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, July 31, 2009

Allegra with friends...."Puppies? What puppies? Oh, those ones..... in a minute!"


As you can see, the picture shows Allegra and friends.

Why, you ask, does it not show Allegra and puppies?

Because Allegra is bored. SO bored! Already!

As a person she would be known everywhere as the life and soul of any party. And it has taken her less than two weeks to sus that motherhood is no party. You feed one end and clean the other and that`s it, folks. So after the first week I began to hear the patter of feet in the hall, and see a little nose come round the door - "What`s happening in here, then? Did I miss something? Can I just sit on your knee for a bit?"

Of course she is doing her duty, and the little girls are now so fat they can hardly crawl, and spotlessly clean. I suspect they will be a lot more entertaining once they are up and moving and trying to chew her tail off......

I told Merlin that having four daughters involves a lot of responsibility. Had he heard of the duties of the Father of the Bride? When the little girls are old enough for husbands, who will have to pay the stud fees.......?

He went under the sofa.

He hasn`t come out yet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Of course it was worth it....have you any more of that ice cream?"


Why do they always do it at night? And at weekends, in what I think of as the "vet desert", with the nearest one miles away and on special call only. No, they don`t come to the house. (Remember the old saying that the words "vet" and "vampire" both begin with v, both are bloodsuckers, but only one of them will come out at night...)

So of course Allegra started labour Sunday evening, not too early. She is young and healthy and I hoped it would be over quickly. But the strong second-stage contractions went on and on, and nothing came. I began to think of the vet, and when I phoned, I got no useful advice, but a horrendous estimate.

Nevertheless, I phoned a friend and arranged transport and went off to get carriers and hot water bottles and all the paraphenalia ready.....and when I got back to the delivery room, Allegra had left the whelping bed and run about, and the result was a little daughter. Clearly moving about had dislodged the puppy from whatever it was stuck against. The poor little thing had a face that looked as if it had gone 3 rounds with Tyson - after all, she had been pushing her way out with it for two hours.

I was very relieved. I brought my friend up to date (but forgot to cancel the vet, leading to a very snippy phone call later), and assumed that all would now be plain sailing with the remaining puppy.

The relief lasted until a large water bag appeared and burst, revealing two enormous hind feet. I was appalled. How was I going to get that out? Allegra obviously totally shared that thought.

There followed what felt like hours of effort as she pushed and I gripped and pulled. It came out millimetre by millimetre. We got stuck at the hips, then the shoulders....then at last the head popped out and a huge second daughter flopped out, apparently lifeless. How could she have survived all that?

But there are things you can do. I massaged, and applied a stimulant to the tongue - and suddenly there was a gasp, and in a minute the purply-dark body had turned pink, muscle tone arrived, and a little girl apparently built on the general lines of a rhino was crawling around, rather snuffly, demanding the milk that had been promised in the Getting Born Manual. I cleared the nose, and she joined her older sister at the milk bar.

4 am, and vast relief. Puppies OK and settled. Allegra is young, and wasn`t too exhausted. And the pleasure of a family was already making her forget.

I knew what would make her forget even quicker. And would provide some much-needed calcium and energy...for both of us.

So at 4am the new mother and I happily shared a tub of ice cream.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Linlithgow palace, home of the Stuart kings
The knights parade
In the lists

The site beside the loch

Last minute assistance from a squire

"Did he fall?"

Ready for the lists



As a change from dogshows, I was taken off to a mediaeval joust in the grounds of Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. An excellent bit of fun, although the weather could have ben kinder.

My heart went out to the MC, suitably dressed up, who had comandeered most of the children there, provided them with plastic bows and arrows and swords, and marched them about, asking them to cheer "for the King"....and at that moment the heavens opened. At once he was in one of the most unenviable positions in the world - in charge of about a hundred soaked children who had suddenly lost all interest in the proceedings and just wanted their mothers .

And they jousted on in the rain. Well, jousting at that slow speed is not exactly a dangerous sport, but it was quite spectacular, and they were very skilled at other faster sports, like tilting at the ring, and tent-pegging (for which they used neeps!)

There was a falconry exhibition. I am not keen on falconry. I am not convinced that captive birds of prey lead happy lives. And nor was one of theirs, a hen kestrel, which when released to the lure, simply took off and vanished behind the trees. (I liked that bit).

A friend`s delightful Border Terrier really enjoyed the falconry. As the falconer paraded with a bird on her wrist, I noticed the little one, eyes huge and fixed on the falcon, panting and salivating heavily. Her owner said that she had always tried to catch birds, but found it too difficult....and here was a kind-looking lady who had evidently managed to catch one. Surely she could spare a bit for a hungry little terrier?

