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.