That is what they are while they lodge with us and remain so, long after they have departed down the drive. On occasion, their new departing families have to pull over on to the verge to allow the new entrants onto the yard. The trainers don’t hang around when we make the call, some of them have retired dogs well into double figures just waiting for a space with us.

Tia doesn’t want vacancies in this way though. Callaghan was 3 years old and had barely settled in. His death came as a shock despite the rapid weight and appetite loss. Let’s face it if a grey isn’t bloody eating something is horribly wrong. He was eased from this world by our vets (thanks Donaldsons) and if you believe in the rainbow bridge he will have to hang around for a bit until one of the Tia gang gets called up. He hadn’t found his family and had to make do with us. A bitter loss. We don’t understand and Uriah is giving us cause for concern.

A few hours ago we lost Millie. Massive, drooling, bit smelly, not sweet and cuddly (you’d lose your arm) and clearly her own woman. She passed in Bob’s arms at the vet’s after a rapid deterioration. OK, we knew she was on her way but it still hurts so much. Tia would like to think of her sitting on the other side of her original owner Cameron, whose legacy allowed us to buy Millrace. Chester died a few weeks ago so it will be a relief for him finally to get off the bridge. Their ashes will be scattered together up in the orchard where they patrolled nightly long after the visitors had departed.

The sausage round tonight was quite frankly horrific as will tomorrow morning when Bob has his brew before the madding crowd arrives.

Just him and her and the early morning watch. Chewing over the day before the cars arrive.

Thanks for looking after us darling. Cam, I gave you my word on that day so long ago. I kept it and I thank you now for having faith in me.