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.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


A quiet day or two spent writing up my report on the show.

There is an art to this.

Certain time honoured words and phrases are expected, and the Kennel club is always refining these. You can attend seminars on how to write this stuff.

You can`t write things like -

"Showy little dog strutted his stuff so well I overlooked the fact that his two back legs were almost crossing as he walked", and

"Backed off me, screamed, urinated, howled, bit the next dog and tried to climb up his owner`s leg" in your notes has to be translated into:

"Did not quite give of his best on the day".....

And "In six months time he`ll be big enough to pull a cart full of coal" turns into:

"Not lacking in bone and substance"...

Then there is the problem of the Truly Awful Specimen. This doesn`t usually happen at championship shows and I certainly haven`t had to cope with it this week. But we`ve all had it at open shows. You look at the dog and wonder what breed it`s supposed to be - then realise with a shudder that it`s your breed. Or its movement would only win a prize in a class for children`s home-made robots. It is invariably confident and really happy to be at the show.

And of course there are traditional phrases to cover this. They are:

"Has a lovely nature"

and the ultimate dismissal, the one that tells you that your pet is just that and nothing more:

"Really enjoyed his day out"

Read `em and weep!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Solitaire with Sonja`s toy, with her since she was born - she probably thinks it`s her brother, and that she too has red and blue stripes.. Posted by Picasa


Recovering from six hours on my feet judging 159 dogs and mild food poisoning from the show catering, I now have to face writing my report.

But it was fun. It always is. All the usual suspects turned up - the ones I have been longing to put in the correct order all year. And most were quite good. There was the odd disaster that shouldn`t be seen at a dog show unless covered with a large paper bag, the puppy dog that will be well able to pull a very large cart in a month or two, the little dog that found it all too much - but on the whole a worthy turnout. The winners were pleased and I haven`t had too many knives in my back yet from the losers. (Although one of them had a lot to say afterwards about the Scots, and while I`m willing to take personal criticism, I will not accept what I take as a racist slur - if you`re reading this, you know who you are, and you need to rethink your attitudes in a hurry.)

I was happy to give Reserve awards to a lovely bitch which has been very underrated, and to a good dog on his way up.

And so a good day - despite the cold and my struggles with the stewards, whose combined ages must have hit the thousand mark, and who huddled like the three fates over the paperwork. Fred had brought "his wrong glasses" and couldn`t read the numbers, so we had constant arguments about what dog was what and which dog had really won.

I looked for a late lunch and after some argument and much waving of a pink voucher the elderly catering lady produced a fish which had obviously died some time ago and then been cremated, garnished with fried twirly..... things. Of course I knew it was a Really Bad Idea, but I hadn`t eaten for eight hours. It was followed by something called a Mammoth Muffin, in which you could just detect parts of the Mammoth best left unearthed.

A stroll round the rest of the show, a quick hunt for the stomach pills, then a good journey home in a fast comfortable car with excellent company...

To find that Solitaire has gained another two ounces.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Off tomorrow south to judge at a large Championship show on Sunday. Nerve-wracking but great fun.

As the schedules and entry forms went out not long before Christmas, amazingly and quite coincidentally I had a record number of Christmas cards, many with most affectionate messages (but none with money).

My sole and worst enemy in dogs sent me a card.

Let`s see just how popular I am after Sunday........

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cressida does cute Posted by Picasa
Cressida posing - "Mr DeMille, I`m ready for my closeup now" Posted by Picasa
Solitaire at five weeks - "Omigod, it`s the paparazzi!" Posted by Picasa


January has turned out mild and wet. Muddy dogs, and Jim the Crow cosying up to the chimney at night - he`s still living on my roof.

I`m still picking up the pieces of being offline for a week - I was busy running a photo competition on another site and everyone is having to resubmit. Lots of anxious emails worried that that site would go down for good - they seem to think that I store the whole thing on this machine. I told a friend who used to work as an AOL customer adviser. "Ah yes, you broke the Internet," she said. "We used to get a lot of that..."

I`m just drying off after another canine episode. The heavens opened and I rushed the dogs in. No Florian. I called and called. No Flo.

