#Dogs – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Thirteen –  Our new home and friends by Sally Cronin


By special request I am sharing Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story and I hope those of you who have not read his adventures will enjoy…

Last time Sam recounts his adventures as a passenger in cars including the 2000 kilometre trip to his new home in Spain.

Chapter Thirteen –  Our new home and friends

Late in the afternoon of our second day of travel we arrived at my new home in Madrid. David had bought an old house in the mountains about twenty miles from the centre of the city. I had a large garden to play in and wonderful walks around this pleasant complex of 1960’s summer houses, and the added bonus was the number of lady dogs in residence, who were open to some flirting and kisses through the fence on my nightly excursions with David.

In the evenings the pack would head out to the front terrace and some of us would drink icy gin and tonics, and some would just get ice cubes. I would lie on my rug and look out across the valley and when the dogs began to bark, I would join in and let them know who was king of the castle.

The garden was not as green as my home in Ireland but full of interesting smells… Next door chickens roamed around sometimes poking their heads through the hedge. I soon let them know this was unacceptable behaviour. In the heat of the day I would lie on the covered terrace and if it was really hot, Sally would put on the big wind machine and I would lie in front of it and dream of chasing rabbits.

The next year we also bought an apartment in the South of Spain and we would spend the winter months walking the beach and surrounding area. David was now at home all the time and it was dog heaven. My pack was together every day and for the first time in my life the days passed without a drop of rain.

This is when my previous experience with Henry became very useful as in Spain there are many more feral cats than in Ireland.

In our local area on the Costa del Sol was a band of feral cats that spent their lives rummaging in the bins and catching rats and toads. At first, on our night time walks before bed they would keep their distance, but Sally, who had taken pity on the skinny moggies would take down dried cat food pellets and roll them into the dark corners for the cats to chase and catch. She would talk “Cat” to them and despite the fact that we were in Spain, “Cat” is an internationally recognised language.

This game developed to the point where we would be followed on these night time excursions by five or six black, stealthy figures. After about a year some of the younger cats overcame their natural fear of humans and allowed themselves to be stroked and petted. One cat in particular stood out from the rest of the band.

She was a marmalade cat and had probably been the result of a union between a domestic male and a female feral cat. She seemed to have a litter of black kittens every three months or so and although Sally tried to catch her to be taken to the vet she refused to be picked up and put into a carrier. I did not quite understand why Sally wanted to take her, but I heard the word ‘vet’ and assumed it involved needles of some sort.

Anyway, one of her offspring was a feisty little black thing, smaller than the other kittens, who took an instant liking to me. By this time I was six years old and very well behaved and tolerant. At first she would come up close and we would stand nose to nose this tiny creature and I. Then she would leap high in the air and hiss at me as if she suddenly realised how big I was and what danger she might be in.

However after a number of weeks, Mollie as we called her decided that I might be huge but I was a great asset. She knew that the other cats, although unafraid of me by this point, still kept their distance, and by running in close to my legs she could get more of the rolling pellets without interference from the others.

Although she was Spanish, the basic cat language was the same and although she gave me fleas that took forever to get rid of, I hold her in great affection.

Now that I live in Madrid all year round I don’t meet many cats, just the odd domesticated one who has the temerity to sleep on the sofa on the terrace without my permission. However, I have to say that despite reports to the contrary, dogs and cats can be friends and my friend Henry is often in my thoughts as I get older.

Apart from feral cats, Sally also enjoyed the company of feathered friends. Many of whom lived on our local lake in Madrid. Every day on our walks we would take corn or grain to feed them, particularly in the winter months, and gradually the ducks and one goose became less afraid of us. They began to eat out of Sally’s hands whilst David kept me back slightly afraid that I might afford them treat status. On the contrary. My one delight was after they had all had a good feed was to make a quick pretend dash and watch them scatter back into the water. They and I both knew I was not going to catch them and the fact that they would wander up to me when chasing rolling corn, illustrated their disdain of my feeble efforts.

One bird however got a little too friendly with Sally for my liking. A goose, whose mate had died, adopted her and would fly across the lake from his roost to demand a cuddle and special feeding arrangements. He was a lot bigger than the ducks, and I felt that I might bite off more than I could chew if I got hold of him, so simply sat and glared at him from a safe distance. I won’t go into detail of my thoughts about him but safe to say it was a good thing that David held me back!

I did gain two new pack members on our arrival in Spain and grew to love them dearly. Antonio had worked as gardener at the house for over 30 years and David had retained his services to look after everything for us too. He was a short, stocky man with a very strong guttural tone to his voice and he spoke no English. However, we learnt to communicate very quickly and Antonio soon found out that one of my favourite pastimes was to chase a water hose and to catch the spray in my mouth. Since the garden needed watering every day this provided an hour of fun for me that I really looked forward to. I think that Antonio enjoyed the game too as he would spray the bushes for a few minutes then turn the hose on me. I loved this game and soaking wet I would try to run into the house to tell Sally all about it. For some strange reason she did not see the funny side of it and would grab me and rub me down with one of my old towels as I tried to shake all the water out of my coat.

I used to follow Antonio all over the garden including through the vegetable patch where he grew tomatoes and cucumbers to make sure that all the work was carried out properly – he never shouted at me although he might get a little irritated if I occasionally gave his leg a big hug just to let him know who was really the boss. Even though I am now at retirement age I still help him out every day and watch and wait for him to come through the gate.

My other pack member was Sinead who lived in Greece but who would come to our house in Madrid to look after me if Sally and David had to travel for work or holidays. Sally still did not want to put me in kennels so searched on line for a pet sitter. We were very lucky to find Sinead who I fell in love with instantly. She looked after me several times and I knew, and Sally felt, that I was completely safe when she and David had to go away.

We made other friends near our house and in the south who would join our pack from time to time for something called Cava and Tequila. All I know is that Sally makes sure that there are plenty of my favourites on hand for me to eat during the evening, such as cheese and very handy snack sized sausages, and special Spanish hams. The guests also help themselves to these delicacies but I don’t mind as they are part of my pack too. I have to ask of course if I can have something off the plates as just helping oneself is not polite, but I find that if I pass around to all the guests in turn and say “more” they all are most obliging at sharing the treats around.

My favourite time of year, as you already know, is Christmas and I love helping get the decorations put up and making sure the tasty ‘bits’ were up to scratch.

Usually after a very long dinner and way past my bedtime the music goes on and the dancing starts. At first I used to try and join in but it all became rather excitable so Sally now pops me up in her office behind a rather irritating wooden gate.

On the subject of music my favourite singer is Shania Twain who Sally introduced me to when I was a young puppy. Here in our house in Spain whenever she puts one of her albums on, I will rush up to the office from wherever I am, and Sally and I do a little line dancing. I go in and out through her legs in time to the music with a little barking in between. Great fun and it makes up for not being allowed to join in the pack dances.

However, I do have a party piece that I trot out every time we have guests in return for some small pieces of cheese. They have to ask who my favourite composer is and they run through the usual suspects such as Beethoven, Bach, and Wagner and then they say Shania Twain and I bark madly. Daft really but cheese is cheese.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

About the authors

Sally Cronin waited until she began working for herself, and had the time to commit to the welfare of a dog. before she fulfilled a dream of having another Lassie Collie. From the moment that Sam came home at 8 weeks old they were inseparable, and travelled thousands of miles together and with her husband David, exploring Ireland, Wales, England and Europe. Finally they all ended up in a large house up a mountain to the north of Madrid.

Sam could charm the birds out of the trees and assumed that every human that he met was more interested in him than his humans that were tagging along. He developed a vocabulary and non-verbal clues as to his needs, cheese and sausages being the main ones.

They collaborated on this book, with Sam dictating his recollections and Sally correcting some of his more flamboyant claims pertaining to his adventures.

You can find out more about Sally’s books and their reviews: Sally’s Books and Recent Reviews

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter and will join us again next Sunday.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – Some old favourites and a joke or two host Sally Cronin


I was going through my ‘funny’ folders and I am sharing my favourites…..

Starting with undercover agents....

And you do know that they understand every word….don’t you!

And to finish…things that kids say….

After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, “That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.”
———————————————————-
The Sunday School Teacher asked, “Now, Johnny, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?”
“No sir,” Johnny replies, “I don’t have to. My Mom is a good cook.”
———————————————————–
A Sunday school teacher asked her children, as they were on the way to church service, “Why is it necessary to be quiet in church?”
One bright little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.”
———————————————————-
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. “If Jesus were sitting! here, He would say, “Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.'”
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus!”
———————————————————-
My co-worker’s 3-year-old son, Reese: “Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Howard is His name.” ” Amen”
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A little boy was in a relative’s wedding. As he was coming down the aisle, he would take two steps, stop, and turn to the crowd. While facing the crowd, he would put his hands up like claws and roar. So it went, step, step, ROAR, step, ROAR, all the way down the aisle. As you can imagine, the crowd was near tears from laughing so hard by the time he reached the
pulpit. When asked what he was doing, the child sniffed and said, “I was being the Ring Bear.”
———————————————————
One Sunday in a Midwest City, a young child was “acting up” during the morning worship hour. The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew, but were losing the battle. Finally, the father picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out.
Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, the little one called loudly to the congregation, “Pray for me!” “Pray for me!”
———————————————————–
One particular four-year old prayed, ” And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”
———————————————————–

A little boy opened the big and old family Bible with fascination, looking at the old pages as he turned them. Then something fell out of the Bible and he picked it up and looked at it closely. It was an old leaf from a tree that had been pressed in between the pages. “Mama, look what I found,” the boy called out.
“What have you got there, dear?” his mother asked.
With astonishment in the young boy’s voice he answered, “It’s Adam’s suit!”

 

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you are leaving with a smile on your face…have a good weekend…and stay safe… Sally

 

 

#Dogs – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Twelve – Car Rides and move to Spain by Sally Cronin


By special request I am sharing Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story and I hope those of you who have not read his adventures will enjoy…

Last time Sam shared his favourite walks and an encounter that was terrifying for a young dog… and his owner…

Chapter Twelve – Car Rides and move to Spain

At first I was a bit apprehensive about the car rides because the first three times I was in one I had ended up at the vets getting a large needle stuck in me. Every time I was put in the back seat I would start to salivate and felt sick. However, once we got into the morning habit of going to the beach, I decided that if there was going to be so much fun at the end of the trip, it was worth overcoming my original apprehension.

It is at this point that I must say a little something about Sally and cars. She is a bit of a petrol head and rather likes them fast and sporty. When I first arrived she was driving a BMW convertible which she had brought back from Belgium where she and David had been living for two years. It was a left hand drive which made getting into and out of car parks a little awkward, as you have to get in and out of the car to put the ticket into the machine at the barrier. However, I loved that car because when the roof was off I could sit in the back seat in my harness with my head back against the headrests and let the wind whip through my long coat. I can tell you that I was the envy of all the dogs that we passed on our way back and forth to the beach.

After about a year the BMW was changed in for a red Toyota Celica and I rather missed the soft top but there was a great central storage box between the two front seats where I could put my paws and watch all the action as we flashed down the country lanes. Because we spent so much time on the sand, the back seat was covered with old towels, and since of course it rains a lot in Ireland they soon became pretty damp. The car developed a wonderful, warm, soggy, doggy smell to it that Sally was always trying to eradicate with some form of magical spray or other. Personally, I found it rather interesting.

David belonged to the Mountain Runners Club and we used to travel around Ireland to their meets. I loved going to new places and sometimes we stayed overnight, which was also quite interesting as some places have very funny smells. I must admit to doing quite a bit of sleeping stretched out on the back seat, but I always woke up in time to make sure we stopped regularly for sniffs and tea for Sally and David. I also had to mark every few miles or so to make sure we could find our way home again later.

After the Celica came the big Subaru Forester. Sally appeared back from one of her trips to Spain with this in preparation for the long drive to our new home. I thought it was most comfortable, but did need to establish early on that I did not travel in the back piece that was for luggage only, and that I would only consider riding directly behind the driving position in the back seat.

The added bonus to travelling in all of the cars was the singing. Sally had always enjoyed a good tune and would sing along as we drove to the beach. After a few trips I decided to join in either humming or barking in time to the melody. We still do this today when we go out in the mornings to do our mountain walk here in Spain; my repertoire is quite extensive. My favourite is ‘How much is that doggie in the window’ and ‘Amazing Grace’. David made a recording once of our duet but unfortunately it never made the top ten.

Anyway the longest car journey that I ever made was from our home in Ireland to our new one in Madrid.

I have now lived in Spain for five years and it certainly could not be more different to Ireland.

Getting here was an adventure in itself. Sally had to make sure that I had all the necessary vaccinations and I had to endure a rather unpleasant trip to the vet to have a tracker inserted into my neck. I am afraid I have to admit that I find vets fair game, and Sally always puts a muzzle on me when I am going to have a needle job. I am also extremely resistant to having my temperature taken, as unlike you humans we have ours taken the other end. It is neither dignified nor pleasant and I have found that sitting down firmly and glaring over the top of the muzzle is quite a deterrent; many vets have simply estimated my temperature by feeling my forehead!

Another inconvenience was the stipulation that my clean bill of health had to be signed at the Ministry of Agriculture in Dublin, where Sally duly waited for two hours the morning before we left.

It was a hectic week as a large van with rough voiced men arrived and spent two days packing up the whole house to be taken to Spain.

We stayed the last night in a hotel on the main road and then headed out in Sally’s new Spanish registered Subaru for the over 2,000 kilometre drive to Madrid.

I had been on the ferry to Holyhead before and slept in the car without problem. Once the ship docked we drove across England, staying in a bed and breakfast for the night halfway across. I loved driving in the car and slept most of the time and I had the added bonus of marking different territories every time we stopped for a break or the night.

On the second night we stayed in a very posh hotel in Kent; because I was with Sally we were given a suite in the gatehouse which was very up market and swish. Later that night Sally put me in the car and we drove to a railway station. I saw a man walking towards us across the car park and leapt around with excitement when I realised that it was David who was joining us for the drive through France and Spain.

The next day we arrived at the Euro tunnel terminal and queued up with other cars going across to France. The French police are stationed on the English side of the Channel and Sally and David handed over their passports and my papers which we had been told we absolutely needed for me to get into France and Spain.

Sally wound my window down in the back so that they could get a good look at my face too and after a cursory glance at their passports the two policemen started to interrogate me after calling for two more colleagues to join them.

“Eh, Henri, Philippe, come quickly, it is Lassie!”

Sally corrected them politely.

“His name is Sam.”

“Oh, you are a beauty, what a bien doggie, you have a lovely ’oliday.”

Even with my extraordinary language skills I found it rather difficult to follow the ensuing conversation but I found their appreciation of my handsomeness very satisfying.

Sally decided that the people in the queue behind us were perhaps not quite as tolerant of the delay as we were.

“Say goodbye Sam.” With that a chorus of “au revoir Sam” issued from the control booth and I barked back much to the delight of the gendarmes.

The trip through France was uneventful although I have to say I spent most of it napping in the back.

Sally had tried to find a dog friendly hotel for our night in France and had managed to find a beautiful and palatial chateau for us to stay in. I have a very good nose but you can’t beat Sally’s when it comes to sniffing out luxurious surroundings to stay in. David knows more about that than I do but he says he has a flexible friend thankfully.

Again because of my status we were awarded a delightful room in what had been the stable block. This was unfortunately my first taste of marble floors and it took some coaxing to get me into the room in the first place, where I scuttled across to a very expensive looking rug in the middle of the room. I have to say that marble floors are the one drawback of living on the continent as they are definitely not Collie friendly.

Anyway, the staff were very “Sam friendly” and the two liveried bell boys who had greeted us had mentioned that perhaps I might like steak for dinner. Unfortunately Sally declined what I thought was a very reasonable offer and told them that she had brought my food with her!

David and Sally went off to the main chateau for dinner leaving me with some biscuits and a tin of meat, since my normal homemade dinner was not available. I have to admit to being just a tad disgruntled.

However, my moods are never long lived and I was just as excited to see them come back as I always am. I slept in palatial splendour at the end of their four poster bed on my blanket stretched across an antique silk rug.

We arrived at the border with Spain the next day and again Sally removed my important papers that I had to have to get into the country from her bag to show to the border guard. Passports at the ready we approached at the requisite snail pace only to find that there was nobody there.

All that trouble to get me legal and able to travel and not once did anyone look at my papers!