I enjoyed the swordsmanship, and the black powder people were there with their matchlocks, no doubt cursing the rain and having lots of misfires because of it.

All in all a good mediaeval day out.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


...and the remains of her little snack


Yes, I should have been at East of England. The shampoos (3) were laid out and being eyed nervously by Merlin, and everything was packed for the show when I went out to keep a Health Centre Appointment.

When I got back, two hours later, I let them all out in a great rush for the outdoors - except for Solitiare, who staggered out, salivating unbelievably and twitching all over.

Straight to vet. Where I was told that it must be metaldehyde poisoning, prognosis death. I suppose it was a classic case of "this is what I usually see, so this is what she has. " I was more or less invited to take her home to die, but I insisted that she be treated. She was taken off and put on a drip, and given diazepam....

And I went home, wondering where on earth she would have found slug pellets, which I only use on the high wall and pedestal planters which the dogs can`t reach. I wandered about, checking my pills, and going back out in the quest for pellets - and then I spotted it.

It had been a lupin, a tiny one, bought at the Pound Shop and brought on in a pot. Now it was a potful of stems. No leaves at all. I knew that the seeds are poisonous, but didn`t suspect the plant. Till now.

I phoned the duty vet and told her I had a potful of lupin stems. I could hear her brighten up at the end of the phone. Clearly it had been a boring day up to now. She said that Solitiare was no worse, so it was unlikely to be metaldehyde, and she would now go and look up lupins.

We both did. The symptoms seemed to fit. It appeared that Solitaire had had a little snack before I left. An unfortunate one, but probably not fatal. I was enormously relieved.

The vet said that the toxin had a half life of 6 hours, and that by then she should show improvment, and by 12 hours the toxins should have been flushed out of her system.

And so it proved to be. At 10pm, just when I should be leaving for the show, a call came to tell me that she had stopped shakng, could walk in a co-ordinated manner, and was eating. Just on the 12 hours. She would be kept in for the night and sent home in the morning if there was no relapse.

In the morning there was a further call. She had begun to shake uncontrollably again. Did I think that the presence of an angry and excited male Boxer in the cage opposite could have anything to do with it.....? I assured them that the Boxer would have a much worse effect on her than any lupin.

And she came home, not at all worried by her adventure - mind you she had spent most of it zonked out on diazepam - but offended that her leg had been shaved for the drip. She kept on showing me it, holding it up at ear height with an aggrieved expression. Not the slightest idea of how ill she had been. Or how dreadfully upset I had been.

But she seems to be quite recovered now.

Which is more than can be said for the lupin.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Hot Boris.
"Mum, do you think sunbathing will improve my ears? Why are you shaking your head like that? What did I do now?"

A wave from a very hot Calypso


Well, it looks like the heatwave is over. While it lasted it got to 28 Celsius down here - hottest I can remember for years. I have a simple strategy for the heat - do as little as possible. Come to think of it, that`s my strategy for quite a lot of problems....

The dogs have not enjoyed it, but find the shade, and use the approach defined above, which comes hard to Papillons. I hid all balls and toys that would invite activity. I put out plastic basins of water, and you might expect they would like to be in cold water, but my lot have an aversion to it, so there is no use in getting out the hose either - at the sight of it they scatter.

Xena is an exception, and likes to be cool. I can still remember the first time I put out a basin of water on a hot day, and the others watching in horror as she slowly and carefully stepped into it and stood there. As the cold water lapped round her intimate bits, she gave a deep sigh of satisfaction. The others couldn`t believe it. The senior bitch had volunteered for a bath!! Would they now have to do the same? They began to edge away......loyalty only goes so far in a pack.

At the last hot show, where my green factor 40 stick was much in demand, there was a continuous stream of "last warnings" about dogs left in cars, usually followed by the sound of car alarms as the vehicles were broken into and the dogs inside rescued. I don`t begin to understand why people leave animals to cook in hot cars, but hope there will be prosecutions.

Meanwhile, as I struggle with the paperwork for a prosecution of my own under KC Rule 42, the dogs are just delighted that the heat is over and the toys and balls are returned. Yet again they can dash screaming to the gate in the hope that something is happening there - please, just something - a cat, a rabbit, maybe lots of rabbits (or, if you`re Marcus, a procession of welcoming bitches).

Alas, all is quiet. Everyone is probably indoors watching tennis.

Possibly even the rabbits.

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