Time to ponder on the extraordinary fact that this week I notched up my second year as a member of the Dickens Dogs, so I think we can take it that I have passed the probationary period and shall remain until the Great Spirit takes me back. Here, as a very small boy of about nine weeks, I look really quite uncertain: there was a lot to learn. Day by day I am still gradually getting to grips with the shifting sands of experience and even though I am sometimes somewhat confounded by events I remain irrepressibly cheery. This week, for instance, increasing infirmity required that Old Man Ten Blankets move to nursing care; the place is palpably emptier, as if a person’s very soul takes up spiritual space, even if you can’t see them. Upstairs when I rushed to him, he loved to hold and respond to my wriggly, waggly ways; each of us aware of the other’s simple needs. Last night the place was quieter, lighter, cooler: the weight of responsibility is lifted but is still hanging as a memory in the air. Barnaby tells me he experienced something very like this earlier this year, when the old man’s house was emptied and cleaned so that it could be sold. In the end he and Kemo Sabe sat waiting together on the floor in the middle of an empty living room, in the middle of an entirely empty building – once a home as warm and full as a ripe peach – stripped of everything but the wallpaper and carpets and the light fittings. What fills such spaces is a kind of ghost, I think; the kind that we dogs know well. After that saddening stripping of the altars, though, later on Barnaby saw a grand reunion and an evening of reminiscence with a friend, life again showing contrasting colours: the corner is always worth turning. I cannot imagine being made sad for long. Let me lie in the crook of your arm and warm your lap with my dreams. We do all we can: we know what we are, but we know not . . .