Although that was the longest trip we made in the car I regularly travelled between Madrid and the Costa Del Sol which is about 650 kilometres. I have my favourite stopping places en route and in all over the years I must have travelled in excess of 50,000 miles in my life so far which is not bad for a rough collie from Duleek.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

About the authors

Sally Cronin waited until she began working for herself, and had the time to commit to the welfare of a dog. before she fulfilled a dream of having another Lassie Collie. From the moment that Sam came home at 8 weeks old they were inseparable, and travelled thousands of miles together and with her husband David, exploring Ireland, Wales, England and Europe. Finally they all ended up in a large house up a mountain to the north of Madrid.

Sam could charm the birds out of the trees and assumed that every human that he met was more interested in him than his humans that were tagging along. He developed a vocabulary and non-verbal clues as to his needs, cheese and sausages being the main ones.

They collaborated on this book, with Sam dictating his recollections and Sally correcting some of his more flamboyant claims pertaining to his adventures.

You can find out more about Sally’s books and their reviews: Sally’s Books and Recent Reviews

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter and will join us again next Sunday.. thanks Sally.

#Dogs – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Ten – Sleepovers with new friends by Sally Cronin


By special request I am sharing Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story and I hope those of you who have not read his adventures will enjoy…

51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time  Sam shared some of his growing group of friends and encounters with pack members and older family members of the two and four-legged variety.

Chapter Ten – Sleepovers with new friends

When David went to Madrid to work, Sally set about finding someone who would love and care for me every six weeks when she went to Spain to visit him.

She had never put me in boarding kennels, knowing that I love company and would find it very lonely stuck in a box on my own for most of the day. I have to say that apart from a couple of special dogs I have never really been bothered about my own breed as I much prefer the interaction I have with humans.

There are two other humans who joined our pack and I came to love them very much. One was the wife of someone who worked with David and her name was Aunty Kay.

She was a soft spoken Irish woman who had a very gentle touch. At one of the final work parties that Sally and David attended before he moved to Spain, they had got into conversation with Kay and mentioned that Sally was going to try and go over to Spain to see David every six weeks but that they were trying to find someone to look after me in her absence.

I think that I have already conveyed how very important I was within the pack and how much I was loved. As I mentioned, Sally had never felt comfortable with the notion of putting me behind bars for twenty two hours of the day so that she could go off and have fun and so she wanted to find someone who had a garden and loved dogs as much as she did.

Aunty Kay immediately said that she would love to look after me and delightedly Sally arranged for Kay to come out to the house for lunch and to meet me.

The first time I smelled Kay I knew that she was kind and gentle and would love me very much. I sat by her all through lunch and when she seemed to understand that cheese was my favourite and gave me some, I also knew that we would get along just fine.

For the next two years I spent long weekends at Kay’s home in Ballinteer and enjoyed expanding my territory to include large park lands and tree lined streets which as you know is every dog’s kind of heaven. I met Kay’s cats who after a little induction training left the house to me and retreated to the garden shed where they glared balefully at me whenever I was in the small back garden.

I also met Kay’s pack members during my visits including her sister and family who lived abroad and came to visit.

On one of her sister’s visits she went out one morning and did not return until the next day. When she did she had a very young and smelly human with her. I knew instinctively that it was a new puppy and that when it was being fed both it and its mother needed to be protected. I would lie across the mother’s feet while she nursed the baby and would allow no one else near her at all. When the baby was asleep in its carrier I also guarded it to ensure that it was safe. That was my job in my pack, head of security and even in young adulthood I was very aware of my responsibilities.

Kay also had a pack member who smelt of old age and warm musky smells. She wore a very long black dress and a black cloth on her head. When she first came I was a little scared as all I could see was a face peering out from under the black cloth. However, her voice was gentle and fragile and with any old pack member you must be gentle as they do not like to play games as we youngsters do.

As part of my duties to my own pack elders such as Grand Mollie, it was important to keep them warm and safe when they move around the house and gardens. I extended this courtesy to Aunty Kay’s pack members as well and at 96 years old, her aunt who had been a nun since she was twelve years old, certainly qualified. I rarely left her side and sat with my head on her lap as her hand gently stroked my fur.

They were happy days but Sally felt that Kay who refused any kind of payment for looking after me should not be put upon all the time and that perhaps we needed to find me another loving and caring foster mum to join the pack. We advertised in the local paper.

We were inundated with offers to look after me and after Sally had checked through them all she decided that we should both go to people’s homes and meet the applicants for an interview.

We conducted two and after smelling the inside of the living room of the first one we both decided that perhaps being only a young dog I might be a little too frisky for the elderly couple. Also I have to admit there were one or two strange smells that I found rather overpowering including one came from a rather full ashtray and one from a basket containing clothes in the kitchen.

The second house was close by at a place called Bettystown and was the home of Aunty Katie. Like Kay she immediately realised how important I was and as I sat with my head on her lap she got the message straight away that a drink and a treat was required.

Sally liked her and her husband too and they lived very close to the beach where I walked twice a day. Katie not only loved dogs but was passionate about owls and the house was dedicated to them in all shapes and sizes.

I was truly pampered at Aunty Katy’s house and was offered both the bedroom and a comfortable sofa to sleep on. I quickly communicated with my body and linguistic skills my needs and these were met with pleasing rapidity.

I loved both my foster mistresses and looked forward to my visits to them, leaping in the car and rushing into their homes to be greeted exuberantly which is the only way for a pack to greet each other.

I went to Katie’s every other trip and so I had two wonderful foster homes where I was pampered and spoilt.

David came home to Ireland every six weeks and we had wonderful games in the garden while he was home. Sally and I lived on our own in the meantime and this is why I have such an ability to understand the spoken word. Some people may have thought her quite mad to hold conversations with a dog, but I am a very good listener and she managed to avoid talking to me in public so it was our little secret.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story  2009

About the authors

Sally Cronin waited until she began working for herself, and had the time to commit to the welfare of a dog. before she fulfilled a dream of having another Lassie Collie. From the moment that Sam came home at 8 weeks old they were inseparable, and travelled thousands of miles together and with her husband David, exploring Ireland, Wales, England and Europe. Finally they all ended up in a large house up a mountain to the north of Madrid.

Sam could charm the birds out of the trees and assumed that every human that he met was more interested in him than his humans that were tagging along. He developed a vocabulary and non-verbal clues as to his needs, cheese and sausages being the main ones.

They collaborated on this book, with Sam dictating his recollections and Sally correcting some of his more flamboyant claims pertaining to his adventures.

You can find out more about Sally’s books and their reviews: Sally’s Books and Recent Reviews

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter and will join us again next Sunday.. thanks Sally.

#Dogs – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Nine – Other Pack Members and Respect your Elders by Sally Cronin


By special request I am sharing Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story and I hope those of you who have not read his adventures will enjoy…

51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_ Last time we discovered Sam’s attempts at the Human language with varying success dependent on the food involved.

Chapters Nine and Ten – Other Pack Members and Respect your Elders

I considered Henry to be part of our pack despite being a cat. I also included the dog next door Danny, despite Sally trying to keep us apart.

Danny came to his new home and was allowed a level of freedom that is common in rural areas. He did not go for organised walks but was allowed to roam his two acres and the lane from a very early age.

These made him far more street wise than I was and also gave him access to the other gardens in the lane which did not necessarily make him very popular with the neighbours.
He would sneak in under the fence into our garden despite Sally spending vast sums of money “Danny proofing” our territory. She was afraid he would lead me astray and take me on one of his road trips. Whereas Danny was streetwise I was not and being a sheep dog, Sally worried that I might get too interested in the flock at the end of the lane and get shot by the farmer. One night I did actually crawl under the fence at his invitation and found myself in the dark, on the wrong side of the hedge.

I think Danny was having a laugh at my expense and was trying to teach me a lesson for my previous cowardice in not following him on one of his escapades. He disappeared into the darkness and through the back door of his house leaving me stranded.

Sally who had only turned her back for a minute while she fetched a flashlight was frantically calling for me on our side of the hedge and I barked to let her know where I was and that I was scared.

She came up our long drive and marched down the neighbour’s waving her torch and calling me. I had never experienced any form of mistreatment at her hands but I knew when she was not happy, and that this was one of those occasions. I hid behind the dustbins and heard her ring the doorbell.

When it was answered by the next door neighbour I heard a number of words that I did not understand only catching a few.

“Your damn dog has been over into our garden again and this time he has brought Sam back with him and now I can’t find him. Put your outside lights on so that I can find Sam and in future keep that dog of yours under control.”

