My Mum and Dad got Tessa from the RSPCA when she was a puppy.
She once saved my Mum from some snakes as my Dad used to keep King Pythons and once when my Mum was upstairs she heard Tessa barking, came down and saw that Tessa was barking at the snakes which had escaped so she ran back upstairs, rang my Dad at work to tell him to come home and put the snakes back their aquarium.
Tessa is part collie, part retriever and we think the retriever part accounts for her love of swimming. My Mum and Dad took her on their honeymoon to Scotland and there are a load of photos of Tessa out in the middle of lochs. She does a very precise doggy paddle with controlled breathing and lots of puffing and blowing. When she is walking in the park she always makes a beeline for the boating lake.
The collie part of her means that when you are on a walk with your family she herds you together and doesn't like it when you walk apart. Once we were on a walk in the park and Tessa was racing about herding us together and a man watching said "That dog is great".
When my brother Jack was born they were a bit worried if she was going to be jealous so they did what it said in a book which said let the dog approach the baby in its own way. It goes without saying that this calls for a certain amount of trust in the dog.
They put the carrycot with tiny Jack in it in the middle of the floor, let Tessa in and stood back. My Mum said that Tessa went up to the carrycot, sniffed Jack and then licked his head and that it was very moving. The only time in her long life that Tessa has been aggressive is when a dog barked at the buggy with Jack in it and Tessa's hackles rose and she growled at the dog.
When Jack was a baby my Mum used to take him and Tessa out in all weathers. In the days when we still had proper snow she used to walk round the park through the thick snow and it took a lot of effort to push the buggy which acted like a snow plough with a load of snow piled at the front. He had a book called 'Pop up Puppies' and one of the first things he could pick out by name was a picture of a dog lead.
Tessa has a good sense of humour and when she was young used to start running at my Mum from a great distance getting faster and faster with her tongue lolling and a wicked glint in her eye and just at the last minute would swerve to avoid my Mum.
She has left her mark on posterity because she once ran down a whole stretch of pavement which had just been tarred and left her footprints in the tar which you can still see today. The trail of footprints get deeper as the tar she is running on is less set.
Now we are having hot summers we have to clip Tessa's fur as she gets too hot. Once it was a very hot day and Tessa's fur had not been clipped and my Mum had to buy a big bottle of Perrier water from the shop to sprinkle over her as she couldn't go any further.
We took her to 'Jayson's Poodle Parlour' run by two blond gentlemen whom we like because they've got some baby guinea pigs. However, Tessa did not like being confined to a little pen for four hours while they did it and apparently whined the whole time we were told by the pained looking Jayson when we came to collect her so we decided to do it ourselves.
She didn't like the sound of my Dad's hair clippers so now my Mum cuts her fur with some scissors while she is watching the telly in the evening. She does one side and then when Tessa moves to lie on her other side she does that side.
Now she is old she just likes walking to school and back and little boys take it in turn to hold the lead. When she is tied up outside Tescos she likes to eat the stuff people have dropped like bits of chocolate buns. I know dogs shouldn't eat chocolate but it makes no difference now as she has reached such a great age.