Confessions of a fur-mama

 

Be warned, there’s something in here that may be genuinely distressing to anyone with even half a heart. Doubly so if you love dogs. But there’s also some funny things too, so, it’s all good. Read on.

So, we’ve had our rescue fur-baby a couple of months now. We’re still trying to untangle that mangled little mess that lives inside her head. We don’t know much about her. We know she’s an older dog. We know someone has been nice to her at some point. We also know that someone (or someones) hasn’t.

How?

Sadly, by her physical scars. And, even more sadly, by the psychological scars that little by little, she’s allowing us to see.

One example.

A training clicker.

The sound terrified her the first (and only) time we tried to use one. We were mystified. My hyper-perceptive vampiric sleuthiness (it’s a thing) was stumped. And then the penny dropped some time later. The sound is identical to a cigarette lighter. Now put that together with some of her smaller scars and…

Well…

If I ever meet the ones who did that to such a gentle, loving animal (or any animal), then my ‘no-biting-humansrule may become more of a guideline.

But in the meantime…

She’s sprawled out on her favourite (for she has many) fleecy throw, snoring and farting away to her little heart’s content. She’s still in that ‘can’t-quite-believe-it’s-real’ phase and gets really panicky if she does something wrong. Our hugs and reassurance still puzzle her.

We are now dealing with some separation anxiety issues. Which, to me, is a good thing. It means that’s she’s now attached to us. It means she trusts us (as does the sitting on my foot with her back to me). But she’s getting over them. She knows we’re definitely Team Fur-baby now.

We’ve learned this about her:

  • She hates puddles and getting wet
  • She already knows ‘high-five’, ‘shake hands’, ‘roll over’ and – bizarrely- how to cross the road safely (!)
  • She learns very quickly
  • She pulls like a train and loves her rope toys (if you have a dislocated shoulder, she could easily reset it for you. However, if there’s someone you don’t like and wish they had a dislocated shoulder, it wouldn’t work. She’d just call 999/911. She’s about bright enough to.)
  • She can be hyper focused, but also easily distracted (ha! she takes after me!)
  • She’s obsessed with food. Especially chicken (nope. Not me. Well, the chicken part.)
  • Even more than being given food, she loves finding it herself.

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: No! Pleeeeeease! Don’t go!

And then, when faced with a puzzle ball containing treats…

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: (30 minutes later) Nom-nom-nom. Did somebody say something? Nom-nom-nom.

She’s also very communicative. She lets you know in no uncertain terms what she wants. And doesn’t want!

Do parents of small human children have this problem?

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Okay, let’s get your harness and lead and everything on and you can go out.

DOG: Don’t wanna.

ME: Then you can’t go out for walk.

Five minutes later…

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Then we’re putting your lead and everything on.

DOG: Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.

ME: You know the rules.

DOG: (grumbling) Pfft. Ohhh, alright then.

Gets harness and everything on (with much muttering on her part).

DOG: Don’t wanna go now. Spoilt my fun.

ME: Oh, we are going now!

10 minutes later…

DOG: Woweeee! This is the best day ever!

And nearly an hour later, after lots of (shall we say) negotiation as to route, we get back. I’ve enjoyed the fresh air. She’s enjoyed the stretching-her-legs.  And the sniffing. There’s always lots of sniffing. Grass verges are like Facebook for dogs. “Hmm. Nice post. Just leaving a comment…” We’ve both enjoyed the exercise. She is nicely worn out.

So what does she do next?

Run around the house like a thing possessed and then charges out like a mad fool into the garden.

Surely she can’t still have some reserves of energy in that little furry body? Have I not walked her enough?

Nope.

She is simply running out to survey her kingdom. For she is… Wonder Pooch! There she stands: ears up, tail up, right paw up, in full-on protection / surveillance mode. Have there been any threats to the kingdom in her absence? Any pretenders to her throne? Any evil crows, seagulls or (heaven forbid!) cats with a wicked design to overthrow her benevolent rule? Are there any individuals (regardless of number of legs) who have dared trespass upon her property to upset those under her kindly protection?

