A snowdrop promise

Three days ago, on Wednesday, it was the second anniversary of losing my faithful little friend Sophie, almost five weeks on from a stroke she suffered soon after New Year 2020. I’d nursed her almost 24/7 and promised her that when she was feeling better we would go to Lytham Hall to see the snowdrops but sadly it wasn’t to be. She closed her eyes to life and slipped quietly away on February 9th 2020 and I was heartbroken, sad too that she never got to see the snowdrops.
Sophie was buried in a sheltered corner of my garden and I made another promise, a silent one this time, that I would plant some snowdrops in her little patch just as soon as I could. Unfortunately most of that month was extremely wet so it was March when I finally got to Lytham Hall, but by then the snowdrops were almost over and there were none for sale in the small courtyard garden hub either.
Circumstances beyond everyone’s control meant that the Hall and its grounds were closed to the public for the early part of 2021 so I couldn’t do the snowdrop walk that year, but with things now finally getting back to some sort of normality I took myself, Snowy and Poppie to Lytham Hall on Wednesday to see if I could fulfill my silent promise.
After almost three weeks of what seemed like incessant rain and two named storms it was a lovely day – blue sky, sunshine, no wind and not too chilly, perfect for doing the snowdrop walk round the Lytham Hall grounds, however I’d not been there long when the sky clouded over and the sun disappeared. Fortunately it didn’t last too long and once the clouds cleared away again the rest of the day was glorious.
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Dotted around the grounds were several picture frames in strategic locations, placed in such a way that they could be used to frame a shot and get the best photo of a particular view. I hadn’t really bothered with them on my first visit three years ago as it was a weekend and there were too many people around but now mid week the place was quieter and I was able to utilise each frame without feeling rushed.
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Although an ‘official’ route round the grounds was marked out by discreet arrows I preferred to find my own way round and my wanderings took me to the Lily Pond, a small lake in the woodland. I’d been round there two years ago in search of a ruined boat house which could have been quite photogenic, only to find it was more ruined than I expected and seemed to be undergoing some restoration. Unfortunately the intervening two years don’t seem to have produced any work and the boat house now looks in a worse condition than before.

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Next was a walk round the fishing lake known as Curtains Pond, used and maintained by a private angling club. Thought to have been created in the 17th century when earth was excavated to build the high mound known as The Mount it was once used by the Clifton family as a water supply, and it’s reputed that John Talbot Clifton, who lived at the Hall in the late 19th and early 20th century, would often throw things in there in fits of temper. The Mount is the highest point in Lytham and once provided a viewing point to the sea and to the 3-mile gallop in the parkland where the Clifton family raced their horses.

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Separating the woodland from the formal garden and lawns is the Paradise Wall with several buttresses on the garden side. Dating back to the late 17th century it was originally known as the Monks Wall due to the fact that in the Middle Ages there was a Benedictine Priory on the site, but since the 18th century it’s been known as the Paradise Wall.

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The Dovecote was built in the mid 18th century and is now a Grade ll listed building in need of renovation. There are 850 nesting boxes built into the walls and these would have been accessible to the gamekeeper via a revolving ladder suspended from a gallows arm projecting from a central rotating post which in turn pivots on a pad stone. It’s a pity the building isn’t accessible to the public as I’d love to see this thing working.

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Just outside the rear courtyard was a display of garden ornaments and in the courtyard itself a rainbow of colourful flowering plants for sale. And in among them all I found just what I wanted – snowdrops. I didn’t think one pot would be enough so I bought three with plants which have yet to flower then went to get a coffee from the nearby cafe before setting off for home.
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With the sun still shining from a by now almost cloudless blue sky it was a very pleasant journey back and it was even nice enough to drive with the van window down. The snowdrops were planted in Sophie’s little patch of garden yesterday and when they finally come into flower I’ll know then that, even though it’s taken two years to do it, I’ve kept my silent promise to the little dog I loved so much.

