Edmund Landseer’s (1820) ‘Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveller’
When I was a child of around eight, I went through a nervous phase. Apparently, I used to blink a lot and get easily stressed. At one point, my parents were quite concerned and thought that I’d calm down if they got me a pet, so they got me a guinea pig. He was snow white with red eyes, an albino and a lovely little fellow.
A few months earlier that year, they bought a beautiful Border Collie puppy for my Grandma. However, the little puppy was full of energy and too much to handle for my Grandma, so they brought her back home with us for a few days before they planned on rehoming her with a new family. I was heartbroken. I remember that I’d used to literally run home from school each day and check if she was still with us. One day, I couldn’t see her at the front door like I usually did and literally rushed through the house searching for her. I found her in the back garden, snoozing blissfully unaware of my distress in the afternoon sunshine. They realised as they saw my tear-lined face that I had completely fallen in love with her. So, they let me keep her.
My Grandma had named her Sally and we shared fifteen wonderful years of life together. When she died, it took me at least three years to be able to even mention her name without crying. I remember her with a deep love that will never be forgotten. Today, I can’t home a dog due to my personal circumstances, but I hope one day that will change. In the meantime, I am a volunteer dog walker for the RSPCA, and I love it as at least I get to remain in contact with these wonderful animals.
Look at the picture above. It was considered by many to be the painting that started the legend of St. Bernard’s carrying rum around their necks to rescue people who became lost and weakened in the mountains. There are many examples, both old and new of incredible things dogs have done to help and protect people. People who do not like dogs (and people who do not like animals) I don’t understand at all. In fact, I would go so far to say I pity them for seeing the world in monochrome rather than the beautiful technicolour that it really is. Ghandi once famously said that the advancement of a society can be judged by how it treats its animals – and that is also true of human beings.