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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 15

Smoke Without Fire

Dave has always enjoyed travelling by car. He sits in the boot looking out the back window for mile after mile. Fascinated I am sure by the people who pull faces, smile and wave at him. He loves traffic jams as that means lots of people to look at; all sat in tin boxes with windows.

Even at night he watches with fascination the approaching headlights, white balls of intense light that fade away as quickly as they appeared.

One bright sunny lunchtime in Devon a dramatic turn of events almost ended both our lives.

It would take 2 hours to drive to Wiltshire from my house, the occasion was a date with a female friend. I gave Dave a good brush that morning so that he would look his best. Shiny coat and bright sparkling eyes, the model border collie.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 14

Exploring Deepest Dartmoor

Plymouth for all its sins as a sprawling concrete metropolis does have an enviable position right on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. Some 368 square miles of wilderness open to explore, though the MOD have live firing ranges across large areas, subject to civilian access closure on well published dates.

Vast granite hilltops, called tors rise above the grassland. Bogs and mires make for a dangerous and unforgiving challenge to even the most experienced of hikers. By the standards of our peers Dave and I were now competent hikers and ready to face more challenging environments.

As with all well rehearsed adventures, you can never fully plan for the unexpected and with that in mind I will now tell you about my FIB days.

FIB = Fell in Bog.

Dartmoor is beautiful beyond words, I have at the time of writing this book walked hundreds,

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 13

Grand Old Lady

Early springtime had brought about the need to find a new place to live for Dave and myself. My parents wanted once more to garden in relative peace and quiet and so the time had come to find a new dog friendly landlord. No more alfresco flower arranging for David.

I placed a “room wanted” advert online and included a photo of Dave for good measure. The basic room requirements sought with the emphasis on “must be dog friendly accommodation” and awaited replies. Soon enough I received an email from a lady in Plymouth who had seen my advert and in particular the photo of Dave.

I do suffer proud “parent” moments from time to time and acknowledge that Dave has a certain charm about him that unlocks opportunities in life. I had taken Dave along with me that day when I met my new potential landlady.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 12

Total Recall

Dave has a very strong sense of leadership and duty, very much in evidence when we are out walking the miles of paths and trails we explore. His natural herding instinct means that walking behind the pack (even if that is just me) is something he’s not happy about.

Dave in his mind needs to lead and sometimes during his early months that got him into trouble. Like the time we were hiking a new trail on Dartmoor and we became separated for about half an hour. Very worry at the time!

The most important trick I had taught Dave early on was total recall, he would come running back at the sound of the dog whistle, come what may.

It was a windy day, clear skies and early spring on Dartmoor. I had decided to explore a new area with a stone circle I wanted to see.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 11

It’s Doggo Christmas

Children and pets alike, they all enjoy the excitement of Christmas. Extra food smells in the house, lots of fun wrapping paper rolls stacked in the corner. A large tree with “toys” that swing as people walk past them. Decorations on walls and ceilings that can be sniffed and reached with a bit of cunning ingenuity.

Gardens full of flashing lights, giant inflatable snowmen and new visitors to the house to be welcomed. The festive season is an absolute sensory overload for humans and domestic pets.

“Have you bought Dave a gift, what are you getting him?” was a question often asked of me in the weeks leading up to the ‘big day’. Umm I hadn’t really thought about it to be honest – was my standard reply. I was being honest, I hadn’t really given it much thought, Christmas is for humans.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 10

Whatever The Weather

Having survived our first trip together on Dartmoor I planned many more excursions over the late summer and early autumn. I wasn’t always fortunate with the weather and on occasion mother nature would remind us that she was very much in control.

A plan was hatched in autumn to hike about 11 miles from Princetown to Gutter Tor and back, along a rough track. Not the type of landscape that needed a compass as the path was well rutted but the kind of landscape that showed the weather forecast in real-time.

As puppy and I walked under a chilly blue sky the distant hills of Bodmin Moor, far to our west revealed a line of dark cloud. Slowly but unfalteringly this weather front taunted us. Never moving close, never drifting away. Like a giant black jellyfish watching our every footstep, our change of direction.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 9

Dartmoor Dave!