It was more the tone that alerted me to the fact that Sally was angry and that I needed to please her immediately. I slunk out of cover and up to her where she attached me to my lead and walked firmly and quickly up the neighbour’s drive and into our own garden.

As we walked she only said two words repeatedly. “Bad Boy.” And although I could not see it I knew that she was wagging her finger at me. Tail between my legs I walked beside her and into our own house. I was upset that she was upset and sat down and offered my paw in penance. With that she leant down and hugged me tight.

“Sam don’t ever do that again, I was frantic with worry. I love you so much and couldn’t bear to lose you.”

Of course I did not understand all the words but I did appreciate the feelings that poured from her.

To this day I have never done anything like that again. I always know where both she and David are, and even though I may not be on a lead, I stay close enough at all times so that I can see them. Luckily my lead is 26 feet in length which means that I get the best of both worlds, room to roam on our walks but still in touch with them both. We were very lucky to have such a beautiful sandy beach and dunes on our doorstep in Ireland that provided plenty of safe walking and playing adventures.

I have to say though that Danny still used to come through the fence and we would play together in the long grass of the meadow behind our house. I reckoned as long as I stayed on my side of the fence within sight of the house I could still enjoy the friendship of this freedom loving dog. He told me of his adventures but after a while I realised that the lane and his garden was his entire world where as I travelled many miles in the car with my pack and visited many different places.

Eventually he got bored and frustrated hearing my tales of the world beyond the lane and stopped coming to play.

David and Sally had broken away from their own packs to form their own many years ago. However, unlike in my case, older former pack members retain a high status in their offspring’s circle and often visit. Siblings are also welcomed, although I have to say that when all the packs come together for an annual reunion, some of the younger members appear not to have learnt as much about pack protocol as I have.

Sorry, just an old dog talking and when I was younger I did enjoy the additional attention that I was given by small humans. I am afraid I have grown rather intolerant lately, and tend to find one of my favourite sleeping places hidden around the house when we have younger visitors.

Apart from immediate pack members there were also visitors from other packs that became very important in my life during the time David was in Madrid.

Sally’s mother was called Grand Mollie and I first met her when I was about six months old. At that time I was really only interested in my immediate needs but I stored away her smell and knew that she was part of Sally’s pack and therefore part of mine.

The next time she came to visit was when I was a year old at Christmas and this time I took my new job as head of security very seriously and guarded her at all times. I usually slept on the landing outside Sally and David’s room, but during Grand Mollie’s visit I camped outside her door, and escorted her to the bathroom during the night and always preceded her down the stairs etc.

Sally had given me strict instructions that I was to look after her and as her feet used to get very cold sometimes I took it upon myself to lie over them whenever she sat down.

She was very appreciative and of course whilst it had no bearing on my devotion to her, the odd sneaked snippet of cheese and sausage that she slipped me, only confirmed that she was a worthy member of the pack.

David’s father lived in Dublin and he would visit us out in the country. I went to his house once when I was still very young but unfortunately his head of security “Tuffy” was not going to allow some ‘wet behind the ears’ new pack member have the run of her territory inside the house or outside in the garden. She very quickly showed me who was the boss.

She backed me into a corner, sat and glared at me, daring me to move. Even though I was only a few months old, I was considerably bigger than she was, but I felt little inclination to cross teeth with her and I never visited again. I know that she was just doing her job and in her way she taught me that you have to respect other peoples territory and that you must be prepared to drop the ‘nice doggy’ persona for a slightly more resolute stance from time to time.

I have never bitten anyone although I have to say I have been tempted from time to time particularly at the vets. As I have got older I have become slightly less tolerant but have discovered that turning away and going and weeing as high up in a bush as possible is quite effective, particularly if confronted with one of the smaller breeds on a lead. If it is a larger dog, and he is off the lead, then I have determined that a dignified retreat to live and fight another day is by far the best approach.

®sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story  2009

About the authors

Sally Cronin waited until she began working for herself, and had the time to commit to the welfare of a dog. before she fulfilled a dream of having another Lassie Collie. From the moment that Sam came home at 8 weeks old they were inseparable, and travelled thousands of miles together and with her husband David, exploring Ireland, Wales, England and Europe. Finally they all ended up in a large house up a mountain to the north of Madrid.

Sam could charm the birds out of the trees and assumed that every human that he met was more interested in him than his humans that were tagging along. He developed a vocabulary and non-verbal clues as to his needs, cheese and sausages being the main ones.

They collaborated on this book, with Sam dictating his recollections and Sally correcting some of his more flamboyant claims pertaining to his adventures.

You can find out more about Sally’s books and their reviews: Sally’s Books and Recent Reviews

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter and will join us again next Sunday.. thanks Sally.

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Three – Chapter Three – My First Real Friend by Sally Cronin


By special request I am sharing Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story as the next book for Sundays and I hope those of you who have not read his adventures will enjoy…

51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time Sam arrives at his new home with Sally and David and is quick to establish his preferences for food.. and his determination to house train himself.

Chapter Three – My First Real Friend

It may surprise you to know that I learnt to speak Cat before I fully understood human talk. When I was twelve weeks old Sally took me to the place with the strong smells again and I remembered the sharp pain that I had experienced last time and was ready this time.

I did not understand the word that the man who gave me the sharp pain said when I sank my teeth into the soft part of his hand but it was very loud.

By this time I had learnt quite a few words as Sally and David talked to me all the time. At first I only got the basics like ‘sit’ and ‘good boy’ which always seemed to be accompanied by a small piece of chicken, and because this treat was my favourite at the time, I made a point of remembering these words as it obviously pleased her.

What I did not understand at the time was the conversation that Sally had with the man with the sharp object. He apparently told her that I would end up with a vocabulary of about fourteen to twenty words. How wrong can a man be.

However, on our return from this visit, to what I now know to be the vet, I was allowed a little more freedom and was introduced to the front garden of the house.

The previous owners had built the house in the middle of a two acre plot with nearly an acre of garden to the front, half that again at the back as garden then the remaining left as wild meadow.

The cultivated part of the property was laid out with hundreds of bushes and trees as the previous owners both belonged to families with garden centres who had clearly been very generous. The one drawback was the size of the lawns, which required the hire of a local odd jobber with a wonderful smelly monster that he rode up and down on; which belched regularly. One of my favourite games was slipping out of the front door unnoticed and barking encouragement to monster and driver as they drove slightly crookedly across the lawn.

It was a wonderful playground for a young dog, but the reason I had not been allowed to play out there until now was because another dog was also using it as his territory. He would crawl under the flimsy fence whenever he felt like it. For months I thought his name was “That Bloody Danny” since that is what my mistress called him each time she saw him peeing on her begonias in front of the house. His name was actually just Danny and he was a rather daft Spaniel who was also rather lacking in manners, but more about him later.

There were also other creatures that used the gardens and meadow at the back of the house, such as foxes, feral cats and rabbits, all of whom might have been infected with disease. Hence my fenced off area by the kitchen door with my kennel, sun beds and pool, affectionately known as Costa del Sam and one of my favourite summer hangouts. Funny that I would end up living on the Costa del Sol when I was five years old.

Back to my new found freedom. I was due to have a final vaccination at about fourteen weeks but the vet said that I should be safe enough in the rest of the garden.

Sally and David had been living in the house for about a year when I arrived, and I didn’t know that I was not the first four legged person on the premises.

One morning Sally left me outside the front door for a couple of minutes whilst she went back inside for one of my new balls to play with. The moment that she stepped through the doorway I heard a strange sound coming from around the side of the garage that was joined to the front of the house.

“Pzzt.” It was a sound that I was unfamiliar with and being young and foolish I immediately tottered towards the side of the house.

I poked my head around the corner and found myself nose to nose with a rather mucky, aromatic, white and ginger creature with one eye that seemed to move independently of the other.

I leapt in the air and shot backwards convinced that this very smelly individual was going to attack me.

“Calm down for goodness sake otherwise she will be out here.”

I got every other word of this because despite this creature’s efforts to talk Dog he was disadvantaged by only having two or three teeth and he lisped rather badly.

“I’ve been waiting for you to be let out here, you’ve got it cushy haven’t you in your little pad out the back?”

I was beginning to understand a little more of this garbled delivery and wondered how this strange creature had managed to learn to speak my language.

It was almost as if it read my mind because it turned around, and waving a rather bedraggled ginger tail in the air, he looked over his shoulder.

