Daisy (left) with Biddy
She was happy when Sam returned to the fold and it was good to have two puppies entertaining each other. I didn't feel quite so chipper about it when Gareth phoned me at the end of my first day as Deputy Head to inform me that Daisy and Sam had destroyed the seat of one of our easy chairs. The damage was irreparable but the puppies suffered no ill effects. These days we have an indoor kennel to keep immature canines safe.
Daisy was a wonderful running companion for Barry, alongside Biddy, Leo (until he went to live with my parents) and Sam. They formed a pack and brooked no nonsense. One day Barry met some people who had lost a Bloodhound and he promised to look for it as he continued his run. The people said, 'There's one thing you should know – he (the dog) doesn't like Jack Russells. He killed one recently. Do be careful.'
A short while later Barry found the Bloodhound which reacted as he had been warned, approaching the JRs menacingly. Before he could blink each dog had attached itself to one of his limbs and suddenly the Brave Bloodhound was feeling very sorry for himself with a Jack Russell hanging off every quarter. Barry retraced his steps and returned the subdued dog to his relieved owners, telling them what had happened and concluding, 'I don't think you'll have problems with him and Jack Russells any more.'
When Daisy and Sam were about three years old, Susannah expressed a desire for a rabbit. We'd had rabbits before but they fell prey to strange illnesses and didn't live long and prosperous lives. Barry was uneasy about keeping a rabbit in a hutch, even with an attached run as we had done before. He felt they were too restricted. We had tried having them in the house - my mother had a house rabbit when she was a girl, so we knew it was possible – but ours didn't understand the first thing about house-training and also chewed through wires, cutting us off from the outside world. 'How about a cat?' he said and Susannah agreed that would be a fine compromise.
The brown Burmese cat we brought home was a few months old. We were concerned about introducing her to the dogs – Jack Russells are fur-chasers, after all – so we all sat in the dining room, with Coriander Autumn Lady, henceforth known as AliCat, on my lap. We let the dogs into the room and Daisy was so confused that she jumped up on my lap with the cat. Everyone laughed and that was that – introduction completed.
AliCat's son, Herbie, cuddles up to Daisy
In the Autumn we would sometimes have a hedgehog looking for somewhere to hibernate. Daisy always found it and closely inspected it until its prickles made themselves felt and she would yelp and come indoors, covered in fleas. She never minded the inevitable bath that followed.
Daisy 'singing' - many of our dogs have been musical
A very faithful and sweet-natured dog, she rarely strayed from Barry's side when running but one day she disappeared. Barry remained in the forest for hours, retracing the tracks he had run but she was nowhere to be seen. Dejected he returned home with the other two very well-exercised and tired dogs. We went to bed with heavy hearts, fearing we would never see Daisy again, but left the side gate and patio doors open 'just in case.' Around midnight we heard pattering paws and then the sound of a little animal rushing upstairs. A car is the easiest and safest way to take lively, energetic dogs to the forest so Daisy had never walked the route. Somehow she had found her way back.
She had a bout of hysterical blindness once. It didn't last long and the vet was unconvinced but we knew and she knew that she couldn't see for a short period. After Sam died when she was six she came into her own, mainly because she moved up the pecking order. For a while our new puppy was smaller than her.