The sun is shining and the sky is blue as I sit here in my garden. The wildlife are getting ready for the coming winter. The squirrels appear to be taking more nuts from my feeders than they normally do. Is this a sign of a harsh winter ahead? I often wonder what senses that the wildlife has that we don’t. Dogs for example, they can sense things long before us and hear things beyond our normal hearing. When I was in the military and living in married quarters, I had a golden retriever named Brandy. I first came across him as a pup.
A friend in conversation said that someone had heard noises from a building nearby and were unsure what to do. Knowing the buildings should be empty, I went over to them in case of someone needing help, and I was passing a garage near the buildings when I heard the low whining noise coming from a garage. I tried to open the door but it was locked, so I deliberately broke a window knowing that should it become necessary, I would explain my actions to the authorities at a later date. Inside lying on the floor and with nylon rope around its neck tied to a wall post was the golden retriever. It had been abandoned in the old garage, locked up with no food or water, and appeared to have been there for at least a week.
I cautiously approached the dog in case it was angry at being tied up; though thinking about it, I wouldn’t have been too pleased either. As I neared the animal that was filthy, it lifted its head and looked at me as though pleading for help. Kneeling down at the side of the dog I gave it a quick once over from head to tail, and seeing no visible injuries I gradually reached out my hand to its head, ready to pull back in an instant if it took offence. While I was reaching for its head I was talking to it in a soothing voice and when my hand was in place on its head I began to slowly stroke its long fur. The visibly shaking dog appeared to be scared witless, but must have realised that I only wanted to help it as it turned its head and began to lick my hand.
It was at this stage, I was still unsure if it was dangerous or not, so I decided not to remove the rope from the post for a moment, instead I went to get some water and on my return I gave it to the pitiful animal which began to drink greedily. All the time I was stroking it and gently talking to it. After it had finally finished drinking, I decided to undo the rope and walk it around the garage. The dog appeared to take to me and walked at my side with no trouble. Once I was satisfied that it was not vicious, I took it out of the garage and straight to a local vets to have it checked over, and was informed that besides being undernourished, the dog was not suffering from any disease, but I paid for it to have some injections. You may wonder why I paid for its injections. Well all though my growing up and even in the military the wildlife was interesting to me and I learned a lot from them. I know the dog was a domesticated animal, but I hated to see suffering. Even if the dog was taken from me, at least I knew that I had done my bit to care for it. So I took him home and when Betty saw him I explained to her the circumstances and she couldn’t believe that anyone could be so callous as to leave an animal in such a state.
As you may have already realised, the dog needed a bath, but I was unsure as to its reactions, so I gave it a drink of water and placed a small drop of brandy in it, and it animal drank the lot! From then on I named it Brandy. I kept on stroking it and talking to it all the while I was carrying it and even when I placed it in a tub of lukewarm soapy water I was ready to move the second Brandy showed signs of disapproval. But to my surprise, Brandy stood in the tub and let me scrub him clean and after he was rinsed off, he shook its fur from head to tail and I received lots of water all over me, and I could have sworn he was laughing at me.
The first few days were the hardest, and when Brandy did a right smelly pile in the hall way, and I approached him, he shook visibly in front of me and even peed involuntary as I reached out to him, but all I did was to gently stroke it and tell it that everything was okay. When I cleaned up the mess we went out together. I made several inquiries, all negative, but after a while I informed the military authorities that I was going to look after it, and they informed me that as Brandy had no collar or tags, then I could legally keep it. If the previous owners had ever returned they would have had some serious questions to answer, but no one ever turned up to claim him.
We went everywhere together, even to work and Brandy would wait patiently for me while I was working, it just refused to leave my side. At times I couldn’t take him to work due to parades, but he made such a racket that Betty brought him to watch me marching up and down the parade ground. Another time, Betty forgot about Brandy and he shot out of the open front door and found its way to my camp and the place that I worked. Once, I was in a storeroom when an officer came to see me, “lofty, I think there is someone to see you?”
I went out into the yard and sitting at the entrance behind the gate was Brandy, I looked at him and laughed, and then went for a hosepipe, as it had got to the camp through an open sewer pipe and was in a right mess. After I gently hosed him down, I placed him in a large bucket and scrubbed him again. I really think that this animal loved baths, as it didn’t complain at being hosed or bathed. One time Betty was making dinner and she knew I was coming as Brandy was going daft near the front door, so she opened it and I was at the top of the street when I saw Brandy bounding towards me as I was walking along with some mates who all burst out laughing when the dog took a flying leap into my arms and began licking my face.
Brandy and me had several good years together, and he saved me on many occasion. I remember one particular time when I was about to be attacked by a long haired Alsatian, Brandy jumped in and sent the other dog packing
Alas Brandy went where all good dogs go as he passed away peacefully in his basket. I was devastated and it was a good two years before I even contemplated having another pet. At times I inadvertently called to him, and then I realised he would no longer be around.
Was it Brandy who warned me just before I was going to slip down a pothole on the moors?
I guess I was wrong, even though Brandy wasn’t with me physically; he will always be at my side!