Selkie’s First Dog Blog
An increasingly familiar sight at Bickley Park School is the Headmaster’s dog, Selkie. It has been suggested, by one of the parents, that it would be a good idea to have a Dog Blog that helps the school community (and others!) understand Selkie’s involvement in school life. As a dog can’t write a blog, Selkie’s master will pen one on her behalf, once a term.
Selkie is a 3 ½ year old yellow working Lab who came from a large litter and hence is quite small. Since she was a puppy, she has had a distinctive ridgeline of fur running down her snout, which marks her out from other Labs. Her mother was a black Lab and her father yellow. She loves swimming and, when her fur is wet, the blackness of her mother comes to the fore.
I am often asked about Selkie’s name. It is frequently misheard and thought to be ‘Silky’, ‘Sulky’, or ‘Selfie’. Selkies are mythological creatures said to live as seals in the sea, but which shed their skin to become human on land. My mother’s family have lived in the Orkney Islands for 400 years – stories of Selkies in the seas around ‘The Norse Isles’ are commonplace and frequently revolve around female selkies being coerced into relationships with humans by someone stealing and hiding their sealskin, often not regaining the skin until years later, upon which they commonly return to the sea, forsaking their human family. When I was a boy, my brothers and I would swim in the sea with our family black Labrador, Sara. We would often be approached by inquisitive seals, perhaps drawn by Sara, who might have looked to them like a Selkie with legs. Sara was a much loved dog and is remembered in Selkie: an equally special dog.
Our Speech Day speaker last term was Ben Fogle, who is a passionate lover of Labradors. His black Labrador, Inca, and he came to fame when they featured on the first ever reality T.V. show ‘Castaway’ in the year 2000. He has since written a book entitled ‘Labrador’ which is to be recommended to any lovers of the breed. It is crammed with interesting facts about Labradors. Did you know that Labradors originally came from Newfoundland and Newfoundland dogs originally came from Labrador? They were used by fishermen to retrieve items from the sea. Labradors are the most popular pedigree dogs owned by families in the world. It is not surprising as they have a lovely temperament. Selkie has a placid, easy-going nature and meets an important need for pupils in the school. For some, she helps them build confidence in how to approach a dog. For others, she provides unconditional warmth and affection and perhaps helps them a little when they a feeling down.
Selkie’s school day comprises:
- Walking to Bickley Park at 6.30am with her owner
- Sitting on her mat by the open patio doors in the Headmaster’s office where she will obediently stay unless she sees a squirrel, when she will charge out into playground in futile pursuit
- Greeting people as they arrive before school
- Standing outside the Prep and Pre-Prep to meet and greet with her owner as the boys arrive at school
- Meeting visitors in the front entrance hall
- Joining (some) meetings in the Headmaster’s office
- With great excitement, Selkie meets Sue, her dog walker, at 10.00am, with whom she spends the rest of the working day.
Selkie loves coming to school. Bickley boys love seeing her in the morning and she brings an additional dimension to life at BPS which will be shared via her dog blog each term.