Susan and Barry
Welcome to our special pages. We hope you enjoy our stories.
Sue and I are childhood sweethearts who met when I was twelve and Sue was eleven. After six years we got engaged and two years later in 1971 we got married. In 1972 we had decided we wanted our first dog, after we had both come from families who had dogs at one time or another. We decided on a Westie and rang a place not far from where we live in Penkridge Staffs.
We rang one Saturday and they said they had a dog, we arranged for Sue's dad to drive us there, but when we arrived at the kennels they had sold him.
We were so disappointed as we had already bought his collar and lead and even his name disc "Whisky”. so we decided to have a look around anyway, we spotted a tiny Springer Spaniel sitting all alone at the back of a cage, we instantly fell in love with him and bought him home.
The seller had said that he was seven weeks old! We kept him safe from harm until he was thirteen weeks old and then took him to the vets for his injections only to be told he was only nine weeks old. It was at this point that we realised our beautiful little puppy had come from a puppy farm and not a reputable breeder. We rang to complain and they said, well bring him back if you don't want him!!!! How cold could they say that, after all those weeks, expecting us to give him up, and this where it all begins.
Whiskey had not picked any of the doggie habits from his mum because they were parted to early in his life and it was from this point, when he came to live with us that we think he believed he was a human being and that one day he would grow up to be like me "his dad" Through his life he never really associated with other dogs and hated being left alone. Every morning we would take him to stay with Sue's mum while we went to work and spent lots of time in her back garden with their dog Bruce when he was home! As he was very street wise and spent many a day searching the surrounding area looking for a "lady" friend. Bruce was the only dog that Whiskey ever got on with. We had wonderful times with Whisky though his life, some happy and some sad. He always used to sit on the arm of the lounge chair with his head in the window sill waiting for me to come home from work at around 2:15pm ready for his walk and endless sniffing round with that "BIG" spaniel nose, or chasing his ball.
When he was about 9 years old he was attacked by another dog and was beaten quite badly by it before I could rescue him. He pulled through though after lot of love and attention, but became increasingly more nervous. About twelve months later he had a heart attack, but once more recovered only to have another one when he was 11 years old and sadly had to be put to sleep as their was nothing the vet could do. I was devastated and could not bring myself to stay while the act took place, but I could hear him crying out for me as I walked away and I have never forgiven myself for leaving him alone, and swore from that time on I would never leave any animal alone in those same circumstances.
That night while I slept, my wife saw Whisky visit me "in spirit" he stood up at the side of the bed, but as she went to wake me, he left, I can only hope that he came to forgive me and we will meet again one day.
Its now 1983 and some months since Whiskey passed away, the house is empty without the patter of those big spaniel feet, and with lots of love to give still, even though we will never forget Whiskey we have decided to look for a new puppy, and decide on a Labrador. This time we do our homework and find a lovely breeder in a small village of Sandon, we arrange a visit, but she only has black males and Sue had a fear of big black dogs at that time! Jan eventually talked us into having a yellow bitch; this puppy was the life and soul of the party at four weeks old, full of fun and mischief little did we know what we were letting ourselves into!
At eight weeks we went to fetch her home, she traveled really well in the car home, then slept most of the rest of the day. I remember the toilet paper adverts had just started about then and Sue’s dad arrived the next day (an amateur photographer) to get photo's of her wrapped up in toilet roll; she turned out to be very photogenic. Sue was not working in them days and so Honey had her full attention ..................... Lots of puppy naughtiness, but very reluctant to have any cuddles, she wasn't having any of that, she would even show her puppy teeth in defiance at being hugged.
Sue rang the breeder Jan and asked what we should do and she said her natural mother would pick her up by the scruff of the neck and give her a good shake, she suggested that we hug her tight and give her a shake too and this did the trick once she realised we only wanted to love her. What fun we then had training her on her walks and off lead training was interesting too. She was fine until it was time to go back on the lead! but she was having none of it, and the only way I could entice her to me was to lie on my back on the grass and hum in a deep tone!!!! Yes it did work, but passers by were quite amused.
She developed into a really well behaved dog, later in the year Sue's mum was taken very ill after a stroke and Sue started to spend whole days at her mums bedside, and Honey became a lonely puppy and so.......................................!
We decided to have another puppy to keep Honey company. We hadn't got another £200 to spend at that time, so we looked in the evening paper for any puppies, and we found a farm that was selling some unwanted collie cross bitches, so off we went on a freezing cold wet Novembers night, down narrow country lanes to a farm in the middle of no where.
