Sunday, 10 July 2011

Danny Boy. From Glen To Glen And Down The Mountain Side.

The first time I set eyes on him he was involved in a tug of war with a pretty young veterinary nurse. She was losing the war and being a gallant young sailor with an eye for a pretty face it was only right that I should go to her assistance. He was a big German Shepherd and extremely determined not to go through the door into the Vets surgery.
Between the pretty nurse and me we managed in the end through a combination of tugging, pushing and cajoling to get him halfway through the door, at which stage this big dog made a beeline for the examination table and cowered underneath it, panting, and wild eyed with what looked like total panic.
My eyes now prick with tears as I recall and relate this tale, because it turned out that the reason this magnificent animal was at the Vets in the first place was to be put down.
The pretty nurse told me what had happened. Just a short while before I came along, a man had left him there, instructed the Vet to put him to sleep, paid the euthanasia fee and quickly left. Luckily she was holding tight to his lead because the dog had tried to run off. Maybe the big dog was panicking at the sudden loss of his owner, or perhaps he knew what he was there for. Whatever the reason it was heartbreaking to see him eyes wide and scrabbling with fright on the polished floor.
It is difficult to remember exactly how it happened, but a short while later, having let my heart rule my head, and after the Vet had given the dog a thorough examination, and found him to be in perfect health, I walked out from the surgery with a new friend. I think the Vet had already decided that he would not put the dog to sleep. I was there at the right time.
Danny Boy. 1967. My Magnificent Friend.
The year was 1967 or thereabouts. I was on my way to catch a bus to visit my Mother, having just disembarked from a ship in Aberdeen docks, and it was quite a struggle to get this giant chap to come along with me. It was more tugging and cajoling but eventually we reached the bus station and boarded the bus. Where the big fellow headed straight for the back and hid under a seat, still shaking with fear. He didn't like it when the bus began to move and started to whine nervously. I did my best to calm him, stroking and talking to him constantly, but I am sure from the amount of hard looks I got and the tutting of some of the other passengers they thought that the dogs nervousness was down to me.
After an hour we got off the bus, much to mine, and I'm sure the dogs, relief. But there was still a walk of several miles to Mum's place. He was still reluctant to come with me though and there was more pulling and cajoling. Add to this the fact that I had a heavy kit bag on my shoulder and it made things very difficult.
There was a point in the walk where by crossing diagonally across a couple of fields it is possible to shorten the journey and also avoid a dangerous bend in the road. I took this option and this is the place where a miraculous change in the dogs behaviour occurred.
We were off the road, the fields were clear of livestock, and I decided to let him off the lead. At first I thought that I had made a dreadful mistake, because he went haring off down the hill like a bat out of hell, and just as I thought I would never see him again, he turned and came haring back up the hill towards me. What a relief! Of course I made a big fuss of him. He wanted to play. We ran down the hill together and at the bottom he plunged straight into a stream and ran splashing along it. He seemed to revel in his freedom. He was a different animal. I cannot explain this change in his behaviour, but this is not a made up tale. It happened and he was transformed. From that happy moment on he was my dog.
Up until that moment I had it in mind to leave him with my Mother. I knew she would love him and he would give her a sense of security, living as she did on her own in the middle of nowhere.
It did turn out that way in the end, but not before my new friend, whom I named Danny Boy, and I had enjoyed an adventurous time together, tramping and wild camping, in the highlands of Scotland.
Danny was of a sweet, and gentle temperament. However he had been highly trained and I sensed that he had abilities which I never got to find out about.
I can only imagine the reason why anyone would want to have him put down. Perhaps his real owner had died and nobody could take such a big animal on.
Whatever the reason, I am so pleased that I happened along that day to help a pretty veterinary nurse, and give Danny Boy a new lease of life.


  1. This is so wonderful! My good friend Ester just had to put her Mattie down, a trained Shepherd who had to be removed from the guide program because she had a seizure. Mattie was one of the best dogs I've ever known. Trained Shepherds are just exceptional. Danny Boy sounds like a wonderful dog.

  2. How fortunate for both of you that circumstances put you together. I am so happy you were able to save Danny Boy. It hurts so to have to put a pet down.

  3. My heart has just completely melted! "Rescue" animals are THE best.
    Jane x

  4. That's the best and most wonderful story I've read in a long time. How marvellous that you two got together.

  5. Some things in this life are just meant to be... no other explanation can be found.

  6. Danny boy was lucky that you had the perfect timing. What a great story