Thursday, 13 December 2012

Santa Stop Here!


Christmas is approaching. Lights and decorations hang from every home, illuminating gardens, balconies and trees. Electricity bills go through the roof, even with discounted loft insulation. And in one window of a house nearby sits a sign that reads: "SANTA STOP HERE!".

I'm sure their children love that sign but I think it's just selfish. They want Santa to stop there, not pause or visit. They'll get everything he has left in his sack for themselves. What about everybody else? Greedy sods! 

I hope if Santa's journey is coming to a premature end there, they're going to put out a huge feast for him. He has a massive appetite. He usually gets a snack in every home. That's probably why he only works once a year, recovering from the Christmas Eve food hangover. He's going to be a bit miffed if he stops at that house and only gets a glass of milk and a mince pie. I'll hear his belly rumble from here.

I wonder if I'll smell his reindeer from our garden. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Delicious

I thought I was the luckiest dog alive. 

I went for a walk in the woods behind the cabin and everywhere I sniffed I found a spray of chocolate drops among the ferns and grass. I hoovered them up as fast as my tongue would allow. Then the human's cottoned on to my good fortune and shoo'd me away from the treats, eventually grabbing me and reconnecting my lead, but not before I'd snaffled a tummy full.



Next day, after breakfast, my tummy was talking. It grumbled a need for immediate walkies. I barely made the grass before I needed to poop. Those drops must have contained a novelty laxative, because my poop came out like a slightly melted tube of dark Rolos. And not just once. Three times during the walk my bottom coughed out my doggy confection. This upset my master as he was only carrying two poop bags and needed to use two tissues to pick up the third. It was slightly moist too after it hit the wet ground so he needed to wash his hands a lot afterwards. 

The humans blamed the 'deer droppings'. I never knew deer produced such a delicacy. It's a wonder of mother nature. Perhaps that's why deer were created as such timid creatures: "What's that noise? (plop)," and then they run away to drop some more somewhere else, sharing the goodness.  

I wonder if Santa makes use of Rudolph's poo in a similar manner and is this the inspiration behind the Lindt chocolate reindeer?



Monday, 3 December 2012

Puppy Reflections

In my last blog I was feeling my age. I'd injured my leg and was limping. That pain went away after a few days and I can walk normally again, I'm pleased to tell you. No trip to the vet required.

After an occasion like that, when you think your young life is over, it's nice to get a chance to remember what you used to be like. On Sunday I met a new pal, a six month old Staffie cross called Racey, who looked liked she could have been my sister if our parents had been the other way round. By that I mean her head, face and ears were typically Staffie in shape, rather than whippet like, but in almost every other way she was me as a pup: brindle, skinny, fast and playful.

My master and I were at the park beside the Thornley Dam and had already done a circuit up to the waterfall and back. It was a cold afternoon with a hard frost crunching under foot. My master had nearly slipped and fallen a couple of times as his walking boots slid across invisible patches of ice. 

Although I hate the cold, it's one saving grace is the fresh scents that linger in the ice. I love to explore the undergrowth and track whatever has been passing through. I rarely find the source but they're fun to follow. The thrill of the chase distracts me from the cold itself.

We'd passed a few dogs without incident, so I wasn't nervous for a change. I'm often wary of unknown dogs, not knowing how they'll react, especially puppies with their playful jumping and biting. I sometimes give them a warning snap, in case they hurt me, even by accident. It doesn't go down well with my master as he thinks I should know better at my age. I just shrug. Better safe than sorry. But that thought didn't enter my mind when I met Racey. When she looked at me, I saw myself reflected in her eyes. This was me six and a half years ago and I knew exactly what to do.

We both adopted the starting position, front legs low and stretched apart, ready to push off at the signal, staring eye to eye, watching for that first twitch. Then the dance began. We jumped and turned and twisted, wrestling playfully until I saw the opportunity to run so she'd give chase. I'd jink and dart and turn inside her path, teasing her to catch me and then I'd slow down to let her (but not until I'd done a couple of show boating laps of the grounds first). When she caught me she'd lick my face and mouth, roll on her back, slide along her front then bounce up and startle herself with a decision of what to do next. Then she'd look sideways at me and we'd run again. She paused once, distracted by a long twig that needed lifting. I grabbed the other end and we played a tug of war until it snapped and we both ran off with our half, only she dropped hers because she wanted mine.

She was tireless but I drew energy from her exuberance. We only stopped playing when my nose caught a whiff of her owner's treat pouch on one of my swift passes (when being chased, I often use the humans as a means of ditching my tail, as it were). I tried to help myself but she was wise to it and prevented my intrusion. She asked my master what tricks I could do and made me sit then crouch before parting with a reward. Racey got hers too for just coming back. She's got a lot to learn but time is on her side. She's got a long journey ahead. It's exciting to think about.

I hope we meet again. I was tired later but it was good to feel young again. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Black Friday

My master is feeling his age. His vision is blurry without his glasses, his lower back is permanently aching and the skin of his knuckles is peeling and cracking. 

The mistress is falling apart too. Her asthma cough is waking the whole house during the night and no one is getting much sleep as a result. She's had to take time off her work which means it must be serious. 

I was fine though right up until last night.

They decided not to go up to the cabin on the Friday night, partly because of their ailments and partly because the weather had been atrociously wet. Many places had been flooded during the week, including Aberfoyle. The Scottish news had shown images of people wading through two feet of water along the Main Street (The Forth Inn will be shut for at least four months due to the water damage). 

Instead they intended to travel up in the morning when they could see better the conditions on the road. So we all watched a film at home and snuggled together on the couch. Afterwards they went upstairs, the mistress to bed and the master to his computer to play a game, leaving me dozing alone.

Later, half asleep, I slumped off the couch to join them upstairs but landed awkwardly, injuring my leg. It didn't seem real at first. It was only painful when I tried to put my weight on it. When I lifted the leg the pain stopped. Painful, not painful. Painful, not painful. I must have looked like I was dancing the okey-cokey. 

And it didn't ease after a licking either.