“I grew up around sheep dogs and learnt how to talk to them very early on.” The creature strode off around the back of the house with me in tow, totally mesmerised.

As soon as it got to the back garden it turned and sat motioning with its head for me to do the same.

“She gave me the name of Henry, don’t ask me why but as she saved my life it was the least I could allow her to do.”

I was fascinated but at that moment Sally began calling from the front of the house and she sounded rather panicky.

“Sam, Sam where are you?”

Henry cocked his head in her direction and winked at me.

“Don’t worry I will carry on with the story next time you are in your play pen, off you go now before she gets hysterical.”

I turned tail and raced around the side of the house and wagged my tail beseechingly at her.

“There you are, good boy, I was worried something had happened to you.”

I desperately wanted to please her and when she picked my up I licked her face noting that she had just eaten something sweet and tasty.

After we had played ‘roll around on your back and get your tummy rubbed’ and ‘chase the ball’ Sally put me in my play area behind the house whilst she walked around the house with a large animal that made sucking noises. I had already demonstrated that I found the long cord attached to this monster rather biteable so she put me outside whilst she played with it herself.

I had only just settled my self down with one of my rubber toys that I enjoyed impaling with my small teeth when a ginger and white blur leapt up onto one of the wooden posts of my enclosure and from there to the top of my kennel.

Thank you for coming to read my story.. next time Henry spills the beans on his dramatic life so far.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

About the authors

Sally Cronin waited until she began working for herself, and had the time to commit to the welfare of a dog. before she fulfilled a dream of having another Lassie Collie. From the moment that Sam came home at 8 weeks old they were inseparable, and travelled thousands of miles together and with her husband David, exploring Ireland, Wales, England and Europe. Finally they all ended up in a large house up a mountain to the north of Madrid.

Sam could charm the birds out of the trees and assumed that every human that he met was more interested in him than his humans that were tagging along. He developed a vocabulary and non-verbal clues as to his needs, cheese and sausages being the main ones.

They collaborated on this book, with Sam dictating his recollections and Sally correcting some of his more flamboyant claims pertaining to his adventures.

You can find out more about Sally’s books and their reviews: Sally’s Books and Recent Reviews

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter and will join us again next Sunday.. thanks Sally.

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter One – In the Beginning by Sally Cronin


By special request I am sharing Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story as the next book for Sundays and I hope those of you who have not read his adventures will enjoy…

51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Chapter One – In the Beginning.

I was only three weeks old when I first met my mistress on an unusually warm Irish spring day in May. I was busy drinking milk at the time and barely lifted my head when I heard voices in the back yard where I had lived since I was born.

It was warm and comforting lying next to my two sisters as we snuggled close to my mother’s fur and from time to time a gentle lick would dampen my fluffy coat lovingly.

I was already bigger than my sisters but my mother was determined that we should all be treated with the same care and attention as each other. She was an experienced mother and she knew how to raise strong and healthy babies. This would be her last litter and she lay quietly and contentedly in the straw lined kennel.

Full of milk and very sleepy, I sensed movement in front of our home and lifted my eyes blearily. I could just make out two very large shapes but was not afraid as the smell from one of them was familiar.

Since the day I was born I had been picked up daily and held high in the air whilst a deep voice rumbled into my small ears and a strong but unthreatening scent filled my nostrils. I have no idea what the voice was saying but it sounded kind and I had no fear of it.

I was also used to a smaller body with little hands that pulled at my fur and tickled my tummy. I loved these small hands and the chuckling sounds that the shape made as it played with me and my sisters.

This new being was different and despite my desire to fall asleep after my lunch, I pricked my ears up and turned my face in its direction.

I heard two voices making soft sounds and then felt myself lifted up in the air and held closely against warm and human scented skin that was different from the smells I was used to.

I snuggled in against this scent and fell asleep hearing a soft voice saying a word that seemed to echo in my head. This was the first time that I heard my name and I have been called Sam ever since.

The days passed quickly and my sisters and I became more adventurous with lots of rough and tumble and nipping at heels and tails. We were allowed into the kitchen of the house from time to time and we spent more time with the little person with the sticky hands who chased and cuddled us as many times as we let her. We soon learnt that there were certain behaviours that were not considered acceptable; most of which involved teeth and making puddles on the kitchen floor.

My mother was content to let us roam around the house as she lay in a sunny patch of the yard where she rested away from her noisy and growing brood. We still pestered her for milk from time to time even though we were now eating some small dried pellets as well. They tasted funny and we all still preferred lying side by side close to our mother whenever we could, but I sensed that she was beginning to get impatient with us and would often stand up and move away.

I was getting used to my new name as my mother’s master started using it whenever he came into the yard. One day I heard his deep laughter as his small daughter also called to me. I did not understand at the time but it seems Sam was the first word that she ever said bypassing Dada and Mama in favour of her best friend. Trouble was she called my two sisters Sam too; which must have been very confusing for them when they went to their new homes and were given different ones.

Anyway, back to my new mistress and her husband who had never seen me before. As soon as I heard my name I bounded over to the two of them and was made a wonderful fuss of. My new mistress picked me up and tucked me into her neck which I licked and savoured. I remembered her scent from her first visit but this time my eyes were open and I was able to look into her eyes as she gazed down at me.

“Hello Sam – you’ve grown so big.” She looked over to the man and held me out to him.

“Here you go darling, meet Sam,” she said passing me into his strong hands.

I looked up into a face with kind eyes and warm smile. I felt safe and secure high up off the ground and as they talked to each other, my mistress stroked my head and back gently, reminding me of the loving licks of my mother. I stayed happily being fussed over as the voices rumbled above and around me and almost dropped off to sleep but all too soon I was back on the ground and was soon involved in a rough and tumble game of tag with my sisters.

When I was eight weeks old my sisters and I were placed in a box with mesh over the front and taken away from our mother. As we left the backyard we cried out to her but she seemed to recognise that this was just a temporary separation and settled down into a patch of sunlight by the wall.

We were placed on a seat inside a bigger box that made a very loud noise and had too many smells to identify. I smelt my mother and also the man and child but there were also harsh scents that hurt my nose. My sisters and I huddled close together and shivered at the strangeness of it all, but thankfully within a short space of time the noise stopped and the man got out of his side of the box and came around and opened the door on our side. The movement as he carried us made us feel quite sick and we were pleased when we found ourselves on a floor looking out of the grating at several pairs of feet.

We also smelt dog smells and another smell that stirred up some instinctive sense of mischief. I edged towards the grating and looked through; straight into the eyes of a large furry bundle in a cage opposite me. To my surprise it arched its back and hissed at me through the bars and I shot backwards landing on top of my smallest sister who nipped me on the ear.

After what seemed like ages the man picked us up and we swayed into another room that had sharp pungent smells that tickled our nostrils. I sneezed and heard the man laugh as he opened the mesh door and took me out.

He held me firmly on a cold metallic surface that smelt sharp and acrid. I sneezed again and then felt a new pair of hands grasp me firmly and a strange object was placed against my chest.

A deep voice rumbled in my ears. “Sounds very good Patrick, he is a fine fellow, are you keeping him to show?”

“No, while I was away on a trip to the North a lady came to see him when he was only three weeks old, paid for him there and then and my wife promised she could have him.”

There seemed to be disappointment in the man’s voice but he was an honest man and had never cheated anyone in his life.

“Pity, I think he is going to be a very special dog when he is fully grown. He has a different look about him, almost as though he is listening to everything we are saying.”

I was actually, although I couldn’t understand the words they were using, I was getting a handle on tone and emotion in voices and I sensed more than anything else what was being said.

However, these senses of mine went into overload as I felt something very sharp go into my skin at the back of my neck. Ouch, that hurt and I turned round and nipped the hand holding me firmly across my chest.

“Ouch,” responded my master’s voice and both men laughed as they examined the small puncture wounds in his hand.

“Ye he is going to be a feisty one alright.”

Despite the sore patch at the back of my neck I began to feel a little sleepy from all the excitement and as one by one my sisters were taken out and put on the table, I curled up at the back of the box and only woke when we were placed next to our mother in our kennel.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

About the authors

Sally Cronin waited until she began working for herself, and had the time to commit to the welfare of a dog. before she fulfilled a dream of having another Lassie Collie. From the moment that Sam came home at 8 weeks old they were inseparable, and travelled thousands of miles together and with her husband David, exploring Ireland, Wales, England and Europe. Finally they all ended up in a large house up a mountain to the north of Madrid.

