Dear Irish Terrier Friends,
Our flagpole is up – it’s made of shiny white fibreglass topped with a gold finial and flying the ‘Jack’ (although we favour the ‘George’ and I have a mind to change it ere long). It is resplendent to say the least, but I do feel it makes my house look like some sort of maritime outpost or golf club perhaps.
Liberty Belle enjoyed the whole installation procedure, which was much more complex than you might think. It required not just a hole in the ground, but several visits by a team of two young men, who took time out to play with her. They laid down gravel and cement, which had to dry and be sealed eventually with a bronze plaque to keep the pole in place.
Libbs is not concerned with the flapping flag, unless she spots it from an upstairs window and she sets up a protest of growls and loud barking – usually at crack of dawn. From the ground it is a favourite place, for like most spayed bitches she is, I suspect, a bit ‘gender confused’ or is the latest word ‘trans’? She likes to do a three-legged squat up against any gate, tree or lamppost we happen to meet. The flagpole ticks all the boxes and, encouraged by her friends, it has already become a favoured watering place despite my indignation.
Anyway, it was up in time for HM’s Birthday and we gave a party for our friends in the ‘Close’. Libby knows everyone and was, as ever, an effusive hostess complete with red, white and blue silk bow. We gathered round and drank a toast to ‘the Queen God bless her’ and I was prevailed upon to read the prayer Jamie and I wrote for the Jubilee. Libbs caught the change of mood immediately, standing still and watching me carefully. She has become so much more intuitive now and seems to understand that I am hopelessly patriotic and have to keep back the tears.
We thought you might like to read the prayer. Jamie and I argued over every word!
A prayer for Her Majesty the Queen
We give thanks to God for the glorious Reign
of our beloved Queen Elizabeth.
We celebrate her Birthday with gratitude and pride.
We remember her constancy and selfless dedication
to serving her people.
We rejoice in the example she has set, for the lives
she has touched and the rock of certainty she has provided.
Lord God grant her your gifts of joy and peace and may she find
strength in your love and our devotion.
This is July 1st and we’re having rather a solemn day. Our house guests have left and Libby is bored with me. It is the first day of the Battle of the Somme (+100 years) and I have lit a candle for the tragic soldiers who fell in the Battle. We’re also remembering our beloved Micks in the trenches and of course all the other animals so closely involved in the Battle. One of my dearly loved Grandfathers was there, but always, with the cool understatement of his generation, would say, “I didn’t do much really – just rode about the place on my motorbike carrying messages as I seem to remember it.”
Thank heavens for the scent of summer flowers. In spite of the rain, roses bloom and the sweet peas, to my joy provide a posy for every room. Libbs is no gardening enthusiast, but there’s always the possibility of a face-to-face encounter with the hedgehog (still in the compost heap). She often stages great bumble bee chases with extravagant leaps and twirls in the air. There seem to be mice, real or imagined, behind the shed or under the wheelbarrow, which she follows with her nose and eyes stretched wide. I absolutely love the garden although the grass this summer seems to grow every time I sit down or even look away.
We’ve managed another dog show – this one the Irish Terrier Association Breed Show, held near Leicester. I do find the long drives exhausting, but we went up on the Saturday and had a lovely afternoon in Bradgate Park. I have talked about the park before. It was the home of poor Lady Jane Grey and the rooms of the house are still sad reminders of her brief and tragic life. There are so many deer, but Libby at nearly 5 has suddenly become quite embarrassingly obedient. I’ve never had an Irish Terrier who would abandon a rabbit chase simply because I called! She behaved very well in the park, which is now zoned into areas where dogs have to be on the lead. The curator in the house told me that they had lost so many young deer through dog chases, caused more by heart failure than actual attacks.
Andrew Kershaw, who had motored down from Scotland, has kindly sent me a cutting from The Times with a picture of Beatrix Potter and her Irish Terrier both sitting on chairs. We think he must have been the model for the dog Stumpie in the Tale of Little Pig Robinson.
You all know my ambivalence about dog shows, but there’s no excuse for my making muddles about the names of the winning dogs. With great embarrassment and no excuses from me, you may read Susan Seabridge’s letter setting out the facts after the WELKS.
Thank you for your lovely news letter, it is always nice to catch up on what you and Libby are up to. I think that you may have made a mistake when commenting on the Irish winner at WELKS. The big winner has been retired from UK Showing and is now in the USA and has gained his title American Champion. The Irish that is being shown now is a bitch and only started her UK showing career in January this year at the Boston Premier Show.
Kind Regards Susan & John.
I do beg everyone’s pardon and ‘aim to do better’.
Thinking about how all terriers love ‘the chase’ (and I do admit that this could be what makes them such lively, alert, upbeat characters). We have to understand that this causes problems in our ever more crowded world.
We have put up an article on the website written by Jean Soeter, who loves to emphasise and encourage this hunting instinct. Irish Terriers are extremely adaptable and incredibly quick to learn, but I personally dislike the idea of presenting them as killers, setting them on foxes or worse still hares or deer. Each one to his own taste and field sports do play a huge role in some peoples’ lives, but it is not for me. Do, however read Jean’s article from the Shooting Times and decide for yourselves. It is as well to remember that the law is extremely strict on these matters and you need to be very careful and know exactly where you stand.
We had a very happy day with Marianne Walker, who manages the Art Collection at the Kennel Club. She came to ‘inspect’ Arabella Dorman’s portrait of Liberty Belle. Sadly, Rose Smart the Chief Executive, who had planned to come, was not well on the day and we did miss her. We took Marianne for a hike ‘by the sea’ and we’d arranged to have lunch at home. Miss Libbs was out walking with Cat, but was thrilled to find a party at home when she burst through the door. She put on a great dance for us, flying around the chairs and throwing her ‘chew’ up in the air – quite one of her best.
Marianne loved the picture and was very enthusiastic. It will stay here until it’s varnished in two months time and I will be sad to give it up. Arabella, however, has arranged to have an exact copy printed on canvas for us to keep, which will be an excellent substitute. The whole idea of the picture was to present it to the Kennel Club for their wonderful collection. It seems to represent all our joyful, wayward, glorious Micks and Arabella has caught their spirit so perfectly.
I’m off to France next week with my three Granddaughters. We’re sure to have a jolly time and hopefully good weather for swimming. I want to take my scooter so that I can keep up on the promenade with their bright pink rollerblades! I expect we’ll bomb the shops and come home as usual, with summer gear suitable only for the Riviera – perhaps this is why we rock up every year just to give our flimsies an outing.
Libbs will be fine with Dave and Jeanette and cousin Elizabeth, her friend Sandy and Alfie, one of Libby’s real favourites. She won’t have time to miss me for a moment.
Do send your pics for the calendar or the gallery. We so enjoy sharing them and are putting up all the calendars past on a page on the website, so do look out for it.
With many greetings
and my love to the dogs,