Sunday, 24 November 2013

Spoilers!

I find it difficult to believe but I am not the biggest love in my master's life. It drives me crazy. How can a fifty year old TV programme be more important than me?

The BBC was transmitting a special Dr Who anniversary show on Saturday November 23rd, simulcast in 94 countries, with cinema screenings up and down the country, beaming out to homes in HD and 3D on the red button (for those with 3D enabled televisions). It was a big deal with multiple Doctors, Daleks, Zygons and Billie Piper. The story was a strictly guarded secret but you couldn't turn on a BBC channel without hearing a 'Save the Day' clip or a 'Day of the Doctor' trailer being shown. I found it all a bit sickening.

I've got nothing against Dr Who as such, although why he needed a robot dog instead of a real one I'll never fathom. I'm sure the Tardis could restructure itself a garden for long walks and pooing. The Doctor wouldn't have to worry about the console being urinated on if he spent a little time (which he has lots of) training the pooch. If a certain planet had rules against bringing in pets he could leave it behind with a gravy bone. There must be millions of safe planets to play on, the ones that don't need saving. As I said, my gripe is not with the show. It's with my master's love of the show.

I was jealous and wanted to ruin it for him. I couldn't tell him the plot because that was under wraps. I couldn't just bark during the broadcast because he might murder me in a who fan rage attack  I needed a subtle plan. 

I knew we were heading to the cabin to watch the spectacle in 3D and I also knew he regularly falls asleep on the cabin couch watching TV. All I needed to do was make him so tired, he would fall asleep and miss part of it. That would teach him a lesson.

Playing the long game, I began on the Monday and continued each night thereafter. At midnight I wailed and cried and barked until he got back up and pandered me with attention until the small hours. I didn't let on if I was cold, needed the toilet or was disturbed by an outside menace. I just let him think it could be any of them. It wasn't my fault he was unable to sleep if I needed him.

And it worked up to a point. I hadn't bargained that the mistress might get involved. On a couple of the nights she got up instead and inflicted me with my torture collar, the one that squirts me on the nose at the touch of a button. I had to endure and push through the discomfort to ensure the master was kept awake too. He was going to be gloriously tired for the Saturday night.

When it looked like he might doze on the Saturday afternoon, I insisted on going on a long walk: two trips around the dog walking area and a tour of the entire campsite. My plan was working right up until the point where he stopped at the campsite shop and bought a big bottle of regular Coca Cola. Sugar and caffeine were going to ruin my scheme. I watched in horror as each gulp brought his droopy eye lids back to life.

I had to improvise. I had one last chance at a subtle intervention to pick me over Dr Who. During the evening walk. just prior to the show, when the mistress was watching 'Strictly', I insisted on playing a game of retrieve the ball, getting off lead in the process. Then I made out that I'd heard some wildlife in the woods and ran away and hid. He was forced to search for me. It was a frosty night but I found some deer droppings for sustenance. I heard his whistles and calls but ignored them. He was going to miss the start of his programme and that would drive him nuts. I was gambling on forgiveness, knowing the mistress would back me up for being so silly at letting me off the lead.

Then the plan went wrong. The whistles were getting further away. He was heading back to the cabin. How dare he!  I rushed back towards him. He stopped upon hearing me crashing through the ferns. If I delayed him further, by taking him a long route back, we might just be late enough to miss the start. He knew the way though. His torch was picking out the correct route. My lead got reclipped so I had to follow his route. I ducked under bramble vines to tangle the line and cut around bushes so he'd have to circle back. Instead of walking to the forest entrance I slipped sideways and shuffled down the steep slope behind the cabin, hoping for a standoff where he wanted me to return so he could make an easier exit but, no, he practically ran down that slope to get back on time.

I sulked on their bed while the programme was on. The mixture of caffeine and adrenaline from our adventure had made him wide awake and he enjoyed every single 3D minute of it. He loved it so much he forgave me for all the trouble I'd caused. A wise dog once said 'love is forgiveness'. So he does love me after all. But I'll just have to accept if I want him to love me more, I'll just need to get a part in Dr Who. What is Steven Moffat's email address?

Friday, 1 November 2013

My Gap Year in Pictures

The Oak Coppice Woods in 3D

Another Hill, Another Posed Pic

Pardon me while I shake


I think I left the ball that way

What do you mean you think I've been eating mud?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Short Post after a Long Gap


Where did the time go? Two months to you feels like a year to me.

I've been distracted by the suitor next door. Fluffy has been wooing me through the fence but with such wide thick planks between us I'm not sure how we can really proceed. Our love will need to remain vocal but unrequited.