Sam could charm the birds out of the trees and assumed that every human that he met was more interested in him than his humans that were tagging along. He developed a vocabulary and non-verbal clues as to his needs, cheese and sausages being the main ones.

They collaborated on this book, with Sam dictating his recollections and Sally correcting some of his more flamboyant claims pertaining to his adventures.

You can find out more about Sally’s books and their reviews: Sally’s Books and Recent Reviews

I hope you have enjoyed this first chapter and will join us again next Sunday.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Fourteen – Our new home and friends by Sally Cronin


51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time we travelled with Sally and Sam across Ireland, the UK and through France and into Spain.. Sam would travel over 50,000 miles in his lifetime, not bad for a collie from Duleek.

Chapter Fourteen –  Our new home and friends

Late in the afternoon of our second day of travel we arrived at my new home in Madrid. David had bought an old house in the mountains about twenty miles from the centre of the city. I had a large garden to play in and wonderful walks around this pleasant complex of 1960’s summer houses, and the added bonus was the number of lady dogs in residence, who were open to some flirting and kisses through the fence on my nightly excursions with David.

In the evenings the pack would head out to the front terrace and some of us would drink icy gin and tonics, and some would just get ice cubes. I would lie on my rug and look out across the valley and when the dogs began to bark, I would join in and let them know who was king of the castle.

The garden was not as green as my home in Ireland but full of interesting smells… Next door chickens roamed around sometimes poking their heads through the hedge. I soon let them know this was unacceptable behaviour. In the heat of the day I would lie on the covered terrace and if it was really hot, Sally would put on the big wind machine and I would lie in front of it and dream of chasing rabbits.

 

The next year we also bought an apartment in the South of Spain and we would spend the winter months walking the beach and surrounding area. David was now at home all the time and it was dog heaven. My pack was together every day and for the first time in my life the days passed without a drop of rain.

This is when my previous experience with Henry became very useful as in Spain there are many more feral cats than in Ireland.

In our local area on the Costa del Sol was a band of feral cats that spent their lives rummaging in the bins and catching rats and toads. At first, on our night time walks before bed they would keep their distance, but Sally, who had taken pity on the skinny moggies would take down dried cat food pellets and roll them into the dark corners for the cats to chase and catch. She would talk “Cat” to them and despite the fact that we were in Spain, “Cat” is an internationally recognised language.

This game developed to the point where we would be followed on these night time excursions by five or six black, stealthy figures. After about a year some of the younger cats overcame their natural fear of humans and allowed themselves to be stroked and petted. One cat in particular stood out from the rest of the band.

She was a marmalade cat and had probably been the result of a union between a domestic male and a female feral cat. She seemed to have a litter of black kittens every three months or so and although Sally tried to catch her to be taken to the vet she refused to be picked up and put into a carrier. I did not quite understand why Sally wanted to take her, but I heard the word ‘vet’ and assumed it involved needles of some sort.

Anyway, one of her offspring was a feisty little black thing, smaller than the other kittens, who took an instant liking to me. By this time I was six years old and very well behaved and tolerant. At first she would come up close and we would stand nose to nose this tiny creature and I. Then she would leap high in the air and hiss at me as if she suddenly realised how big I was and what danger she might be in.

However after a number of weeks, Mollie as we called her decided that I might be huge but I was a great asset. She knew that the other cats, although unafraid of me by this point, still kept their distance, and by running in close to my legs she could get more of the rolling pellets without interference from the others.

Although she was Spanish, the basic cat language was the same and although she gave me fleas that took forever to get rid of, I hold her in great affection.

Now that I live in Madrid all year round I don’t meet many cats, just the odd domesticated one who has the temerity to sleep on the sofa on the terrace without my permission. However, I have to say that despite reports to the contrary, dogs and cats can be friends and my friend Henry is often in my thoughts as I get older.

Apart from feral cats, Sally also enjoyed the company of feathered friends. Many of whom lived on our local lake in Madrid. Every day on our walks we would take corn or grain to feed them, particularly in the winter months, and gradually the ducks and one goose became less afraid of us. They began to eat out of Sally’s hands whilst David kept me back slightly afraid that I might afford them treat status. On the contrary. My one delight was after they had all had a good feed was to make a quick pretend dash and watch them scatter back into the water. They and I both knew I was not going to catch them and the fact that they would wander up to me when chasing rolling corn, illustrated their disdain of my feeble efforts.

One bird however got a little too friendly with Sally for my liking. A goose, whose mate had died, adopted her and would fly across the lake from his roost to demand a cuddle and special feeding arrangements. He was a lot bigger than the ducks, and I felt that I might bite off more than I could chew if I got hold of him, so simply sat and glared at him from a safe distance. I won’t go into detail of my thoughts about him but safe to say it was a good thing that David held me back!

I did gain two new pack members on our arrival in Spain and grew to love them dearly. Antonio had worked as gardener at the house for over 30 years and David had retained his services to look after everything for us too. He was a short, stocky man with a very strong guttural tone to his voice and he spoke no English. However, we learnt to communicate very quickly and Antonio soon found out that one of my favourite pastimes was to chase a water hose and to catch the spray in my mouth. Since the garden needed watering every day this provided an hour of fun for me that I really looked forward to. I think that Antonio enjoyed the game too as he would spray the bushes for a few minutes then turn the hose on me. I loved this game and soaking wet I would try to run into the house to tell Sally all about it. For some strange reason she did not see the funny side of it and would grab me and rub me down with one of my old towels as I tried to shake all the water out of my coat.

I used to follow Antonio all over the garden including through the vegetable patch where he grew tomatoes and cucumbers to make sure that all the work was carried out properly – he never shouted at me although he might get a little irritated if I occasionally gave his leg a big hug just to let him know who was really the boss. Even though I am now at retirement age I still help him out every day and watch and wait for him to come through the gate.

My other pack member was Sinead who lived in Greece but who would come to our house in Madrid to look after me if Sally and David had to travel for work or holidays. Sally still did not want to put me in kennels so searched on line for a pet sitter. We were very lucky to find Sinead who I fell in love with instantly. She looked after me several times and I knew and Sally felt that I was completely safe when she and David had to go away.

We made other friends near our house and in the south who would join our pack from time to time for something called Cava and Tequila. All I know is that Sally makes sure that there are plenty of my favourites on hand for me to eat during the evening, such as cheese and very handy snack sized sausages, and special Spanish hams. The guests also help themselves to these delicacies but I don’t mind as they are part of my pack too. I have to ask of course if I can have something off the plates as just helping oneself is not polite, but I find that if I pass around to all the guests in turn and say “more” they all are most obliging at sharing the treats around.

My favourite time of year, as you already know, is Christmas and I love helping get the decorations put up and making sure the tasty ‘bits’ were up to scratch.

Usually after a very long dinner and way past my bedtime the music goes on and the dancing starts. At first I used to try and join in but it all became rather excitable so Sally now pops me up in her office behind a rather irritating wooden gate.

On the subject of music my favourite singer is Shania Twain who Sally introduced me to when I was a young puppy. Here in our house in Spain whenever she puts one of her albums on, I will rush up to the office from wherever I am, and Sally and I do a little line dancing. I go in and out through her legs in time to the music with a little barking in between. Great fun and it makes up for not being allowed to join in the pack dances.

However, I do have a party piece that I trot out every time we have guests in return for some small pieces of cheese. They have to ask who my favourite composer is and they run through the usual suspects such as Beethoven, Bach, and Wagner and then they say Shania Twain and I bark madly. Daft really but cheese is cheese.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Stroy 2009

The final chapter in Sam’s story is next week…..

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

As always I look forward to your comments.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Eleven – Favourite Walks in Ireland by Sally Cronin


51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time we had two chapters together meeting other pack members and also learning about respect for our elders. Sam was passionate about one other thing in his life that even knocked sausages into second position…. well perhaps not!

Chapter Eleven – Favourite Walks in Ireland

Let me explain first and foremost what a good walk is all about. Unlike humans we dogs rely heavily on our sense of smell when we are out walking and you also have to understand that territory is everything to us.

For the first six weeks in my new home I was restricted to the garden of the house until I had received my final vaccinations against diseases that could harm me. It was important that I did not come in contact with other dogs, particularly those who might not have been vaccinated.