We were led to a cow shed and there was this tiny little mongrel, covered in cow dung and freezing cold. We paid the £10 for her, she had a last feed from her mum and off we took her, Sue wrapped her up in a tartan blanket and sat with her in her arms in the back of the car all the way home.
Honey took to her straight away and even though she was only 10 months older, she was just like a mother to her, they both settled down in Honey's basket for the night, and became like sisters over time always looking out for one and another.
Sadly Sue's mum died in December that year 1983. At Christmas we had dad over for a time to stay, and Cassy as we had named our new addition, became very ill too with tonsillitis and we had to leave her with a vet all night and we thought she was going to die too. Fortunately she pulled through and after Xmas her walkies training began. We took her to a park next to Trentham gardens which stretched for miles; Honey was off her lead and walking nicely. Then we let Cassy off and she was off and away like a race horse as far as the eye could see to a chap at the top of hill, Sue was screaming to him to grab her, but she swerved by him and began charging back down the hill towards us, swerved around Sue and back up the hill to the other man, then back again, It was quite funny really and we did catch her eventually, and as time went on Cassy also developed into a very well behaved girl.
In 1984 Sue and I bought a caravan for touring and to take the girls on holiday with us, but for some unknown reason they would not spend time with us actually in the caravan, but they loved the outdoors and spent many cold nights tucked up for bed in the back of our old Landrover which we had made a raised platform off the floor, and lined the roof and sides with carpet tiles in a bid to keep it Cosey for them. In August 1988 Sue’s dad was taken ill and died in September, He had always called Honey and Cassy his lads even though they were girls, but they didn't mind as they loved him anyway. And early in 1989 we decided to have another puppy as Honey and Cassy were now 5 yrs old and Honey was going blind. We decided to have what we originally wanted back in 1972.............................! a "Westie"
After searching the local papers we found someone with a litter of Westies in Crewe and went out to see them on Saturday, We picked a lovely little girl and named her Bonny and what a beautiful little puppy she was too, full of fun and mischief as well. We had just moved house earlier that year and now had a very large garden for her to play with Honey and Cassy, they took to her all most right away all though Cassy was a bit grumpy at first.
Bonnie was house trained in no time at all as she was taught by her new older sisters. We now had a new Landrover and they all traveled in the back when we went caravanning, but I remember Bonnie weaving her way under the seats and into the front on our first journey out with her, It was so funny as she just appeared from nowhere, By now her sisters had developed a liking to the comfort of sleeping with us in the caravan and Bonnie took to it immediately and we spent many happy years caravanning at every possible opportunity.
The three of them were inseparable and always looked out for one another until it came to swimming, Honey loved to swim many a lake, whilst Sue, Bonny and I would stroll around the edge and Cassy would be racing up and down barking at Honey to get out, as she hated the water at that time. By 1991 Honey was totally blind, but coped very well and Cassy and Bonny looked after her and kept her safe, but by 1996 at 13 yrs old she had a stroke, she survived but it took her left side and she just could not cope and we had to have her put to sleep....................................... I was devastated and could not get over her.
We kept her ashes in the house because we could not think of her being all alone. Cassy and Bonny kept one another company and continued on. When Bonny reached 7 yrs she developed some strange blotches on her skin and so we had her investigated by our vet and after many tests it was found that she had a cancer like illness called (excuse spelling) "peniculitus" our vet said that it attacked the fat in her body and had to go on a lifetime of steroids and a fat free diet. This made her become very aggressive where food was concerned as she was always hungry and ate every meal as if it was her last, and Cassy, now 15 yrs old took it all in her stride.
In 1988 we decided we would have another Westie to make all our lives a bit happier if possible.
We found a breeder not to far from where we live Longnor near Buxton, we made an appointment to go and view the puppies and picked Lucy, she was a little chubby fluffy bundle of mischief, but we fell for her, as she fell for us, We took a little pink kitten collar with us for her to wear as we did not want her to get mistaken for one of the others but Jan marked her fir with a marker instead.
We could not wait for the time to collect her at 8 weeks to go quick enough, and visited her nearly every week for the month to go by. We fetched her on the Saturday morning, and she traveled back over the moors in the car like a little trooper, but when we got on the ring road she kept ducking her head each time we went under a bridge and she continued doing this for a few years on, "strange ways some of these doggies have don't they"
When we got her home Cassy and Bonny were so aggressive towards her it was unbelievable. Although we had anticipated this, we had bought an indoor kennel. If we had all three in the lounge Lucy was in the kennel, but to give her some freedom we put some plastic coated panels across the kitchen door, and put both Cassy and Bonny in there, and then swap them around and put Lucy in there. But Lucy was a little bugger and she would torment them to death. she would go up to the panel and Cassy would be like a devil dog, snarling and showing her teeth and Lucy would be wagging her tale and barking her cute little bark at her.
