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Thursday, 24 September 2015

A friendly breed

The prompt this week shows two privileged little girls with their pet dogs outside the family mansion. We've had dogs as a photo prompt before, and I've previously included a few photos of them here, but I still managed to find a few more in my mother's and my father-in-law's collections. I think there is something about cocker spaniels in particular that always makes them look more good-natured, cheerful and endearing than some other breeds. I don't have photos of sisters but I do have them of siblings with dogs, although not together.

This first photograph is of my mother Jean as a young child, c. 1936, when she and her mother Mona Morrison nee Forbes were visiting Mona's older sister Ruby and husband William Berry. They lived in Dunedin and no doubt young Jean enjoyed the journey down there from Christchurch and hanging out with her aunt and uncle and her cousins Ruth, Doug and Jack, not to mention the fun of having a dog to play with for a few days, as she didn't have a dog at home.

Next in line is Shortie, another spaniel, who was likely owned by Jean's childless paternal aunt Ethel and her husband Jack, whom Jean visited in Wellington for Christmas in 1938. 

The next photograph shows Graeme, one of Jean's younger brothers, clearly very happy to be cuddling what might be the same dog a few years later. It looks to have the same spotted colouring on its forelegs, but I'm no expert, and perhaps that kind of colouring is common in the breed. Alternatively this spaniel may have belonged to uncle Stanley Herbert Morrison, who also lived in Wellington, and whom Jean and Graeme visited together in 1942, when Graeme would have been around 13.

My other three photographs are from a collection of negatives labelled "Afternoon tea at Aunt's", by Bob Featherston. Taken on the same day, they show the same dog, being petted first by Bob and then by his younger sister Dawn, about whom I wrote a short tribute not long ago that you can read here.  It was a sunny afternoon in 1947 and Bob, his mother Grace and sisters Jean and Dawn had taken Bob's English bride Mary to meet Grace's sister Edith, known to the family as Aunt Dulce. I'm sure Dulce's dog would have enjoyed the attention that he or she received from all the visitors that day.

 Edith Mary O'Connor, nee Calwell, youngest of ten Calwell siblings, had a rather sad life. She was aged only three when her father Dan Hogue Calwell died and she lost a baby when she was a young woman, in the same week that her mother died. Dulce married 10 years later but she and her husband Columba Alain Devereux O'Connor didn't have any children together and in 1940 he died of a heart attack aged 36, after only five years of marriage.

The obituary for Columba O'Connor, published in the Advertiser, 5 Dec 1940, per Trove web site. His wife Edith does not rate a mention.

Like Mona and Jack Morrison, Grace and her husband Joe Featherston were not a dog-owning family themselves, but the two sisters were very close. In 1942 Dulce was living in the very same street, just across the road from Grace in Little Myers St Geelong. By 1949 she had moved back to the home in Minerva St Manifold Heights where she previously lived with Col. No doubt both she and her pet would have been much loved by the extended Calwell/Featherston family. I met Dulce once, probably in 1972 or '73, but I don't remember whether or not she had a dog at that stage. She passed away later in 1973.

Bob's sister Dawn Featherston looking young and sporty in her short shorts. This dog also has spotted legs, but is definitely not Shortie!
At the home of Dulce O'Connor. Grace and her younger daughter Dawn are at the back, with daughter-in-law Mary and Grace's sister Dulce in the centre of the photograph. Currently I haven't identified the girl in the light suit or the two children, but I'm working on it. Dulce's dog had probably had enough of the limelight for one day!

That's enough smiling people and family spaniels from me, but if you take your dog (or mouse) for a walk to Sepia Saturday #298 I'm sure you'll find plenty more.

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