Do we get a dog? Lou's story....
So our story about getting a dog will probably be familiar……
Me: ‘Shall we get a dog?’
Alan (the husband): ‘No, too much commitment’
Me: ‘Please can we get a dog?’
Alan: ‘No, what about holidays, what will we do with it then?’
Me: ‘I really want a dog, please can we get one?’
Alan: ‘No, we will always be racing around to get back and worrying about it.'
Me: ‘Can we have a baby?’
Alan: ‘No, you can have a dog!’
And so it begins……. And then what breed do we get??
Well to be fair this was very simple for us. I got my way with getting a dog so it was Alan’s turn to choose the breed and there was only one dog he ever wanted……the marmite dog, a Staffordshire Bull terroir. Why do I call this breed a marmite dog, because they totally split opinions? People either love them, or hate them. I will explain how much they hate them, they will cross the road to get away from you. But that was what Al had grown up with, and the only dog he ever wanted, so that’s what we got. Grace became our first baby in 2008.
Al’s first Staffie ‘Ferdie’ lived until the amazing age of 18! He has lots of stories that include Ferdie and their adventures, but one resonates with me and I will share. Al’s father was a textiles agent and so pinking shears (scissors that make the triangular pattern) were a tool that was often left lying around the house. What else could be nicer that giving yourself and your pup patterned ears at 3 years old? And that’s what happened, poor old Ferdie went first and Alan chopped a significant piece of ear off the poor pooch. Did he bark? No. Did he growl? No. Did he whimper or cry? No. Did he turn on his mutilator? No. So Al thought all must be ok and chopped a slightly smaller piece of his own ear off using the pinking shears. Did it hurt? Yes. Was there blood? Yes, lots! Did he scream? Yes of course!!! And this is an example of why this breed is called the ‘Nanny Dog’.
So I digress. Grace (our Staffie) was a rescue dog and our first big responsibility and we adored her. So loyal, so loving, so good. She wasn’t interested in other dogs or people. She loved us, a stick and a tennis ball and was totally content. She did change a lot of the ‘haters’ and turned them into Staffie lovers.
Our family grew and grew and she was a part of it each step of the way. She was the reason I had to get up and out on the first days of becoming a new mummy first to Baxter, then Monty and Tabby. She was the reason why my children grew up spending so much time on the Green and in various parks and the reason now they are older that we walk everywhere and spend so much time outside. Indoors and outdoors they played with Grace, they rode her, they pulled her ears, they yanked her tail, fell over her and slept on the sofa with her. She loved them and was their Nanny.
Sadly, last Christmas we lost her at the fabulous age of 15. She left a massive gap. The children were distraught and the whole structure of our daily life changed. We left it only 5 weeks before all was too much and we started to look for a puppy. We could never replace Grace so for us it was going to be a totally different breed and this time it was my choice! Baxter and I are both asthmatic and so we decided it was better for us to have a hypo allergenic dog. We researched and look and then one day in Richmond Park a funny little wet black thing came bounding up to us. We asked the owner what the breed was and when she replied ‘a Snoodle’ our minds where made up! A Snoodle it was.
We went to get one…………but………came back with two!!! Oh my days, they were so cute and oh my days it was just a joy to watch them together and snuggling each other. Ernie and Stanley settled in perfectly. Yes, everyone asked us.....’why on earth did you get two?’ and we just looked at them both having each other for company and knew it was the right decision.
Has it been easy…..No!! How was I meant to know that we were going to enter a pandemic and I was going to left at home in the kitchen day after day home schooling 3 children, running a business and training two puppies!!! Every time a pencil or rubber got dropped (or thrown in frustration!!) did it get chewed and eaten, of course it did!!
But did they also give us structure….totally. Those two bundle’s of black fluff were the reason we got out each day for our long daily walk at 3pm at the end of home-schooling. And as restrictions lifted and we could leave the house more often a morning walk replaced Joe Wicks and was the perfect start to the day ahead.
After 6 months of ups and downs the children have now returned to school, the puppies are enjoying the change in routine, the morning school run and meeting all the new puppies that have joined the gang since lock down began. My eldest has taken sometime to settle back into school life since the return to school. But what better way for us to have a chance to chat and reflect on the day ahead and distract him slightly than a morning walk. You wouldn’t ever ever get up at 6am in the black and go out in the drizzle for a walk if you didn’t have a dog. And that’s why I love having a dog, it gives a walk purpose and an excuse to get up and out and that’s what I missed for those short weeks after we lost Grace. It’s much harder to get the children off the sofa on a Sunday afternoon just for a walk, but a dog walk has a reason….. the pups must be walked!
The puppies like Grace are totally part of our family. Holidays are always planned around them. Unfortunately, they couldn’t use their passports this year to travel to France or Switzerland for their first trip to the continent as Grace had in previous years. But they did come with us to Cornwall in Heidi T3 camper van and yes we did all spend the night in her on route down in beautiful Devon. 5 humans and two pups in a 4 berth camper! That’s how we like it…. all together and all cosy!
Ever so sadly since I first wrote this blog, we lost Ernie in November to a short but very aggressive leukemia. Left totally heartbroken, it has taken me a little time to share this story.
This blog is in memory of him.
Ernie Prescott Brann 27th October 2019 – 11th November 2020