TARA... is the perfect dog for someone who has always dreamed of wanting a flatcoat, but half the usual size.

In fact, this totally adorable 18-mth-old girl is probably a spaniel/setter x and she’s a real star.   She was surrendered by his Irish owners after they moved to the city and found that Tara could not cope with the noise.  She also started to be very nervous of strangers.

My first sight of Tara yesterday when I collected her from the Irish transport was mostly of her teeth as she shrunk back into the crate in the van and snarled.  As soon as she was out, though, she was all kisses and hugs, as sweet as sweet can be.  Something must have happened to frighten her but because it resolves so quickly and  we think this response to strangers will soon disappear. In the meantime, it’s very manageable - strangers just need to ignore her until she comes to them (which she soon does, with a very waggy tail).

Tara is brilliant with other dogs and loves to play (she’s fearless even with dogs much bigger than her). She has also lived with a cat, although will chase - more in search of a game than anything else, though, so should be OK with a cat that stands his or her ground.

Although she has lived outside, she is fully house-trained. Her other strengths include that she loves the car, is very affectionate, her recall is pretty good and although she is active she settles very well once she’s played/ been walked. All in all, a lovely, very pretty girl who is very easy to have around and knows the basic commands.

Tara is looking for active country lifestyle and will do well in a busy household, ideally with another dog to play with or at least regular access to playful canine chums. She loves children but because she’s nervous of strangers, and also because she “mouths” (grabs your arm when she’s excited - although not hard!) we think her best homed with either no, or only older, dog-savvy children.

UPDATE 29/11/09

Well Tara has been with us for almost six weeks now. It’s not for the lack of interest - just that nothing quite right has come up. So now young Tara has truly settled in, what more do we know of her?  Well first and foremost, she really is a divine little dog. She settles very well in the house and is a real cuddler ( if possible on your lap...) But out and about it’s a different story - she pelts round the place, exploring everything, reminiscent of a working cocker.  She is rather independent on walks so will definitely need a country home and  you have to stop every now and again and make sure she’s with you (rather than in a copse with her head down a rabbit hole...). She does come when called and responds pretty well to a gundog whistle, but her recall does need some work so we’re looking for a home that can definitely commit to a bit of training.

Her fear of strangers gets less every day and only really manifests if, say, she’s outside and someone comes through the gate. Then she will bark and if approached will bare her teeth - but it really is all mouth and no trousers. As soon as you’ve told her the visitor is OK, she’s all over them.

Tara is a real star with other dogs - very playful but respectful if they don’t want to play. All in all, a terrific addition to an active country home with, ideally, another playful dog for company.

UPDATE 24/2/10

Tara is still with us. It’s not for the lack of  interest - far from it as we’ve had lots of lovely homes keen to meet her. But this little minx has very specific needs and we haven’t quite found the right home yet.

First up, she absolutely has to be rehomed to a home with another existing playful dog. She absolutely loves canine company and it will help work off some of her boundless energy.  It also needs to be rural and away from roads as she can disappear on walks once she knows where she is.  (She always returns and she has a great sense of direction but traffic would be a concern). For this reason, she also needs a secure garden.  And, finally, if at all possible, Tara would love a home where she is allowed to cuddle on laps and sofas. It’s a tall order, we know... but we know there’s the perfect home out there for her somewhere!

UPDATE 24/2/10

Couldn’t resist adding this pic, left, of the little minx after she emerged from a rabbit warren on a very wet day on Salisbury Plain.  And, below, after she’d been cleaned up looking like butter wouldn’t melt...and in her fave place on the back of the sofa...

UPDATE 20/6/10

It has been becoming increasingly obvious that my Jon didn’t want to part with Tara... He loves this gutsy little girl who has behaved incredibly badly with almost everyone who came to see her - either disappearing over the horizon, ignoring, or - on a couple of occasions - snapping at them. With us she is a complete delight - one of the most affectionate dogs we’ve ever known,  very funny and a huge character.  She has now been with us since last October and clearly loves it here. So there you go, Tara - you are now an official member of the family...and very welcome you are, too...

(added 17/10/09)

Above: with our Boz and, below, with our Tickle....

Butter wouldn’t melt... yer, right....