One of the characters in Before All Else with all four paws firmly planted in reality is Trueman, the black Labrador. Suffering from a degree of flatulence yet, at crucial points in the story, demonstrating an almost human understanding and empathy and intervention in his role as friend and comforter and protector to the widow, Cecily, he is an ‘agent of warmth and comfort’ in her sometimes under-occupied days.
Within real life, Trueman is my very own dog – and friend / comforter / protector too. Named after the road we used to live on, ‘Trueman’ seemed a perfect name for such a steadfast and loyal creature. He’s eight years old now and, as I write this, he is lying on the floor next to my desk, dreaming and twitching and snoring away.
He was born on our small-holding, one of a litter of fourteen pups to our chocolate Labrador, Daisy – who was as surprised as we were at the sheer number of pups. He arrived five months after my husband died, and seemed to bring with him a guarantee that I need never be completely alone. Or under-occupied!