There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Jack, A Mirror of Love

An animal's eyes have the
power to speak a great language.
~Martin Buber

Jack, our little Jack Russell/Bichon mix, will turn two
at the end of March. We can't call him 'Wee Jack'
any longer since he's fully grown, so he's just Jack,
or 'Jack of Oxford'. He loves to run in the park, make
new friends, chase squirrels, his favourite food is
turkey, and he is as always, a happy little character.

Jack had a rough end to 2016. Somehow he developed a
severe infection in his neck and ended up suffering
through two surgeries in the space of three days. He
was a very sick boy, but with wonderful veterinary
care and time, he fully recovered and is back
to his happy, bouncy and smiling self.

It was Halloween just after Jack's surgery, and
since he had sutures running from under his chin
and down his chest, we called him 'Frankenpuppy'.
He also had to have a large part of his beautiful
fluff shaved. He was a sick boy for about two
weeks--a scary time, but the part of him that
 makes him a stroppy little character (the
Jack Russell), also made him a good little
fighter. All 6kgs. of him fought, and won.

Poor Frankenpuppy, not a very happy boy.
One of the most difficult things when Jack was sick,
was that just before the surgery he didn't want to walk,
and after the surgeries we had to limit his walking. He
could only walk for five minutes, three times a day.
We're all used to two mile walks, two or three times a
day, so all three of us went through walking
withdrawals. But, by November his incision had healed,
he had gained some weight, and nearly all his strength
had returned. It was a smashingly beautiful autumn,
that lasted all the way through November, so our walks
seemed all the more precious in the autumnal beauty.

This was one of his first long walks after Jack's
surgery, and he still had to be on a lead.
He wanted to make up for it by being extra
daring and be king of the castle, walking
along the top of the wall at Holywell Cemetery.

By Christmas, Jack was feeling much better, his
incision healed up and fluff growing back, but
best of all, he was back to his normal, happy
self--flying through the air with the
greatest of ease.

Our little flying Wallenda pup.

♬ If you're happy and you know it, ♪
♩ then your tongue is going to show it......♫

As you can see by the little pink tongue, and the muddy
paws, all walkies are back to normal; two miles of
running, prancing, chasing, and sniffing, two or three
times a day. One of the best things about having a dog?
They get you out and moving, in any kind of weather.
A good brisk walk is about the best thing there is for
lightening a mood, living a happy life. You can't beat
dogs (and their people), grassy fields,
a river, and trees for happiness.

A little fresh air would be good for
you just now. The weather is lovely;
and a little stroll in the park will
bring the colour back to your cheeks.
~J. Palgrave Simpson,
For Ever and Never, 1884

Favourite toys always come along on walks, or
in a pinch, there's usually a stick to be found.

It is a happy talent to know how to play.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you're wondering why Jack often wears a little coat,
it's because his fluffy coat is thanks to his Bichon Frise
mummy, and Bichons have no undercoat. He just has
fluff, so he gets very cold, very fast, His little jackets
also keep him much cleaner, as he rolls in the mud with
other dogs, or his personal favourite, rolling in fox
musk. Fox is not as bad as skunk, but it's still bad,
very bad.

Mud and mud-puddles are there to be played
with too, especially the day after a trip
to the beauty parlour.

The world is mud-luscious,
and puddle-wonderful.
~ee. cummings

The Cherwell River, which runs along the eastern edge
of the parks, is a constant flow of birds--ducks, geese,
swans, herons and all manner of water fowl. 

Jack thought he might say hello to the swan,
but then very wisely thought better of it.

He turned his attentions to a squirrel instead.

But then squirrels can usually run faster
than dogs, and up a tree it ran,
leaving a disappointed Jack below.

It's not all run, run, run for Jack though.
Sometimes you just need to stop and
breathe, take it all in, listen to the river,
listen to the wind.

Forget not that the earth delights
to feel your bare feet and the
winds long to play with your hair.
~Khalil Gibran

Stopping to smell all the goodness in the air.

Friends are the sunshine of life.
~John Hay

Jack's (and our) favourite place to walk run is in
Oxford's University Parks. It's just over a two mile
walk from Holywell Street, through the parks, and
then home again; and it has it all. Playing fields for
throwing balls and frisbees, a river flowing alongside
the pathways, a pond full of ducks and geese, safe
paths, and best of all, lots of very nice people walking
their friendly dogs. Jack makes a new friend nearly
every day.

This is Pippa. She and Jack love to run in
big, wide circles on the cricket pitch, taking
turns between being the chasee and the chaser.

This (below) is the perfect running partner
for Jack--little Jonah of Wadham College,
and of the wonderful ears. He's still a pup,
and is a cock-a-poo, with mostly cocker and
very little poodle. When Jonah and Jack play,
 it's all ears, tails, fur flying; leaping over and
under one another, rolling on the ground and
chasing each other's tails.

Noah belongs to the chaplain of
Wadham College just around the corner from us,
but he's considered the college dog, so the lucky
students have a rota for taking turns walking
him. He's with a different student every time we
see him, but he's impressively well behaved,
considering he's walking with different people
every day. He is one very good dog indeed,
is Jonah.