No holiday to Devon would be complete without a trip to the wild beautiful landscape that is Dartmoor. Miles and miles of windswept moor, vast skies, towering granite tors, waterfalls and rivers. As far as the eye can see the landscape is untamed and yours to explore. Before I set foot on the moor let me take you back in time and explain how the concept of “Dave” came about.

For many years, since I was 16 in fact, I had explored hidden corners of England by motorbike, miles and miles of country lanes provided an almost endless picturesque landscape to enjoy; but as I got older I realised I hadn’t truly seen this landscape, I had only passed it by at 60 mph. I hadn’t felt the ground beneath my boots or stopped and listened to the ancient wind.

I had never watched the subtleties of a sunset,

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 8

The High Seas

You can learn everything from the internet these days. It is quite possible to never leave your house and yet become an expert on dog training or mountaineering! Dave and I learn hands-on as we go. I have never enrolled Dave in any formal training classes.

He’s an intelligent puppy from working dog parentage. Hundreds of years of working alongside man and selective responsible breeding has produced an intelligence to rival young adults.

For us, learning and training takes a few attempts and then that is usually enough to remember the lesson. Border collies have an amazing desire to learn and “please” their master.

Armed with nothing more than a tennis ball I decided to take Dave to the local beach and see what he thought of swimming. Also my poor parents needed a break from gardening tuition with their enthusiastic apprentice.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 7

Devon a New Beginning

There is no need for me to cover old ground here, except to say that the events of chapter two were a very sad time in my life and I expect Dave also found the upheaval stressful; but the reality of the matter was that Dave and I were now headed down the A303 dual carriageway to live in Torquay Devon.

With the car full of my worldly possessions, including an adorable young puppy looking out the rear window of the car at the countryside whizzing by I arrived in Devon. Dave was over the moon; new people to make a fuss of him and as he was to discover a new exciting hobby.

My parents had very kindly agreed to let Dave and myself move in for a few weeks, whilst I sorted out a permanent place to live somewhere in the UK.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 6

Gliders Soaring

With his puppy inoculations now complete it was time to let Dave loose on the great outdoors; wow what amazing adventures awaited. I was very fortunate to live in a village at the foot of the majestic South Downs in West Sussex.

In most directions open fields could be found with footpaths leading to wooded dells and tranquil streams. My favourite local spot was Parham Airfield, a vast flat field used during the day by a popular gliding club. This was to become our daily walk.

With his tiny first collar fastened gently around his neck, complete with puppy ID tag Dave had all the cute charm appeal of a child dressed for their first day at school. I was very much a proud “parent” that day.

I opened the front door and we as a family set off for his first outdoor walk.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 5

Visit To The Vet

Many dogs have a fear of visiting the vet for the first time; quite often for good reason. No one likes going to hospital and animals are no exception to that rule.

Dave of course had to be different. I was all prepared for a terrified fur ball. Square legs that make them impossible to carry to and from the vet. Nope, nope, ut uh, not happening…noooo. I was expecting it all.

I rang the buzzer on the door and waited a few seconds before entering. Dave was on his lead and he confidently walked into the waiting room ahead of me. He immediately stopped and scampered backwards in surprise. His little paws frantically running in reverse like the cartoon character Roadrunner!

“That Dave is a Great Dane,” I said to myself as I peered into the waiting room to see what had spooked poor puppy.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 4

First Night Nerves

I was living in a house with a large conservatory and this was to be home for Dave. His own safe space away from the hazards of kitchen cupboards and exciting bathrooms.

I set up the crate, complete with large comfy cushion and water bowl and welcomed Dave into his new home after the long drive home. His world had, in a few hours expanded beyond belief. He was now far away from the boundary fences of old.

A new home, with new adventures awaited. He sniffed and looked around inquisitively.

Tap tap tap went his little claws on the wooden floor as he explored his unfamiliar surroundings. I had bought a soft rope toy shaped liked an octopus and named it Ollie.