The mistress and the master were on a Halloween date tonight... to avoid all the Halloweeners. They went to a comedy show at the Old Fruitmarket. Three Canadian comedians working under the umbrella title "The Lumberjacks". They enjoyed it. Or at least I think they did. The master was smiling. He'd worked out why the prices of the drinks at the bar at the Old Fruitmarket were so expensive. It was called the 'Bazaar Bar'. Obviously you were supposed to haggle and he'd made the mistake of paying the opening price. He felt such a fool! 

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Autumn - When Tomorrow Comes (Yeah, Yeah)

It's the final day of summer and I'm at the cabin again with Jess and the master. He's playing Eurythmics songs on his ipod while he does his back stretches.
 
 "Sisters' are doing it for themselves"

The mistress and Cruella are absent, hard at work at home painting rooms. The master cannot believe he's getting away with having to dog-sit us while the women work. The world is a bit upside down. Maybe it's karma for all the bad things happening at his work. He's been stressed and his back pain is crippling him. A relaxing day with us is exactly what he needs.

"You have placed a chill in my heart"

On our morning walk we find a desiccated adult frog on its back in the middle of the path into the dog walking area with a pecked out hole where its stomach once was. The master flips it over out of curiosity and walks on. He turns to find me attempting to get my neck positioned perfectly for a roll on it and hisses an objection. I don't get to collect the trophy smell.

 "It's alright (Baby's coming back)"

He doesn't share breakfast with us having abandoned us to eat in Aberfoyle. The final summer sun beams in through the windows and we bask in the heat till his return. He opens the patio doors allowing the brisk wind to blow in a wasp. It dies in a foamy spray as predator man stalks it across the living room, eventually blasting it on the window nearest the gate. The white circle residue bleeds a white trickle south as the excessive force feels the gravity of the insect murder.The deceased curled wasp corpse is removed with the same kitchen roll used to clean the crime scene.

 "Here comes the rain again"

The afternoon Gartmore walk is hastily rearranged when two notices declare the route 'Closed - car park unfit for cars'. He's disappointed as he was hoping to challenge his new CX-5 on the notoriously bad road to the parking area. We end up in Braeval with an equally bumpy entrance, which catches him by surprise. Disembarking, we climb the hill and I find a large black beetle wriggling intensely on its back, its legs thrashing in the air. The master takes pity on it and flicks it over. I wonder why he saved it and yet killed the wasp. Was he balancing his karma again? And what if the beetle was just trying to scratch an itch on its back? He didn't think of that.

We head home just as a shower lightly sprays the car windows. I realise this is the end of summer. Its been a great one with lots of sun and fun. The wind is blowing us more cold (and colds as the mistress would attest) so when the sun returns I use every minute of it to relax and soak it up. The master sleeps on the couch until its time for dinner.

"Don't ask me why"
 
We don't witness any more insect death on our evening walk, unless you count the battle in the child play area between a pint-sized Batman and a smaller unmasked Spider-man, using lightsabers for obvious reasons if you're a four year old. The master feels old when he realises his inner monologue is complaining that that combat doesn't make sense: superheroes with lightsabers? Perhaps Spider-man might have a chance of getting one being a scientist and Disney owning both Lucasfilm and Marvel. For the record, Batman won as Spidey threw a tantrum and chucked his sword down in a huff. Probably creative differences.

I'm tired after the walk and sleep in my bed while he plays his new game. He's not enjoying it. He's had it a day and already he's checking out trade in prices. He should wait for the reviews before late night pre-ordering.

"I need a man."

This is nothing to do with the cabin stay but I haven't mentioned yet that we've a new dog moved in next door at home, a male called Puffy. We've only touched noses through the fence and I've barked my faux objections towards him many times but... I think I like him. More next time.

"Sweet Dreams"

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Bark at the Sun


Hooray for the holidays!

I've spent most of the last three weeks on holiday up at the cabin or at Cruella's. The heat has been amazing. Summer really did arrive. It was so hot, between myself and Jess, we managed to down four bowls of water in one day. 

The master fell off his diet wagon, which suited me. I got to lick loads of emptied ice cream tubs while the mistress was away. He added nearly 12 pounds over two weeks. Normally he only puts on that much weight if he's in a cabin on a cruise ship, not the one in Aberfoyle.

I witnessed two animal invasions over the two weeks at the campsite: froglets and flying ants. Jess was fascinated by the mini frogs but the mistress was less enamoured by the ants. We were commanded to exit the decking, close all the windows and lock the doors, which did rather turn the cabin into an oven. Fortunately a heavy, thunderous shower cleared the air and the decking of the critters, the only evidence of their heavy presence being the myriad of trapped ants caught in the decking's many spider webs. Those spiders are going to be huge with such a feast.

