Dog days

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This morning I went sketching with Sprout dog along the Caranish shoreline. It’s our regular haunt. We rarely meet a soul. Short-eared owls follow us at dusk and cuddy ducks whooh whooh us in the day. Caranish flora is mainly ‘east side’ with rich grassland meadows full of ragged robin and moorland boggy and upland bits filled with swathes of ghostly cotton grass.

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Sprout celebrates nine years next week. We’ve been pretty much inseparable since he arrived at four weeks old and as my friend Hector says, anything after ten is a bonus, so this entry is devoted to Sprout.

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Dog sceptics don’t stop reading! I’m not keen on people obsessing about their dogs (or children) and recoil from being called the Sprout Mum. I am ‘the boss’ ! But I’m so not. Springer spaniels are willful creatures and He is no exception.

Sprout is a bear of a dog and I would not survive here in the Hebrides without him. He has made my time living on the edge possible, wonderful, deeper even. Home is where the Sprout is.

He’s a dog that likes to be comfortable. He’s calm for a Springer ( really Dad) He always finds a good spot, rests his chin on the arm rest, travels up front, enjoys a bit of sofa. He’s a people dog, lies at their feet, on their feet, looks deeply into their eyes, a soulful dog. (He’s probably thinking how can he extract a biscuit or empty the bin when you’re not quite looking ).

Last week he costs me £30 after stealing a large packet of fresh filleted fish off the bus. The driver went inside to get a mop and Sprout saw his moment. I think he plots. My neighbours have all been victims of his raids.

We’ve had some fine moments. He upended himself in a dead whale in front of the Duke of Argyll, has a penchant for eau de seal or d’otter, stole baby Jesus from my mother’s crochet nativity crib scene, ruining one Christmas. He’s had a strict gun dog training back in the Shires and he’s a goose master. He still works to hand signals, drops to the whistle and brings back the dummy when he feels like it.  He’s a fisherman’s friend.

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I’ve written a children’s book about him, ‘Sprout in the Outer Hebrides’ known as SITH to friends, which lies unpublished, on the to-do list.   The things I can’t do: travel to China or Tibet and leave him, but honestly do I want to? ( and think of all those carbon miles)  Adventures out here with Sprout are enough for my small brain these days.

He snuggles into me of an evening. He sleeps a lot and I don’t like his lumps and bumps, but I monitor them carefully. I remember the exact time and place when the vet in Kirkcudbright called to tell me there was a runt of the litter needing a home. Was it madness (magic?) made me take him? It’s hard work rearing a tiny puppy and for five years he led me a merry old dance.

I love that dog dearly, would probably give my life for him. He’s part of my weird family along with Mr Cheese, Uisge and Jimmy. Long may our Uist dog days continue. Happy Birthday Sprout.

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2 Responses to “Dog days”


  1. 1 Dan 25/07/2017 at 11:33 am

    Happy birthday for next week Sprout, I wish you many sausages and have a roll on a dead cetacean on me. Good to hear of your adventures with the curly haired one, long may they last.

  2. 2 Patricia Farrage 30/07/2017 at 6:14 pm

    Belated Happy Birthday Sprout. What comfort they bring to us humans,Linda’s border collie, Emmy, keeps me company a lot of the time, always a greeting when I’ve been away. You have an interesting life Becky, and you are gifted in so many ways. I enjoy reading what you have been doing please keep the ‘blog’ (not sure of name) going. Love, Pat x

    Sent from my iPad

    >


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