Eventually I got the green wellies and my fireman`s jacket with the reflective stripes and set off into the peeing rain and growing darkness. I plodded across sodden fields calling and cursing. Florian is perhaps not the sharpest knife in the box, and not one I would trust to make his way home in the dark. At last I turned back down the road. In the twilight a small sodden figure sat forlornly at the gate, clearly wondering why I was broadcasting his name far and wide. I plodded dripping back down to him.

"Which part of your name didn`t you understand?"

I was favoured with a Very Blank Stare.

"Have you forgotten it?"

I could see he was thinking hard about this. I wouldn`t be surprised if he had. I rushed him inside before he forgot where the door was as well....

I washed him, and discovered Prudence also missing. Again I called and called with no result. It was now pitch dark and real Noah`s Flood weather. I reached for the fireman`s jacket and cursed loudly:

"Bloody Prudence!"

Insatntly Prudence shot out from her hiding place.

I should perhaps curb my language a little more around the dogs....I`m reminded of the story of the man whose collie responded to "`Koff"

Meanwhile the puppies forge ahead. Cressida is delightful, promising, and does cute really well. She is a bit girly, like her mum - I can see Tamara playing gently with her and thinking how good she would look in pink ribbons....... I will have to oppose this trend vigorously.

Solitaire at five weeks weighs one pound 4 ounces and thinks she is a Rottweiler. She is afraid of nothing and into everything. (Mind you, the camera flash really caught her by surprise. ) I`m not sure if she will grow, and if she is to be a real tiny I`ll have to be very careful about a suitable home.....

Knowing me it may very well end up being this one.

Friday, January 13, 2006


No, I hadn`t given up the blog.

I had a complete computer meltdown, followed by a complete reinstall by two nice lads in a local shop who were really glad of the work. As we looked at the fried laptop in the workshop I noticed a distinct smell of weed, and went away hoping that they wouldn`t be too fried when they tackled it.

But here it is, up and running.

I`m sorry if the last post gave offence to the Welsh. I`ve really nothing against them, even if the electorate have. But I have to confess that as a former sheep breeder I have probably heard all of those jokes....and they all for some reason involve the Welsh (and welly boots). I even know the answer to the question "What do you call a sheep tied to a lamp post in Cardiff?"

But I`d probably better not say.

Meanwhile expect more news of the rampaging Cressida, bent on trashing the house, and Sonja`s tiny but determined Solitaire - one pound one ounce at five weeks.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Charles Kennedy`s problem is alcohol. Well, personally that is, not politically. Politics is full of alcoholics.

His real problem is that he is unelectable. There is no way that he could ever lead the country. It wouldn`t happen. Like many before him - and the example that springs to mind from the past and from another part of the political spectrum is Kinnock - he carries above his head a big neon sign saying "Not PM material". (Unlike Kinnock he doesn`t carry another smaller one saying "and Welsh anyway".)

Kinnock actually was influential within his party. He purged Militant, and laid the foundation for the party machine that pushed Blair to power.

And there the comparison fails. Charlie....well, I can`t actually think of anything he has achieved, beyond a genial bonhomie and an ability to fudge issues. He certainly hasn`t transformed his party and made it into a lean mean fighting machine.

To be fair it`s going to take a lot to do that. The Lib Dems have had their share of charismatic and even revered leaders, such as Jo Grimond, and the nation as a whole has always responded with respect for the man but contempt for the party.

And that`s way too high a hurdle for Charlie.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Bleak January.

Dull cold weather, and the big excitement of today has been worming puppies.

I discover that the weekend I am to judge has been designated by Virgin as a Special Engineering Weekend and that no trains are guaranteed at all between here and Stafford. My views on Virgin are too well known to repeat here. I`ve been phoning around and looking at cheap flights to Birmingham at just the wrong time. A wonderful day.

Really, something should be done about January.

Meanwhile, New Year Resolutions.

Walk to and from town (total of 4 miles).
Wash dogs more often.
Be more optimistic.
Clean house....well, at least once, preferably before next New Year......

Sunday, January 01, 2006

HAPPY NEW YEAR ! ! Posted by Picasa

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