Shackleton is a family show about saying yes to adventure, inspired by the writer's chance encounter with an adventurous dog in Wiltshire. Here she writes about the day she found him.
Back in spring 2015 I was driving home with the family when we spotted a dog on the road. I stopped the car with my two small children craning to see what was going on and my husband shouting ‘There, look there! Where’s he come from?’
I got out of the car as the wet, panting dog whizzed up to me, wagging his tail and dodging his head around my hand to lick me as I stroked him. His tag had an address and number, which we called and spoke to someone called Tessa, who said she was very happy that we’d found him, that he’d been gone for hours and her Dad would come and collect him soon. She also said his name was Shackleton.
Delighted with our find we made a lead from rope and took him home where he bounded into the house, covering the floor in mud and sniffed everything.
We gave him snacks, threw sticks (which he brought back!) and discovered he knew loads of great tricks. A while later Tessa’s Dad arrived with a box of chocolates, which he swapped for Shackleton, explaining that their intrepid dog had travelled for miles and even crossed a river to get to us.
It was a magical day for my children and, to help them to remember it, I wrote it all down as a story.
Over the next few months the story stuck in my mind and I kept returning to it, rewriting it and adding more imagined detail and back story until I realised that Shackleton, the adventurous dog, could hold his own in a script.
Two years on, with the pilot tour drawing to a close, I couldn’t stop thinking about the real Shackleton and how nice it would be to see him again and to meet Tessa. All I could remember was the general direction he’d come from, that he'd crossed a river and the house name from his tag. I pieced together the probable address, wrote a letter and posted it, along with a flier for the show.
To my surprise Tessa called me a few days later and invited us for a cup of tea!
I excitedly arrived at Tessa's house to find a wonderful family home with Shackleton bounding about, just as I remembered him! I heard all about his adventures and it soon became clear that Shackleton’s name was absolutely right for this rogue of a dog.
I heard endless stories of Shackleton escaping, Shackleton popping down into the village, Shackleton’s regular visits to the local petrol station and the many rumours of puppy litters that have an uncanny resemblance to him.
Whilst hearing all about Shackleton I realised that Tessa and her family are just as adventurous as their dog and so I'll be returning for more tea and stories soon.
As the summer tour launches I want to say THANK YOU to Tessa, her Dad and their family, who’ll be coming to see the show soon and will be bringing the real Shackleton with them!
Anna Harriott, May 2017
Shackleton, on the day he was found