Our dogs – a short history of the dogs we’ve known & loved

Since I was 12 we’ve had a dog. I can’t imagine a house without a mutt traipsing around after me, getting in my way, or leaning on my leg when I’m sad like they know and understand. I love dogs, dogs are where it’s at. All dogs are characters and characterful, but all our dogs have really helped shape our lives.

Our dogs - a short history of the dogs we've known and loved

My first dog was Tess. A boxer/staffy cross. She was full of beans and twice as bouncy. Not great around little kids as they only encouraged her rambunctiousness, but with me and my younger brother she was an absolute star. She was so protective of us and looked a lot tougher than she actually was, a great deterrent for ne’er do wells when we were walking her alone.

I was 23 when she died, she had cancer and had to be put down, but she was a real beautiful, belter of a dog and she’s still missed.

About six months later Sam came into our lives. Sam again was a boxer/staffy cross but with a bit more staff and a bit less box than Tess. I’d left home by that point and she was my parents dog, but we took a real shine to her. She was a bit too energetic for a couple on the slide towards retirement, so she came to live with us.

Our dogs - a short history of the dogs we've known and loved

During the days she would accompany my husband to work, the evenings she’d spend snuggled on the sofa with me. She genuinely was one of my best friends, she always knew when I needed her. She was forever curled at my feet and always woke me by sticking her cold nose against the back of my knee under the covers and giving my leg a gentle lick.

In 2010 I fell pregnant. Sam was to all intents and purposes my baby and had been since she moved in. We knew having a rival in the house would be difficult, but we underestimated just how put out she would be. When we brought Benjamin home in November 2010 she moved out that same evening. For her it was hate at first sight.

We tried for months to assimilate her back into the house but she wouldn’t have any of it. Reluctantly she moved back in with my Dad and lived with him until her death. My Dad enjoyed having her around now that she was an older dog set in her ways. It seemed and was the most logical thing to do. We could still see her and spend time with her, but we weren’t putting Benjamin in any danger.

Thankfully as soon as Benjamin found his feet, began toddling and looked like an actual human being rather than a strange, alien crying thing, her mind was changed. She fell as in love with him as we did and the feeling was mutual. The boy and dog were best friends. We’d even get a growling at if we tickled him, she was so protective of him.

Benjamin was obsessed with her now and they’ve been best friends for until she died in 2014. Right until the end she was in love with Benjamin. He loved to look after her, fill her water bowl, feed her and brush her. When she died it was Benjamin’s first bereavement. Sam had gone to live in a farm in heaven. He was sad, but that’s part of life and an important part of what pets can teach children. 

In December 2016 Penny burst into our lives. A hairy whirlwind of chaos. She was not the staffy/boxer cross we’d always gone for, but she is a cocker spaniel, springer spaniel cross. Something new and very different. It had been 15 years since I’d last had a puppy and I’d forgotten how much hard work they are. They’re worth it. She is worth it. But they take a lot of looking after, much more so than a sedate old dog who knows their place. 

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Penny is 8 months old now, she’s starting to calm down a little bit (a very little bit). She is Benjamin’s best friend. She’s learning when I need a cuddle and I’m learning when she needs one too. She goes to work with my husband a few days a week. She likes to sit looking out of his window and when the mood takes her she gets paper out of the bin and shreds it for him. She’s helpful like that. 

I’m so glad we’ve got another dog in the house, she’s great company for us all, and a decent excuse to get some exercise. 

Tess, Sam and Penny are three waggy ladies who have had a joyous, wonderful, enriching impact on our lives and I know Penny and Ben will grow up together being the best of friends. 

Our dog is for life, not just for Christmas

On 15th December a little 8 week old Sprocker puppy joined our family. Everyone who has met her has fallen for her fluffy puppiness, deep dark eyes and adorable snuggles. Make no mistake, she is a menace, an adorable menace. But she is not and never was intended to be a Christmas present for anyone. She is a much wanted and longed for, four legged member of our family and our dog is for life.

Back in October, fresh from our holiday to Majorca, my husband suggested we get a puppy. This was not an out of the blue suggestion, it was the result of two years of heavy hinting, blatant begging and sad “we want a doggy” eyes from both the small boy and myself.

In the summer of 2014 my best doggy mate Sam(antha) kept collapsing and was eventually put down. She’d been a fantastic companion for me and saying goodbye was an incredibly hard decision, but the right one. She was a boxer staffy cross, loyal to the last but probably not the kind of dog who’d do well on Canine University Challenge. We’d been dog-less ever since and the house needed a hound to make it feel like a home.

At the age of six, we felt the small boy was now old enough to shoulder some of the burden of pet ownership. I work from home and could do with an excuse to switch the laptop off and get some fresh air, so a dog seemed like a bit of a no-brainer to us all. 

Once hubs had acquiesced and given us the nod, the search began in earnest. I wanted a smaller dog than I’d had before, my family had always had boxers or boxer crosses  and I wanted a dog which wasn’t quite as strong. I wanted a dog that was bright and would enjoy being trained and I wanted a dog who would be a great family pet. 

Our dog is for life, not just for Christmas

We looked at a few different breeds. Hubs said no to a few which he thought were too small or hard to find, but eventually we settled on a Sprocker – a cocker spaniel, springer spaniel cross. If a Sprocker puppy had been available in October we would have snapped her up, but the only one we could find was an hour away in Stoke and wouldn’t be available until the week before Christmas. This was not the worst news as it gave us 6 weeks to prepare the house for a puppy and buy the things we’d need. But it did mean she’d arrive the week before Christmas.

She is emphatically not a Christmas present or a Christmas pup. If anything I would suggest that Christmas with all its household upheaval, strange indoor trees, rich food and too much coming and going is the worst time to bring a puppy into your home. They’re lovely and I wouldn’t swap her, but I’m very much looking forward to her being toilet trained and not wanting to eat the Christmas tree lights every five minutes.

Meet Penny, our adorable menace. Our dog is for life, not at all for Christmas.

Our dog is for life, not just for Christmas