Friday, 16 November 2012

Ten Things I Learned from Holly

Holly sleeping...awww
It's Friday evening. That's always a good thing of course, a bonus. End of the working week and all for us Monday to Friday people. It never shuts the brain off really though, does it? I generally find that it takes a good dinner, good company and the promise of an easy Saturday to really switch over, even if that is after an incessant rant while concocting the Friday night dinner creation.

Tonight however, I am feeling particularly sorry for myself - never a good thing! It's a mixture of the usual stuff - worn out from the intensity of the demands placed on my shoulders by others during the week, trying to protect the interests of the human and non-human colleagues (that'll be the inhabitants of the wetlands and woodlands outside the window ;)) And biggest of all - I am a widow to the job that has the dearest person in the world to me videoing some conference or other in a fancy hotel in Dublin. Sigh.

And so I am home alone with the dog. And as soon as I write these words, I can't but smile :)

Holly was an idea in our minds for about a year before she came to us. We had already bought and moved into Holly Cottage, and she is (imaginatively I know) named for the name of the cottage. For years I had been wanting to have a dog in my life - somedog to accompany me on those long and solitary fieldwork sessions up the backs of mountains and down the banks of rivers. We always had a dog when I was growing up on the farm in Cappaduff. At one stage we had two, but for the most time it was one of a succession of small terriers - Brandy, Jack, Brownie...further imaginative names like those ;) For me the dog had the same value as a brother or sister, and even one of the many cats that passed through my childhood world. My favourite memories from that time are the days and evenings walking the fields with Brownie, hunting rabbits. That's what I called it, but really it was where the rabbit or hare would run one way and Brownie was invariably so confused and excited that he would run in completely the wrong direction. Such fun times! One evening we had a surreal encounter with a lonely, somewhat ghost-like fox...more on that another time. Back to Holly.

Holly is a golden cocker spaniel. We decided two years ago - while in recovery from another long week and a late Friday night that we would finally give in to responsibility, and get a puppy. Classic young couple move - all the rest of it, you can write the book on it. Anyway, after much debate and tooing and frooing on websites, we found Holly and her siblings just an hour's drive away and ready and waiting for a suitable home to bring her to. There was eight or nine puppies in the one litter. OMG. So adorable. So cute. So like you wanted to bring them all home there and then. How to choose? I think that she chose us. She came over and sat on my shoe. Decision made.

Two years later and she is Holly Wilkie - crazy, wild, insatiable, unpredictable and completely loving. Check out the YouTube clips (see below) if you need some convincing! But she is like no other. All this week while spending most of my time with her alone, I have been musing in my head as to 'the top ten things I learned from Holly'....and so hear it goes:

1. Love - Holly has love for everyone. Unprejudiced, unconditional. You will be licked to death if not knocked over in her small - yet powerfully pawed - dog's attempt at hugging you. She absolutely loves everyone. She loves her master the best though ;) When he comes through that door tomorrow, her whole world (and mine) will be back to balance. I'm sure the neighbours hear it from a mile down the road every time, but the yelping, and crying and excited Holly sounds can last for a good 30mins after their reunion. I just wait my turn ;)

Dog Zen ;)
2. Give - As above. The un-adultered joy and love that dog has brought to our lives...for only the promise of love and walks and runs and swims and routine and dog biscuits in return.

Let's go!
3. Forgive - I am generally the one that scolds Holly, and - convinced the cliche runs true - my scolding of her hurts me more than her. While I am wracked with guilt and upset for having to chastise her - usually when she runs out on the road or does something completely life threatening, she just wags her tail and gets over it. She doesn't hold an ounce of it against me. In fact, I think she loves me more for it (probably pushing it a bit there).

4. Yoga - First thing in the morning - you got it ;) Effortless and textbook, they don't call it downward dog for nothing ;)

5. Go Wild - This dog, the bitch with the most beautiful angelic golden framed face - is not afraid to show her wild side! Again, something to learn here. I think we all benefit from unleashing our inner craziness. Better out than in ;) It can be difficult, I know this. But so enjoyable.

6. Enjoy your food - Holly knows when we turn the last bend for home. If it's the evening she knows it's her time, and she will not be calm until she has a bowl of her favourite biscuits before her. And then, after literally savaging the whole bowl in seconds, she has acquired the knack of unleashing the almightiest belching sound you ever heard! again, apologies to the neighbours. And she doesn't apologise ;)

7. Show your inner joy - She couldn't hide it if she tried! She has this tail that I'm sure must be directly linked to the pleasure centre in her brain. The swimming is the most joyous for her, or is it the thrown stick? Of course she can't hide her fear or anxiety either - that's the tell tale hair up like a shot on the back of her neck when an un-leashed other dog approaches.

8. Rest - I've watched her go from crazy and wild to complete and utter immobile relaxation all in the space of 5 mins. Impressive. Not a knot in those muscles to unravel. And when she snores...well, she puts certain people in the shade ;)

9. Live for the moment and Live simply - see all of the above :) Holly doesn't spare a moment for the past or the future, she is totally here and now in the present. Dog transcendental ;)
Throw the stick damn it :)

10. Approach life and love with utter abandon - again, probably one or two of the above combined. But watching her now sprawled out across the couch - head back, four paws in the air and yet ready in an instant to go running or accepting treats - just do it.

And there's more, but that's ten for now and Holly is ready for her run ;)

And here's Holly -

A crazy Holly -

A young Holly -

Dog out of Hell -

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