Newman, dear Newman, this is all about you. Nobody knows you like I do; I who spend the night hours snuggled beside you, me on my Boggis-bed, you on the vast green mattress, six inches deep and wide enough for all three of us. When the wind in the cat-flap wakes me, I hear you snore, I watch you lost in upside-down-world dreams, where you can rush about as madly as you wish and no amount of jumping-up could ever be unwanted. Stretched out upon your back, arms and legs straight as a diver’s, you go headlong into imagination’s pool, your long, slim form as golden and as glorious as Chewbacca. Ever the child and like a child able to see beyond the bounds of reason; a little lad inside a big, strong soul.
Being the only spaniel in this family flock, I have made my own way, and all the spaniels in the world are now pretty much measured by the paw-prints I have left. But you, dear NuNu, you took on the mantle of the great Noggs from the very start, wearing a name of legendary status but being a beast, as is said, of very different colour, and that was apparent to me from my early childhood when the simple, straightforward, fun-loving soul opened his strong arms to me, rolling enthusiastically on the floor as I nipped his ears and sides. There was nothing to fear and I knew it.
Even from that time it was obvious to a small spaniel like me that he was not like other dogs. As unselfconscious as a boy with rolled-down knee-socks and scabby knees, string in pocket and fun afoot, Newman is a wonderful big brother. Full of energy, which bursts forth uncontrollably and can so easily get the best of his better judgement – so a huge mouthful of seaweed is as speedily downed as the time it takes Kemo Sabe to shout out ‘No!’ When he sees folk coming towards us on the sands, though as small as ants, he stands to attention as though transfixed or side-winds towards them in his elegant dressage, desperate to offer warmth, friendship and his inner joy. When asked to pose for a portrait for this post, this was the response!
Even as I write, I can hear the snortling and throat-clearing which marks a bundle between him and Barnaby, the still centre of our canine world. Most remarkable of all, and now most firmly proved from repeated experience, is NuNu’s uncanny ability to read the human mind. Without any clue – neither movement nor word – he will instantly know without fail when someone is even just thinking about the briefest of outings, two minutes down the road; he prepares himself like a guardian angel, with whom it would be unthinkable to venture forth. Get the coal or wood in, by all means, garden at your will, tidy the shed or garage, work upstairs – move about as much as you want, take as long as you like, he’s as relaxed and happy as a sunbeam in his own sunny world, wherever that currently may be. But believe it: our new Prince Myshkin will know your thoughts and understand your plans, even before you have made them. Emotional and often seemingly distracted, by nature passive and fearful of confrontation, he is on another plane; an endless childhood which we are only gradually coming to understand. It is a privilege to try. Bless you, beautiful boy! My sleeping companion and my special friend.