Older foxy-cross dog, laying in shade on patio


I remember well my first dog; I expect we all do.

Many, many years ago when I was just a small boy, living in England in the early sixties we had a family dog, ‘Skipper’.

I don’t remember why that name; perhaps the name was adopted along with the dog as I guess he was a few years old at the time he arrived in our family. I remember little about his arrival – one day he just arrived home with my Dad.

He was a mongrel and his origins were obscure and undiscoverable, and now that the mists of time are in place, I’ll never know.

It was the first pet I’d experienced and a complete joy. I went from being just a ‘schoolboy’ to a ‘boy with a dog’ and the magical childhood existences that came with it.

There was no doubt that it was, from the outset, it was ‘my dog’. That was of course, in my mind. Fortunately, my sister was younger than me and although she enjoyed stroking him, she was too young to take him for a walk.

Living in the suburbs of London, even back then, it wasn’t a matter of running together through the cornfields and then hiding in a barn in a sudden downpour. In Hornchurch where we lived (then a village in Essex) the roads were pretty busy even then, and Skipper had to stay on his leash, (or lead as it was called) but he didn’t seem to mind.

We’d play catch in the small garden behind our house for hours on end; it was difficult to remember who had more fun. If it hadn’t been for my mother calling me in for dinner, I think that it would only have been only the darkness of night that would have stopped us!

He had his favourite tennis ball, which after this game would certainly not have been used in any game at Wimbledon – let alone any other tennis match, given that he liked to chew on it before returning it to me. I thought of that when many years later we lived about 15 minutes from the Wimbledon Courts! He did like returning sticks too, but those were not always available in the garden, for some reason my parents preferred I didn’t break small branches off our apple tree!

It’s funny how many remember their childhood days as sunny – this was certainly the case for us and they were spent with Skipper in the garden, going for walks and playing without his lead over the cricket ground behind the long gardens (and fancy houses) beyond our modest house’s garden.

I remember coming home from primary school ….

To be continued…