Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Latest Gadget for Dogs... in my dreams

Last night I dreamt I was playing with a prototype gadget for dogs - the Apple iPaw. It was fantastic! A computer for dogs. It looked like an iPad coated in a super strong rubber case (like KONG but less intellectually protected). It's unique feature was its "scratch-and-sniff" interactivity. Every point on the screen had odour releasing cells capable of mimicking the image on display. It could send and receive e-smells and had a built-in Woo-Fi connection. It allowed you to chat using messenger Ya-howl and keep up to date with your friends using social network site 'Fangbook'. Instead of apps, the iPaw had 'pets', which stands for 'Press Everything To Smell'. iTunes carried 'pets' games, movies, even recipes which came to life in amazing olfactory genius. I licked the bowl screen clean many times, hungry for more. 

When I woke up I wondered if I'd had a vision of the future. Was this something that could happen? Where had this idea come from? I considered if I'd already heard the concept subconsciously on the dog radio. I listened intently to all the adverts on the ultrasonic airwaves but heard no mention of an iPaw. You may not be aware of this but many companies use ultrasonics to advertise to animals. Humans cannot hear them because the sound frequency is too high. You'll be sitting watching telly and suddenly your dog will sit up, ears erect, listening. They may even bark. If they do then they're demanding to go shopping. Don't take them. It'll just be for an impulse purchase. 

Of course, if it's not an advert then you may have a burglar in your garden. And don't think you're safe if you live in a flat. The odds may be reduced proportionately to the height of the building but there's still a chance. Just because you have the added protection of a dog does not mean you are safe - it may be a cat burglar. And then it's personal. A challenge.

Your dog may suddenly hear a noise in the darkness, run to the window and erupt in a volley of barking. He's trying to tell you there's a cat burglar at large. You dismiss your dog's warning because you can't see anything. Meanwhile Leonardo DiCatrio is breaking into your house at that very moment. Stealing your iPaw idea. 

Could this happen? Am I still dreaming? Do you follow where this is going? Please tell me because it's not making much sense to me. I think I need to lie down. Was that "Inception" on the telly last night or did I dream it?


We've had a cat move in next door. He may or may not be a cat burglar. What I do know is he comes and goes at all hours of the day and night. Very suspicious. Even has his own tiny door, with a gadget that only recognises him. He's called Perseus, shortened to Percy. He introduced himself to me by screeching the 'Florence and the Machine' hit, "Dog Days are Over". I asked if that was supposed to be a threat. No, actually, I asked him what the noise was then, after he told me, I asked if that was a threat. He thought it was funny. I thought it was awful. He should invest in some auto-tuning software like they use on X-factor. What a caterwaul!

I haven't decided what to make of young Percy yet. I admire his cheek. And his rump. Next time I'm asleep I'll flick through the cat recipes on my iPaw. Decide what tickles my nostrils. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of young Percy.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

What's in a Name?

Another follower, wow. Welcome to the pack, Carol. A few more and I'm going to have to come up with a name for you all. "Followers of figbane"? I'm sure we can do better.

I'm fascinated with names. Guido has an interesting story about his name. All his brothers and sisters had names beginning with the letter 'G'. If he'd been born one litter earlier he'd probably be a Francisco or a Frederico.  It's a guide dog policy. The Guide Dogs Association needs to maintain accurate records of the origin of each dog. This then lets them select the dogs with the best traits for breeding so that, ultimately, they can create a master breed for leading the blind. I don't think they put it that way on their literature. Sounds a bit Germany 1940s to me. So long as they don't try to eliminate the other weaker breeds I'll be alright. Maybe we should call him "Guido, the product of semi-eugenics", instead of "Guido, guide dog retired".

The origin of my name is shrouded in mystery. I'm not even sure it's a girl's name. Being a rescue dog, found with no tag or chip, my new owners got to rename me. I have no recollection what my original name was. Probably something simple like Coco. The only name I can remember being called from that time was 'Little Runt' (or something like that) and that was by the dog warden who caught me. I was even more nippy back then.

Pedigree dogs have unusual pedigree names to help identification. Rizza's pedigree name is: 'Pizza Delivery Boy of Twisted Melon Man'. This gives you a small insight into his origin. His stud sire was a champion dog called Twisted Melon Man and his breeder was a Paisley junkie with a side line in expensive dog breeding. Rizza's not registered with the Kennel Club though because his breeder didn't want to risk the Benefit finding out. Rizza rues this every day when he thinks about all the 'doggy' he could have had with his lineage. "I could have been a stud, if only I had the paperwork." He tried using a photocopier but none of the ladies were falling for it.

There's a funny story about how he came to be called 'Rizza'. When he was a pup, his owner was still married, with two children. The kids, upon hearing his pedigree name, united in glee at shortening the name to 'Pizza'. This was a source of great amusement around the home, the family chuckle, until one day Pizza managed to escape. Then the joke faded. Dad searched for hours all over Foxbar. All the locals came out looking for pizza. Not the dog, though. Calling out, "Pizza, Pizza, here, Pizza!" can have that effect. Dad became the butt of many irate comments and one head. When 'Pizza' was eventually found, the old name lasted only as long as it took to hit a chisel with a hammer. Pizza became Rizza with a single blow to his name tag. And then the drinking started and the marriage dissolved. And his owner has never ordered pizza again. 

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Rizza's not Coming to a Cinema near you Soon

Welcome to the pack, Kor_Wraith. A few more followers like you and I may need to come up with another excuse to get out of my promise to Rizza, the Staffy.

I was playing over at his house when I happened to joke in passing that I could end up on the Dog Trust advert. His eyes lit up. 

