Stephen Foster is the author of Walking Ollie and Along Came Dylan. You can here him talking about his dogs and his books in episode 77 of DogCast Radio. Stephen was interesting and amusing to interview, and I enjoyed his books. I felt I had got to know him and his dogs, and it was lovely to interview an author who had written about his dog, and the dog was still alive. So many books tell the dog's whole story, meaning that by the time the book is published, the dog has passed on.
So Stephen, Ollie and Dylan were a refreshing change. Then while reading Stephen's blog I came across the sad news of Ollie's death. He was far too young to die, and I emailed Stephen to say that at least he could comfort himself with the knowledge that after Ollie's poor start in life (he was found stray as a pup), and to wish that he would derive comfort from Dylan.
After a while Stephen and his partner began the search to find themselves another dog, and a playmate for Dylan. The great news is that they finally found him - his name's Lemon and he's a Saluki cross. Where Ollie's unexpected departure had me crying, Stephen's vivid description of one of Lemon's first walks had me laughing out loud. Dylan and Lemon were indulging in some high speed fun, which resulted in Stephen being knocked off his feet. And it's not the only time it's happened.
In fairness, before I get swept away with glee at poor Stephen getting swept off his feet, I should confess that I too have experienced the ignominy of one minute being upright with a dog approaching, and the next second being horizontal with a galloping dog disappearing into the distance. In my case it was a Border Collie. He was a wonderful, affectionate, companionable dog, but boy could he run. He was from working stock, with all his instincts intact; he would try to herd the guinea pig in its run, or a group of people on his walk with him, and he loved to run.
On this occasion, as he was running towards me very fast, I worked out that he was heading straight for me. So I reasoned, that I should move to one side, which I did. Unfortunately, at exactly the same time the Collie realised that a collision was imminent, and adjusted his course accordingly. There was no time for either of us to move again, consequently he crashed into my legs, knocking them straight out from under me, then carrying on having barely noticed, leaving me lying face down in the damp grass. I was in my teens at the time, no damage was done, I can't say it even really hurt, and looking back now I can see it would have looked funny to an observer. At the time I was mortified, as my pride was definitely hurt.
It can of course be frightening to have a dog recklessly charging about. My daughter has a problem with her knees, and when our dogs start careering around with other dogs while out on a walk, she will often seek cover behind me. (No daughterly concern for my old knees it seems!) The other owners will often assume she is scared of dogs, but it is just the risk of further injury she wants to avoid. At one of the training classes Buddy and I went to last year, there was a large energetic GSD who shared my daughter's lack of regard for the safety of my knees, and countless times as she approached, I kept my knees soft, and prepared to roll should I actually hit the floor.
So I do actually sympathise with Stephen, as each time he lets his dogs off lead he must be wary of "the Lemon effect". I am so glad for the Foster family and their latest member, and I will say no more on the subject of Stephen being skittled by Lemon's lolloping than this - can we see videos, please?