Ian Duff, 55, outside Waitrose, Bath

Bath Big Issue Issue vendor Ian Duff pays a touching tribute to his canine companion Boycie, who died on Christmas Day

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I’ve been back selling The Big Issue on a new pitch for two and a half months. I left in July last year to get back to being a chef and working indoors. But it didn’t work out.

It’s been a tough time. Christmas was coming up and sales were down on last year. So that was a bit of a struggle, as previous years have been a lot better. But Boycie and I were still out there every day. And then it got to Christmas Eve, and he decided that he’d had enough. He was put to sleep on Christmas Day. That really was the hardest thing.

Boycie was a pointer springer, even though everyone thought he was a labrador, and he was 16, which was definitely a good age for a dog his size. He was my world. He was like a son. He was the reason people came to buy the magazine on my pitch, they didn’t come for me. He sold the magazine out in all weathers with me for 13 years and he was long overdue a rest.

The reason I gave up The Big Issue during the summer was to try and make him retire. I said when I moved on in July that I didn’t think he would last another winter. But because the job didn’t work out, that didn’t happen. But he was really happy to be back out selling every day.

Big Issue vendor Ian Duff and Boycie
Boycie had been beside Big Issue vendor Ian Duff’s side for years. Image: Exposure Photo Agency

I think he enjoyed these last couple of months, there was lots of fussing over him and stuff like that, rather than being locked in a flat on his own. So I’m quite happy that I came back.  He was just not just my world too. Everyone loved him and I mean everyone. The whole of Bath.

I’ve had so many people tweeting me and coming up to me over the last two days since I’ve been back. They’ve been coming up and saying sorry, and people have been walking away crying. It’s been quite emotional in the last two days. I’d just like to thank all of my customers for this support at this difficult time, they’ve been just fantastic. I can’t thank them enough.

Having Boycie’s company was so important to me. I would love to get another dog now that he has gone. But unfortunately the cost of dogs at the moment is so astronomical. I can’t get a rescue dog because I live in a first-floor flat now and they want you to have a garden. But if a dog came along then I would want something similar to Boycie. Like a gun dog or a labrador. They are the sort of dogs I feel comfortable with. If one came along I would love to give them a house.

Rest in peace Boycie.

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Waitrose, Northgate Street, Bath, UK