Looking back – 2021

Another year has drawn to a close and it’s time for me to look back on some of the things which have featured in my life and on this blog over the last twelve months, though in some ways 2021 has been rather an uneventful year so this time I’m concentrating more on the places I’ve been to.
The beginning of January brought just enough snow to make things look pretty and my first walk of the year gave me the sighting of a heron at the hidden lake in the grounds of Smithills Hall and the llamas at the nearby open farm. More snow fell later in the month and during a walk through a local quarry and fields not far from home I was drenched from head to foot in a wave of slushy snow and water when a 4 x 4 driver deliberately drove at speed through a huge puddle at the side of the road. Only a mile from home I could quite easily have gone back to get changed but I decided to carry on and the climb up through the quarry and brisk walk through the fields stopped me from getting cold.
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Early February brought a couple more light overnight snow falls and the 9th was the first anniversary of losing sweet little Sophie so in her memory I took the dogs for a snowy walk round the Belmont area, a walk which Sophie had done with me several times over the years. In one of the fields I met a sheep with extremely curly horns and found that the Blue Lake was almost completely frozen over with ice and snow. The following day I took a walk round the Jumbles Reservoir and got some more lovely snowy photos.
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Early March saw me making two visits to a reservoir which, although fairly local, is in the middle of nowhere and too far to walk from home. The first visit failed however as the traffic and parking situation was a nightmare and after an hour and twenty minutes without ever getting out of the van I ended up right back where I’d started from, at my own front gate. The second visit was much more successful though and I had a lovely walk round the reservoir where I found much of the south side looking more open after the felling of quite a lot of trees. Also that month I made three visits to Manchester and on each occasion came back with a whole host of street art photos.
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Early April saw me seemingly being inundated with chocolate. On the spur of the moment Michael bought me two bars of white chocolate from the corner shop, his girlfriend sent me a lovely bunch of flowers and some chocolates and I won a pack of Cadbury’s creme eggs in an online Easter competition. Later that month I had a ridiculous conversation with Michael when he couldn’t think whether that particular day was Wednesday or Thursday and only a week later I had almost the same conversation with the boss’s son at work when he couldn’t remember if the day was Wednesday or Thursday. As well as local walks with the dogs I also made another two trips to Manchester and made a spring revisit to Corporation Park in Blackburn.
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Early May was blighted by a fair amount of cloud and rain so there were no trips out and local walks were kept to a minimum. Another couple of photography trips to Manchester were made and when the weather came nice later in the month I got some lovely colorful shots of different shrubs and trees in various gardens which I passed on one of my walks with Snowy and Poppie.

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The Manchester Flower Show was held in lovely weather during the first week of June and I made two trips to find and photograph the many floral displays and installations situated in various locations around the city centre. Also that month I discovered the delightful area of the Castlefield Basin where the Rochdale Canal and Bridgewater Canal meet and I was lucky enough to see the Castlefield Goslings who commute between the canal basin and the streets at the other side of Deansgate, taking their lives in their webbed feet by crossing the extremely busy main road. It beats me how they haven’t been squashed but traffic does seem to stop for them. 

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The highlight of July was my 10-day holiday in the Lake District, and though it started with a sore foot, a fault with the tent, a leaky loo and a swollen arm all four problems were soon resolved and with mainly good weather I went on to have a lovely time away. During the ten days I went to the delightful little village of Caldbeck, met up with blogging friend Jayne who took me on a lovely walk round Ravenglass, visited the Lake District wildlife Park and discovered several new-to-me places including Harrington harbour.

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August was the month when Michael and I twice went for a curry meal at a local pub/restaurant and each time there was something missing from our order. The first time the mango chutney was missing so was substituted with mint yogurt, then the second time there was no mango chutney, no mint yogurt and no rice so we ended up with chips instead. Luckily we both saw the funny side of it and assumed that the lack of some foods was caused by various disruptions in the supply chain at the time. During the bank holiday weekend I had a nice walk along a section of the Lancaster Canal at Hest Bank, a place I’d never been to before, and also visited Arnside and Jenny Brown’s Point near Silverdale, then the following day went to Morecambe.

