Affectionately nicknamed The Admiral, Buster the beagle was a popular figure on Britain’s waterways and further afield.
Now Alison Alderton has put in print the adventures afloat she and her husband shared with him across a dozen years of happy barging.
Boating with Buster follows Alison, her husband and Buster on their travels through England, Ireland and northern Europe as far north as Scandinavia – no mean feat in their small Dutch barge called Lily.
Alison promises humour, tragedy and mishaps a plenty in her tale of canines, cruisings and companionship through all life’s ups and downs – an unforgettable story, she says, focusing on the light that shines in the darkest moments of our lives: a dog’s love.
Amidst a crisis, Alison, of Rose Green, felt as though life wasn’t worth living, but getting her Beagle puppy changed everything.
“Buster was my first dog. People often told me he was special,” says Alison, “and they were right. Buster saved my life and gave me a reason to live.
“I believe his story deserves to be told and that somewhere there is a dog that could do the same for someone else.
“Many people heard about Buster the barge Beagle, but few know of his impact on my life.
“He gave me hope when it seemed as if there were none.
“This book is a tribute to Buster, our Dutch barge Lily and the beautiful inland waterways which provided solace in a troubled world and offered adventures extraordinaires.
“It’s been a complicated life! We had lost so many friends to ill health and cancer that we decided we weren’t going to wait for the big adventure in our own lives.
“ We decided to set out now while we were still fit and able, and we have now spent the last 12-13 years travelling.
“We bought a barge up in Nottingham and we went to live on it and we started to explore all the waterways.”
Buster became a familiar figure: “He was nicknamed The Admiral.
“The Inland Waterways Association people called him that. He could be quite offish in a typical beagle way. They are scent hounds. They follow their noses.
“They are known for being very stubborn and single-minded.
“If they are locked on to a scent, you can be screaming and shouting right next to them and they won’t notice you.
“When he used to sit on the boat, people would walk past and he would stick his noise in the air and smell the scent.
“He got called The Admiral because it always looked like he was in charge!
“The book is about our lives with him, intertwined all the way through with all the waterways we explored.”
Humour plays a key part in the tales that Alison relates.
“There were always funny stories associated with him. I started writing for the Waterways Magazine, and in some ways the book is the story behind those features.”
Sadly, Buster died three years ago.
“From England we went to Ireland and then right across northern Europe to Denmark. He saw us to Denmark and he passed away on board the boat in Denmark.
“He spent 12 years travelling with us. We had three years in Ireland and we also travelled through Holland and Germany. He was quite a character.
“He always took the boating in his stride. It wouldn’t matter how long the crossing or how rough it got, he was always the same.”
Alison and her husband have got a new puppy now, and when her husband retires next year, they will be on the boat full time…
Sales of the book will also be supporting The Beagle Welfare Charity.
The book has been published by Matador: www.troubador.co.uk.
It is available from W H Smiths and Waterstones. ISBN: 9781789014389: price £19.99.