I was looking forward to my return trip to the cabin at the bank holiday weekend as the campsite was having a barbeque as part of their open day. I didn't mind if I got a sausage or a burger or just a roll. I'd even help clean up the leftovers dropped by the revelers, but I didn't get to go. The master had plans with the boys and the mistress had plans with the girls so I was packed off to Ardrossan. I was a little annoyed the first morning and demanded breakfast at soon at the sun rose (5.30am) but settled in later that day after Cruella left me a full portion of bread and butter while she popped upstairs. What a nice gesture for a guest! I should have checked first if it was for me but if you're not fast, you're hungry! Jess never got a look in as I finished the lot. I was still licking my teeth to remove the butter when she came back downstairs, giving away my guilt somewhat. Later on I made Cruella rub my tummy to help me digest it. Even though she was still annoyed at me, she complied. 

"What a girl you are!" she said.

"I know, but I'm worth it," I thought to myself. You've got to live for the moment. It's part of the Dog Code. Plus I was on my holidays so treats are always necessary, as I've learned from my master. I wonder what else he's been eating. I'll need to smell him for oral blood blisters when I return (he gets them every time he overindulges - it's nature's way of telling him to 'STOP EATING RUBBISH' - he never learns).

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Neighbourly Chaat

This story starts with the death of a neighbour. Never a happy time! Mournful words pass around the Grove from person to person. The master knew the man quite well and wanted to attend the funeral so visited Slam's owner to find out if she knew the details or could text them to him while we were at the cabin. The daughter answered the door and kept him waiting on the doorstep, door closed over to stop the stranger coming in. He thought that was funny.

He got invited in and was away a while but returned with the information he needed. The funeral would be at 9.30 a.m. on Wednesday. This meant a change of plans as we were supposed to be staying at the cabin till Friday. We would still go up but would return on the Tuesday night instead.

The weather was fantastic: hot, sunny but with a breeze to keep the flies and midges away. We had some lovely walks. The master got annoyed at Jess when we did the Riverside Walk but I explained to him she now had the river on all her sides: left side, right side, underside and backside. She's a good swimmer. I dipped my paws but didn't go in. Jess tried rolling to dry herself off but her coat just got more matted on the long grass seed. She got a rough going over with the towel and brush upon our return that night.

When Tuesday afternoon came, I was really disappointed to leave the cabin (when am I not?). On the way back, the master stopped off for an Indian takeaway, partly as a tribute to his departed friend but moreover it meant not having to cook. He loves the chef's platter dips and had finished most of the starter when there was a ring of the front door bell. Jess and I erupted in a cacophony of  barking, resulting in the master rushing through to the hall to shut us up and corral us into the living room so he could answer the door. It was Slam's mistress to explain the new arrangements for the funeral and to request a lift to the service.

They chatted a while on the doorstep. I heard the first bit about the coffin walk, which I presumed meant taking the corpse for a final stroll as the deceased had loved his walks (it wasn't that at all). Then I paid a visit to the kitchen. Our kitchen table is an ideal height for me and I wanted to pay tribute to my Indian friend too. That's not strictly true. I just love to eat and an opportunity arose. Indian food has such a strong smell, I was dying to try some. 

With Jess listening carefully for signs of conversation closers, I helped myself to the chicken chaat bones that my master had carefully set aside. I couldn't reach the bowl for the rest but, in the end, it worked out better that way. When he finally remembered that the kitchen door was open and ended the conversation, I was lying innocently with Jess and joined in her excitement as we greeted him. He appeared quite relieved to find his bowl untouched. He didn't fancy clearing up dog diarrhoea on the morning of a funeral. He finished the remainder of his meal, failing to notice the absence of the chicken bones until he was clearing up. Then he searched everywhere: he looked in the bin; he reopened the food bag; he even checked out the blue carrier bag everything had come in but could find them nowhere. Then it twigged it must have been me, but couldn't be certain because there was Jess too. He was quite concerned about the repercussions.

A quick internet search about what to do if your dog eats a chicken bone revealed that no harm would befall the dog provided the bone had already been swallowed successfully. He didn't check what a chicken chaat bone would do, but that night my grumbly stomach did rather make me his prime suspect and got him worried over the colonic consequences. I got to sleep upstairs on the bed with him so he could monitor my bathroom needs. I don't think he was thinking straight.  If I felt a sudden urge to go, he wouldn't get time to rush me outside, unless he threw me out of the window. And then how would he explain to the window cleaner how those streak marks appeared on the roof tiles? Or did he intend to lift me over the toilet? It didn't matter. I was fine. But he was rather exhausted for the funeral.

