Back in the horrible months last year after I'd lost Oscar, we didn't know what colour collie puppy we were going to get, but we were clear on what name whichever pup it was would receive:
- Leopold for a tricolour puppy
- Florian for a sable puppy
- Hector for a blue merle puppy
|Hector (L) and Florian (R)|
Why did we decide on the names? Well I've always been interested in the meanings of names and thought they suited the various colours somehow. Oscar's name was Germanic and meant "Spear of Light" which was wonderfully ironic given his jet black coat, and the fact his pedigree name was "Tameila After Dark". More importantly though, I just loved the actual sound of the names themselves. I'd personally so much rather have been called something interesting like one of these names than just boring old "Peter".
|Snapped on a visit to Aunty Jennie - @pensionlawyeruk|
So let's start with the name Florian first of all. It's a Latin name, after a Roman soldier and Christian martyr called Florianus. That is not incidentally pronounced "flory anus" as Ste would have it. They were going to burn Florianus, but he came out with some nonsense about the flames carrying him up to Jesus, so just to be cute they tied a stone round his neck and lobbed him in the Danube instead, where he drowned. That taught him and he didn't do it ever again.
Saint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters (and chimney sweeps) which kinda makes sense given his watery end. Superstitious Austrian and Bavarian peasants would often name one of their sons "Florian" as either a first or middle name, because they believed it would protect the family home from fire. Very old fashioned German speakers say "Call Florian!" when they're referring to the fire brigade.
|Somewhat oversized Florian putting out a house fire|
And most splendidly there's something in German called the "Floriansprinzip". It translates roughly as "NIMBYISM" and you see it carved onto old wooden farmhouses. It reads:
That translates as "Holy Saint Florian / Spare my House / Set fire to other people's." Gotta love Christians.Heiliger Sankt Florian / Verschon' mein Haus / Zünd' and're an!
The name Florian might be popular in Central Europe, but clearly it's not in Britain. A fellow dog walker in my village asked his name and said "oh that's a mouthful" with great disdain. No, dear, Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck, the Oscar winning German director's name, is a mouthful. FLOR-I-AN really isn't. Three not really terribly tricky syllables, you see.
Florian, the collie, is such a little flower as it turns out. He is the softest, cuddliest, most affectionate, fat little womble imaginable. I've never seen a dog greet other doggies or people so warmly and affectionately. His entire body wags, not just his tail. Here he is with his fox toy, already looking like the huge fluffy teddy lion that he's destined to become when he becomes an adult. He's just gorgeous.
It also turns out he's also rather good at chess. Here he is about to beat Ste, paws down. Look at his sweet little furry face and button eyes. Descended from a wolf? More like descended from a stuffed toy.
One rather adorable aspect to Florian physically is his enormous fat collie bum. The pup has junk in his trunk as the expression apparently goes, and it seems he's quite unaware of it. I had to snap this photo of him wedged between a chair and a sofa: he was just standing there utterly perplexed. His big nose had fitted through, so why couldn't the rest of him?
|When you think you're a size zero, but you're a size 18|
And how about this photo below? His arse is ENORMOUS. It genuinely is mostly fluff by the way: although nothing is more important in Florian's life than his dinner, you can actually feel his ribs and the vet has confirmed he's a really healthy weight. He just has a VERY BIG BUM and looks like an oversized golden WOMBLE.
|"Does my bum look big in this fur?!"|
Also, just to prove he isn't an entirely sedentary fluff ball, he can move when he feels like it. Here's a lovely 30 second clip of him taunting Hector and racing round my sitting room and destroying my little back garden (opens in a new window). Below there's a great photo of him play-attacking his big brother in the front garden of our farm where they go every day and have a lot more room to stretch their paws.
Florian is gold and his name is Latin. Hector is his opposite number: he is silver coloured, and his name is Greek. It means "holding fast". If you know your Greek mythology, or indeed if you've letched over Eric Banana and Orlando Bloom (phwooooooar) in their little leather skirts in the Hollywood blockbuster Troy, you'll know that Prince Hector was the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan Wars. He "holds fast" and is loyalty embodied: courageous, noble and courtly. So much so, in fact, that he deserves his name on a can of Coke Zero.
