Dog Days

By: Anne Corke

Sep 16 2011

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Category: Life stories


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Every day is a dog day for me. I have always had dogs in my life. In fact, if I were to write a book about my life (not likely!), I could organize it chapter by chapter according to which dog was with us at the time… the Nipper years, the Cassie years, and so on. My parents had dogs in England and I have heard stories of them, all terriers, since I was a child, stories of Airedales Rex and Danny, of Scotties, Lindy and Mickey, and others whose names I’ve forgotten. The first dog I remember was Nipper Tosh, a coal black Cocker Spaniel. The milkman found him wandering along a country road and delivered him to our door (along with the milk). He must have known that my Dad was a true dog lover who couldn’t possibly say no. And so Nipper came to live with us and was my companion until I was fourteen. He was my playmate through my childhood and early teens, an affectionate, willing accomplice in all my games, a constant friend, a great cuddler. After we lost Nipper to old age, Dad decided to search for a Kerry Blue terrier, a breed that had always intrigued him. He discovered a kennel near London which had puppies available and in February he brought home a little black curly puppy called Peg O’ My Heart. House training a puppy in the middle of winter in Ottawa was a challenge! We all fell in love with Peggy and with her breed, so much so that we had a succession of Kerries for over forty years. Peggy shared the ups and downs of those difficult teenage years, always there for me, loyal and loving. She loved to walk in the park with Dad in the evening, often  stopping for a while to watch a softball game. After we lost Peggy, my Dad and I hit the road to investigate a litter in Tottenham and came back with two puppies! My mother’s reaction.. “What have you done?”. But she was as smitten with the two sisters as we were, one named Peggy after Peg O’ My Heart, the other Susy. It was midsummer when they came home with us. We didn’t have a crate so a large cardboard box was their bed. Well, it didn’t take them long to learn how to push it over and escape. And so those June mornings saw me sitting on the patio with a mug of tea at 4:30 am while the pups played together in the yard. In 1983 Gary and I were married and I left Peggy and Susy behind. I missed them terribly but we usually saw them, and Mum and Dad, too, twice a week. We returned from one visit to find someone had broken into our house which prompted Gary to suggest that we needed a dog, too, not that I needed much convincing. In the spring, Cassie came to stay. Another Kerry Blue, she was a delightful bouncy black puppy. When she was just five months old, our son Jeremy was born. Though still a baby herself, she became his guardian the minute we brought him home. Wherever he was, she was there, too. She sat and played on the floor with him. She lay beside him on the couch. She walked beside his stroller when we went out. And each night, she lay in front of his bedroom door. Jeremy took his first steps holding on to her back as she walked with him. We were very lucky to have her with us for sixteen years, a good old age. Meanwhile back at home, Peggy and Susy were gone, and Mum and Dad, missing a dog around the house, acquired a six month old pup called Tristan. Tristan was an incredibly loving dog. He was particularly fond of Gary and followed him around whenever we visited. Tristan was a bit of a free spirit and we often remarked that perhaps his elevator didn’t go right to the top, but he was an absolute darling. We were shattered when we lost him at the young age of six to cancer. He died the same year as Mum and Dad and brother Peter, our “annus horribilis” indeed. Late that year, another Kerry pup, this time for Jeremy, arrived at our house. Jeremy christened him Dickens. As usual, we all fell for him, even Cassie. He was a breath of fresh air in a year we would rather have forgotten, a spark of light in the darkness. His playful antics made us laugh again. As a teenager, he went through a rebellious stage, but as he matured, he mellowed. In fact, he became a therapy dog (the first Kerry therapy dog in Canada) and visited Springdale nursing home every week for three years. Next came Lexie. Lexie had one ear that never set properly, so she always had a bit of a lop sided look. But she made up for that with attitude! She didn’t like to be ignored, making her point on one occasion by ripping off a strip of wallpaper, on another, by festooning the hallway with toilet paper. Another Kerry lost too young, she died at seven from lymphoma. After forty plus years of Kerries, we decided that, as we were getting older, we would downsize the next time we went puppy hunting. After much research, we decided on a Lakeland terrier, our little red boy, Danny, who with typical terrier attitude, quickly commandeered Gary’s recliner! We had such fun with Danny that just a year later, we adopted Sophie from the same breeder. Sophie is petite and feminine, and afraid of nothing! She is cheeky and bold, and utterly charming. So now we have Lakie races up and down the hall, and Lakie wrestling matches on the bed, and other assorted amusements to keep us on our toes. Needless to say, there is never a dull moment at our house. Danny and Sophie, like the dogs who went before, never fail to make us smile every day. I can’t imagine a life without dogs. As author Roger Caras said “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Copyright 2011 Anne Corke

3 comments on “Dog Days”

  1. Damn… you’re good Anne!

  2. Why thank you, Stacey!

  3. Thanks for sharing wonderful memories, I also have had a dog my entire life and would not ever want to live without one. I now have 2 Kerries and a Standard Poodle. I have had Kerries in my life over 20 years.
    Sharon Crockett

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