A Proper Dog
Apologies for the grainy photo, it’s over forty years old. This is Dinky my first ever dog, my best friend as a child and the one who started my lifetime obsession with dogs.
We never intended to have a dog but my when my mum was offered an unwanted dog she couldn’t say no. So one day she picked me up from school with a little white dog beside her. We didn’t get to pick her name or know how old she was, we didn’t get to play with her as a puppy but she just slotted into the family and before long it was as if she’d always been there.
She slept in a small cardboard box with the front cut out placed right in front of the oven in the kitchen. Her blanket was an old duffle coat without the buttons and she had just one lead and collar throughout her entire life.
This all sounds a bit bleak but don’t feel sorry for Dinky, she was a ‘Proper Dog’ and the happiest little girl you could meet.
Sometimes her friends would gather at the gate and she’d skip over and go off on an adventure with them. This was not the days of heavy traffic, dognapping, and wardens. She was streetwise and never came to any harm. She knew where home was but the allure of vast green fields, rabbits, and muddy puddles to play in was just too much temptation. I look back at this in horror now but it was a different era and totally normal at the time.
My dad took her for walks and she would come home with her chin cut and bleeding. ‘She’s found another hedgehog’ he’d say, getting out the antiseptic. Strange that a Jack Russell terrier was only interested in hunting hedgehogs! My dad made sure they weren’t harmed and Dinky always came off worse.
There were times when she became a pampered pooch. When we went on holiday she went to stay with my gran who adored her so much she made Dinky a cup of tea every day. It was their little secret.
As far as I can remember she never went to the groomers or the vets. She certainly never owned a coat, if it rained she got wet! The front door was always open and a welcoming fire awaited her at all times.
She was there throughout my whole childhood and spent hours at my side. She’d watch me do my homework then we’d go outside and make perfume out of rose petals or dig for treasure in my dad’s vegetable patch.. She was there when I bought my first boyfriend home and she was there when I left home for the first time. She loved everyone except for the milkman who often got his ankles nipped but apart from that her behaviour was impeccable.
She died of old age when I was seventeen. All we can say is that she was a grand old age and she lived her life to the full. I always think of her when I see the film ‘Lady and the Tramp’, I’d love to see what she got up to on her adventures.
These days our dogs are still part of the family, but they never experienced freedom like Dinky did. Of course it would be highly dangerous to let a dog roam in current times. We tend to humanise our dogs by buying clothes and toys but it is more for the owners benefit than the pet.
Every day we learn more about how the companionship of a dog benefits our physical and mental health. Just stroking a dog’s head reduces blood pressure and a brisk walk has many health advantages.
Here is a post about humanising our dogs, feeling guilt as an owner and if we pamper them too much.
Do you have a proper dog or a pampered pooch?
Aww, Dinky is so cute. Your love for her is still strong in your descriptions that brought her back to life! My first dog was Sparky, a white collie. He literally “sparked” my mom’s 30 year hobby of raising show collies. Fun times!
It’s funny, the things you remember and how different we treat our dogs now, they are so pampered in comparison.
I love collies, they are such intelligent dogs. x
This story makes me want to cry. Wonderful dog, wonderfully written. My dad often tells stories of his beloved childhood dogs who were able to run free. There’s some looking back in horror, but also of joy at the freedom they enjoyed each day.
I can’t believe it myself sometimes. I’m paranoid about losing my two. But, like you say times were different and Dinky loved her free lifestyle. Thanks for the lovely comment.
This was a great post. Dinky seemed like she was a gem and a very sweet and important part of your childhood and teenage years.
Yes I think any pets we grew up with always stay special…..she never judged me when I told her all my outrageous secrets! x
Right?!??! They never judge! One of the best things about them!