The fame of the Jack Russell Uggi in the silent film The Artist, recently nominated for the Oscars, has left me looking at our own Jack Russell Millie with new eyes.
Like Uggi, Millie can walk on her hind legs, sit, play dead, cover her eyes with her paws when she is naughty and bark out commands.
She also kills rats and mice which is very useful on a farm. And hens and the occasional guinea fowl. Which is not so good.
The perpetual perfume of cow muck or sheep poo does not always endear us to her on the sofa. Plus the enticing licks and kisses she gives us after having chewed on a tasty morsel of a cow’s afterbirth are best avoided. Perhaps she is not made for Hollywood glamour or the red carpet. Probably wee on it at a strategic moment.
Anyway I could not bear to part with her even if fame and fortune did beckon. Our dogs are a very significant part of our family as well as working life. And when one dies we are bereft. And one has. Nell. Our lovely, increasingly dottily demented sheepdog, who has faithfully served us for thirteen years and whose loss has left us with quite a dilemma as to how to replace her.
Nell was a goer up to her very last days and her death has taken us totally by surprise.
We are taking comfort from the fact that she died in her kennel, with no sorrowful trip to the vets for that last final visit. Even the night before she had been in the kitchen, hungrily cleaning up the remains of a casserole; you would think we never fed her. Awful thought. Was it my cooking?
There had been a steady decline in her agility, hearing and eyesight.
But not her nose or appetite. Until recently John was taking her out with him in the Landrover when he moved the sheep. More of a token than to be of any use.
As all should be in lamb, John is not keen to chase the sheep anywhere. He lifted Nell out of the back of the Landrover, she had stopped jumping in and out of it, and virtually propped her up as an accessory to remind the sheep that they had better do as they were told and leg it into the next field. That residual sheep memory of a swift nip at the back of hind leg, ours too if we did not move fast enough, usually did the trick.
So should we get another border collie puppy or even maybe a quad bike?
I have wondered if there are any sheepdog rescue societies who may want a good working home for a young dog.
We have been caught on the hop with Nell’s death as we knew we would have to replace her sometime, but kept putting it off.
Meanwhile Nell lies at peace. John buried her in one of the grass fields where the sheep graze. She’ll keep a good eye on them there.
Mrs Downs Diary