“WHAT`S THAT, BOY? TIMMY`S FALLEN DOWN THE WELL?”...
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM…
Happy New Year
MAD AS A BOX OF FROGS
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"
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Mixed fortunes in the showring as usual. At the moment Kaiju, his brother Figaro and the puppy Comet are in the ring, with the indispensable help of three able handlers. Figaro, alas is sulky, and exhibits more than a little of "why am I here when I could be chasing squirrels?" Kaiju is between coats.
Comet is exuberant. At that offensive teenage stage, he has just discovered sex, and is a constant irritant to any creature of either sex which doesn`t run away fast enough. He loves life, shows, and the sound of his own incessant squeaky voice. But he is a little person, and they are not favoured by judges at the moment. A fact which totally escapes him - he knows he is six feet tall, and seeks the company of really big dogs. He wags his little tail at them with a look that says "We big boys must stick together. "
And of course there is Sparkle. He has come on. Not in coat, which I would have liked,but certainly his personality has filled out. He is now a mature, confident boy, not just in the ring. And he just may be expecting a family, having had his way with Belle, Cupcake`s quiet sister... we shall see. More puppies maybe - but at least not at Christmas this time.
And the offer of fatherhood is on the horizon for Figaro.
Well, maybe that will introduce him to something in life even more enjoyable than squirrels
Thursday, May 18, 2017
I had let the dogs out, except for Solitaire who is in season and has her heart set on Shelby the Chin, and was having a leisurely breakfast when I noticed the unpleasant sensation of something light and delicate slowly climbing up my leg.
I looked down.
A bat. A small unhappy bat, trying to find a high point from which to take off... presumably she was thinking of my head.
Bats in the house are not so uncommon. We have a lot of pipistrelles here, and if windows are open, they do get in. Normally they circle the light for a bit (dog hysteria) and then settle on the wall. I catch them in a towel, and they struggle and buzz (no idea how they do that) and try hard to bite (their mouths are full of needles).
But have no idea how this one ended up wandering about my floor.
Anyway, I took her outside. Strong immediate interest from the dogs – small, leathery, furry, crunchy! - what`s not to like!
She is now out in the lane, and I hope she finds a take-off point before anything else finds her.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
A fully grown badger.
I now had a badger in my house.
Angel wagged her tail. She was quite content with all this. Just as well, as if she had shown any aggression, the badger could easily have killed her. ( What had she told him ? That this was a good place, full of dogfood and you get to sleep on the bed?)
Well, I now had a problem. The badger was sniffing around, obviously making himself at home.
|"Why can`t I live with you and Angel?"|
When I told all this to a friend next day she said “Why didn`t you put it on Instagram? Or Facebook?” Well, I have news for her. When your house is invaded by a badger, you do not instantly reach for your phone. Or a camera. You reach for something to use to get the bugger out! In my case this was a broom. He had no intentions of leaving and I had to become...quite insistent.
Eventually I swept his fat bottom out of the door, and he turned to look at me reproachfully. As he was showing every intention of coming back in, I slammed the door quickly. And locked it.
Angel looked brightly at me. She wagged her tail. “Bed now?”
|"Didn`t you like my new friend?"|
And so we went to bed.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Kaiju, having had a bout of memorable and expansive sickness and diarrhoea, and demonstrating this extensively on the way to the vet, emerging as a soggy bundle, was sent home with a soothing paste, which he was absolutely unwilling to take. I was reduced to smearing it on the inside of his lips, leaving him resentful and me very sticky indeed.
But it worked. However he was still not well, and screamed when lifted or handled. I could not find the sore place when i went over him, but he was obviously very unhappy and shy of being lifted. Another visit to the vet was indicated.
On the morning this was due, I let him and 3 others out for a last run . Only 2 came back. Kaiju had disappeared. I searched and called. Then Sparkle
appeared at my side.
|Sparkle and Kaiju at a recent show, waiting their turn.|
I should point out that Sparkle and his close friend Kaiju recently spent a few days with a friend. I had phoned to find out how they were, and was told that the quiet and reserved Sparkle had…changed. He had taken over. He had insisted that all the bitches were now his, and guarded them. He stole food from dominant dogs. Was he confident enough to cock his leg? “Everywhere!” I was told. She said it was as if a shy boy from a quiet public school had gone on a lads` weekend in Magaluf….”but I promise he didn`t get any piercings or obscene tattoos”.
