Barnaby, who is Uncle Jonny’s great-nephew, has wonderful relatives and an extended family of lucky girls of all ages whose home is in a quiet Warwickshire village, not far as the crow flies from the magic of the Malverns. His own mother, Annie, still lives with one of her daughters – Barnaby’s litter sister Molly. Together with the older girls, they all enjoy that special security and warmth which comes from nuzzling up on a daily basis to those we know and love best. This lovely picture is of Rosie, Barnaby’s half sister, who as a pup herself used to jump in and out of the whelping box when Barnaby was small, fascinated by the tiny additions to the Tilldawn family. Rosie would fuss round Annie when she was still carrying Barnaby and his brothers and sisters inside her. You could see she would be a super mum herself one day. She had her puppies towards the end of last year, to a very handsome and special sire.
Rosie was four when she gave birth to her only litter to date: old enough to withstand what happens to your body and feelings when you are the only one who can respond to ten wriggling healthy little fellows and it’s your job to care for them patiently, lovingly, until they are good and ready to make their way in the world. Although she may have another litter one day, it won’t be soon. One day we hope Barnaby’s sister Molly will have her own babies and that we might bring one into the Dickens Dogs family. That will be when the time is right – for Molly, who is soon to be four herself. I am thinking about Rosie because other dogs are not treated with such respect: their rights and needs are ignored, their bodies are mangled and exploited because of people’s greed and cruelty. Dogs deserve gorgeous lives. We heal others but can be healed by them in turn; true heroes, who look our suffering in the face and do something about it. We have signed a government petition against puppy farms, have you?