It was my first day on the new round. It was a glorious summer's morning as I set out with my heavy bag of letters.

I approached 'Gallifrey Cottage', on the edge of the village, with some trepidation. I had been warned that the occupant was a little...how shall we say...eccentric. And there she was, gardening beside the little front gate.

She stood as I approached. She was in her seventies I would guess, with a face like tanned leather. "So you're the new postie," she said, scrutinizing me as I handed over her mail.

"Yes. First day..." I was interrupted by a howling and baying from the side entry to the cottage.

"Do you like dogs? The old postie was terrified..."

I shrugged. "I've got a jack Russell at home."

She grabbed my arm. "Come and see."

Before I knew it I had been dragged around to the back garden where she kept her pack of assorted dogs who greeted me through the wire fence like a long lost friend with a cacophony of barks, yelps and howls.

"Quite a collection," I said, for something to say.

"My late husband's pride and joy," said the old lady rather sadly. "That and his Dr Who."

"Dr Who? The TV programme?"

She nodded. "Absolute fanatic. Even named his dogs after the show. See that collie over there? With the white muzzle. Getting on a bit now. Creaky joints. That's Hartnell. The poodle preening itself on the shade is Pertwee. Then there are the two manic boxers. They were from the same litter; Baker T and Baker C. The pale Afghan by the tree, the blond one is Davison. And that little scottie is McCoy."

"What about the greyhound staring at the gate?"

"Ah, Eccles. He stares at the gate from one day to the next. Anybody would think he couldn't wait to be off! Then there's Tennant, the brown labrador. He's always scratching around the roses. Seems obsessed."

I noticed a long-haired dog of indefinable pedigree staring up at me. His eyes were so wide apart they seemed hardly on the same face and he had a long snout pushed through the wire, which I tickled.

"That's the latest recruit, "said the old lady. "A rescue dog. He's taking some time to settle down but he'll be fine. His coat was in a terrible state when I first got him. All tangled and matted. That's why he's called Matt."

"Welcome aboard, Matt." I said. I straightened up. "How many are there?"

"Ten. There used to be eleven but we didn't have McGann for long."

"You're one missing. I only see nine here-"

Just at that moment the biggest, most ferocious looking dog I have ever seen appeared from behind the shed and padded slowly towards me, snarling and showing its teeth.

Even though there was a wire fence between us I stepped back in alarm.

The old lady turned to me. "A word of warning young man. Whatever you do, DON'T Pat Troughton!"

Woof !