There are certain rules that need to be followed when staking out one’s own territory, and one of the most important is that one does not do any business near ones bedding, as this in not hygienic. I have met dogs in the last ten years who are confined to small spaces for long periods of time and they have no choice but to use the same space as their bathroom. They find this distressing and it stresses them.

I was lucky, in as much as I had my own safe enclosed space in the garden that Henry and I shared from time to time with Sally, who used to lie on the sun bed with us. Later, I also had the whole garden of two acres to play in. However, apart from marking the boundaries of the garden with wee which is acceptable, any other business had to be done in strategic places outside those boundaries, to notify any other packs in the area that there was a new boy on the block.

From the first time I was allowed out of the garden onto the lane that we lived on, I never pooped in my own territory again unless I was absolutely desperate or unwell. It simply is not done.

Anyway, during the time that I was restricted to the garden, Sally had been playing with me on a long lead. The leash was housed in a casing that extended to about twenty-six feet or could be shortened so that I walked by her side. This gave me the freedom to roam and sniff to my heart’s content, but when it was necessary I could be brought back safely. Here I am with my first harness and lead.

We practiced these manoeuvres in the garden, and when we finally went out into the lane I was already trained.

Although it was a narrow farm lane there was quite a bit of traffic at certain times of the day and Sally trained me to sit on the grass verge whenever we heard a car coming; allowing it to pass safely by us.

I had been viewing and smelling the lane through the gate for a couple of weeks and was very excited by the prospect of enlarging my territory. Apart from Henry I had not met any other animals and he had told me that there were several along the lane who were worth getting to know.

He warned me about two feral cats that tended to lie in wait for small rodents and any careless birds that might land. Also about a dog who lived around two bends who was not right in the head. Apparently he had been hit by a car when he was a couple of years old and he now had a terrible temper.

To begin with, and because I only had short legs, we only went to the bottom of the lane towards the main road. The smells sent me into overdrive as we passed the five or six houses that lined the lane. Each had its own distinctive scent, and inexperienced as I was, I knew that there were different humans and animals within each of these territories.

The most fascinating smells came from the house that was nearly opposite ours and the people who lived there owned greyhounds. They used to breed them in my early days and at certain times a tantalizing aroma would waft into my territory. Although I did not quite understand why, I would become very excited and boisterous.

When Sally saw that I was well behaved on the lead and was able to walk a little further, we started getting into the car in the mornings and heading out to the beach which was about two miles away. The sand stretched for miles and miles and we were both as fit as a butcher’s dog within a few short weeks.

This was a wonderful adventure as there were a mixture of grass covered dunes and nearly four miles of wide sandy beach. Other owners would be out with their dogs and I was introduced to lots of new friends over the next five years. My favourite friend was a little white terrier called Abby who would see me from miles away and come rushing up to me.

As I got bigger it got more difficult for her to reach my nose to kiss so she would have to jump up and down to get a good lick in. She would run in and out of my legs in excitement and try to get me to chase her. She was much faster than I was but I loved our games. I still miss her today.

I am afraid that I did continue to be very particular about food and drink even when out for a walk. I like many dogs believe that stagnant water can be harmful to you.  This is why, from a very early age, I would always head for the side of the house where the garden hose was stored to be given a drink from a running tap. Of course Sally and David would often take advantage of the situation and begin to spray me with water which was slightly annoying. However, one of my favourite games was to snap at the spray as they swung the hose around getting thoroughly soaked in the process.

Anyway, I am side-tracked again. When out for a walk of course there was no handy hose but Sally and David used to carry water bottles for their own use. It did not take me long to establish with gentle nudges and the use of the “tongue hanging out side of mouth, obviously I am thirsty” technique to train them both to let me drink from the bottles myself.

For some reason they were reluctant to share with me, I cannot imagine why, so I ended up with my own bottle and at frequent intervals during my walks, especially in the heat of the Spanish sun I would keep myself hydrated.

I was really lucky that when we moved to Spain I would be able to enjoy the same sort of beach on the south coast and for me there is nothing like a walk by the sea with the feel of sand between your toes.

So in the mornings it was the beach and in the afternoons we would go out in the lane. Each week we would walk a little further until at six months old I could walk for an hour easily.

I was never afraid of being in new surroundings and did my best to leave my mark to let other users know who had visited. I considered the lane to be an extended part of my territory and as there were only one or two dogs who walked it regularly it became a competition as to who could mark the most. At that time I was still peeing like a girl and it was not until I was eighteen months old that I suddenly found myself cocking my leg in the air. This allowed me fantastic opportunities to pee higher and higher over other dogs’ markings and I was confident that I was top dog in the area.

That was until the day that the mad dog on the second bend on the lane escaped from his garden and attacked us.

We were walking along minding our own business but I have to say that I found it hard to resist marking the hedge on the bend where the dog lived because he used to go wild and race up and down desperate to get out and show me who was boss. I had passed that way so many times that I was very blasé about the whole thing. After all he had never got through the fence before and young and cocky as I was I enjoyed winding him up.

We had just passed the edge of his territory and had left him barking in our wake when we both heard the sound of wood cracking. We turned and looked behind us and were horrified to see a large black dog, with teeth bared, charging up the road at us.

I had been on an extended lead but Sally rushed towards me and shoved me between her legs and faced the oncoming dog. He ignored her and leapt on me trying to drag me out and under him. Sally was screaming at the top of her voice hoping that the owner would come out of the house that was a good fifty yards away but she could see that despite my thick fur I was going to be killed if she did nothing.

Sally would never harm any animal but she knew she had no choice and pushed the dog hard in the side. He yelped and moved away but decided that he was not going to give up. He leapt in the air and as he did, Sally grabbed him by the ruff and threw him into the ditch. I do not know where she got the strength but the dog obviously decided that this combined with the shouting and screaming that she was doing meant that she was a larger and more dominant dog than he was. Addled though his brain was he retreated back into the safety of his home and we ran past his territory to the safety of our own stretch of lane.

Shaking we went into our garden, locked the gate and retreated to the house. Sally knew the owner of the dog by sight and when she next saw him in the lane in his van, she stepped into the road and stopped him. She told him in no uncertain terms that she would report him and his dog unless he assured her that he would ensure that the dog was completely unable to get out of the garden again.

True to his word he reinforced the entire fence around his house and in fact a year later became our gardener and a good friend. He loved his dog despite him being vicious with strangers and other dogs and Sally understood how difficult it would have been for him to have the dog put down.

Despite the new security for the dog it was two years before I would even go past that corner, and I always stopped and turned around. Even when I was much older I would only go past the bend if David was with us reckoning that as the Alpha male of our pack he would only pass if it was safe to do so.

I am happy to say that has really been the only time that I have found another dog to be simply vicious. As I have got older I have found that I am getting a little intolerant of uppity youngsters myself and in my own youth I was told off from time to time by older dogs who wanted to teach me some manners. It is true to say that their bark was worse than their bite and I am grateful to them for educating me about social graces.

Over the next five years I got to explore a lot of Ireland as David was a mountain runner. We also went to Wales across the sea in a large smelly box, where I had to stay in the car alone.  I was of course extremely brave, but just in case Sally left me with a pig’s ear to keep me busy. Our favourite places were sandy beaches where we could paddle in the water. Life was good.

As you can tell apart from that one unfortunate experience when I was young, I had a wonderful variety of walks each day, and I knew every inch of them intimately. After five years all this changed, and after spending at least half my life sopping wet, I was to move to a very different territory with strange smells and hot sun, and I will tell you more of that adventure later.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

Thanks for taking a walk with us and I hope that you will join us next time for my favourite car rides.

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

As always I look forward to your comments.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Eight -Language


51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time Sam talked about his favourite things including snow, sausages and cheese and he made every effort to make his needs known.. and now he shares his efforts to learn ‘Human talk’

Chapter Eight – Language

My pack was made up of the alpha pair, Sally and David. As I have already mentioned both of them talked to me all the time.  As well as words designed to let me know my role in the pack and behaviour expected from me, I began to understand the tone and meaning of many other words as well.

It is a common theory that animals do not understand human speech except for specific and relevant words such as sit, wait, down etc. This is a misconception because if you have been talked to continuously over a period of time you do begin to attach meaning and actions to certain words and sentences.

For example, it is no secret that dogs, and I have to include myself, are quite self-centred and are only really interested in what is in it for them or this case me.

