Thursday, 6 December 2012

In which I attempt not to bang on

I shall be trying very hard not to do with Stanley the Dog what I did with Red the Mare, which was to write of nothing else for the first three months. I still remember with smarting angst the moment a reader complained. I don’t know which was more disconcerting: being accused of dullness, or being called ‘woman’. (I’ve never understood that. As in: ‘come along, woman,’ or ‘get over it, woman,’ or, most horridly, ‘for God’s sake, woman’. I have never called anyone woman in my life. There’s absolutely no objective reason for there to be anything wrong with it, but it hits an odd, jarring note in my ear, as if there is something mildly patronising or even passive-aggressive about it.)

On the other hand, Stanley spreads before me a daily garden of delights, and some of them are too good not to tell.

The lovely rescue people at Many Tears said that his defining attribute, when he came to them, was sadness. I thought that there must be some lingering melancholy, some uncertainty, some trace of neurosis, but apart from a faint shadow of occasional anxiety in the eyes, I can find none.

Here, his default mode seems to be that of a very happy dog. He loves everyone, for a start. He has already enchanted The Mother, The Sister, and the lovely Stepfather. The World Traveller brought the middle great-niece down yesterday in the snow to meet him, and there was instant adoration on both sides.

This morning, at family breakfast, he was quite exuberant and excited, because there were so many new people for him to see. The Older Brother and his Beloved are here, and so it is a full house. Stanley bounced around, and I was a little worried for my mother’s china, so I said, very confidently and seriously: lie down on your bed. I was not even sure he really knew Lie Down; he has not so far responded to it. (He knows sit, and wait, and paw, but that’s as much as I have discovered.)

Bear in mind this was in my mother’s house, where he has only been once, and with people he has only just met. He looked at me and went and lay down politely, putting his front paws out neatly in front of him.

‘Did you see THAT???’ I yelled in excitement, almost causing my sister to choke on her egg.

‘I never had a dog that did that,’ said the Stepfather, admiringly.

Now, at home, when I say ‘on your bed’, he goes and settles on his bed. This morning, when we went down to the horses, he did not bark at them as he had on first meeting, but tipped up his nose and did an Eskimo kiss with Red the Mare, who lowered her head to him in gentle greeting.

He is learning so fast and settling so well and growing in sweetness so much that I feel as if the dog fates have gathered up all their blessings and hurled them down on me in a wild Christmas flurry of generosity. I don’t quite understand how I ended up with such a dear and delightful gentleman. I mean, of all the dogs in all the bars in all the world, I got Stanley.

One final bit of dearness. For the first time this morning, he rolled over on his back and gave me his stomach to rub. This is a huge act of trust and I took it as a fine compliment. He lay his head back and showed his tiny white teeth in a delicate lurcher smile.

I promise I shall not bang on and on. But I had so resigned myself to second best, after The Duchess and The Pigeon, been so convinced that no other canine could even get in the ball park, that this feels like a tremendous gift and revelation. It is a proper and good surprise, and I feel a bit breathless at my luck. There is Stanley the dog, galloping into the ball park, a bright flash of love and hope.


Today’s pictures:

Too gloomy outside today for pictures. The sky is filthy and the snow looks dirty and defeated. Here are a few from yesterday:

6 Dec 1

6 Dec 2

6 Dec 4

6 Dec 5

6 Dec 9

6 Dec 9-001

6 Dec 11

Some interior shots of Stanley. My camera is not that keen on the indoor light, and so they are not the best pictures ever, but he looks so sweet and good I wanted you to see:

5 Dec 12

That face is where one sees the flash of uncertainty, the you’re not going to bugger off and leave me look. Answer is a big fat NO, never, not on your life:

6 Dec 10

Main thing is he’s got his ball:

6 Dec 14

Elegant paws:

6 Dec 15

That is almost as fine as The Pigeon when she used to do her Grace Kelly impression:

6 Dec 16

My girls. This is almost good enough for a caption competition:

6 Dec 20

Today’s hill:

6 Dec 40

Meant to say, a wonderful thing happened this week. There are certain of the Dear Readers who have been here for a long time and who give me glimpses into their lives. I often fret if I have not heard from them for a while, and wonder what has become of them.

