Wandering with my nose

by Russell-the-Relentless

Good morning. ‘Tis I, Russell here, taking over from Gillie this morning to give her a bit of a lie-in.

First, allow me to introduce myself. My full name is Russell de la Faisanderie, son of Cartouche and Lea des Maraisdunord of Cantley. Latest in a long line of noble hunters.

‘Round here I’m more commonly just known as Russell, or Russell-the-Relentless (for reasons that are obvious if you know me). I’m also known as R-t-R, Russ, or sometimes just plain NO. I answer to them all. 

My ancestors hailed from France. I’m sure I’m descended from the royal chiens de la chasse who hunted with the Kings in the grand forest of Compiègne. It is a place loved by my people, they have often wandered or driven through the forest, where even now wild boar can be found. 

My forebearers were perfect hunters, able to track, point, set, and retrieve; always attentive to their master’s voice. But they underwent generations of selective breeding, to produce the various strains of spaniels, setters, and pointers that we see today. (I blame Marie-Antoinette for some of the worst decisions, as she only ever wanted lapdogs). So much specialization, and by the end of it, nobody wanted a generalist like me.

Fortunately, our breed was saved by a French priest from St. Hilaire, Québec, whose divine work included rounding up every French spaniel he could find and breeding them, to re-establish our noble line.

But I digress, I wanted only to impress on you the fact that I come from a long distinguished line of working dogs. We all need jobs to do, and if I am not given any, I try and find ways to be useful by myself.

For example, I like to think of myself as an important player in the security of the neighbourhood.

As yet, I don’t have as important a role to play as my Uncle Sid who has a full-time job at Heathrow airport. But I’m working on it. I can find balls long since forgotten in the woods. And one day, last winter, I excelled myself by finding Benoit’s hockey puck that was buried deep in a snowbank. That was one of the highlights of my life. He said I was the best dog in Wakefield. I have a feeling that title could be hotly contested, especially since I’m seldom labelled a “good dog”.

In fact, Gillie has been asked on more than one occasion whether she has considered training me.

And she has tried. I studied with Faith Bigras to try and get the basics down, and I practice often. But my problem is I suffer from a lack of impulse control. I know I shouldn’t jump up at people, but in the moment I can’t quite contain myself. It’s just like seeing the last chocolate biscuit, and knowing that you really shouldn’t eat it, but then somehow you find yourself eating it anyway. At least that’s what Gillie says.

See – I couldn’t resist kissing Faith, when she dropped by the other day.

Life isn’t all work and training though. I have lots of best friends to play with. There’s Murdoch and Bernie and Henri and Coby from up the street. And Jack and Jake and Frankie and Finegan and Harriet. The list goes on.

I also like to run, far. Fortunately, I get taken to the Domaine D’Histoire at least twice a week where I can run free to my heart’s content. It’s fully fenced, so there is no danger of me running away. Not that I would, there is so much to smell, to see, and so many friends to play with.

Best of all, I get to hang out with David.

I don’t think I’ll ever get to be a famous hunter like my ancestors, and I know I still have lots to learn, but Gillie says I’m teaching her too. Apart from making her walk long distances, I’m also teaching her the skills of my people. I’m teaching her to stop often, to look and to listen, and most importantly to smell the forest air around us.

That’s all from me for this morning. Thanks for reading.

Licks to you all.

All photo credits go to Huffy, except for this one, which I took by myself one day on Gillie’s iphone.