I met a dog named Marmite last evening.
She hurtled out, barking, on hearing the click of the green wooden gate, front teeth bared, looking fierce but with her tail wagging hard and fast enough to knock a welter-weight on to his satin-shorted bottom.
Marmite, named by the dog rescue angels because of her black – no, it's darkest brown – coat had a hard start to life. If by chance she catches a paper deliverer rolling up the morning rag to shove through a tight letterbox slot, she skedaddles, tail between her legs, into the nearest, small, dark space, whimpering.
Five years on, she has landed on her sturdy, yet elegant, paws. A second chance. Everyone deserves one. Marmite is kind of needy, kind of nervy, kind of cheeky, kind of demanding and with Princess written all over her. Yet she owns a vulnerability that closes my throat over.
Marmite is innocence itself. Except when Billy the Bruiser cat sashays into the room looking for a tickle behind his ears. Then Marmite crosses the line and nudges Billy out of the limelight and far, far away from the dips and "her people". Princess.
As she sat at my feet, chin resting on my knee, showcasing the most kissably soft muzzle in the world, I met her jet black eyes and recognised the pain of sadness and betrayal etched into her sweet heart by others she had once trusted. Which made Marmite the sweet being she has become. Full of hopeful love and an exquisite, deep fragility.
Caressing her pretty head, I wondered if I had fallen head over heels for Marmite because her personality echoed one of my beloved dogs – Minnie – no longer
with me. Or, could it be because I loved actual Marmite and happily licked the black/brown gold off teaspoons, toast, knives. Anything.
Maybe all the above but more than that – Marmite and I understood each other. Her heart mirrored mine.