The journey was long: three trains over four hours. Ruby sat on her fleece-square and watched her fellow passengers. Sometimes she slept.
After three and a half hours she was getting restless. She scrambled over to a nearby family of dog-worshipers to initiate an orgy of face-licking, tail-wagging and tummy-tickling that lasted the rest of the train journey.
At the final stop she strained against her leash and leapt off the train; dashed along the platform, dragging her human up the steps, over the bridge and down the other side, out and across the road into the car park, heading for the nearest tuft of grass. There, with an almost audible sigh of relief, she squatted and emptied her bladder.
The travelling wasn’t over yet. There were another seventy miles to go by car. Ruby, who had always before travelled in a crate, curled up in the front passenger seat and slept all the way.
Her new world was full of strange excitements. First, there were the cats. Ruby had never met a cat but her instinct insisted they must be chased. This was not allowed! It brought a tapped nose, a harsh word – and a hissing demon with sharp claws. That was an easy lesson to learn. Coming when called, sitting and staying were harder, but soon mastered.
The second surprise – she now had two homes! One, shared with her new human, was small and crowded with things. This was where she spent her nights, comfortably ensconced on the bed with both human and cat. And this was where, when her human was working, she learned to sit quietly, patiently – for hours if need be.
But close by was home number two – much larger, with another human and two black poodles. Fred was too old to do more than growl and snap his gums at her to show her he was boss of this establishment, but he made a nice pillow as they curled up together on the sofa.
Susan was middle-aged and blind from birth, confused at first by the introduction of a noisy, boisterous youngster – but before long she and Ruby were chasing each other at top speed round and round the house, through the dog-flap and out into the large garden.
Lucky Ruby would be spending several hours every day in this lovely second home.
And then came the walks! Ruby was so well behaved that she was allowed off the lead right from the start. There were valleys, streams, cliffs, gorse, meadows, sandy beaches and rocks to explore. And the sea! And seagulls to chase! What dog could ask for more?
But it was not all playtime. After just four days she was taken to attend her first business meeting. After greeting all the humans politely, she instinctively settled down to sleep on her human’s coat.
And her human knew…. I knew…. My Honey had returned…..
I’d had a Cairn terrier once before, HoneyBee: my dearest friend and workmate. As soon as we met, at the Royal Cornwall Show in 1979, when she was just nine months old, she knew me and leaped from her box to greet me. My heart was lost in that moment.
She fitted instantly into my life and her role as Company Dog for a small touring theatre. She would entertain the audience as we set up; sleep soundly through the show, only to appear again, right on cue, to take her bow as the play came to an end.
I lost her ten years ago. Now it seems she is back.
Over her first week in Cornwall Ruby changed from a wild pup to a loving, intelligent companion and partner, ready to sit at my feet as I, now The Tintagel Storyteller, tell tales to children and adults in schools, hotels, theatres and an assortment of other venues.
Her name changed too. Now Ruby the Pup no longer, it soon became clear that she chose to answer only to being called…. …..HoneyBear.