Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Beast from the East!

Well, it's been quite a week. In addition to a spell of unusually severe weather, nicknamed by the media 'The Beast from the East', we've had another unexpected beast, from just east of Heathfield. 'Her Indoors' has being donating a bit of her spare dog walking capacity, now that I'm a senior and don't need much exercise, to a charity called the Cinnamon Trust that provides dog walkers for owners who are elderly or ill. Teddy is a Border Terrier, so although she was already walking two Shelties in Crowborough for the Trust, she naturally couldn't resist and walks Teddy once a week too. Unfortunately, Teddy's owner, Sandra, is very poorly, and he came to stay once before, briefly, just before Christmas, when she was taken into hospital. This time, she was taken in the middle of the night, and due to the snow, a neighbour with a four-wheel drive, brought Teddy over a few days ago and he's been with us ever since.
      Now lots of people on social media have been very kind, and praised 'Her Indoors' for taking Teddy in, but of course, it's really all down to me. 'Her Indoors' made it clear that Teddy could only come and stay if I gave him the paws up. Now, as regular readers of my blog will know, whilst I'm generally good with other dogs, there's the odd one or two, like Gyp the farm dog and that Red Setter from up the road, that I really don't like. I like to keep my criteria for these likes and dislikes a closely guarded secret as it keeps 'Them Indoors' on their toes; they never quite know how I'm going to react. Anyway, Teddy and I instantly hit it off; what can I tell you we're both amiable furs. We did polite tail wagging and sniffing, and I made it clear who was boss, and whose kitchen it was. After this initiation, I've made him welcome by bossing him around, pinching his treats and drinking his water. He might be about a third of my age, and half as big again; he's a chunky fur, what can I tell you, but I call the shots around here and harmony is based on that understanding. Fortunately Teddy is fine with that. When he came back from lying in front of the wood burner and found me stretched out in his rather large bed, he just sniffed, wagged his tail, and pragmatically squeezed himself into my much smaller one. And then, when I changed my mind and wanted my own bed back, he shifted without complaint. The only time I've had to give him a verbal caution was when I thought he was being a bit over-familiar with 'Her Indoors'. I'm definitely first in the queue for tummy rubs if there are any going.
      Still, he does have his draw backs. His circumstances have led to him suffering from bad separation anxiety which means that every time 'Her Indoors' leaves the room, he whines, which is a bit trying. Fortunately, my senior deafness means I can sleep through a lot of this, and 'Them Indoor' are making sure I get some solo napping time so I don't get too tired. However at night, he wakes up and cries, so we've had three broken nights. Last night he just wouldn't settle, and 'Her Indoors' was a bit tired, so in the end they compromised and she slept on the sofa whilst Teddy slept in his bed next to her. I got the kitchen to myself and we all got some sleep. 'Her Indoors' is trying to walk the paws off him in the hope that might help, but at the moment she's the one who's most tired.
     Teddy also has his own view on things which is entirely proper in a Border Terrier. He's not a big eater which quite frankly amazes me. 'Her Indoors' has spoilt the potential of this by feeding us separately so Teddy gets a change to eat his before I help him out. She doesn't want him starving and me increasing in girth, and, of course, she's also a natural spoilsport. Still, when she made some beef stew the other night, and saved me some as is usual in our house, she also saved some for Teddy, which was unduly hospitable in my view. Fortunately, he reacted to it like she was trying to poison him, so I was allowed to finish it up, which was a bit of a result.
      However we do agree on some things. Neither of us like the vacuum cleaner and Teddy sneezed very pointedly when 'Her Indoors' cleaned the kitchen floor. What can I tell you, she has worrying tendencies in the household cleanliness department. He also has similar priorities in pee-mail reading which is good to see. Most promising of all, we understand he's a good rabbiter but unfortunately the weather hasn't been good enough to test this out. With my cunning and his youthful speed, we could be a winning team. I've started him on my training manual to bring him up to speed, and I'm trying to teach him that he's perfectly within his rights to ignore commands from 'Them Indoors' if he sees fit. Naturally, he's trying to be polite at the moment, but hopefully that'll wear off quickly. We don't know how long he'll be with us, but I'm beginning to see the advantage of having a younger set of paws around the place. I wonder if he writes at all.......
Me in Teddy's Bed...
And Teddy squashed up in mine...

A bit of training in true Border Terrier ways

Giving instructions

Saturday, 10 February 2018

A senior Senior!