It was ridiculous. I'd jumped off that couch a thousand times before. What had happened this time? My knee was aching a bit now but I wasn't going to let it get the better of me. Not while there was no one around to sympathise. I needed to get upstairs for that.  

I managed to hobble up the stairs. Three legs were working so as long as I hopped it was okay. I paused outside the bedroom to draw the master's attention. I think he thought I'd had a stroke as I stumbled into the bedroom door. He leapt off his chair and had reached the room just in time to hear me yelp as I jumped onto the bed. Both owners scrutinised the leg and I whimpered when they stretched it. No marks, no swelling, no cuts; just a bit wet where I'd been licking it. If it didn't improve I was getting taken to the vet. I sighed and hoped they'd let me sleep in the bed with them. They didn't.

Getting down the stairs was a lot harder than going up. I'd to gingerly bounce from step to step without gaining too much momentum.

Lying in my bed in the kitchen I remembered what day it was. In America they call it 'Black Friday': the day after Thanksgiving. It was a black Friday for me too. The day my age started to show. I've reached middle age. What can I expect next? Menopaws? ('lame' pun)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Try This At Home

With autumn giving way to winter cold, here's a tip for all dog kin out there to keep warm: make full use of your human hosts. 

Traditionally, humans like to relax on their comfy sofas, eating snacks, drinking tea and watching telly. Sometimes we dogs are allowed to join them but usually just beside them. I've come up with a move that benefits us more. 

When they're sitting on their couch, invite yourself up beside them, then nudge your way behind them, moving all the way round their back so you can rest your head on their leg. This way your body gets their heat as you act as the meat in the sofa-human sandwich  If they resist, give them your sad eyes, perhaps huff a time or two, but be persistent. The mutual heat benefit is amazing. But beware pawing at their back too much as ripping the couch cover will give you a one way pass to the doghouse.

They won't be very comfortable but sometimes you need to be a little selfish. Life's too short for us. Why should they always be the top dog?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Scottish Fireworks Night


Last night was fireworks night. You probably expect this blog to be a 'light the blue touch paper and stand well back' kind of rant but I'm remarkably chilled about the matter. And it's not because of any anti-anxiety medication that vets dish out to my quivering pals because I'm not on any. I don't need it. I'm used to loud bangs and whizzing zooms because my master listens to lots of heavy rock music.

Okay I was a little miffed about having to change route twice during my evening walk last night because parents were setting off fireworks in the public park. Plus the local youths were building another bonfire on the path out of old clothes, two mattresses and a cardboard box and one of them was embarrassed in front of the lassies because his lighter had run out and his cooler pal was ignoring the incessant shouts to borrow his because he was too busy feeling up a girl behind a tree and wasn't capable of multitasking. But on the plus side, the master mistook my midnight barking to be a sign of distress and let me back upstairs under the bed covers for another hour until the noises had subsided. I was just complaining about the late hour and didn't they have beds to go to but I wasn't going to argue with him. Double treat night for me.

The thing about Guy Fawkes Night that confuses me is why do Scots bother about it. It commemorates a thwarted plot to blow up the House of Lords in 1605. Okay, I understand Fawkes and his collaborators were English and the person they were trying to kill, King James the First, was Scottish and that any English failure would give any Scot ample reason to party. But it was a Catholic plot to blow up a Protestant king and that sounds a bit sectarian to me. Aren't we trying to eliminate sectarianism from Scottish society?

What we really need is our own reason to party: a Scottish Fireworks Night, and I think I've come up with the perfect occasion, which parallels events of 400 years ago.

Just five years ago we had a failed attempt by another religious group to blow up a Scottish building. June 30th, 2007, the day Glasgow Airport didn't go up in petrol and propane flames: wouldn't that make an ideal date for a Scottish Fireworks Party Night? All the kids would be finished school and could stay up late to watch the displays. They wouldn't need to wrap up warm because it would be summer (not a guarantee: it is Scotland!) and then everyone could fly off on holiday through the very same airport afterwards. 

If anyone knows Alec Salmond email address maybe they could pass this suggestion onto him for his Independence manifesto. It could be a real vote winner! 

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Climb Every Mountain


Me at the top of the Crags of Callander


Sunny in September, so we decide to explore a new trail called the Callander Crags. The human contingent struggle with the gradient and even I pant a bit as we reach the top. We picnic and I play a game of stop the ball rolling over the edge between begging sessions. This is where the master wants to build his stately castle overlooking the Trossachs, or as I nearly mistyped the Trossahcs. He just has to play and win the EuroMillions when it next has a record prize amount on offer, then persuade the Scottish Government to sell him the land. And find a company to build it. He's a dreamer. Or maybe it's just the altitude thinning out the oxygen to this brain. It is a lovely view though. So long as the eagles don't come too close.



"Fifty Shades of Brindle"

I felt the car bounce into the driveway so followed Rizza's suggestion and wagged my tail and nudged him on the neck, letting him lick my face. When the master lifted the car boot door, we jumped out together and made our way to the side gate. Ushered through, gate closed behind us, the master, a bit surprised by Rizza's sudden recovery, examined Rizza's hips and legs to establish any painful parts. He's a bit careless that way. It's not wise to feel an unknown stray dog for sore bits, especially one with such a powerful jaw. But Rizza didn't bite. After all he was trying to avoid landing in police custody and he'd been faking the injury anyway.

"Never seen 'him' before... 'He's' not mine... How did the blind lady know you were a boy dog?" the master announced from nowhere and to no one in particular.

We both looked at one another, wondering where this line of conversation might go. Then he shook his head, unlocked the back door to the house and let us into the kitchen. Instinct took over and I rushed inside to stand beside the cupboard door, behind which sits the Bonio box. Rizza entered too and sniffed around, checking out his new surroundings. He settled in my bed and gave me another wink. 

The master called the mistress and continued his examination of Rizza's body, still unable to find the damage the car had inflicted. I barked my annoyance about not being given my Bonio immediately. He should care for his own dog first I repeated. 

The mistress came through to see our new guest. I got my Bonio and took it to the living room to devour. I needed to be quick because this was a critical moment. The mistress wore the trousers in any dog discussion. If she said Rizza had to go, Rizza was gone. Fortunately, having checked him herself, she suggested we keep him overnight and contact the police in the morning. Rizza tried to lick her face and wagged his stumpy tail in joy. Jealous, I pushed in, demanding a share of the attention, which the mistress took the wrong way. 