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The middle Sunday of September was the start of my second 10-day Lake District holiday and though the first couple of days were grey and cloudy the weather came good and I was able to revisit some places I’d previously been to and explore others which I hadn’t, including Workington harbour, Bowness-on-Solway and Port Carlisle. I also walked by Bassenthwaite Lake and climbed Latrigg Fell the hard way (almost vertically) when the path ran out due to a large area of trees being felled, but it was worth the effort as the views from the top were fabulous. The highlight of the holiday though was without a doubt my visit to Ennerdale Water which offered fabulous views and gave me lots of great photos. The 25th of the month was Snowy’s first anniversary, a full year since she came to live in my little family at the age of 8 months.

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October was very wet for most of the month but a break in the weather late on saw me going down to North Wales for a 2-night mini camping break and to make a long overdue visit to Eileen, a special blogging friend. During the weekend I met Eileen’s new little dog Tilly, and visited Flint Castle, Rhuddlan Castle and the oddly-named Horton’s Nose nature reserve at the mouth of the River Clwyd.

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November for the most part was another rainy month when dog walking was kept to the local avenues or just the back garden if it was really bad but a couple of days of nice weather in the middle of the month gave me the opportunity to have a walk round Rivington Gardens to catch the remains of any autumn colours. Also that month I took the 25-minute train journey to Blackburn to see the Knife Angel, a 27ft tall sculpture made up of over 100,000 knives.
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Early December was cold but dry and a lovely sunny day saw me taking the dogs on a local walk round Smithills Hall and through nearby woodlands and fields, then the week before Christmas I made my last visit of the year to Manchester, a late afternoon/early evening one to photograph the light sculptures in the city centre. To round off the year, just four days ago I made an impromptu spur-of-the-moment short trip to North Wales, staying at a new-to-me camp site and also visiting Eileen again. I only got back home late afternoon yesterday so it will be a while before details and photos appear on here. 

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So there you have it, some of the highlights of my year. All that remains now is to welcome any recent new readers to my blog and thank everyone for visiting and leaving comments; if it wasn’t for my readers there wouldn’t be a blog, so I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year – have a good one!

Snowy’s anniversary

Today is Snowy’s first anniversary – exactly a year since she came to live in my little family at the age of 8 months. Timid and shy when she first arrived home, and very wary of everyone and everything, she slowly came out of her shell, growing in confidence and learning that the humans she met while we were out and about were friends, not enemies.
For the first few months she had the amusing, if sometimes exasperating, habit of collecting things and in spite of having several toys she would ‘find’ various things to take into her bed. Cardboard toilet roll tubes, Michael’s socks, my trainers and slippers, the tv remote, anything she thought was interesting would end up in there, but fortunately for my sanity that habit has gradually lessened and she rarely collects things now.

September 2020 – In the transporter just after arriving home

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November 2020 – Two months after arriving

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April 2021 – with Poppie at the gates of a local historic house

Snuggled up next to me on the bed

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In late June/early July Snowy experienced her first camping holiday with me and Poppie. Although during the first couple of days she did bark a few times at the alpacas in the next field she soon settled down into camping life and was no trouble at all on the site or in the tent, with her favourite place being up on top of the picnic table where she could see everything going on around us. We have just recently returned from our second camp at the same site and again she was really good, with not even a single bark at the alpacas this time.

June 2021 – Snowy’s first camp – watching the alpacas in the next field

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Early September 2021 – Playing in the back garden

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September 2021 – Second camp in Cumbria

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September 2021 – Getting curious about a sculpture in Silloth

I won’t deny that, compared to all my previous Jack Russells, Snowy hasn’t always been the easiest one to deal with and even now still presents me with a couple of challenges, her intense dislike of other dogs being one of them, but she’s still very young so there’s time for her to learn. Other than that she’s funny, affectionate, adorable and very cute, with the constantly waggy tail of a very happy little dog, so I’m looking forward to her being part of my little family for many more anniversary years to come.