Nope.

Okay, all good.

And she trots back into the house again.

She plonks herself in front of the fire and gets back to one of her favourite jobs – destroying her rope toy.

All’s well with the world. I have protected you another day, my beloved hoomans. Chomp chomp chomp.

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CDO – as it should be

Did I ever mention the OCD?

I’m not sure I did.

Vampires have it. Big time.

The thing is, nobody’s ever called it that before. Yes, we have our issues, just like you. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder just happens to be one of them.

Disorder?!

Why call it disorder?

What an irony.

Disorder is the one thing we can’t stand. I mean, I say ‘we’ – once again I’m probably speaking for myself here. As ever, if there’s a fellow vampire out there that wants to contradict me, go ahead, make my day.

Honestly.

It really would make my day. Sometimes being a vampire is like being a traffic warden.

Very isolating.

And just about as popular with the public at large (unless you count the airy-fairy ones you get in teen romances).

But at least we don’t have that “Come and egg me” uniform to contend with.

Where was I?

Yes.

OCD.

There’s a myth that the way to prevent a vampire from returning to its coffin it to scatter seeds everywhere. The vampire must stop and count each and every one before returning to the coffin, by which time, the sun comes up and – boof – it’s not the seeds you have to worry about, it’s the large vampire-shaped pile of dust you have to deal with.

Well, first of all…

  1. Coffins. Nuh-uh. I mean, Why? So restrictive.
  2. Sunlight. Painful, yes. Damaging, yes. But hoover-bothering pile dust-hill? I think not.
  3. Counting…

Ah, well. Ever eaten biscuits in bed? Could you sleep until you’ve extricated every. single. last. crumb from the sheets? No.

Same here. It plays out like this…

Mythical vampire: Ah! Some human has scattered seeds to prevent me from returning to my resting place. I must count them! One mustard seed, two mustard seed, three mustard seed, mwa-ha-ha…

Real vampireSeriously?! I just hoovered, like twenty minutes ago! And now I have to do it all over again!

It’s not so much the seeds that bother me. Just little things out of place or not they should be…

  • Phone receivers not put back quite right on the cradle
  • Toilet seats left up (but that could also be a female thing)
  • Items not tidy on a supermarket shelf (the amount of times shoppers have mistaken me for an employee and asked me where the beans are – why is it always beans?!)
  • Picture frames not quite straight on a wall
  • Stamps not squarely stuck on an envelope
  • Wallpaper patterns that aren’t perfectly matched up
  • Undone shoelaces

Oh, I’ve lost count of times I’ve walked past people and muttered ‘Shoelaces‘ at them! DO THEM UP!!!

And quit with the ‘jaunty’ angles! Put things straight! Has nobody ever heard of a – oh, what’s that thing you call with the bubble in it that helps you get a straight line? – Spirit Level! That’s it.

And if I can’t remember it, I can imagine that might be the issue with everyone else too. My mistake.

And now I have to go. Literally. I can see out of the corner of my eye that my clock isn’t hanging straight. When the ‘big hand’ says ‘o’clock’, it actually looks like 1 minute past… Gahhh!

Fetch me a ladder!

See you soon.

 

Strictly Come Prancing

Or Rudolphing, or Dashing or Whatever.

Though I don’t think there was a reindeer called Whatever. But there should have been. He’d have been the world-weary one at the back who got the full brunt of the other reindeers’ dietary habits. He’d be the one with the peg on his nose. He’d be the one demanding emissions testing for reindeer and other magical flying animals.

So, yes, it’s that time of year again. And instead of everyone singing “I’m Dreaming Of A Wet Christmas” (just like the ones we always get), the weather is doing something very strange… It’s been snowing.

Yes, folks! It’s time for the Christmas Foxtrot!

Snow, snow, thick thick snow.

Well, hopefully. Hopefully?

