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Stafford Tales

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Stafford Tales
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Do you know that Twilight Zone between waking and sleeping? It was within this tunnel that I started my walk. As I stepped along quite happily on the moor, ahead of me I could make out a figure, hazy at first but as I walked closer I could see an old Gentleman, shrunken and humbled by age. When I approached he asked if he could join me on my stroll, "of course I said" I will be glad of the company. As we both set off I was certain that I had seen this Gentleman before but could not quite place where. As we walked he asked me of my interests/hobbies, I said my main hobby was dogs in particular "The Stafford" "strange" he said, the very same canine was my life as a youngster, and The Stafford has always been of great interest to me even in my old age. He inquired how it was with the breed at present. I said that in my opinion, "all was not well" "oh" he said in what way? I feel that The Stafford has been taken far from it's roots "mostly by well intentioned people" but some are changing beyond all recognition. The figure asked if he would like me to hear his recollections of The Stafford, "of course" I said, "that would be great". It was in the 1930s that I became aware of The Staffordshire bull terrier, prior to this they were known as Half and Half, Pitdog, and a host of other titles. It was around the mid-30s that a group of enthusiasts decided to form a club, with the veiw to Standardising these dogs/bitches of many aliases. The men compilled a Standard of the attributes and virtues which made the Stafford different from most other canines. They did not have at their disposal the canine terminolgy modern writers do, but they worded the Standard in the hope that in years to come fellow enthusiasts would decipher it's true meaning, and attempt to remain true to it's ideals. He asked "Do you feel that their intentions have been adhered to?" I answered that the Standard left to us by those men had been altered at a later date, "by those who presumably thought they knew better" "How sad" said the figure. For those who originally penned The Standard were aware of ALL aspects of the Stafford, and the Standard was worded accordingly. I was nearing the end of my stroll on the moor, and I thanked the old GENTLEMAN for his company and said I would love to meet his like again. He wished me well and said don't give up, you and others will keep my like alive.

Oh incidently the old GENTLEMANS name was JIM.  


As I enjoyed my last walk so much, I decided to have another stroll on The Moor, this was to be quite a different set of circumstances.

Setting off it was a bit overcast, but why worry we all have to face differing elements in the course of our lives, weather is just one more I suppose. A few miles into The Moor, it began to rain, "the type that peppers your face like shot from sand-blasting, stinging and cold" Ahead was a rock overhang, I thought I saw something move beneath it, attempting to push futher in, in an desperate bid to evade the biting needles of the rain. Firstly I thought it may be a fox "caught miles from it's den" as I drew closer, I could see the form was black, it's tail "the last six inches of it tapping the ground in a submissive gesture" It was a Stafford, I bent beneath the over-hanging rock and stretched out a hand, a cold and trusting tongue licked it. She was a brindle bitch greying around the muzzle, I would put her age at around 8 years old. She was thin from lack of nourishment, and her teats hung like empty cups from her under-carriage.

I had a few sandwhiches in my coat which I offered to her, and she accepted with little grace "she was very hungry" I removed my coat and wrapped her in it, "she snuggled up to this new found and luxurious warmth. When the rain abated, I decide to take her home with me, on that journey she spoke of the life she had had and how she came to be on The Moor.

" I was whelped almost 8 years ago, I was a lovely pup or so my human parents told everyone, "she will make the grade, a show winner if I ever saw one" that was their mantra. It must have worked for many other humans came to visit and look over me and my litter mates. Then one day the paper stuff changed hands and I was off to my new home. It was good at first everyone wishing to see the new arrival," It seemed I was the centre of everyones world" life was good. As I grew, my humans were for ever pulling my tail to my hock, prodding my legs and constantly poking around in my mouth, "something must have gone wrong, I heard the word undershot" and the next I knew, I was in a new home, "No longer was I described as a potential show bitch, I was now a PET only apparently" "wasn't that what I should have been all along?"

