TRAINED TO THE SHOVEL
MERRY CHRISTMAS !
EMAIL ME .
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.
"IN DOG YEARS, I`M DEAD"
Saturday, April 11, 2015
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.
|"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`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
They were soon filled, and I reached into a pocket and pulled out the big string
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
Nevertheless, in the morning they all rush out for a very necessary moment….except for Dancer.
|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
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.
|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
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
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
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
|Belle sees that they are all presentable|
And Belle was always in charge.
|Puppies on the go!|
|Black and white girl|
|Dog puppy - "If I stand, will I fall off?"|
|Tri girl - "Mum, I trust you not to leave me here!"|
Even the dog puppy enjoyed himself at last.
And then they were exhausted and fell asleep on my knee.
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.
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>
Saturday, October 25, 2014
|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.
|Puppy pic photobombed by Great-Gran Red Sonja|
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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
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.
|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
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.
|"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
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.
|"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?
|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
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.
|"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
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.
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
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 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 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.
|Champion Cupcake today!|
Irish Ch Volpecula Set in Gold
It`s all happening!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
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|
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
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
|Another success for Cupcake|
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
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 - 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.
|"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
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
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.
|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, aka Notbambi|
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
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, aka "Awww!"|
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!
Sunday, February 23, 2014
It was because of eyesight.
I have had two operations to replace the lenses in my eyes. They had to be months apart, and then I had to wait for my eyes to “settle”. The original lenses were reduced to fragments by an ultrasound probe and sucked out, and the plastic replacements inserted curled up, to snap open when in place.
The operations were the best part of the hospital experience. The preparatory treatment and listing were so disorganised (“I can`t get blood from you – go and get it done somewhere else!” and “how can your two eyes be so different?” ) that I was very relieved when at last just before I was taken into surgery a large arrow was painted on my forehead pointing to the eye to be done. I felt at least that something would go right.
But it did go right. I was amazed to find that for the first time in my life I could see horizons, without very strong glasses. I could count the leaves on distant trees! Everything was so clear! My optometrist said it did his heart good to see someone who had had such an extreme prescription walking about without glasses.
|Plush, looking quite grown up|
So now I am back at the computer, and can deal with text input.
Meanwhile – well, nothing much has happened. Sparkle and Tess have gone for a holiday and a little education to a good friend. Plush and Mr Wag are now attempting shows. Mr Wag loves it. He swaggers and struts about and wags hard at everyone. Plush is not so sure, but will do it. How much success they will have, I truly do not know, but we will try.
Meanwhile Crufts looms for Angel and Belle, so wish us well!
Monday, December 30, 2013
The rest, having been out once in the torrential rain, were totally unwilling to go again, even when the rain eased.
|Success for Cupcake|
Well, he would need quite a few more Green Stars to be a Champion, but I am well pleased at the moment He has made a good start.
Maybe next year will be his year!
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
The other day,, when I went to let out the puppies, Sparkle was staggering. He rapidly got worse. After phoning around for help, which I couldn`t get, I packed the collapsed puppy in a dogbox and set off up the road. (I have to walk about half a mile to civilisation, where I can get a taxi.) By the time I got to the vet, I was too breathless to speak.
The vet was doubtful, and said “I think it is neurological”. These are not words you want to hear. However, she put him on a drip and went off to do bloodwork. I went off to get a hot coffee to pick me up a little.
And then came the phone call. His blood sugar, she said, “was through the floor”. He had had a hypo.
I have read about this. It happens in toy puppies between six and eleven weeks, usually with no apparent cause. Suddenly they have hypoglycaemia. And it is a very urgent emergency. But within an hour I had another call, saying he was sitting up and taking interest, and in another hour was told he was wagging his tail and eating his dinner and could go home.
And he has been fine since. But I now feed him little and often, and watch him all the time.
i had to take him back the next week for his blood to be checked, and I took Ella as well, as she had a sore eye, hoping for eye ointment.
Now, I should explain that I had gone to the Expensive Vet, not my usual, simply because it was by far the nearest in an emergency. I didn`t suppose Ella was an emergency. Imagine my horror when the vet, one known for his pessimism, said she needed an urgent operation “or she could lose the eye”, and carried her off then and there to do it. I suspect that an eye ulcer could have been treated otherwise, but what could I say?
So now I have an invalid for Christmas. Ella, I should say, is not at all amenable to eye drops at all, let alone 6 times a day, but by now we have got past the screaming, fighting and eye bugging stage. We are resigned to it. I however, am less than resigned to the bill. I will be paying this off forever.
I hope your Christmas is suitably merry, and free from incident – and vets!
Monday, December 09, 2013
When I say “we” I mean the present team of Angel and Belle, Cupcake having followed the old advice – “Go west, young man” – and being busy abroad. The girls travel together, and sometimes Belle is not even sick!
In this case she avoided vomiting over her partner and we actually arrived clean. Mr Wag and Plush had also come, to strut their stuff in the Puppy Walk. They were fascinated by all that was going on, with their little eyes very wide indeed.
As it happened, both girls won their classes. This meant that they would both have to go into the challenge for Best Bitch. I found someone to help and in we went. She said she would prefer to hold Belle, as she had some inkling of Angel`s devious activities.
|"My brother and I - he was given away - am I to be next?" - Belle|
Belle, was fairly shocked. She gazed at me, and showed desperately to me, in the hope that she would be taken back. Clearly she remembered that her brother had been handed over and taken away. Now it was her turn?
Angel was in no doubt. Her rival on the show team had been got rid of. She stood alone. At last! She swaggered and posed and cast unspeakable looks at poor Belle. To cheer her up, Belle was offered a titbit – and Angel swooped and took it out of her mouth. The message was clear –“You get nothing - you have no connection with us any more!” (Belle`s handler was amazed at this truly awful behaviour…Angel manages to amaze lots of people, usually not in a good way)
And afterwards it was her turn to be amazed as Belle came back to me. What had happened? Had I not got enough money for her? Angel accepted the inevitable – she and Belle were a team again.
