They say dogs are Man’s best friend, but this girl is an unashamed dog lover too. I’ll be honest, this post started out as a personal post about how my rescue dogs actually rescued my sanity during a bad situation. However, as the background information was fuelled by more and more memories, I decided to save that idea for another post and let the flow of happy memories carry me along.
As a child growing up, and as I raised my own family, there were always dogs – all different, but all special in their own ways. There was Pip, the Sealyham Terrier who was frozen in a snow drift in the bad winter of 1962/63 but lived to tell the tail – pun intended!
Pip was followed by Rinty, a German Shepherd pup who stood guard over my father as he recovered from having all his teeth out just a week after Rinty came to live with us. The only problem with that was, nobody else could get near Dad – not even Mum, with tea, sympathy and painkillers.
Then there was Sooty, the sneaky Miniature Poodle who hid round the back of our house until the postman and paper boy had made their deliveries. Many a morning we came downstairs to see the postman sat on the step, waiting for us to let him out. When our usual paper boy went on holiday, he neglected to tell his replacement that, as soon as the Express and Star hit the doormat, he needed to charge down the path and vault the gate, or risk Sooty sinking his teeth into places teeth really should not be allowed!
And who could forget George, the Jack Russell cross whose ‘finest hour’ was spotting a donkey tethered to a fence outside a country pub in Shropshire, peacefully watching the world go by? Unfortunately, what the pub landlord saw going by the window was his donkey, trailing a fence panel as he left the building, closely followed by George in full on terrier mode. Needless to say, we were not allowed inside to quench our thirst, despite the heat of the day.
George was a hard act to follow, but Patch, my second husband’s Border Collie, was another real character. I met him about half way through his impressive 17 year life span, and I was privileged to cradle him in my arms as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Apart from that, my enduring memory of Patch was when, at the age of around 13, we took him for a run on Yelverton Common, on the edge of Dartmoor. It was a glorious day, and a number of families were enjoying picnics. One of the sheep was very interested in the food, and had wandered away from his mates, so Patch immediately went into full ‘One Man and His Dog’ mode. Crouching low, he gently but firmly herded the stray back to the flock. This from a dog who hadn’t been that close to a sheep since he left the farm where he was born at the age of 10 weeks!
I’ve been lucky enough to live with some fabulous canine characters, but little did I know the best was yet to come. Fast forward to 2014, and we were nicely settled in our lovely garden apartment on the Costa Blanca. However, one thing was missing as far as I was concerned – a canine companion.
My husband was adamant we were having no more dogs, as it tied us down, and we were both getting older, so there was a chance the dog would be left behind. Granted, he was 80 at the time, but at 62, I was confident I could see at least one more dog through to Rainbow Bridge Time before I joined the big reunion in the Great Dog Park in the Sky. As it turned out, I was right – there would be more than one more dog for me.
Paddy came to us on March 17, 2014. He was a Spanish dog, and he was going to have a Spanish name like Pedro, Pablo or Paco – until I noticed the date as I signed the paperwork. Then there were only two options, Paddy and Guinness. I didn’t even like Guinness, and I wasn’t having the neighbours thinking I was so obsessed with the black stuff I was shouting about it at all hours of the day and night.
My five years with Paddy taught me a lot about companionship, and the unconditional love dogs shower on their human guardians. Through him I learned about strength and courage, through his example. When he was killed defending me in March 2019, it felt like my own life was over too. And then along came Luna …
What can I say about Luna? She’s the first female dog I’ve ever lived with, and she’s also the most traumatised and feisty. She’s given me a lot of grey hairs, but she’s also given me love beyond measure. I’ve learned a lot from her, and hopefully she’s learned that she has found her forever home with me.
Over the years, my dogs have taught me a lot about love and life. They’ve given me so much more than they will ever know, and I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. This article is dedicated to all dogs, everywhere, with love and blessings.