Monday, 28 February 2011

And the Oscar goes to...

I received sentencing this week for my public affray with the Westie that resulted in my mistress being accidentally bitten on the thigh. Sentenced not by any official court but by my pair of owners over the dinner table. It seemed some sort of dog rehabilitation was in order, now that the bruising was gone and she could walk without limping.

Ziggy - you might recognise me
from the Cesar advert
She arranged for me to go to a one-on-one dog class with Ziggy and his owner, a lovely woman whose pockets smelled of sausages. The meeting was made to look like an accident as we wandered down the road for my usual walk. I responded with my best behaviour for two reasons: One - the woman's pockets smelled of sausages; and two - I had no beef with Ziggy. I don't hate all West Highland Terriers, just the ones with small dog complex that threaten to take a piece of me. I let Ziggy sniff me and we flirted a bit. We were both on lead so there were no chasing games. Not that a Westie ever had a chance of catching me with my whippet speed. We walked casually together like buddies. Of course my impeccable behaviour didn't go unnoticed. The mistress and the woman were full of praise. But no sausage yet.

Then the woman ushered over another passing dog: a white shih tzu, with floppy, dark-streaked ears and a denim coat. I should say she was 'wearing' a denim coat, not that her coat was actual denim. Humans haven't taken genetic manipulation that far... yet. They might one day. Little blue dogs with comfortable denim coats that don't shed, just fade with washing and age, from a breeding program sponsored by Levi. 

Lulu was completely full of herself, all 'look at me, amn't I cool'. I was about to release a volley of abuse, when Ziggy tipped a wink at me. Lulu was part of the class. It wasn't entirely one-on-one. She was another little-white-dog test subject. Almost immediately she rolled onto her back and lifted a hind leg to expose her smelly bits. Both the humans went 'Awwh' but Ziggy rolled his eyes. Once again, apparently, Lulu was exaggerating her part. Later as we walked together, Ziggy told her off for rolling too soon. I was supposed to approach to get to know her first, before she went all submissive.

Lulu told me she'd received training to be an actress and had ambitions for movie stardom. She wanted to win an Oscar. I said I didn't realise they had a category for Best Animal in a Motion Picture. She looked offended and turned her head away, sighing, "Best Actress in a Leading Role, darling." She didn't address me again, concentrating on performing her role, occasionally discussing their other engagements with Ziggy.

The more the three of us strolled the more irritating I found them. Ziggy had done some acting work too, for a brand of dog food. He'd applied to be on the Dog Whisperer UK as well, as a control dog and was waiting to hear back. My hackles were beginning to rise the more they talked. The woman noticed and bent over to give my head an affectionate pat. Her hand smelled of sausage too. I decided there and then that it didn't matter how annoying the luvvies were, nothing was going to deter me from my sausage reward.

The rest of my walk was immaculate. At the end, I sat nicely and gave the woman a killer cute look, all puppy eyes, then a gentle 'ruff' reminder that indicated a reward was expected. She complied and I snaffled it up hungrily. It was delicious. The other two got their share too but as I had been so good I got the last bit as well. It was then I realised that acting rehabilitated meant the likelihood of getting proper meaty treats was greatly increased. I'd need to learn to act more often. Maybe that was the secret to successful rehabilitation - faking it.

Who knows maybe one day I'll be so good at it I'll win an Oscar... if they stuff the statue full of sausage.

Lulu - available for all future Oscar winning movies

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Vet: a Flying Visit

Vets are an all-encompassing profession: doctor, dentist, pharmacist, executioner... they do it all. And not just for one type of animal. They treat lots of different animals: pets like cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs; farm animals like horses, sheep, pigs and cows; and zoo animals like tigers, gorillas, pandas and lions. One person, so much knowledge: if pub quiz machines only asked questions about animal health they'd be the richest people in the world.

