Sunday, 16 April 2017


All pics courtesy of the Snapper ... of course!

Phew! What a trip that was. As I steer into our driveway, the Snapper and I are back in our quiet corner of the west of Ireland. 

Stepping out of the car, my mind sends me flashbacks of crowded food halls in glassy international airports, traffic roaring around London’s M25 and through the streets of Tel Aviv.

The modern world is a noisy place. Each time I arrive back from a family trip, my ears ring with the silence here. This calm quiet almost makes me feel dizzy at first.

Silence takes many forms, and as I stand outside my car for a few seconds, I feel the gentle tickle of the breeze on my ear. I can hear birdsong and a dog barking up the way.

It’s not pure silence, but there’s nothing manmade about these noises. Even when a strimmer starts in the distance, it makes no difference. We all have to cut things down and back. It’s a fact of life in the country.

More than anything when away, the Snapper and I miss the peace of being here.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There’s another member of our family group who ranks much higher, and now there’s another sound: the welcome and familiar explosion of energy and blonde hair that is an ecstatic Lady Dog, being walked around the corner of the house by my wonderful friend Whispering Blue.

“Howya mate. How’s it all gone?” I ask, as Lady launches herself at the Snapper, covering her with face licks and half a ton of dog hair.

Lady shedding her Winter coat is a natural phenomenon worthy of a David Attenborough TV special. Be careful as you read this. If you become too involved, you might well find dog hairs on your clothes.

"All good mate!” smiles my mate, with a gentle calmness that immediately reassures me.

I always believed in the rare gifts of animal whisperers, but first saw them in action when we moved to this area five years ago. I’d seen a sign about dog daycare, so pulling off the road, I drove towards what I thought was the main building.

As Lady jumped out of the car, a slim woman emerged from a smaller building over 100 metres away.

Immediately my pooch went full-on mental, straining at the lead, tail wagging like a Sikorsky helicopter, as if there were floating above this distant figure a massive sign flashing in bright neon lights declaring 


Lady dragged me over to meet the wonderful Gabriella, whereupon the two of them fell upon each other with the excited joy of reunited best friends.

Rescued by the excellent folk at, Lady was two and half when we adopted her, so maybe these two had met before. Gabriella smiled and shrugged when I asked her.

“No, we’ve never met. But she’s lovely. Beautiful.”

"But how did the dog know from that far away that - oh never mind!”

Life is better for the good things we don’t fully understand.

Although our dog is very happy staying at Gabriella’s doggie care Cottage in Oranswell, the Snapper feels twitchy if Lady’s not at home.

Sometimes things simply work out well. We were off to celebrate my niece’s wedding. Whispering Blue loves where we live and Lady Dog adores Whispering Blue.

Through this mutually beneficial triangle, all of our needs were met. Three humans had a break (although the week in Israel was so hectic most of my family needed a break to get over the break!) and Lady Dog had her favourite guest pack leader to stay.

Talking of breaks, I returned from the wedding with an injury. My left leg is swollen, and I’m in too much pain to walk Lady Dog as I would like.

When she first joined our family, Lady was the canine equivalent of a petulant teenager, lost and alone after moving from care home to foster home and back.

All she ever wanted was to know whose dog she was. At first she coped by being self-sufficient. Forget all that stuff about your dog feeling your pain. 

Back then that was pure Disneyland to Lady, who cared not the slightest bit that my back was killing me, as she dragged me up the bog road. She gave neither a hoot nor whistle when, after sighting a hare, she pulled the Snapper over, leaving her crashing to the ground, chin first.

Now, however, she seems to have changed. Maybe her connection to us has become strong enough for her to experience doggie empathy. 

Even though the signs of a walk are all present (I’ve my boots on, she’s on a harness and long lead) as we set off for a gentle stroll in the Spring sunshine, Lady seems to understand it’s just that.

Usually she’d be roaring along and I’d be happy to keep pace with her and build a sweat, but today she’s loping along by my side, looking up at me as if to say she understands I’m in pain.

Happily there’s one thing about my dog that hasn’t changed; a behaviour we both share and enjoy. We love to stand still and space out. 


This afternoon, instead of racing along our well-trod route, we stop and stare, trying to take in all the glory of Spring in the West of Ireland.

The Blackthorn is flowering in expansive snowy cascades.

Out of the undergrowth gentian twinkle Chelsea blue, while all over the bog and grasslands, animal life is twitching, waking up, feeding and running for its life. 
Standing in silence together.

Lady’s nose twitches at high speed in every direction.

I soak up the incandescent beauty of my environment.

Going away is great, but I am truly blessed to live here, in this place I love.

©Charlie Adley

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