The Year of the Dog and other things Animal!
It’s the Chinese Year of the Dog and this got me thinking about dogs in general and about how here in the UK we do as a nation have a particular fondness for dogs – so much so that we include them in a lot of our colloquial language, especially idioms.
The dog in the Chinese Zodiac symbolises loyalty and good fortune and famous ‘dogs’ are Donald Trump and also Winston Churchill!
Loyalty and companionship are probably the characteristics most prized in a dog and one of the main reasons that we are fond of this animal.
Here at Fleetham Lodge we have two dogs – a sheepdog called Maguire and a Jack Russell terrier called Arty.
Maguire is almost 10 years old and Arty nearly 6. They are generally friendly dogs but we are well aware that not all people like dogs and so we are very careful to keep them contained and away from the main part of the house. Some of our students, however, have been very excited about having dogs in the house and asked to play with them. In fact two young students were so engaged in playing with the dogs in our paddock that the poor dogs came back thoroughly exhausted – the students were none the worse for wear!
Although we supervise such activities with young students, there have also been several adult students who wanted to take the dogs off for walks locally and of course we are always happy to have them do this either alone or together with us. There are several local walks around the adjoining lanes where it is very easy to take the dogs on their leads. There are some rules – the dogs should be kept on their leads in public places and should not be allowed to run into farmer’s field (especially where there are animals) but these are mostly common sense and if followed then a walk with a dog is a great way to see the local countryside.
In addition to the dogs we also have two cats (who get on ok with the dogs) called Winston (Winnie) and Churchill (Churchie) – they are also very friendly and we have had students in the past who were more ‘cat people’ than ‘dog people’ and enjoyed giving them attention. Finally our three hens (who don’t have names) not only produce eggs for us but are a delight to see wandering around the garden. Lots of our guests have enjoyed collecting, cooking and eating the eggs and we have proof they are good – we have for the past 4 or 5 years won first prize in the egg section of the village Feast!!
If you are not an animal lover – no problem – our animals do not have free range of the house so you needn’t even meet them if you don’t want to.
We have had some interesting animal encounters on our visits out into the countryside. Once we met a herd of cows walking down the road – which was quite a sight and on another occasion we had to cross a field of horses which we were a little wary of but one of the students was very familiar with horses and she went ahead and made friends with them so we could pass through unnoticed!
We’ve come across deer, owls, hares and many other countryside inhabitants on our journeys to and from different venues.There is always a lot of wildlife to see.
Farm visits are a good way to get up close and personal with animals in a controlled environment and
we have ‘Big Sheep, Little Cow’ right on our doorstep. It’s always a treat to feed the baby lambs. For those adults interested in farming we can easily arrange a visit to our farmer friend who runs a completely organic farm and has given a tour to several of our students followed by tea and cake in their lovely farmhouse.
Being in the countryside means that there are always animals to see both far and near.
But back to our year of the dog.
Here are some dog idioms to delight and amuse.
- Hair of the Dog – cure a hangover by drinking another alcoholic beverage
- Bark up the wrong tree – mistaken
- Dog eat Dog – cut-throat situation
- It’s the tail wagging the dog – who is in charge, the boss or the tea-boy?
- Don’t buy a dog and bark yourself – listen to the expert you have hired
- Dog days – the end of summer