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.

Thursday, June 30, 2005


I`m thinking about going through to Edinburgh to support the G8 march, although my chest is acting up a bit.

The purpose of marches is intimidation. You flaunt your numbers and dare others to tangle with you. In the case of this kind of march, the object is to intimidate the government - and I`m all in favour of Westminster running scared. A pity that other governments won`t be so impressed.

We never seem quite to get it off the ground when it comes to Africa. We have spasms of pouring in money but somehow it runs away into the sand. And yet we have to keep trying.

I don`t pretend that it`s possible to make poverty history. But I`d like to be counted as someone aware of the problem who at least tried.

Finallly, the huge space at the beginning of this blog is Blogger`s fault, not mine. And their fix doesn`t work. Just remember to scroll down, folks.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Relentless pursuit of JIm Posted by Hello


A quiet weekend in the sun recovering from a show at Blackpool. Blackpool is, as you know "famous for fresh air and fun" (and I can do the whole monologue), but for me it`s a dogshow. Have showdogs, visit interesting places, show dogs in them. I never saw the beach, let alone the tower.

I remember once going to judge in Keighly and ending up staying far out in a hotel which the owner told me was ideal for visiting Haworth and Bronte country. But I had to judge a show at 9am. I ended up studying Bronte country through the powerful binoculars he kindly lent me.

Anyway, Blackpool. I woke at 6 with an appalling pain in the back of my neck. "Meningitis!" I thought.......then "No, worse than that - I`ve been sleeping on a dogbus." I switched on the radio in time for the most fearsome weather warning - thunderstorms, flash floods, tornadoes.
"Seen them all, mostly at dogshows," I thought, "wonder how Marcus` coat has come on in a week?"

Well it had, a bit. We were blessed or cursed with an unusually eccentric judge, who often takes as his fashion icon Elton John, and is occasionally on the same planet as the exhibitors. It helps if he is sober too.

Florian was returned to me, fresh from his little holiday in pristine condition. He was glad to see me and had an ecstatic reunion with Prudence, who had been insisting that she would have a hissy fit and die if she was asked to face up to all this on her own. I hadn`t suspected that she saw him as a wise. competent protective male.....not exactly my view of a rather stolid, unadventurous little dog who takes life very seriously.

But the result of the reunion was that they both showed really well. The judge was sober. Prudence was further inspired by a fake fur squeaky mouse, and rose to great heights of swagger. Florian won again, and she was placed high.

The storms and tornadoes?

Well, I didn`t really notice. As usual I was too busy showing dogs.

And today I`ve been relaxing in the sun, watching the pack in their relentless pursuit of Jim. Some day he`ll swoop too low and everyone will dine on crow.

Meanwhile Notpavarotti has a rival, singing over in the wood. This one appears to have taken lessons, or at least to have read "Being A Thrush For Dummies" and does not feel that sounds like a nail being drawn down corrugated iron or strange clicking chirps have any part in the song of his species. I will watch the contest with interest.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Gemma`s downfall.... Posted by Hello


Diamond went off to a lovely home yesterday, and I hope he settles. I was discussing this with an experienced friend, and we began reminscing about the way Papillons take over your home, usually to its detriment.

I was reminded of a colleague to whom I sold a very tiny Pap bitch called Gemma. She was adored by her little girl, and quickly became very spoiled.

Came the day when her husband`s boss was invited to dinner. General domestic panic. She cooked, and baked and the kids were scrubbed at least three times and lectured, threatened and bribed as to behaviour. Nevertheless, during the pre-dinner hospitality, the little girl managed to sneak Gemma into the kitchen and feed her three whipped cream meringues, on the indisputable grounds that "Gemma liked them"

After dinner, with everyone relaxing and all going really well, in sailed Gemma. She trotted up to the guest of honour, stood in front of him, gazed adoringly up with bg black eyes and flirted her tail.

"Oh, how exquisite!" exclaimed the boss

At those words, "exquisite" leaned daintily forward and threw up three whipped cream meringues all over his shoes and socks.

The silence was profound.

She told me afterwards that she thought her husband might drop dead on the spot. He was seriously scared of his boss and had never exactly had a rapport with Gemma, since the one and only time he took the tiny creature for a walk and some boys across the road had shouted: "Haw mister, you walkin` yer gerbil?"

