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.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


I`m being pressured to join the SNP. Rejoin, that would be, for I`ve been a Nationalist voter for as long as I can remember - and that`s a long, long time. Heavens, I can remember being delighted by the adventure of the Stone......... at my age, if I think back far enough I can probably remember Bannockburn.

I have always been a political animal. I don`t write a political blog because there are far too many of them already. But I was brought up to politics. My father declined over the depresion and the war from a communist inspired by Red Clydeside and McLean into a determined socialist; my mother`s politics were so blue they glowed in the dark. How they ever got together is a very romantic story - another time, maybe. But while other couples fought over money and the Other Woman, my parents fought over fiscal and foreign policies.

They fought over history too. One well worried bone of contention was Churchill. To mother he was a wonderful war leader: to my father he was a monster who squandered lives at the Dardanelles during the first war so that the navy could have "a good show", and who said that the starving poor could always eat their children, having so many. Eventually the Beeb ran a serial history of World War One and in those days the Beeb was always right. Myparents watched it in nail-biting silence, and I can still remember my mother, pale and shocked, whispering - "your father was right about the landings!"

My view of Churchill? An evil old anachronism who was indeed a very efficient war leader - but what are you to say of someone who wanted to seed Germany with anthrax spores?

You can see that my views don`t exactly lean to the right. Anyway, Tories in Scotland are not only dead - they have become part of mythology, something to frighten children with:

"And then the wicked unreconstructed thatcherite gobbled up Red Riding Hood`s grandmother, and hopped into bed, disguised as a credible candidate......."

But I am so tired of the seedy complacent Labour corruption that haunts this part of Scotland. We have a sort of a parliament, and I feel it would be more of one with MSP`s committed to Scotland - and that leads one to Nationalism.

No, I don`t think I will ever see an independent Scotland. But independent of Blairism will do for now.

I`ll think about rejoining. Meanwhile I have dogs to wash.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Eleven days old and it`s "Puppies rule OK!" Posted by Hello

Look, I flipped my sister!  Posted by Hello


January`s miserable. They say this is the worst week of it, too. No end to winter, it seems.

Kallista`s puppies are cheering though - eleven days old, fat and contented (except when mother goes out, when the offended screams raise the roof.) In a couple of weeks they`ll have got the hang of just how to make legs work, and will be terrorizing everyone. At the moment they do cute very well.

This is the time of year when show plans are made. What judge will like what dog, which one just does favours, which one only gives to friends.......like most plans, they usually disappoint, but it`s compelling to try to think it out.

I am also trying to think how to break it to a friend who left a jacket here that young Diamond pulled it down and promptly had diarrhoea on it. No, I can`t get the stains out. Yes, it`s disgusting. But she is a tried and true dog person. Probably her first question will be about Diamond`s health.

Well, I hope so............

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


The show season has lurched into motion yet again and so it was that I found myself decanted from a bus at an unholy hour into the car park of a dark and frosty agricultural centre, to be assailed at once by dark and rich agricultural smells.

There were instant cries of horror at this pungent reminder of what cattle do best.

I said it was a good honest country smell.

"It`s got to be the worst country smell in the world, then"

I said mildly that no, it wasn`t - the worst I could remember was when the knacker`s man didn`t come for the dead ewe for six days one hot June. When he did come he made the immortal remark:

"Aye, nothing goes off quicker than a deid yowe."

Silence on country smells after that.

Florian and his brother did well. Florian is really getting the hang of this showing business and concentrated with all his little might. He also made repeated efforts to urinate on my leg, leading me to do a strange spasmodic intermittent version of Riverdance......a very appropriate name, under the circumstances.

I remarked to another exhibitor, "Did you see that? He`s developing quite a strong character - arrogance is what he needs in the ring."

And then I thought - what am I saying? If a dog cocks its leg on a person, the normal response is a well-placed boot which will inhibit his piddling ,and indeed his reproductive aspirations for months to come . Just how much has dogshowing warped my brain? Would a normal person be parading in a public hall with a small manifestly incontinent dog, wearing a black jacket embroidered with sequinned butterflies? (That`s me, not the dog, folks.......we haven`t gone that far downhill yet.) Should I seek help before it`s too late? ........

Further adventures with Red Sofa to come later.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Red Sofa, aka Red Sonja Posted by Hello


I normally breed two litters a year. Since Papillons officially average litters of 2.7 offspring, you can see that I am not usually up to my knees in puppies.

One of my girls decided to up the average. She went out and got herself mated, and is now happily and comfortably pregnant.

