More Dogs of Spitalfields
Spitalfields Life contributing photographer Sarah Ainslie and writer Andrew McCaldon have been out on the streets again to continue their survey of East End canines. These inner city dogs are equally at home on street corners, in alleyways and along busy roads, as they are in the parks and green spaces which are designated as their playgrounds.
Coco (Papillon) & Keith Chilvers
“Coco’s my best friend. She’s very bright and a good watch dog.
Around here there’s always a lot of noise. Hammering and drilling, she’ll sleep through – but one knock on my door and she’s off!
I was born in London, although I have travelled around as a landscape gardener. At that time, in the late sixties, it was all very hippy and back to the earth. While some people have got worn down, I’ve kept my values, of wanting to be close to nature. I’m learning wood carving now and I would like a garden – I’ve crammed as much in here as I can.
The last walk of the day sometimes ends up in the pub, The Perseverance or Nelson’s Head. Coco likes the foam from my Guinness, she’ll lick it off my finger. She’s a damn good beggar in the pub!”
Marvin (Staffordshire Bull Terrier) & Karolina Kolodziej
“Marvin is all about sexual healing. Marvin Gaye had such a positive energy and so does our Marvin. He makes me so happy. He loves everybody, always licking them and, well, he doesn’t hump anymore – but he used to!
My partner and I both work in theatre, and Marvin’s a regular in the West End. He’s often waiting at the stage door for us and, if he’s invited, he likes visiting the dressing rooms.
Some of the Muslim children on my estate are taught to think that dogs are dirty. They are scared and panicky, they think Marvin will eat them. They come, very frightened but excited, to see him sometimes. I say, “If you would like to touch him you can.” They pat his back and then run away. They ask hundreds of questions about him and I answer them all.
I think, on my floor, the children – just the children I suppose – are changing their minds about Marvin.”
Gizmo, Tricksy (Chihuahuas) & Des Johnson
“I’ve had a lot of big dogs over the years but now little dogs have come into my life.
They are really my daughter’s but they prefer to be with me. She puts them in her handbag, whereas I treat them like dogs.
I’m an architect, and they like to sit up in my van and look out at all the other dogs. They may have pea brains but they’re very intelligent. And they can look after themselves – they’ll go for anything that moves. They’ve got small-man-syndrome.
My wife liked orchids and Chihuahuas. She died when my daughter was aged three. My daughter never knew her and yet now she loves them too.”
Archie (Golden Retriever) & Andy Rider, Rector of Spitalfields
“Archie’s my second Golden Retriever. My wife and I had to give away our first dog when we moved to a flat in the West End years ago. But when I became Rector here at Christ Church, my son stood in the garden of the Rectory and said “Dad, I think this is dog country!”
He’s gentle and friendly, although he does eat everything and leave hair everywhere. If you’re wearing a black jumper, you don’t want to start stroking Archie.
He’s very popular with the congregation and sometimes comes to prayers with me in the morning.
But it’s when I take Archie to the Lake District every year that he’s at his happiest.”
Edwin (Lakeland Terrier) & Grace Dant
“I play a game with Edwin, when Daddy has a lie-in – I open the door and say “Edwin! Look!” and he runs up the stairs and pounces on him.
I walk Edwin around the bandstand in Arnold Circus and sometimes the fox will walk alongside him in the morning. They don’t seem to mind each other.
And we go past AZ Grocers where Edwin’s enemy Lily the Cat lives. She once scratched him in the face. When we go by Edwin stretches at the lead, he really wants to bite her.
He was tied up outside my school one day and could see me in my classroom. He started howling – “owwwwooo!” – outside. I had to pardon myself from the class and give him some biscuits I had in my satchel.
I remember when I first met Edwin, Daddy let him go and he ran straight towards me. From Edwin’s face I knew he was thinking “She looks fun!”
Harvey, Chai (Staffordshire Bull Terriers), Missy (Pekingese) & Mandy King
“I do three walks a day. This is number two.
I’ve lived in London Fields all my life and I’ve been walking dogs in the Fields since I was a child. Everyone knows me around here, probably as the Mad Dog Lady – well, I say “hello” to everyone and to all the dogs too. And I’m not quiet – if I see abuse being done to another dog I won’t keep my mouth shut.
All my dogs are rescued dogs. At one time I had five dogs. Now it’s just these three and my cat who’s called “Mr Samuel Beckett.” They all get along fine.
I love dogs, they’re great companions. They’re not stupid like people.
I had to retire from work for medical reasons and my world has become very small – but these dogs are what keep me going.”
Banjo (Cocker Spaniel) & Vanessa Caswill
“He just loves this hoop.
And puddles too. He’s a real water dog. When I first saw Banjo’s profile online, I read about how he loved to lie on his back in a bowl of water in the sunshine. We borrowed a neighbour’s car, drove to Canterbury, and brought him home that day.
I’m due in five weeks. Banjo’ll put his paw on my belly, because I think he knows something is different. Things may change.
To get him used to the idea, I’ve started to have friends with babies coming round. They move, they make weird noises, they’re on his eye level – I think he finds them freaky.
It’s because of Banjo that we decided to have a kid. We loved him so much, he turned us from being a couple into a family. He gave us the confidence to have a child.”
Chase (Shih Tzu-Bichon cross) & Eddie Philpot
“He’s a good companion, he makes me go out.
I was born in Bethnal Green, I know these streets well. I ran up and down ladders all my life, cleaning windows. My father did the same job.
Oh, it’s changed. I walk round the same streets with Chase, where I used to clean windows, and sometimes I don’t know where I am – what with the security gates and all that.
My first two dogs were laid back but Chase is a comedian, full of energy. He is very protective of my daughter Kim – she carried him around when he was young. And he’s naughty when he wants to be.
He’s a devil, but a loving little devil.”
Pan (Whippet-Bedlington cross), Peggy (Scottish Deerhound) & Jess Collins
“Peggy fell in the canal today.
She went out of her depth, her head went under and I had to help by pulling her out. Some passersby saw us struggling but Pan just stood and watched while we both got soaked.
We had Pan first, he’d been a working dog, a ratter. When we got Peggy, for a while Pan absolutely hated her and he wouldn’t look at me for weeks.
My partner Oliver and I run The Vintage Emporium, and we love dogs in the shop. They sit on the couch and get lots of attention. I’m lucky that I get to have Pan and Peggy with me all the time.
On my days off we all go to Hampstead Heath, which is such a beautiful place for dogs – and human beings too!”
Martha, Missy (Miniature Dachshunds), & Steven Dray
“Missy is named after Missy Elliot. My partner, Steven, and I are both big fans. She’s only three and a half months old but she’s getting longer by the day.
I had an Alsatian when I was a teenager growing up on Columbia Rd. My mother still lives in the Guinness Trust Buildings there. Now I’m writing a book called “Shoreditch Unbound” which has been an important thing for me to do.
Dachshunds were originally bred to go down badger sets – though I can’t imagine these little madams going down a badger hole, they’re too precious. They’re perfect city dogs though and they’re super-affectionate.
Steven, me and both the dogs all sleep together – we’re going to have to get a bigger bed!”
Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie
You may also like to read the original Dogs of Spitalfields feature.