Author Kate Leaver on why her Battersea dog Bert is the best boy
18 MARCH 2021
Journalist and writer Kate Leaver has shared her experience with rescue for Battersea Stories and why rescue is her favourite breed.
My boyfriend recently asked me to estimate how many times a day I tell our dog, Bert, that he’s “the best boy in the world”. It’s got to be twenty, at least, I said - on a quiet day. He just really deserves to know.
When Bert arrived at Battersea Old Windsor, he was called Mungo. He had matted fur, a skin infection and a little pink mouth lined with rotting teeth. He’d spent the first nine months of his life in conditions unbefitting such a very good boy.
When he came home with us, on two trains and a bus, we named him Bertie. Bert for short. Robert, Herbert, Albert or Gilbert for formal occasions. He is the third member of our little family; our hairiest, most precious housemate.
For the first three months of his time with us, Bert liked to howl through the night, wee in the same place on our sofa and bite my hands. I’ve had a rescue dog before – an elderly lass called Lady Fluffington – so I knew that he just needed time to trust that he’d found his forever home.
We got up every day and gave him love, safety, food and affection. We got him an “anti-gobble” bowl so he learned to eat at a better pace. We asked him to please wee in the garden. We let him on the bed for bedtime and morning cuddles.
Now, to be completely truthful with you, he is a flawless creature. Impeccably behaved. Gentle-natured. Affectionate, funny, stubborn, playful, wonderfully lazy and powerfully cute. He makes me laugh every day. He lies across my chest, with his little snout in the nape of my neck, when I’m sad. He keeps me company, he gives me comfort, he takes care of me - as we do him.
Last year, Bert and I were on breakfast television to talk about how he helps me during periods of depression. The headline across the bottom of the screen said “world’s best boy”. Finally, I thought: confirmation of what I’ve long known.
But really, the loveliest thing about dogs is that they are all the best. We’re all convinced dog is the greatest living creature – and we are all absolutely correct.
Kate Leaver is a journalist and author of Good Dog: Celebrating the dogs who change and sometimes even save our lives. She spends a perhaps strange amount of time coming up with captions for her dog’s Instagram page.