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.

Monday, May 31, 2004


Still recovering from a trip to Bath Ch Show. On a dogbus. You can`t imagine.....

A dogbus is not exactly the top of the line vehicle. You don`t hire that out to have it stuffed with dogs, even if they are all toydogs in carrying boxes. So picture me at midnight , standing at a corner of the Motorway services, laden with dogs and grooming equipment and trolley, waiting for this creaking museum peice to turn up. All the containerised dogs are piled up and secured with bungies in a swaying heap in a middle space where seats have been removed, and they probably have the best of the travel comfort, as the humans settle into hard lumpy seats with ventilation that hasn`t worked for years.

It`a a long hard run to Bath, punctuated with sleepwalking stops at services, when you drink disgusting Moto coffee without knowing at all where you are. The only saving grace is our usual driver, Stan the Man, a prince of the road, who doesn`t even mind getting bitten.

But it was a good day. The Young Dog stood a good second in his huge class. Emboldened by this, I got Tomato out for her turn - she scuttered off under the bench and returned soaked in diarrhoea. (Doesn`t diarrhoea feature a lot in this blog? Isn`t it good that I can spell it.....?)

Well, I had two options. One, to give up. Two, to do the mad thing. You don`t have to ask. I used up a whole tin of Johnson`s Baby powder (a totally illegal substance under KC rules), my best brush and a lot of bad language, and scuttled into the class late with apologies. wafting clouds of white powder behind me.

The trouble was, the stain had gone but the aroma hadn`t. Only now it was mixed with the pungent sweetness of Johnson`s Baby Powder. a heady mix. Fortunately the wind was rising, carrying it (I hoped) away from the judge and into the next ring, where already people were beginning to cough and look pale. Judge backed off a little, but placed her an astounding 4th.

After the illness, the medicine. I had (you guessed it) a bottle of Kaogel about my person. I had not, however, anything to administer it with. I put the bottle to her mouth and the fight began.

She did get some of it. Meanwhile my hands, arms and feet were spattered liberally with kaolin mix. It was in my nails and hair, and, as everyone delighted in telling me, on my nose. And of course it sets like cement. In this state, carrying a very aggrieved Tomato who now looked like a plaster cast of a dog, I boarded the bus for an arse-breaking seven hour journey home.

I told BF about this and she roared with laughter and said the unmistakeable effluvium of Johnsons and excrement was one of the abiding memories of raising three children......"used to think of it as `Johnnyshite`" she said.

Dogs are quite bad enough.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Again getting ready for a big show and a horrendous bus journey to Bath, in the hopes that Young dog, Tomato or Demented will strike a chord with the judge. Can`t think why......

I notice that an ad for "sheep handling devices" has ben added in the banner. In my sheepy days, the sheep handling devices were provided by Old Jocky and his sons, who promised to move anything anywhere, be it a few ewes to the market or the whole flock to be dipped.

Dipping was a major probem. I didn`t do it here, and the whole bolshie bunch of woolly renegades had to be rounded up and moved eight miles to an obliging farm, where they would be immersed in the toxic brew with the farmer`s much bigger flock. Dipping was a riotous event, supervised by whichever two unwilling coppers their sergeant had seen fit to victimise that week. It was de rigeur to ensure that these two were "accidentally" soaked in the organophosphorous poison as often as possible during their supervision.

I`ve always wondered if the imbecility of sheep was due to being submerged twice a year in poison, and as to the police......well,you might wonder, but I couldn`t possibly comment

Anyway, for me the hard part was geting the sheep there. Jocky and his sons would arrive, and then the fun would start.

Have you seen ONE MAN AND HIS DOG? Forget it. Real-life sheep moving bears the same resemblance to that as COME DANCING would to the local mosh pit. Jocky`s dogs were trained insofar as they were keen to run about a fair bit. My sheep had never been allowed to watch television, and had utter contempt for dogs. They were supposed to bunch together and move obediently up the field. Instead some hid in the bushes, many ran in circles, and Big Aggie and Shitty, the two senior ewes, got their horns down and went straight for the dog. The dog would end up exhausted, cooling off in the water trough, and sheep would be brought in by a number of people shouting, linking arms across the field and flapping feed bags. The odd straggler would be wrestled in by hand.

