It wasn’t long before we moved into our dream home in Cornwall, that I realised our nest was feeling a little empty.
All this space, fresh air, a field for a garden, beaches and woodland within spitting distance and no one to enjoy it with. Well, with the exception of the husband...
I knew we needed a new addition to our little family. Someone who would enjoy all these things as much as I do. Someone I could do things with when hubby is distracted by work or chores in the garden. Someone I could spend some alone time with. Someone who’s bond with me will grow so strong it will feel like mother and child.
It was at that precise moment that I knew exactly what we needed... a Cocker Spaniel.
To be honest, I’d been on at my husband for a spaniel for years, but our old life would never allow it. Always busy with work, never at home and with a garden no bigger than a postage stamp, it really wouldn’t have been fair to bring a dog into our old life.
Although hubby had always said we could revisit the idea once we’d moved, (Ha! as if it's up to him!), now we were actually here, I wasn’t sure if he’d be as keen. Well, dogs are a lot of hard work and it was important to me that both of us would commit to the project.
I quickly started doing my research and found a reputable breeder located over in Devon, about an hour from where we lived. I booked an appointment to see their latest litter of pups and told hubby ‘we were just browsing’…
We arrived at the lovely cottage nestled deep in the Dartmoor countryside and the breeder, Pat, rather regimentally welcomed us in.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I hadn’t had a dog since I was a child and wasn’t involved in the procurement side of things.
Pat sat us down and eyed us up and down somewhat suspiciously over her half-moon specs.
I started to wonder whether we had come to the right place, although I was sure it must be for the rather pungent smell of ‘odour de dog’ that filled the air.
‘So why do you want a spaniel’, Pat firmly fired. I could see this was going to be more about her interviewing us than the other way round.
‘Erm…’ I could feel myself retreating back into my chair, shrinking in size, like I were back at school being interrogated by the head mistress.
‘... because I’ve always wanted one for as long as I can remember’. It felt more like a question than an answer.
Pat narrowed her eyes and learned forward to survey me more closely like a T-Rex might survey his freshly caught prey... ‘But why now exactly? What’s so different about now?’
I looked from Pat to my husband. Did she really want our life story?
‘Well, for the last 15 or so years, we’ve really not be in a position to have a dog, although would have loved one. We worked stupid hours, were never at home and didn’t have the right sort of house to welcome a dog to. Things are different now. Our life is very different and we think now is the right time to welcome a dog into our home’.
Pat adjusted her half-moon specs perched on the end of her nose and enquired ‘So you have more time now to dedicate to a dog… a puppy?’
I clenched my husband's hand tightly.
‘Well, yes. I now have a job where I can work from home so can give a puppy the attention it needs. We have a lovely home and a huge field of a garden for it to run around and play in. We live right next to a great dog friendly beach and fabulous woodland to walk in. I can’t think of a better place for a puppy to grow up.’
I thought I spied the slight beginnings of a smile on Pat’s stony face. There was certainly a shift in her demeanor.
‘And a spaniel? You know they need lots of exercise and stimulation. They’re not a lap dog!’ Pat rattled out quickly.
‘I don’t want a lap dog’ I said. ‘I want a dog with some personality, some intelligence. That loves lovely long walks, swimming in the sea and playing catch. A socialable, inquisitive little dog that will be part of the family. I WANT a cocker spaniel’.
Pat let out a little ‘Hmm’, like sound and disappeared into the darkness of her corridor.
I looked at my husband. He looked at me and I could tell we were both thinking whether we should just make a run for the nearest exit now, but at that precise moment Pat reappeared with a tiny white bundle that covered the palm of her hand.
‘And YOU!… ‘ Pat said looking squarely at my husband.
‘YOU haven’t said much since you arrived. Do you want a spaniel as much as your wife appears to Hmm?’ Pat bent towards my husband so she could survey his response more carefully.
‘Er, yes... Of course. I wouldn’t be here otherwise’, my husband stuttered.
With that Pat placed the tiny bundle into my husband’s lap and walked off to the other side of the room.
I could see the look of surprise on his face. I’m not sure he knew quite what to do at first. He looked from me to the bundle. I think he knew I was desperate to get my hands on the little fur ball, but he simply scooped it up and held it close to his face, gazing at it somewhat quizzically. Like a foreign object.
It really was the most gorgeous little fur baby. I looked at Pat and just as I was about to ask what sex the pup was, she spouted ‘It’s a bitch. You wanted a bitch didn’t you?’. I smiled and told her I did.
Pat continued ‘Well, she’s the last in the litter. I think people have been put off her as she’s all white with the exception of the black spot on her head and her black paws. Her blue roan colouring will come through eventually, but you know what some people are like. They want everything perfect, everything now. All in good time, I say’.
I turned to my husband who now had our baby girl cradled in his arms, stroking her gently while she yawned and poked out her pink tongue at him. He had the biggest cheesy grin on his face and I could tell immediately he was smitten.
Pat continued ‘Of course, don’t feel obligated to have her. We have another family coming this afternoon to view her as well’. I turned to my husband and could see him unconsciously pull the puppy closer to him.
‘No... She’s perfect' he said firmly. 'We'd love her'.
I smiled my biggest grin back. Pat really was one smart cookie.
The next five weeks seemed to drag as we waited patiently for our puppy to grow big enough to leave her mum. It was time well spent though while we prepped the house for her arrival and contemplated every possible name under the sun, although nothing seemed quite right. Until one day, whilst out gardening, my husband asked what the unusual beautiful purple green shrub was I had just planted in one of our borders.
‘Hebe’, I told him.
He smiled. ‘Hebe? What a great name’.
‘For a shrub or a spaniel?’ I asked.
‘Both!’ he responded.
And that was that. Hebe, the little blue roan cocker spaniel. More loved and wanted that she will ever know, about to join us on our new Cornish adventure.