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, August 28, 2006

Swaggering Marcus.....showing the camera his best side.  Posted by Picasa


Really not too much of a disaster. I struggled in with 6 dogs on a wobbly trolley, one functioning foot and inexplicably bad asthma, more or less on time.

As I towed the load uphill, thinking that all I needed was a yak and a yurt, the jolly lady who encouraged me with the words - "Some good deep breaths and you`ll make it !" was informed that if she lost two stone and had a facelift she just might do the same. You don`t mess with me at dogshows.

So there I am , in a crowded tent, unpacking 6 excited dogs, a huge crate, a chair, two bags...and discovering that Shelby`s class will clash with Marcus and Florian. (And that all traces of Shelby`s wrinkle being clean have long since vanished.)

What do you do? Well I ran back and forth between rings till eventually a kind friend offered to take Marcus in, bald bum and all. Some people are all heart. I left her with the swaggering Marcus, who clearly felt that his naked rear was probably very attractive to the opposite sex (how many males have this delusion, girls?) , and rushed back with Shelby who charmed an elderly lady judge to the extent of going third in his class and qualifying for Crufts. And when we trotted back (you can see how much good this was doing my foot, can`t you?), Marcus, clearly due to inspired handling probably involving keeping him facing the judge all the time, was standing first.

The ground in the rings was very......well, doggy. It was, shall we say, very well used by dogs already. To a dog it smelled delicious. I had great trouble with the girls over this, especially Allegra, but I persevered, and she won. Solitaire was very confused at first until suddenly she realised that this was just a bigger, smellier outdoor training class, and she was placed.

After the judging, the photographs I have to take, then exhaustion and a kind lift home.

One last thought. Shelby`s wrinkle, which has been mentioned before, and which has to be cleaned daily, is on his FACE. I spoke to a friend in hounds, and her face was a study as I complained about this constant chore....it turned out that she thought it was on a quite different part of his anatomy.

He can clean that himself.

There are limits, even for me.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


The day before a show is always fraught. It boils down to an exercise in logistics:

1. Get them clean
2. Keep them clean.

It`s at times like these you wish you had gone in for Scotties, or Russian Black Terriers. That you didn`t belong to the My Dog Has White Feet Club. Or White Anything.

After a day of blue shampoo suds, Mrs Crinklyhands stands back and surveys the result.

Florian looks as if he has one paw in an electric socket.

Solitaire, washed first, has already picked up a mysterious stain that looks a lot like tomato sauce.

Allegra has developed a tuft between the shoulders that just won`t lie flat.

And then there`s Marcus. The hot summer made all the dogs cast, and Marcus more than most. But he cast selectively. From the front he looks fine.

But from the back.....well, there`s just nothing there. Bare legs. He`s thrown it all away.

Let`s be brutal. What he needs is an arsewig. A nice long veil of white hair I can hang from an elastic loop round his tail.

Anyone out there got one?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Yet again I was in the local Health Centre, this time with an infected insect bite, which resembled Mt Vesuvius in full eruption. The doctor looked at it, uttered the diagnosis "That`s horrible!", and sent me over, with a hefty antibiotic prescription, to have it dressed.

After a mere two hours, I was seen by a little grey-haired nurse, who applied a soft dressing and then began to bandage my foot. She bandaged and bandaged, on and on, and I could see that it would take a size 12 to fit the white monstrosity my foot had now become. I could imagine just what her role had been in a previous life, under the Pharaohs....

In the hope of stopping the endless flow of material, I complimented her on her skill with bandages.

"Yes, she said, "those young nurses just aren`t taught these things any more. There`s a certain knack to bandages."

She stared at my foot thoughtfully.

"Mind you, the one thing I was never so good at bandaging was stumps....."

I got out of there as quickly as I could.

I go back tomorrow.

I hope I come out with both feet.....

Friday, August 18, 2006

Would you think of poisoning him? Posted by Picasa


A bit fed up with the dog show scene these days.

The dog in the picture is Shelby`s dad. A charming little dog who has been doing quite well in the ring recently.

So at his last show someone poisoned him.

He lived, but with liver damage. It is not known if he will recover fully.

