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The Alcoholic Collie

Nell's legs would start to wobble as soon as she approached the Newcastle Arms.

My family were master butchers doing their own slaughtering.  In the early days, my grandfather would go to Gateshead Cattle Market and buy all the bullocks (referred to as ‘The Beasts’) and sheep the business needed for the following week.

My father (aged 14) had the task of bringing them and any other animals bought by the local farmer and butcher, down the old Coast Road to New York, where they were kept in a family-owned field, awaiting their fate.  My father had an old and very wise collie bitch to help him.

It was no easy task bringing frightened and unruly animals over the Tyne Bridge, through Newcastle, then past Benton and Holystone.  By the time they reached West Allotment both dog and drover were very weary.  One day Nell the dog started to stagger and when they reached the Newcastle Arms she fell down into a swoon.  Baden (my father) dashed into the pub, bought a tot of whisky and poured it down Nell’s throat.  In a moment she shook her head and got to her feet.  They completed the last two miles safely.

Ever after that Nell’s legs would start to wobble as she approached the Newcastle Arms, before collapsing at the door.  The whisky was duly poured down her throat and the journey completed.

Would you say that by this time she was an alcoholic Collie?

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