Cry havoc…

.

…and let slip the dogs of walkies!

Ahh…

A new year.

Mini tourist season is over until the next big holiday.

*sigh of relief*

As I was picking up my groceries the other day, a rather fiercesome human barged past me and announced to his equally clueless family in an accent that was clearly anything but local: “Is this it? They’ve not got much here, have they?“ Well, bog off to Brighton if it’s shopping you’re after, mate!

How on earth did this man choose this as the perfect destination of his Christmas break? Stick a pin in the map?

(In case you’re wondering, I had a lovely Christmas, surrounded by family. We did everything from scratch and we planned everything meticulously a long while previously. It was our Christmas, we made it, nobody else had to)

 

And of course, with tourists comes that other delight. The tourists’ dog. You know the one that they’ve had since a puppy and in all that time they’ve not trained it to do anything more than sit, stay or possibly a cute “rollover “trick? You know the types. The dog that has never been trained to come back when it’s called… 

 

The dog that, when it runs off and starts picking fights with other dogs, promptly ignores its owner screaming its name repeatedly. Because, yeah, you scream my name like that, I’m gonna come back to you, I don’t think. I’m outta here, you two-legged sucker!

 

Free to roam.

Free to… well, do other stuff.

How many times have I heard the owner of a free-range pooch exclaim “I don’t know what’s wrong with Mister Woofles this morning; we’ve been out for over an hour and he still hasn’t done his business yet!

 

Oh yes, he has. Mister Woofles unloaded the minute you let him off the lead.

Mister Woofles has in fact left such a huge deposit that it has its own postcode. Whole generations of dung beetles have moved in and are celebrating with a ticker-tape parade. Their appeals to the dung beetle deity have been heard and answered. Mister Woofles’s contribution to the environment has ushered in a new Golden Age of beetle prosperity.

And then I saw this yesterday…

What sort of dog owner puts a sticker on the back of their 4×4 saying

Beware of the dog. It bites. You have been warned

 

and then lets them roam free – without muzzles – on a beach popular with dog walkers during doggy rush hour?!

If you’re going to do that, my dears, please make sure that the dogs are muzzled and please include yourself in that number.

 

So… you’re acknowledging liability for your animal being potentially dangerous, but if it bites me, it’s my fault?

 

Huh?

 

But you can’t say anything, can you? Nothing freaks out the passive-aggressive more…

 

Which reminds me…

 

Don’t you just love passive aggressive people calling other supposedly passive aggressive people out for being passive aggressive by using passive aggressive means to complain about the passive aggressive behaviour?

 

As with that now practically traditional Social Media post of “if u got a problem with me tell me 2 my face“ There are two problems with this…

 

Number one: tell you to your face? Which one?

Number two: could you be a little bit more identity-specific please?

 

And there’s always some sucker (who is probably completely innocent of any charges) who rises to the bait, bites and replies, asking if they are the target of this barblessly barbed comment. To which the reply is invariably “if the shoe fits, wear it.”

 

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, except…

 

Those kind of statements aren’t shoes, are they?

 

They’re flipping flipflops.

 

Designed to fit everybody. Guaranteed to make everyone uncomfortable.

 

Always remember, folks… Flip before you flop.

 

 

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Summer’s here! No it isn’t… Well…

People always joke that you can tell it’s Christmas because Easter eggs are in the shop. Well, we’ve just done with Easter (there are still loads of eggs in the shop, mind you) so, one could be forgiven for thinking that it must be summer now. Is it just me that gets confused by this, or do you humans have a problem with it too?

True, it rains all the time here, so it could very well be summer and nobody has told me. But the rain slamming down on the conservatory roof feels at odds wth the flip flops and picnic paraphernalia I saw half an hour ago in the shops.

The clocks have gone back. The body clock however is having slightly more difficulty adjusting. I’d hate to wake up late one morning and realise that I’d missed summer. It is, after all, the best day of the year. Yes, I know. I don’t like sunshine. It hates me back. But a summer’s day is delightful, if confusing in the wardrobe department.

Sunhat and wellies?

Scarf and sandals?

Waders and sunglasses?

Oh, the combinations are endless.

The furball continues to take me on long walks (she’s currently mapping the local area in her little doggy brain, and enjoys knitting places together in the oddest combinations). She also continues to try to drag me into the sea after her. And all the while, she still refuses to stick her nose out of the door if it’s raining. Consequently, she’s in the conservatory, surveying her kingdom from the warm, dry safety of her sofa. And while she’s out there doing her ‘Mistress-of-all-she-surveys’ routine, it’ll hopefully give me the opportunity to squeeze in some yoga without her

a) giving me an impromptu face wash

b) mistaking my ‘downward dog’ for me wanting to play with her (that often ends up with a rope toy swung into my face)

c) showing me up with how weirdly bendy she is

Our earlier walk was, surprise surprise, on the beach, which this past week has been increasingly populated by tourists with their free-range mutts. Next week, she’s got a shock in store. I’m starting running again. And she’s coming with me.

Ah! I know what the giveaway thing is. I’ve remembered why I keep thinking summer might be on its way.

Endless holiday adverts and people bashing on about being “beach body ready”

Huh?

The beach is ten minutes down the road.

I have a body.

Boom.

Job done.

Oh! You mean the body has got to be perfect?

And by that, you mean so skinny that I could snap in half if caught in a high wind?

Well, that’s going to take a bit longer.

Because I refuse to be told what to look like.

Because even if I did, the vox populi (which thanks heavens, is not vox dei) would still find something to binch about.

Because I prefer to be strong than skinny.

And because, in order to fulfil this impossible and fake ideal, I’d probably have to give up chocolate.

And I’m no quitter.

 

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.

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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