It was a cold, wet December night in 2008 when the phone rang. It was next door, “Have you got a Dog?” Sue asked. “Don’t be silly” Mrs A said. “You know I don’t like Dogs” “Well there’s one at the bottom of your garden, I’ve heard it barking” “I’ll go and have a look” Mrs A said. Moments later I heard a scream, “It’s a great big effing dog” she cried. I went out to look, sure enough, a big black dog stood there in our garden and barked at us. He was wet through and ran back up to the end of the garden to get under the only slight shelter there was, a Weeping Willow tree.
“He’ll be gone in the morning” says I “He’ll find his way out and go home” We went back inside. An hour later we were back outside to see if the beast had gone. Nope. This time he was closer to the house, trying to get into the open door of the Greenhouse, the only dry place in the garden. We left him again, and went inside. It was now getting late, time for bed. One last look outside, this time he was even closer to the house. Woof-woof and off back up the garden he went. What to do now?? We put some old towels and blankets down on the Greenhouse floor, left him some Cat biscuits, the only pet food we had. “He’ll be off by the morning” says I.
We were both up at the crack of dawn, dressed and out to see if he had gone. We peered into the Greenhouse. There curled up on the blankets, still wet through, still shivering was the big black Dog. He’d eaten the food. So we did what anyone else would do, we gave him some more. He wolfed it down, when he’d nearly finished he let me take the plate away without even a murmer. “Now what do we do??” We phoned the Vets to see if anyone had reported him lost, but no one had. “Bring him in and we’ll scan him for a chip” they said. I took a ladder strap off my van to use as a collar and we borrowed a lead from Sue net door. He let us collar him and put a lead on him, not resistance at all. The car was started and he walked over to it, jumped into the driver’s side and then lay down on the passenger seat. I got in the back Not once did he make eye contact with us.
But there was one thing to happen on that journey that changed our lives for the next 9 years. More on that later.
We arrived at the vets, he walked in as though he couldn’t give a monkeys, they scanned him, no chip. “You’ll have to leave him here, he’s a stray, so will have the go to the local dog compound” the nurse said. “I’ll get a slip lead for him” She came back, slipped the lead over his head, and without as much as a glance back at us, he walked off with her. He just seemed to accept his fate, no fight in him whatsoever. We collected our things and left, safe in the knowledge that at least he was now going to be safe and looked after until he was claimed or re-homed.
The very next day, those immortal words were spoken from Mrs As mouth. “Shall we go and see how the dog is getting on??” Phone calls were made, questions asked and off we went to the dogs home. The place was a dump. Very dirty and unkempt. “He’s not stopping here” says Mrs A. We went a saw him, still dirty from when we had handed him in. We took him for a walk around a paddock they had for exercising, still no eye contact. We took him back inside, he went to his kennel the same as he had done at the vets, just accepting of what was going to happen to him. Unbeknown to him though, one of his actions on the car ride to the vets had sealed his fate. Whilst driving there, he’d rested his head on Mrs As arm and as they say. That was that. We paid a deposit, and waited. No one claimed him, so he was ours.
A home check was done, which we nearly didn’t pass. It was never in doubt really because the women who did it wouldn’t have got out the house alive if she had turned us down. No arguing with Mrs A.
Beds were bought, toys as well. A collar and lead and as much food as we could fit in the car, and 7 days after handing him in to the vets, Ossie came to stay. He let us wash him and check him over, infact I think he would have let us do anything to him, that’s how much he didn’t seem to care.
Research was done, books were bought. It seemed we’d got ourselves a Lurcher, a big Lurcher. It wasn’t until I’d had another knee operation that I saw the hunting possibilities with Ossie. I was off work and just off of crutches and we were walking through a local grass field. Ossie set off, he’d seen something. Down the hill he ran, cutting off the Rabbits escape to sweep it up in his stride. I’m doing my best to run after him, pleased as punch. It was short lived however, Ossie simply ran off past me and proceeded to bury the still alive rabbit in the nearest ditch. I managed to dig it out, neck it and take it home. Our first Rabbit together. Taking Ossie for a walk was never plain sailing. I’ve lost him on Kinder scout chasing a Hare, Ben Lawers after a Fox and whatever was about in Wells-next-the-sea sand dunes and pine woods. Luckily, he always came back, but boy, did it make your heart race waiting.
Never having had a dog before, it was a steep learning curve. Ossie suffered with separation anxiety, we made it worse by locking him in the shed. We just didn’t know. We had 4 Cats at the time, Ossie tolerated them, they avoided him. He destroyed 3 cat flaps trying to get out. On the odd occasion Ossie did manage to escape, he never ran off, why would he?? Just happy to sit at the top of our drive until someone came home. Ossie was aggressive towards other dogs, mainly black Labs, but only entire males. Neutered dogs and bitches he was ok with. If there was another dog out walking and I hadn’t seen it before Ossie and got him on a lead, he’d be off. No amount of shouting would stop him. Lots of fights ensued. Iv’e never been able to stop him of that. So much so, we are now avoided by some dog walkers, can’t blame then really. With no one to look after him, holidays were now to be taken in a newly acquired touring caravan, nice!! All part of Mrs As plan me-thinks.
A make shift lamp was fashioned from one from work, 7ah batteries hooked up and placed in a bum bag. Lamping we went. Never having done it before, it was going to be interesting. We walked out to get the wind in front of us, torch on. Nothing in the first field, so into the second. Four out and away from the hedge. Three ran off before Ossie caught sight of them, the fourth, squatted. We walked up to it, got to within 10 yards of it when it got up. Ossie was released and put in a good account of himself. The Rabbit made the hedge, closely followed by Ossie. A split second later the Rabbit was squealing its head off, Ossie had caught it. Now the fun began. True to form Ossie buggered off with the Rabbit. We were somewhere we shouldn’t have been, close to houses and near a school. There’s me chasing this demented dog around this field with a squealing Rabbit in his mouth, shining my lamp everywhere trying to find him hoping on one sees us. Eventually I came across him in a corner of the field, burying the Rabbit. I got the Rabbit off him and legged it sharpish. Our first lamped Rabbit together.
I’ve never worked Ossie hard, much preferring a good mouch about the local woods and undergrowth, It’s never been about numbers for me, just enjoying being out with him and watching him hunt. We teamed up with my mate and his 2 JRT’s. Tess my other dog then joined us and we’ve had many a grand day out just seeing what was about.
Well, sadly the time has come that we all dread. After going downhill for a few months, struggling to go to the toilet and having breathing difficulties. I took Ossie for one last walk, fed him some of his favourite food, Chicken. Then did the one last thing I could do for him and let the Vet put him to sleep. He’s now safely resting at peace at the bottom of our garden, where we first met him.
Rest in peace old boy, you were a bugger, but it’s been a pleasure.