I can`t believe that anyone would take what is, after all, a hobby seriously enough to do that. Poisoning, bent judges, bought judges - I`m pretty sick of it all this year

Saturday, August 12, 2006


...I can` t think why, but I looked at all those pictures of people queueing for their flights, clutching their little transparent plastic bags, and somehow I thought of you.

After all, it`s your doing. Your foreign policy choices have made us one of the top terrorist targets.

And I`ve no idea why. I just can`t get inside your head.

It`s the 50th anniversary of Suez (another disastrous British foray into the Middle East), and it`s notable for being the point at which the Special Relationship first showed its teeth. America then threatened the UK with financial meltdown - no credit, a run on the pound - if we didn`t back down. Are you secretly under that kind of pressure, Tony?

And if not, what the hell are you up to? Why are we Israel`s second most staunch ally in a war in which we should have no involvement at all? Like many of us, I feel that this country should have no committment to either side in this conflict. It shouldn`t be our war. And yet we are busy helping to ferry arms from America to Israel. Why? Do you really see any moral position, or realpolitik advantage for us here?

Is it just that trailing after George makes you feel so important? Or as someone suggested to me yesterday, that George will "see you all right" when you eventually go - and you keep putting that off too - that he might see you as a convenient replacement for Kofi Annan. ( Why does that make me feel slightly queasy?)

No I can`t figure you out. What I can figure out is that there`s a lot more terrorist activity to come here. You`re lucky to be out of it.

Enjoy your holiday.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

We went up to Glasgow on the tram.... Posted by Picasa


I`ve been asked just how I got started on the downward path which led to me being owned by a pack of small dogs. Well, why not? It`ll take my mind off Blair announcing he`s having another year or two...

Let me take you back into the mists of time. Back, back to the dawn of civilisation. Paisley, 1955. Rationing has just ended: meat came "off points" last year. The Suez Crisis, which will kickstart fifty years of wars in the Middle East, is still a year away. When I walk down into the town early in the morning I usually see the LMS Rail Co. local delivery vans rolling out - twelve flatbeds pulled by twelve yoke of matched Clydesdales. Computers depend on the thermionic valve and require large buildings - and they haven`t reached Paisley, anyway.

But television just has.

We had been discussing having dogs. We had just moved out to Ralston, and had plenty of room. My grandfather bred gundogs, and a Setter or Springer looked likely.

Then one Wednesday I came home from school and my Mother announced: "I`ve seen the dog we`re having. On television."

In those days, everything on the box was repeated. You just had to wait for it to come round. So a few days later my Father and I watched as Stanley Dangerfield presented a trio of tiny dogs with the most enormous ears, and Mother said; "We have to have one of those.".

I don`t have to tell you that there were none of "those" in Paisley. Paisley at that time ran to rather large mutts. And we sone found that there were none to be had in Scotland.

In fact there weren`t many anywhere. Eventually we arranged for a red and white Papillon dog puppy to be sent up from Bournemouth, by rail. His pedigree was impeccable - sired by Gleam of Harleymeads. It was also bigger than he was.

My Mother and I went up to Glasgow on the tram to collect him at Central Station. The man in charge of rail stock looked doubtful as he handed over a tiny wicker hamper with LIVE DOG stencilled on it in huge letters. "They`ll have made a mistake," he said helpfully. "It`s really hamsters, isn`t it?"

On the tram home the basket began to wail. We opened it up - and out popped a tiny head with the sweetest black eyes and a pair of ears that seemed bigger than his whole body. No-one on the tram had ever seen anything like it. The conductress came over to see what the commotion was.

Anyone out there remember the tram conductresses? Formidable women with bulging muscles from switching points, in huge green coats. This one took one look and bawled to the driver -"Haw, Jimmy! STOP THE TRAM !"

You can`t draw in to the kerb in a tram. You are on rails. You can only stop in the middle of traffic - and that`s what Jimmy did in the middle of Paisley Road West in the rush hour, probably causing gridlock all the way back to Bridge Street, as he came back to see the puppy.

And that`s how what was possibly the first Papillon in the west of Scotland, Stouravon Tanson, came to us.

And I`ve had them ever since.

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