This week’s ramblings are going to be a bit more personal than usual. This is because the Freeman family has a new addition; a large boisterous 12-month-old dog called Lily, writes Paul Freeman.
She is a cross between an Irish setter and a chocolate Labrador, and, although I say it myself, she is quite a good looker.
She belonged to a lady in London who could no longer keep her because of work commitments.
Our daughter, who lives in London, suggested that we might take her, as we have not had a dog since I had to put our much-loved old collie to sleep.
So we duly met the owner in a London park last Saturday and agreed to have her. Maybe not the ideal way to acquire a pet, but my daughter had already met Lily, and I had had long conversations with the owner, seen photos of Lily and checked her medical records.
Then came a challenge: Transporting her back to Northumberland. Foolishly, some might say, we decided to bring her back with us on the train. This was not quite as reckless as it sounds, as we knew that she had been on short train journeys in the past. But we were still not sure how she would cope with the four-hour journey back to Alnmouth.
We needn’t have worried. She settled quietly at my feet on the crowded train, and we had planned the journey with a break at York, which allowed for a short walk by the River Ouse.
She has settled into our Rothbury home remarkably well, but we soon became aware that she is not perfect. Certain elements in her training have been sadly lacking.
The day after her epic train journey, we took her for a long walk on Alnmouth beach. We let her off the lead, and she loved it. I’m pretty sure that she had never been on a beach before.
She was in doggy paradise, running up and down the beach, retrieving her new ball. She had only known us for 48 hours, but she recognised and stayed with us despite the presence of several other people and dogs.
All was going well until the time came to get back in the car. She declined my invitation, turned tail and ran back onto the beach. She resisted all attempts to catch her, which ranged from bribery to ignoring her and pretending to drive off. Eventually, with the help of a kind lady and her spaniel, we did manage to get the lead back on her and deposit her safely back in the car.
Lesson learnt: Make sure your dog will come back before you let her off the lead!
So we are looking forward to an eventful Christmas with our new family member. She has already had an early Christmas present, a soft squeaky toy animal. Big mistake. It was torn to shreds within three hours, and more worryingly, we had to retrieve the walnut-sized squeaky widget from Lily’s mouth before she swallowed it. It’s just as well we were keeping on eye on her.
In the past, I have had to surgically retrieve similar-sized foreign bodies from canine intestines, when they have caused a complete and life-threatening bowel obstruction. It strikes me as completely irresponsible that manufacturers of dog ‘toys’ are still making such poorly designed products. A timely warning for those of us soft enough to spend money on tacky presents for our canine friends!