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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Her jolly father, Julian The Mighty Haystack (well he could lose a bit of weight, and probably some coat) , happily ungroomed.....

...and her mother Fenella, intrepid jungle explorer

"Begin your test when ready!"


I had a refreshingly different judging experience at the weekend - a little fun show for charity, part of an equestrian event.

Before it began I sat in on the dressage judging, - nervous riders, confused horses - and felt desperately glad that I do not have to ask my dogs to do anything that precise. (And they would laugh at the very idea.)

From control (well, attempted control) to chaos. I went round to the little field where the dog show was to be held, reflecting how much better it was than some of the mud I was asked to show in last year, and was faced by a host of small children, desperately hanging on to their pets, most of no particular breed and of a type I always think of as "jolly dogs". Many of the dogs were considerably larger than their handlers, and children were towed all over the field.

There was only one entry in Veteran, and a large and truly ancient mongrel came in and proceeded to trail his tiny handler all round the field, where his only interest was to lift his leg as often as possible. I eventually brought them to a standstill, and asked the little girl how old he was. She looked around for help. None came. "I don`t know" she whispered, and I suddenly realised that he was at least twice as old as she was.

As we proceeded through OVER 15 INCHES; UNDER 15 INCHES; BEST SIX LEGS; WAGGIEST TAIL (a really hard one this, as most of the tails went so fast they were just a blur); BEST CHILDREN`S PET (where I asked one child if her Lab was a working one and she replied "I should say so - he`s a stud dog!") and headed towards DOG THE JUDGE WOULD MOST LIKE TO TAKE HOME, it became a matter of avoiding tears, and I sent for extra rosettes so that no-one would be left out.

On we went, with me trying to see that no child was left out, and being licked and climbed over by happy panting contestants. Things slowed down as more and more people joined in. By the time we reached the end, we had quite a crowd, and all seemed pleased with the results.

There was another happy result that weekend.

Three years ago I sold one of Fenella`s puppies called Daisy to a show home, where she was destined to be a brood bitch. She had two litters, and then the decision was made to let her go. My friend`s son, who knew the family and the dogs, was upset about this, and eventually bought Daisy, just as a pet. His mother, very experienced in the breed, looked at Daisy and thought otherwise. Daisy received a lot of skilled attention. And the outcome of that was that on the same weekend, a very tail-waggy Daisy won the Bitch CC and went Best of Breed and was shortlisted for the Group under a well-known international judge at a large Championship Show in Wales.

And I couldn`t be more pleased.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wish upon a star - of course we did!


Of course I watched the Perseids. I got settled outside with a comfortable chair, a radio and a pot of tea, and watched the north-east skies.

The midges were intense. The little pipistrelles swooped back and forth just above my head, hoovering up a midge -feast. Solitaire was parked on my knee, producing the usual unfortunately regular...er..."emissions", surely enough to drive off biting insects (and probably low-flying aircraft). I hoped bats had a very limited sense of smell....

...And of course we saw the meteor shower. Very impressive, until the overcast got too thick. A great spectacle every year, and this time we were so lucky to have clear skies.

It made me resolve to spend more time skywatching.

And if Solitaire wished on a falling star, she kept the wish to herself

Friday, August 07, 2009

Somewhere out there, a plaintive beep...


I am destined never to get a night`s sleep, it seems.

Again I was awakened, about 4am, this time by the fire alarm. I got up. There was no fire. There was, however, a fire alarm having a nervous breakdown, and refusing to shut up. It is one with an integrated ten year battery - no switching it off by removing that.

This was the second panic awkening in two nights, and I had had enough. Instead of doing something sensible with it, I completely lost my temper, rushed out into the night, and hurled it away into the next field.

Back to bed, thinking that was that.

But next morning, when I got up and out - it was still going! And so loud! Broadcasting to the whole valley. Possibly for ten years....?

Cue a shamefaced and painful hunt among the nettles for the errant ET, still loudly phoning home, and more sensible disposal.

"What was all that beeping last night?" asked my neighbour. "Did you not hear it?"

I told her I sleep very soundly.

Well, I would like to...

Who knows what tonight will bring....?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Solitaire - "It was so exciting! I did most of the work, of course. And I barked a lot - that always helps"

Merlin - "We could all have drowned! I would have been a great loss to the nation...."


I woke at 4am, to the sound of a very loud clock ticking.

I do not have such a clock in the bedroom.

I put the light on to discover a large, loud drip beside me.....no, not an unfortunate choice of male companion. A leak. A puddle had formed, and a menacing ballooning swelling above on the ceiling was oozing water.

Solitiare and I got up and headed upstairs. The plumbing here, as I have explained before, is very basic. Fortunately, it is also very accessible. I dreaded a mains fault, as I would have to go out, prise up the manhole cover and turn off the water in the road....an exciting prospect, often involving going up to the shoulder into muddy water.

But it wasn`t. The water seemed to be coming from the little expansion tank. And I couldn`t see just where the leak was coming out. I peered about with the torch. Solitaire offered very vocal encouragement. Merlin sat worried at the bottom of the stairs. He could see that we would all be washed away...the very word "washed" is a traumatic one for him.

I put something under the leak and went back to bed. Then I sat up and said to Solitaire - "No, I really have to fix this." She gazed at me with her most intelligent expression, the one that makes me doubt that she has as much brain as a split pea. We went back up.

By the light of a failing torch, I jammed the ballcock, emptied the tank with a jug and managed not to fall off the steps. Solitaire was very impressed. Back down to a very anxious Merlin, and a fairly damp bedroom. I could see that both Paps felt that they alone had saved the day.

We await the plumber.

And the bill.....

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