“Started Early, Took the Dog,” is the name of a book by Kate Atkinson. Little Girl gave me a copy for my birthday. It’s currently in the bestsellers’ list but I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Innumerable times during my practising life, I have been told that “the lesser half took the dog out for a morning walk and did not return.” I have known clients report the dog missing but rarely their absent spouse. The alleged dog thief usually resurfaces quickly anyway claiming ownership of the animal, if on no other basis than “possession is nine tenths of the law.”
They are never easy cases to resolve. Both parties declare affection for the pet that is way above anything they claim to have felt for the other. The courts don’t want to know and neither wishes to mediate, let alone consider buying a puppy substitute. Sadly such disputes can go unresolved and rarely to the satisfaction of both of the dog-lovers. Unfortunately, and many canine aficionados find it hard to comprehend, but our laws on contact, residence and parental responsibility do relate solely to children.
As for the book itself, it’s actually a well-written detective story set in modern day Leeds with flashbacks to the 1970’s (ah yes an era I recall well). It had little to do with divorce, of course, except for the title!