We lost dear Belle very suddenly last Friday. She was 11 years old. We are devastated and miss her very much.
Belle came from Emma who is a shepherdess in Norfolk, who had trained her from a pup. We collected her and brought her home to Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire where we then were farming. She was not used to men at all so she stuck with me for the first few days. It wasn't long until Belle and Roly were firm friends.
Belle had many special qualities, her main one being a wonderful family dog as well as a loyal, brilliant working dog. When Molly was old enough to start playing with her, Belle was ready and waiting. She adored the children and would collect balls and sticks for hours with them, or would be happy to sit and be stroked, or poked as often happened when they were small.
In her later years once we had moved to Saddlescombe, she loved getting to know the fields and gateways and learning and anticipating all the sheep moves that she would know off the back of her paw in a short time. She quickly became part of the farm and loved being out on the quad bike. She mastered the 'downhill snuggle' (Emma who helps us named this), which involved her lying/leaning on you as we rode on the back of the bike behind Roly down the often steep banks, her sense of balance was unique. We loved it, any excuse to give her a cuddle.
Back at home she would potter around the garden, be there while I would hang out the washing and lie in the sun or right by the back door, waiting for the right moment to sneak in and lie inside by the back door. I would pretend I hadn't noticed her lying there, she would open one eye and quietly wag her tail.
Belle touched a lot of peoples lives through all of our visits from schools, shepherds for the day and other groups. She knew what to do. The children in wheelchairs she would just sit next to them and let them stroke her and she would delight everyone who had the opportunity of working her and sending her off on a 'come by' or 'away' command for the first time. Thank you to everyone who has been in touch and shared your lovely stories and feelings for her, we are so grateful.
We are so thankful for her. We like to think she had a happy life with us, we loved her very much.
Camilla, Roly, Molly, Freddie, Finch and Fly