Wolds Diary: Animal encounters provoke mixture of strong reactions

I TOOK my Staffie bitch to the vet on Monday to have an annual booster. The fact she wanted to eat the other dog already in the foyer proved a bit embarrassing but no harm was done.

Pic: Tony Bartholomew

Then we got her into the examination room. She opened the door handle three times before we pinned her down. She is such a clever dog. I have taken to putting a muzzle on her when I take her out to where we meet other animals. She is getting used to it and it does save a lot of worry.

I was at a meeting on the Monday night, where there were four men and six women discussing parish matters. Halfway through a deep discussion about something, a very large spider decided to appear under the tables and head past all of us. There was an instant reaction as the ladies cringed. One chap, braver than the others came to rescue us, but made a rapid retreat when he saw the size of it.

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I found it fascinating and with a (fortunately) clean hanky gently picked it up and took it outside and released it. It added a spark of amusement to what was a very serious meeting. One lady thanked me for my ’bravery’.

The creature was at most three inches long from leg tip to leg tip. It was, I believe a mouse spider and was a fine specimen.

As a child I was frightened of spiders, but having met some rather alarming ones in Australia, have decided I need not fear them in this country.

One day I took the dogs for a good walk in one of my favourite places, Allerthorpe Common. It was deliciously muddy but we had gone some way and the dogs had had a great time.

I was coming back along a minor track in the woods when I was suddenly surrounded by a hunt. I later found out it was the Middleton Hunt. When I was a rural police officer I policed many hunts and know a lot about how they work. I do not hunt myself but accept it is part of country life.

I gathered my dogs in to me and calmly waited for the hunt to pass through on what was quite obviously a pre-laid trial.

I had been wondering what was so interesting to my dogs.

The only times I have ever seen a fox in those woods is very early on a summer’s morning or at dusk, as there are far too many dogs walked there for any self-respecting fox to hang around, although at these times I have seen deer in the woods.

Soon I was surrounded by a pack of foxhounds, all looking in splendid condition and totally uninterested in my dogs.

When the riders arrived, one chap asked me if I was alright. I suppose to someone unused to this it might have been a bit scary but I assured him I was fine.

I was very impressed with this hunt. The hounds certainly had a great time, and it was a pleasure to see.

Once I had put my dogs back in the car in the car park I found some followers of the hunt and had a pleasant chat with them. They moved on to another area close by and I drove home feeling rather privileged.

I had to go to the doctor’s surgery for a blood test the next morning and go to meet my new doctor. I then took a friend shopping as she didn’t feel well enough to drive.

The next day I went up to Harrogate to the talk to the Society for the Blind. I have met them before and they are such lovely people. One of them had a new guide dog, which was impeccably behaved.

I took the opportunity of doing some shopping in the town before the talk and came back laden with things I just couldn’t live without. There are some really splendid charity shops there.

I also found a good pet store and took the opportunity to get some dog tags engraved as my dogs are always losing them.

On the way back home I noticed that where it had flooded by the Derwent, the water had by now partially receded, but it has become a collecting place for several hundred sea gulls - a scene that really does look quite spectacular.

It would seem there is food of some sort in plentiful supply here to attract them in such great numbers.