However I discovered one animal they won't treat: flies. You may see one or two in the waiting room but they won't have an appointment. I saw one being ejected from the premises once for disturbing the other patients. He was very drunk, endlessly slurring his words so that everything sounded like a 'zuzz'. Unable to find the door, he kept bouncing his face against the window. He must have been at it a while because both his eyes had turned red and swollen. It looked really painful. If he ever caught a look at himself in a mirror, he'd be in for quite a shock, all those reflections staring back at him, bruised, battered and barred from the vet's. Maybe that's why flies don't live long - they're always shit-faced on fermented waste. Maybe they can't handle the buzz from flying and have to inebriate themselves to keep going. 

I thought my vet visitation was due to Rizza's little presents but apparently the vet had other plans. After a short wait in reception, I was ushered into the surgery. Firstly, I was told to wander onto the floor scales, then I was hoisted onto the high table and given a thorough inspection: eyes, ears, mouth, body, legs and a tail lift that was most unwelcome. Then he turned away and tapped at a computer all the while asking my master about my general well being. So far so good. Then he turned around with a syringe in his hand.

Of all the areas I was expecting it to go, the last I would have suspected was up my nose. Next thing he had my head in an arm lock and squirted liquid into my nasal cavity, holding my nose in the air to make sure the fluid stayed in. I thought he was going to kill me. One sudden twist and he could have snapped my neck. Was this how it was going to end? A poor drowning attempt, followed by a swift and final assault? 

Then he released me. What a relief! I nearly climbed over my master's shoulder in my desire to get off that table. However, when he turned back, my attitude changed again sharply. This time he was holding in his left hand a tumblerful of treats and poured a few of them into his right. Now he had my attention. He offered them to me and I didn't hesitate. I pushed my nose deep into the tumbler and let my fly-paper tongue scoop out as many as it could before he was able to pull it away. All the vet could say was, "She does like her treats, doesn't she," staring at the now half empty tumbler and the treats in his right hand. I licked my whiskers and gave him a "please sir, can I have some more" look. I mean, by rights, the remainder of the tumbler had been contaminated by my post-injection snout and should have been discarded. And I hate food going to waste. It wasn't to be though. He tossed the remaining nibbles back into the tub and put them back on the bench. 

I was lifted off the table and ushered into the reception. No one else was there but we still had to wait (is waiting compulsory in a waiting room?). I was to get more medicine: a powder, a tablet and a packet of pipettes. As we turned to go the vet wished me well and I asked him a question:

"Could a bee with hives rub honey on itself to reduce the reaction?"

He didn't have an answer. It seems vets don't know everything about animals after all.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

From Heroine to Zeroine

Last week I left you at the moment when I was contemplating allowing Rizza to sleep over to protect me while the Thin Man burglar was still at large. I can reassure you now that nothing happened. My integrity and virtue (and other parts of me) are still intact.

I was almost at the point of relenting when two things happened. Firstly, he paused to give himself a big scratch. There's nothing less appealing than having a prospective beau spoil the moment by physically announcing that he'd picked up fleas while on his jaunt around the back alleys of Glasgow.

Secondly, my owner burst into the room in a mad temper, clutching his blue fleece, his finger poking out of a hole in the pocket. Rizza was taken home and I was asked to explain how this hole had come to be.

My default setting is always 'deny everything', followed by 'I'm sorry, please give me reassurance and affection'. Today that wasn't working. My master's eyes were bulging and he had a rage so fierce he was shouting. It made me frightened. I thought he was going to hit me.

He pushed the evidence right up to my nose and I could detect a hint of schmacko from the pocket. This then generated a number of scenarios that I tried to convey through body language, whines and avoiding eye contact.

Perhaps the fleece pocket had passed its expiry date. Perhaps 'wear and tear' applied, implying you 'wore it and tore it'. Nah, he wouldn't wear that suggestion. Maybe schmackos have a corrosive property and burned their way through the pocket lining. Or perhaps it was partially alive and ate its way through, in which case my stomach must be primed to burst soon as I've eaten a ton of schmackos over the years.

Then I recalled something pertinent to the case. My master has a habit of leaving the fleece over a chair in the kitchen beside my bed. If he'd left the schmacko in his pocket it is entirely possible that I may have sleep snacked and inadvertantly made the hole. Don't you get a pass from prosecution if you're unconscious at the time?

