Saga of a woman old enough to know better who lets her life be governed by the ridiculous hobby of breeding and showing dogs, musing on life, the twenty first century, Cameron and his mini-me, and the occasional sheep.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I`ve been asked just how I got started on the downward path which led to me being owned by a pack of small dogs. Well, why not? It`ll take my mind off Blair announcing he`s having another year or two...

Let me take you back into the mists of time. Back, back to the dawn of civilisation. Paisley, 1955. Rationing has just ended: meat came "off points" last year. The Suez Crisis, which will kickstart fifty years of wars in the Middle East, is still a year away. When I walk down into the town early in the morning I usually see the LMS Rail Co. local delivery vans rolling out - twelve flatbeds pulled by twelve yoke of matched Clydesdales. Computers depend on the thermionic valve and require large buildings - and they haven`t reached Paisley, anyway.

But television just has.

We had been discussing having dogs. We had just moved out to Ralston, and had plenty of room. My grandfather bred gundogs, and a Setter or Springer looked likely.

Then one Wednesday I came home from school and my Mother announced: "I`ve seen the dog we`re having. On television."

In those days, everything on the box was repeated. You just had to wait for it to come round. So a few days later my Father and I watched as Stanley Dangerfield presented a trio of tiny dogs with the most enormous ears, and Mother said; "We have to have one of those.".

I don`t have to tell you that there were none of "those" in Paisley. Paisley at that time ran to rather large mutts. And we sone found that there were none to be had in Scotland.

In fact there weren`t many anywhere. Eventually we arranged for a red and white Papillon dog puppy to be sent up from Bournemouth, by rail. His pedigree was impeccable - sired by Gleam of Harleymeads. It was also bigger than he was.

My Mother and I went up to Glasgow on the tram to collect him at Central Station. The man in charge of rail stock looked doubtful as he handed over a tiny wicker hamper with LIVE DOG stencilled on it in huge letters. "They`ll have made a mistake," he said helpfully. "It`s really hamsters, isn`t it?"

On the tram home the basket began to wail. We opened it up - and out popped a tiny head with the sweetest black eyes and a pair of ears that seemed bigger than his whole body. No-one on the tram had ever seen anything like it. The conductress came over to see what the commotion was.

Anyone out there remember the tram conductresses? Formidable women with bulging muscles from switching points, in huge green coats. This one took one look and bawled to the driver -"Haw, Jimmy! STOP THE TRAM !"

You can`t draw in to the kerb in a tram. You are on rails. You can only stop in the middle of traffic - and that`s what Jimmy did in the middle of Paisley Road West in the rush hour, probably causing gridlock all the way back to Bridge Street, as he came back to see the puppy.

And that`s how what was possibly the first Papillon in the west of Scotland, Stouravon Tanson, came to us.

And I`ve had them ever since.

My step-grandmother had a Papillon when she lived in the (Scottish) Borders. It must have been in the 1970s. He was a dark toffee colour and very cute (and I'm usually a cat person) and I think he was called Kim. I can undestand how they would grow on you.
Great! Now let's have another instalment about how, when and why you got started showing (and, of course, who to blame for that)! Is he/she still a friend?
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