He's learned his lesson. Next time a neighbour comes to the door during meal times he knows to act like a grown up and invite them in, not keep them on the doorstep. Or else remember to close the kitchen door first.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Jess the Guest

We've got a guest staying with us while the mistress is in Canada with her mother: Jess the dog.  She's a collie cross and I've known her since I was rescued as a pup. She's like my big sister and likes to lick me all over. 


I've been showing her all the best places to eat up at the cabin, but she can't handle her grass. A few mouthfuls and she's heaving to expel it. She was so sick it was dripping out of her nose. She was fine though, just a little embarrassed. To make her feel less uncomfortable I too heaved up my stomach contents but it took loads of grass munching to work. I think my tolerance level is higher. We got frog marched out of the forest because of it and then I needed to eat the long grass at the dog walking area to complete my gastric display. The remainder of the walk was on lead. It was too hot to run anyway.   

On Saturday we went for a hike along the yellow trail at Braeval. The water tunnels are amazing. I can pretend to get stuck in them for ages. Jess wasn't so sure, not wanting to upset the master, so stayed on his heels for most of the walk. There are signs everywhere warning people not to climb on the timber stacks. I don't think they apply to dogs but just to be safe I crawled underneath the log piles instead. I pretended to get stuck there too. It's just as well he carries an emergency tennis ball. I always come running when I hear it bounce or feel the vibration on the material above me. Otherwise we might still be there.

Jess isn't the dog from the radio adverts, explaining how to behave with a dog around cattle. This is relevant because the cows on the Gleniffer Braes have only just moved on Friday to the top field above the Robertson Car Park and we had to walk through them tonight to get to the Sergeantlaw fields to the east. It smelled like the cows were still adjusting to the new grass and had sprayed the contents of their four stomachs across every remaining blade of grass available. I love to roll in a fresh cow pat as much as the next dog, who in this case is Jess, but she has taken it to a whole new level. If you consider the human party nibble 'pigs in blankets', where a mini sausage is wrapped in a slice of bacon, then imagine if the sausage is a dog (not necessarily a dachshund) and the bacon actually came from a cow and is vegetarian, you might come close to conjuring the effect Jess can generate with her gymnastic spins, while on lead I may add. The genius of this is, because of the warm evening, the 'bacon' cooks for the remainder of the walk, forming a crusty shell. She got a bath tonight in the burn. 

The master would have been really annoyed at us if it were not for the cleggs to distract him. He's got some lovely bites. It's a shame the mistress missed the expression on his face when he went to the medicine cupboard to find three empty packets of antihistamines, the irony being he's a pharmacist and none of the packs had scores to indicate they were not full. I told him to stop scratching and offered to bring out the grooming brush but he went upstairs. 

We're not allowed on the bed tonight. I think it might be bath time tomorrow if he can work out how to lift us without putting out his back.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Strawberry Tart

I came in from an evening walk with the mistress and immediately noticed a subtle but distinctive smell of strawberry sauce in the kitchen. Were we having strawberry tarts for supper? Had the master decided to blow off his diet? The mistress obviously thought so. The first words accusingly out of her mouth were, "Where are the other three?" as she saw the plastic container holding a single tart. He'd been at his physio not the shops so the presence of the tart was unusual.

"I told them you'd say that!" exclaimed the master. He went on to explain how there were three physios working at the clinic that night and each had had one tart from the pack leaving one. They'd been offering it to each client at reception as they finished their treatment but everyone else had been too polite to accept. The master had also declined the offer, because of his diet, but was persuaded when they suggested he take it as a surprise for his wife. And now she was accusing him of pigging out on a pack of tarts. He still gave it to her though.

She ate it quietly and didn't share. I didn't get any either. Pity, I like strawberries Or as she prefers to call them, straw-berries. Maybe it's a teacher thing.





Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Lunatics are in the Park

It's the night after the longest day and the moon is peering close to the earth, casting its full beam onto the night creatures that have come out to play. I hear them scraping on the grass beside the cabin and freak out. From the safety of the humans' bed I bark, warning them that it's not safe to go outside. They don't listen.

They're in the living area, staring at the moon, hypnotised by its brightness, til the clouds creep over and free them from its power. Alerted by my alarm, they look out the other windows to see if they can spot anything. The master checks the outside door, only to find it unlocked, his test opening it in the process. We're not safe. I leap from the bed and rush to the exit to protect him. 

Pushing past his legs, I pounce towards the gate but there are no aggressors to face. I peer at the forest for movement and listen intently. The drips from the down pipes tap intermittently from all four corners of the cabin, remnants of the rain trickling off the roof, sounding like a discordant mental institution percussion section. Then I hear the beast again. It's moved round the back, on the slope. I take off along the side decking to the back fence and release a volley of barks. Let it know this cabin is protected.