"But they're not sleeping in here together. She's far too interested in him."

I blushed at her remark, not that you could notice under my brindle coat. I was given the living room, while Rizza got my bed in the kitchen. Later, when the humans retired for the night, I sniffed loudly at the kitchen door to attract his attention without alerting them upstairs. Rizza's paw nails clicked as he crossed the wooden floor to the other side of the door.

"I bet you never thought I'd be sleeping in your bed tonight!" he remarked.

I could hear the smirk in his voice.

"Keep it down."

"How can you tell which way it's pointing? Do you have surveillance? Are you 'watching' me?"

"I mean 'shush'. If you disturb the humans you'll be plonked in a police cell in no time."

"Do you want me to use my low, sexy voice?" He growled softly to demonstrate.

"No, I just want you to whisper, and tell me about your book, 'Fifty Shades of Brindle'."

"That's not possible. It's still a work in progress."

"Rizza! I can make a lot of noise too. If they think I'm not settling, they'll have you out of here so fast you'll think you're in one of those Fast and Furious cars, rather than under one."

"Are you blackmailing me?"

"I would call it 'brindle-mailing'."

And so he told me his plot, without the need for any confidentiality agreement. I won't spoil all the details but I will say I was glad we had a chastity door between us. I wanted to know how he'd come up with such a racy subject matter. I mean, I knew he had doggy on the mind 24/7 but this had imagination and leashes and dog toy ropes and a ball in my mouth. He explained how the blind lady liked to listen to audiobooks and one she particularly enjoyed involved a Mr Gray. "And I thought, He's just like me. Damaged youth, dashing good looks and a vigorous sexual appetite. I could be Mr Brindle. Then I thought of you and the story just... flowed. Pun intended."

"You know what a pun is?"

"She also listened to Radio 4."

"So are you going to get it published? Sell it on Amazon?"

"Nah, I think I'll distribute it the old way, like they did in ancient times. By word of mouth."

"Because you can't write, right?"

"That too!"

"I'm glad you shared it with me first. I'm flattered."

There was silence.

"I was the first, wasn't I?"

"You were my inspiration."

"You're sidestepping the question. Have you told anyone else that story?"

"Strictly speaking, no, but there may have been... a few, previous drafts."

I didn't know what to say. I felt betrayed, cheated, disappointed. And confused. We were only friends. We weren't a couple. It was a story. So why was I angry? I humphed and got up and went and lay on the chair. I could still hear him sniffing apologies under the door. I ignored them all.

"Go to sleep. I'm tired. And don't go leaving any presents in my bed either."

"I'll do my best to keep my dreams dry."

I was thinking 'fleas'. What is it with boys that they always have to lower the tone? The disgust however was sufficient to bring me back to reality. And I was able to sleep.

Next morning, after breakfast, when we were both in the garden for our morning constitutional, Rizza approached me to apologise. He asked if he was forgiven with a gleam in his eye and I hastily said, "No". 

"I think I am," he insisted and winked.

"Why do you say that?"

"I could hear you dreaming last night. And I think we made up, several times."

But he left it at that. He could feel the heat from my blush from four feet away.

I noticed another side to Rizza in this new morning light: the gentleman dog, the charmer; the friend that I loved dearly but I never told him (I can only admit this in print because I know he can't read). 

We didn't get a chance to change our relationship status because he didn't get to stay a second night. The mistress insisted we couldn't be a two dog family. The master was ordered to take him to the police station. Fortunately, in the police station public car park, Rizza escaped, eluding the master as he reached for the lead. Rizza darted through the narrow gap in the open boot door and bolted across Mill Street and away, lead waving behind him. The master did feel a little stupid parked at the police station with an open, empty boot, watching his purpose vanishing into the distance. To the drivers waiting at the lights, it must have looked like he'd released Rizza back into the wild.

This meant he had to buy me a new lead from Pets at Home. I miss the old lead. It would have been an apt memento of that night together, both real and in my dreams. I wonder if anyone's noticed my increased friskiness.

Fifty Shades of Brindle


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Prologue

The last time I met Rizza, my randy, long time Staffie pal, he'd talked about trying to break into Hollywood as a 'stunt dog' but I was more intrigued by his tease that he was writing a book. He ran off before he could explain further, apart from stating that he needed my help with some of the 'lady bits'. The whole concept bemused me. Rizza didn't know how to read, never mind write, so how could he be writing a book? This was a dog whose only previous experience of culture was licking the inside of a yoghurt pot. It was two weeks before we bumped into him again and when I say 'bump' I mean literally, with our car.

It was after an evening walk at Barshaw. I was tired, having chased the tennis ball until my lungs nearly collapsed, and was crouched down in the boot panting. The master was slowly reversing out of his space in the car park when we both heard a thump. I leapt up in surprise. He'd hit something. He halted the car, then jumped out to see what had happened. Rizza was limping away but my master failed to recognise him, in shock at the accident. He called over to the youths at the nearby bench to ask if the dog belonged to them. They shook their heads and pointed to the blind lady with the golden Lab who was heading towards the gate. Approaching her, he hesitated, unsure how to start, then apologised and asked if it was her brindle Staffie that he had just struck. She replied, "Never seen him before," leaving an awkward pause as my master considered what she meant. She walked on, stirring my master to confirm, "So you're saying he's not your dog?" She stopped, turned vaguely in his direction and replied, "Have you ever seen a blind person with a Staffordshire guide dog? I haven't. He's not mine." She continued her walk and Morris didn't even turn his head to check how Rizza was. 

My master looked around. The youths had left the bench and were heading in the direction of the pond. No one else was around. Rizza had lain down not far from the car, bathed in the security lights from the Cafe, and was whining. What else could he do but take the dog to a vet to get checked out. He'd need to report it to the police too. Naturally, he'd not brought his mobile phone so he'd have to go home first to make a call. Rizza was lifted carefully and put in the boot with me. I was warned to behave but I was more concerned with the well being of my pal to be offended.

