Thursday, July 06, 2006

I'm still here! [EDITED: Brandy]

Coming Soon:

a blog on the Castrati.

No it's not! Not today, anyway.
It has been weeks since I chatted with Jia Li, and I can't chat and do serious blogs at the same time. As our conversation has tended towards animals, and specific dog breeds, let me tell you about Brandy.

He was our English Springer Spaniel, of a line of Crufts winners - I went into the country one day to choose him with my Daddy. I was chosen by a pretty little female, but Dad chose the one who was to become our Brandy-boy.

We never cared for his Champion name. As the years passed it faded from memory, and he became the Boy. Brandy. Byansy-wols. Byan-Byan. Yes, he got the baby talk and he gave the eyes with it.

He was taller than any English Springer I've ever seen and required surgery on his shoulder when he was an adolescent, but he has become my standard. He was handsome and gosh didn't he know it! We have a photo of him staring in the mirror. If you check the sites of other E-S owners there will be many other instances of vanity!

This could SO be Brandy, but B was black and white, this one's liver:

I say, old chap...I seem to have misplaced my monocle...

English Springers love to pose. They are such gentlemen, they do the Royal look naturally. They are described as having a "proud bearing". That is, when they're not yanking your arm off during walkies. Natural trackers, they follow their noses like crazy and don't care if you follow or not, even if you are attached by a leash.

Hell-ew, and who ahh you?

But Brandy's eyes were more human (something for which Springers are renowned), less droopy, and his ears longer, like this:

Wouldn't you pour out your woes to this face???

"I look like King James in his periwig...look regal, look regal."

And look! This is why they are called Springers:

Like any English gentleman, Springers love to go hunting, which is when they drop the regal pose and play with the big boys.

Brandy would turn inside out with glee when Dad took him shooting, which was not often, thank goodness. We have (had?) a nice photo of them, the English countryside in the background lying in a cold haze, a patchwork of duns and beiges; Dad in green wellies, cords and cap ready to take his shot; Brandy "pointing" slightly in anticipation of a retrieval. They're actually supposed to raise the birds by springing but I'm not sure Brandy had put two and two together, he just used to "point" a bit.


On the home front, his place was on the hearthrug at night, Dad's feet buried in his fur.

Never mind Dad, though. My mother was his object of worship. He guarded her with his life. She was his Master, and Springers are very much the sort of dog who need to know who's boss.

Mum used to put his food down and he would eat on command, sit there straining in every muscle but not eating until he was told, at which he was quick as a bullet. The effect was very much diminished by the clothes peg holding his ears out of the gruel (he never ate meat, but mum would jazz up his grain diet by stirring in the drippings or the bit of water in which she'd boiled the trimmings she normally threw away).

She could take his food or treats away at any time, but he never complained because he knew she was "the leader of the pack".

To Brandy, I was the little thing he kept an eye on in case I got lost in the cracks. And he patiently put up with me tugging his ears and sitting on his back. He would ride me round the garden till I fell off.

Those were the days of unlocked front doors. If Mum fell asleep while sitting contemplating or reading, Brandy would sit at attention facing the front door, always making sure he could feel her, even her foot, against his back.

He did the same when she was gardening. If she crouched they were the same height, and he'd face the front gate, even though he couldn't see it through the side garden. He would attach his back to her shoulder and I must say, she did get rather annoyed.

One time, a fugitive was reported in the neighbourhood and our neighbour called to say a strange man was asking around the houses for a glass of water. When he got to our gate, Brandy went sailing, ears at full mast, over the gate, at the man, who certainly didn't stick around to find out what happened next.

Another time, we were 6 pence short some bill or tax, and the bailiff came round to take something worth...6 pence. He had a horrible acid burn up the side of his face, and there was another thug with him. He would not take 6 pennies.
Mum opened the door, but Brandy refused to let them in. He actually stood up, planted his paws on Mum's shoulders, and turned to bark at them.

If she wanted, Mum could set him on someone by saying, "Hup brandy, hup!" She didn't train him on that, they just had a sort of understanding. She called him her son...

He wasn't all brawn and bluster. He was also a baby. She could tell him off, and he would lie down, take his paws and cover his eyes with his curly ears. We even caught him peeping through them!

Unfortunately, after she got sick and nearly died, we had to give him away. Some friends in Buckinghamshire knew a farmer, so he went to Bucks. He and the farmer got along famously, he'd jump in the Land Rover and they'd go off counting the sheep and fenceposts.