The master quickly joins me. Not to support me in my defense of our lives but to keep me from raising my voice and disturbing the neighbours. 'What neighbours? We're alone, on both sides.' My riposte causes me to lose sight of the beast but I can still hear it, scratching at the ground, grumbling. The master hears it too and is perturbed, too many horror film plots sparking in his memory. He can't tell where or what it is. He escorts me back inside by the collar and locks the door.   

'We're under attack', I tell the mistress, who has gone to bed to be safe. She tells me to join her under the duvet. I comply. I may as well be warm and comfortable until it's time to fight. The master stays on watch, concerned he'll have nightmares or worse get killed in his sleep. 

We didn't die but it was a very exciting end to the day and I got to stay in their bed for a lot longer than normal. They still don't know what kind of animal it was. Let them believe it was a werebeast transformed by the power of the full moon. Maybe they're not wrong. I'm not saying.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Two Weeks Later

Finally summer is here and I'm in sun heaven. I feel like a puppy again. I just wish my owners would make me a dog flap so I can stay in the garden and sunbathe when they're at work.

The master has been struggling with his diet. There's nearly been grounds for divorce. At the Eddie Izzard gig a woman sitting next to him bought herself a double chocolate nougat wafer ice cream and it took all his willpower to resist sticking his tongue down her throat for a taste. He was almost drooling as she nibbled on the last corner, his stares not being rewarded with a share. He doesn't have my big brown eyes and cute looks. 

The mistress wouldn't let him get one of his own. He said people at work were asking if he was unwell or undead. She didn't flinch. He's been twelve days without chocolate, biscuits, cakes, donuts or ice cream. He should be wasting away but his belly is just as big. He says its because he has a ventral hernia but that's still to be confirmed. 

He's got exercises to do for his back. I helped him out today by going for a run at the holiday park. He expected me to retrieve the tennis ball that had rolled down the slope in front of the cabin and I did fetch it but my nose caught a whiff of a nearby barbecue and my stomach took me in a different direction. Freedom! He chased me, almost losing his cap as we ran across the grass. I lost him in the long grass at the other side but we made up before he had a coronary. I helped him stretch his back as he leaned down to grip my collar and march me back to the cabin. 

The wasps have left deep scores in the bench two weeks on but the master has been fighting back with a can of Raid. He's been like Charles Bronson in Death Wish, stalking any yellow and black striped beastie that approaches the decking, spraying them to twitchy spasms of death as soon as they land. Unless one surprises him, then he's a shrieking yelper who runs away like a girl. I reckon it won't be long till he gets stung.

Till next time.



Monday, 27 May 2013

Spring Bank Holiday Wasps

We have a rosewood bench on our decking at the cabin in Aberfoyle. The master and mistress love sitting on their bench looking out over the fields towards Gartmore and the peak of Ben Lomond. From the bench they can watch the comings and goings of the holiday park and gaze up into the bluebell forest behind the cabin. It offers quite an all round view. And this weekend it was out of bounds because of wasps.

It's nest building time and the local wasps have decided to use the timber from the bench as the basis for their nest. The pests were constantly flying in to chew away at it, leaving faint, tiny chisel lines in the wood. There was always at least one laying claim to the bench, displaying a yellow and black striped reserved notice to dissuade any humans from approaching. To compound the discomfort we suspected that one of the potential nest sites was beneath the decking, as a number of the blighters were appearing and disappearing from between the beams, but they may have just been eating at that too. The site manager is going to investigate.

The upshot of all this was we had to keep all the windows and outer doors closed for the entire weekend, except for the one in the en-suite, which is strange considering its the only room in the building that the humans might be totally naked, exposing all their flesh to any wasp intruders. The cabin was boiling on the Friday. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I thought the mistress was going to pass out from the heat. I loved it. At the end of the day I was exhausted from panting and drank two bowls worth of water.  

Shame the weather didn't stay that way. By 4 am on the Monday, after a couple of dry days, the rain began and downpoured for another 12 hours. After refusing to get soaked after breakfast, I lay in their bed listening to the rain bouncing off the roof. They went out for lunch and suggested I nip out for some bladder relief but I declined. One sniff and a fuzzy glance through the rainy haze was enough to tell me I didn't need a shower that badly. When they returned they watched a movie (Movie 43) and fell out because the master described it as a comedy. The mistress called it a travesty and I just wanted it to stop raining before I involuntarily wet the couch.

By 4pm the rain stopped and I was relieved to get outside, even happily agreeing to pose for this picture. The wasps were relieved too as they too returned to the bench to continue their operation. I wonder, if they were given enough uninterrupted time, would we find the entire bench consumed and rebuilt as a nest under the decking, minus the bolts obviously?