In the car, I asked Rizza what had happened: didn't he notice us reversing? My master thought I was mimicking Rizza's whines and shushed at me but I had a lot of questions needing answered. Rizza just winked and gave a wag of his docked tail. He then wiggled his 'limp' leg. He'd faked the whole thing. He whispered that the blind lady had been driving him mad. She was so rude and bad tempered that he couldn't bear to be around her anymore, plus Morris had fallen out with him and stopped sharing his food. When he saw our car he leapt at the chance of being rescued, bouncing off the bumper with a thud. When my master hadn't immediately recognised him, Rizza had acted hurt. Lying down beside the car crying was the clincher. His plan had worked.

"So what are you going to do to stop being handed into the police station as a stray?"

"That's where you come in. When we get to yours, wag your tail a lot and snuggle me with your nose and I'll reveal my leg's not sore any more. We can bypass the vet and he's bound to suggest to the mistress I stay over till morning."

"Okay, on one condition. Tell me about your book!"

"No can do. That's top secret. I don't want you stealing my idea."

"But you asked for my help with 'the lady bits'."

"I know but I need you to sign a confidentiality agreement first. Tell you what. Do this for me now and I'll share the title. Deal?"

"Deal! I don't want you getting locked up again. What's the title?"

"Fifty Shades of Brindle."

The story continues next time.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Eight Pounds

Today's blog is not a sequel to the Will Smith film 'Seven Pounds' but is about my master losing eight pounds in two weeks. 

It's a mystery to me. Each Tuesday morning he goes into the bathroom and when he comes out the mistress asks, "Well?" and he says two numbers and she tells him how much money he's lost. So far it's eight pounds. I don't understand it. 

Is it some game where he has to guess what number she's thinking of and the closer he is the less money it costs him, unless he thinks of a higher number and then she pays him? I've never seen any money change hands though.

Do we have a secret casino in our bathroom? If we do, he's very unlucky at it. He's barely in there a minute and he's lost. I poked my nose in on Thursday but he was just standing there on a metal box looking at his feet. The box does have a tiny screen so maybe it's a puggy. I can't see where it pays out though or where he feeds the coins in. Maybe its online or Wifi or something.   

Or maybe he's discovered a portal to another temporal dimension, like the fitting room in the costume shop that Mr Benn visited? He could be away dressed as a spaceman or a cowboy or a knight having an adventure before work. Perhaps the money is the costume deposit which he tells the shopkeeper to keep because he's generous that way. He is usually semi naked when he returns. It would explain why he is eating less if he was filling up on adventure calories, which don't make you fat. 

I think he should take me. I'd love a fat free adventure with walking and snacking. It's doing him the world of good because he's looking thinner. He can see his feet without stooping.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Return of Rizza

I hadn't seen my dearest puppyhood pal, Rizza, for ages. We met again at the park, where he was walking along with a blind woman and her golden Lab guide dog. For a moment I thought he was with Guido and my heart stopped. Then I realised this was not my other long gone pal, but just another member of the guide dog club. Rizza was delighted to see me and ran over,  docked tail wagging. 

"I'm going to be a Hollywood star!", he declared as he sniffed my bits.

"How so?" I enquired, sloping my rear to sitting position. He was always a very randy dog so precautions were necessary, not that he'd ever been successful .

"I'm going to be a stunt dog in the new film, Fast and Furious 6, filming in Glasgow next week."

"A stunt dog?"

"Yes, I've been practising on the Paisley roads, running in front of traffic and dodging the cars and I'm great at it."

"Isn't that dangerous?"

"Out here, definitely, but on set it'll be a lot safer."

"How did you get involved with the production?"

"Officially, I'm not, but since my World War Z debut, I've figured out how to get on set and make the maximum expression."

"Don't you mean 'impression'?"

"No, 'expression' " and he pulled a face of utter, wide-eyed shock. "The camera will close in on my face as three racing cars zoom towards me. I'm stuck in the middle of the road like a rabbit in their headlights. At the last minute one car zips left, another zips right and the third runs right over the top of me. We see the cars heading off into the distance and the camera pans back towards where I was, the audience expecting the worst, only I'm still cowering unharmed, the same expression stuck on my face. I turn to my rear, the camera following my line of sight and spots the little poop that I've dropped. I look to the heavens... then the action continues elsewhere."

"Wow, they wrote that part for you?"

"Not exactly. I've still to pitch it to them. I figured I'd just turn up and audition live, during one of the set ups. It sounds amazing doesn't it?"

"Will it be real poop or fake?"

"Depends on how many takes we do."

I considered dashing his dreams with a bite of reality but seeing the excitement in his eyes went with, "Good luck with that. Break a leg, as they say."

Rizza looked stunned. "I'm a stunt dog, not an actor. You never say that to a stunt dog."

I changed the subject. "So where is your master?"

"Oh we've split up again. I hooked up with that blind lady. Morris, her guide dog, doesn't mind me tagging along and sharing his food and water She doesn't know I'm even there. Morris loves my road manoeuvres. He isn't even allowed to cross the road unless there's a green man flashing and beeping."

Rizza then noticed his new owner had exited the park gate and was about to cross the main road.

"Better be off. Watch this for a quick exit," and he sped off at full tilt. Then he skidded and ran back.

"When we meet again ask me about the book I'm writing. I need your help with some of the lady bits."

A book? Rizza was writing a book? He didn't even know how to read. I didn't get a chance to ask him more because he turned and ran out of the gate and across the road just as the lights turned to green. He must lead a charmed life because all of the cars missed him. Or maybe he is just a good stunt dog. 

I can't wait to find out about this book though.  

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Spot of Bother

The mistress is unwell. Spots appeared overnight and, following a brief glance, the master pronounced "shingles". It sounded lovely, a mixture of 'shivers' and 'tingles' but apparently it's not.  He directed her to go to the doctor but she delayed. "I'll wait and see if it gets worse." It did. She's now on pills and a cream.  

