Monday, 30 July 2012

The doghouse - Kipper Catchpole

Huckleberry's brother went to live next door.  He was a big, jolly dog with a rough coat and a boisterous manner, as unlike Huck as you could imagine in a brother.  His family was in the fishing business and yes, their surname was Catchpole.  We're still friends with the family, by the way.

Kipper adored my mother and spent a lot of time at our place.  He spent a lot of time going all over the village too - I'm talking about the 1960s, it was not at all unusual for dogs to wander about freely.  In fact, when I'm in other countries I still often see dogs out and about on their own, although it is generally frowned upon here nowadays, certainly in towns.

He was very strong.  When I was a child, I used to take a sack out on to the lawn to sit on so that he could pull me about on it.  There's a photo somewhere, though I haven't come across it for years.  He was incredibly good-natured and let me sit on his back or play tug-of war with a bone - my hand, his mouth in case you were wondering.  Come to think of it, this was a game all the dogs enjoyed playing. One of us would try to take the bone and the dog holding it would clench his jaws and growl.  We'd end up eyeball to eyeball, both growling, each pulling as hard as we could until one of us let the grip slip.  However loud and fierce the growling, there was no anger or danger in it, it was a pretend fight and everyone knew it.  I was more dog than child, the main difference being that I spent my spare time reading.  And there's the opposable thumbs, of course.

At our house, the dogs ruled, but it was a benign dictatorship.  My father generally managed to hold on to his place, but the rest of us usually ended up sitting on the floor while the dogs took over the sofas and armchairs.  If we did keep our place, it was with a dog sitting on us.  Kipper always sat on my mother's lap.  He was, as I said, a big dog, labrador-sized, and there wasn't much chance of her doing anything else while he was on her lap.

And here he is, bone in mouth, cuddled up to my mother - a typical Kipper pose.


Ros said...

My goodness your mother is soooo much like mine, same hairstyle, same dress, same big smile. Different dog though, a liver and white Cocker Spaniel went with that look. Earlier it was a big, fluffy, Alsationy thing, and afterwards a grey toy poodle of an aunt, who stayed at our house so often that she wasn't sure with whom she belonged.

Ros said...

Aaarrggghhh I spelled Alsatian incorrectly.

That'll teach me not to preview!

Rog said...

I love the idea of you all sitting on the floor whilst dogs commandeered the sofas! We are almost there - we all sit on the floor.

Before he took us over, Mr Murph used to, we hear, open the latch gate and wander off for a stroll round the village. I remember our road when I was young with various stray dogs and children wandering about happily.

Z said...

Dogs bring the happiest memories, don't they Ros? My mother would have been one side or the other of 40 in that picture. It was rare to have a big open smile, she wasn't fond of having her picture taken and used to put on a cautious closed-mouth grin usually.

I'm not often nostalgic, Rog, but there are a few things. Our gates are still open though and dogs have to learn the boundaries because the only way of keeping them in the garden would be to tie them up, which won't happen.

Paff Rine said...

Bess and Simon really did have the most handsome of pups. Did the darker ones look as lovely?

I hate to introduce the subject, but along with dogs wandering as they pleased, back in the olden days, do you remember how their poo tended to dry white? It was because of all the bones they used to eat, I believe.

Paff Rine said...

You look very like your beautiful mother Z, and isn't the 'Tim's birthday Duchess dress' quite like your mother's in style?

Z said...

I've got a picture of one of them, I'll put it up tomorrow. My mother always said that I looked like her grandmother (which was a compliment, whether it sounds like one or not!)

Dresses - it's the Mad Men influence. I do love a nice dress, I'm so pleased I can buy them again after years of separates. My mum was about 38 then, I think.

And yes, it's one of the mysteries of modern times - what happened to white dog poo? Sometimes it was white from the start!

Anonymous said...

I do remember the white poo, but usually it was at least a day old. Maybe being exposed to the elements for over 24 hours made it turn white?

haricot said...

Lovely story again, thanks for this. Kipper looks mischievous and your mother is beautiful!!!