I've been trying to get down to writing this for the past few months - since the pups came in fact!
I can only say that over these past weeks I've felt to be doing well if I manage to eat (sometimes!) and get to bed before
midnight (oh, for a weekend lie-in!) and so on. These basic functions are now elevated to Luxury Class! I have hands like a
scullery maid (constant mopping-up) and any hint of glamour went thro' the window the day the pups bounded in through the door!
And now you have met my extended (but not exactly planned!) family.
In fact it was a conspiracy that began one Friday in November at the office.
Jim and I were devastated by Fenella's death, and a couple of my colleagues - convinced the only answer lay in
more pups - secretly made contact with Lorna at Moorbrook Setters where Flossie and Fenella were bred.
Lorna 'phoned me and suggested I call to see her on my way back to the Lakes (as it happened a litter had been born that Monday).
That visit was fatal! I drove home that night in turmoil.. I had my name down for two pups - and was
wondering how the news would be greeted at home!
I need not have worried. Once Jim recovered from the initial shock, he was happy to be confronted with a fait accompli.
We prepared for those pups like any excited parents-to-be! There were sandstone floors to be laid (carpets and puppies
are not a good mix!), runs to be erected ('hunt the puppy' over garden and fell was not a game we wished to play), beds,
bowls, and other puppy paraphernalia to be bought and of course, most important (and pleasurable) of all - names to be chosen.
But how would Flossie react? That was the biggie question and one that worried me no end. Yet it was all we had left.
We had tried everything to revitalise her but without Fenella her appetite dwindled, she would only venture outside to answer
nature's calls and we were forced to watch her growing frailer by the day. Maybe the pups would give her that boost
she needed, I reasoned.
Yet throughout all this puppy-intensity, something else bothered me, like that snatch of a tune that constantly runs
thro' your head, or the dream that leaves a tidemark of emotion running through your day. Someone else had crept into my heart.
But more about this later….
Given the two hour trip, I was rather nervous the day we went to collect our pups and went well prepared
with an 'emergency bag' of paper towels, disinfectant etc. However the journey passed with little trauma
(other than a chewed handbag and car lighter) and thankfully - no mess. Our pups were born travellers.
It was a memorable day, bringing our new babies home. A day of smiles and tears too as I silently told
Fenella 'I did it Fennie; I kept my promise' (I'm filling up even now at the memory of it).
Yes, that was the promise I made her the night she lay dying; the details are our secret, but I can tell you that in her
own way, she let me know that she understood. So much so that I thought next day when it was all over; 'Oh, what
have I done?' as we had vowed (famous last words) 'no more after this'.
Not because our love for setters had diminished - just the opposite, it was about dreading the pain of one day
losing them. The loss of Fenella was bad enough, but we felt Flossie must soon follow her sister.
Yet after what happened between Fennie and myself, I had no choice but to honour my promise.
But back to the pups: it was only when we got them home that reality hit, and the first couple of weeks
found me reeling from the shock! I had a pair of puppies from hell! They hung off poor Flossie's ears as she tried
to dodge past them; messed on the floor approximately every five minutes, and chewed anything they could get into their mouths!
For example the waste paper bin; I never knew that so much cane and raffia went into the making of one basket!
The strands were strewed all over the floor. (They were also adorable and utterly irresistible of course).
Drastic action was called for: the purchase of several baby gates brought sanity to the home! With these
strategically placed, Flossie could now enjoy watching her charges' antics whilst remaining out of reach,
(and I could enjoy a tea break without having the cup knocked out of my hands and smashed on the new stone flooring!).
Naughty yes, but they learned so quickly: within days they would 'come' and 'sit' and a week later 'lie down'
using Jan Fennel's kind training methods. (Many thanks Jan for your sanity-saving 'Dog Listener' doggy bible!).
Of course in between they were, and still are, naughty, noisy and over-boisterous - but that is just healthy puppies.
And I was (and still am) so proud! On first walking down Safeway baby aisle looking for nappy bags and other bits,
amongst all the young mums with their various offspring, I felt an insane urge to shout aloud 'I've got babies too!'.
Now, amazingly, four months have passed; D'Arcy and Destiny are growing fast and are marginally more civilised- but also
more accomplished thieves! Like the day they pinched Flossie's packet of fairy cakes (her special treat).
I shouldn't grumble; they did leave one for Flossie - after having eaten eleven between them!
Then there were the half dozen boiled eggs they pinched and ate - shells and all! Or the day they decided to 'read' my
new hardback English Setter book that was so special because it contained lots of photographs of Ben, the pups' grandsire
(he's famous in the Setter World) and a lovely one of him on the back cover - or what remained of it - which
they had chewed around but not actually touched his image. Maybe even they had some respect for the Moorbrook Top Dog!
You couldn't see the floor for chewed-up paper. (Shades of Flossie 11 and the Moon Map).
But what, or who, was it that haunted my thoughts throughout all this?
If you'd like to find out, click on this button…..