Shetland Sheepdogs

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A Tribute to Prince

"Maureen, I've got a dog.  He's a stray and my friend found him wandering around the streets - do you want to come and see him?"

These were the words I heard as I answered the phone call from my friend in the summer of 1981.  So off I went to see this little dog who was obviously creating quite a stir.  He was a white, medium sized, long coated dog with a brown patch on each ear and it was presumed he was approx. four or five years old.  He had been wandering the streets for quite a while and as my friend had been interested in getting a dog for some time, she decided to give him a home.  She named him "Prince".

Some weeks later, however, it began to emerge that the responsibility of caring for "Prince" was more than my friend had anticipated and she was looking for another home for him.  She had arranged to go on holiday and asked if I would care for him while she was away.  This I agreed to do and as I was working at the time and she was leaving for her holiday in the morning, it was arranged that I would have a key and pick him up that evening.  I can still vividly remember letting myself into the house and seeing "Prince", obviously terrified of this intruder who had entered his home, but unable to do anything about it as he was tied up.  I gently talked to him as I unfastened his lead and he soon calmed down and happily came with me to the car.  For the next two weeks a bond between us began to form as we went for walks and I bathed and groomed him, but soon it was time for him to go home.

He had only been back home for a day when I received another phone call asking if I wanted "Prince".  If I didn't, then another home would be sought for him.  I was adamant that much as I had enjoyed having him I did not want to keep a dog.  Caring for my three young children was more than enough responsibility.  My head had made a decision but my heart would not let me rest for the remainder of the day.

"OK", I told myself, "I will compromise - I will go and visit my friend.  If 'Prince' shows an interest in coming back with me I will bring him; if not, then he will stay where he is!!!"

The evening was spent chatting and eventually it was time for me to leave.  As I walked towards the door "Prince" followed, squeaking at me and gazing into my face with those pleading eyes.  He had made his decision - I had to stick to mine - and so "Prince" chose to become part of my family.

Over the next nine years he became my constant companion and saw me through some of my darkest hours during the break-up of my marriage.  I have lost count of the number of miles we covered together, jogging around the roads, fields and reservoirs.  It was his greatest love and he soon learned that when I went into the bedroom each evening, I was getting changed into my jogging outfit.  He could not contain his excitement and would wait for me outside the bedroom door, squealing and bouncing up and down as if on a spring, until I emerged.  After at least an hour to an hour and a half's jogging, we would return home and "Prince" would have that 'please can we do it again?' look on his face - eyes lit up, tongue hanging out and a grin from ear to ear.  It was only during the last year of his life I noticed that instead of being 50 metres ahead of me, he was 5 metres behind.

One evening in the Spring of 1990, I came home from work to find "Prince" acting strangely.  He would briefly cry plaintively and start to move backwards.  This behaviour was recurring at half hourly intervals, so I put him in the car and went to visit the vet who diagnosed he had a growth in his bowels and they would need to operate.  I can still see his face as he turned to look at me when the vet led him away that evening, and that was the last time I saw him alive.  He died under the anaesthetic, aged approx. 15 years.  We brought him home and buried him in the garden and the next few days were spent just gazing at the spot where he lay, tears flowing freely as memories came flooding back of the years I had spent with the faithful companion who had actively chosen me as his friend nine years earlier.

That was when my jogging days ended.  One or two attempts were made to cover the route we had travelled together but without "Prince" by my side, the motivation had gone.  Every dog hair was removed from my car and all his belongings were hidden away in an attempt to erase the pain from my memory, but he was determined that I would not forget him.  I swore I would never get another dog, but it was not very long before I began to feel that the greatest tribute I could give to "Prince" was to welcome another dog into my home.  After all, if it had not been for him I would never have known the joy of dog ownership.

And so the search began.  I visited a few rescue kennels but found myself looking for dogs that reminded me of "Prince".  Then one evening my sister telephoned and asked if I was interested in going to look at a four month old Sheltie she had seen advertised in the local paper.  This I did and was met by a lively, outgoing, vociferous little puppy - "prick ears and no coat".  It was love at first sight - that little bundle of joy came home to live with me and opened up a whole new chapter in my life.

 Thank you "Prince" for the memories and the legacy you left me.  
Out of your death was born my love of The Shetland Sheepdog

Where to Bury a Dog