One such was perhaps my most distant reader, in terms of geography, Michelle in New Zealand, who sent heart-breaking reports after the Christchurch earthquake, and once wrote that her daughter loved the Pigeon’s face so much that her picture was printed out and stuck on the fridge door. I always remember that absolute wonder and delight I felt that my little Pidge should be sitting in a kitchen in New Zealand.

Not long ago I realised I had heard nothing from Michelle for some time, and thought of her in the southern hemisphere, and hoped that I might hear from her again some day.

Anyway, Michelle is back. She has had a blogging break, and now she has returned. There was sadness, because she came back to the melancholy news, but, for me, there is a most keen pleasure to find her here once more.

The internet is so strange; it is most peculiar that I should be worrying for a person so far away, whom I shall almost certainly never meet in life. But there is a humming sense of community here, which is the thing I always wanted, and has come to pass, and so this return feels a bit like a family reunion. Welcome back, Michelle; it’s so lovely to have you here again.


  1. Yay, I'm so glad for you that's he's working out so well - you both sound like you're perfect for each other, nice bit of worldly good timing and fortunate happenstance if ever there was any.

    1. Lovely thing to say. Do feel so very fortunate. :)

  2. Dearest Tania: bang on about Stanley as much as you jolly well like. This is truly wonderful to read, and to look at, so don't even think of stopping.

    And the snow photos continue beautiful. A mere sprinkling here in Norfolk, plus some very icy roads, but nothing worth getting the camera out for.

    1. Cassie - you are always so kind. Hope you are not getting those Siberian winds I remember from East Anglian days.

  3. Stanley is an elegant fellow, and I am stoked for you that he is so obliging and biddable as well. You are both very lucky to have found one another. Christmas has come early for you guys, for sure!

    1. Obliging and elegant are absolutely his words. It does feel like a huge Christmas present. :)

  4. Hello Tania, I agree with Cassie bang on about Mr Stanley as much as you like, he is such a handsome chap.

    I am a very worried lady today as Crusoe was taken ill late last night, we rushed him to the emergency night vet who suspected rat or mouse poisoning, he took blood tests and gave him a large shot of Vitamin K, we called this afternoon for the results, not poisoning so we rushed him back to the vets, where we have left him for a possible blood transfusion and X rays to establish the cause, I am hoping beyond hope that all will be well.

    1. So, so thinking of you and crossing all fingers. Remember vividly the sick feeling when Duchess or Pidge were not well. One particular attack of pancreatitis nearly finished me off, it was so touch and go for The Pigeon. Empathising hugely and sending all good wishes for Crusoe.

    2. Bless you Tania, everything crossed here.

      I thought of Stanley earlier today after seeing this on Sky news:

      It cheered me up no end.

    3. Hi Tania just thought I would give you an update, Crusoe started haemorrhaging again whilst in residence at the vets, the vet did another examination and discovered...a deep cut under his tongue at the very base, he stitched it up and kept Crusoe in overnight under observation, we are picking him up this morning.

      You can imagine how relieved I am. I must admit I feel a bit foolish now but when your small beloved starts haemorrhaging what looks like gallons of blood from his mouth for no apparent reason, the alarm bells start ringing, better to be safe than sorry. Mind you two vets missed it as well.

  5. All I want is to hear about Stanley for the next three months, at least. So please continue on. You live in a wonderland, I am always telling my family and friends of the writer in Scotland who has a blog and dogs and horses and gets to gaze at sheep.

    1. What an absolutely lovely thing to say. Making me smile and smile.

  6. Stanley looks like he has been living with you "forever"...(and I mean that as the high compliment to BOTH of you!)

    (And, not that you need to be told: his sadness is gone because he knows he is HOME.)


