"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Old Girl

 Last summer we had a special visitor run into the garden, our old girl Pick.

We've had three dogs, the first a male Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever named Jake, chosen and named by our son for his 10th birthday.  Jake was a fine big puppy, the kids all loved him but he was Ole Rascal's dog, no doubt about it.
Jake picked up a virus from standing water, became ill and died within 24 hours, he was only a few months old.
We were so devastated for our pup and for our son, we could barely function for several days.
In desperation we phoned the breeder to talk about replacing Jake as soon as possible.  He told us there was a six month old female named Pick who was meant for breeding but in the end her stature wasn't quite right for creating the ideal shape of a Duck Toller, would we like to have her?
We drove out and picked her up and she became part of the family.
Our old girl Pick
 Pick was a great dog but she was a bit too smart.  I always thought she would have been a wonderful mother because she was so anxious, she knew everything that was going on and didn't do well to be separated from the kids or from us.  She needed lots of attention in the way of walks and just being talked to.  If not she would let us know she was unhappy by having a big pee on the stair rug.
We eventually adjusted to her needs and I really enjoyed walking her, she was one of those dogs that was great on her leash, didn't bark at other dogs or lunge at them.  She was lovely!
Six years after she came to live with us our youngest daughter became ill, and with the illness came many, many visits to the paediatrician.  Dr. Laszlo was a gentle doctor with the children, very caring and he was also an expert with allergies.  Every week he would ask me about the "allergy in the house" and if we had "dealt with it".   Little Rascal consistently showed signs of an allergy, mostly by way of a stuffy nose.
Finally he said to me "there's nothing for it, that dog is going to have to be put down."
So we dealt with it, but of course we knew that she didn't actually have to die!
We phoned the breeder and quickly found a kind couple who had a love of Duck Tolling Retrievers.  They had a male Duck Toller, I think Reggie was 10 at the time, and they thought Pick would be a wonderful companion for him.
So we very sadly said goodbye to Pick but we were fortunate enough to get regular updates from her new owners.
Pick and Reggie became best mates and loved to run and play together.  Reggie was quite a bit bigger than Pick and he loved to look out the window.  Pick was too short to reach the window so her new owner made her a little bench to stand on so they could look out together.  They would wander the fields and chase after birds and squirrels, all in all they were having a blast.
Then after 10 months or so their relationship changed.  Pick became very protective and almost maternal towards Reggie.  This was a puzzle to them and of course I put it down to the fact that Pick never did get to be a mother, a role I was so sure was her true calling.  Then Pick started growling at other dogs in the parks and on walks and wouldn't let them near Reggie.  Then she started sleeping right next to him, nearly on top of him, covering his body with hers.
The owners were suspicious and took Pick and Reggie to the veterinarian.
Reggie was sick with cancer and he only lived a short time after that.
Pick in our garden last summer.
 Our old girl picked up on the illness months before anyone had a clue and she nursed and comforted him during those last months.
He must have been in pain, and she knew it.
Well, obviously after losing Reggie to the horrible cancer Pick became precious as gold to her new owners, her loyalty to their beloved Reggie, the comfort she provided, and now of course she was the only dog left to them.
Our old girl has been very loved!
Seeing Pick last summer brought tears to me eyes.  She's such a smart, gentle animal who is still a bit anxious.  She had no time for Scout who is about four times the size of her and barked at her from the corner of the garden trying to get her to play.  She was having none of it!

Pick turned 14 last week and so she is having a long life.  We had an email from the owner and she is doing just fine. Bless you Pick Old Girl and may you have many more years.

Next week our Scout will be three years old and while she is a completely different sort of dog she has the same loyalty that our Pick does.
Definitely tall enough to look out the window.
She does well with long walks though sometimes I wish she were as good on her leash as Pick was, but she's a playful breed and when sees other dogs she leaps into the air with happiness.
She is a "hypo-allergenic" dog which is the reason we chose this breed, though seeing our Little Rascal around other dogs I think our daughter has in fact out-grown her allergy.
We've been fortunate to have these dogs in our life, they are truly a gift to the home, they ask for so little and yet give so much.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to Pick! Thank you for this heartwarming story - so appropriate to the season in its own way.

    1. SLF thank you, our Pick is a lovely old girl. xx

  2. I loved this post! Your Scout is gorgeous. Our goldendoodle is now 7. Such a wonderful breed.

    1. Thank you Leslie. Scout loves other golden doodles more than anything! She jumps about six feet into the air when she sees one. xx

  3. Love this post about your dogs. Quite simply: Dogs rule! For the longest time, I refused to have dog. When my husband took up bird hunting, he really wanted a dog. To make the story short: when our first dog, Diamond, a German Shorthaired Pointer arrived, it was love at first sight. She was a gorgeous creature and a determined hunter. And obedient like you wouldn't believe. She had to be put down shortly after we got our second dog, Lily, a Drahthaar. Lily's a tomboy compared to the queenly Diamond but a great dog none the less. Our home will never be dogless again.

