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.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"I`ll be through that in a minute - Ibiza, here I come !


....or so I thought. I gave up sheep and their merry shepherd-thwarting ways some years ago - you really need upper body strength for that game. (Boy, do I miss standing in a sleet swept field at dawn with one arm all the way up a lambing ewe....)

But this spring sheeep have been popping up suddenly in all sorts of odd corners, like pimples on an adolescent - and just about as welcome, thought I, chasing off yet another ewe with lambs at foot and a "just taking the weans on a wee holiday" gleam in her eye.

The truth was revealed when I came along the road the other day and found George trying to herd a selection of unwilling errant sheep home in front of the Land Rover. (Just try that some time - a bit like trying to stop Niagara by holding your hat under it).

My neighbour George has been the source of a major sheep diaspora as long as I have lived here. He has a large and prosperous farm despite proving completely incapable to fence in sheep. I have had many visits with the same conversation...

"Hae ye seen any yowes? I`ve lost a few yowes."

"How many, George?"

"Couldnae exactly say..."

"About when did you lose them?"

"No very sure..."

"What kind?"

"Oh, just commercial mixed.."

And for the next few weeks amazingly athletic creatures who have evidently all seen "Free Willy" more than once, are chased all over the neighbouring holdings with little success, losing their wool to fences and trading weight for hard muscle.

In a valley where there are a number of smallish holdings, escapes don`t go unnoticed. My past two nearest neighbours have kept goats, and they put sheep in the shade when it comes to escape. A sheep escapes because it could. A goat escapes with a purpose.

I remember the five goats who got into a field of cauliflowers one night. In the morning there was a vista of leaves. The goats had neatly removed all the white curds and were now incapable of any movement beyond burping. I seem to remember a mean fight over compensation....

And beyond that, the goats who got out and ate rhododendron. It is a poison to ruminants and produces paralysis. The goats lay about like wooden statues, stiff as boards. Their rescourceful owner loaded them like so much firewood into the pickup and headed for the vet, where they were treated. The problem came when five rigid goats revived rather suddenly in the surgery and were totally freaked out by the experience....but their owner did help to clear up the wreckage and I expect the traumatised cats dogs and rabbits would recover in time with the help of some animal psych......

There`s only one goat left at the end of the road now. She is very old, and looks knowingly at the fleeing sheep.

The grass is quite green enough on her side of the fence.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Truly`s Topaz - "today my orange squeaky, tomorrow the world !"

Perforated Shelby - "we are not amused......"


I run a pack here, and I let them function as a pack. I`m not one of those who feel a great need for control and manipulation of dogs. I would get no pleasure from teaching them tricks. They just have to remember that I`m pack leader, that`s all. And I get a lot of interest and entertainment from watching pack dynamics evolve.

I don`t keep many males. Julian is alpha male, top dog, a middle-aged, jolly lad with no thought of violence. The other males seem quite content with their place in the hierarchy.

Until now.

Marcus has always been a quiet confident lad with only two requirements - lots of lovely receptive appreciative ladies, and failing those, lots of cuddles. He has never argued with Mr Lentil or his brother, whom he looks on as an oddity. (Florian The Climbing Dog is obviously the skeleton in the family cupboard, the eccentric relative we Just Don`t Talk About, who is always up a tree, if not completely out of it.)

And then came Shelby.

Shelby isn`t at all agressive either. But for some reason Marcus is terribly jealous of him. And since neither one has any interest in fighting, other means have been sought.


As Shelby disappears into his bed at night, Marcus darts out and sinks his teeth into the enticing target offered by the ample Chin bottom. Before Shelby can get out and turn round, the attacker is at the far end of the room, with a look on his face that clearly says "A big dog did it and ran away". If he feels this is less than convincing, he will look pointedly at Merlin.

Poor Merlin, clearly bearing labels that read "omega male" and "pond life", tries desperately to blend into the wallpaper. Fortunately for him, Shelby is not that stupid. But he is at a bit of a loss. Neither he nor I can figure out what motivates Marcus, and he tends now to go about looking behind him rather a lot, dreading further perforations.

Young Topaz, Truly`s son is too young to be involved. But he definitely has "alpha male" stamped all over him, even at 9 weeks.

Let the rest beware !

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A quiet day at home. John Wayne on the telly, mayhem on the floor...


I`ve been out of communication due to some ghastly eye infection. I went to my doctor (the jolly one) with eyelids swollen like cocktail sausages and lots of green ooze from my left eye and he dispensed antibiotics and the alarming warning that "your other eye will probably come out in sympathy."

I managed home without the unaffected eyeball bouncing out and rolling on the ground ahead of me, but within a day it was matching the other one to perfection. Couldn`t see a thing. No computer. No reading. Radio, blurry TV and quiet house rest

So I thought I would give you some idea of what quiet house rest is like here.

It would be more peaceful at a show.

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