  
Spring Bank Holiday 2013 between downpours.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

The First Signs of Summer


When humans visit somewhere new, they like to bring home little souvenirs as mementos. Dogs do the same but differently.

I visited Portencross today for the first time. It's just along from Seamill. I had fun running along the rocks and on the grass but avoided going in the sea as I'm not keen on the water, above knee level anyway. I had a great day.

I found an unusual pong. I'm not sure what it was but it was dead and wet so I rolled in it to help me remember the day. It was going to be my conversation piece. My friends would sniff me, comment on the aroma and I would regale them with my tales.

Only I think it went on a little heavy and a prolonged Orange Walk left me in the car a little longer than expected on the journey home. The mistress had to roll down the windows (not while the Walk went by - she was terrified they would turn on her like 'Walking Dead' walkers).

As you can see, I didn't get to retain the smell.

So a tip to all my dog friends out there: It's not quantity than matters but subtlety. You don't need to cake your coat when a dab behind the ear will do. Our noses are more powerful than humans so if your master or mistress can smell it, you've gone too far. 

The same rule applies to those people that escort the Orange Walk (and I don't mean the Police): the followers that buzz beside the marching musicians like flies around unusual pongs. I shouldn't be able to smell you from behind the windows of a car. Carrying open cans of Special Brew doesn't mask your lack of personal deodorant. Looking scary with your bare-chested tattoos and missing teeth will keep another intelligent human at a distance (somewhere in this sentence is an adjective explaining why it's possible to have a youth version of an Orange Walk) but you might find that there are dogs out there who will try to roll on you as a souvenir. I'm just warning you, it's instinctive.

I would normally be fully in support of any walk but I don't understand the point of the Orange Walk, celebrating victory of a sectarian battle in another country centuries ago. We don't hold marches to remember the Battle of Bannockburn or the last time we had a great national football victory. Perhaps if those whistles and drums had the power of the Pied Piper to draw out all the nutters and then lead them to the sea to be drowned then I could justify all the hold ups to traffic and the noise generated. The police presence would help stragglers from escaping. Eventually we would eradicate the menace that way. Wouldn't that be worth it?

Save our Sunny Saturdays for something nice.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Nothing New


Nothing much to report recently. I've had one near death experience but apart from that nothing exceptional. The NDE was more a near miss really. I shouldn't have tried to follow a scent across a busy main road while on an extending lead when my master was fumbling with his Ipod. When he finally looked up, he screamed at me, which in my book never means 'come here for a nice thing' so I walked parallel to him beside the pavement and a car nearly blew me over. I'm not sure how many lives a dog gets but I think I've got one less. 


Here's me on a recent trip to Braeval. So many sticks to chew and so little time. I've just spotted a deer so the other snaps were of an empty rock.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Fat

This story requires context.

The master and I were joined at the weekend by the mistress. We'd enjoyed our week snacking, playing Skyrim and watching movies. We'd had some exercise at my insistence as I refuse to poop in the cabin when there's a wood just outside.The master was looking a little plump again, like a teddy bear, his big, round belly bulging from eating meals for two himself, justifying it to himself by offering tidbits to me. That counts as sharing, right? If he was a dog toy, I'd want to rip open his stitching and whip out the stuffing until he was thin again. That's how much I love him.

Anyway, the mistress put up with the snacking as she accepted he was on holiday. She was upset however that he'd left dried urine spots on the toilet seat in the en-suite. He'd somehow missed those when he'd been tidying the place prior to her arrival. Maybe next time he should just go in the woods like me.

He remembered this scolding on the Saturday night when they went to bed, the first time he'd been to bed the same day he got up all week. While she was brushing her teeth in the en-suite, he badly needed to pee (instead of just peeing badly). He ignored my 'woods' suggestion and instead used the toilet in the bathroom. He sat down so as to avoid missing but when he stood up again to flush he noticed that the surface of the newly-filled bowl had a film across it, like a soup. What was wrong with him? Did he have a UTI? Had all those late nights and bad dietary habits resulted in an infection? He bent down to look closer. It smelled of... lamb. They'd had lamb shanks for dinner. He knew asparagus caused urine to smell but could recall nothing about lamb having the same effect. Why would it look gloopy? Then he remembered what happened after dinner and came through to the bedroom to relate this tale. The penny had dropped.

The mistress had not wanted to wash the fat from the lamb down the sink in case it blocked and so had flushed it down the toilet instead. Only it hadn't all flushed away and must have risen to the surface again. Because the master had sat down, he hadn't noticed it beforehand, resulting in his fright (and this story). How she laughed!

To avoid further health scares, I am going to have to insist they adopt the same behaviour as another cabin owner round at the pond who pours all their fat residue onto the grass behind their cabin. It's often delicious.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Sleepless in Aberfoyle

I'm on holiday with the master at the moment, up at the cabin but it's no romantic interlude. In fact I think, along with the bacon, he's left his sense of humour at home. 

