We had planned - but not booked - a 'doggy-friendly' holiday with Benson in September and so, as the dates approached and our grief at Benson's demise diminished (or perhaps became more easy to manage), it seemed a good time to try and fill the huge hole that had been left in our lives.
Click Here to See Old Pictures of Our Lives with Benson and Toby from 2001 to 2012
Meeting Dexter at the Rehoming Centre
|We had realised that, this time, we wouldn't have enough free time to raise a puppy, so any new dog would have to be one looking for a new home. Steve had done most of the research, and we had made several visits to re-homing centres belonging to both Battersea Dogs Home and the Dogs Trust (where Steve had previously volunteered), but most dogs we offered a home to were deemed unsuitable for various reasons. But then, a few days before our holidays were due to start, Phil got a message at work that Steve had come up with a match! While he had already met the dog - called Rupert - and reserved him, Phil had to wait a further two days to meet him at the Dogs Trust's Canterbury home. But it was as obvious to him as it had been to Steve that this was the one we had been looking for. Except for the name. Rupert, being the name of our next door neighbour, was not going to work so we quickly decided on Dexter. Dexter would be coming home on Wednesday, after a home visit on Monday. In the meantime, we took him for a walk in the woods every day.|
|Wednesday arrived and, after an hour-long pep-talk, we walked out of the Dogs Trust with a goody bag and a Dexter. He took the journey home in his stride, and was soon excitedly exploring his new kennel. Despite the warning we had received, Dexter showed few signs of stress on his first day home. He loved all the attention as he played with his new toys and tried out his new stuff.|
Finding His Feet
|Apart from a slightly endearing (but hopefully short-term) habit of peeing when he gets excited, Dexter seemed to have already mastered basic training. We quickly became confident enough to let him off his lead. Luckily he comes back to us when called as, with the speed he runs, we have no chance of catching him! Having been tipped off at the Dogs Trust that he liked swimming, we even tried him at the beach at nearby Reculver.|
Although Dexter is not as relaxed travelling
as Benson was, when our we have taken him in the car to see friends and
family in the south-east. One weekend we stayed with Phil's college
friends Phil and Tessa in Tunbridge Wells, making it Dexter's first night
away. Happily he behaved impeccably (on this occasion!), both at Phil and Tessa's house
and, the next day, while he was out walking locally.
Another Sunday saw us taking Dexter to visit our friend Andrew in Blackheath. After a gorgeous pub lunch, we spent the afternoon walking in the grounds of Knowle House, near Sevenoaks.
Another London visit one icy February Saturday was to Carmen, which enabled Dexter to visit one of Benson and Toby's old haunts, Abney Park cemetery in Stoke Newington.
Dexter Takes to Public Transport
|In order to see if trains worked better for Dexter than car journeys, one day Phil took him to Rochester on the train from Canterbury East. He seemed to survive the experience, even enjoying looking out of the window, and sniffing the other passengers. So a few weeks later on Easter Monday we took him on a longer trip, to experience lots of other forms of transport. Over the course of the afternoon, he took the Highspeed train to Stratford, the DLR (plus an unplanned bus replacement service!), the cable car across the Thames followed by the tube and DLR back to Stratford for the journey back to Canterbury.|
Jackie met Dexter
when we visited her in
the Summer in her house in France, and we knew it wouldn't be long before she
had a new dog. So it was no surprise to meet Teddy when we all got
together at Phil and Tessa's for a pre-Christmas meet. As it was
Dexter's first experience of spending any time with another dog, we were
delighted to find that they got on really well. As both clearly have
some Terrier in their backgrounds, they were soon tearing around Phil and
Click Here for a short film of the weekend on YouTube.
We had Phil's sister and brother-in-law Pat
and Steve over for Boxing day, and we all enjoyed the bright but chilly
weather when we took Dexter on his walk in the hills near our house.
But Dexter more than enjoyed the rubber chicken toy that they brought as his
Click Here to see
Dexter playing with his new toy on YouTube.
A few days later saw us visiting Botany Bay (the one in nearby Margate, rather than the Australian one!), in equally bright and chilly conditions.
The mild Spring of 2014 saw Dexter continue
his walks around - and occasionally outside of - Kent, including visits to
Wye Nature Reserve, Lower Leas and the Beach at Folkestone, and Dungeness.
There were also more local walks, such as in Larkey Valley.
He also continued to consolidate his social life, with more visits to Phil and Tessa's in Tunbridge Wells. And - for the first time - he had another dog stay in his house, when Jackie and Teddy came to stay. We took them to nearby Whitstable.
Dexter Goes Camping
After Phil's heart attack in April - and the
consequent decision to buy a second home in Spain - we decided to get a new
motorhome, largely so Dexter will be able to travel between Canterbury and
Alicante. For a first outing, we picked a campsite near the city of
Dexter seemed to deal well with the concept, which augured well for future - longer - trips.
Despite more than two years of dashing around
the woods chasing squirrels, it took until October 2014 before Dexter was
taken to the vet for cuts to his legs - resulting in wearing a cone around
his neck for a few days.
Luckily, the collar was off for a visit to Folkestone for the triennial arts festival.
