The Dogs of Spitalfields in Autumn
Spitalfields Life contributing photographer Sarah Ainslie and canine correspondent Andrew McCaldon have been out again in the parks, kicking up the leaves, enjoying the October sunshine and continuing their survey of East End dogs.
“We love dogs and we found Storm abandoned under a bridge. We washed her and fed her. We all liked her and we took her to the vets. She didn’t have any diseases or fleas and the vet said she was fine, so we decided to keep her.
At first she was called ‘Lightning’ but then we heard of another dog called that, so we changed her name to ‘Storm’ – we called her Storm because she’s so fast.
We also have a cat and a parrot at home. We used to have a rat too but the cat killed it. We’re all of us friends and Storm’s another member of the family. Things are different for us now we have her – life is happier.”
Glider (Chinese Crested/Yorkshire Terrier/Jack Russell cross) & Simon Rees
“It’s her birthday – she’s thirteen today!
She’s a bit deaf now and if she sees a pair of heels she just follows them. In Cambridge, she went off with a jogger one day – it took a lot of running before I eventually caught up with them both.
She has some sort of brain abnormality. I saw the result of the CAT scan, there was a huge mass on her brain and I was told she’d only have two weeks to live. That was five years ago and in fact, other than making her epileptic – thankfully – it hasn’t had any other affect.
You know, I’m never sure if Glider likes these walks or whether the real trigger for going out is the food she knows she’ll get afterwards.”
Rusty (Collie/Doberman cross) & Catherine Ray
“You wouldn’t believe his father was a Doberman, would you? But under his fur are black hairs. He’s twelve years old too but when I have him shaved off, every three months or so, people think he’s a pup.
They call me ‘The Biscuit Woman’ because I give all the dogs in the park little treats. The dogs were always trying to get into my pockets though, so now I have to keep the biscuits in a container.
My previous dog, Troy, was with me for fourteen years. When it came time for him to be put to sleep, I didn’t have the money and I wasn’t getting benefits around here, so I had to take him on the number eight bus all the way to place near Victoria. I met a woman on the bus and it was breaking her heart to see us. She put me in a taxi, paid the driver and said, ‘Take this woman where she needs to go.’
Now I’ve got Rusty with me. You see, a few years ago I buried my daughter and then I lost my husband and my brother in the space of a year. So Rusty’s company for me now.”
Clotty (Long-haired Jack Russell) & Gian Paolo Gori
“She’s sweet, polite and hyper. That’s because she’s a Jack Russell – she never tires and she really keeps me in training.
She’s clever too. We never had to struggle to teach her anything. She trained herself to fetch balls by putting them at the top of the stairs, letting them roll down and then taking them up to the top again.
Clotty has her meals cooked for her, usually beef or lamb mincemeat with some rice and vegetables, like carrots, broccoli or peas. I make cookies for her too, with ingredients like rice, flour, parsley, eggs and liver!”
Roxy (Labrador) & Ali Mclean
“Roxy’s so playful today! Horses get friskier when it starts getting colder – so maybe the same thing happens with dogs?
She’s two years old and she’s my first dog since I’ve been living in London. I grew up in Aberdeen where we always had dogs and I went back to Scotland to get Roxy, as my friend owns her father. So she’s a piece of home and it’s nice to have that connection.
I share the responsibility for Roxy with my boyfriend, which is good because she’s got so much energy. She needs three hours walking a day – at least.”
Anatole (Brussels Griffon) & Natasha Mason
“His full name is Anatole Wolfrus Zucowsky the Second. He was named after my Dad.
Out of all the breeds, Griffons are supposed to have the most human features and their character traits include having a big heart and an air of self importance! My Mum skypes Anatole from Spain and she’s already had her call this morning. She gives him a virtual tummy rub and I have to provide the real thing at the other end.
Having a dog has led to so much for me – I’ve been organising dog shows, I want to start a dog magazine and I’m about to go out to India to train as a canine behaviourist.
I’ve invented a new word – ‘dogalyst.’ A catalyst is something that causes a change, so a dogalyst is when a dog changes your life. Dogs have changed mine.”
Maudie (Toy Poodle/Yorkshire Terrier cross) & Glenn Cleary
“I’m an only child and everyone in my family died, so I had nowhere for my feelings to go. Then I got Maudie. Now, I don’t have a life of my own.
When I was young there was an aristocratic cartoon character in the newspapers called Maudie Littlehampton, drawn by Osbert Lancaster. I loved her and I thought it was a fun name to give my dog.
Although she’s small, Maudie’s one of the fastest dogs in the park, other dogs give up chasing her because she doesn’t give them a chance.
I had a hip replacement, and I wanted a dog that didn’t pull me over – but instead I got one that trips me up.”
Max (German Shepherd) & Joe
“My granddaughter wanted a German Shepherd. Max was the runt of the litter and we really had to build him up.
He’s very fussy though, he doesn’t mind if it starts to rain while we’re out, but if it’s already raining before we leave he just won’t go anywhere.
I’m retired now. I was shafted and forced to leave my job, but actually it was the best thing that ever happened to me. These days, Max is my pastime. He’s my baby.”
Horace (Blue Whippet) & Agatha
“Although I’m a photographer, Horace is very camera-shy, he’ll always look away when anyone takes a picture.
Horace comes with me for my work. He’s only three but he’s very well travelled. He’s got his own passport, has been to Paris and he loved the train to St. Petersburg. I used to take him on the tube and buses when he was a puppy, I wanted him to get used to the idea. It worked wonders – now he’s obsessed with trains.
I’m a very active person and that’s why I chose to get a whippet. I love watching Horace run.”
Mary Jane (Staffordshire Bull Terrier) & Riccardo Raia
“I am from Milano but life is hard in Italy in right now and there are no jobs for young people.
I came here alone and I wanted some company, so I found Mary Jane. I had another dog called ‘Blue’ in Italy but now my parents are looking after him. I would like to bring him here so they can be together.
Owning a dog here is better than at home. There’s a lot of parks and everyone loves dogs here. I’m very happy to now be part of London and, of course, Mary Jane is a British breed of dog!”
Neen (Lurcher) & Caroline Meadows & Bertie
“Neen is a rescue dog. I was driving to the Dogs Trust to look for a dog and saw Neen walking along a main road, looking very skinny and frightened. I had a tin of dog food in the back of the car and that’s how I managed to attract him. He had no microchip, no collar and I handed him into the police but no one claimed him, so he came to live with us.
We lived in a village in the Peak District until this January. It was a beautiful place, but of course dogs don’t care about gorgeous scenery. Neen prefers living here, where he can scavenge and there’s lots more different smells.
I think it will be great for Bertie to grow up with a dog. Children love animals, so many songs and books are about animals, and now he’ll have the real thing.”
Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie