Sunday, 20 November 2011

Chasing the cat and getting the boot

In dog world, this level of extreme exhaustion only comes from a major bout of physical and mental activity.
..........Like eating a pair of Ugg boots and then trying to eat somebody’s cat, perhaps?
So this is a public apology to Vicar Jan and her family, who I suspect are unlikely to ask me to stay for the weekend again. 

I am very, very sorry indeed.

In my defence, I live in a house where the humans have the fashion sense of Timmy Mallett and Sue Pollard, so I had never come across an Ugg before.

I do now apreciate the depth of my crime.

As for the cat... what can I say?  They do say that the cat’s motto is: “No matter what you’ve done wrong, always try to make it look like the dog did it.”

And it did look a bit like a squirrel.
So especially for Vicar Jan – here’s a story I saw on a great South African pet website by a vet, Martha Hardison:
A client brought a litter of golden retriever puppies to my veterinary clinic for inoculations and worming. As the look-alike pups squirmed over and under one another in their box, I realized it would be difficult to tell the treated ones from the rest. So, I turned on the water faucet, wet my fingers, and moistened each dog's head when I had finished. After the fourth puppy, I noticed my talkative client had grown silent. As I sprinkled the last pup's head, the woman leaned forward and whispered, "I didn't know they had to be baptized, too."

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

How could they?

Don't even speak to me

You will have noticed that I have been rather quiet for the last couple of weeks.

Frankly, this because I have been lost for words.
Worse than that, I have been violated.

I went back to the vets for a quick check up, had the plastic bucket removed from my head, and settled back into everyday life.  Then a couple of days later I was at a loose end and it occurred to me that I hadn’t growled at my testicles for a few days (I don’t know why I do this, but I do).

........... But they weren’t there.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  And then it all suddenly made sense.

Having had time to think this through, I suppose I can understand where Weird might be coming from, especially after I accidently broke her fingers through over-excitement. But Beard?  The man who won an axe throwing competition and wears Bear Grylls Survivor trousers? 
The man who straight-facedly describes himself as ‘a bit of a hunk’?

Traitor. Traitor. Traitor.

According to my research, it is possible to buy fake dog testicles called neuticles
They are available in sizes from petite to extra large. According to the manufacturer, they allow dogs like me to maintain their self-esteem.
Somehow I don’t imagine they will be on my Christmas list.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Conehead and the barbarians

Something very strange is going on.

I have what appears to be a plastic bucket attached to my head.
In fact, I look like a triceratops.

Here’s what happened.  A couple of weeks ago I went off for a particularly good walk in the woods with Beard – but on the way home called in at the vets.  This didn’t bother me too much as there is a six foot display of dog food in the corner, which I set about trying to break into while B was in conversation with the nurse.
Then I turned around to find he had vanished. Completely.  Nursey was holding the end of the lead.

To cut a long story short, she took me into the back room, patted me on the nose, shoved a needle in my backside and next thing I woke up with a bucket firmly attached to my head.
So... I am completely baffled.  On the positive side, B and W keep giving me sausages and pieces of chicken (which is usually a sign of guilt) and I have learned very quickly that the bucket doubles as a battering ram to open doors and push humans around the house. It also acts as a sort of giant funnel for dog treats.

On the negative side, it’s impossible to have a good scratch and... to be honest.... my nether regions are feeling a bit strange.
I will report back when I get rid of the bucket. Only then will we solve the mystery...

A bonus of having a bucket on my head was that I missed the inevitable Halloween indignity that would have seen me sporting devil horns or suchlike, for the amusement of the humans. Sadly, many of my distant relatives were not so lucky...........


Monday, 17 October 2011

The Pawshank Redemption


I have returned.
After four days in dog jail for a crime I did not commit.

Which, readers will note, is a MONTH in dog time.
And while I am actually back in the dog bed at the cottage, I feel that I should now be in an open top car, heading for an old sailboat on a Pacific beach.

It all started innocently enough. When I saw B packing up Piggywig , the wubby and the bag of birthday doggie doughnuts,  I just presumed we were off camping again, so I jumped willingly into the car. Twenty minutes later I found   myself outside a strange building being bundled into a cage. Yes a CAGE. And then he was off. Leaving me there with a bunch of barking mutts, who would have been banging their tin mugs on the bars if only they’d had any.
There I was,  left in a wire run, in a yard with some other collies and big dogs.  To add insult to injury, just across the yard were the socially superior dogs, who had their own apartments. Honestly.  They had bedrooms with TVs and four poster beds.  These were mostly little yappy things – the ones that Weird refers to as ‘Handbag Dogs’. Talk about how the other half live.

