By Maisie Walker

It was during 1948 when I first met "Prince".
He was a scruffy white (I use that word loosely) Cairn Terrier,  which in today's society would be termed as an outcast.  He was a ratter and could sense one a mile off and would catch it with the ease.  As he snapped at it the rat's back would be broken in two.  As my father-in-law used to keep pigs this was a good thing but the pigs had been made redundant before I started courting my hubby.

"Prince's "  pride and joy was his house brick that he carried about every where.  YES I DO mean a big house brick.  How the heck he managed to keep it in his jaws I will never know.  He always had a red beard with continually slobbering over it.

When hubby and I got married we went to live just up the road from where my in-laws lived.  "Prince" became a permanent lodger from then on.  When I became pregnant he stuck to me like glue to a blanket.  He was by this time 10 years old.

When my son was born "Prince" was SO protective of him that he would only let me, my hubby and the doctor go any where near the baby.  None of hubby's family came near Barry - my baby - when "Prince" was about.  When Barry was a year old we moved about five miles away.  It was a house that had been sorely neglected and needed some decorating doing.

My hubby had got 50 in a building society, which he drew out to get decorating materials and linoleum with.  We worked hard and made it look quite cosy.  This was in 1950 when fitted carpets and electric cleaners were not heard of.

I still went back to the shop where I used to get my rations every week and I always called in to see my in-laws while in the village.  It would be about the third week after moving when I called to see my in-laws and I noticed that "Prince" was looking very thin.

My mother-in-law said that he had gone off his food after Barry had gone.

I asked her if I could take him home with me and she was all for it.  So I ended up with my rations plus a skinny scruffy Cairn terrier with a piece of string tied to his collar.  He had never had a lead in his life.  He was that excited to think that he was coming with me he dashed outside and picked up his house brick ready for a walk.

I had to laugh at the driver of the bus when I asked him how much it would be for the dog because I was taking it to live with me.  He said very seriously  "I have known dogs to move before but never have I known one to take its own foundations."  Meaning the brick.  It caused a great deal of laughter in the bus.

When "Prince" saw Barry he was like a young pup dashing about and he soon started to eat well and put some weight on.  There was no fancy dog food at that time, the animals had the same food that humans ate and there was not so much wrong with the breeds then like there is now through inter breeding.

Insurance for your animal was unheard of but we had to pay 7 shillings and 6d a year for a dog licence.  Equivalent to about 37.5 pence in today's coinage.  It does not sound a lot but in those far off days it was a tidy sum.  I personally think that the licence should be brought back, it would perhaps stop people from abandoning their animals and having so many taken to compounds all over the country.

Anyway to get back to my story.

By the time bonfire night was with us "Prince" had found his way around and knew exactly when to cross the road to go to the wasteland to do his business.

When the banger's started I asked hubby if he had seen the dog because I knew he did not like fireworks and I was worried about him.  We looked for him everywhere but had no luck.  By 7-30pm I told hubby that I would take Barry to bed.  I got to the bedroom and I let out one yell.

"Prince" had been there during all the banging and he had ripped everything he could get his teeth in to.  There were feathers all over the place bits of eiderdown and wallpaper shredded and lino ripped.  Even the bars on the cot at the side of our bed had been chewed.

My hubby had come up to the bedroom when he heard me shout  "Oh my God what the hell have you done?"  Hubby and myself tried to get "Prince" out from under the bed he knew he had been naughty.  No way was he coming out from under there.

In our futile attempts to lift the double bed and move it round the room to get the dog out I saw the funny side of the situation and I started to giggle.  "Prince" was moving at the same time as us and stayed under the middle of the bed so that no matter where we moved he was still out of reach.

I was laughing so much in the end the dog came out to see what it was all about wagging his tail as though he had done us a good turn.  I was cross with him but not for long.  It took me nearly two hours to pick up all the feathers and try to get the room tidy again.  As I said earlier there were no electric cleaners then.

More about "Prince" in another story, for next issue... :)

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