.:~ MOORBROOK MISS TICKLE ~:.
It was all arranged for mid August. I had to stay in Herefordshire for a couple of days on business, and was to pick up our new family member on my way home, along with Ben and the pups. They had been staying with Lorna and Ken whilst I was away and Tickle had been put with Ben to get re-acquainted. 'Re-acquainted' because they had lived together in the past and Tickle had pups by Ben. She was just six years old, and the perfect companion for him now. At first it was strange seeing them together, my three 'blues' with Tickle who is orange belton (see piccie on left). I had vowed to never have a boy or an 'orange' and now I had both!
I was prepared for a restless night, but they had got to know one another already and settled in without fuss. The pups were clearly delighted with 'Auntie Tickle', and she tolerated their boisterous attentions with the kindness and laid back attitude of a broody matron! After supper Ben settled on his duvet with Tickle, looking relaxed and at peace for the first time since Flossie had gone. Watching them, a lump came into my throat. It was lovely seeing them together like that, but also poignant; I could not help thinking of my precious old girl and how, such a short time ago, she had lain there happily next to Ben. The image was achingly clear in my mind. I felt a fleeting pang of guilt, but then realised that Flossie, generous and loving as she was, would want Ben to be happy again.
Yet it is strange how things work out; there is an awful lot of Flossie you know, in Miss Tickle! She has Flossie's patience, affectionate nature, bolshiness at times and a certain magic naivite. Lucky for the pups she also has Floss's maternal instinct: Flossie always carried one of her dollies ('babies') around with her and tucked them up in her bed. From that very first day, as I watched her patiently licking Destiny's face, it was clear that 'Nanny Tickle' would look out for the pups. I knew she would also be an ideal companion for Destiny whenever she came into season. They would be happy together in Destiny's Des. Res. - and safe from the Boys!
A couple of nights later Jim returned from working away and met Miss Tickle for the first time! 'Do you like her?' I asked a little anxiously just before settling them into their beds. 'Like her? I love her already!' was his reassuring reply. (But then Tickle WAS nuzzling her head into his chest, and I'll swear she was fluttering her lovely white lashes at him whilst casting me a sideways look). That's Tickle: a flirty, girlie blonde with a wiggle!
I had heard much about Tickle's legendary gentleness and willingness to please. And these qualities were there in abundance - but we found out pretty quickly that she could also be an R.L.M.! (right little madam). We discovered that every fence, wall and gate was viewed by Tickle as a personal challenge to be overcome! (and if you can't go over you go under! is her philosophy
But whatever her scrapes, be it pinching a loaf, chewing a sock or simply sitting firmly on her butt refusing to go outside if it is wet or a gale is blowing, she is quickly forgiven because of her wonderful way with the pups. Destiny has visibly blossomed under Tickle's watchful eye (if I scold Destiny for naughtiness, Tickle immediately moves across my path and gives me a scowl that says 'hey, don't you shout at my pup!'). Whilst still naturally feisty, Destiny is much more loving and sure of herself, and is definitely happier since Tickle came. D'Arcy is too, but we sometimes have to curtail his enthusiasm now he's a hormonal teenager! He's funny, clumsy, and wouldn't know what to do if Tickle offered it on a plate - but that doesn't prevent him getting excited (boys will be boys!).
As for the Big Fella, he too has blossomed. Ben has grown a smart new coat, his eyes are bright and the spring is back in his step. He is eating us out of house and home and chases the pups and Tickle (and sometimes myself then pretends to bite me!) around the garden each morning for fun! So Welcome and Thank You Miss Tickle, you're a fully paid-up member of our precious pack!
Lorna and Ken have now moved from Tongue Cottage, but they - and Moorbrook Setters -are still at Garstang, Lancashire and can be contacted on the same telephone number i.e. 01524 792304 (this number still in use 2008)
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