What a lovely day I’ve had!
It’s several years since our two Border Collies died, after a long life that involved travelling with us from South Africa to Germany, on to England and then to their final home with us in Spain. I’ve occasionally fostered from a local animal rescue centre since then, but they usually look for longer commitments than we can give, with our travelling schedule. So when one of Neville’s colleagues at Nene Valley Railway was looking for part time care for his young dog, Peggy whilst he too does voluntary work at the workshop, I was more than happy to oblige.
This is Peggy, a Cocker Poo, about eight months old, and a sweet-natured little thing she is too. This so-called ‘designer’ breed is, as the name suggests, a mix of Cocker Spaniel and Poodle, and is supposedly anti-allergenic, with low dander and very little shedding. I’m a controlled asthmatic, so I was interested to see whether this breed provoked a similar reaction as some others we’ve fostered.
We’d met her last Friday when we had a brief ‘getting to know you’ session, and today was her first full day with me. She’s a confident little dog, not a bit fazed to be see her owner leave, anxious only to start a ball game in the garden. (She’d already sniffed out every corner of the house on her introductory visit last week.)
After a few games of ‘fetch’ in the garden, I came indoors to put the final touches to a cake I was making, and all the while she sat happily beside me, waiting for crumbs to drop, until she saw the black china cat sitting on the kitchen windowsill when all hell let loose. I had to put the ornament on the floor for detailed investigation before she was satisfied it was harmless.
In the middle of another ball game after lunch she suddenly became very excited, digging, yelping, sniffing and tugging at the base of the ivy that covers the wall at the end of the garden. I suspected that perhaps a field mouse was behind the root-stock. And then I realised that what I thought was root-stock was, in fact, a sleepy hedgehog.
No wonder Peggy was yelping!
I hauled her indoors – no mean feat as once she’s fixated on something there’s no reaching her. And as a precaution, I bathed her nose in cold water in case there’d been any contact with the hedgehog’s spikes.
Peggy whined and jumped about in the sitting room, gazing longingly out through the patio doors, until in the end I took her outside again and rigged up a lead extension with one of our dog’s old leads attached to the washing line at one end, and to her lead at the other. This allowed her to run up and down the garden, but kept her out of range of the hedgehog.
Later, her attention became focussed on a spot several yards away from the ivy, and I realised the hedgehog had vacated his original location and was rustling his way down the perimeter fencing. I placed the grass-box from the lawnmower close to him, hoping that perhaps he’d relocate there, thus making it easier to move him out of the garden to a safer environment. But I wasn’t hopeful, and the hedgehog seemed content to crawl behind it to hide.
By the time Peggy’s owner came to take her home she was thoroughly worn out by her day, and her eyelids were drooping. My guess is she’ll sleep like a log tonight. I know I will, after three walks and half a dozen ‘fetch’ sessions.
And luckily, there’s a happy ending. When my husband came home late afternoon, the hedgehog was already asleep again, safely tucked inside the grass-box, and we were able to easily release him to the thick shrubbery on the green beside our house.
But I expect Peggy will give that ivy a thorough inspection when she comes next week. I suspect she’s a dog with a long memory.
I was encouraged that I didn’t have any immediate allergic reaction to her, though with some dogs it can take a few days before I’m affected. And as it was a lovely mild autumn day we were able to spend most of our time outdoors which helped too so we’ll have to wait and see how it goes.
So all in all, it was a pleasure and a delight to have a dog around the house once again.