Hector, dog of dogs, is the most glorious companion. Simon Tiffin reveals how he came to commission a piece of music that would evoke his spirit when he finally departs this world
One of the earliest signs of spring in my garden is a ring of snowdrops and winter acconites that encircles the trunk of a medlar tree outside the greenhouse. This yellow-and-white display was planted to complement a collection of elegantly engraved, moss-covered mini-headstones that mark the resting places of the previous owner’s dogs. Each of these markers has a simple but evocative dedication: “Medlar, beloved Border Terrier”; “Otter, a little treasure. Sister of Medlar”; “Skip, grandson of Genghis. Sweet eccentric.” Every time I see this pet cemetery I am reminded that, despite a complex denial structure that involves a sneaking suspicion that he is immortal, there will come a time when I have to face the death of Hector, dog of dogs.
Hector is a cockapoo and not ashamed to admit it. He sneers at terms such as “designer dog” and “hybrid” and is rightly proud of his spaniel/poodle heritage. Although many people have an origin myth of how their pet chose them, in Hector’s case it is true. When I went with my wife Alexa to see a friend whose working cocker had recently given birth, a blind, chocolate-brown caterpillar of a pup freed himself from the wriggling furry mass of his siblings and crawled his way towards us. Bonding was instant and, on our side, unconditional.