Boo's little friend Frodo has been visiting often, and we all adore him.
He's the nicest sort of dog: affectionate without being overwhelming; content to sit calmly in a corner or with his head propped against your knee, but enthusiastically joining in any game or excursion that occurs; tolerant of Boo's occasional rough-housing or baby clumsiness; and utterly disinterested in chasing the chickens or cats.
He's a wanderer, known throughout the neigbourhood. And although Frodo has a kind and loving family of his own, with a little girl Boo's age and two other hounds to play with, he simply isn't a homebody. So he visits families around the village, begging for tidbits, joining in on walks and making friends.
Last week Frodo had been with us two days, so late on the second evening our neighbours offered to walk him home. As they slipped a lead around Frodo's head, Boo began wailing. He sobbed and rattled the gate, trying to get to Frodo, and Jumps had to hold him until the dog was out of sight.
And at 3am that night he woke crying, shouting out again and again, "They took my dog! Frodo! He's lost! They took him away."
I was nearly in tears, and promised that we would visit Frodo, which we did the next day. And there he was, happily at home, with a sweet family and a lovely house and garden.
But pathetically I still wanted to pick him up and take him back with us, to belong to Boo and be our dog.
This morning Frodo came to visit again, then left late in the afternoon, and Boo quite calmly let him go, simply waving goodbye and shouting out to Frodo to "come visit again!".
I, however, still wish he was with us, so I could gaze out my study window and see a furry bundle in the wicker basket I put there, lined with Boo's outworn baby blankets.