A Day Out in Dungeness
|On a freezing cold day in February we needed a trip out, so decided to revisit the slightly surreal landscape of Dungeness. Despite the blue skies, Dexter did not go for a swim that day!|
Easter in Dorset
|Our first break of the year took advantage of the fact that Steve was working in Poole straight after Easter. We booked into a campsite in the New Forest, and explored Bournemouth, Beaulieu, and the pretty village of Bucklers Hard.|
Spring 2015 with the House-Sitters
|Spring saw our first holiday of the year in Spain coming up so, no longer having a dog-sitter on call, we decided to try a website called trustedhousesitters.com, where people - usually retired couples - house- and dog-sit without charging. For them, it's a free holiday while for us it's a free sitter. The couple - from Yorkshire - even took most of these pictures of Dexter.|
Summer Days Out (and another House-Sitter)
When we first moved to Canterbury, we had
hoped that we would be able to visit London on a regular basis. While
this has proved true for Steve - for work, unfortunately - Dexter has proved
an obstacle for social visits. In early June however we did manage a trip on
the train to Stratford for a walk around the Olympic Park.
A couple of weeks later we stayed closer to home when, with a couple of neighbours (Angela and Jeannie), we went for a walk around the nearby town of Sandwich. Although we had been there before, our first visit failed to discover either the town's ramparts or the pretty centre. After lunch at the Salutation (the posh couple's place from Gogglebox), we were happy to admit that our first impression of Sandwich had been mistaken.
The third row of pictures on the right are from Jeanette, a house-sitter from Vancouver Island, who stayed with Dexter when we went off to Spain for our second visit of the year.
The final pictures were taken on a hot day in August at Reculver - one of our favourite local beaches - where Dexter enjoyed a cool swim.
Dexter Under Attack
Our friend Jo was looking after Dexter for a
weekend in October while we were away visiting friends in Torquay.
During our drive back we got a frantic call from her telling us about Dexter
being attacked on a walk in the fields near us by three other dogs.
Another woman helped her rescue Dexter from his ordeal, and Jo then got him
to the vet. She then took herself to A&E for stitches to the wounds
she herself had suffered. We rushed straight to the vet to see him,
but were unable to take him home until the next day, after an operation.
Jo came round to fill us in on the details (and have some hugs).
Dexter fully recovered from his injuries, but there was a postscript two months later. While in Spain over Christmas, Dexter was attacked again by a neighbour's normally friendly dog, and needed metal staples for the neck wounds. Again he has fully recovered, but we hope that he starts getting more popular with other dogs.
Weekend in Birmingham
Steve had accumulated a day-off which had to
be used at short notice, so we contacted friends Flea & Ed and Phil & Catrine. Both couples had moved to Birmingham, a city neither of
us knew. We stayed with Flea and Ed and caught up with them over
dinner, with Dexter being kept away from their cat, Scruffy.
The following day saw the five of us walking into central Birmingham along a canal, passing Bourneville and the Cadbury's factory. We met up with Phil and Catrine in a dog-friendly pub, where more catching up and reacquainting (they had met before, but a long time ago) took place. After lunch, Phil B took the lead on a tour of central Birmingham. We were impressed by the many renovated areas, both commercial and civic, which showed a city with a lot of confidence in itself. In particular, the many canals which criss-cross Birmingham had been transformed into enjoyable places to stroll and eat.
After such a long walk (just the first stretch to the pub was over 9km), we said our goodbyes to Phil and Catrine and caught the bus back to Flea and Ed's for an early night, before heading back home the next morning.
|The weather slowly warmed up, but Dexter's walks remained local, even when we flew off to El Campello for our first visit of the year - a retired couple from New Zealand house- and dog-sat for the week.|
Dexter's First Visit to Cornwall
working in Truro for the days leading up to the late spring bank holiday, so
Phil drove (slowly) down with Dexter in the camper. We had booked into
a campsite just across the River Fowey (pronounced Foy, as of course you
probably already knew) from the town of the same name. The first that we
took the local ferry to explore the pretty and fashionable south Cornwall
port it was as foot passengers, although later we took the car over when the
ferry timetable meant that we'd need to drive back from the excellent South
Indian restaurant we had spotted on our initial visit.
Other places we explored included Cardinham Woods (where Dexter enjoyed swimming in the river) and the seaside resort of Looe. We saved another local attraction - The Lost Gardens of Heligan - for our last full day. After exploring the various parts of the gardens, we moved on to visit yet another pretty port, Megavissey.
|Dexter came out
as non-binary at Canterbury's first pride
celebration in June - although we've known about his lack of balls since the
beginning! A tweet of the selfie on the right got Dexter a positive
response from one of the singers performing at the festival!
Later in the month, we met up for a walk in the grounds of Sissinghurst Castle - but not the famous gardens, where dogs are not allowed - with Jackie (and Teddy), Vicky, Si & Monic and Dan & Lou.
|The Summer saw
Dexter re-united with Jeanette, his dog-sitter from the previous July whilst
we returned to our Spanish home for two weeks. Some of her pictures of
Dexter are classics! He was (of course) very happy when we came back.
His next adventure was another Pride event, this time in Margate. The rest of the Summer saw Dexter visiting his usual haunts, including Fordwich (with close friend Phil, with his new partner Libby) and the beach at Reculver.
The final pictures on the right were taken on Phil's birthday, when we had a very enjoyable walk along the White Cliffs of Dover to the South Foreland lighthouse.
|A regular visit
to Tunbridge Wells to see Phil (and Libby) became a serious dog walk when we
were joined by Jackie and Dexter's best doggy-friend Teddy, as well as Rio -
who Phil was looking after for his brother Dominic, and his wife (and Phil's long-time friend)
The second pair of pictures were taken in East Blean Woods, as the leaves were falling and the woodland canopy became translucent. The final two were from Maldon on a visit to Phil's sister, and on the North Downs Way near Canterbury.
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