Saga of a woman old enough to know better who lets her life be governed by the ridiculous hobby of breeding and showing dogs, musing on life, the twenty first century, Cameron and his mini-me, and the occasional sheep.

Thursday, October 01, 2015


Our last show was Belfast.  In addition to Tess Trueheart and Sparkle, Melanie would be going over, too seek her fortune there like her Uncle Cupcake.  Usually there is a small entry, due partly to the number of people that fear boats.  But I am perfectly happy in boats, and was sure that the journey would be uneventful.

And indeed the journey was fine, apart from the late departure of the ferry “due to four arrests on the way over from Ireland”   Best not to ask…

The venue had been changed.  Well, its site had been.  This show takes place in what I think of as the Big Tin Shed which, like the witch Baba Yaga`s hut, tends to move about a bit (although probably not on chicken legs).  It had moved out of the city, down the M1 to a site formerly occupied by a prison, now demolished.    We were given a postcode for the satnav.  No problem.  We rolled off the ferry in the wee small hours, and headed south.

But soon the satnav took us off the motorway, and into a network of lanes, getting smaller and smaller, until at last it announced triumphantly that we had arrived.   We stared in dismay at a small building site on a dead end.  And as we pondered the difficulty of reversing out, other headlights appeared behind us. All people deceived by satnav.  And a bus.  We all conferred, and the bus driver thought he might find the place.  We all said we would follow.   Suddenly
we had a convoy.

Melanie off to a new life

I somehow remembered the old film with Kris Kristofferson, who headed a trucker  convoy under the  handle of  “Rubber Duck”.    Our Rubber Duck was an increasingly frustrated bus driver, as we followed him in and out of country lanes, small villages, and side roads which looked unfortunately familiar.  We could have welcomed the appearance of a smokey bear, especially one with a map and local knowledge.  At last we found a gate, and a night watchman, and we all parked in a vast wasteland of a cleared site.  And in the morning, there was the BTS, gleaming in the sun.

I got my lot out and settled….well, apart from poor Melanie, never a good traveller, who had found the boat and then the convoy, even with a travel pill, all too much and emerged as a small sad damp lump.   Much drying ensued, but she was still distressingly sticky and undeniably sad.

And “sad” also summed up the judging.  Not many there, and Tess Trueheart and Sparkle, who gave their all, were passed over in favour of really big dogs.  The best thing for me was seeing my boys, Cupcake and Mr Wag again.  And of course the good friend who handles them for me.  But otherwise we were happy to be booked on the early boat home.  Alas, the bus passengers had no such escape, and were forced to enjoy the facilities of the BTS (4 toilets and one burger bar) until late afternoon.

I hope Melanie will settle, as the boys have.   Time will tell.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


And off we went, heading into the dark motorway at 2am on the intrepid dogbus.   Tess Trueheart and Sparkle had never been on a bus before, but fortunately they decided to suffer in silence.  The dog which gives you a running commentary on the journey, or decides to sing you the songs of his people, is not well loved on a bus at night.

I managed on and off with all the parphenalia of showing, which was a relief, and we were allowed to park next to the entrance.  Right inside was the Papillon ring, with toilets and a coffee stall conveniently at hand.   I decided I  might enjoy this.

Well, given that winter draws on, Sparkle , after due consideration has decided it is time to cast his coat.  He showed impeccably, but we moved down the ring in our own personal snowglobe as he showered hair impartially on all ( and especially on the judge).   The judge was not appreciative. 

Sparkle evidently didn`t care.  He is convinced that he will look good naked, a mistake made by many males.   He will be sexting next.

Sparkle stands Aug15
"I`m so beautiful I don`t need a coat!"   Sparkle

Tess Trueheart, who loves to be outdoors, showed with her usual daft enthusiasm and was 2nd.  Both were having a really good time.   They adore shows – sometimes I wonder why, especially when I am tired and trying not to think about the journey home. They have no such worries.

Much gossip to catch up on, quiet amusement about that judge who bought a title, and a great deal of comment  - not about the judging, but the toilets.  Clean, scented with vacuum flush, sweet music and pot plants.  That this created a sensation should tell you a lot about what dog show toilets are usually like…and how much they mean to exhibitors.   I will not go  into details.  Suffice it to say that in one region the provider of toilet facilities is a Mr Pew, and that name is highly appropriate.

Safe home, but very late, already thinking about the next show, across the Irish Sea.   I will see Mr Wag and Cupcake again, and Melanie is going, possibly to stay.   As she is inclined to throw up when she even catches sight of a car, I have great worries about the ferry and have laid in a stock of pills.  The whole thing will be a huge culture shock for her.

I`ve told her it will be a Great Adventure.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


A quiet slide into autumn, with not much excitement here.   I always feel winter is near when my yearly order of coal arrives, and that was today.  Only 2 tons this time, as last winter was mild (as I hope this one will be!)  Hard winters here involve being snowed in, and possibly towing in supplies on a sledge if it gets really bad.

Meanwhile the sun shines, and I heaved the shiny new tarp over about 3 tons of  coal. Wild excitement from the dogs.  They screeched at the Big New Thing, and had hysterics when Solitaire decided to investigate it and only discovered how shiny it was when she slid off, landing on her ample bottom and
looking very embarrassed.

Sparkle Tess Plush ready for home Leeds15
My show team ready for home - Sparkle, Plush and Tess Trueheart

Shortly now Dancer and Melanie will be off to new homes, where I hope they will settle.  Dancer`s one brain cell will be working overtime when faced with such a big change, and I hope he will cope.

And I have just a few shows left this year.  I am off to one on the dreaded Dog Bus, which I haven`t attempted for a long time.  I just hope I can physically manage it.  My show team, Sparkle, the dirt magnet,   Tess Trueheart the happy airhead, and Plush the capable, have no doubts at all.  They are, as always, very full of it.   I hope for a better result with Tess than last time out, when her worst fears were realised – when I asked her to walk down the mat, 15 huge golden retrievers  in the next ring turned as one and stared at her.  Like her mother, Tess produced the predictable reaction – climb up my leg and ask to go home – now!  But there should be no big dogs this weekend, and it will be outdoors, which she likes.     And Sparkle and Plush couldn`t care less if there were velociraptors in the next ring.    We shall be hopeful.  Pointless confidence is the true mark of the dog shower.  The next show will be The One…

Well, maybe.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


It had been a wet day, and as a result I let the old ladies, sometimes referred to as the “granny farm” out later than usual.  I left them to get on with it.  They are a quiet lot, and normally they just dot about, no doubt exchanging chat about their stiff joints and the senseless doings of the younger generation.