The yard itself had a definite Shawshank feel, with a big Setter next door called Red and some predatory-looking Rotweilers across the way.  I felt I brought an Andy Dufresne-style influence to the proceedings...

I could see why some of the boys took him for snobby. He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn't normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place. Yeah, I think it would be fair to say... I liked Andy from the start.
In the end, apart from the appalling injustice, the stay was just about tolerable. My cellmates were friendly enough – and one of them could open doors, despite having only one front paw – so that was impressive. There was much brushing, hosing and jet washing – which have the potential to keep me fascinated for hours – and we got to run in a field. 

To be honest, what with barking, eating and sleeping, I didn’t have much time to plan my escape.  I was just getting onto it when B suddenly appeared from nowhere and tempted me into the back of the Landy with a pig ear. 
Of course, had they been away longer, they just might have found an empty cell....

In 2011 Mr Bounce escaped from prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of paw prints, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub. Oh, Bouncy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes really, pressure, and time.
I love my new blanket
Postscript:  Big thank you to Jodie the Staffy, who sent me a lovely new dog blanket for my birthday. It was waiting for me when I got out of jail. At least someone loves me.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Birthday treats and broken bones

Listening to some birthday tunes

Well it’s been an interesting month in dog world.
The main highlight was my first birthday, which saw me presented with a bag of Sainsbury’s doggie doughnuts (highly recommended) and a new green rubber thing on a string which has become my favourite possession. W keeps calling it my ‘wubby’, which I find more than a little patronising, but what can a dog do? 

Actually, if I’m honest, that was the only highlight.
The first challenge came when Beard disappeared for a while and then came back wearing a leg brace and lay on the settee in the style of a Jane Austen character with an attack of the vapours. Meanwhile W ferried him an endless supply of sandwiches and cups of tea. Skydiver Liz turned up and instead of the usual dog treats, brought jelly babies. To my total disgust he ate the lot, on the grounds that they would make me hyperactive.

Apparently all of this fuss arose because he had been in hospital.
I quickly realised that B had timed the whole hospital thing to coincide with the Rugby World Cup, so we watched most games snuggled up together on the sofa while W made food, tidied up, went to work and generally rushed about getting in the way of the television.

Sadly for me, her daily itinerary included taking on dog walking, at 6.00am and 5.00pm.  I have to say, the morning sessions were marked by excessive grumpiness, which generally started when I ran upstairs and jumped on her head at 5.30am.  One morning I ate her bra straps in all the excitement and, quite frankly, she went mental.  Well, come on... none of this would happen if she didn’t leave it on the floor.
Evening sessions were marginally better, although she did get quite a lot of mosquito bites. B nicknamed her ‘grumpy lumpy’ but I’m not sure she saw the joke.

Then, a couple of weeks into Beard’s convalescence, everything went badly wrong.
Early one Sunday morning, the Grump and I had left B snoozing and we were on our second circuit of the Cow Field, when a black Labrador appeared in the distance.  It came across two fields like a speeding bullet.

And then it tried to steal my green thing.
I am not proud of what happened next, but in the melee, Weird’s engagement ring got caught in my collar.  To be fair, we stopped fighting when we heard her fingers snap.

So now B is hopping about doing the chores while W awaits surgery with her arm in a plaster cast. And we have run out of dog food because apparently Sainsbury is not within hopping distance.
They both have to take me on walks now, but because they can’t actually get very far, they stand at different ends of the football field and kick the ball from one to the other while I shuttle between them. On a positive note W is developing some impressive ball control. If they ever want an angry pre-menopausal woman to appear on Wayne Rooney’s Street Soccer, the girl’s in with a chance.

