Where to begin? Oh, I know…
A new puppy, a colourful autumn, and Venetian inspirations: where to begin? I have just come up for air after three weeks of children on (unsynchronised) half term holidays. It’s been impossible to write about life: we’ve been too busy living it. Trying to fit meetings, appointments, travel and a vestigial adult social life into time looking after children, home and animals has meant that I have too often felt that I have failed in every department. I keep waiting in vain for a quiet week! And I wonder, for the millionth time, how on earth do working mothers manage, when I am floundering to keep my head above water despite being nominally at home full time? Now there’s a subject for a post…
Meanwhile, Venice has been in the news this week because of floods. Seeing the photos of St. Mark’s square under water has brought back my memories of wandering across the piazza in sunshine three long weeks ago; memories which had almost been submerged (tactless choice of word, perhaps) under domestic affairs since coming home. Impressions of Venice will keep, however, to be pulled out selectively like sugar plums in the dark months to come.
Let’s face it, I know what you really want. Puppies! What better than a warm puppy to cheer the shortening days? So, let me introduce you to the new member of our family. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Tarka.
When my beloved cocker spaniel died so suddenly in July, I told every doggy person I knew to keep us in mind if they should hear of working cocker puppies. I can’t imagine having anything else now. Working (as opposed to show-bred) cockers are a handful: cheerful, energetic and too clever by half. They are also well known to be most gentle and loving family pets. And, very fortunately for my pining family, some generous friends offered us a puppy from a litter recently sired by their dog. It was a mixed colour litter, brown, black and golden. My younger son instructed me to choose the golden one but, in the event, it was the other way around: it was me that was chosen, by a little black girl pup with a white chin and chest. She could almost – almost – be the daughter of my late companion.
Since coming home to us she has endeared herself to everyone in the family, even our elder son who does not normally interact with animals at all. She’s been on a steep learning curve, working out her place in the pecking order of humans and other dogs. After a few sharp words from our Westie the two dogs are now getting on famously, although I think he sometimes still wonders what has (literally) hit him…
Tarka has also been beginning to learn basic commands – a cocker is happiest when busy – as well as taking her first forays into the woods.
She is an instinctive scent hound, nose down constantly, following intriguing new smells,
although other skills come less naturally, like learning how to get down a stony bank (the answer is a scramble the first time, a flying leap thereafter):
For me, it’s a poignant joy to be able to walk through the woods with a spaniel at my side again. In fact I think it’s the reason that my inspiration to write has returned.
For Tarka, it’s all just tremendously exciting,
and rather exhausting.
We’ll keep you posted.
You might enjoy Just walking the dog.