When I came to take them in, clearly something had happened.   Prudence, Dora, Tamara and Truly were at the door.   The last two slipped in and went to bed very quietly.  Dora and Prudence ran about, wildly excited – Prudence`s eyes were rolling and clearly she was about to indulge in hysterics.  I got them
in at once.

That left two missing.   Were they still in the bottom run?   I went to look.

They weren`t – but an enormous badger was.  It looked up at me placidly.   Badgers are not afraid of much.   It showed no inclination to leave, but persuasion with the big yard broom worked, and it slowly shuffled off.

Still no Camilla or Fenella.   I called and called.   Why do these things always happen when it is getting dark?   I went on calling.

Eventually Camilla came crawling out of the undergrowth.  She was clearly very shaken, but I couldn`t find any injury.  I brought her up to the door, and she howled and howled like a lost soul.  Like Prudence she is given to hysterics, and not very brave, but I began to wonder if she was crying because Fenella had been

Fenella head
Fenella, Cupcake`s great-grandmother

I went on calling and at last heard a stirring of leaves, and Fenella came very slowly out from behind the old kennels.   She was shaking all over, and her back legs, now not very strong at the best of times, were really wobbly.   She appeared to have had a terrible fright.  I carried her in and could find no injury, but she went on shuddering for quite a while afterwards.

I`ll never know what happened.  A badger could have killed a Papillon – but they don`t take the initiative.  And the old ladies, except for Truly, are not aggressive.  (Fortunately Truly seems to have been sensible for once.)   I hadn`t heard any barking.   Clearly there was no fight.  They just seemed to have had a terrible scare.  And it took them a few days to get over it.

It could have been very different if the younger ones had come across the badger.  I will   keep an eye open in future, especially at dusk, when they are active.

Saturday, July 04, 2015


It has been a  quiet time recently, especially with the hot weather.  We have sat out a lot, and watched the wildlife – too many magpies, and the infamous Mr Black, a blackbird whom I assume to be very henpecked.  His wife used to come and wander intrepidly among the dogs, stealing bits of their food.  Then she vanished, obviously sitting on eggs.

And he began to appear.  He had not the courage of his wife.  He hovered and dithered, terrified of the dogs, but determined on the food.   And the penny dropped.  Of course – his wife had sent him.  “And don`t you dare come back without that nice dogfood!  If you can`t get it, don`t bother to come back at all!”  His life was now a misery…welcome to marrried life, son!

Plush Belle June 15
"Us?  Chase squirrels?  Never!"   - Plush and Belle relaxing in the sun

I felt a lot less sympathetic when he began to dig out all my planters, presumably looking for the Huge Magic Worm in the bottom.   I suppose he needs some illusion to keep him going.

The other wildlife specimen to watch has been a very fat squirrel.   This one aroused a very great deal of interest among the Papillons.  He has been frequently seen around the shrubs, on the ground, and  a few chases have ensued.    I thought nothing of it, except that it gave them a bit of exercise….

Until last night, when an uproar sent me running to get them in.   And in they came, very excited and satisfied.  There were signs of blood, and old Marcus came in last, chewing a paw.   The paw was not his own.... 

I can`t think how they managed it.  But I think Squirrelwatch is over, permanently.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015


I haven`t been here for some time, and the main reason was that Allegra died.

She was my special girl, and for a time I thought that without her I wouldn`t go on with dogs.    But all the others are still there, and with the encouragement of friends (and of Sparkle and his scatty sister Tess Trueheart) I have begun going to shows again.

With mixed results.  Sparkle has decided to forget his training, and in the ring shows a great persistence in climbing up my leg.  I am being very firm about this.  Tess is her usual daft self, but in the last two shows has shown some signs of maturity (at last!) and an increased ability to keep her tail up.    At the last show I paraded her and her best friend Plush round the ring before the show, and they flirted and pranced about and when faced with Notpap dogs clearly decided that together they were invincible.  I could see Tess thinking that Plush would sort everything out for her.  Fortunately this totally mistaken idea carried her through her experience in the ring, and she was well placed.   Plush herself is very professional about showing, and is no problem.

Sparkle relaxes June 15 vig
A sleepy Sparkle in the sun - "Why did you wake me?"

Sparkle and Tess are very attached to each other.   They still play like puppies.   And Sparkle has gone back to guarding the girls whenever we are out together.  The fact that his babyface just doesn`t fit that bill is quite beyond him. 

The last show was a bit of an ordeal.   A new showground, with very rough paths hurriedly laid down with recovered crushed old tarmac made the movement of anything on wheels almost impossible.   We struggled to the far end of the showground in persistent rain, to discover that all the toilets had been placed in a tight cluster at the entrance.  None where we were.  The whole toilet situation at outdoor shows is always very fraught, with long walks and huge queues common.  Next to the total incompetence of the judge, it is the favourite topic of conversation.  (One of the features of this delightful hobby that makes you wonder why we still do this). 

However, the dogs did not have this problem, and I was really pleased with how they had come on.   Tess Trueheart saw a black dog in the next ring and did not collapse and ask to go home,  Sparkle at last remembered the command “stand!” without it having to be expanded to “stand, you wee bugger!”  , and Plush, as usual, was quite reliable.  All were well placed.

On the whole, I think we will go on trying – at least for a while.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Cupcake winning the final award which makes him an International Champion.   (He doesn`t look all that impressed….   But I am!)

Cupcake wins 4th CACIB and is CIB CH

Monday, May 04, 2015


Ably handled by my good friend Diane, Cupcake has hit the heights.  He won the final CACIB this weekend, and is now, subject to confirmation, an International Champion – CIB CH VOLPECULA SET IN GOLD. 

