I have always liked the many dogs occupying the Skeldale Household. For the sake of this story I have taken the liberty to name them and grant them with a bit of background history. I have not seen all episodes made, so do forgive me if the dogs' names were ever mentioned. I do know that the dogs in the show were all owned by crew members and have read their real names somewhere – but since this is a story, I did not use these names. Also, I tried to come up with names which I could imagine Siegfried calling the dogs. Secondly, I am not sure I have the breeds correct, so please feel free to correct me.
Set during the first episode of the first season. James is introduced to the members of the Skeldale Household.
With a satisfied sign James Herriot let himself ease down in the armchair by the fire and for moment just basked in the heat and comfort after what seemed like the longest day of his life. His first day in Darrowsby had been filled with tests and tribulations, but James had already come to like the place, and was more than happy about the fact that he would be staying here now. Many of his colleges from vet school had not been able to find positions, and James knew how extremely lucky he had been, not only to find a job, but also to find one where he would be able to work with both domestic- and farm animals. Furthermore, he had taken an instant liking to his new boss Siegfried Farnon, and was quite sure that he would soon find Skeldale just as homely as Scotland. He was interrupted in his musings when Siegfried came through the door followed by the pack of dogs James had met upon his arrival.
"Dinner will be ready in a few moments" Siegfried announced and plotted himself down on the settee opposite James, whom nodded in reply. The fawn colored whippet had silently followed Siegfried and now gracefully jumped onto his lap and curled up in a ball. Siegfried regarded the dog with a loving glance and scratched his back. Looking up and meeting James' eye Siegfried suddenly raised his hand as if trying to catch the attention of a large crowd.
"My dear boy, I'm terribly sorry – I seem to have forgotten to introduce you to the rest of the members of the Skeldale Household"
"Oh?" James stated, not really sure what Siegfried meant, but at the same time also aware of the fact that a house the size of Skeldale could easily fit more people than just Farnon and the housekeeper Mrs. Hall.
"Yes, I have a terrible memory when it comes to these things. Well, this is Nero- he is a whippet as I guess you as a vet, my lad, already know" Siegfried stated and petted the whippet's ear as the dog raised his head at the sound of his name. Struck silent for a second James quickly regained his composure and smiled at his new boss. He should of course have known that dogs were just as much part of the household as humans were.
"Beautiful" he added when he noticed Siegfried staring at him and found that he had chosen his words correct when his boss smiled and petted the dog. A personal favorite, apparently.
"Yes he is" Siegfried said and then pointed at the Shetland sheepdog, currently spread out on the floor in front of the fireplace.
"That over there is Zack. I got him from a farmer in Walsh 'bout a year ago. Terrible story James, sheepdog at a large farm but then the owner died, and suddenly I ended up with him. A good dog, but never to be let out on his own", the last was stressed and James nodded to communicate that he understood. Sheepdogs, however well trained, always possessed the ability of turning rouge and the only way to fully prevent an attack on livestock was to keep a close eye on the dog.
"The retrievers are brothers" Siegfried said and brought James' attention to the sandy colored retriever who had left his place by the door in exchange for getting scratched behind the ear by his master. The big dog friendly wagged his tail but quickly took a step back when Nero lifted his head and starred at him.
"Bought them for hunting – Watson here is a first class hunter, a real champion every time, but Winston" Siegfried pointed at the biggest dog of the pack, who had not left his position in front of the door where he laid like an Egyptian sphinx with his head raised and his enormous paws stretched out in front of him, "is more than a little confused".
At James' questionable look Siegfried continued,
"He seemed to think that he is a watch dog. Always sleeping by the door and guarding the yard. A most peculiar behavior, but one must admit that it is good that someone take the job. A strange dog indeed" Siegfried said and shook his head. James coughed in order to hide a smile and fondly studied Winston.
"Last, but not least – Argo" Siegfried said in a warm tone and pointed to the red chow chow who had settled down on the floor near James' feet.
"Oldest of the pack, the first dog at Skeldale, I brought him with me when I moved in. First class hunter, but he is getting older James" Siegfried said and James nodded, aware of the few white hair mixing in the red, stating that the dog was not young anymore. Regardless he was still looking fit and strong.
"Fine dog, fine dog indeed" Siegfried said.
The round of presentation was interrupted when Mrs. Hall opened the door and entered with a tray of food, announcing that dinner was served. Following Siegfried to the table James could not help but notice Mrs. Hall with practical ease herding the pack into the hall and smiled when he overheard her reprimanding Nero for stealing Argo's food. Apparently all members of the Skeldale household had their personal favorites.