31 January 2021 | 5 mins

Charlie is almost five now. Sometimes I can’t believe that he is so old already. Where is my little puppy?! In truth, I’m looking back at his puppyhood with rose-tinted glasses; he was an absolute shit for the first 18 months or so of his life. And now, he’s not the only dog in the household (although if you ask him, he’s still the top dog).

Zero to One

Even before Charlie, I’d always pictured myself in the future having multiple dogs. Dogs are inherently social creatures, and while they’re usually perfectly happy with the company of humans, having dog companions of their own always seemed to make sense to me. However, after adopting Charlie, that seemed like such a daunting ask. He was a lot of hard work, and while that is paying dividends now (I am still constantly amazed at what a fantastic dog he is), for a long while I couldn’t have even imagined a second dog. It felt like treading water at times just keeping up with one Charlie; there was absolutely no way I could have adopted a second.


As it turned out, my second dog came as part of a package deal. My fiancée Danny and I met each other in January 2018, a little before Charlie’s second birthday, and in truth the predominant reason each of us swiped right was the pictures of our respective dogs.

Danny had a little 10-month-old cockapoo called Sid; the dogs accompanied us on our first date to Piecebox, a cute little dog-friendly cafe in Polwarth, for breakfast. It would be fair to say that Charlie wasn’t immediately taken with Sid, spending most of the date under the table growling at her whenever she tried to play with him, but they got on well enough in the park and on walks that they soon became… well, friends may be stretching it, but he would happily tolerate her presence in small doses at least. And she adored him, and to this day still craves his love and attention.

She’s a very sweet girl, and after something of a rocky start at the beginning of our relationship, we are now best friends (although I do have to reassure Charlie that he’s still my number one). She joins us for canicross, and we have a weekly run together along what I now call The Sid Route, a 5.5km out-and-back run along the canal, with a lap of Redhall Park at the turnaround. While she is never going to have the attentiveness and obedience that Charlie does, she has grown into a reasonably-well-behaved dog, who loves a cuddle and is always happy to make new friends (two- or four-legged alike).


And then for a couple of years, it was the four of us, two humans and two dogs. Danny and I had long talked about adopting a third dog, although we’d always said that we would wait until we got a new place of our own (a second-floor flat is fine, but not ideal, for multiple dogs to be running around in). We also said that our next dog would find us, we didn’t need to go looking, and as it turned out, that is exactly how we came to adopt Harry.

In early December, Danny received an email sent to a mailing list from her old job out at Roslin. A five-year-old Bedlington Terrier was needing a new home, did anyone know anyone who might be able to look after him? Danny and I looked at each other, and at the pictures of the serious-faced, curly-haired, grey dog in the email attachments, and agreed that we’d reach out and arrange a meeting with him. Naturally, we would only be able to keep him if Charlie and Sid approved, so we set up an introduction one Friday night a few weeks before Christmas. Poor Harry was very confused and overwhelmed by the situation, but Sid and Charlie seemed to quite like him, so we agreed that he could spend the night to see how he settled.

And then, that was that; aside from dropping off his bed and a toy the following day, Harry’s old owners left him with us forever. To his credit, he has settled exceptionally well; we still have some issues we’re working through with excessive barking, but he has fitted in quite perfectly with our little pack.

What a bonny little pack

Number Four?

I suspect that Harry won’t be the last dog we adopt. Danny and I are planning to move out of the city in the next year or so, hopefully to a place big enough that we can comfortably have more dogs. More than four may be a stretch, especially when it comes to travelling to and from the city (we aren’t leaving Edinburgh completely), but I could definitely see us with another addition to the pack in a couple of years. Charlie will be getting older by then, and will definitely be pack leader, but as long as he is happy and knows that he will always be my boy, everything will continue to be just fine.

Charlie is on Instagram as charlie.border.collie, if you would like to see more pictures of him.

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