Published: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
When he first came to live with me, Gregory was a real tearaway. He was 9 months old when he came to me from my daughter’s farm in the Brecon Beacons. He had never been in a house, he wasn't house-trained and he wasn’t used to people outside the family. He had only travelled in the car once and that was to be neutered. And what a sweet nature! He had a very distinctive appearance; one blue and one brown eye and a sort of brindle colour which was highly unusual for a Collie. He was half Welsh Red and half Blue Merle and he was tiny. Only 9 kilos when fully grown. My plan was that he might be an Assistance Dog; he had the temperament but he was unruly! He had had no training and he would run to anyone to make friends.
I learned a lot from Gregory. I had spent half my life advising pet owners on feeding and my last Collie Lizzie had been absolutely trouble-free from the get-go. Gregory was in a different league. When he arrived he was very lean, although not skinny. People in the village commented on it. He was ravenously hungry. So I gave him plenty to fill him out a bit. What happened next? Diarrhoea and poo eating. He was also quite itchy. It was time to follow my own advice. I cut the food back and he improved but he was thin and hungry. I tried him with some of my porridge. He wouldn’t eat it! Not so hungry after all. He was just mad for his dog food. Henceforward I just accepted that he would be healthy but lean and I would explain to all the dog walkers. After all, being overweight has become the new normal.
The next few months as he matured were tough. I was training him morning, noon and night. Not formal training, but out-walking-training. Repetition with the occasional reward treat worked really well and he became Mr Perfect. He was very responsive and attentive and I had a good balance between control and freedom for him to explore and enjoy. But he hated the car. Even the three miles to work and he was swimming in saliva. He never really got over that. I lent / gave him to my friend Susie whose son Ben was terrified of dogs. It wasn’t long before Ben announced, “Gregory is my dog.” A perfect outcome. Gregory was happy on the small holding and didn’t have to go in a car very often. But yesterday morning tragedy struck. The lane outside the house is a cul-de-sac with only three houses lower down. He was sniffing about in the lane when he was killed by a car.
His passing is a huge loss, not just for me but all at Burns and all who came into contact with him.
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