Rocky

You’ll be pleased to hear this post has absolutely nothing to do with the film franchise and contains absolutely no montages. Nor any Sylvester Stallone. No, this post is about the Big Meeting, at the weekend, between wee little Jasper and the Scottish in-laws’ big, bruising, black Labrador.We were all, understandably, excited for this. He would be the first dog Jasper had spent any period of time with, and will hopefully be a consistent figure throughout his formative years – Rocky is 13 so has a few years on him yet.

It was also of great interest because Rocky is actually the slowest, chillest, coolest, most laid-back animal in the entire world. He’s soft and loyal and daft and brilliant and incredibly easy to be around, whereas Jasper is young: boisterous, inquisitive, energetic, uncivilised and ignorant to the word “No”. We were, all of us, curious to know how it would all play out.

In the event it began as I expected it to – Jasper was much too eager and much too direct with his approach. He jumped and pounced all over poor Rocky who simply stood and took it. Then came the swatting, whacking Rocky with his massive, lion paws. And he was mostly relentless, not stopping for breath between dashing about Rocky’s legs and bounding at his face.

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Luckily, our Scottish counterparts were less concerned with his manners than we were – I, almost beside myself with apology – and insisted they be allowed to sort themselves out. I appreciated this patience and it reassured me somewhat to the point that I did just that. Sure enough, at a point on the first evening, Rocky decided enough was enough and gave a couple of deep, hoarse bellowing barks, stopping Jasper in his tracks. It was quite funny to see him process this new thing, and he immediately settled a little more.

Saturday went, by all accounts, just fine. Jasper remained his excitable self and Rocky allowed him his little liberties but kept him in line when required. We were both at work so missed all the fun, including the two of them sharing a car boot when going out for a walk, and Rocky willingly allowing Jasper to steal chewy treats from between his teeth – the bugger! We did, also, both receive the following picture, which melted our hearts and assured us all was well in the world at home.

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Sunday saw us brave the beach – Newbiggin and then Blyth – where every single last aspirational element of owning a dog was played out as the two of them gambolled and galloped along the sand, carefree and loving it. Jasper did follow his bigger friend, but only as far as the shoreline, where the Labrador came into his own and bounded into the tide and Jasper crouched tentatively as it swirled around his feet. The big wuss!

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Instead, we tried to encourage a game of fetch with his ball, which was relatively successful – until Rocky gave up his paddling and came to join in, claiming both the balls we were playing with.

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In all it was a brilliant weekend – for us as well as Jasper. Seeing him interact with another of his kind and, in small ways, learn and grow was incredible, and we’re all agreed that spending time with both boys on the beach was refreshing and uplifting for everyone. Jasper calmed remarkably after the beach and ambled around the house quite happily with another dog – surprisingly unterritorial about every part of the house. We’re grateful to Eleanor and Tony for trekking down here with Rocky and his two tonnes of baggage, and we look forward to heading North next time to show Jasper the delights of Scotland.

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