AT the end of this month Jamie will have been with me for a whole year so I feel that a celebration is in order. He arrived on the last day of February 2020 which, being a leap year, was Saturday the 29th. So this year his ‘Happy Gotcha Day’ will have to be celebrated on the 28th. Doing a little on-line research I was surprised to discover that a ‘Gotcha Day’ is actually a real celebration – so we shall definitely be having one at our spot!

He was just seven months old when he arrived. He was still only a puppy and a puppy that had seen very little of the outside world. At home we discovered that he didn’t like to be left in a room by himself and so he would push himself forcefully passed my legs whenever I opened a door. We also discovered that he didn’t really like to eat dog food, he definitely didn’t like going out into the garden on his own (unless he had stolen something and was trying to run away!). He didn’t like to be stroked, brushed or touched, especially on his ears, in fact we really didn’t speak the same language at all. He chased the cats, had no clue about house training or walking on a lead and yet I had been told never to let him off his lead outside as he would run away. He didn’t understand my ways and I certainly didn’t understand his and it was several days before I even heard him bark. His big brown eyes were expressionless for most of the time, but clouded with sadness at others and I did begin to fear that he was not going to settle and that maybe I couldn’t offer him the home that he needed after all.

But then Brigadier, my beautiful old boy, stepped up to the mark and in true Brigadier style, took the new recruit under his wing. Within 24 hours, following Brig’s guidance, Jamie was going into the garden for both pees and poops,. By the end of the first week he had stopped chasing the cats and had also learnt to wait patiently when I opened a door, in order to let me go through first, without knocking me over!

His penchant for pinching things took a little longer to overcome and I do remember my heart sinking the day that he ran outside with a pair of dressmaking scissors in his mouth, long, sharp, pointy blades dangling between his front legs. But then we discovered the power of the sausage treat!

Jamie, it soon became apparent, would sell his soul for a sausage treat and then a bit later we discovered that simply by telling him that he was a good or a clever boy, was almost as effective. So it did take a little time for us both to understand each other’s ways and to get to know each other properly, but with hindsight that was time so very well spent. In September of last year we sadly lost our brave Brigadier and that evening I remember Jamie climbing up onto the sofa and resting his head on my lap.

Without thinking, I ran my hand over his head, stroking his long silky ears, just as I used to do with Brig and then I realised, that Jamie was actually allowing me to touch his ears without pulling away. Besides sausage treats and being told that he is a ‘good boy’, Jamie also adores riding in the car so when I am not at work he is by my side at all times. So ‘happy gotcha day’ little man and here’s to many more to come!