Jonah of the wonder ears.

All animals but men know that
the principle business of life is
to enjoy it - and they do enjoy it
as much as man and other
circumstances will allow it.
~Samuel Butler

Everyone smiles in the same language.

They collide and crash into each other, ears
flying, muddy paws getting even muddier.
Dog ears are meant to fly in the wind, so
they never hold back. It's happy, reckless
abandon...... something humans
could use a lot more of.  

This is Nash, playing with Jack along the
riverbank. Jack and Nash get along splendidly
because Nash is also half Jack Russell like
Jack. They're the same size and probably weigh
about the same, so watching them run is like
watching a positive and a negative version of
the same animal. They're Ebony & Ivory♫,
only in doggie form.

Nash, one of Jack's best buddies.

This little ball of white fluff is a Maltese
that loves to muddy her paws with Jack.
They tear across the pitch, paws ever
muddier, fur flying in the breeze.

And then there's Elvis, a dachs-hounddog and
another of Jack's favourite park buddies.
There's nothing Elvis loves more than to
chase Jack and try to grab his tail.

Sometimes it's just a simple hello, and then
each go their separate way. Especially if the
dog is bigger than Jack. He's not quite sure
about the big ones yet.

The little dogs are another story and Jack
is always up for a wrestle and a tustle. This
is Tashi, who's also half Jack Russell and is
one of Jack's BFFs. They tear around in
circles, running between our legs, putting
on a show for us.

We're all a bit like parents of toddlers,
small-dog walkers. We want them good
and tired so we can have some peace and
quiet at home, or watch telly without
being interrupted by a squeaky toy dropped
into our lap by an expectant looking dog.

Sometimes Jack's new friends are fur-less and
human, like when we came upon our neighbour
children out for a walk with their mum and dad.
They've been begging their parents for a dog, so
they were excited to be able to play with Jack, 
throw his toy, and watch him run teasing circles
around them. A very dark and dreary day was
made so much brighter by all this adorableness.

The dog was created
specially for children.
He is the god of frolic.
~Henry Ward Beecher

Jack was lucky enough to meet artist and writer
Susan Branchwhen she came to sit in his chair
with him (or so he thought). She and Joe were
actually here to spend a day with us in Oxford,
but Jack was immediately smitten with Susan
and wanted nothing more than to sit in her lap.
He showed her around his park too, which she
and Joe loved, in all it's autumn splendour.
Jack even made a little appearance in Susan's
wonderful blog post about
Dogs of the English Countryside.

Jack is always on his best behaviour when
we're out walking, or out and about town
and countryside. Here he is, patiently waiting
his turn to go through the gate in Christ Church
meadow. Notice the Santa coat--which brought a
happy smile to most everyone he passed.

Jack is a proper English walker and knows
just how to navigate a stile-- a special
gate to cross from field to field on a 
countryside walk.

He even humoured me at Christmas and
wore his Santa hat for a while. A short
while, but there was turkey from Christmas
dinner involved, so he didn't mind (too much).

Jack is very well-behaved in pubs having
been trained from an early age to
be an English gentleman.

After his walk, there's nothing Jack likes
more than settling into his chair in the kitchen,
warming up, and dreaming about playing with
his friends in the park. It surely is a dogs life.

If you have a dog, get out and get walking.
There's nothing like walking to add life to
your years. If you don't have a dog, most local
 animal shelters have dog-walking programs--
good medicine for dogs and the walkers.

Come on along and get walking!

Jack's very first walk in Holywell Cemetery.
The start of a good thing.
And now March is upon us, springtime just around
the corner, and we have so many walks to look
forward to......daffodil walks, Cotswold countryside
walks, English village walks, evening walks as 
the days get longer, and walks with all our friends,
 as spring comes to Oxford.

After a day's walk everything
has twice its usual value. 
~George Macauley Trevelyan

If your heart is straight with God, then
every creature will be to you a mirror
of life and a book of holy doctrine.
~ Thomas à Kempis

All photos ©CarrieGordonHolloway


  1. Carrie, Your Jack is so adorable. We loved all the photos of his happy self. Looking forward to meeting him (and you) soon.

    Bren xox

    1. Thank you Brenda and we all look forward to meeting you both as well. It's coming closer! All the best from Oxford.xxxooo

  2. What a wonderful blog post featuring Jack!! He is an adorable little pup oozing with personality and social poise! Hugs and kisses to him!!:-)

    1. Hugs and kisses duly given & then returned Nellie--so xxxooo back to you!

  3. Carrie, so many thanks for the marvelous dog pictures. You're a very good photographer to get the action shots. Jack brings a smile to my face - so much joy in one little package. Happy spring to you all, Ellen. (P.S. Here in Connecticut it's 20 degrees today and one lonely little snowdrop froze overnight.)

  4. Hi Ellen ~ We're so happy Jack brought a smile to your face--and you're exactly right, so much joy in a little, white package. My condolences for your snowdop. :-(
    Hopefully there will more more of them soon to follow. It's March! Spring is coming. xxxooo