My new home was a dark place, there were a few like me there, caged from morning till night, allowed out only to toilet. At eight months old "when I showed the first signs of maturity, a drip of blood from my back end" I was taken to a dog and mated, 9 weeks later I produced "what I still was myself" a litter of 5 pups. I was cramped into what the humans called "The whelping area" at least I was given a little more food than normal, at six weeks old my pups were sold, and I was once again put in the cage. This state of events carried on each time I came into season, I actually had forgotten the sensitive and loving touch of humans until I licked your hand. My humans had gone out and left my cage open, I waited until one of their children came home, and I bolted from the house, through an open door. This is how i came to be on The Moor. I would rather have died FREE than to have lived the remainder of my life as a canine bank-account for some human.

I explained that not all humans were like those who had use her, and when I got home I would phone one of the CARING humans, who in time would find a loving and caring family to look after and cherish you. So I did, on returning home I called the Stafford Rescue.

Good Luck Little Bitch. 00000069.gif


It was the week between Christmas and Ner'day as I set off on to The Moor. The morning was pleasant, "although biting cold" the tears of frost still firm on the ground as the sun had not yet loosed them of their frozen grip.

Ahead on the horizon I could make out the shapes of human and dog, as they drew closer I could make out the dog to be a Stafford, "he was an imposing dark brindle who looked well within himself"
On meeting the dog and his owner I enquired, "what lines is he from?" "I have no idea was the owners reply, he arrived at our home in the most mysterious of circumstance. It was Christmas morning 5 years ago he arrived on our doorstep, complete with basket and the biggest meatiest knuckle bone you can imagine. We brought him into our home and he has lived with us ever since"

The lady owner of the dog had to answer the call of nature and asked if I would mind holding her dog, "not at all I replied" In the owners absence the dog told me of his days before arriving at his present owners house.

I was purchased as a Christmas puppy on the 23rd of December 5 years ago, I was taken to my new home where everything was hectic, "in the run-up to the day humans refer to as Christmas" they were all so busy with other things no one thought to let me out to toilet, so I toileted on the floor, "I was only 8 weeks" then there was this almighty row between the humans, about who's responsibilty I was, and how could they cope on Christmas day with a messy pup and all the visitors they would have. Very early in the morning of 24th of December I was placed in the car and driven quite a distance, "to what I now know as The Moor" I was ejected from the car, and the human drove off, leaving me in darkness and cold. I wandered around all day seeking any warmth or sustainance I could, but there were none to be found. As darkness fell I wandered further into The Moor, it was below freezing and ice clung to my feet as I walked, I was exhausted and lay down on the frozen ground melting the ice there with the remaining warmth in my body. I slept and shivered and felt death embrace me in it's arms, as I closed my eyes I felt it was for the last time, "I was destined to die on the eve of the day that brings so much joy to the world"

As I stuggled to open my eyes for one last sight of the world I had been part of for such a short time, I saw a figure, "I thought I must be hallucinating" for there before me stood a large old man dressed in red, with the whitest beard I have ever seen. He raised me in his old but strong arms, and placed me in a basket with warm and dry bedding, and the biggest and meatiest knuckle bone you can imagine. The next part is somewhat vague for I was certain that we flew on this carrage pulled by hoses with horns. "I just put this down to my being so weak that I must have imagined that part"
My next recollection was of being placed in my basket "with my bone 00000008.gif " on this doorstep. Just as my basket touched the ground, a light went on in the house, and the main door was opened, by a child of around 12 who screamed with delight, "it's my pup, it's my pup". The adults of the house came running and lifted me and my basket into their home. The child could not content herself, "there is a Santa, there is a Santa, he answered my list all I put on it was a pup whom I could love". That house has been my home from that day to this, the adults tried to find out where I came from, but never got any responses to their enquiries.

As the lady approached again all fell silent between me and the dog, Iasked if she planned to be out on the moor long? No he has to get back to finish his knucle bone, we get him one specially for Christmas, for the last 4 years. As they were leaving I called out , "by the way what is your dogs name?" Noel was the reply, somehow I found that very fitting.

Remember a pup is for LIFE not just for Christmas.

It was sleeting with rain as I climbed the style that gave me access to The Moor, "I liked days like these" you encountered so few people and you could look and take in all the wonderous sights of nature, "the deer as they sheltered in the birch trees, against the driving rain, the wood pidgeon who flew quickly towards the shelter of a tree, the hare with ears pinned back against the wind" that inhabited The Moor.