I`d love to say that the great man laughed heartly, the ice was broken and a new rapport established all thanks to man`s best friend.

If you believe that you`ve been watching too many sitcoms. Life aint sitcom.

As the appalled silence deepened, Gemma stepped forward and attempted to clean off the defiled shoes, seeing no reason to give up her three meringues so easily.

And I think that`s a good point at which to draw a veil over the rest of this social nightmare. You just don`t redeem a situation like that. Any effort would be like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Slow iris to black.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Koi Posted by Hello


A hot hot show in the beautiful border country. I set off before 6, and since public transport in this country assumes that no-one moves on a Sunday before 9, I had to get a taxi to Edinburgh, to the kind person who would give me, Prudence and Florian a lift.

It was really early and I had been up since 4. I suppose if I had been a little more awake I might have noticed that the confident taxi driver ("nae bother!") was wearing a big gilt crown with "King of the Numpties" engraved on it. An hour later I was in no doubt, as after a unguided tour of Edinburgh we came to rest beside a bus garage, totally lost, and I had to phone my friend to come and rescue us. Greatly to his credit, my friend`s husband did not tell the driver how to get home........

i hope he`s still wandering. Cruising the bypass forever - the Flying Numpty.

Thr show was hot and got hotter -a cloudy sticky heat in the high eighties. Florian didn`t like it and although he won his class, did not give of his best in the dog challenge, where he had a good chance. Prudence said she didn`t like the open air rings and the proximity of big dogs. Marcus gave his all but didn`t get much in return. One of those days.

Home in the heat though the lovely border country - without Florian, who is visiting with Marcus until the weekend. My friend`s home boasts a large pond full of ancient koi - well some are over twenty years old and the size of cod. They heave half their bodies out of the water in the hope of food, and fix you with an alien fishy glare.

Prudence was amazed. What could they be? How could they live in water? Did they eat Papillon? Should she bark - yes indeed she should. Probably quite a lot, just to be safe.

Her mother Siggy would only have had two thoughts.

1. I can swim.

2, I bet they taste good.

Prudence, like Hamlet, thinks altogether too much.

As Hamlet could have told her, you miss a lot of good dinners that way...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

My Grand Old Lady Posted by Hello


A fun time at the vet - nothing quite like that sinking feeling of lugging three unwillilng bitches to the surgery and feeling both them and your bank balance cringe as you struggle through the door.

But it wasn`t that bad. Dido`s op, after much argument back and forth is pronounced successful. The Grand Old Lady who has been sneezing constantly, had the supreme indignity of having her nose syringed, and came home glowering and snorting - it took two sausage rolls, a lot of Tesco Economy Polony slicing sausage ( a wonderful substance, totally inedible for humans but highly addictive for dogs), and almost all of a turkey breast to get her to talk to me again. And Prudence, who had been limping, has a rash on her feet and has to have them massaged with a cream twice daily. (Add rubbing cream into canine toes to the daft things I have to do...)

Prudence, after intial shock, has decided that this is really very pleasant - you can see her thinking: "So this is what it`s like to have a lady`s maid.....I wonder what else she could be doing for me?"" Meanwhile I rub on desperately, hoping to get her fit for the next big show at the weekend.

I suppose no show would be complete without the usual panic beforehand.

I`d love to get hold of the sage who suggested that keeping dogs lowered your blood pressure and helped to prevent heart attacks.

For a start I`d give him Prudence`s feet to do.

Then he could have the vet`s bill. I`d dial 999 as he had the heart attack.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


I spent some time yesterday in a disconsolate queue in the local chemist. We have several local chemist`s shops, all owned by the same firm, and all inadequate. One thing I particularly detest is the constant audio advertising, strongly featuring the more depressing complaints.

Usually I let it flow over me and concentrate on more uplifting things, such as bills to pay and shopping to do. I was in this daydream mode when a movement behind snapped me out of it and I heard the overhead voice coo -

"......At some time most of us have to face up to haemorrhoids....."

I was amazed at the picture this conjured up. I`m fairly double jointed, but that particular position would be quite beyond me ...

