You can’t keep a good dog down


How I remember the journey back from St. Ives last year! Ten hours of stop, start, stop driving. When, in the dreary January weeks, I suggested we book the same cottage for the summer, The Husband was having none of it. “No way! Never again am I doing that journey!” came his emphatic reply.

I have to confess I sulked, summer without St. Ives was inconceivable. So I stuck a pin in the map and North Devon it would have to be. What a brilliant summer it had been though. Endless sunshine, hot days and cooler nights when we could sit out in the garden until late; fabulous friends, family, festivals, operas, painting, unexpected treats, balls and barbies.

Overshadowing all of this was the news that the Pagan Pup was ill, with the vets giving him only eight weeks to live. Now I appreciate that you are not all dog lovers, but if you are then you will know why we Pagans were devastated. We opted not to treat with chemotherapy, which we were told would be ultimately ineffective, and went with steroids and a conviction that the Pagan Pup should live out his days doing what he does best until such times as he couldn’t.

There was a point when we thought he wouldn’t be able to experience the delights of the ‘dog-friendly’ cottage, but having survived his allotted eight weeks, by week thirteen the Pagan Pup was bright as a button on the back seat of the Trusty Renault with an earnest ‘are we there yet?’ expression.

Canine family members will generally adapt to most environments just as long as they can be with you. The beaches of North Devon, I have to say, are amongst the most beautiful I have seen. Literally miles and miles of sand embraced by dunes and aqua seas supporting cascading white horses dotted with surfers. But for us, the greatest delight by far this year was that Devon welcomed dogs to its beaches and the Pagan Pup embraced the whole salty seadog vibe. He lounged around in the shade of the beach tent, walked for miles along the sands, dug enormous holes and went for cooling dips.

Some folk took their dogs out on surf boards but that was a step too far, besides Star I was on a mission to teach Tiny Dancer, (his lovely GF), to surf. She reluctantly slipped into her wetsuit and looked stunning (I was relieved I’d left mine in the car). I could just hear the comments. ‘‘Blimey, what’s this little and large? The fat one’s yours mate’’. No, I was better off on the beach with Pagan Pup.

So accompanied by Star II they trotted off to the sea. The Husband awoke from his slumber and, not to be out done, yawned and said,” I’d best get in there myself “.

Now our beach tent is reasonably roomy, but it struggled to contain The Husband’s clothing removal contortions under the towel. “Ooops, sorry you weren’t meant to see that”. No indeed…

“I’m sure this wetsuit shrank when you washed it, Sandra. It’s a bit snug. Zip me up, will you?”

Still looking a fine figure of a man, he minced his way to the pounding seas and then, some three hours later, came staggering back across the sand. Proof, if it were needed, that not only can you not keep a good dog down, but you can’t keep an old one down either!

Sandra Pagan