Cara, the 4 year old Irish Water Spaniel, cannot claim to be a Yorkshire dog and she doesn’t even live in a village. Her house is one of six at the end of a lane leading to the Severn river.
A Lincolnshire breeder’s dog, as soon as she was old enough she travelled to live with Milly, another Irish Water Spaniel, who had been Barnsley born and bred – so there is a Yorkshire connection after all.
At 6 months Cara was entered in what her owners thought would be a small local dog show. To Cara’s delight there were ‘hundreds’ of dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes. In the puppy class Cara was to be handled by her owners’ 8 year old daughter.
While waiting their turn for judging Cara became distracted, slipped her lead and raced round all six judging rings. When eventually cornered and restored to her lead, everyone watched in amazement as she calmly waited; she even let the judge examine her without resorting to play or nipping him, before sedately walking round and running on her lead across the middle of the ring as was required. She did not win her class but a good time was had by all.
Milly on the left; Cara on the right.
At home Milly had the arduous task of keeping madcap Cara in check and as Cara grew stronger there were times when Milly had to remind her forcibly who was in charge. Milly was the one who led young Cara on expeditions to empty bins, including those of neighbours, where there was any scent of Milly’s favourite chicken. The pair must have had a thing about bins since they always hassled the lorry and the men who came to empty them.
‘Tug-of-war’ with an old knotted rope was their favourite game, and it wasn’t long before Cara became strong enough to hold her own and sound just as fierce as Milly. However she never became as adept with a ball as Milly who would have made Yorkshire proud of her version of Norman ‘bites yer leg off’ Hunter.
Irish Water Spaniels live up to their name; on walks one or both of them would visit any water and the river Severn to emerge coated in oozing black mud which earned them a hosepipe bath.
When Cara was 3, poor Milly died aged 9, from poisoned food discarded indiscriminately by some unknown so-and-so. The madcap Cara left alone has become a placid dog much to the surprise of everyone. Nevertheless, with only one or two exceptions, she always wants to play with any dog she meets. She was forced to admit defeat in her latest attempt to catch a lurcher - it literally ran in circles round about her.
Cara loves children and anyone who will stroke her tummy. She walks well on or off a lead, sitting down quietly to wait, tied to a bus stop, when anyone takes her shopping. She sleeps in the kitchen on a covered duvet beneath the wooden staircase; then when everyone is in bed she goes upstairs to sleep upon the landing. This is strange because the boards are bare and Cara likes comfort, especially ‘her’ couch in the conservatory.
Cara challenges anyone, and all dogs, who intrude into the lane outside the house with characteristic barks, letting them know that this is her domain.
[I wrote this some time ago. Since then Cara has been the victim of a hit and run incident and had to be put to sleep]