Introducing Snowy

After months of constantly searching various sources, both locally and in other parts of the country, I finally found a new little dog to join my family. Losing Sophie in February hit me hard, especially as she had slowly been showing positive signs of recovering from her stroke, and though I’ve still had Poppie I’ve spent so many years with two dogs that things just weren’t the same with only one – I needed to get another little friend, and as much for Poppie as for myself.
Snowy was eight months old when she came to me a few weeks ago. Size-wise she is taller than Sophie was so is about the same size as Poppie, and though she isn’t actually a long-legged Jack Russell some of her photos do make her legs look quite long. Originally from a manic household of five kids, three dogs, and two adults who didn’t have enough time to devote to her, she was so timid and scared that she would jump at her own shadow and not having been socialised she would back away if anyone went near her. She was very quiet for the first couple of days after I got her but then slowly started coming out of her shell, even gaining the confidence to jump up onto my bed and settle down by my pillow.
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In the transport box the day I got her
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Two days later she found my bed
Snowy had been with me for a week when I introduced her to Poppie. A trial walk round the field at the end of the street went okay so I drove to the canal and took them both for a walk along there. On the whole Snowy was fine but she wasn’t keen on other dogs approaching her or people passing her, which was understandable when she hasn’t been socialised.
A check-up at the vet’s after three weeks showed that she was the right weight for her size and was 100% healthy, unfortunately as circumstances had interrupted her original injections they had to be started again but she was as good as gold in the surgery and never moved an inch when the actual injections were done. 
Over the few weeks Snowy has been with me her personality has changed a lot, and if I’d been hoping for a calm, quiet, gentle little dog like Sophie then I would have been very much disappointed. She’s turned into a typical young Jack Russell living life at a hundred miles an hour, and she’s as mad as a box of frogs. She’s also a collector of all things weird and wonderful and in spite of having several toys she will ‘find’ various things to take into her bed – her favourites are the cardboard tubes from toilet rolls and Michael’s socks and I have to check her bed twice a day to see what’s in there.
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I won’t deny that in some ways, and possibly because of her previous life, Snowy isn’t the easiest little dog to deal with, especially as her socialising issues need a lot of work. Although I didn’t initially want a dog with ‘problems’, in every other way she was just what I did want so there was no way I could have walked away once I’d first seen her. Sorting out her issues will take time but I’m in this for the long haul and I’ve no intention of giving up on her; she’s funny, affectionate, adorable and very cute, and I’m looking forward to her being part of my little family for many years to come.

