I have just read Steve Jamieson's wonderful book ‘Bilbo the Lifeguard Dog’ (published by Pan Macmillan) and I am just recovering from being in floods of tears at the end. I felt so much for Steve, the former Head Lifeguard on Sennen Beach in Cornwall. I know that awful heartbreak when a much loved animal and companion dies. He had such a strong bond with Bilbo and was with him every day. I am an inveterate animal lover and have cats and rabbits as pets, but I love dogs too. At the moment we have a lovely cat called Mittens, who is 11 years old. My beautiful rabbit, Shadow, died 2 years ago.
In September 2008, my husband, Ian, and I visited Cornwall and went to Sennen Beach. I had heard all about Bilbo and went up to the Lifeguard Station where Bilbo was standing. As I neared the platform he was sitting on, I asked if I could stroke him and take a photo of him. He moved forward and gently touched noses with me!! Then I took some photos of him. This is one I took of him when Bilbo would have been about 5.
Bilbo made such an impact on me at the time and reading this book was so enlightening and enjoyable (albeit very sad at the end). I am now considering owning a Newfoundland in the future. I am hoping that my future dog will become a 'Pets as Therapy' dog, so I can take him, or her, into care homes, hospitals and hospices, enabling people to enjoy the wonderful healing contact that an animal brings.