Day 8 – A Tail of Three Dogs – Shanklin – Chale

Italian Dreams

We talked to two delightful Italian girls, Carlotta and Julia, both formidably bright. One was studying for her PHD in economics in Germany, the other working for Unilever in London. They were both adamant that Italy’s future lies in the Eurozone and they regaded the idea that Italy might revert to the Lira as risible. They hope their homeland will become more effcient and grow into the EU. In my opinion they are living in a dream world and so we will just have to see what happens after the Greek situation is finally resolved.

A Tail of Three Dogs

I watch our young Cockapoo Moses bound along and it sets me thinking…

I suppose Oscar Wilde might have said that to lose one dog might be regarded as misfortune but to lose two looks like sheer carelessness. And I’m afraid the old sod would be as right as ever, for we appear to have “lost” two dogs inside a mere 15 months.

Readers of my past walk commentaries will recall that for four of our walks we were accompanied by our loyal Staffie Leah. However, after she contracted incurable cancer of the womb, we were forced to have her “put to sleep”. How I hate that euphemism, for there is no getting away from the reality of her end – because, dear reader, in the manner of Stalin, we ordered her to be killed and it was a truly harrowing experience. Leah must have walked well over 1,200 miles for the great cause of ZANE and, as I wrote in my last blog, at the end we condemned her to death.

Lovely Dinah

In order to recover from that ghastly experience we quickly rescued another two-month-old “champagne” Staffie from her birthplace sited in a smelly tenement just outside Birmingham. When we arrived, her owners and their two small children – who couldn’t have been more than seven or eight – were clustered round the telly watching an “adult movie” called Horny Housewives (I kid you not). In fact the film makers should be prosecuted for misrepresentation because these movies aren’t “adult”, but juvenile.

As we drove away, I grew convinced we were saving this poor little dog from a fate worse than death. When you take a look at what many of our nation’s children are allowed to watch you don’t have to ask why the number of alcoholics, drug abusers and sexual predators is rising. The Good Book tells us that the sins of the fathers are visited on future generations, especially if they watch crap on the box. Okay I invented the last eight words of that sentence, and yes I am becoming a curmudgeon – and increasingly proud of it as well – but I am convinced that people can corrupt dogs as well as children; their noble characters are often ruined by vicious, degenerate and drunken owners. Dogs don’t just end up looking like their masters, they can reflect their natures too.

Anyway, we called our new dog Dinah – I don’t really know why, but the name seemed to reflect the hint of wildness that shone from her amber eyes. She spent the first six months of her joyous existence destroying everything she could get her sharp little snappers into: £20 notes, treasured rugs and computer wires were her speciality, but of course she ripped into everything and anything she discovered at snout level. Last July, on our recent trek, she towed us from Ambleside to Oxford and it was a privilege to totter along in her churning wake. Dinah was a joy to behold with a broad head, a finely chiselled body, and markings so delicate I’m convinced the Almighty had plucked her from his vast production line to craft her to His special glory.

Dinah was perfect in every way. She did more or less exactly what she pleased and at frenzied speed. On our last golden holiday in Chichester, she spent hours running furiously by the seashore attempting to out-manoeuvre the zigzagging seabirds as they curved and swooped against the dark, grey-flecked sky. At night, she would crawl exhausted on the sofa, lazily turn onto her back and lick my face. As a special privilege, I would be allowed to tickle her tummy.

Under My Skin

On the afternoon of 5 October last year, I was in the office and Jane was outside gardening. Then I heard a shattering scream. We found Dinah hiding under a car. Her frightened eyes told me she had been mortally injured by a passing vehicle. I pulled her out and cradled her into my car. The vet told us that her spine was fractured and once again we were obliged to have a pet put to sleep. Of course it was the right thing to do but I wept at her passing. And I was furious with myself that I had failed to mend the hole in the bloody fence that I’d been too idle/stupid to do before Dinah went on her escapade.

So third time lucky with Moses, the new Cockapoo. Black and furry, he’s a real character – and a boy. But it’s a bit like owning a Ford Focus after a Maserati! I am sure I’ll grow to love him in time. It’s just that as the great Sinatra sang – I’m sure with Dinah in mind – “I’ve got you under my skin, I’ve got you deep in the heart of me…”

Well of course dogs like Dinah are all gifts, aren’t they? Gifts come to us undeserved and to enjoy for a time, and then they go. The sages advise us that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Having said all this, recovering from the loss of a companion as beautiful as Dinah will take some time.



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