Bertie is a rescue dog, very much like myself, abandoned and needed saving. In 2013 after deciding that I would like a dog, I decided on a rescue dog as there is always a surplus of unwanted pets whom through no fault of their own are in a precarious position.

Bertie the evangelist

I travelled to Poulton-le-fylde near Blackpool to view 2 dogs. I had been in this position, having potential carers come to inspect and view you like a second hand car. Winston was his original name, a cross between a boxer and a staff, as I took him for a trial walk , he stuck by my side and his solemn eyes seemed to say, can I be your friend? I won’t let you down. He was still young and under nourished, which soon changed with his new surroundings.

Lord Bertie

I decided to rename him Bertie in remembrance of the great Bert Trautman OBE, who had just passed away. The famous ex Manchester City goalkeeper. An ex German paratrooper, prisoner of war, who went through many turbulent times after the war and went onto continue playing in the 1956 FA cup final with a broken neck.

Mine's a hot dog!

Through some horrendous upcoming times, Bertie was by my side. When I could not face going out, he still needed me. I had to sometimes force myself to go out to walk him daily and source his food. When at my worst and money was so tight, I would make daily lists of how to spend the pennies. First on the list was always pet food then the mortgage. I came further down the list. This looking back helped me through, bringing a little structure and organisation to my crumbling mentality.

Too cool to fool

He is wonderfully loyal and loving dog. We have been on some amazing adventures together and the long walks that I have done required a lot of training walks which has helped build my strength back up.

He is so friendly, I thank the Lord for him, such a blessing, wherever we go he is a real conversation starter, a real evangelical tool.  Many people from Rochdale are familiar with the sight of Bertie walking about. They see him first, then me. I joke with people that he is soft and more like “a box of chocolates” than he is a “ boxer dog!”

 He has been by side constantly and I take him everywhere I possibly can. I discuss many different aspects of Christianity with him, theology and practicality and he never seems to be bothered about it.

I go out prayer walking with him, or reading my Bible as we walk, he has really been a blessing.  A wonderful Christian man by the name of Peter Horrobin, a fine lecturer of Christian teaching, the author of many books, also wrote “The Parables of Harris”, a much recommended read for Christian dog owners, understanding the relationship between God and man, man and dog.

But they don't have hot dogs!

I found some paperwork for him and much to my surprise, he is older than I thought. It says his chip was implanted Aug 2009 and date of birth approximately Aug 2008, which means that he is 9 or 63 in dog years. This means I may have to take things a little easier with him when dragging him out for training walks. He normally gives up after about 15 miles and I have to carry him.  There is nothing wrong with his hearing though, he can hear a biscuit packet rustle from 500 paces. He sleeps close by at the base of my bed, and I look forward to us meeting more people on our journeys together.

Come on guys, I can see the tower!