If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the past few years, it’s that I’m definitely a dog person. This shouldn’t be surprising, since I’ve been growing up with spaniels from the get go. However, I’ve come to realise just how much not having a dog negatively impacts my self-confidence, sense of purpose and overall quality of life.
When my parents came down to Cornwall recently, they brought with them the remainder of my belongings. Among the few boxes and folders, were old photographs of my childhood. I really enjoyed sifting through the nearly forgotten images and it inspired me. Today I thought I’d share with you what it was like growing up with spaniels.
Hollie and Daisy – English Springer Spaniels
My parents got Hollie and Daisy before I was born and I grew up with them for most of my childhood. They were both Liver and White English Springer Spaniels; Hollie a show type and Daisy, working.
Hollie was a very mischievous dog, she’d always jump up at the table to gobble down food. In fact, she was so food focussed, she’d often run away on walks and be found rummaging through someone’s bin! Daisy on the other hand, was much more obedient and adventurous. She loved the water, however muddy and would always be found playing fetch with her tennis ball!
Being English Springer Spaniels, Hollie and Daisy needed plenty of walks. As a young child, I’d often be dragged along too, dressed in some questionable outdoor attire (thanks mum and dad!) Growing up, I also loved playing games with my cuddly toys, attaching leads to them and walking them like my parents walked the dogs.
Having Hollie and Daisy wasn’t always plain sailing. Being two female dogs, of a very similar age, there were quite a few squabbles over dominance! Sometimes it was scary, they’d just lunge at each other out of nowhere and when my brother and I were very young, we couldn’t be left on our own with them.
Sadly, both Hollie and Daisy passed away when I was in my early teens. I was too young to be told about Hollie’s medical problems leading up to her passing, however I do know that we think Daisy had a stroke. Just a week beforehand she was happily enjoying a holiday to Hastings, sitting in the row boat we hired. Once we returned however, things deteriorated. It was particularly hard when Daisy died, because we had no other dogs to walk or look after and all of a sudden, our lifestyle changed completely.
Millie – English Springer Spaniel
Millie came into our lives during the summer of 2009. We travelled by car an hour or so to first meet her and then, a few weeks later, bring her home. I was studying for my GCSEs at the time, as I remember listening to an audiobook for my English class on the way to get her. It was an incredibly exciting time for my brother and I, not only because we were getting a new puppy but also because we were going to be somewhat responsible for her.
We had begged and begged and begged my parents for months to have another dog. Since Daisy’s death things hadn’t been the same in the house but work commitments and school made it a less than ideal time to have a dog. I remember promising to walk the new dog every single day – in reality, this lasted about a month, maximum.
Being my parents’ third spaniel, they worked hard to train Millie. We worked hard to ensure she didn’t jump up at the dining room table, like Hollie used to do, or get over protective like Daisy did from time to time. As a result, Millie has grown into a near perfect dog (if only she’d learn to drop the ball!) She’s been a great companion to me over the years, assisting me with shoots and even coming with me on trips away.
Millie is now 8, though you couldn’t tell by looking at her! She’s just as mad and full of beans, like Springer Spaniels are! I remember worrying a lot about Millie forgetting who I was, while I studied by the sea. Though I missed her terribly while I was away, our reunions at the train station more than made up for it. She’d come running over with a massive grin and her tail wagging so much she couldn’t control her back legs!
Woody – Working Cocker Spaniel
When we moved back to Cornwall this summer, not bringing Millie with me was tough. Cornwall is such a beautiful county and super dog friendly too! Millie loves coming to visit when she can, though it’s always bittersweet when she leaves. After months of pining for a four legged companion, Woody came into our lives!
Woody is a 1 year old Working Cocker Spaniel, who was unfortunately having to be rehomed, though no fault of his own. I stumbled upon his advert and, seeing as he lived in the neighbouring town, I decided to pay him a visit. It was absolutely love at first sight and a week later, I brought him home. Amazingly both my landlady and work allowed me to have him and I am incredibly grateful!
Having Woody around has changed my life, in more ways than I had expected! I feel more confident and at ease in my own skin and he’s forced me to get outside and reconnect with the great outdoors. He’s an incredibly well behaved dog, who has been trained well. Though there are a few teething problems, such as his selective hearing when chasing birds, he’s a very fast learner!
So I’ve decided I’m a dog person (in case you couldn’t tell) and though its a big responsibility, I’m always ready for a challenge. I’d be lying if I said it’s been all plain sailing but the tears, tantrums and worry are definitely worth it!
Who are the four legged friends in your life and what do you love most about them? I’d love to hear your stories!
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