When I first moved here, I was a bit daunted at the prospect of starting a new life in a new place where I didn't know a single person.
Maybe that isn't so hard in a big town or city, but I moved to a very small Lancashire village which is basically one street, and has a population (which I have now found out is combined with the neighbouring village) of just over 1000 people.
Everyone seems to have been born and bred here, as were their parents and grandparents and so on right back to the founding of the village. Everybody knows everybody else, and it's a very closely knit place with lots of community involvement in everything. And I was instantly recognised as "someone new".
But I have never been to a more friendly place in my life. Everyone is so welcoming. And due to the location, everyone seems to own a dog, so dog walking across the moors, through the forest or down the river is a big thing and everyone uses it as an excuse to hear the latest gossip, catch up, and socialise.
And dogs are such funny animals. Not for them the hesitancy of waiting for someone to say hello. They just run up to each other, have a sniff, wag their respective tails and then indulge in a game of chase or play fighting.
And that is exactly what Murphy did. He has got so many friends here. There is Milly the 4 year old Doberman who lives two doors up, then Dennis his favourite playmate (a little 18 month old Westie) who lives 4 doors up. Boris the German Pointer who lives near the pub. And Sol the Springer who lives across the road. Then we also have Holly, Trixie and Daisy (Border Collie, Lurcher puppy, and Golden Labrador) who live at the back of me, and Skye and Sally who are the two Border Collies who live in a lovely house overlooking the lake. Oh and we cant forget Digsy the terrier and Star and Lilly (Lilly is Star's mum and they are both black labs).
I know every single dogs name, and where they live, but none of the owners names. I was chatting with Zoe who is "Dennis' mum" two weeks ago and we were laughing because she said "Everyone knows you as "Murphy's mum" but the others were saying that they don't know your name"....and I had to admit that I was exactly the same. So we all got together on Wednesday for a long walk and made a point of introducing ourselves properly to each other.
Wouldn't it be so much simpler if we were like dogs? No reticence about making introductions to strangers. No worries about "will they say hello back to me". And definately no hang ups about making a fool of yourself. Maybe if we still had tails we would find it so much easier.
So I suppose that I really need to thank my silly Springer for making me so many new friends here. If it wasn't for him, I'd probably have spent the next few years living in isolation in this village and being too shy to walk up to anyone and say hello.