Call it puppy love

PUBLISHED: 12:19 14 July 2015 | UPDATED: 12:20 14 July 2015

Delilah and Matilda

Delilah and Matilda


In Suffolk, says John McMinn, the thinking seems to be ‘dogs welcome, children . . . maybe’

Delilah and MatildaDelilah and Matilda

I have always had dogs in my life and love their warm companionship.

We are currently the proud dads of two chocolate labradors, Delilah and Matilda, both of whom provide a lot of entertainment, friendship and, in the case of Matilda, who is just over a year old, quite a bit of stress. I love them both to bits, but would never have thought myself the kind of person to go to a dog show to watch, let alone walk around the ring with my dog.

However, just a few weeks ago we found ourselves sitting in the Sunday morning sun on a village green in Cratfield, cup of coffee in hand, doing just that. Not only were there the usual categories for different breeds and best in show, but fortunately for us there were also supposedly fun categories like handsomest dog, best dressing up and best trick.

I couldn’t resist entering the Prettiest Bitch competition with Matilda. Sadly, despite both being fantastic bitches, neither of us won a prize, nor did we, despite the best efforts of our tongues and jaws, win Best Sausage Catcher

Delilah and MatildaDelilah and Matilda

Our lovely old girl Delilah came fourth in the veteran dog category and that was where we drew the line. Dog Most Like Its Owner, turned out to be Owner Most Likely To Try And Make Themselves Look Like Their Dog in Lycra and Wig – not a pretty sight and one I had no intention of imitating, my Lycra days being long behind me. . . if indeed they were ever upon me.

It was a really enjoyable day and reminded me yet again what a great place Suffolk is for dogs. It’s not uncommon in pubs or other places here in Suffolk to see a sign which says something along the lines of “dogs welcome children must be controlled”, or “dogs welcome with owners on leads”, which kind of sums up an attitude to dogs that is both knowing and welcoming.

My personal favourite is in one local pub, which shall remain nameless, that has a sign saying “dogs free to wander anywhere, unaccompanied children will be sold into slavery” – perhaps a little extreme, but 25 years of teaching has left me sympathetic to, and in agreement with, this sentiment.

It’s true that in many places dogs seem more welcome than children, but I’ll quickly draw a veil over the issue for fear of stirring up a protest of Suffolk-size proportions from the proud owners of pedigree children.

Whether we enter shows with our dogs or not, they have added a wonderful dimension to our lives. For all her independence Matilda is completely adorable, and when Delilah, who is now eight, comes and sits beside me, her paws on my knees, my arm round her neck, in silent communication, it is a precious thing.

They don’t say a dog is man’s best friend for nothing.

John McMinn runs Oak Tree Farm B&B at Yoxford

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