It’s a wonderful feeling when you begin – at last – to feel the pulse of life returning (ever so gradually, it has to be said) to your veins. After a winter which has drearily defeated us with its dullness and drizzle, today at last the sun has beaten back the clouds and, collectively, we are all feeling that bit more positive. Though the back grass is still far too wet to cut, it feels as though we have turned a corner at last. It’s been nearly three weeks since my operation and I am back to my usual routines: the morning run, the mad retrieving, the constant presence at Kemo Sabe’s right hand. We know the puffins have returned to the Islands; when, we wonder, will our martins arrive? Above us on the dunes, as we trundle along the beach each morning now, the skylarks and warblers are in excellent voice. The tits are checking out Christopher Wren’s nest box whenever the sky clears, picking at the boys’ golden fur we’ve left for them under the rose canes, so perhaps today they’ll commit to a new home and begin nest-building inside in earnest. What a joy it is to look beyond one’s own little world. As someone famous once said, ‘Minding your own business is like minding your own health: the surest way to make yourself sick!’
So, in celebration of the coming better weather and a more hopeful time of year, take a look at this charming young man – Buffrey Incognito by Dalleaf JW- better know to us as Sebastian . Though the day of his great success seems ages ago now – illness having taken its toll on our writing routines, and many deadlines having passed unfulfilled as a result of enervation – I can at last put on record the enormous pride I felt when watching dear Sebastian take Best Puppy in the dalmatian ring at Crufts this March. Despite the noise, the crowds and the palpable tension which prevails from start to finish, Sebastian sailed effortlessly through a very long day – one which turned out to be crammed with unexpected incident. It was exciting to be standing next to his very proud owner, The Lady in the Van, at the very moment his future was judged to be the brightest.
Unlike dear Barnaby, I have never before witnessed a friend win such a prestigious award (Barnaby never lets us forget that he saw his cousin win Best Puppy golden retriever a few years ago), so that Thursday will always be special for me. Though Kemo Sabe held me firm and on a short lead, I wanted to join in the noise-making, particularly as all the show dogs in the ring were behaving with such self-control.
Although born in the Midlands, Sebastian lives with his uncle, our old friend Tomas, of whom I’ve written previously, and his grandmother Jasmine in the south of England and, we can divulge, when not on his best behaviour, being all formal and professional in the ring, he gets into a great many scrapes. We must remember that, as well as being a magnificent dalmatian who gained his Junior Warrant within a couple of months of starting his showing career, he is still only a yearling, so transgressions must be treated with forbearance. Or so he tells Tomas and Jasmine (not to mention the ever-patient Lady!).
Here he is on the day of his triumph, with his breeder and handler, Sally-Ann Neath-Duggan. You can read more about him on Sally-Ann’s website: http://www.buffreydalmatians.com
He is competing regularly at championship shows throughout the country and all of us ordinary chaps are hoping to have him up this way in a couple of months. I wonder what it’s like to be a star!