Goodbye to Tobi, hello to Polly

We lost our lovely dog Tobi a few weeks ago due to complications after surgery. Suddenly Team Dagg was a crucial member down. It was an awful and heart-breaking shock. There’d be no more geocaching and campervan adventures together, no more wingdog chasing after Chris’s model planes, no more walks around our fields and woods here, no more ecstatic welcomes at the door after our absence, however short. Just no more Tobi. We were devastated.

We hadn’t been without a dog in 36 years. Chris and I became dog owners not long after we got married, and since then have always had at least one and usually two, but occasionally even more. As far as we’re concerned life without a dog isn’t worth living. So, although still grieving for Tobi, we decided we needed a new canine companion to keep us busy and help us heal.

Getting Tobi had been tricky. I contacted quite a few vendors on Le Bon Coin, an online classified ads site, but it seemed that every dog we were interested in had just been reserved. I took Caiti and Rors to view one batch of puppies, but we came home empty-handed. This time a reservation had taken place within me saying we’d be there in half an hour and our arrival! I suspect now that I was just meant to offer more money to reverse the reservation. Anyway, we eventually succeeded in finding Tobi and our nearly-nine-years of time together began.

So I was quite amazed that our first tentative enquiries about some Border collie puppies on a farm in Haute Vienne received a positive response. Yes, there were female puppies still available, and yes, we could come and see them and yes, if we liked, go home with one that very afternoon. What’s more the price was very sensible. We stuffed a quick lunch down, hopped in the car and drove to a tiny hamlet in a rural part of Haute Vienne. Despite its tininess, we had problems finding the farm and visited most of the other properties in the settlement before zoning in on the right one where we met Polly and her siblings, mum, aunts and cousins in a yard. The vendor was a quietly spoken man and there was a general air of serenity and good nature. Our dear old Tobi had always been a very nervous, anxious dog, prone to barking rather too much at times despite our best efforts to discourage such behaviour. Up until her our dogs had always tended to be very calm and quiet, and that was a trend we’d prefer to return to. The signs looked good that we could.

We chatted for a while, watching the puppies playing around us. Then Chris picked out Polly, and home we went. Polly didn’t enjoy her first outing in a car. She hid under the front seat, where she was quietly travel sick, poor thing. (Puppies are very prone to this apparently but she should grow out of it in the next few months.) When we got back to the house she crawled into a quiet corner, overwhelmed and waiting for death, so we just let her be.

It hasn’t taken her long to adapt to her new surroundings and pack. She longer dives under bushes or into dark corners. She’s now a very lively bundle of mischief. She’s bright and determined, a touch defiant, but she’s quick on the uptake with training. We’re working hard with positive reinforcement, and are getting nipped and chewed a lot less now. She’s more or less accepted that our ancient cats don’t want to play with her and that the llamas won’t eat her, but she remains quite scared of loud noises. Her worst trait is a penchant for eating poop. Trust me, we’re very motivated to get her out of that habit.

She’s also very fond of crocs. Fortunately we have plenty of old pairs that she can play with.

She’s been vaccinated, chipped and dewormed, and we’ve just had our first outing in the van to go for a forest walk. Soon we’ll be taking her on longer geocaching trips to pick up where Tobi left off, tragically too soon.

We’ll never forget our Tobi, and have so many wonderful memories of her. Now, however, our main focus is on giving Polly the best life we possibly can.