Hmmm. What went wrong with my Hector, the collie, then? Haha, he's a total hooligan: the naughtiest little scamp imaginable. You can see the brightness and mischief in his eyes. He always seems to be smiling, contemplating what next he can get up to. Just look at his cheeky little mug. He adores me and is very loyal by my side... until some opportunity for naughtiness comes along, and then he's off!
We chose "Hector" in part because we thought it was a really old-fashioned name: a little old gentleman's name. Blue Merles look old even as young dogs because of their amazing markings and mottled coat, so it seemed to fit.
And wow, his coat is coming along stunningly. His mane is growing very long and full, and as you can see above his "skirt" (the long hair between his front and back paws) is also really quite full for a 9 month old pup. I can't wait until they both get their winter coats, because they are going to look utterly magnificent.
Speaking of coats, I've invested in some splendid flying jackets for the winter, and some lighter anoraks to keep them dry during autumn and spring. You don't want to have a wet collie in the house: much less two of them. These keep them surprisingly dry in a downpour: all you need to do is towel their heads and paws, and almost all of them is bone dry underneath.
Hector is such a smart dog he even went for a graduate office job interview the other day. Well, it was either that, or his Daddy went and put a tie round his neck for no specific reason, and took a photo of it. I'll let the reader decide. Check out the smile again: collies really are grinning the whole time. And there's nothing happier than a happy dog, let's face it.
I think we need one more photo of that cheesy grin. Here he is at the farm, all proud because he has a plum. What more reason do you need to smile from ear to ear and aren't his colours stunning? Every Blue Merle has different markings and is completely unique.
Leopold, if you're wondering, means as brave as a lion, and the name is Germanic. I still have in mind that once I've moved and built my new house that Leopold may arrive, perhaps in 2 or 3 years time. So watch this space for a little tricolour collie baby in due course. It might even by Florian's son, if I can work it.
|What a grumpy little Baby Leopold might look like....|
Now let's finish up with some wonderful shots and a video from a day out at Holkham Beach in North Norfolk with Ste. It's just glorious up there and one of my favourite places to walk. First there's the approach through the green dunes with that delicious salty sea air that drives the boys nuts.
Then comes this splendid photo of the big East Anglian sky and the totally unspoiled sandy golden beach, which stretches as far as you can see. And of course two rather handsome collie princes.
Collies don't normally like water. Apparently instinct tells them that if their huge fur coats get weighed down with water they will get exhausted quickly when swimming and drown. They aren't waterproof like other dogs with big coats such as Newfoundlands, for example. But all that said, in they went, and they loved it, even though some coaxing was required when it got up past chest height!
That's Florian in the distance above, of course. And here he is running on the sand in the weirdest position imaginable. I'm sure that's not supposed to happen with their paws, but he looks happy enough. Look, another huge great collie grin! I think he's probably doing an impression of a Cromer Crab or something.
Now what do good collies who go in the water get? Well a huge snog from one of their daddies of course. And Hector loves giving collie kissies, as the photo shows.
This short video in SLO-MO (!) is just wonderful. Ste races them both, and of course athletic sexy Hector beats him paws down. Poor fatty Floofian tries to keep up, but with that huge collie booty it just isn't going to work. Watch Hector catch up and race past him 1m 15s in. Here's a still from the video. Amazing.
Now what does a tired collie at the end of a 2 hour walk need when he gets home (other than drying off, being fed, and being brushed)? More snogs of course. And Ste is a willing victim. Once Hector has him on the floor, there's no escaping.
And that's it from Collie Cottage with our update. Keep tuned, there will be more. They photograph so perfectly and I'm always willing to bore anyone interested with sharing it all. Last of all, probably my favourite photo of the pair to date, snuggled into each other, from a couple of months back when they were looking a bit younger.
They are so cuddly, furry, happy, and bring me so much joy. Every moment of the day. Florian and Hector. Latin and Greek. Loving and Naughty. Needy and Independent. Bootylicious and Svelte. Tim-Nice-but-Dim and Incredibly Bright. Gold and Silver. They're the perfect collie complement to one another: my little princes.
Thanks for reading, we're off on a walk! Love and licks,
Peter, Hector & Florian x