The patter of tiny paws
As Emma the sprocker puppy arrives at the Tomlinson household, David wonders if he has bitten off a little more than he can chew
MICHAEL IS MY oldest shooting friend, as passionate about the sport now as when I first met him several decades ago. His advice on all things shooting is to be considered carefully, so when he said I shouldn’t get another puppy — “You’re too old for one” — it did give me food for thought.
However, Michael is not a dog person. It is his partner Sue who is the dog enthusiast and it was only a few months ago that she got a springer puppy. Like all puppies, it is brimming with enthusiastic exuberance, so Michael has recent experience of living with an adolescent spaniel.
It is 12 years since my springer Rowan was a puppy but as she was home-bred she had her mother for company, who not only provides companionship but also discipline. My previous two springers were also home-bred, so it has been many years since a young puppy, recently separated from her mother, had come to live in the Tomlinson household. When Emma the sprocker arrived here, aged eight weeks and one day, I was fearing the worst.
The first night she protested from her cage from dusk to dawn: a heartrending mixture of squeaks, pips and small woofs. We tried the old trick of providing a hot-water bottle in her bed to replicate the warmth of her littermates, but it didn’t make any difference. At 4am my wife Jan finally gave in, taking her out into the garden. Though it was still quite dark, there was a skylark singing, so Jan decided that there was at least one reward for being up at such an hour.
The second night the protests were repeated and I was beginning to think that Michael was right; perhaps we should have got a more mature dog. Then things started to improve rapidly. Emma not only went to bed without protest, but slept on progressively later, with not a woof all night. She now wakes around 6am, which is not a bad time on a spring morning with the sun shining and the cuckoo calling.
Puppies are enormously entertaining and I had forgotten quite how energetic they can be, the intense bursts of energy, followed by total collapse as batteries are recharged. From the moment she stepped into the house, Emma has oozed confidence and has been as bold and inquisitive a puppy as you could wish for. She has also been demanding, so we are treading the fine line between giving her attention without giving in.
As she will be an indoor dog, house-training has been a top priority and she has been quick to learn: after
“Puppies and gardens — or at least well-tended ones — aren’t a good mixture”
Sprocker puppy Emma has shown a natural ability to retrieve