Phelan was my first dog. My parents had had dogs when I lived at home – indeed I brought one of them home with me from university, but I'd never had one of my own before Phelan.
Phelan (Celtic for Wolf) came from Forest Lodge, the local dog pound in 1994, aged about 2. Unfortunately they have a put to sleep policy, so choosing one dog from the ones that were there was hard; except that it was more the other way round, Phelan chose me. Unbelievably, his owners knew he was there, but didn't want him back. With a day to spare before the jab he came home with me, endearing himself to me by throwing up in the car on the way.
He definitely had collie in him and the shape of his head was Wolfhound, but there were definitely lots of other things in there too. He needed an op on one of his eyes as the inner lid had stuck to his eyeball and to have his balls off. Both were successful and literally days later he leapt a barbed wire fence. If I had known he was going to do that I could have saved a bit of money!!
Phelan was a true companion; everywhere I went that he could go he went. He loved life and many a sunny evening was spent playing in the garden; his favourite game was being swung round while he held on to the end of a ragger.
The best thing about Phelan was that he could "talk". I had never known any other dog do this kind of thing; it wasn't a growl, or a yowl, but a mixture. and he could change the tone, and he replied to what was said. It was weird. I'm sure sometimes he thought I understood what he was saying; which I didn't, but we had many conversations, some of which were of great comfort to me. Phelan also liked music and if you sang to him he would wag his tail in time to it, keeping the beat by using the floor as his drum.
Phelan passed away in July 2003 after having what I'm sure was a stroke.