Now, "comfortable" is perhaps a little inadequate to describe Sonja. She was originally called Red Sonja, after the svelte warrior lady of the comics. Alas, Sonja has never managed svelte. I think the word we are searching for here is "ample". A friend in the breed once looked at her and snorted:

"Red Sonja? More like Red Sofa!"

Add to this a pregnancy and you have to imagine something like the Hindenburg with fur. (And a very smug expression).

Well, worried by her size, I booked her in for a scan at the vet`s. I had a notion that 2.7 meant little to her and was a bit anxious.

On the appointed morning I woke up to snow. No chance of a taxi, then. I set off, clutching the enormous Sonja in a well-padded dog carrier, up the mile of steep road, the snow getting thicker all the time and my shoulder screaming under the weight. Eventually a bus loomed out of the blizzard, full of people imbued by the old spirit of the blitz - we`re all in this together. They helped to heave Sonja on, speculating happily as to whether we would make it up the hill, and how we would all get home. We skidded and lurched on through the snow - no the council had made no effert whatsoever, as usual.

At the vet`s at last, the bad news. Red Sofa is not planning the biggest litter ever - just 4. Instead she is harbouring the biggest puppy ever - well over twice the normal size and with no hope of getting out naturally. The phrase "elective caesarian" came up, and my heart sank.

The vet`s bill blights my life. Other people worry about maxing out their plastic - my heart sinks as the monthly account for injections and operations comes thudding through the letterbox. The dogs get whatever they need, but it`s hard going. Every time the vet sees me, what he is really looking at is his early retirement and a villa in Spain. All of you out there with families - make your children vets. They will never know want, and will keep you in luxury in your old age.........

Aanyway, I collected Sonja, very aggrieved at having been shaved and smeared with gel, and struggled home through the drifts to see to her sister, safe in the nest with two puppies - planned ones.

"Why can`t you be like her - sensible?"

Red Sofa grinned at me and wagged her tail.

She has her own plans.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


I`ve been delighted and fascinated by the pictures from Titan. There`s somethng called a "sense of wonder" and this result from such a fragile probe so far away really calls it up. It must be the old human imperative to explore, to see what`s over the next hill. And to think that part of it was British - and it actually worked! (Rumour has it that the British part depended entirely on 3 duracell AA batteries. I believe this implicitly.)

As to your comments on the last post - well I`ve learned that there is a substantial support out there for the view that natural disasters should be welcomed as a convenient way of culling excess population, and even some for Harry; that I am an evil old hag who threatens insecure puny manhood - you got that right, son! - and sadly that there is still prejudice against those who suffer from mental disorders. Nothing new there then.

Let me end the whole thing by saying something about blogs.

Blogs are anonymous. They stand alone.

In a blog you ARE what you SAY. Not what your friends say you are. Be judged by what you say.

I say we should do all we can to support the tsunami victims. I say Harry was wrong and stupid. I say certain young males can be a pain in the neck.

That`s all, folks. End of the episode.

Friday, January 14, 2005


Puppy Diamond is driving me up the wall. The weather doesn`t allow him out much, and he is compensating by systematic house destruction. Nothing is safe. Typical young male.

I`m feeling very anti young males at the moment. I looked in on a blog called "The Passions of the Chris" - no I`m not providing a link to this trash - and found this on the tsunami victims and their need:

"But put things in perspective. There's 6 billion of us at last count and its rising – FAST!!! This disaster is barely a blip, its 0.0017% Its utterly insignificant. I'm not saying this isn't bad. Of course it is. But people die. They do it all the time. For a mirriad of reasons, the truth is they don't die fast enough. How many people died of Aids today? How many have died of hunger and disease? How many in the last decade have been murdered by acts of violence, war or organised religious/tribal slaughter/genocide. Do you know? I don't. Has it made any difference. I say not. There's still too many of us. "

This is typically Young Male. If it didn`t actually happen to him, it`s no more real than Spiderman. And of course he can rationalise all the world`s problems with a few statistics - numbers are so much more real, after all.........

Another rogue male has been in the headllines. Harry`s problem is a similar variant. Basically he is a wanker, with all the intellect of a lentil. He`s typical of the gaggle of chinless wonders who trail up to St Andrews every year because not even money and favour could get them into Oxbridge. (Have you guessed yet that I`m not exactly a monarchist?)

Of course he dressed up as Hitler. Hitler`s just a cartoon figure to him. Like Spiderman. He doesn`t know that neo-Nazis are alive and well out there, and probably pinnning pictures of him on their wall at this minute. He doesn`t even remember that certain members of his family had a relationship with Hitler best swept under the carpet.

