Cotswold Voice

‘It was not un­til the fol­low­ing evening that the call came telling us we could pick up Jack­son from Hyde Park Po­lice Sta­tion. He had been ar­rested at the Round Pond try­ing to mount a Canada goose’

Cotswold Life - - AUGUST - CON­TACT adampotlick­ @cotswold­hack ADAM EDWARDS

Jack­son was ar­rested for try­ing to mount a goose in Hyde Park

In the eight­ies, in that ex­trav­a­gant decade of BMWS and braces, my late wife and bought a pedi­gree dog. It was a Wheaten Terrier and we called it Jack­son. It was, it has to be said, a sweet flaxen bun­dle – or rather it was un­til it reached pu­berty. And then it went bonkers. No amount of shout­ing, whistling, treats or tor­ture could cur­tail its rag­ing testos­terone. If for a sec­ond its lead was loos­ened the randy mon­grel sped off faster than Billy Whizz. We got used to sit­ting by the phone wait­ing for a call from a kind fin­der.

The an­swer, we thought, was for the beast to be trained. Two months later Jack­son was re­turned to us with a bill for sev­eral hun­dred pounds, a num­bered plas­tic gun­dog whis­tle and an as­sur­ance that the mutt was now a well-oiled ma­chine. The fol­low­ing morn­ing we took him to Kens­ing­ton Gar­dens for a test run. We un­leashed him and then, be­cause he was now bid­dable, blew the whis­tle. How­ever the cur did not as ex­pected re­turn obe­di­ently to his mas­ter and mis­tress but in­stead took the pierc­ing sound as a sig­nal to take off for the bright lights of the big city. It was not un­til the fol­low­ing evening that the call came telling us we could pick up Jack­son from Hyde Park Po­lice Sta­tion. He had been ar­rested at the Round Pond try­ing to mount a Canada goose.

In the end the fi­nal so­lu­tion to his lech­ery was to get him cas­trated, and this we did at con­sid­er­able cost. Sadly Jack­son was never the same dog af­ter the loss of his man­hood. He be­came a shadow of his strut­ting for­mer self. How­ever, as a con­so­la­tion a wealthy Lon­don friend brought us an £85 Her­mes deer­horn dog whis­tle with a green leather lan­yard. Jack­son, he ex­plained, had be­come a fey eu­nuch and so would prob­a­bly now only an­swer to the camp toot­ing of a designer toy.

I men­tion the above be­cause the other day I found the Her­mes bauble in the at­tic and re­mem­bered think­ing what a good joke at Jack­son and our ex­pense it had been (although my wife didn’t think it ter­ri­bly funny at the time). At first I thought I might res­ur­rect the trin­ket, de­spite be­ing dog-less, and wear it to dis­play my ru­ral cre­den­tials. But of course it would have done the op­po­site. Dog ac­ces­sories are dif­fer­ent in the Cotswolds.

The rope slip lead (the one that stran­gles the dog if the an­i­mal pulls too hard) for ex­am­ple, is oblig­a­tory for all se­ri­ous rus­tic dog own­ers. It says “My dog is so well trained it doesn’t need a col­lar and will only move on my say so”. Coun­try dog baskets are torn and frayed and usu­ally con­tain a smelly tar­tan blan­ket, dog bowls are prac­ti­cal, dog food is cheap, dried and bought in bulk and dog whis­tles, in par­tic­u­lar, are plas­tic, made by ACME and cost a fiver.

And so I de­cided that as I can­not wear my dog whis­tle I would sell it. I Googled Her­mes to dis­cover, to my sur­prise, that the whis­tles are ob­jects of con­sid­er­able de­sire. An Amer­i­can site called the Vin­tage Contessa, for ex­am­ple, is of­fer­ing an iden­ti­cal sec­ond hand whis­tle to mine with the caveat “Great con­di­tion with some vis­i­ble signs of use. Leather has scuffs with red spots. Hard­ware has dark colour”. It was be­ing sold for $250.

An­other Her­mes num­ber with a yel­low string, “an ul­tra lux­u­ri­ous sil­ver tone whis­tle” came with the claim that it would “Train your pup in style. A musthave for any dog owner!” and was on of­fer for £300. Bizarrely, a cou­ple of links down the page was just such a whis­tle for sale for £5, only it was made by An­col.

My eyes have been opened to the value of the dog whis­tle. I shall hang on to my valu­able fam­ily heir­loom. Af­ter all, if those who pa­rade their ru­ral dog cre­den­tials can still put em­broi­dered cush­ions in pride of place in their draw­ing room with wit­less plat­i­tudes such as “A very spoiled Labrador lives in this house” or “This house is op­er­ated for the sole com­fort and con­ve­nience of a cocker spaniel” or “If you want the best seat in the house just ask the dog to move”, then I too can pa­rade my cheap sen­ti­men­tal­ity. On the man­tel­piece in my sit­ting room I shall dis­play my Her­mes dog whis­tle. It will be mounted on an oak tablet with a brass plaque be­neath it that reads ‘In Mem­ory of the eu­nuch Jack­son’.Š

Jackson’s £85 Her­mes deer-horn dog-whis­tle

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