When I was nine, I got a dog. My best friend – now and still – was scared of dogs. She’d been bitten by one quite badly as a toddler, so it was eminently understandable. But she – never one to let things get in her way, always one to make the best of things – took it with gumption. What I love about her is that she, scared though she was, immediately set her own concerns aside and threw herself, bravely, into my delight – and by the time Tess (a stout black and white corgy / husky cross that had allegedly been a border collie puppy) grew up, she loved her almost as much as I did.
This would already have been commendable, but since Tess wasn’t the most singularly adorable dog ever, it was even more so. She yapped, a lot, so much so that one of our other friends (a cat lover, not to be trusted) wanted to sellotape her mouth closed one evening when we were getting drunk at my house. It goes without saying that my friend and I stopped him, the sellotape didn’t come out of the drawer and he wasn’t allowed to darken either of our doorsteps for quite some time.
This friend – Kate – went on to marry a lovely chap who is dog mad, whose parents are vegetarians and have half an animal sanctuary at home. Whose sister is an animal behaviourist. They came to London when their second son was only just walking. We went to Kensington gardens and her son threw sticks for my puppy, both delightedly having a great time. That’s real friendship.