On rounding a bend I saw a man with spade in hand digging a hole, "strange I thought" I pondered as to whether to make an approach or not, "he was dressed in a thick wooly jumper and jeans tucked inside wellingtons" "his coat lay at the side of the hole which he was digging" there seemed to be something inside the coat, which forced it's rise from it's flat repose had it been empty.

I called out "good day there", The man looked up from his task, as the raindrops scarred his face whilst they ran off his hair. "Good day to you" he replied, "Can I help?" "No thank you, this is something I must do by myself! I have come to bury my dog" That was the lump that I had noticed in his coat.

I carried on walking, after about an hour I returned the way I had come, and found the man kneeling beside the freshly covered hole he had dug only an hour before. He was soaked through. I asked if he would like to walk with me off The Moor, as he rose I could see that it was not only rain drops that dripped from his face, they were mingled with tears, and his eyes showed a redness of copious tears having been shed.

Directly across from the style by which I had entered The Moor, is a little tarven which takes most of it's business in the spring and summer months catering for the fishermen who fish the lochs "lakes" on The Moor. I asked the man if he would like to have a beer and get dried by the log fire always alight at this time of the year. "That would be nice" he replied.

As we sat down I waited for him to speak, I had no wish to intrude on his mourning.
Eventually he spoke:
"I had had my dog for 15 years, I had got him as a pup, "at a time in my life when all was not well" I had met a woman with a Stafford all those years ago, and could not help but notice her dogs zest for life, "something missing from my own life at that point in time" I decided that day to get myself a Stafford pup. The coat you saw wrapped around my dog as I buried him, was the same coat that he had snuggled inside on the day that I bought him. He knew in the winter months when I placed the coat on, we were off to "His Moor" for it was his, as much as the deer or kestrels, lapwings or hares. He lived for The Moor "and it sometimes felt as though The Moor lived for him" Upon those heather strewn hills lay an abundance of memories that only he and I know of, and they will stay in my heart until death wrenches them from me.

The rain had stopped as we looked out of the window of the tavern, and the gent thanked me for my time and assistance, and said he hoped we would meet again one day in more pleasant circumstances.

As he rose to leave I had to ask, "What was your Staffords name?" "PAL" was his reply and he was the BEST one I have ever had.

It must have been some ten years ago now? That I climbed the style that gave access to The Moor. It was a bright May morning, the grass still damp with the remnants of the previous nights dew, "you know the conditions which leave a damp map imprinted on the ground of where you've been" if anyone wished to know.

As I looked ahead of me in the distance I could make out the shape of a jogger, "accompanied by their canine companion, "they were setting a hefty pace" one I could once have kept up with, . I strolled at my usual pace taking on board the changing tapestries that this month brought to The Moor, "the industry of the flying insects as they search for mates, the dance of the hares as they let off the remaining energies from a few months previous, and the sharpening of the colours on the trees as the sap rose to the top-most branches to feed the extremites of the woods.

I had progressed about a mile along the well worn path,when again I spotted the jogger and her companion, " a brindle bitch" who was well toned and muscled, "as was her owner" I said "Hello" as they passed me, and could not but admire the the shape of both of them, I continued my walk meeting a few others out with their dogs, a few cyclists, and also those who were here only to take on board the majesty of The Moor at this early hour on a May morning.

