Drawing of the book cover Water Under the Railway Bridge by Bill Gerty

16 My Dogs



I had three dogs from the age of ten, I came home from school one day and sitting on the platform was a little black dog looking very sorry for himself, he ran up to me as if to say take me in, Ernest came along and said "we can't keep him he probably belongs to someone else" undaunted I took him inside and Granny was there so I told her where I found him so she said "for the time being he can stop here, but Auntie Louie may not let you keep him." Ernest and me took him out to bring the cows in so when we got back Louie was there, the dog ran indoors and went straight to her, although she did not admit it I think she quite liked him. Then came the lecture you can keep him provided no one claims him and that you and Ernest look after him, so you don't know his name what are you going to call him seeing you are the one that found him. I thought for a while he was a little mongrel and jet black so I named him Blackey. In the years that followed Blackey came everywhere with Ernest and me working, hunting for rabbits and fishing. In those days hunting was done for food and not for sport as far as our family were concerned. We had a ferret and we made all our own rabbit nets so often on a Saturday we went out and got a couple of rabbits in the Winter. Blackey was always sitting on the platform when I got home from school, he could hear the children when they got out at three and knew it would be just a few minutes before we got home. After a year Blackey went missing I looked everywhere for him but could not find him until one day he arrived home, when I looked at him I could not believe what had happened to him, someone had poured boiling water over his back, he was in severe pain and in those days there was no money for vets. I took him into our goat house which was nice and warm I did not know how to ease his pain and Granny said get some flour and put a good coat of it on his back. I covered him over with an old coat, he would eat very little and he just lay there for a couple of days, if I could have found out who did that crime I'm sure they would have suffered. After a week or so Blackey began to get better and eventually all his hair grew again and he was as good as ever. After another year Blackey went missing again, this time never to return, whether he found his way back to his original home or not we shall never know, but I always told myself that he did.
Smuts appeared one Autumn evening at our house. He was a little brown and white terrier and looked cold and hungry, but after having some food he soon made himself at home. At appeared that our house was a home for stray dogs and after the usual sermon from Auntie Louie we were allowed to keep him. Nobody in the area had any idea where he came from but Duffy's circus had been in the area and he could have been left behind. In the late Autumn when the weather got colder it was time to bring our two cows in from the fields into the cow shed or Byre as it was generally called for to stay the night and to be milked. We had to
walk across the fields to get them but after taking Smuts out just a couple of times to do this he decided that he could do this job a lot quicker than me. As soon as we reached the gate he would scamper off and in a matter of a few minutes the job was done.
He tried the same way to round up our two goats but the oldest one had other ideas and just stood on her back legs and tried to head butt him. It was only a matter of time before this intelligent little dog had sorted the problem out. He found out that if he crept up behind them and lay on the ground a few paces back just casually looking around for a few minutes, he would then make one quick dash up behind them and they would run all the way to the goat house. I could never leave him behind if I did manage to go out in the fields without him it would not take him long to find me. When we were out together I told him all my problems and he just sat there and listened. I am sure he knew more about me than I did. No one ever claimed him and he stayed with us for many years later.
I found Mickey wandering along the road one afternoon coming home from school. I done a silly thing by talking to him and patting him on the head, consequently he followed me all the way home. I did try to make him go away but he just sat in the middle of the road while I walked on a short way, as soon as I turned around to see if he had gone he came bounding back to me again, so this went on until I got home. "You can take that flea ridden thing back to where you found him" Auntie Louie said "we have enough problems feeding one dog." By this time Smuts was playing with my new friend, Louie tried to chase him away but he just came back again, so I think she gave it up as a bad job in the end. "He is not coming in the house" she said, so I fixed up a corner of our turf shed where he could stay when we were not with him. Mickey was a greyhound and he probably was a racing dog that was kicked out when his racing days were over. I had him for a couple of weeks and when I came home from school one afternoon I went out to see Mickey, as usual he was gone. I asked Louie what happened to him and she said that Uncle Eddie had given him away to two men who were walking past on the railway line, so that was the last I saw of him.


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