As to Mr Wag and Plush – well, Plush was queen of the Puppy Walk, and did everything on a loose lead perfectly. As people commented, she is yet another Mummy`s girl. I do seem to turn these out. Mr Wag, on the other hand, made it clear that he would not be walking on any lead any day soon.
I think I have a struggle to come with him.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
They took to it quite well. Mum was there, so were the other adults, and there were mounds of fallen leaves to snuffle through and a good chance of getting your paws dirty.
|"I didn`t think the world would be so big" - Sparkle|
They are now answering to Tess and Sparkle. I have to confess that the boy, Sparkle, had been answering to “Doughnut” and I felt I had to put a quick stop to that before it caught and held for life. I really don`t need any more bakery products in this pack. He is an adorable tail wagger – indeed the whole fat little body wags with delight, while his sister is more serious. She enjoyed the outdoors more, though and was more adventurous. Their mother kept an eye on them, and shows no sign of getting tired of them.
|"I can cope with whatever it throws at me -if Mum is there" - Tess|
Apart from that, my life seems to be filling with hospital appointments – very festive. I am waiting still for the other eye to be done, but it looks as if I will be seeing Christmas through glasses with one lens removed.
But not through any other kind of glasses – I don`t drink.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Solitaire`s two are fat and furry, as broad as they are long and toddle about with very waggy tails and a serious expression. Life is full of challenges and surprises.
|Plush - very serious|
Cupcake`s two, on the other hand, have begun their education. They have been to training class. It was a bit of a shock the first time, and Plush decided that if she shut her eyes it just wasn`t there. Mr Wag gave it some thought and decided at last that his basic philosophy would apply here, so he went round and wagged his hardest at the strange dogs, with very good results. However, when Plush at last accepted that she was at training, not visiting some circle of hell, she walked on the lead. Mr Wag will not do this. He has made it clear that it is girlie nonsense, all very well for his sister but not for a real man.
|Mr Wag - "Why should I wear a collar and lead?"|
Their next educational step was to visit a show. Not to take part – just to take in the ambience. They were immediately appropriated by friends and passed round a lot of knees. It was greatly appreciated. Meanwhile Angel, who won Best of Breed, was assuring them that dog shows were Great Fun. Cuddled and stuffed with titbits, I think somehow they agreed with her….
|Solitaire`s little boy at 5 weeks|
They may have quite a future ahead of them.
Friday, October 18, 2013
They have already been visiting. They were taken to a friend`s house to meet lots more Papillons The reactions were very interesting.
Plush Puppy decided that the best approach was to sit quietly under my chair and study the problem. When she was sure she had it down, she went out and mingled. She is a quiet but determined soul, strongly motivated by food. When we tried some lead training, she was so obsessed by the ham that was offered as an incentive, I don`t think she noticed the lead at all. Walk up and down on the lead? Bring on the hot coals! She intimated that she would
|Plush Puppy and Mr Wag|
Mr Wag has a simple philosophy about new and challenging situations. “When in doubt, wag. When in serious doubt, wag harder!” His little tail was just a blur as all these strange dogs converged on him. And it seemed to work too. He will never have trouble fitting in.
As yet, I don`t know what their future will be. I have Solitaire`s two coming on, and I will not be keeping four puppies.
Meanwhile the house motto seems to be “Puppies rule!”
Saturday, October 12, 2013
The door trauma is forgotten – even by Sonja, who possibly still thinks she narrowly escaped an unwilling trip to Narnia (The Lion, The Bitch and the Bad Door) or worse.
|Solitaire`s family - the girl is on the right|
Meanwhile, Solitaire has done it again. She efficiently produced two beautiful puppies, one of each – and did it in daylight, bless her. I hate those night time epics, when you wonder if you will be able to get help if you need it. But Solitaire started at 8am, and was finished by 12.30. She is very pleased with herself, and so she should be. They are pretty, fat and beautifully marked, and mum has plenty of milk, so I am hopeful.
Dad is Swedish, so this is quite an experiment.
This will be her last litter. This time she is really retired.
I hope she believes me this time!
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Most of the dogs adapted. But we had problems. Florian, usually out to lunch on the planet Zog. Shelby, full of strange Chin flights of fancy. Sonja, rather dim. Those 3 were Door Refusers. They would not go through the Bad Door. Sonja in particular was appalled by it. She seemed to suspect it opened on to the planet Mars.
Of course I just carried them out in the end. Then came the fun of getting them in. Florian was carried in. Shelby refused totally – till it rained. (Rain solves a lot of Chin problems, I find…concentrates the Chin mind amazingly, does the threat of being wet.)
And that left Sonja. She would not even be caught to be taken through the Bad Door. I left the door open and all the lights on, and went in for a while, sure that she would eventually come in to the house.
|"Who knows where that door would take me?" - Red Sonja|
No Sonja. When I went out looking for her I found her curled up in a large flowerpot. That was her chosen bed for the night, sooner than face the terrors of the Bad Door. I was able to carry her in, and she was amazed to find that her own bed was in there after all.
But eventually the locksmith arrived, very punctually. “This big guy in a hat at the far end of the road wouldnae let me pass till I showed him the paperwork!” he complained.
I looked at him. Big and fat with a huge beer belly , inadequately contained by a faded T shirt, long greasy hair, a scruffy white van – he must have ticked all the wrong boxes on my Good Neighbour`s security list. I wisely said nothing.
But he fixed the lock and at last we could use the normal door again.
And Sonja looked very smug indeed about it.