Some ten years later as I climbed the same style, The Moor had changed, "not so much The Moor itself but it's borders" the grassy path that for so many years I had trod, was now covered with tarmac, "presumably to afford better walking for those who now used it's perimeter for such varied activities as cycling, jogging, pony trekking. I again looked eastwards and noticed a wheelchair, "obviously with someone occuping it" and a dog. The person in the wheelchair was throwing a ball for the dog to retrieve, as they drew nearer I could make out the dog to be a brindle Stafford, "no it couldn't be?" I was greated by a warm smile and a hearty good morning by the occupant of the wheelchair, and a standard Stafford smile from the now greying brindle bitch. "I had to ask" "excuse me did I not see you and your dog many years ago on this same path?" "Yes it is very possible that you did. we used to jog around here most mornings many years ago" I felt somewhat uneasy not knowing what to say, the young woman must have sensed this and said "how times have changed", I no longer run around The Moor, but I can still excercise my dog by throwing a ball for her which she will bring directly back to me. Again she must have noticed my unease, "I had an accident as you can plainly see, and for a long time I gave up on life. My bitch here used to stare at me wondering why we no longer visited The Moor. If I'm honest I used to get angry with her, "could she not see I was wheelchair bound?" Until I realised that she did not see what humans saw, to her I was the same person I had always been. Her love and devotion for me did not change because of my circumstances, she never averted her eyes from mine "as most do" for fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. I eventually realised all she wanted was for me and her to be back on The Moor, and this gave me new impetus to rebuild my life, and once more walk or roll The Moor with her . She enabled me to accomlish tasks that other humans had tried so hard to help me do but where unable to succeed in their efforts. I knelt down and patted the ageing bitch on her greying head, and told the young woman that I hoped to see them both more often, "Oh you shall, if you are on The Moor regularly" "Do you mind if I ask your dogs name?" "not at all, as a pup I named her HOPE and now I know why.

It was late one evening as I placed a foot on the style. The sky was edged with a tint of red, fore-telling of a pleasant day to come in the morning. Fruit bats came within a foot of my head before veering off with the realisation I was not a giant moth,

The Moor at this time of day is fascinating, with everything from trees to deer silhouetted by the setting sun. As I walked towards the woods, "still being buzzed by the bats" I noticed an elderly gent with what looked like a yearling Stafford. I bid the gent good-evening and asked if I could see his dog? "Of course you can" was his reply.
The dog was a mahogany brindle, and as I looked into his eyes I felt I could detect a knowledge far greater than his age should allow, as though this dog had had experience far wider than one of his age should have. The young dog threaded his way in and out of the trees in his tireless pursuit of something to chase. Just then a Peregrine Falcon became visable high in the sky above the wood. The Rooks rose as one screaming their warning of "predator" The Peregrine folded it's wings and dived at an incredible pace, smacking into one of fledgling rooks but being unable to take hold of it. The young rook tumbled earthward, and bounced as it landed on a mossy knoll. The young dog lost not a second, as he shot off in the direction of the fallen rook. Looking on I thought "this is natures way" I awaited the execution of the rook by the young Stafford. To my amazement the young tyro, placed his fore-paws and chest above the fallen bird, "as though cradling it from further danger" the elderly gent and I walked towards the knoll where both dog and bird seemed frozen in time, "both awaiting the next moment" the gent called, " stand " and the dog rose from his crouching position, leaving the young rook free to move if it so wished to. The gent on reaching the rook lifted it gently and other than being slightly shocked could find no other ailment. He placed the young bird inside his jacket, and we walked further out onto the moor. As we walked his jacket noticeably moved where the young rook was regaining full awareness of his world. I had to ask " what is your young dog called" "Joe" was his reply. Just then he put his hand gently inside his jacket and retrieved the young bird from it's place of safety. The young rook eyed the world that only a few minutes ago was all but lost to it, and as it looked towards the wood the gent gently hoisted it into the air, and it flew directly toward the wood from which it came.

I remarked how unusual it had been for the young Stafford not to have killed the rook when it fell to earth. Oh JOE he said, "he doesn't have a bad bone in his body, well not yet?" strange that as his ancestors were said to be FEARLESS.

It was just as the sun rose that I stepped over the style on my way to The Moor, for the last few months I had noticed on a few ocassions a strikingly conformed dark brindle, who was accompanied by a youthful man. The mist had not fully risen on the horizon as both dog and owner came into veiw. On reaching me the young man asked if I could possibly hold his dog, "as he had left something in his car which he needed to get" I will be only to glad to hold him. I replied.

