If I could talk to the animals…​

Our dog has us very well-trained.

I’m sure she tells the one or two dogs that she’s actually friends with, ‘My hoomans are so clever, you know. I swear they understand every word I say.”

And to some extent, it’s true. In the (nearly) two years that we’ve had her, the pair of us have built up quite the communication system. That’s a vampire thing. An affinity and ability to communicate with animals. No turning into canines, just a knack for chatting with them.

She’s great, though. She has basic manners, better road sense than many humans, and we can carry on some great conversations, she and I. The intellectual content was never going to be devastating, but she can ask for things, tell me when she does or doesn’t like things. Oh, and she finds farts hilarious.

We’ve often been asked what breed she is. We simply say ‘Staffy Cross’. “Cross with what?” is the inevitable second question. We have absolutely no clue. This reply has so far left everyone unsatisfied for, instead of walking away and letting us get on with our day, they then spend the next ten or so minutes suggesting breeds.

Isn’t ‘Staffy Cross’ a good enough term anymore???

The Furball herself has never been able to tell me any details of her parentage. Dogs really don’t care about such trifling matters. To her, dogs are dogs. She doesn’t care about breed, colour or pedigree. All she cares about is whether they’re going to be nice to her or not.

So, we’ve decided, as this obsession with crossbred dogs seems to show no signs of abating, to refer to her as a Staffy-Noi, as in Staffy crossed with No idea.

Can someone please explain the current need to create strange names to describe simple cross-breed dogs?

Here are a few of the current ones out there. 
(Trigger warning- A quick note to anyone who likes seeking out offence – these are not actual descriptions of the breeds, okay?)

Jackabee– A cross between a Jack Russell terrier and a beagle. A dramatic little dog with a fondness for Old English tragic theatre. Needs training to wear a collar, as it prefers wearing ruffs. Not to be mistaken for the Old English Poo (which is what a lot of people think of Jacobean tragedies). Also known as a busy little dog.

Bichpoo – A small, fluffy dog (Bichon Frisé/Poodle) with a penchant for doing its business wherever it dang well pleases, and then getting in your face should you dare challenge it about it.

Zuchon – A Bichon Frisé/Shih-Tzu mix that just loves courgettes and mining for gold.

Cavapoo – A silky Spaniel/Poodle mix that should never be taken potholing/spelunking due to its nervous bowels.

Borador –  A beautiful, loveable mix of Border Collie & Labrador that will send you sleep with its stories.

CacaWhattaPoowoo – part Cavalier, part What-The-Heck, part Poodle, part Wouldn’t-Know-The-Breed-If-It-Bit-Me. It’s an amazing all-purpose gundog-hound-lapdog, specially bred for its bemused expression and skill at helping fill in tax forms.

Okay, so that last one wasn’t a real one. But it should be.

And another thing.

Obscure pedigree dog breeds. Why? You have these people who one-up everyone by having a dog that nobody’s ever heard of – only to be insulted because nobody’s ever heard of it.

ME: Beautiful dog.

THEM: Thank you.

ME: Is it a Shih-Tzu?

THEM: (horrified) NO! It’s an Ecuadorian Abacadrabrian Water Terrier.

ME: Oh. It looks like a Shih-Tzu.

THEM: (disgusted) Ugh. You clearly know nothing about dogs.

ME: I know what a Shih-Tzu looks like.

It’s like with designer clothes – you (generally) only get the kudos from people who know that designer. So unless you’re prepared to have the designer’s name splashed all over the item, I’m afraid your genius and superb taste are doomed to go unnoticed.

And by the way, pal, that pup’s definitely a Shih-Tzu.

 

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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 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.