After a few days we began to introduce them to one another for longer periods at a time, Cassy continued to warn her off, although she took little notice and Bonny thought the toys were hers and kept pinching them off Lucy and warning her off if she tried to get them back. After a number of weeks they all became great friends apart from dinner times!
It was now time for our next caravan trip for our Easter break, Cassy and Bonnie were now used to sitting on the back seat of our Volvo with their seat belt harness's on, one each side, Cassy behind her dad and Bonny behind her mum, we thought it better to put Lucy at the very back in her indoor kennel. What a mistake............................. she did nothing but bark, cry howl, all the way from Stoke to Nantwich, I was at my wits end, and pulled in to a lay by, grabbed her from her protection of her kennel and put her in between her big sisters, she never murmured another sound for the rest oh our journey and that has become her traveling position to this day.
We went on caravanning for a few years to come, but Bonny's health was getting worse and Cassy was feeling her age too although Lucy had given her a new lease of life and sometimes it was difficult to know who was the youngest? We went away in the caravan for Christmas and then on to another venue at new year, but on arriving at the venue on New Years eve, Bonny took a turn for the worse and we had to rush her to the vets, fortunately we were only staying a few miles from home, any way we had to leave her there and call later. It was not good news! They thought she had a growth on her spine and she could not survive an operation, and so we had to have her put to sleep.
We took her home and laid her in her basket in our bedroom where she normally slept, and went back the next morning and buried her in the garden along with Honey's ashes. Over the next weeks Cassy also became ill and kept trying to poo in the house, this had never been known from her, a visit to the vets discovered a tumour and bad news once more, we had to have her put to sleep two weeks after Bonny at the grand old age of 17 yrs and what a faithful girl she had been, we buried her in the garden next to Honey and Bonny and poor little Lucy was left all alone!
We have managed to get through the beginning of the year, but really missing Cassy and Bonny, and Lucy is lost without her big sisters so we have given the breeder where we had Bonny from a ring to see if she has any puppies available and she “has” so we make an appointment to go and see them. It was lovely to see those fluffy little puppies in their whelping box with mum and we fell in love with one straight away. We paid a deposit and would have to wait a few more weeks before she was old enough to leave her mother though; we have decided to call her Poppy. As we were leaving for our journey home Pam the breeder said she had started breeding Scotties now and she had some puppies too, we had always wanted a Scottie dog as we thought one black and one white would look great! Unfortunately we could not afford the £400 she wanted for them and so decided not to tempt fate by having a look at them. Early in February we gave Pam a ring and asked if we could have Poppy at 7 weeks old as we so wanted her with us at home, she agreed and we arranged a pick up date.
While we were waiting for the day to come along, we had a letter one day (at the time when Building Societies were merging) and if you were a member you could get a windfall, Well we had a cheque enclosed for just such a windfall and I bet you can guess what we did next!! We rang Pam to see if she still had the Scottie puppies for sale and as she had we said we wanted one and would like to come and see them. She thought we didn’t want Poppy though but we explained we wanted them both. We arrived on a Saturday morning to view the Scotties and as we walked in their was another couple from London viewing them too, we started to have a hold and a cuddle of the little black bundles of joy and picked the life and soul of the litter and quite a little chubby girl, only to be told that the couple from London had already pipped us to the post and so we had to pick the next ring leader in the litter and we named her Sooty. We took Poppy with us that day, she was 7 weeks old.
We got her home and Lucy was over the moon, no aggression what so ever and was just like a new mother, licking and tendering to her every need and only 2 years older too, it was a lovely site to see. We thought it better though that Poppy should sleep on her own in an indoor kennel as she was quite tiny. Later that day we put some bedding into the kennel and placed Poppy in for a sleep, What a shock we had, she was so tiny she just walked out of the tiny square holes that made up the panels to the kennel, so we had to go out and buy some meshing to close off her escape route, it was quite funny though to see her squeeze out at first. The weeks were ticking by and Lucy was teaching Poppy how to behave, but Poppy wasn’t having any of it, she just wanted to do mischief and take the mick out of Lucy, but all good fun.
Finally the day came to collect Sooty, Saturday morning once again. We put Lucy and Poppy in the car and off we went, it was a cold and wet March day and it didn’t help that we had to drive over the moors towards Buxton. Anyway not to bad a journey in the end and when we arrived, the couple from London were just leaving for home with their puppy. Anyway we had a good chin wag with Pam, paid our dues and collected our new little bundle. Lucy was very tentative once more and was in motherly heaven, she would even roll over onto her back thinking she had some milk to feed them both, but she loved to take care of them and it was good for her as she was getting over Cassy and Bonny.
