It's been just over four years now since I went to see a tiger-striped greyhound standing in a paddock at his foster-parents' house. He was skinny, and nervous, but when they let him loose, he went flying round the field, then rolled onto the ground in front of me and waved his legs in the air. "Oh," said his foster parents, "he's never done that before." He was meant to come to me, and he knew it long before I realised.
Herbie was in poor shape - he'd been found on the roof of some sheds on an industrial estate, 12 feet up, unable to jump down. He'd been left on a sheet-metal roof, so he had third degree burns on all four feet, he was dehydrated, and close to death. He wasn't supposed to have survived, but somehow he did. I realise now he had an incredible will to live, and I'm seeing it for myself every day. He was skinny when found, six kilos under his racing weight (which is already light) and minus a lot of his fur. His foster parents warned me he might always have a bald bum.
Now old Fuzzybum is on my bed, after a large meal and a gentle potter in the sunshine. The bad days left their legacy and it seems particularly cruel that he won't live to be the oldest greyhound in the world. But I'm glad we had these four years.