Cupcake at a year old

I never thought, that hot day when he walked out with one ear down (the other descended in sympathy a day later) and I had to suddenly rethink his career, that it would all end so well.  He had little future as a Phalene, a drop-eared Papillon, in the UK, where, to be honest, they are not much liked and always come off badly competing against erect-eared Papillons.  But anywhere else in Europe, Phalenes are seen as a different breed, and he would have real chances.  So off he went across the sea to Ireland and a happy life on a farm with lots of freedom, fun and good fresh food.  And shows…  at which he did really well.

Cupcake at Dun Laoghaire
International Champion - Cupcake today.

I admit I really do miss him.

But he is happy and successful and will come back some day.

Meanwhile,  “Ears to him!”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Yes, I am recovering from a hit and run accident.  It was quite a shock and I am still treating the bruises.  The driver didn`t stop and careered on.  The whole of
Asda was appalled.

"Mum was knocked down by a  WHAT?" - Sparkle  

Yes, Asda.  I was knocked down in the vegetable aisle in Asda.  The perp was an ancient guy in a mobility scooter.  He drove at full speed into me, and I fell into the potato racks.   If you are looking for a soft landing, I advise you to avoid potatoes, which are very….unforgiving, shall we say.  He then crushed me against the display as he drove on past.
I was quickly surrounded by willing helpers, 3 of them also on mobility scooters.  Those three were furious.  “He was speeding!  He has no right to be in charge of a scooter!  Get security!  Have him thrown out!”  They set off to get security and have the old boy nicked, as the others offered tea and lots of sympathy.  Out of the corner of my eye I could see the security boys searching…

I shopped and got home before the bruising really kicked in.  One side became terribly stiff and sore.   I could  see my  bruises recording the impacts of several  particularly vicious individual potatoes . 

I suppose this contradicts the usual assumption of the unspeakable boredom of supermarket shopping.

I`ll settle for the boredom.

And keeping one eye on the potatoes.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Yes, Sparkle is back!   His little anxious babyface is with us again, and as before, the consensual reaction is “Awww!”
I was a bit worried about him fitting in.  He has not been an easy dog, I am told, and takes really badly to change.  However, I picked him up at a show, and brought him home, late that night, to face the others here.

Sparkle melting look
"Admit it - you can`t resist me!"  -  Sparkle

I need not have worried.   They all seemed to remember him – except for the puppies, who screeched and yelled at him, sure that the Martians  had landed .  The others simply shrugged.  “Oh yes, that little pest is back.”

Solitaire, however, was overjoyed.  Her wandering boy had returned.  She was all over him , tried to clasp him to her bosom and made strenuous attempts to wash him,  which he fairly politely declined.   (Solitaire still washes all her babies, if they will let her.   The girls allow it, but Fidget, now 5, insists he is too old to be scrubbed by Mum)

Where was he going to sleep?   He decided that himself.   He headed straight to Fidget`s bed.   I waited for bloodshed.   But Fidget simply indicated that it was OK, and that was that.   They settled in together for the night

And that was that.   I had bought in lots of expensive food for him – sure to keep him in good body and coat.   He ate it the first night.   After that he held out for cheap tinned, and whatever I was eating.   He seems quite settled.  UNusual noises, like owls (we have lots of owls) disturb him, but he will get used to that.

I`m pretty sure he will be OK, and a happy future of Bambi impersonating lies ahead of him.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


I haven`t blogged here for quite a while, and the main reason has been Allegra.   She is my very favourite of all the dogs, and she is having a struggle with lymphoma.  She had an operation, then treatment at home, but a sudden collapse sent me to the vet, thinking this was the end of the road.  But he took her in, and after five days of intensive care she swaggered out, a bit unsteady but very full of it as usual .   The vet had not expected her to live.

Allegra head 07 2
"I`m still here!"  - Allegra

Well, not for the first time, Allegra had cheated death again.  Years ago she had a bad accident, and a miraculous recovery after being given 24 hours to live.   Then last year she collapsed with a liver problem.  The vet treated her, and when I brought her back was astonished.  “You mean she`s still alive?”  I assured him she was feeling a lot better.  “Well, not sure what I did right – but let`s do the same again”.  Allegra responded brilliantly.

This time it is a cancer, but I am assured that it is a very treatable one in dogs.  And again the irrepressible Allegra is responding well so far.  She is eating ravenously, growing coat – and, much to my disgust, has decided to come in season.   At the moment she has no intentions of dying off….she is more interested in having sex -  either with her father, or Shelby, she has decided.  I am having to keep a close eye on the invalid. 

If it was up to Allegra, there would be no problem.   She has decided to live forever!

Sunday, February 08, 2015


On the way back from a local show where Tess Trueheart singularly failed to distinguish herself and I picked up a lot of gossip, I called in at the big Tesco to shop.  Plastic bags are forbidden now, in the name of Saving The Planet, so i produced two canvas ones when  the checkout girl kindly offered to pack for me.

They were soon filled, and I reached into a pocket and pulled out the big string

whitestringbag_grande bag. 

She looked at it lying there, like the discarded skin of some exotic animal.

“What is it?.   What does it do?”

I explained, reasonably, that it was a string bag.

“You mean things go inside it?   How does it work?   Where do things go?”

I kept a straight face as I pointed out the opening, and the handles, which pretty well exhausted this branch of string theory.  She continued to be loudly amazed at the amount it held.
I lugged home the sagging bag, also amazed that

a)  at my time of life I had gone back to using string bags, which up to now had been a vague childhood memory
b)  I should have to explain this strange technology to a teenager.   Or indeed anyone.

Sunday, February 01, 2015


The puppies are coming on, although they are not getting outside a lot due to weather.   Always a problem with winter litters.

Nevertheless, in the morning they all rush out for a very necessary moment….except for Dancer.  

Freya (V IRIDIUM)  Dancer (V QUICKSILVER) 15
Freya and her brother Dancer, the shovel trained dog

He heads straight for the heating stove.  It is fuelled by coal, and in front of it lies a little shovel.  Dancer positions himself, and makes a neat deposit in the shovel  - which, of course, I immediately dispose of in the stove.   Then he goes out.

