Behaviour & Training

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Part of the Family

Like many people, I am fortunate enough to have many fond memories from my childhood, something that is becoming far too many years ago to mention. And although the years between then and now continue to increase, so too does the rosy hue of the spectacles I am using to look back over those years. These memories cover a variety of random times and places, people and events, and there must be many more that have been forgotten, lost like tears in the rain. But taking an important place amongst these is the memories of the pets we owned as a family, which were mostly dogs.

The first dog I can remember my folks having was a black Cocker Spaniel called Sally. We had her from a very young age, just a few weeks old really, and I still remember the wooden dog basket my father made for her that sat to one side of the fireplace. Sally was a friendly little thing with loads of spirit, her only faults being the tendency towards taking the odd fit - which a blanket over the head often used to resolve, and being over protective of her food - she once bit my wrist when I tried to take her bone in fun. She was a loyal part of our family and I remember being absolutely heartbroken and going into school holding back the tears when she died.

Our next dog was a Jack Russell Terrier called Tess. She was a young stray that we found wandering some common rural land a few miles away. We took her to the nearest police station, who held onto her for a week or so, and when no-one turned up to claim her, we took her home. I wasn't present at the time, but apparently she flew into my sister's hands and began licking for England when she went to collect her. We only had Tess for a short time, less than a year I think, because sadly she was run over by a local farmer. We buried her in the garden and marked the spot with a little wooden cross. As it turned out, my folks' very first dog was actually a Jack Russel called Tess years before we had Sally.

Then along came Sam and Ben. Sam was another Jack Russel, whereas we never knew exactly what Ben was. He was a little bigger and a whole lot softer than Sam, and a little slower too. If you threw a ball down one end of the garden, Sam would bring it back while poor old Ben would still be looking for it frantically. Loyal dogs and great pals, both were with the family for many years until they passed away in old age.

These memories won't mean much to you, but to me they are priceless. And the point of sharing them with you? Why, mainly to show how having all of these dogs enriched my family's life both at the time, and also now in the way of fond memories. Looking back, the fact that they were part of our family makes the picture a whole lot fuller.

Submitted by Stephen Walton October 2011.