6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

The tale of the Wiccan witch and the Great Dane in Bowness

PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 September 2014 | UPDATED: 23:41 23 October 2015

Sarah and Ian at their Wiccan wedding with Bramble as ring bearer

Sarah and Ian at their Wiccan wedding with Bramble as ring bearer

not Archant

Emily Rothery meets a follower of the Wiccan faithwho has a special bond with her dog

Bramble was found to be deaf Bramble was found to be deaf

We expect every witch to have a black cat but Sarah Dalzell is the exception. Her constant companion is Bramble, a large white Great Dane.

Sarah runs the Spellbound Herbal shop in Bowness on Windermere and she is a Wiccan ‘hedge’ witch, a term which reflects her special interest in herbs found in our hedrows.

She follows the Wicca faith, which has a deep connection to the natural world and, she says, teaches peace, love, unity and responsibility. Sarah feels that her beliefs are pivotal in her relationship with Bramble, a beautiful merlequin Great Dane, the term that describes the markings on her coat. Bramble is also special because she is deaf.

When Sarah was a youngster, injured or abandoned animals would somehow be drawn to her and she would instinctively tend to their needs and nurse them back to health.

Sarah, a Wiccan 'hedge' witch with Bramble Sarah, a Wiccan 'hedge' witch with Bramble

In later years she put her natural affinity to further good use working with horses at the Animaline Sanctuary, run by TV scriptwriter Carla Lane.

‘Carla often had to call on me to calm a horse for the vet and all I ever did was put my hand by its nose, allow it to smell me and talk quietly to it and within a short time it allowed the vet to do what was needed. The horse dentist always used to say that she hoped that it would be me on duty to settle the difficult horses,’ explains Sarah.

‘When I first saw Bramble it was love at first sight. She was the last of the litter to be homed and just a little scrap of a thing but, once seen, I knew that I couldn’t say goodbye. She was very thin and extremely nervous and wouldn’t eat.’

Sarah, who grew up with Great Danes, knew that something was amiss. ‘One day, after speaking with my mum, who is hard of hearing, the penny dropped. I realised that Bramble was deaf.

‘As a pup she had coped by shadowing my other dog Merlin, a lovely old gent. She also craftily learned to help herself to eggs from my hencoop. I wondered what was happening to my eggs until one day I found eggshells in the garden. Bramble had carried them to her lair and then gently broke the shells and ate the inside. After that, I coaxed her to eat other things.’

With careful nurturing Bramble began to thrive. She is now seven and you’d be hard pressed to find a more obedient and sweet natured dog. Sarah communicates with her pet through hand signals.

On average the dog knows about ten hand signs but Sarah believes that her dog also intuitively responds on a deeper level to body language and facial expressions. The key to success is empathy and consistency – Sarah has invented her own signals and frequently reassures Bramble by making a starfish shape with her hand, which signifies approval.

‘I am always attuned to her and made a pledge that I would act as pack leader enabling Bramble to lead a stress-free life. In return Bramble has brought me so much joy and has taught me infinite patience and a deeper understanding of animals. She intuitively knows to cuddle up to me if I am in pain or upset.

‘In the shop she has a lot of fans. She seems to know when to be extra calm and gentle and has even helped people with dog phobias to overcome their fears. One small boy was frightened and I witnessed his look of instinctive terror turn to wonder as he watched Bramble. The next minute he was stroking her and talking to her in an almost conspiratorial way.

‘Bramble is not just my best friend; she is my protector and confidant. When I first met my husband, Tim, a “date or not to date” factor was whether Bramble approved of him. Thankfully she loved him instantly and claimed him by sitting on his knee, all nine stone of her! That was a test for Tim too which luckily he passed with flying colours.

She and Tim had a Wiccan wedding in spring and Bramble was the ring bearer. ‘We have a lot of fun together,’ says Sarah, who lives in Gleaston on the Furness peninsula. ‘At home Bramble loves to act as a footstool so that she has close physical contact with us. Somehow the deafness adds to her allure and we are constantly approached when out walking, initially because of her size, but when people learn that she is deaf they want to learn more.’

In the past deaf dogs were often put to sleep but mercifully more compassion is shown now. Bramble is living proof that a deaf dog can live a full and happy life.

For more information on deaf dogs log onto www.dogstrust.org.uk

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

00:00

Water vole numbers have plummeted in the last 10 years caused mainly by a 30 per cent decline in their habitats. The Carbon Landscape’s Katie Chambers goes on a search for these rare mammals.

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

Author and photographer Richard Barrett, who wrote ‘Cycling in the Lake District’ for the Kendal-based guidebook publisher, Cicerone, chooses his top 5 rides.

Read more
Lake District Cycling

From growing in the garden to fun at a festival, there’s a real buzz in this coastal town

Read more

A new generation of businesses are making the Lancashire town a destination in its own right

Read more

Ambleside epitomises the cultural landscape that was key in the Lake District being awarded World Heritage status

Read more
Ambleside
Friday, July 6, 2018

A visit to Musbury Tor is summit not to be missed says John Lenehan

Read more
Ramsbottom
Friday, July 6, 2018

A young Australian who came to England to play professional cricket has settled in Nelson to make beautiful bats.

Read more
Friday, June 29, 2018

Kendal is often referred to as ‘The Gateway to the Lakes’. It’s the perfect base to explore the South Lakes and these walks that begin within a 10 mile radius of the market town give you a good selection of days out for a short break.

Read more
Kendal
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ever wondered how Clitheroe Castle got that huge hole in its tower? John Lenehan might have the answer after this walk from Sabden.

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks

Overseas royalty and fashion designers have fallen in love with a not so humble Lancashire horse blanket made on the moors above Darwen.

Read more

While many people head north towards the Lake District for walking, the city of Lancaster has plenty on offer for ramblers.

Read more
Lancaster Canals
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The trail of storm devastation wreaked on Lancashire’s Beacon Fell has cleared the way for a new era of care for our countryside, writes Cathy Darby.

Read more
Friday, June 1, 2018

You don’t have to travel abroad to enjoy a perfect summer holiday. Here’s a round-up of some fantastic destinations across the region.

Read more
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Children now spend less time playing in nature than their parents did, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Molly Toal discusses

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search