    1. I take it as a massive compliment. And of course in my secret heart I had been wondering if his doggy instincts were telling him he was in the right place. :)

  7. I suspect that the reason that all of your dogs have been marvellous is that they have all had such a wonderful owner.

  8. One of the great learning experiences -- a reassurance, really -- of your dog odyssey is how the Duchess, the Pigeon and Stanley have settled into the scheme of things, as seen in your photos. In pictures, the Duchess will always be the one with the most gravitas (your term, perfect for her), and the Pigeon will always have the widest range of expressions. Not that all of them couldn't have all the expressions, but wow, did she do them to the nines. And Stanley? Well, he sure has cute and hopeful nailed down. It will be interesting to see what he stakes out as his own, when he has fully realized that he is HOME.

    Bottom line, it is so scary to get a new companion, fearing that in some way it might somehow diminish what one had with the old ones. No, of course it doesn't, but that fact is even brought out in your photos so far. Each dog is so singular. Just a thought.

    And Myfanwy is such a hoot in your photo. She is just a dear. So happy that she has Red and this time in her life.


  9. Love your Stanley saga. Please keep writing and posting photos. My husband may not be quite as thrilled with the nightly updates but who cares? Stanley is so lucky to have you and he looks like he can't quite believe his luck. Lovely sheepskin too. My two would love such a thing.

  10. I went back to look at the sheepskin - yes it is very befitting. And that ear; gets me every time. I would be happy to hear about Stanley exploits for a good while longer please. Lou x

  11. Bang away Tania! This is your blog and you are free to write about those things near and dear to you. If someone complains then let them read elsewhere. They will be the poorer for it. Your Stanley is wonderful, and I hope to hear a great deal more about him, and his journey, accompanied by your beautiful photos. Best, Kate

  12. I heartily reiterate what several others have said - please keep banging on about Stanley & the horses. It is so lovely to read about a rescue dog finding a forever home & being able to follow his progress with his new owner. Lovely photos as ever.

  13. Love hearing about Stanley and the horses and the snow and looking at the photographs.

    As another lucky owner of a rescue dog, I have often wondered if their capacity for being extra loving is a result of their unhappy background. Once they learn to trust there are no limits it seems.


  14. Stanley is divine. It seems clear that his sadness has vanished like a distant dream since finding himself in your care and in such dog-perfect surroundings. I enjoy reading you whatever you choose to write about, but more Stanley, please!

  15. Tania - thank you so much. Your words gladdened my heart. Nothing compares to knowing that someone 'sees' you; that someone cares.

    And I do think you are especially good at reaching across time and space, and communing with us all. You have created something very special here and I am so very delighted to be part of it.

  16. i love the first picture of Stanley - he looks positively delighted with himself, almost rakish! it's lovely to hear how he's settling in and I completely agree with Helen's comment re the dog owner!

  17. Stanleylooks like he was born to lie on that sheepskin and scarlet. And Myfanwy making funny faces is just adorable. Don't stop writing about what you want to write about, please, Rachel

  18. Isn't that the pure joy of dogs Tania? They return what they give love and trust and Stanley returns in kind. Life really is that simple...if only we humans could do the same.

  19. Bang on - please!
    I love reading & looking at your pictures. If something is of no particular interest, I glance and go away (just like every other blog I read), and come back another day. You can't please everyone all the time but it's YOUR blog and you delight a lot of us :)

  20. My grandmother (no longer with us) used to carry around a photograph of my uncle's dog, Stanley. Whenever we would see her, if the conversation lagged even for a moment, she'd get this excited look on her face and say, "Have I shown you the picture of Stanley?" and then she'd dive face-first into her vast pocketbook until she found it, and she'd show it to us proudly. Every single time. It was so endearing and so sweet, my husband and I sometimes still say to each other, "Have I shown you the picture of Stanley?" and then we get sort of misted up. I'm glad there's another Stanley, and more pictures.


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