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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Going to see a man about a dog


The Sepia Saturday prompt photo this week shows a flight attendant cuddling a puppy. Perhaps it was about to be sent on a plane but had somehow escaped captivity. In any event, it looks sweet and harmless, as puppies generally are, but strange full grown dogs are not always so appealing. I've mentioned in a previous post how I used to be quite fearful of dogs defending their local streets and would walk well out of my way to avoid them, but there's also a nice photo of my old elocution teacher with her dog, a golden cocker spaniel. 

On a historical note, I found the following article in the Windsor and Eton Express of 18 June 1836, describing the flight and capture of a rabid dog. It's of particular interest to me because the gentleman who captured and put the dog out of its misery was in fact my 3x great grandfather on my father's mother's side, Charles James Byles, the proprietor of the former Hope Inn near Windsor Castle. The Hope was unfortunately closed when its Royal nieighbours decided they fancied more of the nearby land, but that's another story. I'm not sure if the people who wanted Charles to release the creature were dog lovers or whether simply they wanted to take matters into their own hands, but clearly shooting it was the only safe and humane thing to do, especially back in 1836, when no treatment would have been available.  I doubt whether the chimney sweeps sent to be dipped in seawater could possibly have survived.

I've previously shown a photo of my first cousins twice removed, siblings Charlotte and Arnold Petrie, cuddling their pets here in about 1900, and here is a photo of my grandmother Mona Forbes, aged 9, cuddling a cat in 1906. 


Mona's daughter Jean was not keen on dogs and even confessed to once putting my stroller (with me in it) in between her and an approaching Alsatian dog, but I found this photograph of her taken in about 1936, when she and her mother Mona were visiting Mona's older sister Ruby and family.  Of course, meeting a dog belonging to friends or relations is very different to braving strange marauding dogs in the street. 


Despite the fact that one of his favourite answers was "going to see a man about a dog",  if some curious child queried where he was off to, my father was not a dog lover either, and consequently we never had dogs when growing up. Cute toys like Sweep here, who squeaked when you squeezed his tummy, were about the closest we got, as this photo of my baby sister Louisa in 1958 shows. Later in life both my siblings would have dogs in their own families and my parents got used to them being around when they visited. I do remember however that when my father was staying with some friends and discovered that their dogs were bathed in the bathroom, he declined to use it himself, and was consequently rather keen to leave! His attitude was probaby influenced by the fact that his father had been a inspector.


In 1976 I was introduced to these two boisterous but friendly red setters called Susan and Jane on my husband's grandmother's farm in Hereford. They needed a lot of exercise and we took them for walks in the lanes while we were staying there, as these photos show. That was fine but I must confess I really didn't like seeing them being fed toast scraps from the breakfast table. Uncle Cyril their owner was not married at the time and had no children, but instead had a succession of similar dogs, sometimes even giving them the same names, right up a few years ago, when the last one Emma 2 died. Cyril himself passed away in December last year.

Here is our daughter Claire visiting her Nan and Granddad in 1980, and playing with the same original Sweep dog that her aunty  had played with back in 1958. I think my sister Louisa may now have him in NZ.

Here's Claire again a little later, visiting my brother/her uncle and his wife and getting to know Patch, their Old English Sheep Dog. Claire's now married with a baby, but no dog as yet.

Dad did allow us a few cats, and here are a couple of pictures of our ginger tom Gus, gazing outside rather than admiring his own reflection.  He lived to the age of  about 21, never saw a vet after his initial vaccinations as a kitten, and survived being put outside by my father every night without fail. No kitty litter for him, and his favourite resting place was a bucket on its side in a sunny spot by the back door.  I don't think he ever attacked anyone or any wildlife, other than the odd mouse.

Finally here is a photo of our cat Bogart, a lovable blue Burmese whose father's name was Humphrey. He had a long life too and in later years enjoyed the comfort of this kennel that we found by the roadside and did up for him.  Our younger daughter and her husband now have a Labrador Kelpie cross called Shelley, but Bogie's kennel is too small for her, and when we occasionally have to dog-sit she has to find shelter in our shed. Nevertheless we're saving that little kennel, just in case it comes in handy for some future family pet.

RIP Bogie Blue

For more cute and cuddly pet pictures or perhaps photos of airline staff members, just click here.

Postscript: a couple of weeks after writing this blog, I came across this photograph in one of my morher's albums. It is a perfect fit for the dog-cuddling prompt, so I'm adding it in here. The photo shows my uncle Graeme Morrison, Jean's brother, and was taken in about 1942, when he and Jean went to visit their Morrison uncle, aunt and cousins in Wellington. Graeme loved animals and clearly thought their dog was great.

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