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”
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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.

Snowdrops for Sophie

In light of my recent incredibly sad and heart breaking loss of Sophie I thought long and hard about doing this walk, especially as I’d originally intended taking Sophie with me, but there was nothing to be gained by staying at home and after several weekends of not being able to go anywhere I really needed a few hours out. My intended destination was Hornby Castle Gardens, only open on a few select weekends each year with the most recent being the snowdrop weekend. Sunday’s weather forecast for that area was for sunshine and even though it was cloudy and grey here at home I decided to take a chance and go.
As I got to the far side of the nearby moors I could see sunshine and blue sky ahead and by the time I was heading north up the M6 it had turned into a really lovely day. Living where I do, halfway up a hill on the north side of town, I don’t normally encounter any instances of flooding in bad weather so I was quite surprised at the sight which greeted me as I drove along the A683 towards the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Just before Claughton village the River Lune had overflowed and a huge area of flat grazing fields had disappeared underwater, though fortunately the natural slope of the land from the roadside had prevented the water from reaching the road itself or any roadside properties.

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There’s a river in there somewhere

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Set back off the road, and just out of reach of the flood water, was the old Lanefoot Crossing signal box in the garden of a nearby cottage. Once part of the long-disused ‘Little’ North Western Railway line which operated between Lancaster and Wennington, then extended to Leeds, it was in use between 1849 and 1968, and in more recent years has been preserved and refurbished to be used as a summerhouse for the cottage.

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The Lanefoot Crossing signal box

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There was no parking available in the grounds of Hornby Castle so I left the van in the village car park and walked along the road and over the bridge to the castle gardens entrance gates. The River Wenning, swollen from all the recent rain, was in full flow as it ran west to join the Lune, and on the east side of the bridge the water was a seething boiling mass as it came over the nearby weir – definitely not a place anyone would want to fall in.

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River Wenning looking west

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Looking east

Entrance to the castle grounds cost £5 with dogs free of charge and after being given a map, which I didn’t really need as I’ve been there before, though not at this time of year, I set off with Poppie to find some snowdrops. Now I don’t know if my expectations were too high or if maybe the recent bad weather was a factor, but far from seeing carpets of snowdrops as I thought I would all I found were small clumps dotted here and there among the trees, with several clumps together on the bank leading up to the castle lawns.

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Driveway up to the castle

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The pond and island

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Part of the path along the riverside had been closed off as it was muddy and very slippery but I got round that by walking along the riverbank itself, and when I rejoined the path I came to the remains of a dead tree trunk. One side looked very much like the other so it was hard to tell which had been roots and which were branches but I liked the shape of it so it was worth a quick snap.

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Along the riverside walk

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Just past the tree trunk the path wound steeply uphill and almost doubled back on itself, emerging at one corner of the castle lawn. At the far side steps led down a short steep bank to the main driveway and on the bank itself were a couple of clumps of pink flowers ; they looked a bit sorry for themselves but at least they provided a bit of colour.
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Across the driveway a path and a succession of wide shallow steps went down through a wooded area to the walled garden ; at this time of year there wasn’t much colour about the place but I did see some more pink flowers, some daffodils, a few more isolated clumps of snowdrops and some lovely bright blue things which I don’t know the name of.
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The walled garden was my last port of call, I’d been everywhere else and with so few snowdrops to see there was no point walking round again, so I made my way back to the van and with one last shot from the bridge I set off for home, arriving back at 4pm and still in sunshine. Although Hornby Castle’s website promises ‘hundreds of named varieties of snowdrops’ the ones I saw all looked the same to me, and compared to the carpets of flowers I saw at Lytham Hall last year the clumps of snowdrops dotted here and there were rather a disappointment.
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This had been my first proper walk with Poppie on her own and it seemed so strange having just one little four-paws with me instead of two. Even though the snowdrops didn’t live up to my expectations I know that Sophie would have loved the walk so I’ve decided – when the time is right, and in her memory, there’ll be some snowdrops planted in her corner of my garden.

 

So hard to say goodbye

It’s with many tears and a heavy heart that I write this – my lovely sweet little Sophie passed away peacefully on Monday afternoon. She fought so bravely against the effects of the stroke she suffered five weeks ago and on Monday morning I really thought she had turned a corner but sadly I was wrong.
A check-up at the vet’s last Saturday showed that although her progress since the previous check-up two weeks before hadn’t been quite as good as he would have thought there was no real cause for concern and I didn’t need to take her back for another month, although he did increase the medication she was on. For a few days previously she’d had a very loose tooth so I’d been blending all her food to make it easier for her to eat, however the vet took the tooth out with no problem or pain and gave her a shot of antibiotic to counteract what seemed to be a very minor infection in the gum. The injection seemed to knock her out of sorts for the rest of the day but by that evening she had perked up and we went for our regular slow bedtime walk round the block.
On Sunday afternoon a respite from Storm Ciara gave us three hours of lovely blue sky and sunshine so we had a nice walk round the field at the end of the street – she loved to walk round there and listen to the birds in the trees. On Monday morning I really thought that getting rid of the loose tooth had given Sophie her appetite back as she demolished one bowl of food so fast that I gave her another and she ate most of that as well, so it really seemed like that was a good turning point in her recovery.
Since a few days after the stroke happened her bed has been at the side of mine to make it easier for me to care for her during the night and after our walk on Monday lunch time I settled her down in her bed while I lay on mine to watch a bit of daytime tv. It was later on, when I was ready for feeding her before going to work, that I got no response from her and realised that somehow, without me even knowing, she had drifted quietly away.
I can’t begin to describe how I’ve been feeling since that moment and the range of emotions I’m now going through. Sophie had improved in many ways since her stroke – she no longer walked round in circles, she could stand unaided and potter about round my bedroom, she walked perfectly straight when we went out and only last week she was picking twigs up off the ground like she used to do before she became ill – so I now feel like I’ve been hit by a train going at 100 miles an hour.
Sophie has been buried in the garden so she’ll be with me as long as I stay living here ; she’s gone close to Sugar as they were companions for over five years. I know I still have Poppie but right now everything feels so empty – her den in the living room where she would hide away from the noise of fireworks in November, the space at the side of my bed where she lay in her own bed, covered with a fleece blanket and with cushions to rest her head on. And the silence. For the last four weeks my bedroom tv has been on constantly 24/7 to provide some comforting background noise for Sophie while I was out at work – now there’s no need for it to be on and the silence is deafening.
At work I’m functioning on autopilot ; it helps having people around me but with Michael currently in Ireland until the 20th I’m here on my own once I get home. Caring for Sophie took up so much of my time that a lot of the housework was put on hold ; there’s so many things now that I could  be doing but I don’t really feel  like doing, and the things I have  been doing no longer apply so I feel very much like I’m in limbo – and the slightest thing will have me in floods of tears.
As well as the space in my room Sophie has left a huge hole in my heart, a hole which will take a long while to heal – and it hurts to know that never again will I feel that gentle little paw on my leg and see that sweet little face looking up at me asking to come up on my lap for a cuddle. But the one thing which really hurts like hell is that even though I gave Sophie all the care and attention I possibly could I didn’t get the chance to hold her one last time and tell her how much I loved her.
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Rest in peace Sophie, you were loved so very much – sleep tight and sweet dreams little one xx