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  • Rob Oliver

Memories and Musings

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

This blog is a bit of a departure from my usual discussion but two events over the course of the last few days have stirred some interesting, unanticipated memories to mind. While, they are not directly involved with dogs, I thought I'd like to share them, perhaps some of you have had similar reflections over the past few days.

The first event was the passing Queen Elizabeth II. When I was born she was already the Queen of England and so she has been the only monarch I have known. As a youth her picture was portrayed at the front of all school classrooms and prominent places in public buildings. Of course, her image is on all coinage used in Canada. We often sang "God Save the Queen" in school. I became a Queen Scout in boy scouts and received a personal congratulatory note from the Queen's Governor General to Canada. However, these somewhat passing occurrences have been my only interaction with the Monarchy. Yet when I learned of her passing I had an interesting wave of emotion come over me and a deep sense of loss.

Perhaps this sense of loss had less to do with the passing of a 96 year old lady than with what it represented. We live in an upside down world at the present time and Queen Elizabeth was a part of a "classier" time. She was a regal, brave, unblinking leader. She never stooped to become embroiled in political theater. She always took the "highroad" and led the Commonwealth with dignity and genteelism.

As with most exemplary people, Queen Elizabeth loved her dogs. Helen Warwick in her great book "The Complete Labrador" has an entire section, complete with pictures devoted to the Queen and her Sandringham Kennels, where she bred quality Labrador Retrievers. She used her dogs as retrievers mostly for hunting purposes.

Her Sandringham line of Labradors made a contribution to the breed. I can't help but believe that time spent with her dogs a Sandringham probably kept her grounded and wise and contributed to her class. She also supported Retriever Field Trials by attending and presenting trophies to the winners.

In 1957 the Queen broadcast a Christmas Message on television which was unbelievably relevant for our day. That message can be viewed in its entirety on Youtube. I was particularly intrigued by the relevance of the following quote while she was discussing changing times in 1957:

"That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us. Because of these changes I am not surprised that many people feel lost and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard. How to take advantage of the new life without losing the best of the old.

But it is not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery.

They would have religion thrown aside, morality in personal and public life made meaningless, honesty counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint.

At this critical moment in our history we will certainly lose the trust and respect of the world if we just abandon those fundamental principles which guided the men and women who built the greatness of this country and Commonwealth.

Today we need a special kind of courage, not the kind needed in battle but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right, everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future.

It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult."

The insights reflected in the Queen's quote would do much to address the vitriol and division that is much a part of the current public dialogue. Such out-of-fashion ideals such as mutual respect and tolerance would help immensely if reinstated in my opinion.

The second event is an anniversary. On September 11, 2001 I was in Brandon, Manitoba, at my friend Gunther Rahnefeld's home breeding my female, Revilo's Boot Scootin' Boogie (Boo) to Gunther's great dog, FC FTCH AFTCH Damn Yankee II (Rex). I got up early and did the breeding as it was my intent to head back home to Alberta that day. I was travelling with my mother and father, and when I went back to the motel room to pick them up and begin the trip back to Alberta they were intently watching the events of 9/11 unfold on the television. At first I thought it was a television program, but then it became apparent that it was a live news feed and that the events were actually unfolding in real time. Indeed, that was a day that change the world.

It's hard to believe that on Sunday, September 11, 2022 twenty one years will have passed since I was in Brandon. Gunther, my mother and father, Boo and Rex have all passed on. The memories of that day, exist in my mind as vividly as if it were yesterday. Although much has changed, I wonder to myself if we have really learned anything, and if the changes to our world really remedy any of what led to 9/11 and if indeed we are any more secure. Something tells me we are not.

History is a great teacher and as has been said those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. Part of living in the 21st century is that there is a popular tendency among many to alter history and replace historical facts with more popular versions which support current popular ideologies. I once had a boss that told me that when I was selling an idea it was okay to baffle people with BS, just don't ever start believing your own BS. Unfortunately, I believe we have crossed that line and there are many who have begun believing their own rhetoric.

You can attribute these thoughts to the musings of a senile old man who has spent too much time with the dogs but I am grateful for good dogs to spend time with, good people who share my interest and that I am still able to travel around the country and breed my females to great males. My dogs, don't judge me and for that I am thankful. They have connected me to many great people and help create many great memories and for that I am thankful. In short they keep me grounded and help me see good in every day.

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