Saturday 20 November 2010

Doggy memories

Watching the ‘Collie Walk’ video in my previous post brought to mind a couple of memories.

I first started work in a village where everyone knew everyone else. Most of the families had been living there for generations. The vicar, a charming ex-Naval padre, was closely associated with the school. He often talked to me, bringing me up to speed on the family circumstances of the pupils. His turn of phrase was frequently colourful, evidence of his service life.  He was proud of his son who had had much to do with designing hovercraft.

The headmistress, Joan, was a pleasant, amusing woman who had lived in the village for many years. She had been the inspiration for one of John Betjeman’s ‘young women’. Her husband lectured at the nearby college in Shrivenham where my soon-to-be husband was studying. They had a collie with a strong herding instinct and it was not unknown for the dog to herd the children along the road into school. This dog also attended church, remaining quiet throughout the service until the time came for the vicar’s sermon. The dog would then walk out of the church, no doubt watched ruefully by some of the congregation.

At that time, dogs at Shrivenham were commonly allowed to attend lectures with their masters (there were only male military students then) Our yellow Labrador, Whisky, lived with Barry and accompanied him everywhere. Consequently, she was a very well-educated dog in all aspects of life, appreciating beer and bar snacks, and swift and neat at helping herself to tempting morsels in people’s hands – or shopping baskets. She liked hedgerow fruits, too, sucking blackberries off the thorny brambles. During lectures, Whisky was quiet and unobtrusive most of the time but there were occasions when she sensed that the young officers around her, all fit and healthy and fidgeting to do something physical, were bored. She would then produce a loud drawn-out yawn and wander to the front of the room to sit next to the lecturer and look at him. This caused much mirth among the students and broke the tedium, at least momentarily.  

Whisky came to school with me on a few occasions when Barry was away and was a great favourite with the children. Though she was a large dog she nonetheless considered herself a lap dog and would clamber up so that when the children looked up from their work they would see her gravely observing them rather than me. She enjoyed joining in their games, too, and was instrumental in teaching at least one child to overcome a fear of dogs.

You can read more about Whisky here.
Every dog has an individual personality and a lifetime of living with dogs bequeaths a wealth of memories.


  1. Wonderful story. I just love dogs. Whiskey looks like a great dog.

  2. I loved this story, Janice. I love dogs with personalities like the vicar's dog. And Whisky must have been a joy to you and Barry. (Very pretty lady she's sitting with in the second photo.)
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. Thanks for sharing the story, Whiskey, you are handsome!

    Snakes, have a good Saturday!

  4. Oh, it is a wonderful story indeed, Janice! And Whiskey does look like a great dog! Love your shadow shots for the day! Hope your weekend is off to a great start!


  5. Fond memories, thanks for sharing

  6. She was a beauty! She sits on the ground with a proud look, her lovely nature summed up in her look. She is content, and was a working dog - her job was pleasing her family. What a loss now, but beautiful and happy then...

  7. ...until the time came for the vicar’s sermon. The dog would then walk out of the church...
    that is hilarious!!

  8. Such a wonderful story! I am a dog lover too. Whisky sounds like a special dog...definitely well-rounded and able to fit into all situations! Delightful reading.

  9. I enjoyed this, it brounght back memories of the dogs that have shared my life.

  10. Whiskey sounds like a great dog. I've been to some lengthy lectures where having Whiskey's yawning ability available would have come in handy.

  11. Lovely dog, thanks for sharing the story.

    Insulation shadows

  12. What a lovely story.Pets sure do add to our quality of life!
    The shadows on the dog are very interesting.

  13. I very much enjoyed reading about Whiskey. What a great dog. :)

  14. I love both of those photos and the story about Whisky! I clicked the link to read more :) Labs are so clever and have such beautiful natures.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend :)

  15. you can see her kindness in her face
    I adore animals, they add so much to our lives and ask so little

    beautiful post :)

  16. What a wonderful dog! Retrievers often think of themselves as lap dogs, don't they?

  17. I've never owned a dog but really found this post endearing and fun to read.

  18. What a nice post to read and what an adorable dog your Whisky ! The collie, herding children I just see the picture, and I can understand him that he left church before the sermon started, lol !
    I still miss my friend's (neighbor) dog (a bernese mountain dog) he was such a good boy. Each time I am in our garden I miss his big face behind the hedge ! He also liked my cats and they liked him.

  19. Whisky makes me think of all my passed pets and brings back fond memories, Makes me laught too at her being a lap dog. Have a great week.

  20. Whisky must be so proud... knowing your very sweet story.

    Perfect shots, luv them both...

    Happy SS...

  21. a beautiful tribute to whisky..

    Woof woof
    from Bozo
    Pet Pride

  22. I loved your stories about Whisky. I felt like I was there in the classroom and other places watching her. What warm memories you have of her, and they were beautifully expressed!

  23. Love the tail (unintended typo) of the dog walking out of the sermon - Joan - would that have been Miss Joan Hunter-Dunn? - my second favourite Betjamin poem.

  24. emotional and touchy story
    like the pics cute
    names are beautiful

  25. Such loving memories! Talking about a man's best friend, right?


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