In the picture above Dram is 18 weeks old, weighs 50 lb and can pull himself up and lean on the side of his pen quite easily. At this age he barked only in his sleep. It was at about this time that he learnt to escape from his pen by shaking the side of it until the catch fell open. However, in his entire life he did hardly any damage inside or outside the house and soon we were sufficiently confident in him to discard the pen and buy him a luxurious bed, which was very much to his liking.
From the large living/dining room in which Dram spent his early months there was a step up to the rest of the house. This was a sufficient obstacle in itself in the early days and when he showed signs of climbing that step we trained him not to do it. So, three times a day you would find him stretched out on the living room floor, with his chin on that step, noting every scrap of food that we consumed at our mealtimes. He was always fed first – a hangover from my farming days – but he would still stare at us as if he hadn’t been fed for a week!
Another of Dram’s traits, and one that surprised me, was his devotion to cleanliness. It was almost feline. He was brushed and combed regularly and loved all that attention but it was inevitable that he would get muddy from time to time. On coming back to the house he would go straight to his bed and stay there, happily preening himself, until clean and dry.
“Me and my dog”. Jennie was about 10 years old here. Dram would walk miles and we devised a routine which included taking him out six times daily, mostly around our own large garden but also around the local country lanes.
His meals and their timing evolved as he grew. There were several wall cupboards in the kitchen which looked the same and (to us) sounded the same when their doors were opened and closed. One of them housed Dram’s biscuits. Even if he was 30 feet away in a different room it was simply not possible to open that particular cupboard without him noticing and arriving at your feet almost instantly. This happened only when “his” cupboard was opened, never with the others. When he had grown out of the puppy diet most of his meals consisted of mixer, topped with Pedigree Chum of one sort of another and followed by Shapes biscuits and a Bonio. At least once a week we would vary his diet by sharing our roast meal. The beef or chicken took the place of the Chum and he also enjoyed the roast potatoes, peas and gravy, all of which was topped off artistically with a Yorkshire pudding. Granny Anne made little round Yorkshire puddings, about three inches in diameter. There was always one for each of us including Dram. He would pick his off the top of the food in his dish and close his mouth aroumd it with both cheeks bulging. Then he would look at us as if to say “What do I do now?” If we had sausages, we cooked an extra one for Dram. If we opened those plastic yoghurt pots with the peel-off foil lids, Dram would lick the yoghurt off the underside of the lids for us. He was always obliging like that. “News at Ten” on the TV was the signal for Dram’s supper, just a light snack of three Shapes and a Bonio. Wherever he was in the house, as soon as the music started to introduce the news he would trot around, gazing at each one of us in turn to see whether anyone had noticed what time it was.