Our Great Big Grey Dog

I HAVE just been attacked by a dog.

OK, “attack” is a slight exaggeration. I was walking out of work when a great big yellow retriever jumped up at me. If I hadn’t been a big strapping farmer’s daughter, brought up with bounding sheepdogs, I'd have been knocked for six.

At the end of his lead was a little old lady, and her response? “Oh, he loves people.” Not even a “sorry” as I wiped mud and drool from my jacket.

What is it with old ladies and dogs? My mother was just the same with her Jack Russell. The little devil could be a nightmare, yapping fit to bust and jumping all over you.

All you’d get from Mother was: “Down, Sammy. No, Sammy. Quiet, Sammy. That's enough, Sammy,” while the little bugger carried on yapping and jumping. If anyone dared to complain the response was a bright: “He’s only playing!”

I was tempted to stick my toe up his arse, wave him about and, if Mother complained, to say: “I’m only playing!”

Sadly - for my Mother anyway - little Sammy is no longer with us. Astonishingly, I kind of miss the little pest; at least he had character.

A memory has just popped into my head of a dog we had when I was a child. Ben.

Ben was mostly a laid-back kind of a canine but had his moments if we kids got too boisterous. Mother always said he had a bit of alsatian in him, along with a bit of collie, a bit of labrador, a bit of terrier, a bit of this, a bit of that. He was built like the proverbial shit-house door. He wasn't very tall but was barrel-chested and solid. He had one ear up and one ear down, the result of an infection when he was a puppy.

He liked chasing cars but his favourite prey was people on bikes. I’m sure he was “only playing”, although the cyclists probably disagreed. It wouldn’t be allowed these days, of course. I’m not sure it was allowed in those days although I can’t remember anyone, not even the cyclists, being very concerned about it. These days he’d be off in a dog warden’s van and my parents in court quicker than you could say, “Down, Ben.”

One day he had strayed from home to the next farm along and leapt out at a cyclist not used to his canine shenanigans. The poor man was knocked off his bike and taken into the farmhouse for treatment with a bit of Germolene and iodine.

Ben had run off but our neighbour knew exactly whose dog he was when the cyclist described him as “a great big grey dog with an ugly face”. Poor Ben. That’s how we described him for ever more.

I've just found a picture of Ben so you can judge for yourself. That's not me with him but my niece who now lives in Vienna, although I don't think she moved to Austria to get away from him. I think he looks rather gorgeous, in a macho, doggy kind of a way

This post is a tribute to all the dogs I grew up with - Ben, Bounce, Flint, Flash, Monty, Sound, Sally, Sam... and all the ones whose names I don't immediately remember. I hope they're all in that great farm in the sky, chasing cars and cyclists to their hearts' content.

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  1. My particular beef is how my parents have grown soft and silly with their dog. They were quite firm with the dogs we grew up with as children as a result of which the dogs were easy and lovely. This one gets homecooked food and taken everywhere, even places where it would be miles better to leave her behind.
    I loved the idea of your response to "She's only playing"!

  2. My brother has just bought one of his daughters a pug for her 21st birthday - the bloody thing is a nuisance - it leaps off the floor onto you and starts chewing your clothes! They all think it's hilarious. :(

  3. Your story reminds me a recent incident at work. I was delivering a part to a farmhouse. When I drove into the drive there was no one in sight. I called and called. Nothing. Then suddenly out of who knows where this HUGE dog with shaggy fur came running at me barking his head off. I was TERRIFIED! I did the worst thing I could have done - I turned my back on him. But I was sure he planned to eat me and if I turned around he surely would start with my face. Finally the owners came out and acted really annoyed at me. ANNOYED AT ME!!! They should have locked the beast up when they knew full well that a delivery was coming and then to add to it they acted mad at me. Then to top it all off this clown started in his little song and dance routine about, "Do I really have to pay for this?"

  4. That response of your mum's is very typical of many dog owners! Loved your happy doggie memories - thanks Table and good to see you again.

  5. I think Ben looks gorgeous too!! Loved the link to "germoleen and iodine". Very, very funny. Love your blog.

  6. My lovely 14 month old cockapoo is only playing too when he jumps up against you to greet you. He's not tall enough to rip off your face. He's just happy to see you and very enthused. I don't know how long it will last. He doesn't bark. He's the silent type. All dog owners are besotted with their dogs and see no harm in them. At least the foolish ones don't.

  7. i suspect i am turning into a little old lady.

    but i do still apologize when my dogs are too rowdy.

  8. I've got a dog, but I still really hate it when dog owners say 'It's all right, he won't bite'. How do they know? Who knows what goes on in a dog's funny little brain? Certainly not most dog owners. Anyway, my dog (naturally) won't bite, but she does have an unfortunate propensity for sniffing people's crotches - most alarming.