Our family has quite a checkered history with dog ownership. We got through quite a few dogs over the years, and suffered all the dog-related tragedies of them being knocked down, put down and everything in between. We were an equal opportunities dog owning family, at one stage we had a schizophrenic dog called ‘Penny’ who would take a turn at 6pm every evening, nothing like a bit of excitement in life. Penny was replaced by a blind dog called Lucy who was the mainstay dog in our house for about 10 years. After Lucy saw the light (for once) we got Cushla, a golden retriever. Cushla was the star dog, we had never really realised that dogs could be beautiful, not have green leaky eyes and actually like their owners! Yes, Cushla was a whole new dog experience for us.
Mum was loved by all our dogs but she definitely had a special relationship with Cushla. Of course we thought our dog to be very well trained despite the near shoulder dislocations you had to endure on any walk. Mum brought Cushla to doggy-training classes to try to Cruft-ify her. The dog trainer was an ex-military very strict kind of dog control expert. It was a group training session with lots of different types of dogs (and owners) assembled for the greater good. When the group were given the task of walking around in circles Cushla used to run off encouraging the other dogs to become ferret-like on their leads, needless to say Mum and Cushla were the least popular students in the class.
Eventually the dog instructor turned to Mum and said “you must be stricter with that dog!” to which my Mum famously replied ‘Cushla only responds to kindness.’Cushla was promptly asked to leave the class and so returned home to take up her position as a regular disobedient family pet that we all loved.