• Claire

It's National Storytelling week!

Who doesn't love to curl up on the sofa in a cosy oversized jumper with a hot coco and dive into a good book? This week is National Storytelling week which celebrates the art of telling tales where the theory "as long as there is an ear to listen there is a story to tell" is prominent. There are many platforms for storytelling; TV, books, plays, music. Even social media has started with Instagram Stories where users can now upload off-the-cuff or behind-the-scenes photos and videos to their Instagram Story which lasts only 24 hours before disappearing. Storytelling is about sharing – not just the sharing of words and plot, but the sharing of emotions and experiences too.

The beauty of verbal storytelling over reading a book is it can take any direction. Traditionally starting with the infamous words Once upon a time.....by the very nature of telling it in your own words no two tales are the same. If the story teller wishes to, the story can take an unexpected turn and have a completely different outcome to the time it was told before! Tales can be told by children or Grand Parents engaging all ages. A good story teller will conjure intriguingly with tales of Folk lore, Fairy Tales, phantoms, dragons, serpents, storms at sea, disasters on land, tales of hardship and learning often with morals attached.

Traditionally stories have been used to teach children important lessons for life, the importance of kindness, courage in adversity and that no matter how bad things get there is always hope for the future. Animals are a great teacher and the perfect companion. Writers involve pets to lead the way, keep character's safe and are often the hero's of the story. Enid Blyton's Famous Five have Timmy and The Secret Seven have Scamper, the Swiss Family Robinson had dogs and JM Barrie's Darling family had their dog Nana actually looking after the children in the nursery, such trust was placed in her care and the whole reason Wendy went to Neverland was so she could tell the lost boys stories!

My grandparents had a dog called Rolly, a very cute Yorkshire Terrier. One of my most precious childhood memories is when I was lucky enough to go to the breeder to collect him with my Nana. I travelled home with him on my lap, this very tiny bundle sat on a towel in case he had an accident, I chose a red collar for him and even had a hand in naming him!

As well as seeing Rolly there were always three important things that happened that were very much looked forward to when we visited our Grandparents. Nana always baked a cherry cake and Grandad always bought us a bag of pick n mix but the most exciting thing was every night before we went to bed Grandad would be the last one to come and kiss us goodnight and tuck us in. This was because he had a very important job he wanted us to do. We had to pick one thing each (there were three of us), it could be anything, an object, a person or a time period and it would feature in his bedtime story. He would make up a tale involving our three requests and we waited with much anticipation to find out where our carefully chosen item would come in the story! I can't remember a single one of the tales but they were the best stories ever told and sent us off to sleep with all sorts of amazing things going round in our heads to dream about!

We often tell our children tales of when we were growing up, true stories about family and friends, our pets and the antics we got up to or the differences between life then and now, how things have changed. The stories you remember from your childhood can be shared and enjoyed again and again with your children. Children are fascinated by the past and what it was like "in the olden days".

I remember my daughter once asking "was everything in black and white in the olden days, how did you learn to see in colour?" I did chuckle to myself but realised that the 'storytelling' of my childhood had been completely inadequate and had only left her imagination to understand what I had communicated to her. I vowed to get better at storytelling and now, when we are on long walks with our dogs at the weekend, we often walk along making up tales and adventures based on what we can see around us and creating imaginary characters and friends, taking it in turn to tell the next part of the tale. I'm not sure I've got any better at the art of storytelling and these are tales that are never written down or retold, they are however, just enjoyed in the moment and just like me with my Grandad, the detail will be long forgotten but the memory and the feelings that go with it will always be relived! Thanks Grandad!


Here's some really cool stories about dogs that are due out in February!!

Determined dogs from around the world travel vast distances and overcome unbelievable odds. Meet Bonnie, the Kelpie Blue Heeler cross, who led her owner to safety through one of the deadliest bushfires in Australia's history. Penny, a Hungarian Vizsla, who was dognapped & found 3800 miles from where she was taken & Inka, the friendly bull-mastiff cross, who made her way back after ten years just in time for Christmas. From heartwarming tales of canine loyalty to mysterious cases of dogs turning up thousands of miles away, these are the incredible true stories of how sixteen remarkable dogs found their way home.

The Inspirational Life of Britain's Bravest Dog and Winner of the 2017 Daily Mirror Animal Hero of the Year Award!

Dave Wardell's heartfelt memoir charts an incredible journey of friendship and loyalty.

The book charts the career of a highly trained, highly decorated dog. In his time on the job Finn tracked offenders of all kinds; found missing children; tackled armed offenders; saved lives. But Finn isn't just a police dog - he's also a cherished family pet and this is his remarkable, life-affirming story.

Fennel and Twiglet are best friends. They do everything together, from curling up in their basket to playing fetch in the park. Twiglet understands Fennel like no one else, especially her life-long dream of winning Crufts. There's just one problem: Fennel isn't a dog. And a girl can't win a competition for dogs, no matter how much she acts like one. Can she?

We want dogs to get the best out of life!

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