When the young man was a distance away, the dog looked at me and I listened. I am almost two years old, and life is great, "so why the worried look?" I asked. In the last few months as I sleep I have seen things I know nothing of. I see men with black faces emerging from the earth, on other ocassions I feel the heat of intense fires followed by the hammering and shaping of metal. In my waking hours I have never seen the like of these things. More recently I have seen dogs of my breed, who's bodies looked to be chisled from solid rock so imposing was their presence.

There is nothing to fear in your sleep, you are at that time in your life when The Ghost Dogs visit, it is the canine equivilent of a human history lesson, least you forget from whence you came. The men with black faces where the miners who had dogs such as you over a century ago. The intense fires were the furnaces of the Chainmakers who to kept dogs of your ilk. The dogs who look as though they are hewn from rock themselves are The Ghost Dogs of which I speak, you may never have to perform the tasks once asked of them, but it would please them to know you could if required. You are leaving behind your puppy days and becoming a Stafford and all the things that are expected of your breed. So fear not your dreams are only setting you on the true road.

With that the young man returned, "he had a collar and lead in his hand" seeing my puzzlement, he kindly explained. Each year on this date I place a collar and lead on the spot where my grandfathers old dog is buried, he asked me to promise to do this on his death bed. So each year since his death I have kept my promise, and placed a collar and lead on the spot where his old dog is layed to rest, far out on The Moor. I have no idea what becomes of them for after a few weeks there is no trace of them, "I imagine over the years someone or a few have gotten a good collar and lead out of it" Sometimes I wonder if Grandad is looking down and smiling at me as I place the tributes on his old dogs grave. This he also told me don't ever take life to seriously for it is only a GAME LADDIE.

That morning as I stepped on the style, the world seemed good. The first leaves of spring were appearing on the trees, and The Moor seemed to be a hive of activity, from the heather sprouting to the creatures displaying to attract a mate. The Moor had turned full circle once again and was preparing for the imminent surge of life that is brought with each new year.
As I walked along my usual route coming toward me was a old dog, "whom I'd seen since puppyhoood" but had never had reason to get close to other than the obligitory "Good morning" to his owner. The main reason I had looked so closely this morning was the fact that behind the old dog, trotted a Stafford pup of no more than 4 months, "he looked a cocky little fellow" as we drew closer the owner asked "would you mind, restraining my pup whilst I go to my car for a towel, he has not yet learned that muddy puddles are to be avoided, . "My pleasure" I said as I have long admired your old dog but never taken the opporunity to meet him. "Do you wish me to hold him also?" no need to hold him he will not leave the pup, "don't ask me why" with this the owner headed for her car and the towel.

The old dog looked at me and spoke, I came to my family when their daughter was but a child of five, "now sixteen" each morning I would walk to school with her, and be there to walk her home when school was over. Her and I were inseperable and as she grew so to did I, we were constant companions. Then about a year ago all that changed, she would go out a night without me to protect her, "like the time that strange dog had growled at her, I soon put a stop to that" she would still give me an ocassional pat and cuddle, and would even take me to the local shops with her on a Saturday morning, but it was not the same as it once had been. It seemed that my part in her life was over. One Sunday very early she put my lead on and we headed for The Moor, "to our rock" it no longer seemed that I was in the company of a child, but in the company of a young woman. On reaching "our rock" she held my head between her hands and said to me, " You have been my constant companion since childhood and I owe you debts I can never repay, you were my friend in the times I felt I had none, you were my clown when I was sad, you have been all the things and more that any person could expect of another, and you mean the world to me. I am growing up and will have new challenges in my life, I will ask one more favour of you, if I get a pup will you teach him your ways so that in time to come when I leave home I will have a dog like you to take with me. I would love to take you but that would break the families hearts, so I ask you this one last favour. For you have been my TOUGH GUY and MY LITTLE GEM and I will love you all the days of my life.

I now understood better, and that is why I will never leave this pups side until he has grown and gone with her. I must admit it is a great feeling to know that you are needed, and as my young mistress said to me you will always be TOP DOG.