I like to think that, as his muzzle greyed, and he lay in the farmhouse at night with his aching old bones, he still waited for his Mummy to come and take him home.

I miss you, Brandy...


Steliano Ponticos said...

Is the movie today? Wait I will see what you said on my blog

Jia Li said...


Steliano Ponticos said...

:) JL is here

panda_eyed said...

Aww, that is a beautiful post! He sounded like a lovely dog - I espesh like the bit where you rode him around the garden til you fell off, lol! When I was little(r), I had a doggie friend who lived next door - my little sis used to ride him around the garden too! He was called Ben, and 12 out of 24 hours a day, he was at our house. I cried for a week when he died because he was like a best friend. I don't think many people since have shown me as much love and loyalty! I love that about dogs.

panda_eyed said...

Btw, spaniels are beautiful - sometimes on my walk to work, I see a beautiful little black one. He always disobeys his master to follow me down the street, trying to jump into my arms! I think it's because we have the same hair (or in his case, ears).. :)

Olivia said...

I know! The way they look at you when you talk to them, specially dogs with eyes like Spaniels. If you're sad they know, and they seem so strong and supportive when you throw your arms around them and sob into their fur.

LOL darn right about the hairy ears! :P

Steliano Ponticos said...

the comments under the pictures are very funny and this is the second touching dog story you post.

Jia Li said...

awwwww brandy boy

Leilouta said...

Beautiful post!I wish cats were a little similar to dogs:)

lunaliar said...

No kidding, Leilouta! I've got to get a dog soon! Two cats is too many without a dog to keep them ironed out!

Steliano Ponticos said...

i don't imagine myself having a a dog or a cat..i like to keep a bird or a fish..

Olivia said...

Steli...trying to remember my last touching dog post...nope...surprised you remember!

When I woke up this morning I started at the bottom: how can I sneak in a fish bowl?
When I get my own place I will start with a bird: canaries or society finches are best.

However, I have no idea WHERE in the London area are all the pet shops! The one we went to when I was a child is long closed....Where DO Londoners buy their pets???

Leilouta - you are funny! If cats were more like dogs, they would not be cats. If your cat is giving you trouble...well look at what Luna said.

Luna - do you have a fave breed? I suppose the cats would have to approve first...

tooners said...

what a beautiful post... i wanted to cry! he was such a beauty! the one pic w/ his arm over the chair... now that's a pose!

i haven't seen any springers here... i used to see them all the time in the States.

Olivia said...

Aw Tooners, so glad you were touched. Unfortunately, none of the photos are of Brandy himself. They are all in storage - but the one in the chair, my fave and mum's too - is just like what he would do, only he wasn't allowed on the furniture.
She read my blog and said I had encapsulated his life perfectly.

Two things I forgot: when he used to lie down he'd cross his paws in front of him (which is also what my most intelligent rabbit used to do!)

And she used to dangle treats from an upstairs window and he was so tall and springy, he would get pretty close!

Steliano Ponticos said...

Oh, I know where all the pet shops in London are, I don't want to tell :P

tooners said...

a few of our kitties cross their paws... i think it's adorable. puss does that all the time and she's so intelligent and one of our boys, frankie, does it too. isn't it the cutest thing?!

my husband's family has two rabbits, i just found out. they're tiny but oh so cute. i've gone over there twice to talk to them. the other day, one almost let me touch him. they used to keep them at the school for the kids, so you'd think they'd let me touch them, but not yet. i really love rabbits. you'll have to post on rabbits. i'm dying to hear all about them. i had one when i was a small girl but it was really afraid and would run from me, and i was afraid to chase it because my mom said they could have a heart attack from fright - so i was always afraid that i'd kill it.

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lunaliar said...

Oh Liv! We got a dog this weekend! I'm going to post pics and blog about him! I promise!

Diane said...

Thanks for your comments on the black/white Springer's ears! Her name is Alex and she lives with me in Oakland (near SF), California. She is 8 yrs old and I love her dearly. She is brilliant in the field, hunting pheasant; is the smartest and wisest dog I've ever owned, AND has gorgeous long ears!

Diane said...

Forgot to mention should anyone want to see current pix (2008) of Alex (and her daughter K.D.), you can check out my photostream on Flickr, which is