This weekend was an epic Mothering Sunday for me because…. we welcomed a new dog pal to the family! This is Aurora and she’s an Otterhound. Although Aurora’s roughly the size of a small pony already, she’s only fifteen months old and not fully grown – she’ll be somewhere between 35-39kg eventually. The boys can weigh up to 55kg, which according to the internet, is bigger than Cheryl Cole. We’ve been waiting to bring her home for ages (it’s been a loooong year of moving house) but now she’s here, she’s already taken up residence on the sofa and graciously accepted a handful of compliments from dog walkers around the village. She’s beautiful. My heart is utterly gone.
My main question – apart from, can I plait that beard? – is What does she sound like? I know I’m not the only dog owner who chats to their dog and then translates their responses. (Humour me. Tell me I’m not.) My old bassets had very distinctive personalities: Violet sounded uncannily like Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques, but with Hyacinth Bouquet social tendencies, whereas Bonham was like… well, John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. Loud, enthusiastic, heavily food and drink-orientated. Both Brummies, although strictly speaking, V&B were from Warwickshire. Barney, in my head, has a friendly West Coast Scottish accent, worries about things, and calls everyone pal.
Aurora is from Herefordshire, and as an Otterhound, she’s one of the country’s oldest native dog breeds, originally bred to keep monasteries’ fish ponds safe from marauding otters, so I suppose her accent might be quite posh in a rural twin-set-and-random-beekeeper’s-hat way. There’s something about her magnificent beard and loping hound stride that feels distinctly Middle English, but then she has long fringes over her eyes that are weirdly New Romantic at the same time. And since all the best New Romantics were Brummies, maybe she’s a Brummie too?
So… what voice is coming out of this dog?