And certainly he came back a different dog. Mature and grown up (but still cautious around Fidget). A real improvement, I thought. At last he was an adult. And not before time.
So here I was, searching for Kaiju, and calling his name, and suddenly Sparkle came. He barked at me and ran up into what is euphemistically called “the rockery” – once a real one, now a tangle of shrubs and mature trees, all planted as “dwarf conifers” some 40 years ago. (Be warned- there is no such thing as a dwarf conifer, just ones that take their time to get going) He turned and looked at me and barked again. He came back for me. I was to follow him.
And, just like Lassie in the old films, he took me to Kaiju, who, faced with pain and the vet, had holed up, fortunately not down the well, which is capped, but in an old field drain. I would never have found him otherwise. I was amazed. And relieved. Sparkle saves the day!
The story has a happy ending. Kaiju was not dying from a mystery disease. Like many Papillon dogs, he is a colossal wimp. He had strained his neck. He came home on painkillers and steroids, a much happier dog looking for cuddles and fuss again. I hope he will soon be over all this.
Meanwhile he has little brown pills and rest.
And his best friend, Sparkle.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Haven`t been here for a while, as since the New Year I seem to have had every infection possible, and as a result I missed Crufts – and most other things. Kaiju and Figaro and Sparkle went, however, but were not liked by what seems to have been a very confused judge indeed. Quite glad I wasn`t there after all.
Meanwhile, the puppies are still here and still growing. I have begun to train them. We started with the very simple idea that when I called their name they would come over, stand and receive a titbit. This lesson was greatly appreciated. By the third time they were lined up in expectation.
I called Comet and he stood and had his reward. Then I called Clara – and he turned on his sisters, biting and screeching to drive them off. It was all to be his! He would be back in a moment to collect theirs when he had dealt with them. Unfortunately his sisters are made of sterner stuff. A ferocious puppy battle ensued, in which Comet wasn`t exactly the winner… I decided training was over for the day.
They are of an age to run riot, and especially outdoors where they are great explorers. Tess Trueheart, their long-suffering mother has had enough, and we are getting to the stage when she will have to be bribed to spend time with the little horrors.
At the moment they are all fast asleep on my foot. It means I can`t move – but oh, the peace and quiet!
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Weaning is, thank goodness, not what it was. I remember well the days of scraping beef and mixing a variety of baby foods. The latter were unsurpassed for coating the puppy in a uniform layer which set hard in seconds, in interesting textured patterns - a bit like Artex. Mother would look at you in disbelief as you then presented the caked pup for cleaning. Now we have a ready made (non-setting) highly nutritional mousse which they love, and mother is
delighted to clean them off.
|Almost 3 weeks and catching up on beauty sleep|
Unaware of all this drama to come, Tess Trueheart goes happily on with motherhood, convinced that she has boldly gone where no bitch ever went before. She is enjoying it all, as she does most things. Just wait till they are running about and chewing your tail off, Tess!
One who is not having so good a time is Sparkle. Washed and groomed, he was convinced that a show, his favourite thing of all, was in the offing. However next morning when he rushed happily into his travelling box he was taken, not to a showground, but to the vet, to have his teeth cleaned. A truly
|Sparkle - "How could you?"|
When collected, he was sad and resentful, with a pouting babyface and rolling eyes . At home he was unwilling to come into the house. Would he still be accepted?
His fears were justified. They all looked at him sideways and avoided him. I suspect that to them he smelled strongly of Vet, not their favourite perfume. Shelby
him several times, giving me pointed looks – “Something wrong here, mum!”
I gave him titbits, and reassured him that his BF, Kaiju, is coming home next week. That should cheer him a bit.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
And here is the reason that I have had a very quiet festive season indeed. Tess Trueheart, despite all my worry, had no problem at all in producing three large puppies on Boxing Day, in the wee small hours – why always at night? – and settled to them at once. Neither mother nor babies have looked back since.
