What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

Leisure, by W.H. Davies

Image (c) Not the Dog Photography

dino’s story

Hello, and welcome to this website. My name is Dino and I have the pleasure of accompanying my mistress/mother on her daily walks through the woods. She spends most of these walks deep in thought, the output of which you can read on the reflections page. I don’t spend the walks thinking; I’m too busy exploring what is actually there. Personally, I think she wastes this time together as she doesn’t realise what an exciting place the wood is. It’s full of squirrels, birds, rabbits and other animals that are just there to be chased. But now she has asked me to tell you the story of how I came into her life and what I mean to her to see if it resonates for you.

The fact is that, although she now says I am the most important thing in her life, she didn’t want me at first. I was my master’s idea. Actually, my master’s original idea was to have two Siberian huskies to help him overcome his attachment issues. Luckily for me our mother managed to talk him out of this, because huskies have a well-documented reputation as cat-killers, and she wanted to protect the cat. Unfortunately for her, when he then suggested an Alaskan malamute, she couldn’t find enough evidence that they were cat-killers too. It’s a bit ironic that she ended up with me, as I can’t claim to be a pedigree, having come from a very dodgy house in a very dodgy part of Sheffield and my looks suggest I have some husky in me. However, as you can see, I have a very good relationship with the cat. In fact I will point out that it is the cat who initially had the problem with me, never the other way round. It was only when she discovered what a warm fluffy radiator I was that she decided to accept me.

It’s a bit of a repeating pattern in my mother’s life; this not wanting things initially that then turn out to be her greatest gifts. It was the same with my master and his brother. When she had to have a hysterectomy at age 20 due to cancer she initially rejected the idea of adopting children. It felt like a substitute for the dream she had had of giving birth to a son that would be called Alexander. She took a while to realise that adoption was not about having a substitute family, but about making a difference to a child’s life and therefore worth doing for that alone. Eleven years later social services offered her and her husband the opportunity to adopt two young boys; the second of which, my master, had been given the birth name Alexander. So her dream came true after all.

Like my master, I was a bit of a problem child. Perhaps this stems from our dodgy starts in life. I too had disrupted parentage. I left my birth mother a bit too soon and my master was then supposed to be my carer. But that only lasted about a week, and then our mother had to start stepping in. I spent my early months living between two houses, and not having a clear set of rules to follow. It was only when I was six months old that my master decided to live permanently with his dad and I was left living with our mother. At that point consistency started to kick in. But she still struggled with me. Her main problem was when she made assumptions about what she could or could not do with me. Like tying me to a fence post in a field full of sheep. She assumed that the fence post was strong enough to hold me when the sheep ran off and I ran off too. Wrong!

To give her her due she learnt from her mistakes. She is pretty good now at understanding me and managing my behaviour. She knows that the first place to look for me if I get really frightened and run away is in the pub. She’s even learnt that it is completely stupid to walk around the wood shouting for me when I’ve disappeared chasing squirrels. Now all she does is find a quiet comfortable place to sit down and observe. It’s the one occasion when she does take time out to take in the beauty of the wood. Unfortunately for me this behaviour completely freaks me out. I suddenly realise I have no idea where she is, so I stop chasing the squirrels and come running to find her. After all, most days in the wood I never catch anything so I know that my best chance of a meal is coming from her. And the last thing I want is to be abandoned in there. The cat ran away and spent five weeks living in the woods when we first moved to the country and she tells me that it’s no picnic. Full of danger in fact, like men with guns and hounds. My worst nightmare.

But my mother says that all the trouble we’ve been through is worth it. Because the best thing about me is the way I enable her to connect with people. Everywhere we go people stop to talk to me, and then to her. Even in the middle of London complete strangers will say to her “what a beautiful dog”. Of course, I don’t give a toss about these comments, but they make her feel good. But I do like making friends with both dogs and people and because I’m so good at it she makes friends too. Which is why she’s so happy living where we live now, because she knows all the neighbours and feels part of the community. It wouldn’t have been so easy for her to do that if she hadn’t had me.

Best of all I’ve helped her and my master reconnect and work on their attachment issues. Today they have a good relationship. He’s even found a job that he really enjoys in sales, which is something our mother knows lots about. So they don’t just talk about me or Sheffield Wednesday when they meet now. Ultimately our mother did find herself a family. But more than that; between them, both her and my master’s father have made a difference to more than one child’s life. Because they have given two boys a start in life they would not have had without them.

So to end this story here is a summary of the wolf wisdom gleaned from those walks in the woods:

1)  When unwanted presents arrive in life, accept them as a gift. Ultimately they may turn out to be your greatest treasures.

2)  When pursuing a dream, don’t be disheartened by setbacks or failures. They may change the route you take, but not necessarily the destination. Learn from them and move on. At the same time don’t keep trying to go down the same blocked road no matter how much you want to; find another route to follow.

3)  When you really want something stay still. Allowing events to unfold around you is more likely to make it happen. Wait for it to come to you, rather than trying to force it, or control it. Patience is not just a virtue; it is a necessity.

4)  Finally, reflect for a moment on the unconscious beauty of nature. Nature doesn’t care if we love what it looks like. But it does require our respect. If we don’t respect it then it can wreak havoc. As humans we should cultivate the same respect for each other, and most importantly for ourselves. In that way we can be truly at one with ourselves and how we are in this world. Which might just make the world a more beautiful place for all of us.

Now mum, where’s my dinner?