I'm a bit worried. It says online that she is infectious to anyone who hasn't had chickenpox. I've never had it and I've had regular close contact with her. I keep expecting to find blisters. I wonder what they'll smell like. If I end up biting off and eating the itchy scabs, will I end up scarred or just bloated? Will my coat cover up the pock marks? Will I be given a bicarbonate bath to stop me scratching and end up sick from salt overdose when I lick myself dry? Does having chickenpox stop you eating chicken? Why doesn't wikipedia answer these questions?

Will the master make her wear a solid, plastic tutu above the shingle line to stop her interacting with the blisters, like what they make me wear round my head to stop me licking my wounds when I'm injured? Or maybe something more akin to a herring-bone shuttlecock from the armpits down? I've never seen these devices but now I have the images in my head they seem plausible. How would she perform toilet tasks though if her arms couldn't reach below her waist? Nappies or newspaper?

I think I'm just being bitter because I'm not allowed in the bed tonight because she's tired and irritated. I might accidentally stretch and touch her spots and cause her more discomfort. Or lick off the cream like I do her hand cream. 

'Sigh'. 

Maybe the master will let me join him on the couch tonight. He's due another bout of insomnia now he's back on his special diet. I just hope his wind has died down. I can sleep through the tummy gurgles, I can sleep through the fart noises. It's just when the smell hits my nostrils it's like being panelled by a defibrillator. The smell could revive the dead. His diet consists of meat, eggs and veg only. He doesn't pass faeces any more, he poos compost. Roll on his birthday when he can go back to cake and chocolate and crisps and ice cream between snacks. I don't mind because he always shares.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Pet Shop Hindsight

I wanted to go into a pet shop. I figured I'm a pet, it's a shop, I ought to go. It's made for me. And the wonders I found. Toys, treats and more than one flavour of Burns dog food. I couldn't believe it. For over six years I've been getting the same chicken and rice for breakfast and dinner, barring occasions when I'm sick. It's no wonder that I scavenge for a bit of variety. Best case I find a nice nibble, worst I get ill and am given an alternative dinner of scrambled egg and rice. Win, win (but not Winalot: another brand I discovered but have never tasted). It would be nice to be given a menu once in a while for a little choice. "Would madam like the chicken or the fish? The duck or the lamb? With rice or maize? And for dessert...?" One thing I don't understand is why does a dog's breakfast and dog's dinner mean the opposite of one another? My dinner and breakfast look exactly the same (quantity excepting). One's no more a mess or tidier than the other. 

The main problem I encountered in the shop was following shop etiquette. No one explained to me that you had to buy before you eat. It wasn't obvious. I mean if you put food on open display at mouth height, you should expect me to eat some of it. I had a similar problem in the newsagents with the newspapers being on the lowest shelf. Apparently you need to buy them too before soiling them. I never saw any prohibition notices. I think that's why most shops only allow entry to guide dogs. They've obviously read the guide on how to behave in shops. 

We were asked to leave the pet shop but only after my master had paid for my snacking. We're not allowed back. I hope I managed to 'contaminate' enough food (their word not mine) to keep me going till he finds me another food source. I don't want to end up starving. Speaking of which, somewhere in my genetics, I'm told, I've got a bit of whippet. I can't see it myself. I met three muzzled whippets at the campsite and they just looked anorexic. I love food too much to look that thin. Maybe the owner forgets to remove their muzzles at meals times. No wonder they're bad tempered.

I've been following the blog of author, Caro Ramsayin the run up to the release of her new book, 'The Blood of Crows'. In real life she's an osteopath, with a different name. She treats humans and animals. I once tried to get an appointment with her for a stress-relieving massage. With all the cats living on my street and especially with the new one next door, my hackles were cramping. But when I phoned for an appointment, her receptionist couldn't understand me. So I ate a snack instead. In hindsight, I should have sent an email instead. Hindsight is wonderful. It stops you being attacked in the rear, important if you want to protect your integrity. And would have saved me getting a smacking outside the pet shop. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tonight Night

My master has been working very hard, staying late at work to catch up after our holiday. He's very tired. Tonight I thought I wasn't getting walked.

The normal evening routine is his tea, check emails, surf the net then get changed and walk me. Tonight, he had his tea, checked his emails, surfed the net, went to the bathroom to get changed then I heard the radio go on and the buzz of the electric toothbrush. I nudged open the door to check what was going on. Then he remembered he wasn't there to get ready for bed. Autopilot disengaged, he spat out the toothpaste and laughed. Silly boy! The walk on the Braes was very slow. I think you'd call it a sleep walk.  

It's not as much fun when the cows are over in the fields across the Sergeantlaw Road. There's a lot more dogs, and their walkers, to navigate. My master had to restrict the distance he threw my ball so he didn't hit any other dog walkers or lose it to another dog. I hate it when another dog steals my ball. I hound them until they drop it or bark furiously at their owner. It didn't happen tonight though. I was on my best behaviour. Unlike the black Lab that was interested in acquainting himself with my bottom. I jumped into the burn to get away, not expecting him to follow. I was wrong when I thought it might dampen his enthusiasm. The laugh was on me when I was forced to sit in the water, tail and tush totally submerged, until he gave up and was called away by his owner. I must have looked pathetic. I was waggle-dancing for ages to get dry again.  

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Ah Tissue

I am partial to raiding a bin occasionally for one of the mistress' discarded paper tissues. I enjoy ripping them apart on the bed and chewing on the bits with flavour. I regularly get scolded by my master for it, who then complains to the mistress about the mess because he thinks she should flush them away instead of leaving them in an open waste basket. It can spread infection, he says. She then retorts 'it's because of my hayfever' and that 'she couldn't get at them if you'd would just remember to close the door to the en suite'. And the bickering starts.

Tonight I was summoned by the mistress to the second bedroom, where the clothes are hung to dry, and accused of destroying a tissue. There were bits of it all over the floor, still damp from chewing she presumed. I sniffed the evidence and concluded it wasn't me. There was no smell of my saliva present and indeed an air of fabric softener permeated the fragments. My forensic skills then detected further flecks of tissue upon the drying clothes. How could I have done that too? It seemed obvious to me that she had washed another tissue in the washing machine and this was the consequence.

