While Fred and Maggie were figuring out
their next routine, Wendy (Fred's owner) and Boba (Maggie's
owner) were chatting away. I was welcomed to the conversation
and by the time it had somehow leaped into Scandinavian
languages, a couple entered the shop looking for red squirrel
food. Their stay nearby was to catch a glimpse of one of our Beatrix Potter-like characters before they returned home the
next day. Had they been staying another week they would have
bought a bag of hazel nuts to tempt a squirrel down from the
trees. Rather than sending them away nutless, Wendy opened a
bag of hazels, grabbed a generous handful and gave it to them;
enough for their last day in the valley. Flabbergasted by the
gift they left with high hopes of catching sight of their first
Meanwhile, in walks Ollie and his owner.
Ollie is a tall and slender Border Collie cross Spaniel that
towered over the smaller Fred, a Patterdale Terrier, who in
turn out reached the even smaller Maggie, a Border Terrier.
The three dogs paused for a moment to size each other up
before exploring the pantry together instantly reminding me of the
sketch by John Cleese and The Two Ronnies
With the door hardly getting a chance to close after Ollie's
entrance, in walks Fred, one of Wendy's regulars, to buy a bag
of grain for the town's ducks. Appleby's ducks are not unknown to behave
like Beatrix Potter characters too, following people around as if
they don't think they're ducks at all.
Now the door gets a brief respite and Wendy
and I find a moment to talk. She shares stories about some
of the wildlife and pets pictured on the 'wall of fame' that's
on display just behind the shop's counter. Amongst the
pictures there are some of red squirrels she's caught on camera and
others of otters seen nearby on the banks of the Eden that
winds its way around the town.
That day I left Wendy's shop with far more than I intended.
I left with a real sense of community and respect for
someone who has a deep relationship with people and animals.
Pets Pantry is well worth a visit, even if only to buy something
to feed the ducks and squirrels.