While the rain falls horizontally across the windows of our cottage, I was minded of a friend of mine, his name was William. ….I shall relate his tale, if you dont mind. You may want to come along?
In 1978, I had just married, moved house and rescued two Collie cross, dogs from the local pound! The older we called Ben, and the younger, William. At the outset, there was a distinct difference between the two pups, apart from colour, temperament was the main factor. Ben was still intent on rounding up sheep! While William, was more of a look at the sodding things, and wonder which one to eat!
As the first months past by, it was clear to me, that Ben would have to be re homed. I eventually found him a good home with my Uncle, on his Hill farm. Sheep galore and plenty of work to do.
William continued to develop more after Ben went, so to me it had been a dominant relationship between the two. As William got older, we started to go on Mountaineering trips. I would climb, he would guard the equipment! He stayed at the foot of Cliff faces, and he really took to protecting the equipment, so much so, that on several occasions, all I could hear from below me was the noise of a dog growling, and some climbers shouting and squealing about being bitten!!
But I digress. As time went on, I found that William, always could be relied upon. He never let me down, and he never asked any dumb questions. To me he was the epitome of a best friend. But as a drinking buddie? He was pretty crap! Couldnt hold a beer!
On one particular occasion, I and another climbing friend, had ventured out into the Mountains, to do some solo ice climbing. The climb wasnt too long, about 300 feet. As usual, we left the bags at the foot of the climb, guarded by William. We would be about 50 feet from the summit, far out on the ice, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw something I could not believe! William had followed us! He had climbed up the East ridge, and was now walking, and skittering across the ice fan! He was still coming, when I started to make my way towards him. But with his tail wagging, and the ice getting steeper, it was inevitable what did transpire. he started to slip, and then fell, rolled, and then tumbled his way to the foot of the climb!
I didnt stay to see the results, I was off, and running across an 80 degree ice incline! It was a hard run, and once on less steep ground, I started down the hill. I was still careening down the hill, when coming towards me was my dog! Wagging his tail and barking for all he was worth! Needless to say he was none the worse for his fall, and after that he never left my side!
He was 14 when he died, and I buried him myself under an Apple tree in the garden. It was a devastating time, my first loss. I have never forgotten him, nor shall I, there are many tales I could tell, many stories of escapades, and trials we overcame together. But he will be forever, my friend. An old black scruffy, cantankerous, toothy dog, but with what I have always admired, guts, courage, and loyalty beyond reproach, with the unconditional love that comes from an honest being. He died in 1992.