The master was summoned too. He thought he was going to be praised for noticing the washing machine needed emptying and for hanging up the washing. He too spotted the detritus on the floor. He then admitted he had left it that way, having shaken most of it off the clothes prior to hanging. He wanted it to serve as a visual reminder for her to check the pockets of her clothes prior to putting them in the washing machine. 

Her eyes narrowed as if deciding what torture she should inflict on his person then a memory sparked in her brain and a sheepish grin emerged as she recalled what had happened. She'd been carrying the tissue along with the washing and must have thrown it in too. It makes a change for the mistress to be the one with the memory loss. 

I think all that sneezing is affecting her brain. 






So I Know What I Did Last Summer Next Summer

When will the rain end?
It's been a while since I published anything on this blog. Lately I've not been able to write as my master bought an old computer game called UFO: Enemy Unknown, bundled with a DOS emulator, and he has been hogging the laptop ever since, saving the planet from the alien invaders, finally destroying the alien master brain the other day after months of play. A worthwhile use of £2.99 he says.

So what happened over the summer? 

The shop keeper from the Sunshine store died. No one as yet has been caught. Another blood stain on the reputation of Paisley. 

Team GB did fantastically at the 2012 London Olympics but Olympic fever didn't translate into a tourist boom for London, with hotels slashing room prices and theatres doing likewise for tickets.  

Weather-wise, it started wet. Very wet. Wet like a monsoon wet. I've never been so miserable at the cabin, wondering if the sun would ever appear again. Then it got better. The master joined us, after having used over a hundred pounds of petrol visiting his new nieces, and he brought us new Denby mugs and cups from Cheshire Oaks. The sunshine returned some days later. I got to share the decking with flying ants and other buzzing insects. It almost became a 'drive-fly' holiday because everywhere we drove there were flies. It really bugged the master. He was beginning to think he'd external tinnitus with all the buzzing in his ears. They didn't bother the mistress though but I think that was because her ears were full of wax and she couldn't hear them (also see below). The mistress was annoyed that she kept missing a deer appearance that the master kept reporting each time he took me for my morning or evening walk.
He took pictures as proof of the encounter and made her jealous (she did eventually see it for herself on the last evening).

We had a terrible night in the middle of his stay as the campsite was targeted by criminals who hit a number of cabins and stole the televisions. I never heard a thing despite the cabin next door being one of the ones hit. Maybe I'd tinnitus too. They smashed in the window of the front door to make their ingress. It freaked out the master big time and he stayed on high alert for a couple of nights unable to sleep, although that could have been down to his nightmares about work.

I was abandoned for an evening while the pair of them returned to Glasgow to see 'The Dark Knight Rises' at the Odeon Imax. The mistress struggled to make out what Bane was saying at times but, as the master pointed out, would you want to be the one who asked Bane to repeat himself. They both enjoyed the 'knight' out, despite a forced diversion on the way back. The normal route back to the Trossachs was closed and they feared they'd be forced to turn back, necessitating contacting the park manager to let me out to pee but it was fine. They made it back around midnight and I got a moonlit walk, with the master desperately trying to walk silently in case the caravan residents thought he was a returning burglar. I didn't care. I was making full use of his guilt and wandered all over the park in the dark, making him crunch over the gravel paths and get lots of wet cut grass on his white trainers. 


 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bring me Sunshine

Last Friday, I experienced the quietest walk of my life. We headed for the local park and found it completely empty. No kids at the play park, no youths behind the community centre, no one vandalising the swings, not even the book reader standing on his walkway overlooking the park. There were no dog walkers, mothers with buggies, cyclists or moving cars. It felt like I'd turned a corner and found myself in an episode of The Twilight Zone: the last man on earth, plus his dog. 

I was struggling to explain it: England playing Sweden on the telly? Nah. The smirry rain? Not heavy enough to deter dog walkers. Had we missed a curfew announcement? Was there a bomb? Were Macdonalds offering free happy meals? Then I noticed the police car, a 'black' police car, parked at the foot of the hill near the community centre. I'm not sure what a black police car usually does but it looked serious. Just a subtle silver 'Strathclyde Police' logo on its sides and bonnet to stamp its authority. Could this be the reason the entire population of Morar had skedaddled: invisible Darth Vader police en-'force'-ing a no go zone?

With no one around to tell us otherwise, we just enjoyed having the park to ourselves. We played ball for so long I ended up collapsing in a heap to catch my breath, tongue fully extended out the side of my mouth. I barely had enough energy to walk up the hill but we had to because I'd pooped and that is where the nearest dog bin is. As we approached I noticed the first 'plod' in a reflective jacket standing behind 'Police Incident' tape, which had been tied to block off the entire road beyond the hedge. More tape and a female bobby (a bobbie?) were covering Green Road at the junction. Was that the scent of blood I could smell? Was that why no one was around? Had there been a murder?

I discovered later from the Scottish news that it had been a 'serious incident' that had brought out the bizzies. A shop worker had been the victim of an unprovoked attack (a stabbing), and was in a critical condition in the RAH. Witnesses were being sought. That was why the park was empty. None of the park regulars wanted to be questioned and had made themselves scarce. Trouble could make a new home elsewhere for a while.

Tonight, we returned to the scene to find a Police Incident Unit portakabin had been set up at the top of Cardell Road, a forensic tent sat in the shop forecourt and a couple of portaloos were parked on the pavement beside the dog bin. The road was still taped off but now directly across the road either side of the Sunshine newsagent. Two police men still monitored the location from the street, directing drivers round the diversion, scrutinising every passer by. Neighbours gossiped in low whispers on a street corner, not wanting to be overheard but desiring to share what little they'd discovered. There'd be no shouting between bedroom windows tonight. Did they fear their mobile phones were being tapped? 

In the park, small groups of young kids used the grass football pitch to play football for a change, because there were no older kids to scare them off and their witness statements would be inadmissible in court anyway, being too young. It seemed a much friendlier place, with honest people using it for its original purpose - a place to have fun: dog walkers exercising their dogs and children playing without causing damage. 

Does it really take a stabbing and a police presence to reintroduce civility, happiness and respect to a Paisley scheme? 

