Fate Plays Her Hand; Bryn Comes In

After four years being dog-less, since the sad death of our Golden Retriever (link below), my family are about to welcome a new addition into its fold.

Whereas I’d have been happy with another Retriever, Jen preferred something smaller. But which breed? Faced with this dilemma, fickle Fate played her hand.

It just so happened that on the very night of our conversation, a programme about the nation’s top one hundred breeds was on television. We tuned in for ideas, and when a Welsh Springer Spaniel appeared on our screen my wife said, “That’s a lovely looking dog, how about one of those?”

Initially, Jen had resisted the clamour for another dog from my children and I, having been so hurt from Rydal’s passing, so within a dog’s whisker of her uttering those words I had joined a group for Welshie lovers on Facebook and enquired about an imminent litter!

Welsh Springers are not as common as English Springers, and so I knew we’d have to travel to find one. Somebody had even suggested Sweden to me, but air fare was definitely beyond our budget.

I’d not considered Scandinavia, funnily enough, but that became a moot point when I found a pregnant Welsh Springer in Wales, of all places. Who’d have thought it?

But, alas, her pups were already reserved for buyers.

A week later, another breeder, living a two and a half hour’s drive away from us in Manchester, had seen my online query and contacted me as her Springer was due to have a litter in four weeks. I confirmed that I was still interested and we got talking about why we wanted this paticular breed.

(Fate Alert drumroll please)

It only turned out that the dog that we had seen on that television show was THIS breeder’s dog. The very dog that my wife had remarked upon, and so steered us in this direction, was soon to give birth to our new puppy! What’s the odds on that?!

You’ve gotta love the magic of television.

Anyway, for reasons of space, let me give you this brief summing up:

a litter of nine was born; children were at fever pitch; we had first choice of five boys; children nearly had a breakdown with the pressure; then finally:

after my daughter, tearing her hair out and saying that the process of ruling out the four other, equally cute dogs was worse than the multiple choice questions of her SATS exams, we chose this little fella:

Originally named Uno by the breeder (we later found out that this was because he was the first born. It seems quite apt that the first born should be the first chosen). We now had to come up with our own name.

I wanted something Welsh.

“What Welsh names do you know?” asked my wife.

I came up with Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey.

“Not a chance!”

My alternative suggestion of Jenkins, after Katherine Jenkins, was similarly dismissed. So as a family we went through some Welsh names and links. I liked Arthur, you know, our once and future King and all that. But in the end we came to an agreement: Uno was now Bryn.

But you knew that, didn’t you? Having read the title of this post.

We get him tomorrow. It’s the end of our lives as we know it.

My post about the passing of Rydal:

https://cityjackdaw.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/farewell-old-friend/

A Weeping Woman, A Girl And A Three-Legged Dog

I’ve taken lately to spending some mornings upstairs in my local McDonald’s. It’s warmer up there, away from the constantly opening automatic door, and it’s a lot quieter, too. Most of the time I have the room to myself while I drink a coffee and read a book.

Yesterday morning, however, a woman came upstairs, placed her tray down before her on the table and took a seat. As she opened the sachet of milk to pour into her tea, something tore a sob from her. At that very moment she became aware of me, and held up a hand that quite clearly said I’m alright as I am, leave me be.

The gesture allowed no approach, so I simply nodded. She continued with her morning meal, her mind evidently focused on some inner conflict. I continued to read for a while, then finished a final chapter and rose to leave. As I put on my jacket I looked out of the nearby window, down onto my town outside, and saw a child-a young girl, with presumably her mother. Suddenly the girl snatched her hand away from the adult and hurried towards a man with a dog, ignoring the calls to come back.

The dog was one of those Staffordshire bull type dogs, nothing remarkable in that, but one of its front legs was missing. It gave a shuffle-hop as it moved, and the girl, obviously moved by the sight, crouched down and gave it a hug, wrapping her arms around it and holding it close to her chest. The man was speaking, perhaps telling the girl’s mother that the dog was friendly. The dog stood there, rapidly wagging its tail.

When I turned I saw that the woman who had been weeping was also watching this encounter, a thin smile upon her face. On making eye contact with me she quickly turned her attention back to her breakfast. Perhaps that girl’s act had moved her, gave her fresh insight and perspective. Who knows?

I left but kept thinking of that scenario: the woman and then the girl, the weeping and then the embrace.

We are all in the same boat here. Some are broken; some are ready to help others put the pieces back together again. But I think it has to be by consent-we have to be invited in.

I had a conversation once with a local priest.

“I thought there’d be more vegetarians within the church,” I’d said. Apart from myself, I knew of only one other.

“Why?”

“Well, I think that, both morally and spiritually, the strong have a responsibility towards the weak. Be they people or animals. Also, if, as we are told, that we are called to lead a life of compassion, then I don’t know how we can if we are eating the flesh of slaughtered animals.”

I’m no activist. And it is not my place to moralise, and far be it for me to preach to a clergyman! It was just a thought I’d had. He replied that maybe it was a deeper kind of faith that I practised.

But I was thinking beyond religious faith, more as a rule of thumb as we go about life. Of course faith should inform all areas of your life, not something you pick up again when you go through the church doors on a Sunday to set back down again on the way out.

We can attempt to live a compassionate life, but we can’t go around forcing compassion upon others. That woman was quite clear about what she needed and wanted at that time.

And I think she may have got some of it unexpectedly, from watching that little girl and the three-legged dog from a window in the local McDonald’s.

Farewell, Old Friend

A year ago today we lost our family dog, how fast it has gone. When I posted this last year it seems I inadvertently upset people: mothers on the school run was asking me not to post anything else about him, I got a message from a girl on holiday in Spain: ‘I’m in tears, my mum’s in tears, the waitress serving us has two Labradors and she’s in tears!’ It wasn’t my intention then or now, I’m just remembering our old friend.

City Jackdaw

Dog lovers: why do we do it? I mean really, why do we fucking put ourselves through it?

We know, when we let them into our homes and incorporate them into our family dynamics, exactly what their lifespan is. We know that they don’t live as long as we do, and that there is going to be an emotional payback for all of the years of unconditional love and non-judgemental companionship that they offer us. But it is only when you reach that devastating moment of reckoning when you ask the question: is it all worth it?

I’m a Doctor Who fan. How many times have I heard it said, courtesy of the script writers, that the Doctor doesn’t stay with his companions because the hurt of watching them age and die, while he goes on, is too much. Having watched the programme since the 80’s, you think I’d have…

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