Remembering Sophie

It was eleven years ago today that Sophie came into my life. I’d found her from a classified ad on the internet while searching for a companion for my other little dog Sugar and of all the Jack Russells advertised something kept drawing me back to her picture. It seemed I was the first person to ring and enquire about her; she lived in south Derbyshire and as I couldn’t drive at the time a good friend offered to take me down there to see her the following day.
When we pulled up outside the house Sophie was in the garden with Christina, her owner, and the minute I saw that little dog something grabbed me and I just knew I was bringing her home. The following day was Sophie’s birthday, she would be two years old, so it seemed that not only was I getting a new little friend and Sugar was getting a new companion but Sophie was also getting a new home for her birthday.
She curled up on the back seat of my friend’s car and slept all the way back, and from the minute we arrived home it was as if she had always been there. She settled in with Sugar straight away, often sharing the same bed, she liked running about and exploring while on our long walks and quickly grew to love our many camping adventures. She only ever barked briefly if someone came to the door, other than that she was very quiet, and she was the happiest, sweetest, gentlest, most good natured little dog I’ve ever known.
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Photos above : Top – Sophie’s 2nd birthday, 23-09-2009   Centre – Fleetwood beach, 04-10-2009   Bottom – Christmas Day 2009
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Photos above : Top – Swamped by a wave on a Norfolk beach, 03-06-2010   Centre – With the rosettes she won at a fun dog show, Oswestry 20-06-2010   Bottom – On Cemaes beach, Anglesey, 28-06-2010
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Photos above : Camping at an East Yorkshire site, May 2011   Centre – Paddling in the River Calder, June 2011   Bottom – Camping at Elvaston Steam Rally, July 2011
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Photos above : Top & centre – Looking abandoned outside a cafe near Abergele, North Wales, Easter 2012   Bottom – With Sugar on the Anglesey camp site, June 2012
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Photos above : Top – Looking very silly in a hoodie far too big for her, Willow Lakes camp site February 2013   Centre – With Sugar on the same site   Bottom – In the van and not happy to be going home, Anglesey June 2013
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Photos above : Top – The end of another holiday, Anglesey May 2014   Bottom – At Elvaston Steam Rally July 2014
Sophie had been with me for over five years when just before Christmas 2014 I sadly lost Sugar to kidney failure at the age of sixteen-and-a-half. I’d been aware of the outcome when she first became ill so not wanting Sophie to be on her own I searched the internet again and found Poppie – she lived in Grimsby and I collected her on the last day of October that year. Initially on the timid side she became a good friend to Sophie once Sugar was no longer with us and the two of them were often found sharing the same bed.
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Photos above : Top – With Poppie in the tent, Anglesey June 2015   Centre – At Elvaston Steam Rally July 2015   Bottom – On the camp site at California, Norfolk, September 2015
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Photos above : Top – Curled up with Poppie, Anglesey May 2016   Centre –  In the tent, Anglesey June 2016   Bottom two – Santa’s little elves, December 2016
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Photos above : Top – The deepest she ever went in water, at a local reservoir May 2017   Bottom – After a minor operation on a front leg, June 2017
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Photos above : Top – The end of an Anglesey camping trip, June 2018   Bottom – After a long local walk, July 2018
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Photos above : Top & centre – A walk in a local park, March 2019   Bottom – With Poppie on holiday in Cumbria, June 2019
I didn’t know it at the time but our Cumbrian holiday in June 2019 would be the last proper holiday Sophie would have. As many of you will remember from previous posts she suffered a stroke in early January this year; with medication and 24/7 care from me she improved slowly and I was hopeful that she would eventually recover but sadly it wasn’t to be and she drifted peacefully away after almost five weeks.
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Photos above : Top – Wrapped in a pilchard-stained towel after just being fed   2 – A silly way of sleeping   3 – The best way to keep her safe while I was out of the room   4 – In her bed at the side of mine   Bottom – In the back garden after a walk
Sophie’s passing left a huge hole in my heart, a hole which even now still hasn’t completely healed, and I still have unexpected moments of sadness when something triggers a particular memory of her. Tomorrow would have been her 13th birthday and though she is no longer here Poppie and I will cuddle up, remember the good times, and share a bit of cake in her memory.

