Lyra is a border collie bred from mixed lines — working, show, and sport — and born in January 2015.

She is named after the heroine of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy. So I was very happy when Philip Pullman, himself, tweeted to say that she is a beautiful dog 🙂

It’s true. She is beautiful. And happy. And fearful. It’s the latter trait that has dominated much of our relationship. My task is to figure out what lights her up — and to dim the switch on the things that scare her.

She’s worth the effort. In many ways, she is a perfect dog for me: keen to learn and in love with the natural world. If she mirrors my own flaws — over-stimulated at the drop of a hat, unsure of things, and a bit wary — then at least I’ve got the benefit of insight.

Her fear of specific sounds — which we can’t remove from her environment — is very hard on her. Her need for personal space makes life awkward. But I love her, and she has ignited my interest in her breed, in dog training, and in how we connect — emotionally and cognitively — with a being who is truly “other.”