Hamish is old and grey now.
He's hard of hearing and his eyesight is fading.
His old joints make it hard to negotiate the stairs sometimes.
And he needs to be careful about what he eats.
But he still enjoys a stroll down the park.
He has plenty of friends to catch up with. He's quite happy - although he finds that most evenings are spent dozing on the sofa with the TV on in the background.
He's 14 now, not the young border terrier pup we remember.
We find that he's happier when he gets a walk first thing in the morning.
This means me getting up earlier than I would plan and braving the morning chill.
It also means new acquaintances for me.
Having a beast on the end of a lead means that I am accepted into a discrete community. It's a cross cultural community, not gender-biased, and people of all ages join.
The dog walkers.
And it doesn't matter what mood I'm in when I leave the house; by the time I get home I'm buoyed by the interaction and cheery greetings of those I meet.
(There's even another border terrier named Hamish who frequents the same park; a younger version.)
There's another community that I meet with regularly, and when I meet them I not only have my spirits raised by their company, I experience the pleasure of being part of a wide family who know me and accept me warts and all. Better than that, we meet with our Father in heaven too.
If you've found yourself looking for community, why not come along on a Sunday morning to Ealing town hall. The kettle will be on from 10 o'clock.
We're drawn from many nations, not gender-biased, and all ages are represented.
You'll be most welcome.
(And for those like Hamish whose joints aren't what they used to be, there's easy access too.)