Articles Index/In Memoriam, Pets
"Becky" was foundation dam of the Birkenshaw family. She endeared herself to all who knew her from the day she first arrived to join the Harrington family on a bright Christmas morning 12 years ago.
It was grandfather Harrington who named her Rebecca, declaring it a suitably elegant name for the very small teddy bear puppy. She instantly took her place at the head of the family, which at that time consisted of two angelic Labradors, three children and a rabbit named Munchkin. The latter, after he realized that Becky was not his new wife (rabbits love wives) became an unexpected friend, playing hide and seek with Becky around the drawing room furniture and sharing her bed from time to time! This did not deter her from killing a squirrel one day when she was eight weeks pregnant ... so her instincts were intact ... but she recognized a family friend when she met one.
Becky's first achievement was in the obedience ring, where she and eleven-year-old Clare, to whom she had been given as a once-in-a-lifetime surprise, won the "smallest trainer and puppy" award the tiny Norfolk proving her remarkable intelligence and cooperative character to all.
Clive Davies was the Canadian breeder who in those days became our mentor and advisor, and it was his dog Cortaillod the Benefactor, who was the first father in our program. The experience of raising a small puppy was so delightful that we decided to become a bit more serious about this breeding business and we sent Becky to Oyster Bay to meet Joan Read for an official evaluation as a brood bitch.
"You are very fortunate to start with such a nice little bitch ... " was the eagerly received comment. Joan introduced us to Sheila Foran, and her home-bred champion Folklore's Novel Approach, CD, became the second husband. Three adorable puppies were born, and then the breeding repeated ... and thus began what has become known around town as "the happiness project".
Birkenshaw (Scottish word meaning "beside the birches") is the name of our treasured family cottage on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. It built by great great grandfather Sir William Dawson and cherished by all Harringtons from far and wide. We deemed it a most suitable prefix.
Becky was the most loquacious of the Norfolks ... she was unfailingly definite about her needs and desires, and brooked very little nonsense from the humans in her orbit. She was always the first to greet beloved family friends, and never forgot her favorite people. With enormous enthusiasm, she managed to make those chosen feel as if they were the most important people in the world. When hopeful, potential puppy owners visited, Becky employed a multitude of signals which signified acceptability or otherwise. She was never wrong, and the homes she chose for her offspring are unerringly special.
Exulting in her role as a grandmother, and then great grandmother, Becky loved to play with the puppies in the kitchen when they were old enough. She showed them how to play hide and seek, and frisked around the kitchen floor with the teddies in her mouth, throwing them up in the air and watching her tiny family members chasing them around.
Becky achieved her Canine Good Citizenship award under the handling of George, Clare's younger brother, at an ANTA event five years ago. More recently she won a class of veteran bitches at the same annual event. Despite the fact that she had never entered the show ring, she was, in the opinion of Andrew Kramer, a most knowledgeable and fair gentleman, the soundest little lady in the group ... most of which were elegant American Champions. This was a proud moment for Becky, but she took it all in her stride ... youthful in mind and body. Becky was unequivocally our greatest treasure. Still living up to the name of Ever Ready, she was irrepressible to the end.
This spring, Becky was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor. She carried on as long as she possibly could, but finally it was simply time to let her go. We buried her under a willowy silver birch tree beside which the horses graze peacefully, and we will plant a garden there to honor the life she brought to so many people. Becky is irreplaceable and still absolutely cherished by droves of friends and family. We comfort ourselves with the imagined scene of her eagerly and vociferously approaching daddy and grandfather Harrington in heaven. She bears them our greetings and our love. Surely there is new joy in that dimension.
Sally and Clare Harrington
ANTIC, September, 2003
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