One reads of someone gambling their last pound and becoming a millionaire. When you are young you sometimes do silly things and get away with them. As a young couple my wife and I fell into both these categories when we spent our last few pounds on a Scottie dog puppy. It was a silly thing to do, but we were to be rewarded many times over, just like the gambler who comes up trumps.
We had had many discussions about a name for our pet, but when we collected him he was already known as Hamish and the name stuck. He spent his first car journey home sleeping on the rear window ledge apparently quite content and quickly showed what he thought of us be going to sleep on our feet in the house at every opportunity, thus rendering us incapable of moving away without feelings of guilt for disturbing him.
Knowing nothing about Scotties, we entered him for a show but his slightly bowed front and cow-hocked rear did not endear him to the judge and thereafter his outstanding feature – his character – was what mattered.
Hamish could be infuriating. He was an escapologist of the highest calibre. Colditz would not have held him and a two-inch gap in the door or gate would lead to the cry of “Hamish is out”, resulting in a mad chase up and down the road until he decided that the joke was over and allowed someone to catch him. He could be annoying at night when he went out to do the necessary and then refused to come in again, particularly if it happened to be pouring with rain or snowing – weather in which he revelled. I have not even mentioned the time as a young puppy when he chewed the back off Granddad’s best shoes!
Yet Hamish was so affectionate and trustworthy. Each of our four children could be safely left on the floor to play with him from the earliest age. Indeed our eldest son was left with him for just two or three minutes on one occasion and that was long enough for them to curl up and go to sleep together on the hearth rug. The same pair were responsible for the transformation of Hamish into a Westie when a carton of talcum powder was left within reach! To each of the boys Hamish at various times represented a horse to be ridden, a wild animal to be chased or a target for water-filled Squeezy bottles, yet to him all these things were merely part of the fun of life and the boys were indeed fortunate to grow up with such a pet.
An enquiring mind was certainly part of Hamish’s character. He would investigate other dogs as long as they were twice his size) and even set out to see how far he could swim across Coniston Water before he found the challenge boring enough to come back. The sound of the front door opening meant a welcoming bark and the trotting of paws to see if the arrival was of possible interest to him. The jingle of his lead, however far away, brought a black streak round the corner for walkies, as did the sound of a can opener or rattle of dinner plates, Hamish could not really be described as inquisitive where food was concerned, his one aim was to remove it as quickly as possible. There were never any scraps in our house when the “Four-legged Dustbin” was around.
Anyone accepted by us was accepted by Hamish. This even applied to a very strange new arrival. The word ‘cats’ was enough to send him flying into the garden (and he really did take off from the end of the path on to the lawn), but when he was about nine years old we bought a kitten. It took us two weeks of restraint and forceful reminders to convince Hamish that this creature was here to stay, but once he accepted that, it was not unusual for the two of them to curl up together and share the same bed.
One day Hamish and the cat were in the garden together when the passing of another dog outside set his hackles rising. Being unable to investigate the other dog because of the garden wall, Hamish turned and the word ‘cats’ could be seen flashing across his brain. He charged like a wild bull but just a couple of feet from the quarry he remembered that this animal was different, this was HIS cat. Unable to stop his high speed travel he took off, cleared his startled friend by about a foot and landed in the flower bed beyond.
Yes, Hamish gave us affection, laughs, loyalty and many happy hours. As he grew older his front became more bowed and his cow-hocked rear became more pronounced and eventually seemed to almost inadequate for the purpose of carrying him. Then suddenly there was evidence of the onset of kidney failure and he began to be uncomfortable as he tried to lie down and rest. The only kind action was to pay a final sad visit to the vet.
Hamish was over twelve years of age. He might not have exactly match the standard for the show ring, but he lacked little else. It’s all his fault really, the fact that we are ‘into’ the breed and have learnt much about Scotties. We can only hope that those who follow him will give as much pleasure as we have had in the last twelve years. They will have to work hard to match out first Scottie, our Hamish.