MANGY Dog lowered himself gently to the floor, rolled on to one side and crooked a front paw into the air. It was a clear signal that he wanted me to make a fuss of him.
I squatted down and tickled him gently in front of his left ear, but he raised a paw and pushed my hand down towards his chest. We repeated the process again, and I gave in and rubbed his chest. It was clearly what Mangy Dog wanted.
I continued for a moment, then stood up, at which point Mangy Dog found something extremely interesting in his fur down near his tail and turned his attentions to that instead. I went off and found somewhere to wash my hands.
Mangy Dog is a resident of the Portuguese town of Olhos de Agua, just a few miles from the full-on, party town resort of Albufeira, where we thought we were staying but, it turned out, we weren't.
He seems to live somewhere near the beach, where the fishermen pull their boats up on to the fine, golden sand in the evening and sell their catch of sardines to the locals straight from the boat.
You can also find them haggling over squid or octopus, stretched out like a grey dishcloth between their hands but probably quite delicious lightly fried in a garlic sauce.
Mangy Dog has a collar, which indicates that he belongs to someone, but he turns up on his own, all over the place. One afternoon we were waiting for the bus to Villamoura in the pounding afternoon sun in the higher part of the town when Mangy Dog turned up next to us at the bus stop. "All right, Mangy Dog?" I asked. He just looked at me, then found something to gnaw at on his back leg.
I hadn't touched him this time, but I still felt as if I really ought to go and wash my hands somewhere.
We had booked a last minute trip to the Algarve, never having been there before and not too sure of the geography of the place.
It turned out to have been a very good idea indeed.
The hotel complex in which we stayed had an Albufeira postal address, so we assumed that was where we were.
Having arrived in pitch darkness by shuttle bus, we were none the wiser until the following morning.
Then, we set off to walk into the town centre. After about 20 minutes strolling down the main road we twigged that something might be amiss, so we asked at the tourist information office. Yes, said the not-fantastically-helpful lady behind the desk, we were going the right way for Albufeira.
However, it would take at least an hour to walk there, and she wouldn't recommend it. There were buses.
Where was the beach, we asked, and she pointed rather vaguely across the road without looking, towards the place where we eventually found Mangy Dog.
We also found No-Tail Cat, and a whole lot of other cats who seem to live rough around the place. The clue to No-Tail Cat's distinguishing feature is in his name. He is stick-thin, ginger, and is completely lacking in the tail department. Whether this is through accident or design it is hard to tell.
He purrs a lot, and spends most of his time curled up in the doorway of a gift shop in which they sell Sir Cliff Richard Red Wine, produced at the great man's vineyard nearby.
There is a life-size cut-out of Sir Cliff Richard in one corner of the shop. It is strangely unsettling.
But in case you think Olhos de Agua is a pounding hot place full of mangy dogs, stray cats and life-size cut-outs of Sir Cliff Richard, it isn't. It's much more than that.
It's a lovely place, and Mrs H and I would recommend it very highly.
Its neighbours Albufeira and Villamoura are a bit too British in places to actually fit the bill for a foreign holiday, and while in Olhos de Agua you can watch the football on Sky Sports in any number of bars, it won't take you long to get off the beaten track and into somewhere much quieter.
We clambered over the cliff paths to find coves and caves with barely a footprint in the sand leading to or from, and stopped to let an unhurried lizard walk slowly across our path before easing himself up the thin stem of a nearby shrub.
We drank cold beer on the wooden terrace of a beach bar and took in the full moon, pausing only to greet Mangy Dog as he passed by, heading who knows where. "All right Mangy Dog?" we said, but he had found something unspeakable tossed over the side of the sardine boat and was busy rolling in it.
We spent hours people-watching, but just when we thought we had got some of our fellow guests weighed up, they surprised us.
Take the Glums for example, a couple of about our age or just a little older. They barely spoke to each other for the first couple of days and never cracked a smile, hence the name we gave them.
But by the end of the week they were relaxed and laughing, chatting away like anything.
There must be something about the Algarve that just makes you relax, even if it takes a couple of days to get right into the swing of things.
The weather was glorious, with barely a cloud in the sky, and the beer was cold and refreshing.
If you're looking for a holiday destination, look no further than Olhos de Agua.
Give Mangy Dog a scratch for me, and make sure you wash your hands afterwards.