?
Perhaps moving here has been the final stage in the grieving process. When Charlie died, I had loads of photos of him put in frames. As I moved into this house, I found them all - and realised I have really only two or three of Matt. When he died, I didn't do the same thing. I decided which photo I wanted, but never got round to actually getting it printed out. Till I got here. It arrived in the post last week.
I'm told Matt & Harry possibly share breeding lines. It's a nice thought. I wonder how the three dogs - Matt, Harry & Charlie - would all get on. Breeding lines or no, they are all part of my family.
Did I really want another dog? As soon as I got him, the answer was clear. Yes. My house has become a home again.
I took a Harvest service for the school in Steeple Aston today, and reminded everyone about how Thanksgiving is so central to Harvest. Well, my heart is fit to bursting with gratitude for this canine addition to my life. A new dog. So different. So the same.
Such a gift. Yep, I'm already wild about Harry.