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.