Having persuaded Val, my wife, that we should think about having a dog, she actually came up with the idea of a retired greyhound and, much to her astonishment, I immediately made an appointment to visit Crossing Cottage Kennels. She agreed to go, but only on the basis that we have a look around and then think about it some more.
However, on arrival at the kennels, John’s opening gambit was, ‘Come on, we’ve got the perfect dog for you’. We were taken to meet Andy, a big black and white dog with baleful brown eyes. Every other dog in the kennels clamoured for attention, but not Andy. He took one look at us and strolled off to his bed and lay down with a big sigh. Val was smitten. Andy looked so sad, we had to take him home.
It turned out that Andy had been in the kennels for over a year. Always overlooked by would-be homers, probably because he didn’t push himself forward. Even more reason to take him, according to Val.
Having gone through all the formalities, the adoption went through and Andy came home with us. He was perfect – quiet, clean and beautifully behaved in the house (and office) and on the lead. And he still is. Off-the-lead, in open spaces, he reverts to type; he was born to race. Invariably, he does two flat out circuits of the field, always in the same direction, and then falls in behind, waiting for the lead to go back on.
But he remained reserved. Never sought affection and responded grudgingly to any that was given.
After we’d had him for about 18 months, I came up with what I thought was the solution to Andy’s reticence. He needed the company of other dogs. We should get another greyhound to keep him company. Val was appalled and adamantly refused.
However, on a visit to the kennels, I came across a very pretty blue dog called Bridie. A chat with Judith revealed that Bridie was a bit of a problem. She’d been homed twice and had come back both times for a variety of reasons. She’d got a reputation as something of a ‘devil dog’. Judith said that if I wanted to take her home and try her with Andy, I was welcome.
So I did and having got her home (and, at Val’s insistence, changed her name to Rosie), she stayed. And, far from being a devil dog, she’s fantastic. Clean, quiet and beautifully behaved – a really charming character.
Only one minor area of concern. She’s a chaser. Anything smaller than her, furry and with four legs, she’d be gone. I learned from bitter experience. Having let her off in the middle of a ‘safe’ area, she spotted rabbits in the distance and she was off. Field, after field after field. I reckon, with Andy trotting happily at my heels, I did about five miles across rough ground trying to catch up with her. Eventually she went in to a barn and I managed to corner her. My furious reprimand was met with what I can only describe as a defiant smirk.
She stayed on the lead for a long time after that episode but now, having checked every horizon carefully, I let her off in ‘safe’ places and she contents herself with racing and, much to his annoyance (he barks at her), beating Andy in his two laps round the field.
Rosie and Andy are now a couple. He’s top gun (or at least she lets him think he is) and, after three years, he’s turned into a really affectionate dog who actually comes and gives you a hefty shove in the back when he wants a stroke. Rosie is a delight – funny (she actually makes a noise like a dolphin and stamps her feet when she wants something) endearing and affectionate.
We wouldn’t be without them now and, if anyone is thinking about getting a dog, we would unreservedly recommend a visit to Cross Cottage. John will be waiting with the time-honoured phrase – “Come on in, we’ve got the perfect dog for you” – and he probably has!
Ray and Val Hirst