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16 October 2017

Kara


Kara is our family dog. She is 13 years old and we have had her since she was a puppy. My parents only went to 'look' at the puppies one day on a nearby farm, but of course, came home with one...  I was away living in London and my sister was at uni, but when we got a little text from our parents to say they had just got a dog, we were home as quick as a flash to meet the new arrival!





Kara is a Sprollie, a Collie crossed with a Springer Spaniel. Every time I explain her breed to people, they exclaim, "goodness, she must be a handful", with both breeds having the reputation for being energetic, bouncy and probably a bit mad. But I guess I have nobody to compare Kara too, she is just Kara to me.

She looks like a Collie, but her face and her features are a little rounder and softer and her coat is less shaggy. She is black and white with traditional Collie markings.

Anybody who meets Kara for the first time assumes she is a naughty and aggressive dog, a reputation that saddens me. Yes she barks her head off at everyone and everything, she has to remain on the lead when going for walks because she snarls and snipes at other passing dogs. Strangers to the house are greeted with extremely loud barks. She has been known to chase after joggers (she HATES joggers!) and she can never really be trusted around little kids. But all of this makes her a very loyal guard dog!

Only the very select lucky few get to see the real her, she is a very good judge of character! But to those she knows and loves she is the sweetest, loveliest, kindest, most gentle girl in the world. We know that aggressive exterior is all for show.  She's a very timid person and she is basically scared of everything.  Witness her on bonfire night literally hiding and cuddling up behind my mum on the sofa, or her heavy breathing and shaking when walking alongside very busy roads. She puts on a good front but behind all that she is a huge softie!



We always joke that Kara doesn't really work properly as a dog. She's not really very well trained at all. She will only sit and give a paw if the mood takes her, and I've never gotten her to sit when crossing the road.  She pulls on her lead wherever you go and she barks and runs around like a mad thing. Kara also can't play fetch! She doesn't really know how! If you throw anything for her she will simply chase after it and then charge off with it in the opposite direction. But she loves you to chase her, we have played endlessly running round the house and garden, me chasing her, her chasing me, even as an old lady she has boundless energy and can just play and play and play.



Kara has enjoyed innumerous days out and walks;  her favourites being Alston railway, Keswick railway footpath, Talkin Tarn and Armathwaite woods.  Newcastleton forest used to be a special walk, such a huge, quiet place she was even permitted off the lead. But Kara is happy with any walk, anywhere and in whatever weather.



Kara has been on buses, little trains and boats in the lake district. She has recently been in a lift and visited a museum. She's sat under the table outside many a tearoom and pub, patiently waiting for any stray little bits of food. She has even been camping, staying in a little tent with my sister and brother in law on pretty holidays to Pooley Bridge and Keswick.



Kara's favourite thing by far is water, any time you go for a walk to a river or a stream, or a lake, or the sea she would not stop until she has practically pulled you straight into it.  So during each walk you are required to store up stocks of sticks then throw them in for her, one by one.  She never tires of this, and goes into that water in even sub zero temperatures, the mad thing! It is the best thing ever though watching her swim out to catch them, with her little doggy paddle legs.

I recall once attempting to run with K, thinking she and I could be fabulous running buddies and she would be one of those cool jogging dogs you see. nope! Kara just got over excited and kept going too fast and pulling me along or jumping up and trying to lick me constantly. Haha.



Kara is obsessed with the post. My parents have thought of many a mechanism to stop her stealing letters over the years, but it just makes her more committed to the challenge and the game. If she gets a letter there is no getting it off her. She's a stubborn old girl, she has been known to hold resolute even when offered a very favourite treat. She has even been known to walk round the field, prized letter grasped tight in her jaws!

Anybody who is under the impression that dogs don't have the range of emotion or facial expression that we humans do, has not met my dog. I can tell her every mood. Her default is happy and excited. She never ever fails to give you the warmest greeting as you come through the door, jumps all over you, barks her head off, licks you to death and in her younger days would pee on your shoes too for that extra special treat.  I recall the day we thought it would be hilarious to dress her in a cute hooded dog coat. Just one look at her was plain to see the embarrassment on her face. She detested that thing, every time we joked with her and brought it out of the cupboard she would bark like mad.



