For the love of a Spaniel named Bailey

As I was sitting reading my book our dog Bailey decided he wanted to play. He’d lovingly dropped his ‘Zebra butt’ toy at my feet and then snatched it away as soon as I went to grab it.

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Ah, Bailey’s favourite “you can’t have it” game. Highly frustrating for a young child wishing to play with him, excellent fun for him.

This dog is a marvel to me. He has such a great personality that leaves its impression on others (as evident last night when the Explorer Scouts decided to put pictures of him from their DofE expedition in their unit’s video. They enjoyed having him with them). Yep.

Five year ago, we never intended to have a dog.

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Bailey was being given away on Facebook by a friend of my brother who couldn’t look after him (divorce, moved into flat, can’t take to work) so my brother decided to have him for my dad.

Being a puppy, he was energetic- too much for my parents! Mum called and wanted us to meet this pup… I wanted him straight away but Terry was apprehensive (he’d not really had dogs growing up).

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The only puppy photo we have of Bailey. He was 6 months old when we took him home.

Annnd, six years later we still have him. Numerous times I’ve tried to “lose” him in the woods but he always finds us – I guess my hide and seek game is poor (joking btw)!

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I count my blessings that we ended up with such a wonderful dog. He’s by no means perfect; he farts (noisily), has an annoying demanding bark if he wants something (or thinks you’re hiding a ball from him) and he can VERY obsessive about tennis balls (to the point where you can wake up during the night and he’s by the bed- staring at the tennis ball waiting for you to move it)!

But, he’s affectionate, loyal and cuddly.

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He’s attentive outside to his surroundings.

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He learns quickly. He knows 15 commands (in correct context)- including, “toy” “show me” “up/down” “in/out” “tunnel” “over” “heel” “wait” etc.

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(His teddy he’s had since a puppy. He’s never taken it outside nor does he chew it up. He’ll still take it to his basket with him at night. Say “Teddy” and he’ll go and fetch him.)

He knows tricks- “twist” “beg” “beg for your life/bang”(falls down dead), “roll over”,”shake”(both paws) and “high five” (he’s learning “stand”)

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He is a Cocker Spaniel- various people have labelled him as an English Cocker, Springer Spaniel or Working Cocker. We didn’t have him for the first six months of his life and paperwork only lists him as “Spaniel” so don’t know exactly what type of Cocker he is.

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Judging him on how attentive he is to birds/sticks, how careful he is with (and won’t destroy) large toys, his ability to learn commands quickly and how good he is whilst outside we do believe he has some Working Cocker in him (if not all, the larger sized ones). He certainly only listens to one owner (me) over another, retrieves items from bushes, keeps going all day long and is an excellent swimmer – I would say he would make a good working dog.

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But we don’t work him, nor have plans to. He went to agility but I couldn’t keep up with him; he’s too quick so got frustrated easily at my slow speed. The behaviourist who ran the sessions said she’d never met a more confident dog who wasn’t afraid of heights (he likes being high up and will climb boulders with you – he has been taught what to do when he can’t reach a ledge… jump on your back!). She’d also never seen a dog break mid-run towards a bird at their owner’s command and return (don’t get as much luck now he’s older, the git)

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Still, he’s a great hillwalking companion. He loves water, so we don’t have to carry extra for him except on sunny days, but what we do have to watch out for his where he disappears to. He doesn’t go in the fast flowing water but will happily run about 500yards to a tarn that he’s smelt/seen to jump into it. Observers find it comical seeing a Spaniel run pass them down/up the hill to the tarn then back again to its owner, then back to the tarn!! As long as he can still see us (and he checks back often) he’ll go about his business of exploring for water.

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Another thing he seeks out is balls. Tennis balls. He has it down such a fine skill. We just think it’s a shame we didn’t teach him to sniff out pound coins because, judging by the number of balls he finds, we’d be well on our way to earning about a grand by now.

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So, for the past five years we’ve never had to purchase a single tennis ball for him- at my last count I counted 12 tennis balls in our car’s storage that he’d found (not including the bowl of tennis balls on the fridge or bag of them hanging on the door or balls in my backpack he’s found on walks)…

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So, that’s Bailey. There’s so much more I could probably write about him- his interesting sleeping styles and burping, the fact he wouldn’t eat during the day when he was a pup as he was wanted to be with us all the time so only ate when we were asleep, or the fact he cries like a baby when he’s hurt or takes himself off upstairs to the bedroom like a moody teenager having a sulk because we’re not paying him any attention… he has no shame when he sleeps and shows off his manhood…

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Yeah, he’s a fantastic companion. ❤

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Just Joanne

 

 

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