In a change to the usual format, we talk to our lovely friend Gaynor Edwards about her very special bond with Ziggy, her rescue dog.
"It’s not quite 9am on a Sunday and I’m sitting in my garden with a small black dog. I understand that ‘black dog’ is a metaphor for depression. This rough coated Patterdale is, in fact, the best anti-depressant I have ever come across. In our eight years together as feisty Team Terrier, we have certainly been tested.
He is stretched out on a cushion on an upright deckchair, half asleep, waiting for the sun to peep over the corner of the roof. We have matching seats and, of late, matching greying hair. He’s still my hero – and I’m pretty sure I am his.
We met eight years ago – on Independence Day… now his official birthday, 4 July. He’s the only dog I have owned, the only dog I have had as an adult. I’m not sure what I would do without him now and, frankly, the prospect terrifies me.
I had wanted a dog, a puppy, since I was a kid. There had been an agreement with my mum that I could have one at 14. She’s no idiot, knowing that hormones, boys, exams and a Saturday job would keep me sufficiently preoccupied until she no longer had power of veto. Skip forward a few years… I was fast approaching 40 by the time Ziggy entered my world. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t even a year old. I’d done my travelling and living abroad and was pretty much as settled as I was ever going to be. I was living with my best friend and soulmate in a rented house in Tunbridge Wells. I co-owned a business across the road and things were mostly going ok.
My friend, at that point claiming to be a cat person, had been diagnosed with cancer a year or so earlier but the initial meds were working well. In fact, it was he who approached our landlords to change the ‘no pets’ clause in the lease. The letter read "for personal reasons we would like to get a small dog". Certainly inferring a ‘child replacement’ need, permission was given and the adoption process began.
Adoption because, contrary to any child replacement theories, I wanted a dog, not a baby or even a puppy. I had, of course, been thinking about a canine company for the past 25 years on and off. My imagination had settled on a Cocker Spaniel called Lola, although I wasn’t fixed on the gender with Jarvis Cocker Spaniel also being in the running.
Initially, the process was more like online dating – pictures and biogs. I made a few calls to rescue centres. One ‘bulldog receptionist’ hung up on me having concluded (bizarrely and incorrectly) that I didn’t have time for a dog. Then we came across a picture of ‘Danny’ (as he was named by the rescue organisation; the kennels called him ‘Gun’), a handsome, rough-coated Patterdale Terrier. He oozed confidence – possibly because of the set of cajones he was sporting at the time. In a bid to calm him down a little, the rescue kennel dealt with these before we met. It must have been a relief for him to finally sit down properly. No bulldogs answering the phone here… a ten minute conversation ended with a date in the diary for meeting – 4 July 2009.
I lived maybe a half hour’s drive from the kennels, and being my own boss I was able to visit a few times and take him for walks before bringing him home. I think it’s rare that many spend this much time bonding beforehand – but it absolutely paid off. A couple hours after we got home the rescue organisation sent a behaviourist to the house to settle ‘our boy’ in. It turns out he had settled himself in and a little too well. In our years together only once have I thought ‘I’ve made a terrible mistake here’. What ensued can only be described as a full-on battle of wills. Ziggy was sitting on the sofa, as I opened the front door and let in a pierced lady, wearing platform DMs. One puffed up little terrier turned his head 90 degrees and looked her in the eye, as if to say "I’ve been expecting you Mr Bond". The real conversation continued, “Oh, I see you’ve made yourself at home?” Then they had a fight, with a gnashing of teeth from both part