Kip – a blind dog’s story

Kip was an adult liver and white English Springer Spaniel rescue dog, blind in both eyes from birth. I never really knew about his early years and why he came to be in rescue but after being transported from elsewhere in the country he had spent a couple of months in the care of NESSR (Northern English Springer Spaniel Rescue) in Northumberland before being rehomed to a lovely lady named Sylvia who also lived in Northumberland. Being blind didn’t seem to bother him and with his other senses being heightened he enjoyed life just as any other dog would, especially running along the beach at Druridge Bay and sniffing about in the nearby sand dunes with Sylvia close by. He was also a PAT dog (Pets As Therapy) and always enjoyed being fussed over by the people he went to visit.
Kip had been with Sylvia for two years when, completely out of the blue, he disappeared one day in June 2012 while on a walk along his favourite stretch of beach, and no matter how much Sylvia called there was no sign of him at all. In view of him being blind his details were immediately posted on the Doglost website and within a few hours a dozen volunteers from the local area and nearby were helping to look for him, a number which had increased to 30 searchers by 10pm that evening.
Concern for Kip’s safety quickly grew and via social media his details spread far and wide, with many more Doglost volunteers joining in the daily searches or canvassing various areas with posters featuring his photo. Those, like me, who were too far away to physically join the searches, did what they could from their computers, contacting newspapers and various tv and radio stations to ask if they would run a story on Kip in case he had somehow gone out of the area. Many dog loving celebrities were contacted via Twitter, to name a few – Coleen Nolan and Carol McGiffin from Loose Women, Ant & Dec, John Barrowman, Martin Clunes, Simon Cowell, Paul O’Grady, Jimmy Nail, Chris Packham, Chris Evans, Jonathon Ross and Cheryl Cole, and most of them re-tweeted, with Faye from Steps sending a personal message.
In the local area all vets within a radius of 30 miles were contacted, microlight pilots and the crew of the RAF Search and Rescue helicopter were asked to keep a lookout for Kip if they were ever airborne, and the Amble fishing fleet were also made aware of him. Doglost volunteers formed daily/nightly search parties and on one particular day a string of barbecues were lit at strategic places along a five mile stretch of beach between Amble and where Kip went missing in the hope that the smell of cooking sausages would bring him back.
One of the searchers belonged to the local fire crew and the fire service gave him ‘unofficial’ loan of a thermal imaging camera to use on his off-duty searches and someone else (I don’t know who) provided the services of a tracker dog and its handler when off duty. Kip’s Doglost page was inundated with hundreds and hundreds of messages of support and offers of help in various forms, and throughout it all Sylvia never gave up her search for him, often staying out all night in her car close to where he went missing. There were reports of a few possible sightings of a dog looking like Kip in various areas near to where he disappeared but unfortunately these all came to nothing.
I wish I could say that Kip was eventually found safe and well but sadly that wasn’t the case. Sixteen days after he went missing the continued searches for him were called off as his body had been found by two volunteers, washed up on the beach about two miles north of where he disappeared, and it seemed he must have been in the sea all that time. To say that this news was both tragic and devastating was an understatement – it hit everyone hard, especially those who had searched tirelessly for Kip, and the grief emanated through the messages on his Doglost page. It was news which no-one wanted but at least it gave Sylvia closure.
A few days later Sylvia posted a message to say that as a celebration of Kip’s life and a thank you to everyone who helped in the search for him she was arranging a get-together the following Saturday at the village hall close to where he was found and anyone who could get there was welcome – I had never been to Northumberland before but in memory of Kip I was determined to be there so I booked a pitch at a camp site a couple of miles from the hall and went up for the weekend.
There was quite a crowd, including various dogs, assembled at the village hall for Kip’s celebration and at 5pm we set off to walk a couple of miles to Kip’s favourite part of the beach where Sylvia would scatter his ashes before we all returned to the hall for a barbecue and buffet. One of the searchers was a member of the Blyth lifeboat crew and as we all walked along the beach the lifeboat sailed along parallel to the shore, stopping when we stopped – officially it was a training exercise but in reality they had turned out in memory of Kip.
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Although we had set out in bright sunshine it was also very windy and the clouds quickly gathered as we walked along the beach, with the sky growing darker by the minute and a couple of sudden heavy rain showers hitting us. By the time Sylvia and her other dog Belle walked out to the shoreline it had gone very dark indeed but as she scattered Kip’s ashes along the sand the brightest rainbow suddenly appeared over the sea. Maybe it was being over the sea which made it so bright but I’ve never seen a rainbow like that before or since; it was as if Kip was sending down a sign from somewhere and there were many eyes filled with tears at that moment.
Back at the village hall the barbecue and buffet was, in the circumstances, a very friendly and happy occasion and I got to meet many of the people who I’d only known previously through the messages on Kip’s Doglost page, fellow dog lovers who were united by two things – the love for a blind dog who most had never met and the wish to reunite him with Sylvia, his mum. Back home a couple of days later I wrote this poem, simply titled “In Memory Of Kip” –
The sun was shining brightly as you ran along the sand
Your mum was close behind you with your lead held in her hand,
But you were having too much fun playing your own game
And you went too far to hear your mum when she called out your name.
No-one knows what happened but you ran right out of sight,
Your mum was really worried and she called with all her might.
Hours and days she searched for you and every night would pray
That tomorrow she would find you and it would be a happy day.
Lots of others joined the search and kept their fingers crossed
That everything would be okay for this blind dog who was lost.
And then one day the news came that the search need be no more
For your poor bedraggled body had been found upon the shore.
It seems like you had lost your way and gone for a long swim
Then God reached down and took you up to Heaven to live with him.
Many tears were shed that day and many hearts were broken
For this blind dog who was loved so much, and words could not be spoken.
The sun was shining brightly as we walked along the shore,
Forty, fifty people there and maybe even more.
The lifeboat sailed along with us – its captain and the crew
And all the people on the beach had all turned out for you.
As your mum sprinkled your ashes in a line along the sand
A rainbow came across the sea, sent by God’s own hand,
And as she looked up to the sky your mum did softly say
“Sleep tight sweet Kip, you’re safe now, I know you’ll be okay”
Kip's rainbow