She is very pleased with herself, and probably thinks she has done something no bitch has ever done before. The tail wags all the time. And she is very taken with the respect she is getting from my other girls. A mother always gets respect, and this is quite new to Tess, and very enjoyable. Meanwhile the two girls and one boy are growing like weeds. They are strong and pushy and resent being picked up – all good signs.
So here we go again with another litter. Who knows what next year will bring for them? I will be hopeful.
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Kaiju and Figaro have blossomed. Kaiju has had a good and successful time at shows. However, they are not with me at the moment. They are both with a friend, who is suffering their endless and very active play.
The brothers are still devoted to each other. Put them together and they are rolling about , wrestling and barking. I have never seen this before. I cast my mind back, and I remember Florian and Marcus as young brothers, looking sideways with obvious contempt at each other – Florian saw Marcus as a pushy young nuisance, while Marcus saw Florian, who was, to be fair, a lazy and distracted youth, as an idiot. Marcus turned into a showy little person, devoted to bitches. He would go up to strangers and ask to sit on their knee and be very attentive. “Isn`t he sweet!” they would say. And I would ask if they had a bitch in season at home. How did I know? Well, I didn`t but Marcus did. And he would like to go home with them.
Florian, on the other hand, grew up to climb trees.
But Kaiju and Figaro are simply very affectionate.
Kaiju is away to be shown at events I can`t get to, for reasons which will become evident in a moment.
|Kaiju just 11 months|
Figaro, alas, has gone for remedial education. He has decided that his future will be The World According To Figaro. He will do what he likes. And if he finds showing a bore, he will just sit down in the ring…or possibly lie down, to really make the point. I am hoping this is just adolescent nonsense, as he is a very pretty and showy young person, and in no way a Bad Dog. Meanwhile my good friend is suffering the two of them racketing about the house and inviting her well-behaved Papillons to join them in riotous games. (And they don`t need to be asked twice).
|Figaro, behaving for once|
Meanwhile Tess Trueheart is awaiting a happy event. And I am hoping desperately that she will not choose to have them on Christmas day, when vets and help are not available.
Watch this space….
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
|Kaiju poses at the show - very full of it.|
Later I was talking to a friend who has Chin. She was describing problems in getting her male Chin to come in – he dances about at the door, will not be caught, then comes back and stands at the door looking in, and will repeat the peformance ad nauseam. He may stay out all night…
Suddenly I realised she was describing Shelby. When I call the dogs in, they all come in a rush, and usually Shelby is with them. But quite often he just refuses to come. He stares at me, dances about, backs off when I try to pick him up, then comes back to hang about at the door, gazing in. Sometimes I wait till rain makes him rethink his position radically. (Everyone knows that Chin melt in the rain.) Sometimes I try to get him in with a titbit. It has to be placed in the little run, then I back off while he goes and sniffs at it, then, if he decides it is satisfactory, he will turn round 3 times and then I am allowed to pick him up. He has been known to stay out all night. I have been known to get very angry and frustrated, especially after midnight. I had concluded I had a mentally disturbed dog – the only one in the world.
And now I was hearing that he was not alone. I told her all the details. “Yes, that`s right. It`s a male Chin thing. Lots of them do it. They`re all as
mad as a box of frogs!”
|Shelby - mad as a box of frogs|
I was astonished. And I must say, although there was some relief in realising that I did not own the only mad Chin in the world, it didn`t really solve the problem.
Ella the girl Chin would not dream of doing anything so stupid. Ella is very practical. The house is full of food. The great outdoors is not. Coming in is a no-brainer. There is always the hope of cake and ice-cream, the two prime motivators of Ella`s existence.
Meanwhile I just let Shelby out. But I had a look at the rain radar first.
By lunchtime there should be no problem at all…
Tuesday, August 02, 2016
Every morning Angel and Tess Trueheart accompany me out to check on things and get started for the day.
So the other day out we went – and a young buzzard landed right in front of us. The girls were transfixed – but only for a moment. Then a look was exchanged, and that look clearly said “Breakfast!” And they launched themselves screaming on the unhappy raptor. It got off quickly, and very awkwardly.