If you stand on the style you can just about see the tips of her branches, "who's she?" I hear you ask. She is The Lady of The Moor. "an old oak tree who has stood in her majesty overloooking The Moor seemingly since the dawn of time"

She is rarely visited "as she stands in an awkward area of The Moor" with no definitive pathways to lead you to her majestic presence. Having walked on I gazed across at The Lady of The Moor and her imposing presence. I tried to recall the people with dogs whom I'd met in her shade. They were very few in number, and perhaps surprisingly all but one had owned a Stafford, "the other being a Lurcher"

Why would that be I wondered? Could it be that like their dogs, the Stafford owner would go that bit further, try that bit harder, to reach their choosen goal? Or was it that like the breed they owned they did not acknowledge danger and difficulty and just dealt with situations as they arose? I am unsure which is correct but I am confident that one my theories is valid.

As I averted my eyes from The Lady of The Moor, "and turned eastward to continue my walk" into my veiw came an elderly gent with a an aged Stafford, "whom I could not recall having ever seen on The Moor before" "Good Morning" I offered, "Aye Lad" was the old gents reply. He then spoke to me " I could not but help notice your gazing at The Lady of The Moor, she has stood there for over 100 years that I know of. " Strange!! I thought that would make you more than a century old" he continued, have you visited her? "The Lady of the Moor?" "On a number of ocassions" I replied. You will be aware of the legend then? "What legend" I asked, somewhat sheepishly. "Legend has it that a Stafford of the "old sort' is buried beneath the rock directly behind The Lady of The Moor, "I instantly recognised the rock of which the old gent spoke, as I had sat there many times, prior to making my way back onto The Moor proper.

I am headed that way said the gent, if you care to you can accompany me? "Thank you I will" we turned westward and made our way towards The Lady of The Moor. As we walked I asked if he "the old gent" knew any more of the legend. " It is said that the dog who lies buried beneath the rock was famed for his abilty as a fighter, and after his fighting days were over that he lived out his day with his owner and his friend a Lurcher. You don't recall the name of the dog do you? I believe he was called Max and it was said that there were none his equal the length and breadth of this counrty. After some hard walking we stood before The Lady of The Moor. I walked around back of the oak tree, and stared at the rock, I so wanted to overturn it, to see if there was indeed a dog buried beneath. After some thought I reached the conclusion that some stones are better left unturned. As I walked again to the front side of The Lady of the Moor, there was absolutely no sign of old gentleman or his dog, who incidently I had heard him call Max. Makes you wonder doesn't it,

It was a dull overcast morning, with a stiff breeze, as I once again encountered the style that is the gateway for many to The Moor. It looked to hold the promise of a bleak uncompromising day ahead, "best avoided if possible unless you really needed to venture far from home."

As I walked along the path in the distance I could make out a seated figure, "sitting in the almost new windbreak not to long ago completed by the council, to afford shelter from the bone numbing east wind., it was merely a bench with a semi-circular wall around it, but it certainly did the job of diverting the wind"

As I drew closer to the figure I recognised him and his dog, "Blind Billy" on reaching the windbreak he bade me sit a while to shelter from the wind. This I was only to glad to do as it was more chilly than first I'd thought. I patted Billy and he licked my hand, "his way of saying how do you do "

Billy had lost his sight in the pusuit of a rabbit, "a few years back" he had run head on into a fence post which resulted in his being unconcious for a period, on regaining conciousness Billy was sightless he was six years old when this accident occured. "The vet said it was something to do with his brain being starved of oxygen "whilst unconcious" that had caused his loss of vision.