If anyone out there uses this particular method of visual diagnosis, please don`t let me know.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Greatest Show on Earth.... Posted by Hello


I went to see Spirit of the Horse last night, in a tent painted with stars at the far end of the local park - alas I went to the wrong end and had to walk 3 miles through the woods beside the loch before I came to it. Very mediaeval, the big pavilion peeking out of the trees.

The show itself is qute OTT - Riverdance meets Trigger in Middle Earth, with a mix of dressage, voltege and Cossak trick riding, lots of dancing and even a Clever Hans act, this last something I haven`t seen since chldhood . I`m not too keen on circus, but anyone who doesn`t delight in watching beautiful horses has something missing in their soul.

I saw quite a few circuses in my young days, when the show coming to town was a big event and people didn`t have the reservations they have now about performing animals. I loved the animals, but came away with an abiding fear of clowns - I quite understand why they feature so much in horror films.

My father loved the circus, and he loved westerns. And once when I was over in Newark, his brother told me that this stemmed from a great event in his childhood - the day he shook hands with Buffalo Bill.

Well........I was sceptical. So I did a little homework. And sure enough, in 1904 Buffalo Bill`s Wild West played all over Scotland, including Paisley. My father was just six years old. And after the show he went to see the horse lines - just as I did yesterday - and got to shake hands with the great man himself.

It paints a picture - the old man, in decline, going on with the show because it was all he had by that time and the little boy with stars in his eyes, inspired by this view of a world that was already passing so quickly, falling back into legend even as the two of them stood there.

And when I look back - spanning the centuries like that - it`s a good feeling.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Beau the philosopher Posted by Hello


I had a happy day over on the east coast yesterday visiting like-minded (i.e. animal-minded) friends. One big-hearted soul is keeping, in addition to her own Papillons, those of two other people who are on holiday.. Surrounded by dogs and dog chat, and getting an ecstatic and very greasy welcome from Marcus who is at the moment “in oil” for the sake of his growing coat. – a nice way to spend an afternoon.

I also took several photographs of my friend`s guinea pigs. I find them fascinating, and I`ve only just worked out why.

I`ve kept and bred mice (fawn satins) and I`m famiiar with other small rodents. But guinea pigs are much bigger. And they look at you as if they were thinking.. Those deep black eyes seem to harbour serious speculation about Lilfe The Universe and Everything.

Now, I`m assured that ths is nonsense, and that there is more content in the hard vacuum of interstellar sspace than between the average cavy`s ears. A rabbit is Einstein compared to a guinea pig. The average cavy can manage two thoughts – sex and food – but not both at once.

Well I don`t know. When I took this picture, Beau, the stud boar, - who looks like something carefully designed to capture the soft toy market - favoured me with a very intense look. Was he speculating about the nature of the cavy-human interface?

Or wondering if my very large handbag could just possibly be full of broccoli…..?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Very confident and....... Posted by Hello
Very beautiful Posted by Hello


I make no apologies for introducing an overload of cuteness. These two adorable and very confident young Chin ladies are the current stars of our training class. Mr Lentil is seriously in love with both of them He has good taste!

Monday, June 06, 2005

The well-trodden tourist route to the Castle Posted by Hello


I`ve been smiling a bit over Bob Geldof`s efforts to bring one million people to Edinburgh for a peaceful protest.

As one who hails from the west of Scotland, I`ve inherited - how shall I put it? - certain attitudes to Edinburgh. They have been borne out a bit by experience.

Edinburgh, to put it delicately is not noted for its welcome. The legendary phrase which was supposed to be the traditional Edinburgh welcome to the visitor at the door was: "You`ll have had your tea?"

I know, they cope with a vast influx of tourists every year, rising to a huge number during the Festival.

But what they welcome is the tourist money. I`m old enough to remember how much and how loudly the good burghers used to resent the disruption of the Festival and the invasion of all those foreigners. (In Edinburgh, a foreigner is someone who was born out of sight of the castle.) But they turned out to be rich foreigners. Nowadays the Festival is seen as a financial necessity.

And here comes irresponsible Sir Bob, casually inviting a million eager demonstrators, very few of whom are likely to have any money at all, suggesting that Edinburgh open its spare rooms and garages to them. Screams of panic from all directions.

