Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘swimming

Capone Stanley Reynolds. Never A More Faithful Friend.

with 3 comments

Capone Stanley Reynolds, 2005 – 2020

My darling boy Capone left us at about a quarter to three on Sunday, 9th August 2020.  It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon and I was sitting with him on the lawn at the back of the house.  I knew his time was near and as I was stroking him, he very calmly and peacefully stopped breathing.  As much as it could be, it was beautiful.

Capone was a very special dog and he will live in my heart until I die.  He came to me in 2007, shortly after I had left London to live in Emsworth, on the south coast between Chichester and Portsmouth. It was his sixteenth year, an extraordinary age for a dog of his size and type.  He was a cross between a German shorthaired pointer and a Staffordshire bull terrier and weighed up to 35 kilos at one point.  He became lame through arthritis in 2014 and put on a lot of weight. From that time on he never walked more than 30 or 40 yards. In his last year that reduced to maybe five or six yards but he always remained cheerful and a vital part of my family.  He leaves a huge hole and while my two younger dogs have taken it in their stride, Carla who came to me only six months after him, is devastated.  She didn’t eat for a week and although she is now recovering, her own time is not far away.  When she goes it will feel very much like the end of an era.  Capone and Carla both knew my parents and memories of staying at Mum and Dad’s with them are strong and precious.

Walking in Chichester Harbour (from Country Walking magazine)

Capone saved my life when he came to live with me. I was depressed and lonely after leaving London where I had been living for more than 12 years.  I needed to get away from an unhealthy lifestyle and a terrible relationship but it was difficult and I was going downhill. He gave me a reason to get up in the morning, walking with him became my therapy and it eventually led me back into writing, which I had lost in the chaos of London life.  For the first time in years I had a piece published, ‘One Walk, Four Seasons’ in Country Walking magazine.  A year later I moved to Dorset and celebrated walking with both my dogs in my blog Paradise Valley, excerpts from which were regularly published in a local newspaper.

Surfing, Bowleaze Cove, Dorset

Surfing, Bowleaze Cove, Dorset

As well as walking, Capone loved swimming.  I would throw a stick from the beach and out he would go to retrieve it, fearlessly, through waves three, four times his height, relentlessly, indomitably and he would insist on going again and again until I almost had to drag him out the water.

Later, out of the blue, Capone developed severe epilepsy and he became my personal experience of the extraordinary power of medicinal cannabis. He would have died at least five years ago were it not for his daily dose of low-THC cannabis oil.  I wrote about his experience in 2016. Eventually it cured him completely of his seizures and in his final months I increased his dosage and it enabled him to live out his last days in comfort.

My mother died over the Christmas period in 2015 and that year her gift to me was a cushion emblazoned with ‘Dogs welcome, people tolerated’. She knew me so well.  Dogs are definitely my favourite sort of people and Capone, without doubt, has been the most important dog in my life.

I buried him in my garden just a few hours later.  My good friend Georgina, her son Paddy and my other three dogs, Carla, Cariad and Kearney stood beside me at the grave and I recall telling them how he was always such a good dog, right from day one he didn’t have to be on a lead.  He would walk faithfully by my side, through a field of sheep, along a busy road through crowds of people, never bothered, never perturbed.  He was as steady as they come, centered and always content by my side, as I was with him.

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 22, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Walking The Dog 6

leave a comment »

So in the fourth week of July, summer has finally decided to show its face and very welcome it is too.  But not for Capone.  When God invented dog he forgot the sweat glands and made do with a long, long tongue and a predilection to pant – sometimes very noisily.

In fact, Capone is far from the worst or loudest in this department although it does seem to be something that particularly afflicts Staffs and similar breeds.  I sat in the vets the other day and this poor animal sounded like it was being slowly strangled, gagging and panting as if on the point of death.

You have to be so careful when you leave them in the car in this weather.  Tescos provides very little shaded parking and even with two front windows left wide open, I have to be in and out in a flash.  The only alternative is to tie him to the hitching post outside (you know, where the cowboys tie up their horses) but Capone, being the superstar that he is, attracts so much attention, so many “oohs” and “aahs” that it can take twenty minutes to break out of the conversations and escape.

Other than the arrival of summer, there is some truly momentous news to impart.  Capone has a friend, a companion, a permanent partner.  She arrived just a few weeks ago and has the same provenance as him, rescued by special forces extraction from the hellhole known as West London.  Only nine months old, she too had spent her life locked in some grotty flat for twenty-three and a half hours a day, released only for a short walk to the fag shop and back.

Allow me to introduce you to Carla.  Yes, if President Sarkozy can have one so can I and she struts and preens and prances as any good supermodel should.

On arrival Capone thought I’d finally found him the teenage sex slave that we’ve both been hoping for but being a gentleman he soon relented and has given her a warm and loving welcome.  It has to be said that this is not always entirely deserved for she can be a right little bitch at times – and I am moderating my language as much as possible within the bounds of accuracy.

After a few weeks proper exercise with a little discipline and training she has developed into a delightful member of the family.  All credit has to go to Capone for his wonderful temperament, forbearance and patience.  Even when they are both exhausted from a lengthy walk, the exuberance of youth still causes her to clamp his leg in her jaws, chew on his cheek or plant her nether regions in his face in the hope of a little playtime.  They playfight and tumble, chase each other and fight endlessly over sticks but they are now firm friends.

At first, when the obligatory rich tea biscuits were handed out, Carla would snatch, grab and my fingers would be in great danger.  Now she accepts these sweetmeats with all the delicacy and elegance of Madame Sarkozy taking a spoonful of foie gras.

Capone has taught Carla to swim.  At first she would try to jump on his back, then after a few frantic paddles she would panic and return to shore.  To Capone’s consternation she has now become a faster swimmer than him and she delights in letting him set off then plunging in and overtaking him to retrieve the stick first.

There is a remedy for this which has to be applied regularly.  It involves a trip to the end of Hayling Island, out of the calm waters of Chichester harbour, to where the surf thunders in and for my best boy and girl, the waves are twice or three times their height.

Here Capone’s great bravery and strength triumphs.  He will go out through anything, rising and falling in the swell, capturing the stick and returning to the shore through the white water and massive undertow where a frantic, near hysterical Carla promptly steals it from him while he recovers.

Just like a woman – but she is our little girl.

Capone has a good laugh as Carla gets her first real swimming lesson

Capone has a good laugh as Carla gets her first real swimming lesson