With baby Captain in 2002…
…and a grown-up Captain, in 2010! Photos by Catherine Everitt.
Today is the anniversary of one of the most important days in my life. On this very day, exactly ten years ago, I arrived at Mastamariner kennel in England for the first time. I met Ruth and her parents, and all the other dogs who were about to become my world, my life. I wrote a bit about my arrival last year, for Ruth’s birthday, and you can read about it here. And three days after I arrived, someone else did – six beautiful Golden Retriever puppies were born, and one of them was Captain, who is pictured above. He is a Goldie like none other I’ve met, and he soon became one of my absolute favourites.
However, I did not just meet a house full of amazing dogs, but also a new country, a new culture and new customs, all wrapped up in a lovely little English village. I had had a crush on England before I went, and within weeks that crush had developed into true love – a love that has not faded one bit, and that will no doubt last my whole life. Naturally, I also became severely addicted to tea, and to this day I can’t make it through the morning without a cup of strong, black tea with a bit of milk. :)
But most importantly, I met Catherine and Graham, the owners of the kennel. They became almost as a second set of parents to me, and at the same time two of the best friends I’ve ever had. Graham helped me to improve my dog training skills, and together we eagerly awaited the releases of Harry Potter books and movies. Catherine introduced me to photography, and always encouraged my work with the dogs. She taught me about dog health and breeding, and the genetics of Border Collies. Because I had so much in common with my “kennel parents”, I received more encouragement and praise than I believe that most young people do. Having struggled with a bad self-image and self-confidence since I was a little girl, this was the first time when I truly felt that I was worth something.
Ten years is a long time. A lot has changed, both in my life and at Mastamariner. But what hasn’t changed and never will, is the love I feel for England, for a house full of amazing dogs, and for the two people who made it possible for me to experience and enjoy it all. ♥