p075 NL104 July Aug 22

Reader’s Memory – Our Pete – A Dog Who Lived Life to the Full

by Andrea Appleyard

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We bought Pete, a small black pup, for 5/- in 1955. We spotted him in the window of a pet shop in Leeds and persuaded Dad to buy him – truly ‘that doggy in the window’. He was a cross between a Patterdale and a Fox Terrier and was very feisty even as a pup. We didn’t listen to the vet’s advice: ‘never get a Patterdale – they just mean trouble!’ Pete was to prove a champion fighter all his life…

Our family lived on Town Street, near the water tower in Middleton, once a mining village, now a suburb of Leeds. We were very proud of the Middleton railway which had one of the first steam locomotives in Britain. When we lived in Middleton it was still quite rural with fields of cows, farms and woodland. There was very little traffic and dogs were not kept on a tight leash as they are today. Dogs were allowed to roam as they pleased.

Pete hardly spent any time at home. He preferred to pursue the lifestyle of a dog about the village. The exception was when he joined our gang of friends and went sledging down Ballywark Hill in winter, running wild in the meadows in summer and rabbiting in Middleton Woods. I remember Pete getting stuck down a rabbit hole and the gang pulling him out like a cork from a bottle.


Pete began his mornings greeting the milkman with his trolley and accompanying him on his rounds. At lunchtime he would drop in to the Middleton Arms to meet our grandad who called in regularly for a pint with his pals. Pete expected and received a chocolate biscuit every time.

His afternoons were spent mooching round the council estate, getting into trouble, it did not matter how big the dog was. Pete would pick a fight. He fought Alsatians, Bull Terriers and Staffies and I remember more than one occasion where he tackled two boxer dogs – Fritz and Boris at the same time. His ears were like doilies with holes you could see through. He was a frequent visitor to the P.D.S.A where they would patch him up.

As well as fighting, he took other risks he jumped out of the bedroom window when he couldn’t get out of the house, landing safely on a flowerbed. He was a prolific thief, often chased by dogs and owners when he made off with their balls (he had a collection of 19 that he had brought home). More than one golfer pursued Pete down a fairway when he sneaked onto the green just as they were taking a shot. He fell into a frozen Middleton Lake chasing ducks. He was pulled out just in time. In spite of our efforts to keep him inside in very hot weather, he sunbathed and caught sunstroke. We thought his end was near and wrapped him in wet towels. He recovered. He chewed through an old-fashioned golf ball and discovered its liquid centre. Again, the vet was consulted.


One of our most embarrassing moments occurred in the local newsagents. We were queueing for our comics when Pete strolled in. Spotting, of all dogs, a Bullmastiff. He sprang at its back. Papers, magazines and sweets were hurled in the air. Somehow, we managed to pull them apart. The newsagent banned us from entering again! Time and time Pete made us late for school surreptitiously following us and jumping out joyously at the school gate. A long trek home ensued.

In spite of his aggressive ways with other dogs, Pete was affectionate and loyal to our family. We dressed him up in dolls’ clothes and wheeled him through the streets in a pram. He was the recipient of our Gees Linctus tablets when we spat them out. He was so jealous of my emerging tadpoles that he ate a bucket of frog spawn and was violently sick. But when I returned home from my wedding at the local church it was Pete who was waiting at the garden gate with a big pink bow around his neck.

He lived to a fantastic 19 years of age and fought to the very end. He had become a legend in Middleton and many people missed him when he died.


NorthernLife July/August 2022