Then Jocky would provide the transport.

Have you seen SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE? Jocky and his family could have lived in that programme, and all their vehicles appeared to have originated in it. Once he arrived with the remains of a small horsebox, evidently once used to cary a peculiarly vicious kicker, with all the holes in the sides mostly covered by planks nailed on, and the whole body mounted on the back of a flatbed pickup, further secured by ropes to inspire confidence.

Well, we shoved and struggled and eventually got all but one in. We studied the rickety vehicle , bulging and heaving with confined and angry sheep, legs and heads sticking out of the holes in the planks, and just couldn`t see another space.

"Nae problem," said Jocky. He opened the passenger door, picked up the amazed ewe, and sat her firmly in the pasenger seat, upright on her fat woolly bottom, and fixed the seatbelt tightly under her front legs. And off they went.

I don`t know how many accidents were caused on the main road south that morning by the sight of an oncoming rickety vehicle driven by an old man in a bunnet, with bits of sheep sticking out of holes in the sides and a four-horned ewe wearing a seatbelt in an advanced state of shock sitting bolt upright in the passenger seat, glaring at the oncoming traffic.....

So it goes.

Friday, May 21, 2004


An excellent day at the Scottish Championship show. The sun shone, no travel problems and the Young Dog won under an American judge. One of those days when everything fell into place - even got a lift home. Advised to strongly push the YD, and will, since he enjoys it.

He has had little show experience due to a certain lack during his adolescence......lack of a certain indispensable male item of which there should be two. As an adolescent male human he would have suffered immeasurable angst - as an adolescent dog he simply licked the one he had. I was the one who worried and waited. And one day - I`d love to say with a loud clang - the ball dropped, and his show career began.

The advice I always give to others on this is: "Worry at six months, panic at 9 months, despair at a year." YD came through at the panic stage.

(Please note that this advice applies to male DOGS only....if by any chance you are an adolescent male with similar problems, sorry, you`re in the wrong blog.)

Saturday, May 15, 2004


Busy getting ready for a big show today - lots of soapy water and evil smelling dog toothpaste humorously labelled "poultry flavoured". Only one product of the hen smells like that, and it`s an end product.

There`s an escaped ewe in the belt of young trees above the cottage. She looks an experienced old bugger, with a neck scraped bare of wool by negotiating many narrow holes in fences thought to be sheep-proof. I`ll just phone around, as my ewe-wrestling days are over, although years of it have left me with significant upper body strength, and I can still heft 20 kilo bags of feed with a reasonable show of nonchalance.

Dougal used to be a great test of strength. Dougal was a ram with attitude I got cheaply due to his fighting ability. He had been put in a field as a lamb with another promising show male and promptly ruined both their chances. He came out of it with a loose horn, and when he reached me Roy had thoughtfully wired it to the other one with a metal crossbar and a lot of duck tape. He was a fearsome apparition, and my ewes took one look and ran for cover.

Well, the horn firmed up, and eventually he was armed with two foot spikes on top and strong handlebars at the side, Jacobs being four horned sheep. Armed and dangerous and waiting his chance. If he couldn`t find a person to attack he could often be found just battering an old brick wall for the hell of it.

But victims weren`t hard to find. No-one likes to admit to being afraid of a sheep, and warnings were ignored. The electricity guy who checks the external pole spent a whole morning up it, clinging on for dear life as Dougal charged the base repeatedly, making the whole thing vibrate, and the wires dance alarmingly. I think he may have been crying by the time I got home and found him. You don`t really like to look that closely....

I used to have to rescue people. The rescue technique was simple and horribly dangerous. I would wait until he was totally occupied in trying to kill someone, then, repeating the mantra "I am stronger than any sheep", I would dash out, grab him by one of the curved "handlebar" side horns, some how wrestle him over to the nearest fence, hook the handlebar over it and advise the victim to do as I did and run like buggery. You had a good three minutes before he got himself off that fence, as mad as a hornet.....

