Sunday, 24 December 2017


Sticks! More sticks!

“There’s a parcel for you in the newsroom. Will I send it to you?”
“No, thanks, I’m in town on Monday. I’ll pick it up.”

Hmmm, wonder what that is. Over the decades I’ve been sent many things by readers: some delightful, others disgusting.

Possibly a fair reflection of these colyooms.

It’s a tiny little present, perfectly wrapped with scarlet paper and a bow, which reveals a yellow box, inside which lies a tea bag.

Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to send me a tea bag.

Perhaps they find my blather boring, and have contrived to liven up Double Vision with a dose of magic mushrooms.

Ah, there, a yellow tag at the end of the attached string, with #PawsForThought printed in black.

Now I know what we’re dealing with. This is the Dog’s Trust campaign.

What is it with dog’s charities and creative marketing? This time last year I received another cute parcel, inside which was a slip of paper printed #stopkeepingmum, a campaign to counteract the evils of puppy farms.

This colyoom weekly receives umpteen requests to write about this, that and the other. Press release emails arrive advertising Cubist face painting festivals in Waterford and Organic Beetle Weaving Workshops in Carrick on Shannon.

Far away and less than thrilling, they are mostly left ignored, but just as I was this time last year, I’m quietly impressed with the dog charity’s minimalist tactics.

Instead of shouting their cause in bold print, they created a puzzle that I can choose to look into further.

 I love life!

Thing is, they’re preaching to the converted.

Four years ago the Snapper and I adopted a Labrador/Collie cross (most people call them ‘Labrollies’ but I’m quite a fan of Colliador’) called Lady, from the most excellent folk at

We didn’t buy her, because you cannot buy a dog.  
You cannot give a dog to somebody else.  
What you can do is buy a dog a home, for the entirety of its life.

If you insist on buying a puppy from a private breeder, ask to see its mother first, to make sure she’s not being abused as a breeding machine.

Better still, go to Madra or the Dog’s Trust and adopt a rescue dog. You can have a puppy if you want one, but check out the wide selection of more mature dogs that might better suit your home and lifestyle.

Take your time.
Meet the dog, take it for a walk, and then try a home visit.

Of course little could equal the moment of explosive joy when your kiddy is given a puppy under the crimble tree, but a dog’s batteries don’t run out in two weeks.

First day in her new home...

If all this sounds a bit serious, I make no apologies. Guaranteed to outlast that brief gift-giving bliss on Christmas morning, the depth of love and trust that will develop between you and your dog as the years go by is unique and profound.

Every dog has its own quirks. As Marina at Madra said to us:
“There’s a reason why they're here!”

We’ll never know what happened during Lady’s first two and half years. Evidently she was trained to be an angel at home, but as soon as she steps outside - especially after dark - she becomes a very different beast.

We’ve livestock living around us here, so every single time she needs a peeper or a pooper, be it wind, rain or hail, we have to take her round the garden on the lead. 

We walk her every single day, whatever the weather, and in turn she rewards us inside by being, as the Snapper is wont to say, the best dog in the world.

She does not chew anything. She does not go for bins, no matter if they stink of meaty bones. I left a plate of chocolate biscuits on the coffee table, went to the loo and suddenly realised Lady was lying beside that table.

Yikes! That much chocolate could do her serious damage!

Not a nibble.
Barely a poochie head raised.

 "You are under my spell..."

The only vaguely naughty thing Lady’s ever done inside the house happened, aptly, on Christmas Day.

’Tis my custom to open presents at midday, drinking fizz and eating hot sausage rolls, to the sound of the Kings College Choir singing carols. 

During Lady’s first Christmas with us she became rather carried away by the shouty wrapping paper melĂ©e, and took a notion to pick a sausage roll off the plate with her mouth, walking over to her bed with the cheekiest of expressions on her face.

She knew.

The Snapper took it out of her mouth without a struggle, and that’s it, the worst she’s ever been inside. There have been rare dodgy tums and clear-ups off the kitchen floor in the morning, but never will there be a better inside dog.

Outside she is learning, improving and so are we. Imagine adopting a teenager from a care home: that was our challenge.

Having a dog is a huge commitment but worth every second of effort. The best present you can give this Christmas is a dog a home for life.

Hate to buck the trend, but I’m actually looking forward to Christmas. As blow-ins living away from our families back in England, the Snapper and I pass quiet Christmases in Ireland.

For two days the gate will remain closed. The world will seek nothing from me, save a feast, which I will gladly deliver.

All the ‘to do’ lists are filed away; jobs in progress put on hold.

The fire’s lit and the fridge is heaving.

A gentle peaceful Christmas, the very same that I wish for all of you, my loyal colyoomistas.

(When you adopt from a charity your dog comes neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.  To find out how to adopt a dog, go to and

©Charlie Adley

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