No chance of a walk then?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

High days, holidays and a hurricane

I have triumphed.
Prolonged good behaviour - including walking to heel; collapsing dramatically to the floor when they pretend to shoot me; and wearing a ridiculous blue snood without attempting to tear it off, meant that I avoided the dreaded kennels and got to go on holiday.
And where did we go in the worst summer in living memory? Scotland.
On a positive note there were no midgies. They had all drowned or died of hypothermia.
We drove through the night to get to the beautiful Isle of Arran. Well until the starter motor seized on the Landy and we had to be towed by an articulated lorry.
Sadly, we were followed by Hurricane Katya, which meant we were trapped there for some considerable time because the ferries were cancelled.  Of course, I don’t mind 70 mile an hour winds and torrential rain, so I had a pretty good time with lots of walks, football and swimming in the sea, mostly accompanied by a cheerful Beard, whose mantra was: “why let a bit of water spoil your holiday?”
Despite the conditions he spent hours collecting driftwood, foraging for mushrooms and cooking on an open fire (no matches allowed though as those are for wimps). He also made friends with Angus the mechanic and his brother-in-law Robin who let us camp in his field.  This was helpful because when the serious weather warning finally meant we had to abandon the tent for our own safety, he also let us stay in his cottage. 

Baking bread


Weird seemed strangely quiet during the trip, although to be fair I could only see a small proportion of her face through her waterproofs.  When these started to leak, B said he would buy her an American army poncho for the next holiday for when she was collecting firewood.  At this point she zipped herself into the tent storage area for some considerable time. 

All in all I had a fantastic time. The only downside was when Weird (who has poor eye-leg coordination) kicked my football into the sea and it was lost.  To be fair, I think the layers of clothing and balaclava restricted her movements.
So... we’re back home and B and I are on our own this week because W had to go and do some work in Cyprus.  We took her to the airport, shared a Ginsters breakfast bar on the way back and went for a game of football.  Then I settled down in the special out-of-bounds chair while B watched the rugby.
Life is good.
I must NEVER sit in this char

Friday, 16 September 2011

Dancing sheep and scary toast

September has been an interesting month.  One of the highlights has been this week with the World Sheepdog Trials on TV.  Mind you, it took me a while to realise all the whistling wasn’t aimed at me – I stared intently at B and W for the first 15 minutes to see if their lips were moving, then did a couple of tours of the house looking for the phantom shepherd before I realised where the sound was coming from.  In their usual juvenile way, they found this highly amusing of course.  I then spent the next hour glued to the screen, occasionally checking behind it when the sheep ran off into the distance.
Sheep have played a big part in my life recently. It all started when, in a sudden moment of clarity one morning, I realised that the garden fence is actually only three feet tall, so I jumped over it.  Next I jumped over the neighbours’ fence – and then, having reached maximum velocity*, cleared the five foot wall into the sheep field.   The woolly ones got quite a shock at my sudden arrival, and by the time Beard followed me over the wall in his pyjama trousers, I had them neatly pinned into one corner.  I thought he’d be impressed by this, but he was incandescent, dragged me back to the cottage and set up a complicated rope system that means I am now clipped on to a wire every time I go out of the front door.  Grrrr.
We went to the local Food and Drink Festival not long after that, which is held at a nearby farm. Due to the fantastic British summer weather, this had all the charms of the Somme, with desperate looking stall holders plying gourmet cheeses and chilli flavoured chocolate, while cagoule-clad visitors stumbled through two feet of welly-sucking mud to get to them.  I passed several toddlers spread-eagled face-down in the mud while their parents attempted to carry buggies over the mire. There were cooking demonstrations, folk musicians and even a circus tent, but the best thing of all was the sheep show.
photo: Flickr Richard Gillin

This was hosted by Craig the New Zealander, who introduced us to his collection of sheep friends. With much abuse targeted at Australians and rather too much innuendo for a morning’s family entertainment, he ended the performance brilliantly with a whole row of sheep, who were dancing ... yes dancing....  to ‘The Hustle’ by the late great Van McCoy.  Baaahrilliant.

I have also had lots of visitors – Skydiver Liz (who has now gone off to throw herself out of a plane); Pilates Susie; Andrea the Accountant; Vicar Jan (who I will love forever because she brought her empty butter container to lick) and -perhaps  most exciting of all – Friendly Pete, who brought my first ever dog visitor, Poppy the Spaniel.  In all honesty, she didn’t share my enthusiasm for intimacy on a first date but we had a good run around on the field, so all was not lost.

Finally, the downside of the month is that I have developed a morbid fear of toast.  Apparently this is a Pavlovian thing.  For some unknown reason, W routinely burns the toast.  This sets off the smoke alarm, which hurts my sensitive dog ears, so I run away.  Now I only have to sniff or clap eyes on a piece of jammy toast and I have a complete panic attack.
So, in conclusion, I love dancing sheep and I really, really hate toast.

*A fit collie can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. That’s faster than Beard’s Landrover