Imagine the rollercoaster ride of doing PR for the prince. You sweat to set up manifestly fake photo opportunities presenting him as a caring thoughtful youg man then - duh! - the real Harry drags its knuckles onto the scene and the whole house of cards collapses - again.

I don`t know any members of the Royal Family. I do know three people who survived concentration camps, and I used to know one who was part of the clean-up squad at Belsen.

I can`t think how you would begin to make the Harrys of this world aware of the realities of something like that. Young rogue males, especially if they`re Royals, don`t do reality.

In the world of dogs, young problem males are best neutered and found caring experienced and firm owners............

Any takers for Chris and Harry?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Still no let up in the weather, and I can see I will not be venturing too far from home - anyway Kallista is due to whelp this week and that`s a tie.

So I`m a homebird. I may well take up my knitting again. It`s brown, it`s a fuzzy sweater with an aran yoke, and I`m not sure I like it. I`m better knitting for other people - what I knit for myself never pleases me somehow.

I`ve knitted since I was six, when I was already turning out socks. And when I was a graduate student and like all students chronically short of money, I knitted fairisle gloves and hats for shop sale........sweated labour for little reward.

It was at this time that I met J. A tall goodlooking lad who somehow never seemed too short of money. One of our group mentioned this, and eventually he admitted his secret source of income - modelling.

"We`ll see you on the catwalk then?"

"No, it`s not like that. It`s photographic modelling."

Lots of suggestive remarks at this point. He became very indignant and defensive.

"It`s nothing like that! I model clothes for a very reputable designer!"

He was obviously in earnest and we let it drop.

But I was the only one of the group who knitted, and the one who discovered J`s terrible secret. He did indeed model clothes for a reputable designer. But the designer was Wendy. J was the guy on the front of the knitting pattern. The one with the fixed grin, leaning on a fence with his arm right up to show that the bobbles go all the way up the sleeve.........

I threatened to expose the awful truth and he went into total meltdown. His masculinity was at stake. It seemed that I could have accused him publicly of impotence, a criminal record, and he wouldn`t turn a hair.........but this!

He eventually offered me a cut of his income to keep the secret.

Did I accept?

If you have to ask, you`ve never lived on a small student grant.

Sometimes knitting can be profitable.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Clyde floods Posted by Hello


We`ve been beseiged by storms and hurricane force winds, and I have been cowering under the goosedown duvet listening to the wind scream and the rain pound. I keep reminding myself that the old house has stood a lot of these - it withstood the storm that took down the Tay Bridge, after all.

Indeed it has been standing a long time. It has been traced in legal records as far back as 1680,when it changed hands, dwelling and ground, for "seven pound Scots." It came into the Hamilton estate as part of a dowry in the nineteenth century, and was bought out again after the war. It was "modernised" - running water and electricity etc - fifty years ago. Before that the warm room with the vaulted ceiling where I am sitting was home to Daisy and Clover, two Clydesdales who worked timber, light came from oil lamps, and water from the well just across from the front door. That front door is five feet eight inches high - when the stone was cut to make that lintel few Scots were taller than that.

But life here is older still. Just before the First World War, an excavation here turned up bronze age celtic stone heads. People have liked to live here for a very long time.

That`s reassuring after a few days like the ones we have had. Yesterday I got up and went to the gate to look down on an inland sea that wasn`t there before. The river has spread everywhere, all over the bird sanctuary (which will delight the swans) and downriver to the towns. Floods everywhere, and I am quite relieved that I now don`t have to travel to Leicester on Monday.

Instead, like my laptop, I will be hibernating.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Deefor Posted by Hello


A bit late with this, but I have been laid up with my Achilles Wooden Leg .........nevertheless I did get out to celebrate Hogmanay at another cousin`s hotel - much food and a ceilidh band --- then back to my Afghan relatives for Ne`erday. And yes - their trip to Ireland was a great success, with big wins for Victoria and Deefor.

Deefor is a pale gold dog,originally Irish, and my cousin`s partner bought him there on seeing how beautifully he moved. She was much struck by the name.

"Deefor?" she asked. "An old Irish name?"

The seller looked amazed.

"No, he`s just Deefor." Sensing total incomprehension she gently explained:

"That`s Dee for Dog."

As a method of naming litters I can see this has its limitations........

Lots of people in the east are not having a happy new year. You know what I mean. I don`t think the tsunami victims will benefit from a lot of blog agonizing. This problem is not to be solved by discussion and hand-wringing. Go out and donate - my preferred charity is Medecins sans Frontieres, but there are many to choose from.

And again I wish the best for everyone in 2005

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