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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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Shep was a wonderful companion, a Welsh Border Collie. He came from a farm in Wales.  I was just a young kid when one day, while I was sitting in the lounge, my brother bought him in and just put him on my lap. Me and Shep used to play Hide and Seek; I would tell Shep to sit and stay, and he would sit there patiently while I went and hid (usually upstairs). I would shout “Come and find me Shep” and he would come bounding upstairs and sniff around until he found me. 

We had Shep for many years. Once I remember he began to get aggressive; until then he’d always been very gentle. My brother took him to the local vet who told us Shep had distemper, and would probably die, but if he did get over it he would never be the same dog again. We paid for the treatment for a while, and then my father decided to take thing into his own hands. He sent me to the chemist for some syrup of buckthorn (which used to be used as a purgative) and dosed the dog with it. The vet was furious, telling us we might have killed the dog. Well, Shep did make a full recovery, and father always said it was the syrup of buckthorn that did the trick. Note: please DO NOT do what we did if your dog is ill; let the vet help it. We took a chance and were probably very lucky to get away with it; it may well have been that vet that really saved Sheps life - I dont know. I do know he got over it.

Shep eventually went blind, I understand many border collies do. He still would walk around the house, and even the street, and as long as his familiar route was clear he would be fine. He lived to a good age and finally passed on. One of the finest dogs we ever had, and the most wonderful friend a young kid could have.


Look after them all up there, Shep


Sabre was my next dog, a small black mongrel but with a lot of Labrador in him. We had him as a small pup from a kennels in the West Midlands ; he had been taken in as a stray. He was another good dog, and often had us laughing. One Christmas we were sat watching the television when mother asked "where's our Sabre?". We realised he had been very quiet for a while. Well you would if you were lay behind a chair eating a whole box of candied fruit slices that you'd managed to pick off the window ledge when nobody was looking! 

My father built Sabre a kennel in the back yard, a really great kennel. It had a hinged roof, properly lined with roofing felt - so we could easily get in to clean it, it even had an entrance hall that turned through 90o to keep the wind out, and the main part was lined with carpet. That was Sabre's retreat, he didn't like it when we went in to clean!

Sabre stayed with my parents when I eventually left home and moved to Staffordshire. One day my wife and I were visiting (Sabre always loved to see the family when they visited) and my mother had baked a large fruit cake. She came in, put the cake on the coffee table; Sabre got up and casually walked over, then picked up the cake and ran for his kennel before we had a chance to stop him. We decided we didn't really want the cake back, so we left it. A few minutes later he walked in and dropped the cake on the floor, not a bite taken from it,  he obviously thought it had been great fun! He had a real treat that day.

Keep that kennel clean up there, Sabre

Bonny and Duke

Bonnie and Duke were our first dogs after we got married. Bonnie was a Welsh Border Collie, a rescue dog from a kennels in Longton (Staffordshire). Duke was a mongrel, like a small German Shepherd dog but with a beard; he also came from a rescue kennels when he was just a pup. Bonnie and Duke were good companions, and we also took them camping with us when we went on holiday.

Bonnie was big for a collie and nowhere near as energetic as Duke. We were walking once while in the Lake District and came to a high fence with a climbing frame over it. Duke raced towards it and scrambled straight up and over. Bonnie watched him and then she also ran towards it, quite a bit faster than we thought she could go. We shouted her to stop, but she was determined. She hit the frame and we were amazed there was no grace to it, she went up the thing by sheer determination, and made it over the top! On the way back we walked down the country lane back towards the campsite. Suddenly Duke pulled my wife towards the ditch at the side of the road, obviously trying to get to something. My wife went with him (not that she had much choice!) to see what it was, and was horror-struck: it was a sheep's head. She has never forgotten it.

In later life Bonny grew to be a very fine, if rather plump, old lady. She was very big for a collie, probably the biggest I have ever seen, but not through being overfed. We would walk the dogs through our village and onto the field. Bonnie would go so far and decide she was tired, and simply lie down. It did not matter where - the field, the pavement, in the middle of the road, she just stayed there until she was ready to move again.

Be good up there you two!

