Saturday, 10 September 2016

Waking Ned

This is the old railway line, decommissioned in the 1960's, thanks to Dr Beeching.  A local farmer owns this stretch of it, dog walkers use it.

I used to walk along there four times a day.   That was when we first came to live in Parsonage Cottage.  We had three dogs.   Pip, Toby, and Ned.

This is Ned, he was a very large dog.   He belonged to my daughter and son-in-law, but as they were at work all day it fell to me to look after him.   Somehow that looking after him also meant that we fed him and he slept here, too...    He was a rescue dog, of course.    

He was deaf and hadn't had suitable training.   His deafness made life quite difficult for him.   Eventually I managed to teach him some hand signals, simple commands, which made life a little easier, although he still got very easily startled by things 'suddenly happening'.    He was a heavy sleeper and had to be gently woken.  That pesky deafness.

On one occasion we had to put all the dogs in kennels as we had to attend a family funeral at the other end of the country.   I had explained to them about his deafness and special needs, was assured that they would handle him carefully.  When we picked him up the young girl who fetched him delighted in telling me how she'd spooked him when she took him his breakfast and again later in the day.     He was never put into kennels again.  

He'd just follow his 'pack' - and given that they were led by Pip, a very intelligent and manipulative terrier, you can probably imagine that it was bedlam at times.

Pip was a little older and extremely bright.  She got me turned out of a dog class once, so that the trainer could show how well trained and intelligent she was.  She was the bright star of the class, as long as I wasn't with her.

I learned my lesson.   

We didn't return to class.

The third member of the pack was my little Toby.  Sweetest dog ever, though he thought he was a love machine when we first got him from the rescue kennels.   He was a kind-natured dog, loved travelling, wanted only to be with his humans.

Walks were - interesting.   

I found out the hard way, that I simply wasn't strong enough to hold all three on their leads when Pip got some mischief in her head.   

On one memorable occasion I had let them run free at a wild and deserted bit of seaside and then clipped their leads on to walk down the side of a quiet canal on the way back to the car.   I always chose my time carefully, normally we didn't meet anyone, but I was constantly scanning the horizon.

So was Pip.

She saw someone in the distance with a Yorkshire Terrier and set up such a hullabaloo, setting the two boys off.  She began to run towards her bit of mischief, so did the others.   I managed to hang on to the leads but lost my footing and was dragged along behind them.

Try picking yourself up with dignity after that!

The only consolation was that I hadn't let go of the leads.  I still had three dogs and we were quite a lot nearer the car.   I swear Pip laughed all the way home.

Then we moved to Parsonage Cottage.  Walks changed.  No need to bundle all the dogs into the car to find somewhere quiet to walk.  We are surrounded by quiet walks.

Just one problem.  To get to the nearest one, the old railway line, I have to walk about a hundred yards down a quiet lane.   Walking the three dogs together was simply not an option, even down a quiet lane.   

So I had to split them into two.  First I would walk Pip with Toby, that pairing worked because Toby was much slighter and more obedient.  

Then I would walk big Ned with Toby.  That pairing worked because Ned would follow Toby's lead and Toby wasn't being led astray by Pip.

Twice a day we'd perform this ritual, the rest of the time the dogs made do with our gardens and woodland.    Toby and I got very fit with all our walks.

That bit of old railway line became very familiar to me.

This week, I walked it with my daughter-in-law, Poppy.   It was fascinating to see it through her fresh eyes and to hear her enthusing over all the things which I used to find so exciting.

The acorns, berries, fungi, animal burrows, the birds.

It was truly wonderful.  She transformed something which has become so ordinary back into something magical and exciting.  I am very grateful to her.

(Dobson enjoyed her company, too.  Dobson is a single dog.  I know my limitations.)

We found a couple of ancient puffball mushrooms, it is difficult to tell from this snap but it is the size of a football.

We collected some acorns, simply because they are so pretty and plenty of blackberries.

Sloe gin to the left, Bramble/Blackberry Vodka to the right.  

This week has also seen our granddaughter start school, suddenly he brother seems so much older.    Now we have two for tea and fun.

Dobson loves his job as chief floor cleaner.   


  1. What a wonderful dog tale. You obviously love your animals. I love my children's grandchildren. We enjoy dogsitting and then give them back. Gin looks yummy.

  2. I sometimes complain about the muddy floors and it is definitely a bind turning out on a wet winter's night to walk the dog! We also like handing the grandchildren back to their parents.;)


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