Depends, I suppose. There can be winds. People simply complain about losing their dustbin lids. Never mind the roof tiles, bridges being shut down. There can be heatwaves. People simply whinge about it being too hot. Never mind the sunburn, dehydration and general dangers.

But one snowflake…

And people lose their freaking minds and turn into apocalypse preppers. Everything closes down and you can’t find toilet paper for love nor money. Because yes, when the end of the world comes, those extra rolls of double-soft quilted embossed will be so handy.

I don’t know if things are different from when I was little, or whether it was just because we didn’t have a car (long story) but I don’t remember all this end-of-days obsessive panic. Or perhaps it was just because I was a child and saw snow as lovely stuff that I could play with during – say it in hushed tones of reverencesnow days.

The grammar school I went to was surrounded by 6 foot high (2 metres) hedges and when a friend and I went out walking / mischief-making, we found ourselves walking well above the level of those hedges, and probably on top of a few abandoned cars too, unwittingly. There might have been a bit of ‘wittingly‘ about it had we known.

As we headed across the school playing field (with rugby posts poking apologetically out of all the white stuff), we saw a helicopter overhead. Being the ‘friendly’ sorts we were, we decided to wave to it. Oh yes… we waved and waved.

And it started descending onto the field.

I don’t know if there is a land speed record for ultra thick snow, but I think we may have broken it. We both charged back home and waited for the worst. What the heck had we done? We were both pretty sure it had been a military helicopter and our imaginations were running wild. We were praying we weren’t going to get into major trouble…

And that evening, our curiosity was rewarded, if not our panic. The news came on.

“And in local news…”

Which is what they used to say before the now ubiquitous ‘News Where You Are‘ (does nobody know what ‘local’ means anymore?)

It was a great story. A pregnant woman, living in a tiny village cut off by severe snow fall had gone into labour. No way in or out of the village was possible. A helicopter from the local airbase had been drafted in to get the woman out and off to the nearest hospital. But disaster had struck. The snow was so bad, the helicopter couldn’t see where to land.

And that was when the ‘miracle’ happened…

The crew of the helicopter suddenly saw two figures standing a few yards from the woman’s house, waving them down frantically, before disappearing into the drifts.

Yup. You guessed it. It was us. It was our village.

Anyway, hospital reached. Baby born. Everyone doing fine.

Stay safe everyone. And remember – getting your prayers answered is good, but sometimes it’s nice to be the answer to someone else’s prayer…

Keep your toilet rolls handy…

 


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You know you want to.

Don’t look now…

I’m being very good today.

I got up.

Hey, don’t I get brownie points for that?!

Things have been getting a bit weird around here. Oh, okay then … weirdER.

I recently realised that I’ve been living in this country a quarter of a century. Nearly ten years in my current location. And that’s way longer than I ever tend to spend anywhere. Normally, after about 5 or 6 years, people start noticing things, and life starts getting awkward.

Then I move on. In fact, it’s normally a lot less than that. But, I guess that’s a big city for you. Noise, smells and a whole big bundle of Couldn’t-Give-A-Toss. This is a place where people would prefer to barge into you and say ‘sorry‘ than say ‘excuse me‘ and go through all that lengthy hassle of waiting a whole two seconds for you to move out of their way.

Sorry, I put ‘move‘ in bold because when I looked up at the screen, I realised I’d typed ‘love‘ instead.

Freudian slip?

I’d like to think so.

Sounds better than ‘Omigosh, my typing sucks‘.

But I think I’ve seen you. You’re the person that always says ‘thank you’ when I stop to let you go past. You always seem concerned whenever you see someone who may be in distress, and you’re always the first to help when you find that they are, rather than pointedly staring at your phone instead.

Talking of which, I saw someone the other day, walking along a tempestuous pavement, glued to their phone screen. Oblivious to everything else. They say flying is simply throwing yourself at the ground and not hitting it… Well, this guy practically flew, in that case.

Foot + pavement-bump + diverted attention = Faceplant

Or so you’d think…

It was a spectacular save.

