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What to say about Fluff? There are a
lot of questions, e.g.
a) Why does a dog have a cat's name?
b) Where did he come
both my sons were used to having a dog (a Black Labrador named
Jem). When we lost Jem in 1989, I said that we would get another
dog, once my eldest son Stuart was old enough to walk a dog
(first misconception*). In March 1994, Stu's cat Mere (short for Meredith -
though 'she' was a he) was killed on the main road. So now was
the time to go dog-hunting. March doesn't appear to be a very
fruitful time for puppies. But there was an advert in the paper
for 'Springer Spaniel puppies'.
the litter were black/white Springer Spaniels. I quite liked the
look of 'Florence' but, as is often the way in life, all the
'girls' were already spoken for. The only puppy who was actually
awake to greet us had a tuft of white fur sticking up on his
forehead and spent the entire time showing us how well he
manoeuvred the steps from the utility room - where all the
puppies slept - to the great outdoors, and back. It was Stuart's
choice, and he chose a livewire. We returned the following week
and took him home.
first night was like something out of 'The Lady and the Tramp'.
Following advice, we had heaped the puppy's huge bed up with
blankets, and stuffed a hot water bottle underneath so that
he would not miss his mother too much. In this we were mistaken.
He spent the entire night yelping and complaining pitifully. I
now understood the meaning of the term 'Howling at the moon'.
we had to find a name for him. I advised Stuart that something
short and pithy would do, as he did not want to sound too cissy
shouting 'Cyrano' or 'Michelangelo' across the park, when calling
him. I remembered that Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a [King
Charles?] spaniel called 'Flush'. In this day and age such a
loaded word wouldn't be appropriate, though there followed many
many times when I wished that one could 'flush' after a dog. Stu
picked up on this and decided to call him 'Fluff', after the
white flash on his forehead. I did try - honest - but 'Fluff' he
Once Fluff became
a member of the household, there was no getting away from him. I
fondly imagined that I would be able to rest my head on him where
he lay on the floor. I hadn't learned that anybody on the floor
was fair game for a wrestling match, 'a la Fluff'. I had been warned
that Springers can leap up to six feet over gates and hedges, and
got proof of this the first time Fluff climbed over the six foot
fence into the garden next door, to retrieve the ball. He loved
mud (especially the wet, sticky stuff) and would lie down and
roll in it on
our walks through the woods. It was such a commonplace to have
him covered in mud when out walking, that some people thought we
had a brown and black dog, not a b/w one. He loved snowand would run
through it with his nose pushing through it, like a snow-plough
or - as we said - a hoover. He loved water, which was not usually
a problem. Except the time when, as a puppy, we took him on the
lake in a boat. He spotted a rather fetching Old English Sheepdog on
the shore and promptly leaped over the side of the boat, into the
water, to go and greet it. I had hold of his lead and dragged him
back in. Thank goodness the boat was full and we didn't all get
loved ballgames and would play 'piggy-in-the-middle'
when the boys had a game of tennis. Invariably, he would get the
can see how pleased he was with himself. Only problem then was -
how to get it back? The solution we found was to throw another
one (even he couldn't get two balls in his mouth at once).
loved people - how he loved people! He would be so excited of an
afternoon, when we walked up to school to collect the boys. He
would be grinning at all the small children, and snuffling and
snorting and generally wagging his bottom off. Unfortunately, the
sight of a dog with teeth bared and 'both ends burning' was
extremely intimidating for someone not much taller than Fluff,
and I had to keep a tight rein on him and advise the children not
to approach as he would just get more excited. He wasn't a
'bark-y' dog. This I liked. The only time he barked was when the
whistling dustbin-men would come for the bin, of a Monday morning
made the mistake once of entering him for the dog-show at the
Harvest Fair locally. A great day for Fluff, with so many new
friends and other dogs to meet. I kept him on the lead at all
Fluff is the one lying on the ground - his version of 'ready for
inspection'). This time, he got so excited that he broke his
collar and ran straight into the 'birds of prey' arena. He didn't
even notice the birds - he was just showing off for the crowd -
but they noticed him, and that day my name was 'Mud'.
It was wonderful to come down to the
kitchen every morning and be greeted with love and enthusiasm. He
was terrifically wearing but enormous fun. He greeted life and
its people with gusto.
his back started to go and he must have been in extreme pain, the
front half of him was still working flat out telling you how
great it was to see you and how great it was to be alive. In the
vet's surgery on our last trip, he was intent on making new
friends and influencing people.
today, people mention him. Everyone knew him by sight (you
couldn't miss him) and name. Nice one, Fluff.
When it came to walks; like a duckling, Fluff fixated on me, his
'mum', from day one. The first time Stuart tried to take him for a walk,
they got a few yards up the road before Fluff noticed that 'mum's
not with us', turned tail, and shot back indoors, dragging Stuart
in tow. Fluff
always liked to keep us in sight when out. We teased him often by
throwing the ball, then hiding behind a tree; while he 'cantered'
(there's no other word for it) round the park with ears bouncing
like some hair-shampoo advert, looking for us. It was also great
watching him try to retrieve a stick in a cornfield. Rather than
snuffling through the corn, he would leap up and down over it,
like a kangaroo. Cheap entertainment.