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Joules, a mongrel
The story behind the poem

Our two golden retrievers came with us when we moved to Italy. One day when we were buying dog food from a pet store, we saw a litter of puppies in a play pen outside. They had floppy ears like golden retrievers but the pet shop owner explained they had been found abandoned in a field and so were of unknown breed and origin. One of them caught my eye and I picked him out and held him, then put him back. We drove away - but couldn't forget him and returned for him.

Joules - we continued the tradition of physicist names - is the result. From the start he had a quite different character from our other two dogs. He is noisy, always barking at cars, motorcycles, strange people or people he considers strange, prams, cats - in fact practically everything that moves.

He is a tease, but so affectionate that those who get to know him are completely enchanted. Whenever I go out, he watches and waits for me till I return and then jumps all over me in welcome.

I have a particular soft spot for him because he has hip dysplasia and the quality of his life was for a while under threat. We put him through an operation and now he runs so fast I wonder whether he has greyhound blood in him - along with the Spinone ancestry which (we assume) gave him the fur which covers his eyes and adds to his appeal.

by Damaris West

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