Bring me sunshine.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Bottled

Carrying a plastic bottle in his hand, my master returned home this evening with a red mark on his swollen lower lip. I ran up to him and enthusiastically greeted him, expecting to be handed the bottle to chew and destroy like a toy. Only he didn't give it to me. Instead he started to demonstrate to the mistress how he got the swollen lip.


He was heading to his car after work and had his rucksack in one hand and the bottle in the other. He needed to get the car keys from his pocket to unlock the car door so put the bottle in his mouth, lid first. At this point in his story he put the bottle in his mouth to demonstrate. He then unlocked the car door, opened it and 'bam' knocked the bottle against his mouth. Only, as he demonstrated the car door hitting the bottle, he managed to repeat the incident and struck the end of the bottle again. It hurt even more second time around.


The mistress tried not to laugh. I demanded he give me the bottle immediately before he did himself any more damage and he complied. It had blood on the lid from his cut lip. What a silly boy!

Kids Stuff - More Mental Images of Paisley

My master takes me on another walk on the wild side. It's just a couple of blocks off our usual route and yet the culture change is dramatic. Refuse speckles the weeds and sporadic buildings have shiny metal shutters over their doors and windows to prevent ingress and vandalism. The only time the term 'care' is used here is in conjunction with the prefix 'Don't'.  


A young boy, maybe five or six years old, swings an adult size golf iron at a golf ball he has tee'd up on a glass 'ginger' bottle. The neck of the bottle smashes as this wannabe Tiger Woods hits below the ball, the club too heavy for him to control. He picks the ball from the shards of broken glass beside him and carries it over to a blue plastic crate of empties and selects another tee. He sets up another shot and this time skims the ball twenty yards across the grass. I suppress a desire to chase it, not wanting to charge across the broken glass. Proud of himself the boy shouts at the building behind him to 'Look', pointing in the direction of his ball. An older woman, grey haired and smoking a cigarette, is watching from a third floor tenement window and coughs a supportive comment which encourages the boy to take another ball from the crate and continue his practice. After his next shot, which slices in our direction, the boy has run out of golf balls. He shouts at my master. "Mister, gonna fetch that baw fur me", pointing at an area closer to us than him. We don't comply and get a mouthful of abuse as the boy throws a tantrum. It could have been worse. He could have thrown the golf club or any of the tees he hadn't smashed yet.


At the play park, pre-teen children of both genders are demolishing a comfy chair. Surrounded by official park equipment, they prefer to make their own entertainment. Having splintered the frame two boys straddle the seat and bounce and see-saw until the stretched joint finally cracks. A cheer goes up from the pack and others move in to hit it with sticks scavenged from other furniture remains. The girls tear lumps from the seat covers and chase each other, throwing ripped foam padding at one another. The boys want to separate the seat from the back and twist and pull in a tug of war until its destruction is complete. A lot of effort is expended. It reminds me of myself with a squeaky toy. I can appreciate their sense of satisfaction. 


My master and I reach a close with a couch dumped outside. The fabric design is identical to the destroyed chair. Who needs a council uplift when the local kids can dispose of your unwanted furniture. By morning all traces of the suite will be gone, except for the scorch marks on the wetpour surface of the play park, after the older teens have had their bonfire fun. It's a perfect eco-system for an uncivilised society. 


Further on, two skinny youths in hoodies and tight dark trousers head towards the main road. I realise our paths will cross at the junction so suddenly find a smell to hold us up. They halt at the bus stop. Up close, I see one is male, the other female, the smell of cigarette smoke hiding any gender specific odours. The male expresses his dominance by burning his cigarette end into the perspex bus shelter panel and showing off the effect to his friend. This is his way of leaving his mark on the world. We walk past and they ignore us. Their courtship has begun.


We return to our normal route and head home. It reminds me how lucky I am. One wrong turn and everything could be so different.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Queen Reigns Hard Sell



The London weather for the Jubilee was very poor, with heavy rain. It didn't dampen spirits though, just encouraged the sale of union jack umbrellas. That ended my theory that the recent hot spell was due to a test run of a top secret, weather-controlling satellite beamed over Scotland. The clue came when Charles and Camilla became weather presenters on BBC Scotland. There's no way that would have happened unless some government meteorologist had tipped the royal wink that there was going to be some imminent good news for Scottish weather. Obviously they couldn't trial it while the royal couple were there in case it went wrong. Still I don't mind being a weather guinea pig if it means getting to pant in the glorious heat for a week in May. I even forewent my morning under-the-duvet snooze to lie in the sun at our patio doors. I long ago realised the sun's heat is far greater than anything my body can generate.


I admire the Queen for being a dog lover. She officially has three Corgis – Monty, Holly, Willow - and three Dorgis (cross-breed of Dachshund and Corgi) Cider, Candy and Vulcan. I wonder if the Dorgis were bred deliberately to avoid royal inbreeding remarks or whether someone left a door open by accident while a randy Fred Bassett was walking by. 


Andrew Marr could have asked her when she was on his show this morning, prior to the boat pageant. Remarkably it was live on the Queen's insistence. Mostly Andrew fawned but we did learn one shocking news story. When asked what she would really like from her Jubilee, the Queen replied a book deal. She felt it was time for a tell-all autobiography, setting the record straight about what she really thinks and making some serious dosh over Christmas. Andrew stumbled over a reply (not an unusual occurrence) before she giggled and waved a dismissive hand. 

"I'm pulling your leg, silly!"


"Very funny, your Majesty."  


"We can't wait for Christmas. My publisher wants to capitalise on the Jubilee now so 'The Queen - My Title' will be out next week from all good bookstores. We've got Helen Mirren to read the audiobook. Would you like a signed copy?"


"Indeed I would, very much, Ma'am."


She handed him a book and the camera closed in over his shoulder on the autograph, which read:


 'Sorry to disappoint you,' with a signature below which read, 


'Dame Helen Mirren.' 


"I played that trick on Cameron too." 


"I'm sure it's going to be a bestseller. Thank you, your Majesty!"


And with that the interview was over, but before she left, off camera, she could be heard muttering, "Buggering hell, those bastards told me they'd fixed the weather. Brollys out everyone."  