Sometimes the victim wasn`t quick enough. I remember the lad who hurled himself at the wood fence, tried to do a fosbury flop over it, and got caught on the barbed wire by the seat of his jeans. I think that rescue involved getting a rope round Dougal`s hind legs and was particularly prolonged and nasty.....

I try to forget the time I misjudged the whole operation and found myself riding round the field on his back. It wasn`t that I couldn`t get off - it was just much safer on there.

"I bet you were sued!" I hear you cry. No never. You see, no grown man will ever admit he was bested by A SHEEP. It`s a testosterone thing. Sheep are what you eat, for heaven`s sake. One lad who had come in to cut some trees for me was had by Dougal, who had waited until he turned his back before the charge. He was used to sheep and managed to escape. I wasn`t in, and he staggered over to my neighbour, Old Peter, who was shocked by his appearance and offered him a dram, asking what had happened. The lad told the story.

"You were savaged by a SHEEP? I`ll have that whisky back!" Peter was still laughing when I got home.

Eventually I lent Dougal to a friend, and in the course of his rammish duties he was flystruck (you don`t want to know, really you don`t), and never recovered. My friend buried him in a corner of the field, but after the rain the ground sank a bit and you could just see the tips of those two great horns sticking up, like the ones protruding from a Desperate Dan cow pie.

I miss Dougal. I miss his confiding ways as he sidled up. waiting for a chance to stick you. He really belonged in a Tarantino movie, not in a field. LIfe`s quiet, now.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


Trailed the Grand Old Lady, who is wheezing something shocking, to the vet. GOL dreads the vet and when the box appeared, she disappeared and was found under my bed. Pulled out she ran off and had to be caught and put in a box. She escaped from that and tried to find refuge with the puppies. Locked the box and endured "Woof!........woof!.........woof!" until the taxi arrived.

Well she has a lung infection and had an antibiotic injection at which she rolled her eyes and glared at me. Had a lot of shopping to do, so asked if I could leave her. As I left I heard "Woof!.......woof!........woof!" and accelerated my steps.

On my way back I could hear her rendering of the Canine National Anthem ten yards away. Collected her with shamefaced apology. "It doesn`t matter," said the girl - "once the others alll joined in, we didn`t really hear her at all......"

Left details for Clever Hans about the worm farms the puppies were running. "Oh, but Hans is very squeamish about that sort of thing". Immediately made her promise to give him ALL the details, length, squirminess, amount, colour etc. Feel it is my duty to harden him to that sort of thing. He`ll thank me some day.....

It`s also my duty to enlighten B, Vomit`s breeder, about the fact that her bitches are perambulating parasite condos......think I will duck this one.

Girl at the checkout in Safeway was on about identity cards, that bonanza for forgers, and said SHE wasn`t paying £40 for any such thing. And I suddenly saw the potential for this to become Tony`s poll tax, a rock to founder on if he tries to make it in any way compulsory. And if he doesn`t, where`s the point?

We the voters have been asking that question a lot recently.

Sunday, May 02, 2004


A sleepless night, during which we had a rushed visit to the vet with a puppy passing blood and other unmentionables. Vet on duty was fortunately Clever Hans, very methodical, very German and quite good-looking - we had a dispiriting discussion on the impossibility of accurately dosing a 500gm puppy, and I went home with very strong wormer and ditto aprehension.

Administered it and sat up till 4, during which time acres of squirming spaghetti were deposited - enough to fill a small Heinz can, anyway By 3am the really ailing puppy was free of it and inviting his brother to play in the time-honoured puppy manner, by hitting him on the head repeatedly with his paw - the latter squatting with his face screwed up in deep thought as unspeakable things went on in his insides. Things the "cute puppy" people don`t tell you. Anyway, this morning all is well, and I am knackered.

Found out a little about the Guardian Blog awards. It seems it helps if you are:

a) A politician

b) A prostitute

c) Anyone with any connection to Iraq

d) A journalist

Can see how (a) (b) and (d) could easily combine - indeed are often indistinguishable - but feel I am too old to attempt any of the above.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?