Virginia Barton

29 June 2018: Woof woof!

29 June 2018


My father’s dog was of mixed lineage but predominately Alsatian. He was a growler and a biter called Ben. My father rescued him from a sackful of puppies at the garage where he had his car serviced and brought him home in his pocket, rather like Heathcliff.

No doubt due to his early life experiences and origin, Ben’s temper was unpredictable (also like Heathcliff). So when he bit me a few days before our wedding I shouldn’t have been surprised; specially because I was attempting to give him a pill that was to be placed under his huge, lolling pink tongue.

“You’re a nurse. You do it.”

Not surprisingly Ben bit me in revenge for this indignity.


My father adored the dog. I did not. I am not a doggie person unlike the vast majority of my compatriots whom, I suspect, actually prefer their dogs to their children.

However, I have recently come across two dogs likely to change my mind. I still don’t want to own one but look forward to knowing more of this pair. Bobtail is little, old, rather stout and furry – like self. Juno is only seven months, tall, elegant and will be forever slim. They have not yet met but I hope they will be friends because they belong to sisters.


On a recent visit to Glorious Devon there were no less than five dogs milling around at a family BBQ. My father would have been in his element. Despite a temperature of 30 degrees C they tore about in high excitement; under tables squabbling over scraps, paws ON tables, sending glasses, paper plates and napkins flying.

The most exuberant was a hound puppy named Laser, being “walked”. The volunteer does this for about six months. “They (the pup, not the walker) return to kennels when they have exhausted their welcome, and when their noses find their brains and that hereditary hunting instinct kicks in.” To quote a source in Horse and Hound, the must-have mag for horsey/doggie people.

It reminds me of “hefted” sheep: sheer instinctive knowledge bred in over hundreds of years.

The smallest and oldest of the five was a Dachshund called Pipkin which crept under my chair and went to sleep, sensibly in the shade.

A summer’s day to remember.


P.S.: I should have mentioned that at the BBQ a TV had been set up in the summer house where drinks were kept in comparative coolth. It was tuned in to Nizhny Novgorod where England played Panama. We who sat outside the summer house knew precisely how the game progressed as the whooping, whistling and cheering recurred – six times for us and once for them actually! The dogs reacted accordingly…



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