Commentators said it was because she's not used to live TV. Others are calling for the death penalty for the show's director and the takeover of the BBC by Rupert Murdoch (you know who you are Jeremy Hunt). I think it was planned and deliberate, just to add fuel to the publicity fire. She obviously didn't think a thousand boats on the Thames would cut it with the tabloids.


I hear she's going to be on the Graham Norton Show next week. Not as a guest, but in the Big Red Chair. I suspect she'll get to finish her story.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Mental Images of Paisley

The Arctic wind and rain have finally departed and high temperatures and sun have put a smile on many a Paisley buddy's face*, along with traditional sunburn. 
  
On my evening walk at the local park, I see bare-chested youths gather in a small huddle around an impromptu camp fire behind the goal posts, drinking from litre bottles of alcohol, with spares in blue carrier bags stored nearby to entice the ladies. Chilling in the evening warmth, they summon the nearby cackle of ladies with guttural obscenities, and it works, as the ladies, wearing inappropriate high heels for a playing field, slink up to the males as a pack and decide who they'll pick to be the absent father for their next child. The mating courtship has begun. I can hear swearing.


Further down the hill at the play park, a teenage girl is having great fun on the swing, much to the disappointment of her young children, who would prefer if mum would push them instead. The other swing has been wrapped around the top bar and is out of reach. They whine and grumble but she's having too much fun, listening to some dance beats on her headphones. One child runs away up the hill to look closer at the fire only to be shooed away by one of the youths. The man isn't showing any paternal concern for the boy's safety, because statistically there's a good chance he might not be the father. He's keeping his fingers crossed, much to the pleasure of his new lady friend, whose name he's decided is now 'Doll'. The boy just stares, images imprinting on his impressionable mind. "That's what I want to be when I grow up".


Further on, an older man stands outside his six-in-a-block tenement, leaning over the railings, reading a paperback book. He looks a lonely figure as he casually turns a page, engrossed. He's probably not allowed to read indoors in case it leads to thinking and a desire to vote Liberal. A social pariah, perhaps he's taunting the youths in the park, holding something which to them would appear to be a large quantity of kindling. A woman (his partner?) shouts down at him from an open third storey window demanding he go buy her more fags from the 'Icy'. He ignores her, possibly wanting to finish the chapter or simply embarrassed but is startled when a metal ash tray narrowly misses his head and bounces off the grass onto the pavement. "And bring that back up when you fetch me my fags". He complies. Compromise is the backbone of a successful relationship and he doesn't have one, which is why they've stayed together so long. He looks at me as we walk past, my tongue lolling as I grip a salivary tennis ball in my mouth, and he smiles. He takes pleasure in my pleasure.


I head home. 


I am content. I've shit in the park. I've wee'd on the grass. I fitted in perfectly. 





* (a smile seen anywhere else would indicate a failure in the belt department).

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Castle Dracula F.C.

The Old Castle Dracula


The life of a traditional vampire is a hard one in the modern world. Take Count Dracula for example. He's had no luck selling his castle in Transylvania. At an asking price of $135 million, it's extremely difficult to get a mortgage for such an old and expensive property. It needs completely modernised, rewired, with new windows to lighten up the place. Having a master bedroom in the basement is very off putting to a lot of viewers and someone should tell him coffins on open display are also a huge turn off. A home should smell of coffee or baking, not corpses and the undead. The local area is quite rough too what with all the roaming wolves.


Maybe if he'd tried to sell it himself, rather than using an estate agent, he'd have had better luck. He'd have been able to charm the house hunters with a vampiric glamour. Maybe he couldn't trust himself not to drink their blood, cause selling a house is very stressful and often leads to heavy drinking, especially when you've got financial worries. Making prospective buyers forget afterwards does tend to hamper second viewings.  

He wouldn't need to sell if he hadn't tried to defraud the assurance company. Being dead and alive at the same time causes major complications when making a claim. You can get away with it once but seven times is pushing your luck. Turning into a bat and flying away is no use if they know where you live.


If he does manage to sell, where is he going to move to? He's tried Whitby, North Yorkshire (unsuccessfully), so maybe he should try further north. It would have to be somewhere shy of Catholics (to avoid those pesky crucifixes) and Italians (garlic), so maybe he could buy Rangers F.C. and move into Ibrox Stadiium. The smell of death around the terraces wouldn't change and the undersoil heating would keep him warm in winter. There would be plenty of room for his trophies in the cabinet and no one's going to care if a few players go 'missing'. It would save on the wage bill. 


The only problem would be during home Old Firm games (see Catholics reference above), but the way things are going, Rangers won't be playing in the same League as Celtic next year so maybe not. 


The new Castle Dracula?

Sick Poop Trilogy



After a recent vomiting bug (I blame living so close to the RAH - six wards shut with the winter vomiting bug - which must be ironic, shutting a hospital due to illness), I came up with a plan to extend my evening walk. They know I get sick when I eat grass so if I eat grass at the start of a walk they won't take me home until I've brought it all up again. We could walk for miles.


It backfired. My master ended the walk early, complained about my behaviour to the mistress and I didn't get my post-walk treat. I got sent to bed with only a throw rug and newspaper to lie upon in case I puked on my bed. I'll not try that again. I'm too delicate to sleep al dente. What was worse, the following day, it looked like I was pooping linked vegetarian chipolatas, which the master confused for worms (the links, not the chipolatas!), and now we're going to the vet to get me more worming tablets. When will I learn?


That night I didn't get to see a film called "Coco Before Chanel". It doesn't bother me. I'd rather wait till they complete the trilogy, 'During' and 'After', before dedicating the time. I mean, it was made in 2009 and there's still no sign of the first sequel entering production. I'm never happy when they don't complete the story, like happened with the animated version of "Lord of the Rings". Thank heavens for Peter Jackson, although he did go overboard with the many endings to "The Return of the King". Overcompensating I believe. No ending for the animated version and six endings for his version. And now he's filming 'The Hobbit' for completeness over two movies. What's next: "The Silmarillion", shot over five, one for each story? Now that's what I would call an extended Trilogy!


View of Mount Doom from the Lake of Menteith