Not a Cat (in Hell)’s Chance of Going to the Dogs?

Sophie, the 'bold' guard dog?

A ‘ghost-writer’ from Oxfordshire wrote ‘Absolutely delightful. Lovely room. I’ve recommended you today already!’ (I wonder who he was ghost-writing for on this occasion?)

The dog theme has emerged during the last few days, partly due to Ed Stourton (of BBC Radio 4 fame)’s talk during the Cheltenham Times Literature Festival on his new book ‘Diary of a Dog Walker’, linked to The Lady, when Veronica, having attended his very enjoyable session, bought his book and discussed during the subsequent signing, the column in The Lady ‘written’ by Rachel Johnson’s dog Coco. At first I thought this a mistake as I could only find a cat column, also in The Lady, titled ‘Catt on the Mat’, although Veronica pointed out Coco’s column towards the back. These literary animal contributions made me think that perhaps The Lady should have been titled ‘The Lady and The Tramp‘ following an animal theme if it was full of articles penned or ‘pawed’ by domestic animals.  Reading Coco’s column I was also slightly mystified by the human/dog crossover as the copy I read referred to 11 year old pups leaving the litter (i.e. an analogy to children leaving home to attend boarding school), whereas an 11-year old dog would be in its advancing years and if human, almost at the dribbling into senility stage!

Having said all that, the columns were interesting, which is what one would expect of a quality magazine. Also of quality, in Hanover House the principal pet – which is most certainly not me – is Sophie the pretty, soft natured but often wilful Golden Retriever who often rules the roost.  She is, on occasion, highly pampered with exotic poo-seeking excursions across the Cotswolds courtesy of the Cheltenham-based ‘Pet Carers’, and leaves her old bones scattering the path at the back of the walled garden leading onto the River Chelt and adjacent park. This unsightly habit seen in conjunction with the ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign on the gate, hopefully deters any would-be intruders by urging them to think these bones may be the mortal remains of earlier trespassers. 

Although it seems that butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth (it wouldn’t have a chance as it would be down the scavenger’s gullet), Sophie is a strong-willed dog with very selective hearing, and if in pursuit of squirrel or any non-home-grown cat, will disappear at a rate of knots and there is not a cat’s chance of her returning on command until she is satisfied the squirrel or cat has successfully made its escape (as they always do).  In this case, I believe the expression relating to cats refers to the fact that if a cat, which has reputedly nine lives, can’t get out of a situation or succeed, then neither could anyone or anything else… 

Sophie is also one of Hanover House’s attractions, particularly to the myriad of animal-lovers who come away on holiday and leave their own beloved pets at home. She appears on the back of our B&B’s card and has been included in both the Channel 4 programmes featuring Hanover House, namely ‘Three in a Bed’ and ‘Country House Rescue’. Sometimes guests specifically ask to see her, having been included within our Cheltenham B&B description and she also managed to get into ‘The Gloucester Echo’ as the trial subject of the Australian ‘Dog Whisperer’ who stayed with us at Hanover House some time ago. All in all, despite the dog hair and attention-seeking, she is a definite asset to both family and business.

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