Andy and I grew up with a passion for animals, all my birthday and Christmas lists had a pony on them meanwhile Andy was much more exotic and pestered his parents for a monkey. My compromise was cats and he was kept satisfied with a dog of his own to look after. We managed to fit dogs into our life in London, and Merry – our lion hearted Patterdale Terrier – came with us to Italy, relishing the space we have here and adapting quickly to our country life. After much discussion and a couple of months kept tethered while he learned the lie of the land we decided to let him wander freely, knowing the potential risk that the country lanes hold. For almost five years he has enjoyed this freedom – going off for adventures with our Pugliese foundling Ember, basking in all the fuss and petting from guests, chasing off the wildlife that threated our hens and sheep, and generally having the best life a dog could wish for. Six weeks ago he went missing and while we still hold out hope that he’ll return we accept that most likely he won’t. So this is in praise of Merry, we loved him for 10 years and we will always enjoy retelling all the stories we have to keep his memory alive.