He must think there is a fuel shortage.  Possibly he has somehow missed the 4 tons of coal under the blue tarp behind the garage?    However, I think his offering although kindly meant, is not really going to make a lot of difference.  Even if Freya and Melanie joined in, it would not significantly reduce my heating bills. 

At the moment the only one likely to go to a new home is Freya.    However, if Dancer does go, I can see myself having a hard time explaining that he is “shovel trained”! 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


And so another year has gone.  And I have had quite a good one in the dog sense.   Cupcake is now IR CH VOLPECULA SET IN GOLD, and the hope is that he will become an International Champion.   His son Mr Wag is  FCI JUNIOR CH VOLPECULA SNAPDRAGON.   Both of them are greatly enjoying life in Ireland.

Over here, Sparkle has had considerable success and is as far as I know Top Papillon Puppy.  Tess Trueheart his sister had often the bad luck to compete against him, and he would usually win.  She did well, despite my lack of transport to any shows in the latter part of the year.

So, not too bad.  Tess, having at last had a season, however, decided to become all girly, reaching for the lace handkerchief and the smelling salts at the least sign of trouble, but I am getting her over that.  Her BF Plush goes from strength to strength.

Belle`s litterScot Pap show  heads 098sm
From L To R - Freya, Dancer, Melanie 

And then there are the puppies.   Melanie is a soft clingy person, always wanting to sit on my knee.  When introduced to the lead, she was appalled.  Unloved and betrayed!   By someone she trusted!  She wailed, and wouldn`t move.   When released, she ran off and hid….but after a bit, hiding became a bit scary, and she came looking for Mum, with one eye open for the dreadful lead.

Dancer, the boy, untroubled by any finer sentiments, or indeed by any discernable brain activity whatsoever beyond basic motor functions, strode out bravely on the lead.  He looks promising.   No-one ever suggested that showing required brainpower.

Freya – well Freya is just Freya.  A law unto herself.  Her reaction to the lead is to sit down, shake violently and make her eyes go very big.   It usually works.   After all, she is a very little person.  I hope for a nice home for her.   

Meanwhile I have to work on getting them socialised, as they have only experience of home and the vet.  (They much prefer home!)  Arrival at the vet usually means sad damp stained puppies being hauled out of a puddle of – well, whatever they have done on the way.  Although my vet, after wiping down the sad sticky girls, is of the opinion that Dancer is the perp, as he usually emerges suspiciously cleaner than them.

And there we are.   I am off to relatives tomorrow, but it will be a quiet day.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Cupcake Xmas text

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


Tess Trueheart is a young bitch, just over a year, and her friend Plush is just a few months older.   Both have recently had the mind-altering experience of a first season.   With very different results.

Tess decided it had all been too much, and became nervy and girly, having the vapours and taildropping in the ring, a problem she didn`t have before.  Plush, on the other hand, who had been a little shy person, suddenly embraced adulthood and announced “I am woman – hear me roar!”  I wondered if one could perhaps cure the other..

I took both to training.  Tess was unsure – Plush full of newfound confidence.

I took Tess out and she dithered and taildropped.  I put her back in the pen and took out Plush who proceeded to do everything perfectly, and was rewarded with lavish praise – and ham.

From the pen came screams of despair and fury.  A very jealous Tess indeed.  She could see it all and was beside herself.   When I got her out, she did it all perfectly, with sideways looks to see if Plush could see her.

Problem solved , thought I, and took both with Angel to a show.
Tess behaved reasonably, and won.   Then I took out Plush – cries of fury and jealousy.   Plush did well, and next was Angel.   And that was the last straw.  I was busy with Angel and did not see what happened next, but I could hear the laughter.  Tess had got out.  And she went down the line of exhibitors, one by one, had a sniff at their feet, then looked up at their faces – “No, you`re not my mum.”  At last she got to me, triumphant and tail-wagging, to receive a distinctly cool reception from Angel and an embarrassed one from me.

Tess is, after all, very young.

Here she is, joining in play with Belle and her 3 puppies, Melanie, Freya and Dancer -

Sunday, November 02, 2014


As promised, I have at last managed a video of Belle and the puppies.  The weather has not helped, but we had a mild day, and out they came.

The two girls are keen on play, but the dog puppy always has to think about things a bit.  In my experience many dog puppies are like this.  I can remember Florian the Climbing Dog as a puppy sitting and thinking for hours with a very vacant look on his face.....of course I wouldn`t suggest for a moment that dog puppies are not very bright.  I will leave that assessment to his sisters.

Here they are, on a November afternoon -

Friday, October 31, 2014


Hallowe`en, and so mild that I got the puppies out for a bit.  And they loved it, although the dog was a bit unsure at first.  The adults put up with it in various stages of resignation.

Belle busy with litter Oct 14
Belle sees that they are all presentable

And Belle was always in charge.

Belle litter 7wk
Puppies on the go!

I managed to get a few pictures of them on the table, but as you can see they were none too happy about being up high.

Belle`s BW B pup sits 7wk
Black and white girl

Belle`s D pup 7 wks
Dog puppy - "If I stand, will I fall off?"

Belle`s tri B pup 7 wks
Tri girl - "Mum, I trust you not to leave me here!"

Even the dog puppy enjoyed himself at last.

Belle`s D pup 7wks

And then they were exhausted and fell asleep on my knee.

Belle`s litter on knee 7wks

At which their mother and I heaved a sigh of relief!

Monday, October 27, 2014


I was cruising rapidly through Asda, when I was brought up short by this.

Ranch raccoon

I am not much given to junk food.  I gazed at this.  Had I been missing some important trend?  Vermin crisps?  And foreign vermin at that!    Was Macdonald`s now offering Big Rat?   Macweasel Burger?    Was there a KFC Spicy  Fox Bucket?   I really don`t keep up with fast food trends enough.


I looked closer.  “Ranch raccoon with cream cheese”  .  Somehow I couldn`t see the cheese saving it.  I think raccoon ranks (I use the word advisedly) along with stoat, badger and those listed above as meat I would never attempt to eat short of a total collapse of civilisation as we know it.