"I'll take 20%... as your agent." 

"Agent? Why do I need an agent?

"If you're getting into the acting game, you'll need representation. I've got contacts."

"I'm not an actor."

"Seriously? I've seen you pulling the two dinner con. One from each owner. The innocent, hungered expression of a dog forgotten by the other absent master."

"Yeah, okay, I may have some minor talent."

"Nonsense. You're a star! Those cute eyes, athletic body, expressive ears. With me behind you, you'll go far."  

"How far?"

"Well jump up onto my casting couch and we'll see. Just let me set up the camcorder first."

"Hold on a second." I sniffed the couch. "Have you been auditioning other actresses here?"

"No, but I have been getting comfortable with the cushions. My master won't let me use his leg any more."

"This is just a scheme for you to get some doggy, isn't it?"

"No. Yes. Maybe. Partly."

Rizza then revealed his plan. "If we filmed ourselves today, when you're famous I could leak the tape over the internet then sell the full version and make lots of money for my grand plan."

"For the dog walker/ lapdog brothel idea?"

"My entire reason for existense, yes."

"Those kind of tapes are illegal in the UK."

"A minor inconvenience. I'll serve my time in dog borstal as long as I'm rich and satisfied." He then jumped up behind me on the couch and got the shock of his life when I turned and nearly bit off his nose, teeth fully bared. Nobody's getting their way with me without my permission first. He quickly backed down off the couch again. 

I growled, "That wasn't method acting. Watch it!"

He whined and looked really hurt. I apologised then uttered the words I now regret:

"Maybe, one day, when I'm famous."

His expression then transformed from sad/pathetic to evil glint as he turned off the camera and quipped, "I'll hold you to that." 

And that's why I need to be very careful on the fame front. I may be the first celebrity ever to be worried about a "promise-of-sex" tape surfacing in their future. How many fridge magnets do you think it'll take to wipe it by accident?

Smells like Bath Time

I had to have a bath tonight. Apparently I was "unacceptably smelly". I'd overdone the collection on my coat after rolling on a fresh cow pat. In my defence I would say most of it stuck to my collar and I didn't get the chance to smudge it in before getting marched back to the car. A quick towelling by my master proved futile so bath time beckoned.

I don't get a bath very often which is good. They use a dog shampoo to help lift the bad odours which I can't stand. I reek of the artificial perfume afterwards. It's not a bad smell but it lets all my friends know what's happened and I get a slagging.

I like collecting real smells. They're little mementos of the places I've been. Smells for a dog are far more powerful than anything we say verbally. That's why our noses are so big and wet and why our first contact with a fellow canine is usually a sniff of their bum. This is the signature smell that lets us know who we're dealing with. Smells on your coat are a great conversation opener. Behind the ear is the best place because it tickles when they inhale you closely.

Some dogs are now using their great sense of smell in disease diagnosis. For instance, did you know typhoid fever smells of fresh bread and there is a stale, sour smell from exhaled tuberculosis? Human doctors can't detect it while wearing their protective masks. Still I think it'll be a long time before the RAH has a dog doctor on call. For one thing we'd refuse to wear the white coat.

Fear is another thing we can detect (and I don't just mean the urine smell when someone is so scared they wet themselves). The sweat glands produce minute smells when someone is afraid. So telling a child not to be scared is rather pointless when their body is screaming terror at our noses. Our great olfactory prowess also explains why we know to panic when we get onto the vet's table. It reeks of the epic fear of countless terrified terriers (and other animals). 

Here's a joke my master cracked while I was in the bath. You don't have to laugh. I didn't.

"Why do people use shampoo to wash their hair?"

"Because they wouldn't want to use real poo!"

Told you he'd been to Edinburgh. Suddenly he thinks he's a comedian. 

Thursday, 12 August 2010

When the Fringe isn't Funny

I'm cross and I don't just mean in my breeding.

There's flooding in Pakistan, landslides in China and drought in Russia. Meanwhile climate change talks in Germany are floundering as countries argue over who should be required to cut carbon dioxide emissions, backtracking on agreements made last year in Copenhagen. What a debarkle!

But that's not why I'm cross.

It's warm and sunny in Scotland.

Again, not a reason to be cross. In fact, I love the sun. I bake until my panting takes on critical levels and I'm forced to retire to the shade. If I were a human I'd be Dale Winton orange, I enjoy the sun that much.

What is ticking me off (Frontline?) is having to exercise in that heat just because my owners are going through to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and don't have time for my evening walk. I don't think it's funny. 

Taking me on one long walk in the afternoon heat, tiring me out as fast as you can gasp the word "dehydration", doesn't equate to the two walks I normally get. I miss my evening walk. It's my best walk of the day. It's like the final news summary, smelling who's been around and hearing the gossip from my pals. It's also safe to work up a sweat chasing a tennis ball without fear my heart will explode. 

When they returned I gave them both dogs abuse. They weren't amused. It was 1am and I was very loud. Next time I'm going to report them to the 'Dogs Trust' and it'll serve them right if I'm rehomed. Maybe I'll make it onto the advert. Mmmmn...

Friday, 6 August 2010

Food for Thought


I learned a valuable lesson tonight.

When making a withdrawal from the Braes food dispensers, drop your tennis ball before putting your head in. You don't get any refunds. I was quite upset. There was a lot of chewing left in that ball. I wanted my master to get it back for me but he refused. I argued but I think he recalled how sick I was last time I ate from there. I told him that this time it was KFC, not Macdonalds, but he wasn't having any of it. Lead on. Back to the car. Not amused. And no treat when I got home. I'm reporting him to the RSPCA - animal cruelty!