Travels with Jolly (An occasional Series)
This one should actually be called Travels without Jolly, or perhaps Jolly’s travels without us. We disappeared off to lands of vacation. The first time we’ve been away together, for more than a single night, since Jolly arrived. It’s a sign of how far she has come and also on how much she has grown to love Frances and Steven and their back garden farm.
Some of you already know Jolly. To those who started following the blog more recently let me give a little in the way of introduction. Jolly came to us 4 years ago. She was a rescue dog and had got into some very bad habits including ferocious barking, biting and pulling. We saw her on the web-site and rang up to express an interest only to be told that she was settled and that there were others on the list if her re-housing didn’t go well. It was late at night when the kennels rang to say she’d been returned, and were we still interested. The short-list of available homes had disappeared. I was put through to her original owner. A woman who cared deeply for the little dog but had found her more than a handful in a house full of husband and children.
When she arrived at our house, she settled under my chair, accepted some roast beef discreetly passed down from my plate and didn’t bat an eyelid when her carers left. She was a dog with issues. A dog in need of some serious anger management, some consistent love, patience, affection and knowing she belonged; a place where she wouldn’t be plagued, mithered, ignored or given a crack. The sight of another dog would set up barking to match Cerberus. She hated everybody outside the family and held a particular fury for children and tall alpha males. Something in her background had made these her especial enemies.
Slowly, very slowly, with the aid of every know-all dog person in the neighbourhood telling us what we were doing wrong and every genuine dog person telling us what we were doing right, she settled. She stopped pulling on a lead, stopped her apoplectic rage at every person or dog we met, then every other, then every third. She started making friends with people and dogs who shared our routes. It took time. A lot of time. She got poorly and in her weakness managed to persuade us that her bed ought to be in the corner of our bedroom. It went upstairs and she got better. Still more time, time and attention. But there is a real reason for people or dogs needing attention and the cure is in the diagnosis. Give it to them!
She continues to dislike the macho-male; has frightened a few in her time. She continues to lack trust in any children or young people. It’s four years. You’d think those scars would have healed by now. Not if you know collies. They have the intelligence and sensitivity of a human. They come in all sorts; from as tame as a maiden aunt to as fierce as a tiger. They are bred to do a job. Jolly is amber-eyed. Amber-eyed collies were the ones who looked after the flock on the hillside; the ones who could sooth a frightened sheep or scare off a wolf. She’s now as gentle as a kitten in 95 out of 100 situations. David and Charlie have looked after her at home a few times when we’ve gone on short jaunts. This is the first time she’s gone to stay with anyone. I was aware of what could go wrong but I had few real worries. Steven and Frances are fantastic with animals. Jolly spends her weekdays with Dotty (their spaniel) who gets dropped off on their way to work. They have a big garden with chickens and quail and rabbits and a duck called Phillip. This is her holiday photograph album.
Just out of shot is Minnie, one of two cats in the house. Jolly struck up a particular friendship with Minnie and would watch her with rapt attention.
Phillip came from school. He was an egg that was incubated so the students could watch the process of hatching and to enjoy the fluffy little duckling. Once he had started to become a real duck and develop some independence he’d served his educational purpose. He needed a place to live. He couldn’t have found a better home than with Frances and Steven.
And he couldn’t have found a more curious new admirer than Jolly. She followed him round the garden. Sometimes she tried to herd him and sometimes she just lay flat and tried to work him out.
Jolly and Dotty have become very good friends. They are chalk and cheese. Dotty is still a puppy, hasn’t an aggressive fibre in her body, is full of bouncing energy and need to be at the centre of things. Jolly is slowly entering a more sedate adulthood where she can still run like the wind but is often happy to sit and contemplate.