He was the fulfillment of a thirty-five year long fantasy. As a child in the 1960s, I wasn't allowed a dog, for all the usual city dweller reasons. Then came university, a move to London, an upstairs flat, all the business of establishing a career, periods working abroad, scarcely time even for a goldfish.
Flash forwards to 1999. I am forty years old, recently moved to Aberdeen, the owner of a house with a pleasant and enclosed back garden, the office less than a mile away, friendly neighbours, a park just down the road.
And still wanting a dog.
So it was that Hamish came into my life, a 3 year old Westie, advertised in the Press and Journal by a farmer from somewhere near Fraserburgh. I never did quite get the story straight about why the old man wanted rid of Hamish. Have you ever succeeded in understanding a farmer from 'The Broch'? Thought not. (If you're not familiar with the local dialect, have a listen to the Doric call centre)....
It's rare in life for the reality to improve on the fanstasy, but that's just how it was with Hamish.
The last year and a half of his life was chronicled in my previous blog Hamish the Westie.
A much loved pet is of course irreplaceable. Before he died last month I had imagined that it would be hard, ever, to even contemplate another dog.
How wrong I was. Because it's not just Hamish I miss. It's those chats with neighbours whilst a lamppost is being marked. The fascination of observing a fellow creature whose thought processes are at once so similar and so different from our own. The comforting routine of the daily walk, come rain or shine. The warm soft back to stroke at times of stress.
Over the past few months, and realising deep down that Hamish would not be with me much longer, I tried to tell myself how much easier things would be without a dog. I could go travelling, guilt free! I could stay out late! I could visit places where you couldn't easily take a dog! I could spend all the extra money that previously went to the vet!
But now those new found 'freedoms' hold little appeal.
Nothing feels like it could be half so much fun as owning another dog.