A Knight’s Tale (74: If You Know This Dog, Please Return Him To His Owner)

There was just one newsagent in Soho who offered home deliveries. The shop was managed by the father of Simon who jumped through the skylight featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/17/a-knights-tale-66-horse-and-dolphin-yard/

Simon’s Dad later admitted that he had only agreed to deliver our papers because he had thought Jessica was my daughter. I wasn’t sure whether to be pleased about that or not. When the previous deliverer, who was an adult man, gave up the job Michael was given it. This was a real bonus for my son because he was paid as much as the man – namely £10 per week, which was rather a lot in 1975.

One morning Michael had returned from his paper round with a mongrel dog of uncertain age.  Naturally he wished to keep him.  It seemed to me that it was unreasonable to keep a dog in a tiny first floor flat in the middle of Chinatown.  I was, however, outnumbered by two to one.  Here was I, doing my best to have a quiet uninterrupted bath, and I had both Jessica and Michael in tears pleading with me for my agreement.  Feeling a heel (not one of those in the bath), I stuck to my guns for a while, but eventually reached the following compromise:  Michael was instructed to take the dog back where he found him and to attach a note to his collar, and if an owner couldn’t be traced we would keep him.  Silly me, I didn’t tell the boy what the note should say.  The note, which Jessica kept for the rest of her life, read: ‘If you know this dog, please return him to his owner.’  This was followed by our telephone number.  Michael much later confessed that he had not left Piper at all, but simply brought him back home saying he wouldn’t stop following him.  The dog was well cared for and had clearly been loved.  I often wondered whether something had happened to his original owner, and, if not, what the loss meant to him or her.

Where did he get his name from?  Well, he had been found on a paper round, so what better than the Cockney version of paper?  Piper he was.  Piper was a wanderer, well used to negotiating West End traffic.  He always used zebra crossings.  Off he would go walkabout, on his solitary expeditions, safely trotting across the striped paths at which all the cars had to stop.  One day we had a telephone call (yes, a telephone on a landline, as was usual in those days) from the police.  He had turned up in Hyde Park.  Would we come and collect him?  We explained that he knew his own way home and could safely negotiate the traffic.

After we moved to Gracedale Road in Furzedown Piper continued his wanderings, although at this time only when he could escape.  He was by now very old, deaf and blind.  One night we received a call from someone who told us that he had been run over on a zebra crossing.  Michael and I collected the body and buried him in the garden.  A sad end, indeed, but Piper had enjoyed a long and healthy life and perhaps would have chosen this way to go.

He is, of course, Michael’s companion featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/29/a-knights-tale-72-upstaged/


  1. The focus on Piper is filled with affection despite your initial attempts to ‘block’ him joining the family. I tried that once with a German Shepherd – not the kind of dog we were looking for at the time – yet wept copiously at the end of his long life with us. The first time our eldest granddaughter saw a Gemsbok she called it Piper. Asked why, she cheerfully announced that its horns reminded her of her uncle’s bagpipes 🙂

  2. Oh, how sad.

    Thirty years ago, The local policeman asked us if we’d mind fostering a stray for a short while, a Jack Russell. Unfortunately, she was a wanderer and took our Labrador with her. The dog’s owners were never found and we ended up keeping her. We tried hard not to allow her outside unaccompanied, but with children in and out and leaving doors open it was often difficult.

    One day Sandy the Labrador came home without her little companion, a phone call to the police informed us that she had been run over and killed on the Leeds/Otley Road, the main road around the village,

  3. It is strange that dogs, much like people, tend to leave this world in a manner that is typical of them. My brother in law died when the semi he was driving went over the side of a canyon. It was shocking and tragic, but I could just imagine my huge, rugged, affectionate brother-in-law roaring into Heaven behind the wheel of his semi, leaping out with a bellowing “I am here” and embracing one and all in his trademark bear hug. My father, on the other hand, spent four years suffering from cancer, and a month in hospital. He laid back and passed peacefully after giving his nurse a gentle smile and a quiet ” I am done”. She thought he meant his tea and toast, but he was indeed done.?

  4. Aw. 🙁 <3 A sad end in this tale of a wonderful tail-wagger. Aw, Piper! Derrick, I'm so glad your family loved Piper and let him be himself. 🙂
    The photo of Michael and Piper bring the joy-tears. Love radiates from that photo! 🙂

  5. Another wonderful story. I am consistently impressed that you remember them all. I imagine it has been quite a journey for you, remembering all these things, one story at a time. Have you remembered things you had previously forgotten, while you’re in the middle of recounting something?

    1. There are lots of stories fixed in the memory – some are prompted by others, and I’m sure have been brought to the surface, otherwise forgotten. As I’m sure you, know we have all kinds of triggers -some of which are actually photographs. Thanks very much, Crystal

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