I will keep an eye on the crisp revolution, though, watching for the Next Big Thing>


“Roadkill Chilli”?

Saturday, October 25, 2014


As winter slides in, I find I haven`t too many shows, and am taken up with the puppies, which have progressed from the Cute Blob stage to the Run Fast and get Underfoot one.  Unfortunately the  weather doesn`t suit for getting them outside – they have been out, as they must learn that there is a big world out there, and a sky that will not fall on them – so underfoot they are.

Belle Timmy puppies 6 wk
Belle`s 3 - the dog to the left, girls centre and right

They are a quiet crew.  Very like their mum, they seem calm and gentle and even the usual puppy battles are very civilised affairs.  They are devoted knee sitters.   Belle took very well the shock of realising that they were growing up and now very mobile indeed.  She still feeds them – too gentle to tell them that they are getting too old for that kind of thing.

Outside is still not their favourite place, but as the stood still in shock the first time, Solitaire, their grandmother, kept an eye on them.   And then their great – grandmother, Red  Sonja ambled over, washed their faces for them, and told them that they were quite all right, and had nothing to worry about.  She gave me a look that said “Puppies are nice!”  and when I tried to photograph them, (not easy) it was hard to keep her out of the picture, as you see.

Belle Timmy bw bitch photobomb Sonja
Puppy pic photobombed by Great-Gran  Red Sonja

More on puppies to follow!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


Puppies are the most incredible time wasters.  They don`t really do anything, but they take up so much of your time.  I spent some of today trying to get pictures of them, but alas, they were too sleepy to oblige.

I thought I would try a video, and in vain tried to stir up some action…the most I got was yawns, a stretch, and a roll over.

Just wait till they are up on their legs!  I will be longing for the peace and quiet I have just now!

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Well, Belle has done it.  She is a mother.

She started at midnight.  Why do they do that?  Her own mother was always very civilised, and used to begin at dawn, but I have spent so many sleepless nights whelping, and wondering if I will be able to get help when needed.

Well, she soon produced one.  And she sat there, looking at it in horror.   Clearly she had done something very dirty – and in the house!  Would Mum be angry?  I rescued the newborn and spent some time reassuring her that she had done the right thing, and Mum was very pleased.    It took her a little time to decide that it was hers, and she should probably clean it up a bit.

Hours till the next one, again a little girl.   And that was that.   She settled down with her two daughters, quite relaxed and happy with them.

Belle`s pupppies 2days 14
All lined up, 2 days old.  The boy is in the middle

I was not relaxed.   She had been scanned for three.   And clearly she was not about to produce number three.   Cue a call to a friend, and one to my vet.   And the result was a drive through the early morning mists of Ayrshire to the surgery.

Another scan.   Yes, there was indeed a third in there, with a strong heartbeat.  Two injections of oxytocin had no effect,  (but  a strong cup of coffee for me worked wonders!)   Eventually poor Belle was carried off for a caesarian.  Fingers crossed and more coffee….and back the vet  came with a strong protesting little boy, who had been warm and comfortable and now was plunged into a strange world where it appeared he had two very pushy sisters.  Belle was totally  puzzled, but quite prepared to have an extra who wasn`t there when she unexpectedly went to sleep.

Back home, and all well.  I got her settled and really, she has never looked back.  She is an ideal mum. eating well, willing to go out (especially when she found out how much respect a mother gets from other bitches!) and quite happy.  I am a little less worried than I usually am with new litters in the first few days.

But meanwhile I will not be far from home. 

Monday, September 08, 2014


I have kept off the matter of the referendum.  My vote is already in, and those who know me will know what it is.  I am trying to avoid the endless media coverage, and in particular the Beeb`s relentless NO campaign.

However, I have the habit, last thing at night, of checking the next day`s headlines on my phone, and last night was amazed to find that Milliband, a man who has as much authority in this matter as Donald Duck (and a lot less charisma) was threatening an independent Scotland with armed forces at the border.  I thought little of it and fell asleep….

And then I dreamed I was wakened by a hammering on the door.  There stood a soldier, who demanded to know if I had a gun, as I was registered as having one.  I said that I had. 

“Well, pack a small bag and come with me.  We are organising a militia to defend the border  against the English army.”

In vain I protested that I was ancient, and so was the gun.  And I was about to be taken off to war…..when the dream was penetrated by a loud honking.

Florian head May05
"Honk, honk, honk!" - Florian

I woke and recognised the sound.  “Honk, honk honk!”   Pause.  “Honk, honk honk!”.  Florian`s deep, resonant,  desolate bark.  Prudence is in season, and he was lamenting his sadly deficient sex life.   I know he would go on for hours, telling the world about the unfairness and misery of it all.

I looked at the clock.  3am.  You will gather that sympathy was the last thing on my mind.  I got up and gave him a piece of the said mind, threatening  to take him to the vet and sort out his problem for once and for all.   He wisely shut up.

And I went back to bed and wondered how that border war would have gone, in the dream world I had left….

Maybe just as well Florian chose to honk.

Friday, August 29, 2014


I still don`t get to so many shows, so it was a treat to be able to get Tess Trueheart to a show which would also feature her brother Sparkle.  I took her on her own, without the support of Plush her best friend or Angel, a born leader, and was unsure how that would  play.  Would she turn into a quivering jelly?

Well, no.  She was a bit puzzled, but I gave her lots of support, and once we got into the ring she looked round and thought “This is what I do!” and swaggered about.  Vast relief.   Even a false fire alarm, which led to a hasty evacuation, didn`t trouble her at all.

BPB - you mean I won
"You mean I won?  Really?"  - Tess 

Meanwhile her brother had behaved impeccably and won his class, and indeed became best Puppy Dog.  When we got to her turn, she was very full of it indeed.  Maybe too full.   Her idea of walking round and showing herself off involves frequent ecstatic leaps up my leg.   Probably a show of affection but highly undesirable.  I shuffled round on my bad knee, trying to keep her feet on the ground and muttering unspeakable things.  How much easier when I used to show Truly and could swear in bad Swedish! 

However, despite all this she became best Puppy Bitch, and so had to compete with her brother. His behaviour, of course was impeccable.   And impeccable wins.   Tess will have to learn that merry frolics in the ring do not please judges.