Not too happy about this. Clearly the young bird was not aware that a small Pap, like Angel, could have been breakfast for it. I don`t usually have any trouble with buzzards, apart from the odd time when they have discarded food in midair. I remember the summer when, sitting out with the dogs, it began to rain dead rats. Well, actually two and a half, the other half being eaten. The dogs were overjoyed. “It`s raining rats” is the song they happily screamed at the top of their voices as they converged on the gift from heaven. Not to worry – I got there first.
But they are small enough to be considered prey – not in a group, but I might worry about one on its own. And my lot are enthused by their previous successes with rabbits and the pigeon. And as Papillons they know they are invincible, and ten feet tall.
Meanwhile the young buzzard is hanging around. I think it is at the stage when its loving parents are feeling quite a bit less affectionate, and giving it subtle hints like “Away and work!”
I will keep an eye on it.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
His first show experience was in a decaying ancient ice rink, with lots of echoing noise, big dogs and loud music. And he loved it! The little head went in all directions, trying to see everything at once. He strutted his stuff, and at 6 months and 2 days, was 2nd in a class of 9, many of which were 11 months.
After the show, we went out into the park. More excitement. He spotted 2 boys skateboarding on some precarious ramps and an unimpressive attempt to build a half pipe out of discarded builder`s materials. His eyes went wide. That was for him! “ Lets go there!” Sparkle looked at him sideways. “Are you quite sure about this? “ Sparkle is not brave, especially out of his routines, but Kaiju has been really good for him. However you could see him resolve never to go on one of those. Much to his relief, I didn`t let either boy set off on wheels.
|Kaiju at his first big show - "No skateboarders, Mum?"|
The next show was a big Ch one, on grass. I wondered if that would throw him. Many a pup, faced with – how shall I put it? – well-used grass has simply glued his nose to the ground. Not Kaiju. He again did it all, only to be second to a puppy so nervous it would not put its tail up. Kaiju stared at him. Was he not enjoying this? Maybe he just needed to be taken out of himself? Perhaps if he could see some skateboarders…? (Fortunately there were none.)
It has been a really good start. Kaiju is a real sweetheart, and such fun to be with.
We shall see how it goes on. In the present atmosphere of our breed, where winning is largely controlled by one family who judge a lot and their friend who breeds a lot and knows all the important judges, I don`t expect great things. But Kaiju, bless him, will give 100% and showing him will always be a rewarding and happy experience.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
It is a major difference. The first time I let the Granny Farm (the old ladies) out in the cleared expanse, they gazed around. Then old Prudence, not thinking, trotted off to what used to be her very private spot in the bushes to relieve herself. And it wasn`t there. Nothing at all. No discreet leafy cover for an old girl desperate to go. She stared around in growing panic. Everyone was going to see her! The dogs, me, the jeering magpies, the planes overhead! And she couldn`t hold in much longer.
Eventually nature took its course. And of course no-one was looking. The magpies jeer anyway. And I very much doubt that the pilot of the London shuttle (I live on the glide path for Glasgow airport) looked down at that moment from his instruments and said to the co-pilot, “Look! There`s Prudence having a pee! Tell the passengers!”
(Incidentally, never name a potential brood bitch “Prudence”. Poor Prudence was never able to become physically receptive when in season, and so never became pregnant. Very prudent of her. Try something like “Ever Ready” instead… )
Meanwhile, as I said, the wildlife is having to make other arrangements. Some of them a bit hasty. Which is probably why I came out to a big commotion the other day, and there stood Daisy, a retired Champion, with a small rabbit dangling from her jaws. The look on her face clearly said “This is SO much better than showing!”
|Daisy (Ch VOLPECULA YOU`RE SO VAIN) in her pre-rabbit days|
But it became all too clear that the others were of a “share and share alike” disposition. They were already planning which parts they would have. And equally clear that Daisy, a forceful personality, was not for sharing. It was her rabbit. I sized up the growing tumult, stepped in, and removed the rabbit. Universal dismay. I`m not sure which they were looking forward to most, the eating of the rabbit, or the fight to get it from Daisy. As it was, I became the villain of the piece. Sulky sullen looks. “She`s going to eat it all herself!”
But memories are short and soon they were hunting for another one.
Run, rabbit, run!