I`ll watch this one with interest. I can`t see the influx being any more of a policing problem than the annual Hogmanay street party - and most of the demontrators would be sober. But financially..........?

I hope sir Bob`s had his tea.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Marcus  Posted by Hello


I have two lovely young dogs who are brothers. Florian, who gets a lot of attention in this blog, is the one who lives with me. Marcus lives wth a friend who handles him for me. And very well too.

Like many brothers, they are quite different. Florian is quiet, steady, reliable - and - oh yes, still a virgin. Marcus is pushy, bouncy arrogant - and a father.

At the moment Florian`s coat is coming along nicely for his age. Marcus, on the other hand, has decided to do what many young dogs between 13 and 16 months do - have a complete coat change. He is as a result just a tad challenged in the covering department - not bald, but a bit thin in places. And it`s only temporary.

The other day I got to handle Marcus at a Toydog show up north. It was an experience. A bit like a firecracker on the end of the lead, compared to Florian. But I got him going, and he moved well. He won the class.

Afterwards the judge, a friend, came and spoke to me.

"You have to do something about his backside! He`s got so little coat there just now, when he moves away from you, you seem to see nothing but his arsehole. Can you not powder it or something? At the moment his arsehole hits you in the face!"

This was truly an arresting image. I was, as often, silenced.

I`ve decided:
a) not to mention it to his handler
b) Not to hang a modesty veil from his tail.

As for Marcus - well, he would simply swagger a bit more and tell you that, until his coat grows in, you are privileged to have a really good view of the most attractive Papillon bahookie in Scotland.......

.......And that you just might be blinded by the sun shining out of it.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

May the Force be with you....... Posted by Hello
What it`s all about.. Posted by Hello


Do you live in the Strathclyde area? Did you need a policeman this morning, around 9? Did you have trouble getting one?

I know where they were.

The little town nearest to me was turned into a no-go area this morning. The main street was closed off. Busineses were shut down.

And the place was packed with police. Plods and mounties. Vans rolled up and disgorged riot police in full gear. I counted 150 - I think there were a lot more. Not to mention the helicopters.

A riot? A big drug bust?

A walk. In this case a Hibernian one, but it could as easily have been the other lot.

And a whole community brought to a standstill. Trade non-existent. Not to mention the awesome cost of the exercise, lots of it coming out of my council tax. A police presence had been drawn in from miles around - it was the ideal morning to start a new career as a burglar or mugger.

I find the whole west of Scotland sectarian business disgusting. I wasn`t brought up in a tradition of religious hatred and find it hard to adjust to a society where it is the norm, and there is absolutely no social or political justification for it. This isn`t Ireland.

I`m shocked to hear fathers say to children - "You`re marching for your faith".

Faith is for home and prayer and life, not provocative marching.

We have laws against incitement to religious hatred. I`d like to see them used to outlaw Orange and Hibernian parades in my country. It would be a start.

Fat chance.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Absolutely the best ring steward ever..... Posted by Hello
Prudence and Florian Posted by Hello


Still recovering from a weekend of showing, almost non-stop.

Friday, the hottest day of the year, was Bath. A long run in the usual bus with a swaying edifice of dogs in carriers stacked amidships. The passengers seemed more aged than ever - I think the bus traels in a time warp which adds years to all of us with every bum-breaking mile.

The show was hot and got hotter. Florian I discover doesn`t like heat. Prudence on the other hand does. We soldiered on in 90 degree heat, sustained by absolutely the best ring steward ever, who not only does the job perfectly, but sustains exhibitors with good cheer and boiled sweets. But the result was the same for both of mine - 4th.
Marcus was 5th. He is a bit out of coat - but that`s another story.
And then the long trail back north in a sweltering bus, its passengers ageing visibly by the minute

At one stop in an unspeakable Moto service, my friend and I were approached by a venerable exhibitor. She told us about her best advance Christmas present ever -

"You`ll never guess!" she cackled. "It`s a burial plot! Isn`t that great?"

As we sat in stunned silence she added: "It came with a message - `Do not open until Christmas!` "

I definitely have to give up dogbuses.

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