Six years ago my husband and I moved into our cottage in Broadheath. We bought it from a couple who were emigrating to South Africa, they had decided to leave behind their dog and were looking to re-home her. We made an offer for both the house and the resident canine and so it was in May 2012 we moved into the village and became Babushka’s lodgers.
This was our first home together and the prospect of taking a dog on as well was quite daunting. On move day we arrived at the house with the keys and tentatively entered. What would a dog make of two complete strangers just moving in? She was curled up in the centre of the entirely empty living room in a tight, furry grey ball. She looked up from her husky huddle and fixed us with an indifferent and slightly aloof gaze, one we would become familiar with when we were inconveniencing her in some way or another, as we often were purely by our existence.
My doubts about our fitness as responsible dog owners were confirmed when on our very first evening together she went missing. The movers had left the garden gate open and on one of her many boundary checks she had discovered the weak point and had no hesitation in breaching it. After a fraught hour we discovered the neighbours had locked her in their garage after she had paid them a visit, it turned out they weren’t the first to curtail her wanderings, other villagers had intercepted her on previous escape missions, as a husky her desire to roam was deeply ingrained.
Babushka or ‘B’ as she became to us, was our way ‘in’ to the village. She was unmistakable to all the locals and by association so were we “you must be the new couple from the Post Office” people would exclaim as Babushka frog-marched us around the block, she was a great ice-breaker.
B’s interest in us became slightly more vested once she realised we were runners. At the grand age of 9 she had absolutely no hesitation in launching her athletic career and set about it in great earnest. Our running club meets were her weekly highlight, she would stand fixedly at the start straining towards her chosen path, every fibre of her being aquiver. Once on a set course it was quite tricky to turn her or dissuade her otherwise, her determination to go was unwavering and she was utterly fearless.
The years went by and Babushka wound her way into our affections, as dogs never fail to do, despite her general indifference to people, us included! She never barked, never wagged her tail and rarely acknowledged our arrival at home unless it coincided with her evening constitutional, because of that we always told her she was a ‘rubbish dog’!
On the 4thof July our B was peacefully put to sleep in the garden at 15 years and 5 months old, it seems fitting that Independence day was her last, never has there been a more self sufficient soul. We can confirm that she bequeathed us her house, but took our hearts.