The month of June has seen the end of an era in this household.
For a dozen years or more we have shared our lives with Barney and Louby Lou, two of the most loving pets a dog crazy family could have wished for. Sadly, as happens to all us mortal beings, their time has been called and they have both departed to that great game of chasing sticks beyond the stars.
Barney came to us first way back in November 1997, rescued from a farm near Shirenewton close to our village of Caldicot in South Wales. Full of fleas and harbouring a nervous disposition, it took a good few days before he was convinced that his urge to occupy the high ground for defensive purposes was no longer a necessity. Initially his favourite spot was the kitchen worktops, but after bales of hay in the farm’s large barn (hence Barney) the lack of grip on shining worktops was unforgiving and so often he and a large proportion of their contents came crashing back down to earth. Several months of TLC were required before he was comfortable in the presence of anybody wearing Wellington Boots.
Louby Lou became Barney’s sister. She was a Border Collie, very bright and agile and taught Barney a thing or two.
So if doggie years count the same as seven in human years, Barney had reached the ripe old age of 91 before his poor old body finally decided enough was enough and he slipped off into the big sleep.
Then, sadly Louby Lou departed this life just two weeks after her life-long companion.
So now, from time to time, we are left unconsciously looking around for them, finding oneself thinking “Where are they?” and “What are they up to?” and then suddenly remembering they are not with us anymore. Not surprising I guess after all those years together, as wherever we went we all went together, even investing in the caravan so we could all go on holidays together and never having to leave them in kennels.
They both had a reasonable understanding of English vocabulary: “sit” and “stay” of course, “lie down”, “come here”, “wait”, all the normal dog handlers commands they responded to well. Then the more interesting words like: “biscuit”, “chicken” and “sausage”, and the phrases “Do you want to go into the garden?” or “What time is it?” “Is it nearly tea-time?”, you had no doubt they understood perfectly.
Louby had two particular words which caused her to sneak off and try to hide, those being “brush” and “bath”, but to all our friends, especially those Italian friends who came to learn English, Louby’s favourite phrase was undoubtedly “Where are the squirrels?”
On hearing this Louby would hurtle off to the nearest tree and try to scale it, a habit started during walks in the Caldicot Castle park grounds where there were indeed squirrels running up trees to escape chasing dogs, but continued here at Tre Cancelle even though the squirrel is not an indigenous habitant of these parts.
Last Winter, while we were away in the UK last winter, our Italian friends Luca and Loredana, kindly come to stay at Tre Cancelle to look after the dogs. Sadly Deefer, being his normal independent spirited self, managed to escape from the compound and was knocked down by a speeding van (which failed to stop). Our friends were devastated, and so were we. Deefer was the first stray dog that came and found us at Tre Cancelle. He was such a good tempered, loyal hound, but had already seemingly used up several of his lives, one of which when he was bitten by a viper a couple of years back.
And then to add a little more sadness, one of Louby’s brood, little Meggie (often called “Nutmeg”) as she was rather timid, scatty and unpredictable -Despite the best efforts by us and the vet, she also ran out of steam.
So she too has departed here for the big sleep, and left us and the remaining 9 members of the “Woofgang”, with tears in our eyes, to carry on.
We will never forget them.