My suspicions of this started when I requested breakfast this morning at my usual 6.45am. He was not amused. Playing Skyrim till 5am had left him cranky, especially as he couldn't just shove me outside to pee, like he does at home. He had to get dressed in multiple layers to counter the cold frost, so together we could go into the wintry woods, him stumbling half asleep, me running at full tilt chasing two deer, both young does. Although they were smaller and not as fast as their parents, I still had no chance of catching them. I could hear others leaping away too, across the hill, away from me. Maybe tomorrow, with five deer to chase, the odds will be more in my favour, surely?

His humour bypass continued on the afternoon walk. It was a lovely day: still, hazy and blue skied, with a sun so strong sun glasses were required (although that may also have been down to his lack of sleep). We walked up towards the David Marshall Lodge following the Oak Coppice Trail. I was released from my extending lead when we entered the woods and was surprised when my demand for a tennis ball was met with a brand new one. He hasn't been trusting me with new balls since I kept squirrelling them away. After a short distance he got irritated because I kept dropping the ball to sniff my surroundings. It's been ages since I was there last so I had a lot to catch up on. Anyway, on one occasion, the ball rolled away from me into a muddy puddle. I gave him a look of 'how did that happen?' and let him retrieve it for me. If another walker hadn't been within view, I think he may have thrown it at me. Instead he tossed it gently into the air towards me, a curve of watery spray forming in its wake. He could have kept it from me but he believes it's safer to gobstopper me when others are around. It muffles my growls. It annoys me that he doesn't trust me to behave so sometimes I don't.

I decided to play a trick on him. I wandered into the young trees and waited till he was a good way ahead, then loudly rolled in the dead leaves. He was furious. If I was coated in forest denizen poo, he'd need to give me a bath and he was far too tired for all that effort. Plus, with his back problems, he wouldn't be able to lift me into the bath. 

He crashed towards me awkwardly, shooing me away from my rolling spot and eventually managed to snag my collar and replace my lead. After a teeth-clenched telling off, he marched me back to the car. Only we were midway round anyway, so the walk wasn't really curtailed much. The final laugh was mine when we returned to the cabin. He started to wipe my neck with a towel and found nothing was coming off. Because there was nothing to remove. He hadn't checked while we were in the woods. The ground had been frozen so hadn't left a residue. He sniffed the towel and my neck and couldn't find anything to report. He couldn't give into trouble for a crime I didn't commit. 

I snuggled up to him on the couch to prove there were no hard feelings as he slept off his gaming hangover that afternoon. I hope he's learnt his lesson.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Squirrel Balls

Recently I saw the BBC's 'Winterwatch' programme, to get tips on how to catch deer. It didn't help much. They showed a sequence where lots of other animals ate bits off a dead deer but didn't tell you specifically where the buffet was available. I sniffed about the forest behind the cabin but it must have been very far away because I never caught a whiff.

Another feature on the show did inspire me though. It showed a jar of walnuts which a squirrel raided one by one until the whole jar was empty, leaving the raisin jar and peanut jar untouched. The expert theory was the squirrel would hide the walnuts all over the forest for later in the winter and would go back for the instant meal when it was hungry.

We've recently restocked on tennis balls. I know there's plenty now but eventually they will dwindle. So I've started to invest them all over the areas that I go walking. The master thinks I'm just losing them but actually it means later on in the winter when there's no balls left I'll always be able to find one no matter where he walks me. Clever, eh!

Can you spot the ball?

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Time Off for Bad Behaviour

I've been busy recently making amends for past sins. Well, that's the theory anyway. You see I've been a naughty dog. On Christmas Eve I nearly got the master arrested.

We were at Morar Park. It was a dry night and he was exercising me along the tarmac path that splits the park, lit by occasional lamp posts. The game involved him throwing a tennis ball which I retrieved and returned. However my dog vision spotted a distant movement and I was compelled to abandon the game and give chase, tennis ball still in mouth. A fox had wandered over to the park from the nearby housing. When it saw me, it froze then turned about and dashed back from where it came. 

I charged across the grass, then across the road, through a garden gate, passed the two doors of the four-in-a-block tenement and down into their back garden, following the strong scent of the frightened fox. Upon meeting the rear fence I was forced to pause to source my wily friend's escape path. He'd been out of sight for only moments as the dip into the back garden dropped him from my vision but in that time he'd managed to vanish. He could be hiding but my nose would sniff him, or his escape route, out. 

