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September 28, 2017

Neo has been such a prevalent part of Berthon these past 14 years (yes, he is the ripe old age of 98+) knowing the layout of the sheds and offices better than some of us, wandering up and down staircases ahead of me because getting to my office was always a race he had to win and as I ambled along diverted by various projects he’d  snatch an opportunity to visit all & sunder before swaggering ahead often taking a wrong turn and losing me in his haste; nevertheless he always made it clear when he later arrived at my office with a pronounced nudge in my lower back which in his early years used to make me jump in fright!

I have reliably been told by many of you that whilst I was away he’d sombrely pass through sheds and offices, having an obligatory slurp and cuddle with whomsoever was receptive and cast his eyes up as if to ask where I was, then moving on across the yard resignedly seating himself outside my office inpatient almost depressive anticipation of my return.

However, come rain or shine he would never fail to be at the corner of M shed in advance of the yard bell signalling a break and even before the sandwich van’s arrival (just how do dogs do that?) for his (not human food) treat from the operator; similarly, many a regular deliveryman would also have a doggie treat in anticipation of his Pavlovian presence as a parcel was delivered.

But like a doctor on his hospital “rounds“, Neo continued like clockwork to the yard wall where scraps may inadvertently be left behind at the end of a break… and it did not stop there as he moseyed on down each marina pier strutting onto fingers driven to a porthole to investigate an agreeable aroma making customers jump at the site of his huge nose and face protruding into their galley at precisely the right moment for a piece of sausage or bacon snatched off the skipper’s plate by the enchanted wife!

Sue would always ask Neo to follow her down to visit an owner on board when a difficult conversation was necessary to complete a deal; Neo’s attentive and query-some expression would melt even the hardest character, and often at the behest of the wife he was even invited on board to sit in the cockpit whilst discussions were ongoing! It was The boatyard dog batting for Berthon.

When I returned to Shipyard House from a boat show, regatta, board meeting in London or a vacation he was invariably whining at the gate as I exited my car or taxi, cannily knowing as only canines can that I had returned; then with many nudges complete and his nozzle cleaned by my trousers  he’d make an about turn to trot off on a predetermined route through the yard to announce with a twinkle in his eye, a wag of his tail and swagger in his prance that I was on site again.

Wretchedly his romp is now but a wobble as his back end strives to keep up with the front, but what a wonderful companion he has been to me and the family, customers, staff, employees, friends and acquaintances, whether here, on road trips in France, or quartering ahead of us in the forest as only wolf hounds know how! Sadly, the time has come for Neo to move on to another life. His presence (prescience?) will, however, live on when a page of the Berthon website fails to load.

Brian & family

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