    1. Marla your dogs sound gorgeous. I agree, it's hard to imagine a dogless home! Thank you Marla xx

  4. I think I am a tough old boot most of the time and then I read something like this and I'm having to get a grip. What is it about animals and dogs in particular?? Gets me every time I tell you. I love Pick and it was love at first post for me too Dani and she truly does have a gift xx

    1. Naomi, thank you, Pick is really a special old girl, we've been so fortunate to keep her in our life even though we had to give her up those many years ago. Can you believe our doctor simply suggested putting her down, he was definitely one for kids but clearly not a dog person!
      Dogs give unconditional love and unlike humans they have no agenda except to be loyal to us. It's truly amazing. xx

  5. I think I am a tough old boot most of the time and then I read something like this and I'm having to get a grip. What is it about animals and dogs in particular?? Gets me every time I tell you. I love Pick and it was love at first post for me too Dani and she truly does have a gift xx

  6. Oh my. Pick does indeed sound like a wonderful old girl, and what a joy that you have been able to stay in touch. We adopted a collie, Marian, the dog of a lifetime perhaps. I once wrote about her on my blog. When we put out name on the list at the shelter, she was in very rough shape, and a few days later when we took her to our vet to be spayed, he told me she'd just had a litter and was still making milk. We were heartbroken for her, and I think she, like Pick, was always mothering us in her way.

    1. Paula we have been really fortunate that the new owners, well not so new now, it's been 8 years, have taken the time to send us emails and pictures and updates. We don't take it for granted, people have such busy lives these days, though I do find that dog people generally take the slower, appreciative look at life, must be all of those walks!
      Your Marian sounds like such a treasure and imagine that she was sent to the shelter and torn from her pups, my gosh what a sin. Pick has always been an anxious mother of those she loved, first us, then Reggie and her new family. Treasures these creatures. xx

  7. What a sweet story. So happy Pick has been so well loved. And Scout is such a cutie. Dogs have added so much happiness to our home as well. xo

    1. Jen it was so god to see her last summer. When she left she walked alongside her owners like a spirit animal, no leash or commands needed. She's very different from Scout but they share a loyal sweet nature. xx

  8. What a beautiful breed! Haven't ever heard of them. Wonder why they haven't crossed the border? Can't imagine how hard it must have been to not be able to keep Pick. But she may have been destined for Reggie after all. Also I suspect she didn't care for big gatherings at the house. Funny how each dog has their "couldn't be easier" and special challenge moments. Barbie is absolutely terrified of the click of a lighter and the default iPhone text alert.
    Must have been so wonderful to see her again! And how nice to know her family and completely trust she is in good hands. I'd also like to thank you for sharing a story of responsible rehoming of a pet. Sometimes it really is the only option and there is a very right way to do it and many very wrong ways.

    1. Stephen Andrew they are not a well known breed, I think they are good birding dogs. It was very sad to give up Pick and I remember feeling ill about it at the time. But it turned out for the best (our daughter's allergy symptoms did disappear within a couple of weeks) and as the situation with Reggie unfolded I remember thinking it was meant to be.
      It's true Pick is not fond of a crowd whereas Scout is the life of the party. Scout is scared of, not much, except garbage cans left at the curb, terrified!
      Hadn't thought about the re-homing bit, though we've often joked about the doctor's suggestion that she actually die. My gosh.
      Thanks Stephen Andrew xx

  9. Ah, beautifully written, and you've captured the essense of dog ownership (or would that be human-ownership as I'm convinced our animals own us at times!). So fortunate Pick found the perfect home and has lived a long and very happy life. Wonderful story.

  10. Such a beautiful tribute to your true companions. Pick sounds amazing. Dogs are a marvel to me on how they can pick up such important things, yet be so silly at at the same time.
    Our Beau and Jackson are the light of our family. The miss Slugger so much and literally lay on top him when's he's visiting from school. They are so funny and sweet - until the spot an evil squirrel or the neighbor's cat and bark loudly as to rattle you out of a coma.

  11. Thanks for sharing Pick's story so beautifully. She sounds like a special dog with a special purpose. Reggie was very fortunate to have her enter his life as a companion and "caregiver" when he was suffering with cancer. I'm glad that you got to come full circle and visit with your old girl Pick again. These things have a lot of meaning in life don't they?

    Meanwhile, Scout is such a handsome, silly and sweet dog and he seems perfect for your family. I'm glad that your daughter seems to be outgrowing her dog allergies so she can always enjoy having a dog in her life.

  12. Hi Dani, I read this yesterday then got too busy to comment. I've never had a dog, truth be told I'm a little scared of them, but your story of Pick and Reggie really touched me. How special and wonderful that you are still in touch with her. And Scout is such a cutie too!