Tuesday, 8 January 2008


Following on from Yesterday's Fun Monday, here's the prequel that should have been part of yesterday's post got a bit unwieldy!

As a family, we got our first dog when I was about 2 years old. Now, there's something you have to know first. My father was, and probably still is for all I know and, indeed, for all I care
(and there's another blog story in there that I must tell you one day), the sort of man for whom big was always best so there were no little powder puff dogs for us. Oh no. We went straight in for one of the biggest dogs around. A Pyrrenean Mountain Dog. And there the sarcasm will end because we're getting serious now.

Quella was adorable and adored. Quella was a brood bitch and had been involved in an accident of some sort. I'm hazy on the details but I think it involved a barbed wire fence. She lost the litter of puppies she was carrying and also had to be neutered (now ain't that a shame). As she was no longer of any use to the breeder, she came to live with us. I loved that dog. She put up with all the things that no dog with a toddler around should have had to put up with and, for such a large dog, the situation could have been disastrous but she took it all in good grace and started me on the road of my love for dogs.

My mother in particular loved that dog and when my parents divorced, I'm sure my father took great pleasure in making sure he got custody of Quella. My mother was heart-broken.

As the family went it's two separate ways, I had two dog families. One bonus I guess. My mum gave a home to Sheeva, a labrador/alsation cross, apparently, and she was the main feature of my life as I grew up. I loved that dog too and she also put up with more than her fair share of teenage tantrums but she was always there at the end of my bed offering the sort of comfort that only dogs can.

My father, meanwhile, carried on his large tradition with a St Bernard. Complete with brandy barrel. There is something very adorable about a dog with few brain cells. But when that dog is a St Bernard, you are in for a whole bunch of trouble! He blundered and blustered his way through his life and left me with some very happy memories!

The problem with large, pedigree dogs is that they have a short life span. So it seemed that in next to no time, Sir Jasper arrived. Sir Jasper was a Great Dane. It was about this time that the relationship between my father and I started to fall apart so I have few memories of Jasper, other than that he had a tail that could cut anything clean in two with one sweep.

Back to my Mum, Sheeva passed away quietly in her sleep and I was devastated. The one constant of my teenage years was no longer with me. We waited several months and then headed off to our nearet rescue and came home with Ben, a Border Collie. He was a 12 week old puppy when he came to us and lived to a ripe old age of 17. He was a dog on his own that one. He could scale 8 foot walls and disappear for hours on end...and we still have no idea of where he went to but he always came home. I shudder to think of that now. We were so blase about it.

And there ended my childhood and adolescence with dogs. I moved away from home and in my busy life I had no time, nor the stability, to offer a dog a home. They were barren years.

Then I moved in with Himself. And Himself had Cisco. The Queen Mum as she was known to our friends! A mutt of so many crosses that it was impossible to pinpoint any single one of them. Please excuse the terrible picture but it's been scanned in.

Cisco and Himself were inseperable. He rescued her from a squat and they spent every living and breathing moment together. She would, from time to time, acquiese to letting me look after her but made it abundantly clear that she was only biding time until Himself came home. She too lived to the ripe old age of 17 but her last year was painful. We were on holiday in Cornwall and she fell 5ft off a wall and we believe, although we can never be certain, that she suffered some brain damage as a result. She became a little senile and incontinent and started to have fits. To my lasting shame I can see now that we let her go on for too long. We kept thinking we could see an improvement but, of course, we were kidding ourselves. The day she passed to the Bridge will stay with me forever. The vet came to us at home and we were all in floods of tears. Himself called all our friends to tell them the news and I don't think we have ever grieved so much for anyone - human or canine.

That evening there was a tentative knock at the door. Friends had driven 5o miles to see us. Fearing we wouldn't want company they didn't want to stay, they just wanted to make sure Himself was OK. But we invited them in and they produced a bottle of whiskey and we all proceeded to get very very drunk. We spent the evening alternating between crying and fits of laughter at the memories we all had of her. A more fitting send off I could not imagine.

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