Liz Jones’s Diary: I finally see where my loyalty lies

I can’t help but think of him, abandoned and now in a kill shelter 

 Teddy the new border collie’s first week has gone surprisingly smoothly. When he arrived in the dog bus from Romania after travelling for four days he wouldn’t walk, preferring to crouch on the ground, fearful. He is now walking and enjoying the yard just four days after he arrived in Romania on the dog bus. We haven’t had one accident in the house: he goes outside, which is more than I can say for Gracie, who needs a nappy at night but, as I whisper in her pointy ear: ‘Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.’ Teddy wouldn’t come upstairs for the first two nights, but he now sleeps on the rug on the landing. We haven’t yet had a bark. That is likely to be one of the many joys that lies ahead.

Stef (who runs the charity which saved him) answers my questions about his past. She says he was either caught on the street or dumped in the pound – horrible places: concrete cages open to the weather, dry kibble thrown inside, which the dogs have to fight over – by an owner who no longer wanted him, which seems odd, as he’s only about three and handsome. He’s enormous: a huge black face and speckled paws, like an owl.

Nic, my assistant was nervous when I revealed that I had another collie. Nic has been there for me throughout all the trials of the two I currently have. Sam the rogue, dear departed. When I first rescued him, he would catch pheasants on a walk and eat them, given he’d been starved. He was tethered to a chain and his teeth had become so brittle that he couldn’t chew on them. Gracie never learned how to go outside for the toilet. Mini would run at 40 mph and I had to call people from the village in order to take her to the pass. Missy is still having a heart attack after I switch on my hoover.

Dogs have taught me. My cats also trained me. Susie, the feral cat that was raised on the Isle of Dogs’ wild streets, will only eat room-temperature prawns. Mini can now only consume human food purchased from Marks and, in extreme cases, Waitrose. Gracie now puts her front paws on the bed, as she’s too rickety to jump, so I’m prompted to lift her rump skywards: we then get the groan of pleasure as she snuggles in a pillow. Sam was very old and developed dementia. He became almost blind and deaf. He was frenzied and would not find me. I finally tapped his bottom gently. His eyes would become watery and he would then turn. It’s strange how I have endless patience with animals. Contrarily, my mom was (shamefully), glad that she had lost her memory of me when I became bedridden from arthritis. It was easy to pretend that I’d been there for an hour, when in reality it was only five minutes.

My horses generally do as I ask. When I get them in during bad weather – Storm Arwen was a case in point: the fence to their paddock blew down – they don’t wear headcollars: I just open the stable doors and they file in. I cannot stand horsey women who tug at their horses’ heads constantly or yell and slap if the poor animal merely stamps a hoof to get rid of a fly.

It’s weird why I’m so soft with animals and so intolerant of people. It’s a shame that my tears were more intense when Lizzie, my beloved racehorse rescue, died than when I lost my father. My mum passed away, but Hilda was my Romanian rescue dog. I felt more devastated when Hilda died. I suppose it’s because I spent almost every day with them. My bed is where my dogs rest. My cats would sleep on my head. With pure affection, my animals gaze at me. Sam couldn’t walk and would need to be lifted onto my bed. Sam never complained. He enjoyed being in my arms.

So here’s Teddy. He won’t be forgotten. I will feed him every day. He’ll be outside with the horses and me for many hours. As I type, he will serve as my furry footrest.

8 1/2 Stone, Liz Jones’s debut novel, is available as an audiobook on Amazon and Audible. Spotify, Apple Books, and other usual outlets will soon have it. 


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Join Liz and her trusty (long-suffering) assistant Nicola as they dissect her weekly YOU magazine diary and delve into the archives to relive the bust-ups, betrayals, bullets… and much more in this brilliant podcast. They’re outspoken, outrageous and utterly hilarious. You can listen now to Apple Podcasts on Spotify, Google Podcasts, and