The wood and wire fence between the gardens had fallen over in part, having been blown over in the middle, so I darted nimbly between the two gardens, checking behind the shed and under the bushes. There wasn't an obvious escape route and the whole place had fox scent all over it. 

But how does this lead to a near arrest you may enquire?

My master had also given chase, desperately calling my name (without actually issuing an instruction to stop, I must say in my defence, not that I was listening). His heart had jumped as I crossed the road, which fortunately had no traffic, and he followed me as far as the garden gate. From there, shining his mega torch, he scanned for my presence, listening for the tinkle of my identity tag but could not find me. He didn't know that my pursuit had ended and that I was in the dip of the back garden. For all he know I was traversing back gardens and front gardens and roads and was well on my way to the cycle path or the main road. He decided he would need to go up the path and into the garden.

As a four-in-a-block building the downstairs windows on this side were in darkness, with curtains open as if no one was home, but the upstairs had lights on and the door to access this level had a light on outside.He ventured passed the two doors and shined the torch beam across the gardens to search for me. He couldn't see me because at this point I had climbed back up to the back wall of the house and was sniffing at the hedge between the two halves of the block. He hadn't noticed me.

When a man appeared suddenly behind him with a small dog on a lead growling (the dog, not the man), my master jumped and uttered a curse word. The man demanded to know what he was doing and my master claimed truthfully that he was looking for his dog after it had chased a fox. I duly appeared round the corner and defended him against the ball of fur that was threatening him. I say defended, the other man might say 'attacked his dog'. It's a matter of perspective. You could argue either case. I managed to avoid being grabbed and darted back down into the garden again. I knew I was in trouble.

Having witnessed the 'dog' that my master had declared he was seeking, the man backed off, upset that his dog had received a telling off from me. He didn't offer to help and took his dog away across to the park for its constitutional.

The master became even more embarrassed.  Not only did he realise how suspicious he looked, standing in the back garden of a stranger, armed with a torch like a potential burglar, his alibi for being there had just attacked the occupant's own dog. I detected the underlying threat in every one of his falsely light-toned calls. It wasn't safe for me to return yet and I'd also noted the clumps of bread left out for the birds on the grass by the neighbour over the fence. I may as well snack as I waited for him to calm down. He followed me around the garden for a while, trying to catch me to no avail and gave up, returning to the top of the steps, following my every movement with this torch, fuming with every bread clump I discovered.

It was at this point the police car stopped outside the gate. A tall male and a stocky female police officer approached my master shining their torches in his face, asking what he was doing there. I didn't understand the situation properly and just thought he'd brought in reinforcements to help catch me. I disappeared round the side of the next house which unfortunately had a closed gate, but at least I was out of sight. The conversation between my master and the police officers move back onto the pavement. 

I watched from the shadows as my master explained again about me chasing the fox and how he needed the torch to see the dog poo so it could be picked up. He had to give his name and address and his date of birth and occupation and they took down details about the address. It was only when they opened the back door of their police car and invited him inside that I panicked and broke cover. If he was getting a lift home then I wasn't getting left behind. My master spotted me and pointed to the officers that 'that' was his dog, an action which allowed him to avoid getting into the police car. I ran passed them all, across the road and into the park again, bouncing with excitement and wagging my tail. My master asked permission to go retrieve me, showing the officers my lead clip. The officers agreed and the master approached me. 

Of course, at first, I was terrified of the consequences of my actions and wouldn't accede to being tethered again, fearing a smacking or worse, so backed off. The look of growing mortification on his face was priceless every time I moved away. I eventually relented when it appeared he had given up and was returning to the police car.

The male officer warned him to keep me under control while in public but the female officer warmed to me and rubbed my head then my tummy when I lifted my front leg to invite her to do so. It diffused the situation and the officers drove off to find some proper criminals, leaving my master relieved but fit to explode.

I got marched home with only one pause as he remembered something

"Where the f*** is your ball?"

I glanced back down the hill and wasn't sure. I looked up at him hesitantly. He huffed and yanked at the lead, marching off again. We weren't going back. We couldn't. I would just had to do without, forever if need be. I got no Bonio and no Dentastix that night and had to stay in my bed in the kitchen for over an hour while he watched television and ate ice cream to calm down.

We've made up since then. Still, what a story! I can't wait to tell Rizza next time I see him.

What's Going On in the Bathroom?

My master was in the bathroom. I listened at the closed door. There was a faint hissing sound, followed by a wet gurgle. I heard a small splash bouncing in the toilet bowl. There was a pause then he opened the door, stopping as I blocked his path. I looked up at him concerned. No hand washing?

I needn't have worried. It wasn't a wet fart after all. He was bleeding the radiator. He passed me to move to the next room, radiator key in hand. I checked the toilet bowl. A tissue remained. 

He hadn't flushed.