At only a few months old I was beginning to isolate certain words that applied to my well-being, specifically the well-being of my stomach. For example, my favourite treats in the world cheese and cooked sausages. The latter was an occasional addition to my training sessions and they were, Sally assured me low fat and healthy enough for me to eat from time to time. Personally I could have eaten them every day but she assured me that I would soon grow tired of them. This was one of those rare times when I felt that she perhaps did not understand my needs quite as much as I wanted her to.

Anyway, I would begin to listen to conversations between humans carefully to determine when I might be able to partake of my favourite foods. Even if I was in semi-sleep mode, which for the uninitiated is flat out with eyes open but in a dream state, I could recognise the key words.

Let me demonstrate. “I thought that we might have chicken tonight with cauliflower and cheese sauce.” Or perhaps; “I went for a walk at lunchtime and I saw that the butcher has begun making home-made sausages.”

I think that you get the idea. Now, as I got older I learnt more vocabulary and I certainly knew more that the sixteen words the vet had predicted I would know eventually.

I knew the names of all my toys. When I was six months old Sally had bought me a football but it only took half an hour to puncture it. Although we now live thousands of miles away from my home in Ireland I still have that ball and some of the other toys I was given. Apart from Ball there is “Santy” (a rather portly plastic Santa Claus), Squeaky and Precious. The latter got its name after we all sat through the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and you have to lisp on the middle of the word.

At ten I now have a very extensive vocabulary including not only my favourite things that are important to me such as Car, Walk, Play, Football, and Chase, but words that also get me wound up like Flies, Magpies, Gaston (my next door neighbour here in Madrid, who is a large and stupid Pyrenean Mountain dog), and Cats (not the wild kind, but domestic variety who are very arrogant and self-satisfied and ask to be chased).

I was only a few months old when I began to string words together and although I sometimes would get wildly excited over nothing in the last ten years, I have really got into the whole conversational thing.

Sally often whispers to David in an effort to avoid ‘a certain somebody’, as she refers to me, getting any ideas but she still does not have enough respect for my hearing as she should do.

Apart from things in my life, I also know the names of all the people too. The other day Sally mentioned Henry to David and I could tell from her voice that she still missed that smelly old boy. I immediately went up to her and looked up to see if there was something else that she might say about my friend. She just looked at me, stroked my ears and said. “Where do the years go Sam?”  Good question.

But understanding of human words and emotions is only part of my ability because after a year of being bombarded with vocabulary an event occurred which ensured that I would be even more immersed in the human language.

David was offered a job in Madrid, Spain and it became too good an offer to turn down. Sally and David had often worked and lived abroad for their careers and had always moved homes and countries together. In seventeen years they had lived in England, America, Belgium and Ireland but this time there were other considerations to be taken into account.

They had only owned the house for a couple of years and would barely break even if they sold up now and also Sally had only just bought a business in the local town and was in the process of building up a successful dietary practice. It was decided eventually that David would go to Madrid and that they would alternate visits every three weeks at the company’s expense and Sally would find someone to look after me for these few days at a time.

It was a wrench for them both but at least Sally had me. Apart from when she was working in the mornings, she and I spent all our time together and apart from an occasional night out with her girlfriends, I was her friend and confidante.  It was my job to look after her and make sure that she was happy.  Without David to talk to she talked to me all the time, and although I already had an extensive word base this immersion therapy gave me a great many more.

This is the time that I wanted to improve my ability to communicate back and the result was my first spoken word.

The three of us had already established a very effective method of communication using body language, eyes and tongue. Well I had, they continued to use the spoken word. For example, if you want a drink or some ice (perfect for cooling a dog down on the one scorching day in an Irish summer), you lick your lips and hold your mouth slightly open indicating extreme thirst.

If you particularly like a morsel of food and you want more then you lick up as far as you can to your eyebrows once or twice to demonstrate that this is delicious and further examples would be appreciated.

If you are desperate for a wee or other business you put your paws up onto the sofa between a person’s legs and hold your face up close to theirs and stare them out. If this does not result in the desired affect then you whine deeply in your throat with a rising pitch at the end to indicate a question. “Do you think that I can hang on to this for ever and are you getting the message?”

If I was in the garden and wanted a game of chase, which was let’s face it is most days, then a sharp but restrained nip on the back of the calf usually resulted in a thoroughly satisfying gallop through the bushes.

They enjoyed the game as well and knew that the more arm waving and barking they did the more I liked it. It was standard pack practice and I was delighted that my instincts were so closely aligned to theirs.

However, as I grew older and was no longer a growing puppy, some of the goodies that I had come to enjoy seemed to be reduced to the occasional treat. I have to admit to playing on the common collie predilection for pickiness when it comes to eating and I am one of the few breeds that can affect disdain when a perfectly good bowl of food is presented.

Give them their due they were fast learners and discovered that if I knew that I would be offered a small morsel of cheddar, I would eat all my dinner. All was well and good but the scarcity of the offerings made me contemplate another strategy.

As I have already mentioned I do not have a voice box and it is virtually impossible for me to annunciate human language but I learnt to give a very good impression.

The first word I learnt to say that was understood was ‘more’ needless to say. I really had to concentrate and it usually involved several parts of my body. I would crease my forehead, lick my lips, wag my tail and from deep in my chest produce the sound of ‘mawgh’. As you can imagine this became one of my party pieces and when David and Sally had friends over for dinner on his visits home.  I managed to obtain several pieces of after dinner cheese from all the guests who felt very honoured that I spoke to them personally.

I have to say that eight years on and I have had to modify this particular word as with any middle aged dog my waistline has expanded somewhat. This is also due to having my teeth cleaned by the vet three years ago but more about dentistry later.

Back to ‘more’. About a year ago I was particularly intent of achieving a further portion of my favourite after dinner treat and I had been told three times to go away and find my bone. Usually I did this as I am well aware of pack etiquette and one does not want to push the alpha female too far as she is very good at the ‘hot tongue, and cold shoulder routine’ that reminds you of where you are in the pack.

On this occasion she was involved in a television programme and her directives to move away were slightly more offhand than usual so I pushed my luck.

The result was a frosty look to encourage me to mind my manners and a gentle sweep of her arm that indicated that I should move away. I do wish she had not watched so many episodes of the Dog Whisperer, that woman has a lot to answer for. Anyway, I ignored the instructions and she turned to me and looked my right in the eyes.

“You are beginning to sound like Oliver Twist and if you don’t stop pestering me I will call you Oliver in future.”

She obviously considered this Oliver chap to be quite something if she was willing to call me his name.

I scrunched up my forehead and really concentrated. I licked my eyebrows and wagged my tail vigorously.

“Oh,Ee,Va”

“Pardon.” I had certainly got her attention now.

“ORH,EE,VA.” I emphasised.

David who had been trying to watch the programme throughout this exchange turned the volume down on the remote control.

“Did he just say Oliver?”

Right on brother and they were so impressed it resulted in an extra treat, my favourite next to cheese, a hard-boiled egg.

I now no longer bother with the short but ineffective ‘more’ and get right to the point with ‘Oliver’ after my dinner.

I also developed another word that stemmed for an everyday activity. I have already told you about the ‘greeting rug’ which is used to have a pack greeting when we have been apart.

David and Sally would always use a word over and over when we hugged and stroked each other and it was ‘hello’.

One day when I was about six years old, I felt the need to reciprocate and began responding with my own version which sounds somewhat like ‘hayyo’. Sometimes it comes out better than others depending on my level of concentration and I do get a real charge from uttering this word when we meet people on our travels.

There was one particular occasion when we were staying in our apartment on the Costa’s, where you find a lot of people who talk like David and Sally, unlike here in Madrid where I cannot understand a word people are saying.

We were out for their morning walk which they insist on taking rain or shine and this couple were coming towards us arm in arm. As they reached us the woman stopped and greeted us.

“Hello, what a beautiful dog.”

“Heyoo.” I greeted her back wagging my tail.

Just as well she was hanging onto her husband’s arm, to say that she jumped two feet off the ground is a bit of an exaggeration but you get my drift.

“Did he just say what I think he did.” She looked at me awestruck.

“Sam, say hello nicely to the lady,” Sally prompted.

“Heyoo.” I uttered again and was rewarded with much petting and admiration.

This has inspired me to try and use other words, not all are successful but it is a work in progress and combined with my other effective methods of communication, I feel that I probably do better than most dogs in achieving the right balance of food and comfort.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

As always I look forward to your comments.. thanks Sally