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, March 22, 2008

Merlin`s nemesis - what lies behind the inscrutable black mask?


Merlin`s training is proceeding slowly and steadily. He is growing up, and can already lift the hind leg (slowly and not too high in case he falls over and is jeered at by other males, especially Marcus and Shelby).

I can`t pretend it has been easy, but it has been made a lot happier by the presence of other Papillons at training class. Like many Paps, Merlin is happiest with his own and tends to despise other breeds - Papillons are a little prone to see themselves as the master race.

We have been helped further by the presence of a small rather squat and solid young female Papillon, whom I have come to think of (but never aloud!) as The Fur Brick. Merlin has fallen passionately in love with The Fur Brick, and cries plaintively when denied her presence. She has reciprocated by snapping at him and hurling abuse as only an offended female Pap can. (A young male dog`s response to this kind of treatment by a female is usually - "She noticed me! I`m in there!")

He was gazing passionately at her last time, and didn`t notice his nemesis rolling up behind him. Then he turned suddenly and was nose to nose with a Pekingese pup.

Many dogs have a problem with Pekes. The problem is, simply, "it smells like a dog, it acts like a dog - but what the hell is it?" Even dogs who have met Pekes before can be uncertain which end it is safe to sniff politely, and which end might bite if you made a mistake. (A friend`s Peke which was televised at Crufts, was overheard being referred to by the cameramen as "the motorised floormop". )

Merlin had never seen one close up. He had no idea what it was. He stared in amazement at the grinning flat black mask inches from his nose. Had the Martians landed? Should he notify MI5? Should he pee, that doggy answer to many awkward moments ? - no wait a bit, there was the falling over problem......

Eventually he reacted in the best mature adult Papillon manner. He jumped up and down and screamed filth and insults as loudly as possible. The Fur Brick watched in open admiration. She hadn`t realised he knew language like that...

I removed my delinquent . The Peke wagged one end and smiled inscrutably at the other...

Well, I think it was a smile.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A very aristocratic sneer..."they don`t seriously think they`re real dogs, do they?"


This is one of three lovely ladies who sauntered by the fence the other day, and as I have no stock on at present they are welcome to the grazing.

The dogs reacted as you would expect. Shelby attempted to stare her down and the Papillons jumped up and down like demented hairy popcorn, screaming out their ardent desire to have her for lunch. Xena, one of the Heroines of the Soviet Union who in her heyday has chased deer with just that intention, became particularly emotional and loud.

Their leader favoured the pack with the aristocratic sneer you see above. (Clearly she puts great trust in my fences.)

I see a lot of wild animals here, especially since the foot and mouth epidemic which has left a legacy of less stock and more tree planting around here. But yesterday in a seedy little mall in Glasgow I saw some I would rather not have seen. Birds of prey of all varieties, tethered to posts whjile their owner handed the hat round "for our sanctuary". Dejected tiny kestrels and owls, sad little feathered mounds on their perches, an eagle tearing at its chain and an eagle owl staring madly around, obviously planning escape.

Some animals domesticate well. I personally believe that birds of prey do not. They have no natural social order that provides them with any sort of natural alleigance to transfer to humans - no flock or herd or pack instinct. Tied to a post, often hooded for falconry - what sort of life is that?

I see lots of birds of prey here - kestrels, sparrowhawks, the ubiquitous buzzard. I see them flying free. They come quite near the house. I know where the sparrowhawks and kestrels nest, and I`m not telling anyone.

I prefer it like that.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

An impression of Crufts - our benches, the ringside and the stalls

This was to be a portrait of the show team...but Allegra has a low boredom threshold.

Best in Show is awarded

Monday, March 10, 2008


...of course we went to Crufts. (Apart from Truly, who was otherwise occupied). Allegra, Marcus and Shelby were loaded up - this time fortunately into a car (oh the luxury !) and off down the M6. (Over years of dogshowing Ihave memorised the M6 and can recite the junctions and services, to the amazement of friends who know I don`t drive ....)

Crufts is a strange old game. In addition to the usual faces, you have the Foreign Dogs, many never seen before, and every one a wild card. Old hands look at them sideways and mutter that they didn`t come without a reason. In this case I was told at once by some continental friends that a certain dog had been brought over to get Best of Breed - and so it proved. It takes the edge off the proceedings although goodness knows it isn`t unusual. I notice that this year the bookies voiced suspicions about the honesty of Crufts ...er, proceedings. It took them this long to notice??

Well, I didn`t expect too much for poorMarcus with his depleted tail, but had hoped for better with Allegra. 3rd is the worst she has ever had at Crufts - in fact this was the first time she didn`t win.

The judging had all the speed, warmth and panache of an Antarctic glacier in a bad winter, and the judge had me warned off for flash photography, so the temptation to leave the ring and socialise was strong. Crufts is a great social event. You meet people you only see once a year....Truly`s mum for instance. And people kept giving me food - delightful, but death to the diet.

Home via a series of dismal service stations to watch the deplorable BBC coverage - why must they assume it is children`s entertainment? - and muse over the deep questions it raises....

How did such a badly constructed chihuahua go best in Group?

What is the attraction of the circus performance called Dancing with Dogs?

Why oh why won`t any of the many dogs he clutches so grimly while presenting bite the dreadful Ben Fogle?

Or at least pee on his leg?

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