Monday, June 20, 2016
Figaro is with a friend. She has realised why he is called Figaro – he has a piercing voice and feels it should be heard. When she took him, he was loudly operatic all the way home, and really hasn`t given up since.
|Figaro - "I have a lovely voice!"|
Kaiju has been visiting shows with me. He is a happy soul, and finds the whole business very interesting indeed. And, thank goodness, he travels really well. At the last show he was a welcome diversion from the kind of judging that makes you want to give up the whole business and try flower arranging instead. His little head was never still as he watched it all, and made it clear that he would like to go in and ask those big boys to play with him. As the judge relentlessly rewarded her friends and paid back her debts, he was delighted with the whole thing. Maybe he will restore my faith in dog showing? We shall see… his turn will come next month. As will his brother`s.
|Kaiju - all legs and enthusiasm.|
Meanwhile he is at that gangly five-month stage, all legs, and joints tied together with loose elastic. You wait with bated breath for the whole thing to come together…well, I think he will turn out OK.
I am writing this while listening to the back garden being bulldozed. Yes, really. Once upon a time it was a nice garden, but it became too much for me, and turned into a rampant tangle of bushes and brambles and even a fallen tree. Now it will be restored (I hope) to grass. Eventually.
And then it will have to be cut. Well, not by me.
What a pity Papillons don`t eat grass…
Friday, May 13, 2016
The adults are well and full of it as usual. So full of it that I came out the other day to find they had organised their own lunch and were tucking in to a large fat pigeon. I am still racking my brain as to how they got it. A sudden avian suicidal impulse? A heart attack? Papillons, despite the size of their ears, cannot fly. Not even Plush, who is mostly ears. However, they got it, they were having a really good feast, with feathers flying everywhere. Fidget
was hiccuping feathers for some time afterwards…
|Kaiju, concentrating hard on those ears...|
Ears are the order of the day with the growing puppies, who are going through the awkward adolescent gawky stage. Kaiju seems to be diverting most of his energy to growing ears. He is determined to outdo his mother, the Ear Queen. His solemn anxious face, distorted by the throes of teething, stares out at me between two enormous wings. Of course I have impressed on him that ears can never be too big.
After all, if they really grow so big that you take off in a high wind, that will make the next pigeon so much easier to get…
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
The puppies, Figaro and Kaiju, are enjoying it, and spent a mad rampaging afternoon with their mother. Plush is young, and always up for it.
Here they are, photobombed by Angel, who always has to know what is going on.
Sunday, February 21, 2016
…down the puppy trail. Already the fat little furballs are toddling about, trying to get unwilling adults to play, and indulging in ferocious puppy battles which usually involve trying to discover which parts of your brother are detachable.
Their mother, Plush, has already decided that she has fulfilled the original contract, and just watches from a distance, making sure no puppy is actually reduced to its component parts while placidly ignoring the loud screams and growls. I have been putting her in with them at night, but she is beginning to
suggest that this is cruel and unnatural punishment. She gives me that “There is life after puppies" look.
|"What can we get up to now?" (six weeks)|
|Plush and the boys at 4 weeks|
At six weeks they are beginning to develop character. Kaiju, (the little monster) is a pushy explorer, but always loses to his brother Figaro (loud and clever) in fights. Kaiju, left by accident in a room with no other dogs, marched up and down, barking and growling, claiming territory. Figaro, however, was the first to make the important leap of logic that my feet are as much part of me as my hands, and not large alien beings. Six weeks is an age of discovery. But due to the constant bad weather, not of the outdoors. Winter puppies do miss out on that.
At this stage I have no idea how they will turn out.
Wait and see.
Friday, January 15, 2016
I knew the condition I would get them back in. I was not disappointed. Back they trailed in twos and threes, uniformly covered in mud.
Angel slunk in last. She was so covered in twigs and bits of conifer that all that was needed was a set of lights and a tinsel star for her to pass for a minute four legged Christmas tree. She was completely unrepentant and not at all helpful as I tried to remove the miniature forest , branch by branch. She had
collected them, and she would keep them.
Done at last and off she went to sulk. Angel, you must understand is truly and hopelessly spoiled, and sleeps round my neck like a furry scarf. (Fortunately she has not inherited her mother Solitaire`s interesting habit of…scenting the room frequently). She is totally arrogant, and is the only one not impressed by Plush having a family.
