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Dogs..... Thoughts and appreciations.

I've owned dogs as long as I can remember; I love them, although I'm almost dog-free now. I say almost dog-free because my daughter and her family  live close by and have two dogs, that my wife and I look after frequently, and which are equally 'at home' with us. The dogs, a 10 year old black terrier mongrel rather like a Jack Russell but with huge pointy ears like a Corgi, and a beautiful, young, pedigree English Setter (above), are inseparable. Stranger bed-fellows would be hard to imagine as the smaller dog can, and does, stand completely upright underneath the other. As my daughter and her husband have two little girls; my grand daughters, it's essential that the dogs are totally child-safe, harming neither them, or any of their little friends, in spite of the provocation small children can offer. Both dogs are paragons of virtue in this regard, and the kids love them dearly, play with them endlessly and, apart from the odd minor accident resulting from over-exuberance, on either the kid's or the dog's part, their relationship is wonderful to behold and completely unforced and natural.

This of course is how it should be; the dogs being an intrinsic part of the home, always welcoming the returning family, always lying in the most inconvenient place and always prone to noxious gas emissions by which we can perhaps divert attention from our own transgressions(?). I guess this arrangement suits my wife and I, very well. We are not tied by the ownership of a dog and have the freedom to spontaneously travel, go on holiday, visit friends without that niggling got-to-get-back imperative that has been a feature of our lives for decades. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Dogs and families are, to me, mandatory and ALL children should be brought up with an appreciation of animals, particularly dogs, which display such unconditional loyalty and friendship throughout their lives. We have had horses and cats, even a wild rabbit or two, but none of these exhibit the intimacy and hilarious exuberance that a dog will demonstrate almost daily. They actually become part of the family.

Yes, they are dirty, disgusting, daft and destructive.  Yes, they are expensive, embarrassing, annoying and frustrating. But yes, they are also constant, amusing, heartening and affectionate, and if we superior beings could all emulate these simple qualities with such steadfastness I believe the world might be a much better place.

However, you may have detected a very slightly negative note in my earlier comments. Without access to my 'share dogs' at my daughter's, would I have a dog now? To this I would answer - No. I have reached a time of life where I seek simplicity and liberty. I have recently upgraded my home and decoration, after, it has to be said, decades of abuse by kids and animals and the lifestyle as rural dwellers deep in the countryside, to the point that I would rather that muddy dogs did not defile my carpets, or the cat does not consume half a rabbit in front of the fire, or family and friends actually kick off their wellys before entry. Oh God, I am beginning to sound awfully anal. Do I want a LIFE or a carpet? Emphatically I shout 'a life please'! But it is really nice to come home to a beautifully finished home into which I'd be proud to invite anyone.

Then there is the liberty thing. I can plan lengthy holidays, visit distant friends, spontaneously set off on a weekend break that doesn't matter if it stretches into a week, and stay out late. This, apart from the restrictions imposed by advancing years, is absolutely superb, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Having recently retired, I can wake up in the morning, look out the window, see what kind of day it is, and theoretically make plans. I say 'theoretically' because having planned my day, I usually find that others have made prior arrangements which require me to do something completely different. I don't mind this as these 'others' invariably have far better ideas than me, and I find now that I'm doing a lot of stuff that gives me immense pleasure and uses largely untapped parts of my talents and skills which I find most fulfilling - like this for instance!

My ramble-radar has detected that I have slipped "off message", as we media types like to say, and I'd better get back to the point and to the title of this piece, "Dogs..... Thoughts and appreciations." as I recall.

So, let me affirm my eternal love for the damned varmints and tell you about some really nice Dog Coats that we at Country Attire have in stock. Now, you like me may, as a true country person, have mixed feelings about dog coats, and I took some convincing I can tell you! Are we just dressing up our namby-pamby pouches, or is there some worthwhile benefit in clothing them against the elements? Now I know you will never see a working dog in a dog coat. They don't need them; they are super fit and bred and housed to reinforce their natural resistance to the elements. But the dogs that you and I have at home are not honed to the same pinnacle of fitness, resilience and performance. If our dogs are out in the wet and cold for a few hours they can become just as wet, chilled and miserable as you or I. We take the decisions to clothe ourselves against the weather in Barbour, John Partridge, Driza-Bone, British Duffle or even LiBErty FREEdom, with our feet stuffed warmly into a pair of Hunter wellys, and we should perhaps have the same consideration for our dogs?

Just look at this array of six quality dog coats from Driza-Bone and Barbour...







These are NOT the fluffy, bling-ridden offerings in which Essex girls clothe their Chihuahuas, but serious, well-designed dog garments which are anatomically designed to keep our dogs comfortable, dry and warm while out in the countryside. They are tough garments made with all the quality materials these brands have made famous in human clothing. They are all in stock right now and will make a Christmas present both you and they will appreciate. Maybe it's time to get Fido to try one on?

All the best for the coming holidays!