He fell.

He got about three quarters of the way down.

He righted himself.

He carried on walking, still glued to the phone.

Now that’s style.

I salute you, young sir.

At least folks like him aren’t the cause of my current predicament.

Ah yes, that.

They’ve found me again.

Well, I think they have. And no, I’m not entirely sure who ‘they’ are, exactly. But ‘they’ have an unerring knack in discovering creatures like myself and, er, encouraging us to be geographically adventurous. I’m sure there’s some kind of -ism or -phobic that covers this, but let’s face it, you’re  never going to get anybody out with placards protesting.

Well, you may do, but it’s going to have to be at night, so probably not much to be achieved there.

Dysons and glowsticks at dawn it is, then!


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Sole Mates

Let’s get this contentious issue out of the way immediately…

There is no such practical thing as ‘finding’ a soulmate.  (I’ve probably lost half of you straight away)

It comes from Greek myth.

According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”

― PlatoThe Symposium

From the people who brought you the woman who turns men to stone with one look, and the man with a bull’s head… Funny how we don’t hold those stories quite so dear as a lifestyle choice...

Soulmates do exist, yes, but finding one? Practical thinking now, people. Measure it up against the other myths.

No, folks, narcissists don’t turn into flowers; ferrymen do get paid, and let’s not even talk about Oedipus! And yet folks are happy to believe there’s that one perfect person who will magically appear.

One?! Just one?! I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy those odds! And if you never find them? Well, that makes you responsible for ruining the life of someone out there…

And what if you find the wrong person? You’re depriving someone of their soulmate, thereby ruining the lives of three people.

You make the person you choose your soulmate. And they in turn make you theirs.

Okay, so let’s buy into this for a moment… say that –

YOU’VE FOUND HIM/HER – WHAT NEXT?

Prince Charming farts, Belle has to sort out Beast’s ingrown chin hairs, and Rapunzel’s prince picks his teeth at the dinner table.

The fairy tale is there, but sometimes the world gets in the way. Take as simple a thing as your prince waking you up in the morning…

The Hollywood:

He kissed her gently on her forehead. She stretched languorously, sighing as she slowly awakened. Peeling back the covers, she slipped gracefully from the bed and, with her hair slightly tousled and her make-up still intact, she smiled gorgeously at him as she slinked off to the bathroom.

The reality:

He kissed her gently on her forehead. She stretched awkwardly through the tangle of bedclothes, letting rip a terrifying fart and a satisfied groan as something clicked in her back. Ignoring the look of gassed-out horror on his face, she tumbled gracelessly from the bed, releasing such odours as would make her beloved’s face crease in disbelief as she lumped her way to the bathroom, tripping over last night’s bed socks as she went.

 While describing the stories of fairytale heroines, a wise man once said: “Sandwiched between their ‘once upon a time’ and ‘happily ever after‘, they all had to experience great adversity.”

The fairy tale can continue – particularly if you look at it from an eternal perspective – you just have to accept that while you are living in this world, worldly things will sneak in and kill the moment. A lot. It would be wonderful, for example, to spend forever staring into each other’s eyes, but you must eat, or your human body will die. To eat, you must cook.

To cook, you must have food.

To have food, you must shop.

To shop, you must have money.

To have money, you must work.

To work, you must rest.

To rest, you must have a safe place, a home.

To have a home, you must –

You get the idea. And don’t even get me started on the washing up (no, literally – don’t!)!

And, of course, the going to the bathroom. I’ve never seen a fairy tale princess sat on the bog – have you? So unromantic and yet so unavoidable.

Life cannot be 100% fairy tale – you’d be dead within a month – see above. But neither can life be 100% the human necessities. So…

If you can just accept that these icky human details must and will be attended to, you will be able to enjoy the fairy tale moments much more.

So, dance on the beach in the moonlight, kiss under the stars… Just remember – that toilet won’t clean itself.

And then we’ll all live happy ever after.

 

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Ah… that’s better.