And then she was reunited with her brother.  She recognised him at once and made friendly overtures.  Would he play?

BP best
Sparkle, totally well behaved

Alas, he also remembered her.  Probably only too well.  I think his main memory might be of how hard she used to bite to keep him in check and discourage his….unwanted overtures, shall we say?  He gave her a dirty look and moved off quickly, looking back to be sure that she didn`t get a sneaky one in from behind.   He probably still feels the draught from those perforations.

A good day for me, though, as it was a win/win situation, with brother and sister competing.

Tess Trueheart came home looking very pleased with herself and immediately went out and applied herself to her favourite hobby – getting really dirty as quickly as possible.

Saturday, August 09, 2014


Solitaire is retired.   The KC only allows 4 litters, and she has had 4.   That`s that.   She has been a really good mother too.

But I have to admit that I have occasionally thought how good it would be to repeat the last litter, and perhaps have another Sparkle and another Tess Trueheart .  Just a thought.

Solitaire Mar09
"It`s very relaxing to be retired!" - Solitaire

I mentioned this to another dog person and spoke of what might have been.   “Oh but you can, “ said he;  “My friend had her bitch accidentally caught by a dog, and the KC allowed a 5th litter on appeal”.

“But, “ said I “that would be by her own dog at home.”   And I had a brief but arresting vision of Solitaire, with her little bundle tied on a stick over her shoulder and my railcard firmly gripped between her teeth, eyes shining with anticipation, sneaking out to the station and boarding a train to the north of England, heading for a secret assignation with her previous husband.

Well, Solitaire is an excellent mother, but she hasn`t a romantic bone in her body.  The emotional brief encounter simply isn`t going to happen.   Retired is retired.

And anyway, she doesn`t know where I keep my railcard.

Friday, August 01, 2014


I called, last night about dusk, and all the dogs still out came running in – except for two.    Daisy and Marcus were missing.  This is not at all usual:  Daisy normally runs straight in to her bed, while Marcus rushes in to see if by chance there is a willing and receptive bitch for him.  (Well, that might have developed while he was out – even retired stud dogs never lose their optimism.)

"No comment!"

I went out to have a look

And there stood Daisy, crouched, and clearly stalking a large fox.   Marcus, no fool, was hanging considerably further back, and the look on his face clearly said “This is the big girl`s business, and I will just stay well back here, ready to offer wise advice and back her up until her nose bleeds.”

Daisy meant business.  I could see her thinking “What does the fox say?  It will say a lot when my teeth meet in its throat.  I wonder what fox tastes like?”

I called them in.   Marcus came in like a shot.  Daisy wouldn`t move until I stepped forward and the fox just melted away into the field.  Cue dirty look from Daisy, who had clearly planned to haul her trophy in to amaze the other bitches.  The fact that it was much bigger than her had not registered at all.  Papillons are quite convinced that they are the size of tigers, and just as fearsome to vermin.

Later, when  Tess Trueheart and her mother had to go out, I made sure to go with them.  One foxhunter in the family is quite enough.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Another of mine goes off to try his luck without me.  And again it`s a funny feeling.

A very prominent exhibitor asked if I would be willing to share Sparkle in a partnership.  She had fallen for him when she judged him in the spring.  It was a very good and flattering offer, and I thought it over and felt that given my age and travel problems it would be silly to say no.  He would get to many more shows, and be in really good hands.  I don`t tend to get to any shows south of the midlands nowadays.  This would let him achieve his full potential.

Sparkle triumphant!

My one reservation was Sparkle himself.  He is, to say the least, an odd little person.  I felt he never bonded with me, unlike his sister, Tess Trueheart, who is very affectionate indeed.  But he loved to show – a born little showoff.    He seemed to be quite obsessed with himself.   I worried that I was handing over a problem.

However, it seems to have worked out, and in a strange way.   Sparkle has become obsessed with their older dog.  Imagine the most intense Justin Bieber or One Direction  teen groupie, and you are getting near it.  He can`t have the dog out of his sight, and will not strut his stuff unless he knows that dog is present.   Personally I have never seen anything like it.  Dogs do form attachments, but this seems a bit excessive.     But the others in the partnership think it is OK, and certainly Sparkle is happy and confident – and winning!   Clearly he has quite a future ahead of him.

Always something new in dogs!

Saturday, July 12, 2014


After just over nine months in Ireland, Cupcake has made it.   He is now Irish Champion Volpecula Set in Gold!  Thanks to some very expert handling he achieved the necessary seven green stars, and has his title.

He is just over two years old, and as you may remember, after some deep thought in his puppy days, decided to be a Papillon.   And as a Papillon he did some winning.  Then one hot day, he appeared with one ear down.  I had a look at it, and found a tick.   It was a very small tick, but I was sure it was the culprit.  I removed it, and waited confidently for the ear to come up again.    Two days later the other ear had come down in sympathy.   And that was that.   He had made a career decision, and was now a Phalene.

Cupcake 7 weeks
Cupcake at 7 weeks

Well, it`s not so easy being a Phalene here.  Some judges simply do not like them, and all in all it is an uphill struggle with them.   But in Ireland, under FCI rules, Phalenes are a separate breed, and compete with each other  on equal terms.  So to Ireland he went, to an expert friend who has done really well with him.  And in only nine months, he has gained his title.

Cupcake 9 mths 8
Cupcake at 9 months

It`s a new feeling, this business of not handling my dogs myself, but at my time of life it makes sense, and it is quite a good feeling to sit back and wait for results.   Of course this will also happen with Sparkle, except that he will stay in this country and I will see his progress and of course I will be showing his sister.   And meanwhile Mr Wag, who has really taken to Irish life, is only a few points off his Junior Champion title.

Cupcake at SKC 14
Champion Cupcake today!
Irish Ch Volpecula Set in Gold

It`s all happening!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Well, things have moved quite quickly here.

Sparkle, who was Best Puppy at the big Scottish show, really impressed the judge.   And the result has been that he is now owned by me in partnership with a top winning kennel.   They will promote him, and get him to a lot of shows I just don`t manage any more, due to distance.    I wouldn`t have done it if there was any doubt about how he would react – but frankly the arrogant little beast is so far up himself that he would settle anywhere.   His main concern is himself and how important he is.   And he is in good hands.