Kip’s story touched the hearts and lives of so many people and though no-one will ever know what really happened the day he went missing his passing wasn’t in vain. The search for him brought many Doglost helpers together and forged new friendships; it also brought Doglost to the attention of many people who didn’t know about it, resulting in many new members who also helped in whichever way they could in the search for him, and some of those members went on  to search for Archie, another Springer Spaniel who later went missing in the north east.
Kip may no longer be here but eight years ago, and in his own way, he left his own lasting legacy so he certainly earned his wings.

 

Poppie’s great adventure

Last Thursday, a week after my previous walk round part of the Jumbles reservoir, I made a return visit to get some more photos of the old quarry as I’d been told by someone at work who goes fishing that it was now completely dry. This time I parked in the car park near the café on the east side of the reservoir and set off from there in my usual anti-clockwise direction.
The water level in the reservoir itself was definitely lower than the previous week and not far from the end of the first bridge after the café I went down onto one of the beaches which had increased in area as the water level dropped. A slight breeze took some of the heat out of the sun and it was so pleasant that I found a flat bit of rock and sat for a while just enjoying the view across the water.
It was when I decided to continue walking that Poppie decided to have her adventure, almost giving me a heart attack in the process. I don’t know how she managed it but with one strong tug she slipped her lead and was off like a shot, down the beach and into the water in pursuit of three ducks swimming nearby. At first they were swimming parallel to the beach but then they decided to head out towards the far side of the reservoir;  I thought Poppie might give up then but she didn’t and no matter how much I called her she just wouldn’t come back – she wanted those ducks and was out to get one.
Of course by then several unpleasant scenarios flashed through my brain at a million miles an hour – it was too dangerous for me to go in and get her, if she reached the other side she would be totally lost and it was a long way for me to run round, if she couldn’t make it to the other side she would probably drown somewhere in the middle….it was my worst nightmare.
Fortunately the ducks eventually turned back towards the beach, then all at once they just took off and flew away – and with nothing to chase Poppie finally gave up and headed back towards me. She was near enough to being exhausted by the time I finally hauled her out of the water so I was glad she came back when she did as the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.
Needless to say, I didn’t get to the quarry that day. In spite of the very warm weather Poppie was shivering with cold from her adventure so I just went straight back to the van and drove home, where I gave her a warm shower and a good towelling down to dry her off.
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Poppie’s lead is actually meant for a much bigger and stronger dog and it has a very good clip so I don’t know how on earth she managed to get free but I’ll be keeping a firm eye on her in the future whenever we are near any water and ducks.

 

A thoughtful gift from a neighbour

Last Sunday evening I was sitting here chatting on the phone to a friend when Michael came in with an envelope in his hand, saying he’d heard a noise at the front door and found the envelope on the floor behind the door. It was a previously used envelope folded over, had my name and a message written on it and contained something solid; the message read “The paint is acrylic so waterproof for the garden – I hope you like it”. ‘It’ was from Fiona, my young next door neighbour, and was a piece of slate with Sophie’s name painted on it in different coloured letters – something simple to mark Sophie’s little corner of the garden but also something very unexpected and so very thoughtful.
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Yesterday I popped into my local Asda to get a few bits and pieces and on my way to the book section I noticed a box of very small animal ornaments on sticks for putting in plant pots. There were foxes, squirrels and just one little rabbit – the rabbit was the cutest so I got it to put in the little pot of flowers in Sophie’s corner.