Dave picked ‘Ollie the octopus’ up in his mouth, walked to the corner of the conservatory and promptly sat down and fell asleep,

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 3

Dorset Dave: Who Chose Who?

I had never owned my own dog before and as a child growing up we tended to have had more cats than dogs in the family over the years. So it came as a bit of a surprise to myself, let alone anyone else in the household when I leapt out of bed at 8AM on Saturday 25th April 2015 and announced;

“We’re buying a puppy, grab your coats everyone!”

What followed next was many minutes of excited squealing from my partner’s children and rather embarrassingly myself too. I had just made one of my most life changing impulsive decisions ever; and I had done so from under a duvet in about 5 minutes.

For several reasons out of my control (peculiar landlady at the time) re-homing a rescue dog wasn’t going to happen so that meant a puppy was the sensible (remind me of that word later) option.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 2

New Journey: The Last Sunset

Dave stood patiently by my left leg as I fumbled in my jacket pocket and found my house keys, after our usual evening walk. Juggling his lead in one hand and my keys in the other I turned the key in the lock. I opened the front door “Hi Honey we’re home,” I mentally recited.

My girlfriend was standing in the hallway – her bags were packed and her face told me this was the end of our long relationship. Life dropped away from me with the terrifying suddenness and shock of a plummeting elevator.

Dave trotted along the hallway oblivious and into the kitchen and gulped water from his bowl; I fought back the tears but failed. 10 minutes earlier I had been taking carefree photos of the beautiful Sussex sunset as Dave chased the bees and the singing birds.

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Border Collie Dave – Chapter 1

Dedication to Friends and Family

This blog is dedicated to all our canine friends out there who tirelessly support their human companions; through good times and bad, rain or shine.

Those pets who help us through our darker moments.


A big thank you goes to Dave, my border collie companion; without him there would be no inspiration to write this blog. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to my fiancee Lauren, my reason to smile each and every day.

Thank you Keith Foskett for encouraging me to hike and write. A special mention goes out to the thousands of fans on social media who love hearing about Dave’s adventures.

To all my friends and family that have supported me along the way.

Dan; for all the laughs and heartache. Keep strong.

#WeLoveDave –

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  • rolag on The Grey Wethers Stone CirclesI love this page. Thank you for sharing your experiences of the beauty of the land in a most unique place.
  • Keisha Charles on Amberley Circular WalkHi What's the nearest train station to this walk? I live in brixton
  • Chris Newham on Steyning Super Bowl WalkHello Gary (or any other reader who can help). Your wonderful article suggests you might be able to help me. My mother, who used to be a long term resident
  • Tim Benham on South Downs Churchill Tank – Sleeping GiantMy son and I saw ur posts which helped us find the tank today... was splendid.... whilst there 5 other people turned up to see it... she still draws a
  • Nina French on Escape The South Downs WayHi Malcolm. Just wanted to say thanks for the guidance on the wonderful Kithurst Hill to Burpham and back walk. Did it today with Asterix the Beagle on a glorious
  • M art in hayes on 15 Litre Hydration Rucksack – Gear ReviewCan I fit a bigger rucksack over the top of this,whilst walking,sorry if this is a stupid question,I do carry water with me as I am a long distance walker.
  • Sharolyn Craft on Border Collie Dave – Chapter 8I lived your story. We rescued a Border Collie after our last one died. She taught herself how to be my husband’s Service Dog both snuffing to make sure his
  • Malcolm Oakley on Border Collie Dave – Chapter 9Hello Sophie, thank you for reading Dave's adventures, hope you are enjoying the insight into our life changes!
  • Sophie on Border Collie Dave – Chapter 9Great post! I love Dave - I'm glad you both had a great time walking out on Dartmoor. It's always so lovely there when the sun comes out. I hope
  • Malcolm Oakley on South Downs Churchill Tank – Sleeping GiantThank you for your comment. It's a beautiful location up by the tank, glad you enjoyed it.