The white and brown dog


If you have been reading here a while you may have seen our two dogs occasionally appear on these pages. Oakley is the black and white English Setter and Teal, our little white and tan English Springer Spaniel. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Teal a couple of months ago and this post, a post in memory of her, has been in my mind for such a long time. It was all too fresh and sore to begin with and then time filled up with busy things but we have not forgotten our little white and brown dog and this morning I suddenly need to write this post. I seem to have seen Teal lookalikes everywhere today, walking in the fields, outside the shops in town and in the pages of a magazine. So our gentle little dog is at the forefront of my mind.


Oakley was our first dog, our practice child if you like. We got her as a tiny puppy and spoiled her terribly of course, as a result she thinks she is a step above other dogs, indeed she has little idea that she is a dog at al
l. Teal was quite different, she came to us as a four year old and although still first and foremost a pet it was important that she be a working dog too. She came to us fully trained and spent her first few weeks constantly walking around and around the room every time we entered, eager to please, eager to work. She had been kennelled all her life and a trials competitor, her masters had been strict and she was most unused to lazy family evenings in front of the fire. In truth some of those anxieties never quite left her but she did learn to relax and once in a blue moon I would enter a room to find she had crept quietly on to the sofa, of course she jumped off fairly sharply as soon as she was spotted, unlike the Setter who believes it is her right to sit on a sofa and indeed does at all times.


Teal did work her little socks off right through her life. She loved to see The Technical Advisor don his waterproofs and pack a lunch and would eagerly accompany him in the harshest of conditions. Her energy was incredible and she would eagerly bound up mountains, then slide muddily downwards (her clumsiness was legendary). She would tear through the thickest of bramble and gorse in search of pheasants and return home at the end of the day exhausted and filthy but still so gentle and eager to please.


The clumsiness was unbelievable, we used to liken her to one of those Slinkys, it was as though her back and front were entirely un-connected and I cannot count how many times her clumsy actions would send us into fits of laughter, watching Teal descend a flight of stairs was funny beyond belief. She was affectionately known to us as "muppet".

Teal didn't ask for much. She was happy to be fed and walked and oh so pathetically grateful for any attention beyond that. Should you stroke the top of her head just once she would immediately push her head back under your hand, gazing at you with utter, vacant, devotion. She loved us so much. She roll over submissively every time a small child approached her, she put up with no end of poking and prodding from the young dog loving Tilly, she shared her bed with inquisitive toddlers on many an occasion and was glad to be dressed up in bows and hats.


Just a week after our move Teal lost control of her back end, I mean more than normal. I thought that perhaps in her usual clumsy way she had slipped on the tiled floors and pulled a muscle or something. She was uncomplaining just seemingly surprised that her back legs where not following her front. We phoned a vet that night but still felt sure she would suddenly start to walk normally again. We waited overnight, the next morning there was no change and I had to carry her to the garden, she could only drag herself awkwardly a short distance. I took her to the vet whose expression told me quickly what I had been pushing down, deep inside, unwilling to acknowledge. It was serious, she had no feeling at all in those back legs, as the vet pinched her toes she just gazed at me vacantly, devotedly. The vet said there may have been something growing on her spine for a long time, maybe even always, it could be that her characteristic clumsiness was actually medical for all those years. The vet said she had done so well to reach 12 years old, to have kept working. I took her home that day. She wasn't in any pain but I couldn't take that decision, not there and then, I needed to say goodbye, I needed all of us to say goodbye. I knew that The Technical Advisor would need especially to say goodbye, she had been his dog most of all, his first working dog, his companion on so many wet and muddy adventures.


It was a very hard 24 hours or so, we kept hoping she might suddenly recover and walk around normally, that it was all a mistake. We knew it could not be so but still, you hope. The children were so upset and as for Teal? She couldn't have been happier in those hours, she had so much attention, no one could walk past her soft head without stroking and cuddling. She gazed devotedly at all of us.


The Technical Advisor took her back to the vet on a Saturday morning and it was the hardest thing. The hardest thing. He held her head and said goodbye, she gazed at him devotedly of course.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net
Anonymous said…
Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net

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