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The bricks are only a temporary measure to keep the plant in place, once the soil dries out properly I’ll rake it over, maybe plant some grass seed and hopefully (as I’m not a gardener in any way, shape or form) I can turn Sophie’s little corner into something much nicer.

Lost and found

Several days ago I was just setting out to take Poppie for a quick walk when a little dog ran past my front gate. I’m very familiar with all the dogs living in my area and this wasn’t one of them, so unless someone new had recently moved into somewhere close by then I assumed this little one must be lost. Putting Poppie back indoors I went out and called the dog but it ran off back the way it had come. Next thing there was a squeal of brakes from along the street and a car stopped in the middle of the road – the little dog had just missed being hit by it.
The young woman driver shouted me to ask if it was mine and when I said no but I was trying to catch it she said she would help. The dog ran round the corner and down the next street so while I walked down she went down in her car; the dog still wouldn’t come to us but it doubled back up the lane behind the houses which, luckily for us, is a dead end, and we finally caught up with it in the corner of a nearby garden. It was obviously very frightened as when I put my hand out it cowered away growling; neither of us wanted to risk being bitten so I took my jacket off and threw it over the dog so I could pick it up safely. Being wrapped in the jacket seemed to calm it down and it snuggled in quite happily though it was wet through and shivering with cold.
The young woman said she had to get to work – judging by her uniform she was a nurse – so I thanked her for her help and said I would take care of the dog and try to find its owner. By this time I was absolutely soaked through as the fine drizzle of earlier had turned into quite a downpour but at least I was only round the corner from home so could soon get dry. After towelling the little dog down, and discovering that it was a little girl, I wrapped her in a fleece blanket while I got changed and made a brew. She was a sweet little thing and once she was almost dry I gave her a bit of food then she sat quietly at my feet while I drank my coffee.
Next was to try to reunite her with her owner; she had a collar on but no ID disc so I took her down to the nearest vets to get her scanned for a microchip. For some reason they couldn’t get a reading but they said if I left her with them they would contact the local dog warden; I felt a bit sad to give her up as she was so adorable and such a little sweetie but I knew someone somewhere would probably be missing her. I left my contact details with the vet’s receptionist and I’d only been back home about half an hour when she rang me to say they’d managed to trace the owner. I did ask where the little dog had come from but because of data protection she wouldn’t tell me; I’d only asked so if I ever see it running loose again I would know where it belonged.

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The only photo I have – down by my feet in the van before going to the vets

To be honest I think it would have been nice to have got a phone call from the little dog’s owners to say ‘Thank you for finding our dog’ but if the vets wouldn’t give me any details of the owners then maybe they wouldn’t give my details to them. I don’t know how long she had been running loose when I found her but I’m glad to know that she would have been reunited with her family – and if she hadn’t been reunited then I’m sure I could have found room in my heart and my home for another little four-paws.

 

 

Thank you

I’ve been sitting here in front of the computer, staring at the screen for an hour, wondering what to write and how to write it. I’m not usually lost for words when it comes to writing a blog page but this time I am ; I actually started this post twice but deleted both versions after just a few sentences. Monday’s post about my afternoon out on Sunday was written on a relatively good day but at the moment I’m not having many ‘good days’ – my emotions after losing Sophie are still very raw.
It’s early days for me yet ; my work/home life goes on as normal and a lot of the time I feel okay, but then something will remind me that there’s a very special little dog missing from my family and I feel overwhelmed all over again. However I know from experience that this will eventually pass ; the pain will subside to a dull ache which will eventually disappear and the hole in my heart will heal in time, though the memories of sweet little Sophie will always be with me along with memories of other little four-paws I’ve loved and lost.
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Anyway, I’d just like to say ‘thank you’ to everyone for commenting on the post I wrote about Sophie last Friday. I haven’t replied individually to any of the comments, mainly because my replies would all have been roughly the same, but that doesn’t mean the comments were ignored or weren’t appreciated. They were  appreciated, very much so, and it’s been good to know that so many people understand the feelings of grief and loss which I’ve been going through – so thanks once again, it means a lot. And as they used to say at the BBC when a tv programme was momentarily interrupted – normal service will be resumed soon.