Hattie was the dog you expected to live for ever. As long as she was breathing her trademark curved plume of a tail would wag and her face seemed fixed in a happy smile. So we couldn’t believe it when just a week ago on her regular daily walk she fell victim to barbaric poison put down to kill foxes.
We know nothing of Hattie’s pedigree, the black and white markings and those soft pert ears which flopped over so endearingly, as well as her gentle disposition, suggested Border Collie. Though her size, feisty temperament and determination – particularly for digging in the wrong places – made us think she had some terrier in her, maybe Jack Russell.
As a 5 month old pup she soon got the measure of young Balzo making him pursue her in loops up and down walls until he lay exhausted. A huge fan of nuts she would take the fallen walnuts up to our apartment and cracking open the shell, leaving all of the detritus on Balzo’s bed. Though in later years when the big farm dogs would turn on blind Balzo she wouldn’t hesitate to defend him, chasing off the attackers and snapping at their legs. Now she lies alongside her old friend.
Less instinctively gregarious than Balzo, Hattie was a more loyal dog, and whilst happy to chat to the guests would return to us. After lunch it was almost impossible to sit on the sofa before she had jumped onto one of our laps for her afternoon cuddle. Though she did soon learn that guests mean scraps and she was often sat near the garden tables not actually scrounging but making it plain that if anything came her way it wouldn’t be wasted. Barbeques became a favourite of hers and if more than one was grilling she would run back and forth checking when the coals would be ready and a surplus sausage might go her way.
Wary at first of Jakes they soon bonded and Hattie enjoyed company on those longer walks which had been too much for Balzo in later years. Right up to the end she ran around with the agility of a goat and the speed of a greyhound, exhausting the young dog.
It wasn’t possible to look at Hattie and not smile, her cheeky face always looked so happy, now we have to rely on memories to make us smile. Luckily, like so many of our guests, we have plenty of those.