Lake District Dog Blog - The pup grows up
PUBLISHED: 12:05 17 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:38 20 February 2013
Sean McMahon sees new boy Dougal turn from destructive puppy to fully-grown pooch
How quickly our youngsters seem to grow before our eyes!
In our last thrilling instalment, Dougal was nothing but a pup making his first tentative steps onto the hills and being released from the shackles of his lead for the first time.
Now he has grown somewhat and is well versed in the art of walking the fells without a lead. In fact he has turned out almost too good to be true or perhaps he is turning into something else
Lets start at our home where we have a patio decked with lovely wooden furniture, or rather I should say that it used to be decked with lovely wooden furniture. Now all we have is a pile of half chewed flotsam and it appears as though a swarm of termites has made short work of it all. Hidden under the pile of matchsticks and sawdust formerly known as furniture are all sorts of things long lost and long forgotten - so thats where all those socks, shoes and towels went!
We are a very forgiving family, especially where our dogs are concerned, but even our tether had been stretched to its absolute limit by the time Dougal was six months old.
There is only so much home wrecking a family can take and there seemed to be only one thing that would distract him from destroying our home even further, and that was for him to join us more regularly on our fell walks. What my wife Louise and our children James and Connie didnt realise was that they all thought that Dougal was their dog.
This has since been proven to be a fallacy on their part as once he started spending more time with Casper and I on the fells, he inevitably became my dog. I think he would follow me to the end of the earth and back again now, such is his love and his loyalty and of course his need for a decent walk.
Everything is new and fresh to him and his youthful exuberance knows no bounds. He has the Bearded Collie
trait of seemingly never being fatigued and I know he could and would walk a long distance if required, but we still have to be a little restrained and reserved for a few more months yet. That said, we have managed some walks on the easier high fells and already there have been some memorable moments.
One outstanding time was when we walked to the top of Coniston Old Man at the end of a beautiful winters day. Out of the sunshine it was icily cold yet once on the top of the Old Man, both the temperature and the views were simply breathtaking. Of course, we said hello to our old pal Angus as we sat alone with only the sunset for company on this, the historic summit of Lancashire, and admired the wonderful views. How lucky we were to be there on such a day and I smiled as I cast my mind back to some of the many times I had previously been here with Angus.
Yet here was Dougal, a new boy just starting out on his fell walking life but already he has that knowing look in his eye and he has been quick to learn the ropes from Casper. There was something else I noticed up there that day, too.
Young Dougal was on this fell for the very first time but there was something about him that I could not put my finger on until we reached the top, where my thoughts drifted. Then it came to me in a flash - of course, it was obvious now! Although only a youngster, Dougal is gradually changing colour which is something I had not thought anything about previously.
Casper is black and white like Dougal and unusually he has stayed so. But here was Dougal in front of me, turning from black to slate grey over the previous few weeks and with a look that I know very well indeed. In fact it is more than a look because he bears an uncanny resemblance to our dear departed Angus.
When I looked at him, all I could see was Angus staring straight back at me as if he had been reborn. If Dougal ends up half as good as Angus was, then he will undoubtedly be a top dog and a wonderful companion on the fells. I also know that he will never really be mine or anybodys - he will always be his own dog, that one.
Find out more about Casper, Dougal and Sean on their website at www.StridingEdge.net or at their Love the Lakes shop in Bowness. Theyll be back in Lancashire Life in April.