Post 146. A Dog’s Life

Cavwelies Windblossom with Madsprings (25th January 2008 to 15th August 2022), aka Greta.

I grew up with dogs. We started with Yorkshire Terriers: Brandy, Shandy and Candy. I can’t remember which, but one took exception to my dad sitting on the sofa (I’m guessing the last one) so we switched from terriers to a boxer, Elsa. Unfortunately, she was rather boisterous (are we surprised?) and had to go, after knocking my baby brothers over once too often. I guess, even though social workers were probably not as conscientious as now, the constant bruises meant either the dog went or my brothers did. I don’t remember being given a vote, life could have turned out very different for us all! After that my mum had Cavalier King Charles Spaniels all her life.

When I first left home, I followed the time-honoured route of getting cats. One day, visiting friends, we went for a walk past a farm. There was a litter of tiny puppies, only five weeks old, but we were told they’d be drowned if they stayed as no-one had time to look after them. Mum was the farm dog and dad a passing pack of beagles.

Well, what would you do? Fudge came home with me and was great company. The cats weren’t given a vote. They lived upstairs for a few weeks until they accepted that Fudge was here to stay. OK, she did chew the chair arms when she was bored and was an escape artist, but we all loved her. At some stage in her life JD came along and she’d walk to heel off lead between us. You’ve seen her in Blog Post 104 dated 16th September 2020, peeping out of my Saab. Bring back Saabs! (I’m told the Polestar resembles them, maybe when I’m looking for my next car I’ll try one).

Fudge came to an untimely death and we didn’t know what to get next, but we knew a dogless family was not for us. JD and I repaired to the local hostelry with the Observer Book of Dogs and went through it. A knee-high relatively hairy red and white dog would suit us perfectly.

And here I present: the Welsh Springer Spaniel! Long haired rather than rough coated as Fudge had been but that’s acceptable. The next action, finding one. They are a minority breed, so very few around even at the best of times. We managed to find a 13-month-old, Gwyneth, in Cornwall, bought as a show dog but playing havoc with the English Setters there.

The first thing we had to do was build an outdoor kennel and run, as she’s never been inside a house. The drive home was interesting: whereas Fudge would howl every time we stopped, just in case we were thinking of getting out and leaving her, Gwyn was so quiet we worried whether she was still alive in the back, so we were constantly getting out and checking on her.

Into the house and bliss! A carpet! She obviously thought she had died and gone to heaven.

Time passed. We found our second Welshie, Molly, to keep her company. In the next few years, they both had litters but we never kept a pup, it was never the right time. I remember the first litter being born: my mum was there as she was an expert, being both a nurse and a deliverer of her own litters of puppies. I told her she didn’t know what she was doing, how could they ALL be dog puppies? Gwyn had seven pups, all dogs.

Our third Welshie was Sunny, grand-daughter of Gwyneth. Our fourth was Rufus. I can’t remember why I decided to have a dog after all that time. Sunny didn’t have a litter until it was too late. The Kennel Club will only register pups if the mum is less than eight years old. Sunny, having shown no interest in being a mum, decided that Rufus would be a good dad. She had a litter at eight years and three months.

One day we had a phone call from a lady living not too far away. Her Welshie Tasha had just had a litter, was I interested in seeing them, as Tasha was one of Gwyneth’s grand-daughters. Well of course I was. Hence, Greta came into our lives.

I took her to gundog training for a change, having trained the others up in obedience and agility. We achieved a Merit in Grade One Beginner Hunting Retriever Field Test.

We were with Labradors: they all leapt into the lake to retrieve something. Greta followed them but then realised she didn’t know how to swim. As she’d gone into the lake off a pontoon, she couldn’t get out until I bent down and dragged her out by her collar. She never went near the sea or a lake again. We decided that maybe gundog training wasn’t for us.

Adie came along in 2014. She learnt from Greta that swimming was not for the likes of them, despite Welshies having an undercoat to keep them (relatively) dry and warm. All our others loved swimming.

Last year, after the long hot summer, Greta just lay down one day and didn’t move. Her ashes will be scattered this summer over the graveyard where the others are buried.

She’s the last descendant of Gwyneth and the longest-lived, even though she was an accident: her mum had had a previous litter and a son was kept from that litter. The lady went into hospital and warned her husband not to let the two of them in the same room as Tasha was in season. He forgot. So, Greta was not only a great-grand-daughter of Gwyneth but also a great-great-grand-daughter.

Will we get another Welshie? I’m not sure. Ask me again next year. We had hoped that Grace, from Adie’s litter, might have pups, but her eyesight is deemed unacceptable by the Kennel Club so she’ll not be bred from.

No apologies for the number of photos in this post, it’s my memorial to Greta, from a puppy throughout the years to last summer. Teasing Sunny, play-fighting with Rufus, gundog training with me, trying to catch a squirrel, lots with Adie and of course Polly. I’d forgotten how much time she and Polly spent together.

I’m sorry if you’re not a dog lover and you’ve waded through all of this expecting a cocktail or two. You had plenty last time to keep you going!

I’m not sure if you read the comments posted on this site. I had rather a disturbing one on my last post. I know I use food past its sell by date (see any number of past Blog Posts) but there’s no way I’d let JD put toilet brushes on our Christmas cake, as suggested by a close friend. Not even unused ones. They were definitely model trees, honest. (A good way to avoid throwing dinner parties though?).

That’s it for today, I’ve a more cheerful and informative Post in preparation for next time. Polish up your thinking caps.