As we chatted a group of teenagers caught my eye, "loud and boisterous" as is their way when in a group. On noticing Billy they approached us, "Is that A Stafford Mr? " "Yes" was Billys owners reply. He looks kind of funny said one of the group. "He doesn't look at all" said Billys owner, "He's Blind" " He won't be much good for anything then will he?" said the groups spokeperson. "I beg to differ" said Billys owner, he was aware of you long before myself and my friend were, "he had heard you some distance away before either of us did" "but" "but what" said Billys owner. "It can't be much of a life for him" said one of the group. "Why ever not, he can do almost anything a sighted dog can" in fact because of his blindness his other sense are even more attuned to his surroundings. Let me ask you this, "if some tragic accident were to befall one of your group, would you walk off and leave them?" "Of course not we would stick by them and help all we could" "Then my dog is no different, he is my friend who would not walk away and leave me if I were to go blind" "Just the same it can't be much fun for your dog" said the young lad. "Always on a lead" " He is very rarely on his lead, watch and I'll show you." With this Billys owner removed his lead and took a ball from his jacket pocket. He tossed it on to pathway, and Billy ran to retieve it, sniffing the ground, and tail wagging happily. He brought the ball directly back to his handler. "That's amazing" said the group of younsters. "What if you had been at a cliff edge?" one of them asked. "If I had thrown the ball Billy would have looked for it, and probably gone over the cliff, because his trust in me knows no bounds, just as mine in him, and hopefully we will share that till one of us is no longer". Let me ask you this, "wouldn't it be a strange world if all in it were perfect" "I can see what you mean" said one of the group. "And so can Billy said his owner.

It was one of those "sad days" if you know what I mean as I stepped off the style and headed for The Moor. The wind was non-existant and there was a stillness in the atmosphere, "as though the world had lost somethning, or was awaiting some imminent event, as I headed towards the windbreak, I noticed someone already seated there. I knew him from The Moor, and had seen him many times over the years, in the company of his old dog, whom when I had first met them some 14 or 15 years ago was but a pup. On drawing closer I noticed he held a collar and lead in his hands.

I sat down beside him, and nodded "Hello" he returned my aknowledgement, and then gazed out towards The Moor. In time he turned to me and said " I had to put my old dog to sleep yesterday, after almost 15 years, it was so difficult" "I have no doubt that it must have been" I said.

"This may sound stupid but when I look over The Moor I can see him at all the different stages of his life, " the impudent pup, who I never thought would take heed of the name I'd given him, the strong vibrant adult he became, who was not only a credit to me but also his breed, and the elderly gentleman who walked with the assurance of one who had lived life and solved all the puzzles."

"Yesterday at the vets was so hard for me, "but I knew I had to perform the last act of love for him" The vets surgery was empty, "I had arranged the previous week that it would be so" as we entered the vet who knew my old dog well, was there to great us both, I asked if I could be present when my lad breathed his last, "of course you can said the vet" I cradled him in my arms, and placed him on the table, our eyes met, and I moistened his with the tears from mine. The vet placed the syringe beneath his skin, and looked at me, I placed my thumb over the vets and pressed, almost instantly he drifted into The Valhalla where old warriors go. I gathered him up again in my arms, and took him home to his back garden, where I layed him to rest in his favourite spot, the sunniest spot in the garden, where he loved to wile away his days, when not out walking. I can only hope that all Stafford owners share the bond that I shared with my old dog Sam.

As we had talked the day had become brighter, with a hint of a breeze, the man looked better for having spoke of the ordeal he had gone through the previous day.

On looking toward the path I saw a young couple approach, they had a delightful Stafford pup who was jumping and bucking with the vigour of youth, on spying myself and my companion, he made a b-line for us. One of his owners called out Sam!! come here!. It couldn't be! Could it?

The style was cold to the touch, as I climbed over onto The Moor, the ground solid beneath my feet, she was here in all her majestic splendour. "Who was" "Winter of course" and it felt like we were in for a long hard one. The grass crunched with each footstep, and tenticles of ice gripped fast to the leaves and bark of the trees, like tears drops frozen in time.

Thankfully I was well wrapped up against the elements, for just like nature Winter has no mercy. As I progressed along the pathway, another walker was comig towards me, I regonized him from previous sightings on The Moor, "although never having spoken to him for any lengthy period. At a distance we waved "Hello' and as we drew closer I said "Good morning" he seemed a little pre-occupied, and took a time to reply. I asked "have you lost something?" "No not at all" he replied.

"It is just on mornings like these I recall the "Snow Dogs" "Snow Dogs" I echoed, "What are they"
" I have seen you many times on The Moor and you have no knowledge of the tale/legend of The Snow Dogs? "Never heard of them " I replied. "If you would like I will tell you of the legend" "Please Do" I implored.