Plush, however, is quite enjoying the respect that being a mother earns for her from the others. Being a mother makes you important in the eyes of the pack. And she is doing really well. The two boys are now so big and fat that I would hesitate to weigh them in case they broke my little scales. And they are amazingly similar – might as well be twins. I will be interested to see whether the similarity increases as they grow up.
Meanwhile the weather is cold, and all is calm and quiet here.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Well, Plush has done it! Not without incident. She spend a day in rather ineffective labour, and after 8 hours produced a pair of hind legs – and promptly gave up entirely. I had to get the puppy out without any help from the bitch, which was not at all funny and will not be described here.
Off to the vet with madam, who clearly thought that was it over. The vet was a bit worried about the total inertia and how the remaining puppies were carried, so Plush ended up with a Caesarian and two huge bouncing boys.
I took away the woozy Plush and the pushy complaining boys. They had read the manual, and knew that they were due substantial quantities of milk immediately. It`s customary to offer a little help in this, and Plush had no complaint. And once plugged in, they made it clear that they had no intentions of coming off – ever. Meanwhile Plush was slowly coming to terms with her new situation, and clearly liked it.
So despite the rocky beginning, all has gone well. Her huge boys (which look amazingly alike) have stopped complaining and are growing and growing, almost visibly. Plush is completely out to lunch on Planet Puppy. And for once I am really not worried about the litter.
They are a week old today, and I expect at their rate of growth they will be on the lead in another week!
Saturday, January 02, 2016
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
I had a nice picture to post. but Blogger won`t let me...what else is new?
Friday, November 20, 2015
I have never had a dog quite like Sparkle. I have wrestled with huge coats, tangly ones, sparse ones, and been saddened by the creaminess of others.
Sparkle poses a different problem. To put it simply, he is a dirt magnet.
|"I am perfect just as I am" - Sparkle|
I think he goes out in the morning, takes a deep breath, and calls out: “Here I am, dirt! Come and get me!” And it flies to him in clouds, and settles everywhere. Add to this his ability to stain most parts of himself (including his tail - how the devil does he manage that?), and the usual filthy state of his teeth, and you have a problem that begs for an industrial solution.
His sister, Tess Trueheart, has none of these problems. She is clean, unstained with shining teeth. How can the two be so different?, I wonder, as I zip through a bath for her, and then prepare stain remover and three different whitening shampoos for his three baths to come. He is naturally quite offended by the different treatment he gets, and sees it as cruel and unnatural punishment. He likes the way he looks…and smells.
Well, he has always been an unusual dog, to say the least, and I put up with his passion for potato scones, his insistence on knee sitting at inappropriate moments and his endearing habit on peeing on my chair whenever I get up.
So I suppose I will just get the hot water and suds ready, and we will try again
Monday, November 16, 2015
|"Will I, won`t I?" - Plush|
Last week she visited a very charming and gentle dog, who did things to her which she clearly found inexplicable….however, all will soon be revealed. A test in a few weeks will tell us whether there will be January puppies.
Meanwhile the other girls decided to come in season, presumably in sympathy. As usual, a great nuisance. Fidget in particular feels very deprived indeed, and lets me know, often in the wee small hours in a high plaintive voice.
Kept from him, the ladies turn their attention to Sparkle. Now Sparkle is just a bit problematic. To put it plainly, he just doesn`t have any interest in girls. Not at all. And so he is puzzled, and eventually annoyed, when they persist in trying to get him to take part in what seem strange and unnatural games, and pushing their noses into personal intimate areas. It all ends in petulant snarls and a demand to sit on my knee, well away from them.
You may wonder at this point if Sparkle hits them with his handbag. I am not so sure. I have come across dogs before who were entirely innocent of any sexual intent – and then suddenly the penny drops and no bitch is safe, as he desperately tries to make up for lost time. I am watching him like a hawk.
For both Sparkle and Plush, time will tell.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
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
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.
|"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
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.
|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…
Sunday, July 26, 2015
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, 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
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!
|"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
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.
|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!)
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.
|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
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 -