When the Puppies were old enough to go out it was Easter and we had already booked up to go to Scotland in our touring caravan with our friends who also had a caravan and a Border collie who was the same age as our Lucy. Anyway off we set to Luss situated on the side of Loch Lomond, Lucy in her own position in the centre of the back seat, Sooty behind her dad in Cass’s old place and Poppy behind her mum in Bonny’s old seat. They took to traveling here like ducks to water and still travel in those places to this day with their safety harnesses connected to their seat belts and they never ever complain. While we were in Scotland we met many different nationalities on our travels and it was surprising how many people wanted to buy them of us, as many people would say you don’t see many Scottie dogs these days and we also found it very annoying that people would call Sooty a Westie or call Lucy and Poppy a Scottie! We found ourselves on many occasions trying to explain the difference, but no hard feelings though, we tend to forget not every one is a dog lover like us eh.
We have some bad times with our girls though, like when Lucy got a really bad infection when in season and had to have an hysterectomy as she was in a really bad way and has also suffered for years with tummy problems (vets call it Westie tummy) and say its common, but do not seem to have a cure, Poppy was quite a sickly puppy and it took some time to settle her down to eating properly at all, but she’s quite a little trooper now at 9 years old, but still acts like a puppy.
Sooty was at deaths door a couple of years ago after she began vomiting food back up and started loosing weight very quickly. After numerous visits to the vets and lots of tests and tablets and injections we decided enough was enough and told our vet to do what ever was needed to save our little girl from dying, they opened her up and found she had very bad damage and scar tissue to her intestine, they did however manage to repair the damage and she came back to good health in leaps and bounds.
Lucy has lost her mother like ways these days at 11 years old and can be quite grumpy with her two little sisters at times, but they all still love one another, look out for one another and cuddle up together in their basket at night. We couldn’t be without any of them and keep toying with the idea of having another Scottie to balance things up for Sooty! Perhaps in a couple of years when I’m sixty.
By the way we believe Sooty was destined to come to us as she was born on New Years Eve 31st Dec 1999, the same day that Bonny died ( who was her mums and my wife’s “Sue” little baby). “ WE CALL THAT FATE“
In February 2011, knowing that Sue and I would be celebrating our Ruby Wedding Anniversary in July, we began talking about what we should treat ourselves to. After long discussions we decided to bring a new puppy into our lives – after all our Scottie, Sooty, is 11 years old now and her Westie sisters, Lucy and Poppy, are 13 years and 11 years too - so it was to be another Scottie.
We thought we would take a rescue puppy but, after speaking to a S.T.E.C.S. (Scottish Terrier Emergency Care Scheme) co-ordinator, we were told we could wait a long time as the availability was not there. So we started to search the internet but were still encountering problems as it seemed they were like "hen’s teeth". We were on the verge of giving up when we found a litter at Whitchurch, Salop and only about 40 minutes drive from our home. We were told they were 8 weeks old and ready to leave and so we made arrangements to go and view them on a Thursday evening in a bitter cold February.
When we arrived we were told a mistake had been made and the litter was only 5 weeks old – not very good for a breeder we thought. Anyway we still viewed them and picked the largest little girl in the litter and we named her "Sasha". The breeder said we could collect on Saturday and we thought if she was going to let her leave at 5 weeks we would take her that night. She disagreed at first, but said OK after we told her we were all prepared at home, but she said she must bath her first before she could leave. We were amazed and said it did not matter as it was so cold, but she insisted, so we waited and received a damp and cold puppy to take home.
We had taken a new fleece blanket with us; a good job too as it was not a good journey home - she was sick and had a very loose bowel all over Sue. She slept in our bedroom in a cage with loads of bedding and we took her to the vets the next morning. They treated her for an upset tummy and said to feed her on chicken and rice for a few days. She had to have a couple of injections and was wormed. She came on in leaps and bounds and soon settled down with her sisters.
She learns quickly and is very clever, although she seems to not be able to understand the word “NO” (lol) but she always tells us when she needs to go to the toilet.
Our only regret, if we can call it that, is we should have called her ‘RUBY’ to match our anniversary. We love her to bits and she has given all of her new sisters a new lease of life, and us too.
Good luck to you all and all your little boys and girls and our best friends.
From Barry and Susan Harvey.
We hope you have enjoyed our story.