Joy Fairbairn

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Lancashire Heelers and more!

I love the hurdle picture, where he has his little paws right up by his face and the concentration as he flies through the air with the greatest of ease, that's our Flying Firkin the pocket rocket alright!!


I wrote this when I first got Firkin 3 years ago. With a new Lancashire Heeler puppy it seems apt to revisit it!

'He was so divine, when he first became mine,
As a puppy he really was gorgeous,
But his famous misdeeds
and the life that he leads
Compares badly with that of the Borgias.'

This is the first verse of a Christopher Curtis poem that still seems to ring in my ears, especially after having taken delivery of our cute 8 week old puppy 'Firkin'. As I said to my husband the other day, do you realise we've had Firkin 6 months now. As I looked wistfully into the distance, I thought to myself how it had seemed a lot longer.

Although I had owned dogs of all various shapes and sizes before, nothing quite prepares you for a Lancashire Heeler! At first, being so small, one followed his antics with ooh's and aah's of delight as the little chap explored his new home. Little were we prepared for the havoc reeked by a small tornado resembling a cross between a Tasmanian Devil and a mole, within just a few weeks.
The cat flap was negotiated at a very early age and we were very impressed, which quickly turned to dismay when it became a source of much entertainment to see what was the largest object he could pull through it, buckets were always a challenge. The impact of catapulting himself through it at 90 miles per hour since he's got bigger, now means it is cracked in 3 places and I stand in wonder as my husband patches it up with extra strengthening methods of bolts and lead plates. The cat, having been given sedatives and counselling has now taken up weight training to enable him to lift it! His exuberance as he takes a 'mad moment' and hurtles in missile mode a wall of death lap of the garden at full throttle, in through the cat flap then a lap of the house normally with a leap from 6 feet away, onto your head that is resting gently on the sofa as you are watching TV leaving indentations of muddy puppy pads on your forehead, takes some getting used to. We weren't aware of his climbing abilities or bounceability until he was a little older, when we were puzzled as to how things 3 feet off the ground could be tampered with. We now understand that there must be a missing link lurking somewhere in the recesses of the Heelers ancestry to a branch of spider monkey and Tigger.

Our house now looks somewhat unusual as anything remotely resembling a step of some sort is turned on it's side to stop 'Firkin' scaling the heights of the bookshelves and windowsills that would make Sherpa Tenzing proud. Friends who visit have learned not to comment on upturned tables, footstools, and yes, even a saddle stand, with saddle, that acted as a willing accomplice on the raid of the 4 foot high shelf housing the 'James Well Beloved' Crackerjacks. Which was proved by parading in front of us the empty packet to show what a clever boy he had been! He's an inquisitive little fellow too. Whilst out on a walk in a very remote piece of Moor-land near where we live, we came across some folk who had parked up their rather luxurious motor home and were standing with some friends pondering over a map to decide which way they would proceed to embark on a walk. I stopped and chatted and passed the time of day for 5 minutes or so as we discussed possibilities of routes they could take. When I started to proceed and looked around for my trusty Heeler, he was no where to be seen. With my eyes normally looking at ground level, they were averted by a movement up higher and Yes, who was sitting IN the passenger seat IN the motor home, looking out the windscreen at us all with a smile on his face was none other than 'Firkin'. We locked eye contact whereby he then skipped lightly onto their table leaving a muddy paw signature, down onto the floor and out the door that had been left so conveniently open and we hurriedly continued on our way.

One interesting little habit that has become apparent, is how tidy he likes to be. Now I'm not talking at home, with his toys, which are repeatedly strewn with abandon around every square inch of the floor. One enters a room cautiously and picks a way through on tippy toes, so as not to play a tune on the numerous squeaky toys and fluffy objects or land on a much cherished chew. No, this is about giving rabbits and other furry mammals that have met their maker on our highways and byways a proper burial. Staying at a holiday cottage last September, our morning walk was on a flexi lead along a country lane. Unfortunately there had been a lot of furry fatalities and Firkin felt a compelling duty to lift every one (however old, stiff or flattened) off the road and take it to the verge, where it was ceremoniously buried with dignity. This meant my walking time tripled and although not a lot of distance was covered, I can vouch for all 28 bunnies peacefully laid to rest.

His latest action of note and a lesson well learned, was to lock me out of my car whilst he was inside. Having been for a lovely walk, we got back to the car park. I opened up the back tailgate, whereby he jumped in as usual and went to the front seat where he is normally strapped in with a harness. I sat on the back of the car and changed my boots and absent mindedly left my car keys. As I moved around to the driver's door he came across to meet me and CLICK, down went his little paw on the lock which activated the central locking. It was only then I realised with horror that the keys were still lying in the back with my boots. A phone call (lucky my mobile was still in my pocket) to my husband at his work, who then had to go home to collect my spare keys and come and meet me and an hour and a half later I was rescued, whilst Firkin looked at me from inside wagging his tail, wondering why I was standing outside and not taking him home for his mid morning snack. At least it wasn't raining.

Obedience training hasn't been his forte. Dennis the Menace is a word that springs to mind, that and a penchant for tall bitches with long flowing hair, that I have to drag him out from underneath. Agility is faring much more successfully though as it appeals to his need for movement. On a trip down to Lancashire before Christmas and a walk in some local woods, it was amazing how many people exclaimed 'Is that a Lancashire Heeler?' Everyone had stories to tell with fondness about ones they had owned or known. For all his antics and mischievousness, you can't help but love the little fellow and I always think how cute he looks when he's sleeping! Yes, life hasn't been the same since 'Firkin' arrived. It's been richer. Enhanced by a little being so full of life and enthusiasm in whatever he does, a curiosity and interest in the world around him, the simple pleasures in life. A butterfly to chase, a bug to inspect with his nose and to watch him run and run and run and run with his little heart bursting with love and joy.

'My Heeler's no good at all he won't come when I call,
He won't 'stay there' or 'fetch it' or 'sit'.
All the furniture's gnawed my commands all ignored
Except 'Heel 'which he leapt to and bit!'


Firkin flies through the air with the greatest of ease!
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