Monthly Archives: August 2012

a love lost…

There always comes the day that any devotee to animals dread.

Ruby has left us.

15 years ago we came across her in a pile of hay in a barn in deepest Sussex. A small, lonely bundle waiting for her chance.

Our close friends had already homed her sister, Daisy, and we heard through them that there was just one left so we piled in the car and drove quickly to snap her up.

Bearded collies are the cutest pups. My husband got to the barn even before me and came out carrying her as if protecting the crown jewels. After we had settled with the owner we passed by a car on the drive containing a couple who had also come by to home her..but she was ours and we smiled.

Ruby was named on the way home as she slept on my lap. My two boys, (then aged 8 and 11) were over the moon as we had a small holding where her life would be one of tall grass, fields and forests. I also had rescued sheep having started with 2 this had blossomed into 14 old girls who lived their lives daily mooching about and causing havoc with any tree that took their fancy.

Ruby grew up to be the most amazing girl. Pretty, funny and devoted to all of us. Football was her game and no-one could ever beat her when it came to dribbling the ball across the field.

Ruby and Jacob

She became a mother to 7 pups with Jacob three years later and after 3 weeks, of protection and feeding, she decided that enough was enough and I took over the day and night feeding singing a song I made up to make them follow me everywhere I went. Dennis, our youngest at 12 (and one of her pups we kept) still reacts to this song today.

Ruby was also a great escape artist and often the door would ring to find her wagging her tail next to our neighbour.

Ruby Tuesday…

We were blessed that she never had health issues and only rarely she wore a lead as her life was one of total freedom by our side.

As the years went by, as we all know, the body tires and over the past few months getting up for her was a real struggle. She also had alopecia and cancer of the tail. A bit like an over loved teddy bear that had been cuddled and loved beyond recognition she would attempt to be part of everyday life but things were getting harder and harder for her and we decided it was time to let her go before true pain set in.

One can never truly express the deep pain of losing a family member who makes you smile every time you think of them. Funny how the teeth marks on the table legs and scratches on the doors become total treasures where once they caused a sigh.

Thankyou, Ruby, for loving us.

We will never forget you and will love you forever.


Posted by on August 23, 2012 in devotion, dog, dogs, friendship, loss, love


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progress and snacks…

Life is never dull with a dog from Afghanistan.

After the initial exhaustion of coping with a dog who pushed so many boundaries life began to change literally day by day.

Norman’s Bay

in pursuit of a seagull

People who knew him noticed huge changes and that he was becoming much more relaxed and able to cope with situations that were very difficult, and challenging, before.

I think, also, we were changing.

We, as a family, were less wary of him. Not that he was aggressive in the ‘I’m going to show you my pearly whites’ sense but in the way that the tension that surrounded issues like ‘who was coming through the door/upstairs/near his toys and near me’ issues.

Brin is fearful not aggressive and by changing our approach to him changed his perspective of what to expect.

He is also an excellent rat catcher, walking on tip toes in absolute silence, he would pounce with acute accuracy and run inside with his prize much to my horror. Frogs caused him to jump back with a puzzled look and coming across a grass snake in the back alley Brin froze then moved backwards in slow motion as if not wanting to be seen.

He is a creature of complete habit and each and everyday will move to places around the house where he can see me at all times. I adore him for that and admire his technique of just being there silently watching.

always there

Brin also shows great compassion for other animals, something that has shown itself as time has passed.

A few days ago two baby birds were born in my shed and sadly, one died. As I carried it away to be buried he walked with me and watched as I dug a little hole. Laying the little body down he pushed past me and I expected a chase to retrieve it from his mouth but instead he sniffed gently, licked it’s lifeless body and sat down next to me as I proceeded to cover it over.

What is also wonderful to witness is his happiness when family and friends arrive. Brin took quite a while to wag his tail freely. At first it was just the tip that would wiggle slightly when he reacted to a sound or action but never the full on base to tip wag we all know from many of our dogs. Gradually, over time, this action increased and now when he wags his tail he almost does a hula dance as his hips move with it. I never thought that a dog would have to learn such an action but I suppose, because of the huge chunk of socialisation missing from the start of his life, this too had to be gradually learnt.

It was a true pleasure to witness this and when it happened it also brought a great sense of achievement to us all knowing that, at last, he was feeling more settled and content in the environment that was now his home.

wagging tail prior to walk!

That is not to say that Brin is an angel!

Far from it!

A more stubborn dog I have never known!

On walks (or patrols as we like to call them) around his neighbourhood there are moments when my arm has almost been wrenched from its socket due to his determination to sniff a lamppost or chase a cat. He either has super glue on his paws or a rocket where the sun doesn’t shine and I have engaged a telepathic link to his lead and am able to read what coming next via it’s vibrations!

Another thing I love about the change in him is night-time.

When he first came home it would often take up to an hour to get him in but now he trots in with the others and sits in a line with Ruby, Jake and Dennis patiently waiting for a small snack after which he will run upstairs and jump on the bed falling a sleep within minutes.

I now can’t sleep unless he rests his head on my foot..he has become a true symbol to me of unconditional love and, although he has learnt so much since the dark days of Helmand, we have learnt so much from him and for that we are eternally grateful.

a brave soul


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in all weathers and the Houdini show…

Brin hated rain.

In England that would prove a problem.

Being a relatively clean dog inside the house as soon as the rain would fall he would flatly refuse to budge outside meaning accidents would happen on a daily basis.

In Afghanistan the rain can come down very hard, so hard it can actually hurt, and it was this memory that seemed to strike a deep fear in him.

The only way to tackle this problem was to meet it head on and so, donned with waterproof clothing, I would take him out to the forest in torrential down pours avoiding the stares of people sitting in their steamed up cars wondering if I was totally mad or being totally cruel to a miserable looking dog who looked as though he wanted to sink into the mud swirling around his feet and give up.

a little light rain!

But it worked. After a few months of dragging him through acres of soggy forest Brin became used to the puddles and mud and eventually was happy to go out into the garden once more.

Next came the snow.

He had never witnessed a full snow fall before other than a shovel-full that had been placed in his quarantine kennel many months before.

I had been getting up around 2am to let him out for a while now as he was quite nocturnal when he first came home but this time he would be met with around 10 inches of fresh snow.

Instead of being tired, I felt like a joyful mum watching her child play for the first time.

2am and out we went…

I had bought him a coat but that idea was quickly eaten ending up in shreds on the floor.

Brin loved the snow and I loved seeing him run, jump and dig in it all. He was really enjoying his new discovery and instead of having to encourage him to out nothing would now get him in!

What snowball?..Where?

even his own igloo…

He continued to learn about all things new and with that came a lot of pleasure and joy witnessing his freedom to explore and the fun he had while doing so.

The digging of deep holes at night-time was starting to subside but with that also came his desire to be free of his bed inside the crate.

I had said goodnight to him and he settled down and appeared to be sleeping. I had got into bed and was just falling asleep when I heard a strange noise rather like a soft squeaking sound.

Getting up I walked to his room and listened through the door. The noise came again, this time followed by a snuffling sound on the other side of door. In my disbelief I entered the room to be met by Brin totally out of his crate that was still locked and with no damage whatsoever. I still to this day have no idea how he got out of it…I can only think he squeezed himself between the floor of the crate and the upper bars…it made my stomach churn as he could have so easily trapped his neck.

Brin loved his bed..until one night…

Brin had had enough and now resides on the end of our bed and, despite his loud snoring, we never know he is there.

And secretly, we prefer it that way.


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