Lake District Dog Blog: Following in Angus' paw-prints

PUBLISHED: 21:37 12 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:15 20 February 2013

Dougal

Dougal

There were tears when Sean McMahon described how he had scattered the ashes of Angus, the bearded collie. This month he introduces us to a bouncy bundle of fun

They say that the Lord works in mysterious ways. I mentioned at the end of my last column that we had news of a litter of bearded collie puppies not long after Angus left us for the greatest fell walk of all.

This momentous loss to our family left a great void in our lives and while Angus could certainly never be replaced perhaps a puppy would go some way to fill the gap.

The litter sounded ideal as it was from the same breeder and lineage as Casper; in fact as it turned out they were Casper's nephews and nieces. We decided to go and have a look at the puppies to see what we thought. After all, it could do no harm to look could it? Of course, there are no prizes for guessing what our thoughts were once we saw those pups!

They managed to melt our hearts immediately, especially for Connie, our eight-year-old daughter, and I am sure she would have taken all eight plus their mum Skara back home with us if she thought she could get away with it.

Perhaps we didn't realise then what we were letting ourselves in for when we said we would have one

We have gone from Angus, an old dog who ended up requiring constant care and attention to Dougal, a young dog that requires, well, pretty much the same sort of thing really. It is just like having a baby all over again except this time with more fur and teeth.

Firstly, we had to decide upon a name which is a lot harder than you may think. His kennel name came quite easily, it being Sylvabrae Striding Edge after my walking website.

But his everyday name was a lot harder. Eventually we hit on a name that met with universal approval - Dougal. Once we had finally decided, we immediately set about changing it so that Dougal became Dougally Doo - though perhaps Dougally Don't would be more fitting!

The big question once Dougal came of age at a ripe old 13 weeks was where to take him his first small foray onto the fells? Ever mindful that he is only a young pup and even though he has energy that seems indefatigable, he really can only do short and easy walks with those young bones.

I decided upon Brock Barrow at the southern end of Coniston Water as it gives unrivalled views along the length of the lake and the climb to the top is straightforward and easy.

It was a glorious afternoon when we set off from High Nibthwaite and it wasn't until we began walking that I remembered that actually, this diminutive fell holds some quite special memories for our family.

How could I forget the times we walked up here with Angus? The easiest of easy walk for the King of the Fells maybe, yet one time he managed to disappear for hours in the head-height bracken and I feared we would never see him again. Also this was the fell that only 12 short months ago was the last one he climbed, even then he could hardly manage the summit.

So it was fitting that Angus' last fell should also be Dougal's first. I thought he may struggle a little, after all everything in the big wide world was new to him. Uncle Casper was of course in attendance to guide him along and I was glad I had Dougal on an extendable lead, otherwise he would certainly have taken off with Casper - he just wanted to be one of the boys running free, but he will have to wait a while longer for that opportunity.

I had a heart stopping moment when he decided to have a closer inspection of the bracken jungle when I wasn't looking. Very gently and very gingerly I had to fish him out, teasing the lead to make him come my way.

The moment was magical when we made the top and I knew I had made a good decision to come here with Dougal. What better place to have a lie on the grass with the newly crowned King of the Fells and the young pretender at my side?

We savoured the moment and I thought of the good times to come and those that had gone before. Dougal's expression and mannerisms almost exactly matched those of Casper - the long tongue, the open mouth and the hair gently blowing in the breeze. Why young Dougal, it's almost as if you were born to wander these wonderful fells...

To find out more about them, try Sean's website at www.StridingEdge.net

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