Sparkle  - "How much food have you for me ?"

I would not do this with Tess Trueheart.   She is a Mummy`s girl, and is staying here. 

I handed Sparkle over at a big show down south, where he had just made an important discovery.  Everyone at dogshows has a supply of titbits.  And if you look like Sparkle, people are incapable of resisting, and just hand them over.  By posing, and adopting the sad  Bambi look, he managed to hypnotise quite a few innocent  people into donating their entire food supplies, before moving on quicky to the next hapless donor.

Meanwhile his sister had won  Best Puppy in Breed.  It was her first time on grass, and she loved it, and swaggered about, and despite a tendency to climb up my leg without warning, showed well.  It meant that we had to wait to compete in the Puppy Group.

Tess Trueheart, Best Puppy in Breed 3 counties 14
Tess Trueheart, Best Puppy in Breed

Tess was not at all sure about that.  I took her in and she registered the alarming total absence of Papillons in the big ring.   She was required to stand between two of those Notpap dogs, and she didn`t like it.  She looked at the Minpin puppy with great mistrust, and her tail went down.   To tell the truth, I don`t think she even recognised the Peke on the other side as a dog:  it wasn`t moving, and she may have thought it was just a fur rug which smelt as if a lot of dogs had sat on it.  Her mother had this problem, and the sight of a Notpap dog was enough to make her climb up my leg and suggest with big anxious eyes “Time to go home now!”  Tess is made of sterner stuff, and I hope she will grow out of this.  She was at least willing to walk with tail up.  She did not ask to be picked up and taken home.  I am hopeful.

It looks as if this season`s shows will be very interesting.

Sunday, June 01, 2014


A busy time.  I went down south to judge, and had a surprisingly good time.  This despite having stayed in the only hotel I ever encountered where the TV in your room is password protected.   (However, I have some skill in these matters……)

The weather was awful.  Rain and wind blowing in under the tent, tent flapping and causing many tails to go down.   Very cold indeed, and I decided not to hang about.   We all shivered through the classes, the damp crinkling many of the coats,  and a number of the dogs obviously wishing they were at home, or at least somewhere warm.    I had no trouble finding my best exhibits.

The trouble comes with those which are not, shall we say, the best.   Judging would be easy if there was an outstanding dog in every class…alas, it doesn`t work that way , and often you are left staring in despair at a hopeful selection of very average exhibits.  However, I have had worse.  I was a bit taken aback by a seemingly endless display of dirty teeth, and totally thrown by being presented with two or three fat dogs…actually so fat that  I couldn`t find their ribs.   That

Cupcake res Green Star irish Pap club
Another success for Cupcake
was a first.

However, I was  happy with my winners, happy at  having efficient stewards for once, and even happier to scoot across the rainswept showground for a hot meal.   Now, I have had some amazing meals at shows – and not in a good way.  I remember, not fondly, the cold congealed turkey twizzlers, and the plate of what I can only describe as “something brown and sticky with potatoes”.  But this time we were ushered into a large tent with a full carvery and all the trimmings, and a large fridge full of delectable sweets.  I began to feel better, and a little less likely to die of pneumonia in the next few hours.

I will gloss over the journey home, which featured five different stationary traffic jams and took more than 9 hours.

Now I have to settle to writing up my report.   This is not as straightforward as it sounds.   The KC insists that all comment should be positive.   Sometimes that is hard.  You must not, for instance write “as she was the only one in the class which did not move like a ruptured duck, I forgave her the light eye and long nose.”  (I am very thankful that I didn`t have anything as bad as that this time).  No, you must only pick out the good points….and in 30 words, too.

Meanwhile, my boys in Eire are doing well.  Mr Wag settled well enough to take Best Puppy in Show first time out.   This is despite his Intimate Problem, which has recurred, and is being treated with a saline wash of the member twice a day.    I felt bad about my Irish friend being saddled with this problem, and said so.     Not to worry, she replied, she once had to perform the same treatment on a stallion, and Wag just didn`t compare.

I bet he didnt!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Things have moved quickly.

Mr Wag is now in Ireland – another boy gone west to make his fortune (or not).   He has settled well – he would settle well anywhere.  And he is with his dad.  Both are to come back.

Sparkle has become really keen on showing.   He has only been to 3 shows, but at the big Scottish Championship show he strutted and posed and was Best Puppy in Breed.   I was amazed.   He was not.   I think he expected it as his due.   He really is very arrogant. and in the Puppy Group, while we were waiting, he intimated to the puppy standing next to him that its presence was not wanted, and he had to be picked up quickly.  We had a really long wait that day, but he didn`t care at all, and didn`t tire.   Perhaps this comes from his attendance at shows as a baby, when he quickly decided he was the guard dog, protecting the girls.  So he never slept.   He sat up and watched.  Mr Wag, who clearly thought he was an idiot, was, I think, not included in his watch.

Sparkle BPIB SKC May14
Sparkle - everyone say "awww!"

I was delighted to see Cupcake again.  And he did remember me.  He looked a bit puzzled though – who was he going home with?

So Sparkle came home with a large rosette.  And an equally large ego.  It was not even dented when he didn`t get Best Puppy at a very disorganised show the next day, and being seriously admired did him no harm at all, even when he treated the admirers to his tiny growl as a warning not to steal his girls.   He doesn`t realise that his big eyes and melting expression only elicit “awww!” from his admirers.   In his head he is a Dire Wolf.  

Well, arrogance is a big help in a show dog.  However it goes, I think Sparkle will enjoy himself.

And that`s the main thing for a show puppy dog.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


A busy time, with lots of shows and some success, particularly with Cupcake, who is doing really well in Ireland, thanks to expert handling.   He is coming over here this weekend, and I will be delighted to see him again – and hope he remembers me!

