Major was born on a farm in Wales, on February 5, 2005, a pedigree wire-haired Dachshund.
His brother went on to win prizes at Crufts but Major came home to Oxford with me, and was sick in the car.
Kids would look at him and ask ‘Is that a sausage dog?’, but he didn’t mind, he liked children.
The Standard Dachshund is bred to hunt badgers, though Major never tried to go after a real badger.
“I’m not going down there!” he told me once, when I showed him a badger set.
But Major always considered himself a mighty hunter, and would dig after mice for hours in the hedges surrounding the gliding club near Shenington.
After his book, Major the Oxford Dog, was published, he became rather famous, and visited a number of schools in Oxford.
We always planned to write another book together, called Major the Airfield Dog, because every weekend he would jump in the front seat of my car and off we would go. He had perfect manners on the airfield. If I was flying in a glider, he would stay by the launchpoint bus until we returned.
His favourite walks near Oxford were down Edgeway road to the river and back, Port Meadow, and Richard Branson’s ridge and furrow fields behind St Mary’s Church in Kidlington. That’s where we planned to go last Friday.
The vet had told me he didn’t have much time left. Both of us were on pills of one sort or another.
He was off his feed, and I was coaxing him to eat his pills with chicken, tuna, scrambled eggs. He jumped up on the front seat of the car as usual, but half-way down Marston Road, he folded up over my knee and quietly died. Just as well it wasn’t on the bypass.
- In the heavy snowfall of January 2010, Major was moved to write the Oxford Mail a poem. Here is an extract:
When nature calls, it’s all very well, if you’ve got an indoor loo.
But when the snow is two feet deep, what can a short dog do?
I thought it was fun, the very first day, when the flakes came tumbling down.
It goes without saying, the kids were out playing, the neighbours all rallied around.
“Do you need anything from the shops, my dear?” and one even shovelled the drive.
“Why, thank you indeed, at the moment, no need, we’ve got all we need to survive.”
- Major, the dog (c/o Mary Meagher),
Hugh Allen Crescent, Oxford