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Most of the News From Home that I get, from The Mom, my siblings and their partners is about dogs they have seen. I have very little idea of what these people are actually up to, but am very much in the loop about the dogs where they are.

In fact, most of our communication could be done through dog pictures. I don’t even think anyone would notice.

I would not be in the least bit surprised if I woke up one morning to find my inbox overflowing with multiple replies to one of our family chain emails.

Someone, probably The Mom, would start off by saying a brief hello – literally sometimes that’s what you get, hello and nothing much to report, but I did see this dog. And then she would launch into a long and very detailed email about The Dog She Met Today. We would get the level of detail normally reserved for, say, filling in a visa request with the Home Office, or applying for a mortgage. Not just colour and make of the dog, but his general character traits, likes, dislikes, some rumination on his age, how much he was enjoying the walk, any friends he might have, thoughts for the future, a few quotes, and so on and so forth.

This email would be devoured in seconds by everyone else. And then the replies would start coming.

L’il Sis might reply with likes to some of the Instagram dogs she follows. No descriptions, just links. A basset hound, a beagle, another hound, a series of beagles. All somehow relating to the dog The Mom had recently met.

Crazy D would then get in on the act and take it up a notch, sending short videos of dogs doing funny and/or stupid things. Like a pool full of labradors. Then maybe a dog at the beach. Or the classic: surfing dog (whom he and I have actually seen at the beach in Santa Cruz).

Not one to miss out on the action, his girlfriend would ‘reply all’ with hilarious GIFs of other dogs that feature prominently on the inter webs.

L’il Sis’s boyfriend, though, would win the dog round by just sending through a series of photos of their dog, Groucho, making all kinds of adorable faces and generally mugging for the camera.

I would awake to find this and a normal person would think that her family’s email accounts have all been hacked. I would know that my family was just having an unusually chatty day, a bit bored, but nonetheless quite chipper.

I would of course hit ‘reply all’ and send through some pictures of birds. Partly because I like to be contrary, and partly because they usually smell nicer. I know you can’t smell images sent in an email, but still. the Mom has been banging on about how much she misses Poochie’s stink that one does begin to wonder.

I have taken my family’s preference for stories about dogs to heart and so now when I go away somewhere new or interesting, or more likely, somewhere I’ve been before, I know to take pictures of the dogs I meet. This is to ensure that my emails get read. The chances of a reply increase exponentially with a quality dog picture attached.

So I have sent them pictures of the dogs in the pub I like in London, other pictures of pub dogs (which are very popular with The Mom now that she’s been to visit and has seen the wonders of dogs in pubs for herself), dogs on trains, and dogs tied up outside supermarkets that have a special hitching post just for this purpose. Improbably large dogs on Spanish balconies, dogs in bicycle baskets, dogs on boats.

It is my fervent hope that one day all these dog pictures – Dogs in Europe – might entice them to come over and visit. I’ve found a website called Borrow My Doggie so we wouldn’t even need to be without a trusty-four legged friend. And my pal up in Glasgow’s got himself a dog so if they did come over, we could go up to Scotland and borrow his dog, if a more familiar, personal dog was required.

I don’t honestly know how any of this happened, but when we find a topic we all like and can contribute to (my preference for birds is tolerated but I’m sure everyone thinks the British have made me go a bit funny) it tends to carry on and on. I foresee years of this sort of thing. Soon there won’t even be a cursory hello – it’ll just be ten pictures of dogs I’ve met today and that’s it. As Proof of Life goes, it’s not great, but one learns to adapt.