IT'S a good time, of year, now that the excitement and the dust have settled, to look back.

It’s the right time to reflect on things that have happened.

I like to sit quietly for a bit and think about those that have left us, not just this last wee while, but also in days long gone. Memories creep back into your head.

Dogs running flat out along a beach or through the woods when they were fit and able. Cats entering the house as kittens, watching their first tentative attempts to climb the curtains. A child learning to walk by grasping, with tiny hands, the hair of a giant German Shepherd, who stood like a lamb.

The brain is a wonderful thing and it can allow you, when in the right frame of mind, to recall memories you thought had long since disappeared.

Sometimes it is just an expression on an old pet’s face. It may be a situation that brought a laugh or a tear. Always, they end up making me smile, even when they are a little sad. Many times I have felt I could just reach out a hand and pat again an old head or stroke an ear. And that is the wonderful thing about pets. Oh I know they don’t live as long as we do.

I understand that they cause heartache and upset when they go. But the up side is that they remain with us forever. Think about it. Go back in time.

What was the name of your first pet as a child? What was he or she like? I bet they just spring back into your mind as if it was yesterday. How comforting to know that they still walk beside us, even after all that has passed since they went.

Now take a slow meander through the years. Up they pop, grinning at you, head cocked to the side, as real in your head as if they were standing directly in front of you. Of course, there are very special ones.

We all have our favourites, even if we like to hide that fact from the rest. Often, a pet that helped you through a difficult period in your life will flit back again to provide comfort. For me, an mongrel that lived with me through my bachelor days and died just before my children were born will always be there. She knew me inside and out, accompanied me on calls at night, and ensured that I never felt lonely, no matter what.

But this is also a great time to draw a line under the past and look forward. A super time to look to the future with optimism, even when times are so strange.

New puppies are tumbling around. Kittens keep playing and rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and the rest keep providing us with companionship and pleasure. We shouldn’t forget that‘s what it is all about. We need to enjoy the time we have with them to the full.

When it is so hard just now to anything at all, the one thing we can do is make memories for tomorrow.