Nobody seems to know how old Brutus is. Brutus is our dog. Before making a home for himself with us he used to belong to a local farmer. He was probably supposed to act as a kind of guard dog. We used to see him as we walked around the corner and up the hill. He just looked at us with a kind of indifference. Maybe he remembered vaguely that his job was to appear menacing but he was beyond caring. He might have lifted one of the brows above his dark eyes but that would be about it.

Every now and then I bump into his former owner. He works the plot of land that Brutus used to keep an eye on but he doesn´t live there and his visits are infrequent. He is always keen to see Brutus. I asked the farmer when we last met how old the dog was. “Quatorce” he said. I had asked him at least a year earlier the same question “¿quantos años tiene el perro?” He told me then also “quatorce.”

So he has been fourteen years old for at least two years, maybe more. And I have no idea how many years he might have been of each of the other thirteen years that preceded this.

I like to think of Brutus as ageless or even infinitely old. I can picture him casting an eye, between bouts of snoozing, on the Egyptians as they constructed their pyramids or of him falling under the shadows of the great lumbering sauropods of the Jurassic.

Brutus walks slowly now and our daily treks along the dusty paths of the campo have become protracted affairs. “What´s the rush?” he seems to ask and, of course, he´s right. What is the rush? When you amble slowly you will see and hear more. You are more likely to come across the bee eaters that are on their way north now having recently crossed from Africa. If they are not perching on the telegraph wires they career like fighter jets. You don´t want to miss that.

Today we did the long version of our walk as we both had time on our hands and it occurred to me that walking with Brutus is like setting sail in a yacht on a day on which very little wind is forecast and that Brutus, the ancient mariner, is the skipper.

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The other day Catriona and I went for a walk with the dogs and Brutus hooked up with another dog who was just hanging around beside a gate. He refused to move and so I had to move him along or we would still be standing there now!