Brandy and Rusty

Brandy and Rusty were both from rescue kennels in Staffordshire. Brandy was a Belgian Shepherd or groenendael, although I was often told by other dog owners that she was a black German Shepherd. Her coat was not as long as that of other Belgian Shepherds, and she was smaller than a German Shepherd. Brandy was very intelligent -and very mischievous. Not long after we had Brandy we took her on holiday with us to Devon. We were sat on a grass bank looking over a shallow stream, and she was running about and playing in the water. After a while she came up behind me and lay down, but as soon as I was not watching she jumped up and put her paws on my shoulders, grabbed my sun hat off my head and ran off with it. Rusty was a mongrel, but our Vet' said he had a lot of Mastiff in him. He was about half the size of Brandy, but as big across the shoulders.

The dogs were great friends and when out for a walk, when let off their leashes they would chase each other.When first let off they would stand stock still, then Rusty would make a break and go charging off with Brandy in hot pursuit trying to grab his tail.  After a while they would change over and Rusty chase Brandy, trying to grab her collar. Rusty was not as fast as Brandy but could turn very quickly and avoid her for a while, but Brandy had more staying power and would eventually get him, usually bowling him over. Rusty would sometime go down quite hard (scaring the hell out of us!) but get right back up and carry on running, grinning maniacally.

Brandy also had a very comical "prancing hunt" along hedgerows, trying to surprise small furry things. She would trot along slowly, lifting her paws high and putting them down carefully, a sort of canine dressage. She was also expert at getting into things - cupboards, boxes, wardrobes, drawers, and stealing stuff, which she would then tease us with.  We had to put intruder locks on the bedroom doors to keep her out (we tried turning the handles upside-down; that lasted about two days). We also hadto put child locks on cupboards, and even on the refrigerator.

Rusty was a professional lounger. He could find the best spots to lie down, sometimes on his back with his paws in the air, or curled over the arm of a chair. His ears were quite big and floppy, but he could lift them up straight and do a good "Gismo" impression. Brandy could turn her ears in different directions, sometimes with one facing forwards and the other backwards. If scared, she would turn them to face each other. She could also lie her ears down flat (independently).

Brandy and Rusty were great fun, and although the house sometimes looked like a bombsite, we loved them both very much. 


Brandy & Rusty, 2014


Rusty; 2000 - 2014. RIP.

A very sad day yesterday as our old pal Rusty was finally laid to rest after nearly 15 years of being a great companion. He was simply worn out, but for some time had also suffered from a large tumour that had been causing him some problems. It was a very hard decision but it was time to let him go to sleep peacefully before he started suffering too much. You are sadly missed old friend.

Rusty, laid to rest on 29/11/2014. Rest in Peace.


Brandy; 1999-2015. RIP.

It was with much sadness that we have finally had to say goodbye to Brandy. A grand old lady of 16, she was a wonderful pal to us and her old friend Rusty.  Smart, impatient, and strong-willed right to the end, but old age, failing eyesight and terrible arthritis in her hips had taken its toll. It was so very hard to face up to the decision, but there was nothing else the vet could do and it was finally time to let her go to sleep peacefully. It's going to be very lonely around here without you old girl.

Brandy, laid to rest on 16/05/2015. Rest in Peace.

We hope that somehow all of you wonderful old dogs have met up somewhere and are chasing each other around the open fields, having a ball and without any more cares. Every one of you gave us so much pleasure. Until we meet again, rest in peace all of you.


Well, our decision not to have any more dogs did not last long. Sapphire (Sapphy) is the latest member of the Whiley household. She is a cross Alaskan Malamute/Siberian Husky. We adopted Sapphy from the local rescue kennels in September 2015 (she was about 18 months old then). She had previously been rehomed three times, but through no fault of her own had ended up back in the kennels. She was not the sort of dog that we had in mind, but we very quickly fell in love with her. Sapphy is a real character, strong willed and can be quite demanding and a bit of a handful at times, but very affectionate and brilliant at home. She loves meeting people and playing with other dogs (when she gets the chance). She also has a strong prey drive and has no problem catching mice and digging them up out of their nests (even when she's wearing the muzzle!). Huskies usually cannot be let off the lead as they have no recall but Sapphy is different; she plays hard to get when we come to put her back on her lead, but she does not run off. We feel we are very lucky to find a wonderful dog like Sapphy, and hope she is with us for years to come.