"Many years ago " early 1800s I believe" in our Town which was but a Village at that time, there was said to have been a child attacked by a dog. Now the only dogs of note in the village at the time belonged to Old Brian, "an aged Scotsman" who kept his dogs for ratting and other activities associated with dogs of this type. The villagers demanded the death of his dogs, even though the child who had been bitten, said publicly that Brians dogs were not at fault. "People being people had to have their pound of flesh. Old Brian was told that come morning he would have to hand over his dogs for destruction, "He knew his dogs were blameless but could not defend them against the massed numbers of villagers" So late that night in a blinding storm he headed for the Mountians that rise up at The Moors end.

It was still snowing heavily, when villagers arrived at Old Brians home to confiscate his dogs, "it is said that his footprints and those of his dogs were still visable in the snow, making tracks for the mountains. In the afternoon a group of travelling people descend on the Village, amongst their charges was the dog who had bitten the child. "she identified it postively' it was taken from them and put to sleep immediately.

The Villagers were now racked with guilt, thinking that they had forced a once valued member of their community to flee rather than give up the dogs he loved. When weather permitted, a group was sent from the Village to the mountains to search for Old Brian, as they rose higher into the range, they became aware that there had been Avalanches during the heavy snows and no trace of Old Brian or his dogs could be found.

As time passed and no word or sightning of Brian or his dogs was ever heard, it was taken as fact that they had met a tragic end in the avalanches on the mountains.

This is where The Legend really comes into play, it is said that if the snow on the mountains ever fully melts, that the dogs of the old sort will once again return home to our village "Now a town" and ways and practices now lost to most, will once again be common place, and that once again dogs of the old sort will walk with pride amongst the people of our town.

"That is a stange and exciting tale" I said. "but surely the snow must have left the mountains at some point in all those years?" "Oh it has" replied the gent. "Do you not notice there are more dogs of the old sort around now, where once there were none."

With this I said my goodbyes, and promised to look more closely at the present day dogs, for signs of frost bite,

It was the first dry day we had had in a week as I stepped off the style and onto The Moor. Everything seemed flat and lifeless after the deluge of rain the past week had brought us. Water still ran in little streams at the side of new path put in to make access easier for people to at least look at The Moor if not intending to traverse it.

As I looked further up the path my eyes were met with the sight of a man and dog, "both looking the worse for wear". the man appeared soaked all down his front, and the dog looked as though he had bathed in mud. When near enough I asked, "Are you OK my friend" "I am now replied the gent, what a terrifying few minutes I had there," "It seemed like hours" "Oh what happened?" I asked

"Myself and my dog set off as normal earlier, to go round The Moor. Further up this path it is flooded, so rather than cut short our walk I decided to go onto The Moor, "proper" and meet up with the path later. As we crossed The Moor we came to the channels left by the old peat cutters. I decided to jump across these, "as to have gone around them would have taken an eternity" We managed to clear the first few channels easily. Then as I jumped across the next one, the ground beneath my feet gave way slightly, before I could stop him my dog jumped onto the exact place where my feet had landed, and the overhang gave way completely, he fell the three feet into the old peat cuttings. I bent down to try and reach him, but was about a foot or so short of of grasping his collar. The more he tried to free himself the more he sank into the sodden peat. I told him to stay, "which he did" at least whilst stationary he sank no further. I looked aroud invane for something with which to extracate him from the peat, I could see nothing that would be of any use. I must admit I was starting to panic, "I could not risk going into the peat channel myself" or we would both be doomed. I was staring at his collar in the hope it would stretch itself towards my hand, then I thought of my own belt. I stood up and removed the belt from my waist, I flicked it towards my dogs mouth saying to him "Get on" as I do when he is working the springpole. At last he took hold, and still encouraging him to hold I manged to drag/pull him close enough to grab hold of his collar, and hoist him free of the peat. I don't mind telling you that was a scary period. I could oh so easily have lost my dog.

"I'm gald you are both OK" I said, " and no doubt a lesson has been learned?" "It cetainly has said the man" I looked at the dog, who was none the worse for his ordeal, and gave his head a pat. "By the way what is your dogs name?" "Gripper" replied the man,