He wasn't listening. He seemed so wrapped up in his anger I figured something else must be going on. He stormed out of the kitchen again to remonstrate to the mistress, who was calling support for me. The door was slammed and I was left alone in the dark kitchen. I pondered why the sudden change in his mood. One minute he thinks I'm the darling of the Grove, protector of houses, the next I'm in the dog house for a crime I may actually have committed. Then I figured it out: post traumatic stress. His mind must have flipped by the crime he stumbled on and the potential ramifications it had for his safety and that of the mistress and me. He'd need a really good walk to burn out that stress. But no, instead he comes back into the kitchen and heads for the freezer and the nearly-full tub of Mackies ice cream. As he grabbed a spoon, I lifted my head, ears alert, waiting for any signal to follow, only to be met with a curt "Don't!". My head sunk again. I just hoped that his temper had thawed by the time he emptied the tub so I could get to lick it clean as an an apology for him losing his temper.

I settled down to wait. Ice cream would be nice. I don't get it very often. Then I felt an itch on my back. And another on my hind leg. What was happening? I couldn't be allergic to thoughts of ice cream, could I? Then it twigged. Rizza! He'd only gone and left me a present of his fleas. Not that they were going to protect me much if the Thin Man returned. But I suppose it's the thought that counts. 

Next week: a trip to the vet.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Caution: Heroine at Work

I couldn't wait to tell Rizza my big news this week.

"I'm a bone-a-fido heroine."

"Why, what happened?"

"I thwarted a burglary, a 'real' burglary. I was having my usual garden constitutional after my dinner when I heard a noise in the garden next door. There was a man who wasn't supposed to be there. I kicked off at him with a barrage of barking, alerting the mistress. As it was dark, she switched on our garden lights and beckoned me indoors. I refused but she insisted. By the time she came out in her heavy rain jacket, the man had scarpered. Or so I thought."

"Later, after their dinner, I sensed something was wrong again next door. The mistress had related the tale of my barking to the master and was not for letting me out but I persisted, scratching at the back door twice. The master relented. He slipped on his heavy coat and the trainers with the folded down heels and clipped the extendable lead onto my collar. When we went out to the garden, I detected the man's presence again and let out a low, scary growl then a bark and this time the man definitely took off round the other side of the neighbour's house. I could hear him bounce over the gate using the knocked-over wheelie bin as a trampoline. I don't know why he didn't just use the actual trampoline."

"He probably didn't want to break his neck. Dangerous things trampolines."

"How would you know?"

"I've bounced on a few in my time."

"When was this?"

"When my owner's kids still lived with him. They had a trampoline and I liked to show off, trying to catch a glimpse of the MILF next door."


"It stands for 'Mongrel I'd Like to F.."

"Anyway," I interrupted, not wishing to hear such language. "Back to my story".

"Never did get on 'You've been Framed' or 'Animals do the Funniest Things'. That money would have been really handy."

"Finished reminiscing?"

"Yes... okay, continue."

"My master hadn't seen the man but did notice the open window and absence of lights on in the house and immediately was suspicious. He twigged the attempted burglary and called the police, who were there in minutes."

"Did they catch the burglar?"

"No. He was long gone. Someone thought they saw him climbing over a rear fence on the other side of the road. He must have had the sense not to escape via the avenue to the main road in case he was spotted by the arriving police."

"So he was a professional."

"It looked like he'd done it before. Breaking the window lock at the rear of the house but not totally smashing the glass, blocking off the obvious access route to the rear while creating a escape route through another fence. He'd have gotten away with it too if it hadn't been for me."

"And your pesky owner. You do realise you're the only one who can identify him? He's still out there and he knows where you live. Are you not scared he may come back to get you?"

"I wasn't until you mentioned it."

"Maybe I should stay. He won't be expecting two dogs."

"Would you do that for me?"

"No problem."

"What's your angle? Are you going to suggest we share my bed?"

"I'm shocked. Why would you think that of me? You're my friend. I wouldn't take advantage of your fear that a scary man, who has already broken into a house with the same windows as yours, may come back to exact revenge on the nemesis who prevented him in cashing in on a night's work."

"You're doing it again. Playing on my fears."

"Is it working?"

I didn't answer. I'll tell you next week what happened next?