I have been afraid of dogs, like petrified of dogs, my whole life.  I can tell you the exact moment I was cured of this fear, the moment I set eyes on Kara. She fixed me, I could never be scared of her, I trust her implicitly. She would never take playing too far, she has never once nipped me or showed aggression towards me. These days my fear of dogs has completely gone, she cured me. I adore dogs in every shape or form and cannot stop myself from warmly greeting each and every single one that crosses my path, I'm sure much to the amusement and shock of their owners!



Kara follows me round the house everywhere. She often forgets how big she is and if I am sitting in the chair at my parents house she would just launch herself at me until she was cuddled up and licking my face. If I am lying down she joins me and cuddles in. If I am eating anything she sits at my feet and stares up at me with those deep brown eyes until I inevitably give in and give her a bit, I don't know who could resist those eyes. It probably explains why in recent years she hasn't much of a waist line.



Kara though, is Dad's dog, and he her favouritest person in the world (I like to think I'm a very close second). When dad suffered a big heart attack some years ago, it was speaking to him of Kara that got him out of his coma and she was the first person he asked about when he came round. Kara has boosted my dad's confidence, improved his health and helped him make many new friends with the dog walking crew in the field.



Kara has put up with a lot in her 13 years, the standard hysterectomy of course, various bouts of fleas. In recent years she has had various operations to remove huge cancer lumps from her back end and even over her eye. One lump on the back of her thigh was so big and bad it couldn't be stitched, she had a huge gaping wound that my poor mum had to dress several times a day for weeks. It was dreadful and of course what's worse she had to wear the dreaded cone! We seriously didn't think she would pull through that one, but she did, she fought through and didn't complain one bit the entire time.

The worse thing in the world for Kara is being left alone. She hates it. If we all left the house she would run up to the front window and watch the car pull away, her head falling back, and letting out painful, mournful howls. In recent times she isn't so great on the stairs, so just slumps in the corner, I swear I can see tears in her big huge sad eyes. I've taken to 'babysitting' the dog many a time to save her from the fate of being on her own.

I recall one visit to drop her off for a stay at the kennels, she quite oddly trotted off happily with the kennel staff, whilst dad and I tried to slink away quietly.  We failed and she turned to look back at us and howled, jumped and yelped and spun around as she watched us depart, utterly heartbreaking. But the sheer joy and visible relief in her face when you go to pick her up again, safe is the knowledge she is coming home is the best thing ever.



Kara passed away peacefully at lunchtime on Monday 9th October, wagging her tail enthusiastically and happy licking us right to the end. She was surrounded by her family and we held her, and whispered to her how much loved her until her last breath.

The photo above was taken just 2 weeks before she died, on a very lovely walk in Alston.

Kara was my favourite dog, in fact the only dog I have ever got to know personally. There will never be a dog that could ever come close to her.  Kara is not just my favourite dog though, she was one of my very very favourite people in the world.



I read a quote once... a dog is a part of your life, but to your dog you are their whole life. It's true we were everything to Kara, she just wanted to be with us, and play with us every second of the day. I always thought of this quote whenever I was with her and it helped me enjoy and treasure every second of that time.  If you are lucky enough to have a dog, or any pet, always remember that and spend as much time as you can, just playing and being with them, just simply enjoying their company.

RIP Kara dog, we miss you terribly.


2 comments:

  1. This week has been hard , the house is so quiet , kara annoyed me at times , she got in the way when I was busy . She barked whenever there was a knock at the door , she ate the post and the paper , but she never stole food or grabbed for food , she was gentle and loving to those she loved and I miss her . Every single time I come in the house , I miss her greeting . Every morning I miss the tail thumping on the floor , glad that I am awake . When I am in the kitchen I miss the nose peeking round the door, looking for food !! It will be a long time before that stops and the memory fades , gone but never forgotten . ❤️❤️ Xx😢😢

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  2. I'm so sorry to read this Jo. I know exactly what it's like and it's so important to take the time to grieve. You have so many wonderful memories of her, which will get you through - gorgeous gorgeous dog. Sending hugs xx

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