The puppies like shows.   Sparkle is convinced that he is six feet tall and the most macho dog in the world, and shows are created only  so  that     he can be admired – much the same philosophy as Angel.   Tess Trueheart is very earnest about the whole thing,  and needs mum to be there, but she beat 15 other puppy bitches first time out and won a rosette bigger than herself.   They are both at a puppy growth stage, where their limbs look in motion as if they are tied on with old knicker elastic and granny knots, the  age where you just hope it all comes right.

Plush has decided she likes showing.  The judge really doesn`t want to eat you, and anyway has probably just had lunch.

Mr Wag pensive
"You wouldn`t believe what that vet did to me!"  - Mr Wag

And then there`s Mr Wag, who has always loved the whole business, and is really up for anything.   He has been doing well at shows, but not so well in the health department.    He has had two goes of balanitis, an infection of the penis, and the other day visited the vet again for this problem.

My vet practice is in a little country village and is run by an older vet and a young one.    Last time Mr Wag was seen by the young vet, and had a long lasting antibiotic injection.  He didn`t mind that.   So he wagged hopefully at the older vet. 

I explained about last time.   “Well, my colleague and I agree to differ about the treatment of this.  He gives an injection – but I believe irrigation is the best way.”   And he produced a large syringe full of bright pink liquid and proceeded to squirt it right up  his….well, I leave it to your imagination.   It is a very tender area, and clearly the pink stuff was rather nippy.   YOu could have heard Mr Wag, who  is always very vocal, 20 miles away.   Several of the large dogs in the waiting room tried to hide, or head for the door.  (Mind you, the cat in its basket looked very smug).

“That should do it!” said the Vet.   Mr Wag, standing shaking with glazed eyes, clearly felt that he had indeed been done.  “Mind you, it is likely to come back.”

I decided on the spot that if we did have to come back, it would be the needle next time.

I just hope that the next time Mr Wag is put on the table at a show, he does not look anxiously for a large pink syringe concealed about the judge`s person…..

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Sparkle Easter

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


It`s that time of year again.

We went out just at dusk, and suddenly the ground was moving.   Little dark scuttlings here and there.  Desperately excited dogs.


The toad hatch was underway.,

I have a wet area fed by a little burn which comes across the road at the gate in the field drain you always see me complaining about.    And that`s where the toads breed.  I leave them strictly alone, and there is nothing to disturb the tadpoles….and then suddenly they all come out into the world.   Not sure where they go. but there`s certainly a lot of them.

I was always taught that the toad is the gardener`s friend, happy to eat all sorts of pests.   Well, I`m not much of a gardener these days, but I do like toads.

The dogs are not so sure.  They dive on the little dark hoppers – and then relearn the lesson that toads taste REALLY nasty if you pick them up.  I believe that their skin secretions would be not at all good for dogs*, but the fact is in my experience they will only pick up a toad once and drop it immediately, so no danger, either to dog or toad.  But the size and the sudden movements make them so attractive to Papillons!   Cue hysterical barks and screams.   Every Papillon knows it is possible to bark any creature to death if you just try hard enough.   The toads are totally unimpressed, scuttling on in their nocturnal journey.

Toad hall
The entrance to Toad Hall

Probably the rest of  their lives seem uneventful compared to running the gauntlet of Papillons!

*  In the UK we do not have toads which are as toxic as many of those abroad, which could kill a dog if it caught one.

Thursday, April 03, 2014



I have been working on with the four puppies, whose show careers loom.

They could not be more different.

Cupcake`s two are quiet and gentle and very biddable.  The boy, Mr Wag, has already been to a Championship show, which he loved, and he qualified for Crufts first time out.  His sister, Plush, was not so sure, but the judge was very kind to her on the table and put her at ease.  Once on the ground, she was obviously feeling a bit insecure – and then the judge approached her.  You could see her thinking “It`s that nice man!” and she showed and was placed.

And then there are Solitaire`s two.   Very different.  Wild and flighty – must be the Swedish in them.   They are at present going through training, and are

Sparkle March 31  14
Sparkle, aka Notbambi

at class every week.

Sparkle loves it.  He swaggers and shows off and barks.  He defends me (and more importantly the ham titbits) from other innocent puppies.  And then he looks up at people and opens the big eyes very wide, and they all say “Awww!”  I think he is learning how to exploit this already.   I see him as an arrogant little rascal, who has already been lifting his leg (not too high, though, in case he falls over) for weeks.  Others see him as Bambi.

They expressed surprise at his barks and attempts to dominate other puppies.  I tried to explain that he was Not Bambi – more likely Godzilla.  They looked at him and chorused “Awww!”  I gave up, and confined Notbambi to his box, where he yelled and screamed to get out.

Tess is very different, and more of a problem.   Her trouble seems to be other dogs which are obviously Not Papillons.   She will walk, but has a tendency to suddenly climb up my leg, having noticed a bloodthirsty Cavalier puppy in the distance.  I will have to work hard on her confidence. 

And meanwhile, as I write this, Notbambi is working very hard on trying to mate his sister….

Monday, March 03, 2014


Well, the holiday is over, and young Sparkle and Tess Trueheart have come home.   I got them back at a local show, where they attracted  a lot of attention, especially the boy – I think Sparkle must suppose his name is really “Awww!”

They have learned to walk on the lead and I think Tess has gained some confidence.  I  worried that they would have forgotten me and this house.   Not a bit of it.  They sailed in as if they had never left, to be narrowly inspected by their mother, who obviously assumed the worst – fleas, distemper, missing limbs, plague – and greeted with absolute delight by Plush, who sees them as her family, and began at once to wash them.  They rioted about and it was as if they

Sparkle March 14
Sparkle, aka  "Awww!"

had never left…

Except, of course, that they have grown.  I can see quite a lot of growth potential in Tess – knobbly knees are a good indicator – and Sparkle`s head looks too big for his body.   All that will sort itself out of course.  And then I will be able to predict their future, which I hope will be really good.

Meanwhile, I am getting ready for Crufts.  It is a big event, in a huge venue, and I just hope I will be up to all the walking about….it is more than a half mile walk just to reach the building from the car park, and then you have to trek through all the halls.   I am not up to too much trailing about these days.   But it is the great dog event of the year, and I wouldn`t miss it, even if Angel and Belle are not too likely to win.

I will of course report fully on it in due course.   Watch this space!

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