One of the slightly disconcerting things about life stages is you just get used to being in one and then you find yourself in another. Take for example my senior status. I had just adapted to being, well, senior, and now I find I've crept into the 'very senior' category without ever really giving my permission.
      Still, as I'm an optimistic kind of dog, I like to turn every situation to my advantage.  As one of the oldest members of the Twitter group, the BT Posse, I have formed a sub-group, for those Border Terriers who've reached double figures, called the SODs; Senior Obstreperous Delinquents, a worthy group, living up to their name at every opportunity. I am also making the most of my senior statesman role to ensure the youngest members are getting the correct advice on true BT ways. I don't want the next generation turning into a bunch of 'yes furs'. One of the youngest Posse recruits, a pupster called Pudding, is shaping up very nicely, and I take comfort from reading about his misdemeanours on Twitter.  I also like to lead by example, and although the opportunities for misbehaviour do diminish, along with speed and energy over time, I still think that I maximise every chance that comes my way and actively create a few of my own.
      Take exercise, I've gradually become more and more selective as to when I consider a morning pootle to be appropriate for a dog of my age. If it's raining or blowing, and especially if it's both, I refuse to go. I allow 'Her Indoors' to get us both all togged up, and then I grind to a halt on the drive so we have to go back again. I've also found that it's quite fun, on mornings that 'Her Indoors' isn't in any particular rush and quite fancies a walk, to refuse to oblige, but then on the mornings when she has a busy start and needs to get going, I decide that a nice slow walk, sniffing at length at all the interesting smells over the field, and ideally meeting a few of my senior friends as well, is just the ticket. If she tries to hurry me, I give her my best baleful stare so that she feels guilty. Sorted!
      Another area that I've experimented with is food. I've come to the conclusion that I've been far too obliging in this department so now that I'm not burning quite so much energy, I've become a bit more discerning. 'Her Indoors' has tried experimenting with a variety of different dog food types, but I've decided I prefer the food she eats to all that processed stuff made out of the obscure bits of animals that even they didn't know they had. It's taken a bit of effort but I've perfected the art of getting what I want. Around tea time, I start whining and looking hungry, building up to climax as my food bowl hits the floor. I then look at the contents with disbelief and disappointment, but continue to whine and look hungry. Eventually, she'll give in and get some tuna or chicken that I then eat like a dog who hasn't seen a square meal for days. It's working well and some days we skip the boring kibble stage and go straight to the good stuff.
      There's also the area of ailments and general wellness. The trick is to keep the anxiety levels at a suitably high level - above normal but just short of going to the Vet - by occasional vomiting, having little indiscretions on the kitchen floor or in my bed, looking vacant and drinking more than normal. Just when they're really getting anxious and are talking about making a Vet's appointment, you then perk up and start gambolling round the garden like a spring lamb. It ensures that 'Them Indoors' are constantly reminded of your seniority and the increasing proximity of the rainbow bridge, and treat you with the corresponding reverence.
      They, of course, are worrying about this multi-coloured overpass regularly on my behalf, whilst I don't worry about it at all. After all, a lot of my Pals have been over the bridge and I haven't heard any complaints. Also, the founder of the BT Posse, Marley, does duty at it's toll-gate, so I can't see there's any cause for concern. Providing he's got a few beers in and he's locked up the bunnies, I don't anticipate it'll be a problem when it comes to it. Not that I'm planning anything in the immediate future you understand, I owe it to 'Him Indoors' to live as long as possible, it's the least I can do. Anyway, I'm having far too much fun exploiting this latest life stage to be moving onto the next one too soon.  Now pass a beef steak 'Her Indoors', I'm feeling peckish...
Why would I want dog food...?

Don't mind if I do.....

I'm only walking if I want to!


Saturday, 6 January 2018


Well, the festive season has come and gone in the normal way and 'Them Indoors' have emerged, blinking, in the cold light of January, slightly dazed and wondering what it was all about.

Just before Christmas we had an unexpected canine visitor when, Teddy, the Border Terrier 'Her Indoors' walks for the Cinnamon Trust, came to stay with us for two nights whilst his owner had an unscheduled trip into hospital. 'Them Indoors' didn't want to disturb my senior routine, as Teddy was only having a short stay, so they made his bedroom up in the conservatory, which is the opposite end of the house to the kitchen, where I sleep. Imagine my surprise when I went outside ready for my senior pootle, only to discover that another Border Terrier was there. I had to do a double take just to make sure I wasn't confused by my own reflection which is an easy mistake to make. Anyway, once I'd recovered from the shock we were formally introduced and it was all gentlemanly tail wagging and sniffing. Teddy was very considerate and walked slowly so I could keep up, and in return I introduced him to the best sniffing and pee-mail spots. It was rather companionable, and, if he plays his cards right, I might allow him to accompany me on the occasional walk in the future. Anyway, since Teddy went home, I've been regularly checking the conservatory in case 'Them Indoors' have got any other dogs secreted away that I don't know about. You really can't trust them out of your sight, honestly....

Anyway, in true post-Christmas tradition the weather is rubbish and the annual tax return deadline is looming. I don't worry about the latter; what can I tell you, I have staff, but the former is rather trying to a dog of a senior disposition. Even with a coat on, there is a limit to my tolerance. 'Them Indoors' have been taking the mickey out of my somnolence and reluctance to vacate my very comfy bed. I've got a good thick mattress and my soft toys arranged to block out any drafts and as pillows, why would I want to leave that for a soggy, windy and cold outdoors? There's also been some talk amongst 'Him' and "Her Indoors' about New Year's resolutions. I can't understand why they set such boring ones. Mine are simple. I resolve to take less exercise and eat and drink more whenever I possibly can. I'm also going to do what I want, when I want to, and I'm going to extract every ounce of fun and mischief out of a given situation. Sorted - Happy New Year!
An extra Border, in more ways than one!

Polite introductions

A few toys tastefully arranged.....

Why would I possibly want to go outdoors...?

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Seasonal Reflections

Now I consider myself a dog with a wealth of experience regarding the festive season, after all, it's my fifteenth Christmas, so there's a few tips I can pass on to the less experienced furs amongst you.

It's normal, at this time of year, for your family to become a bit preoccupied. 'Her Indoors' has been wandering round, clutching lists and muttering under her breath for weeks now. It's also normal for  the appearance of trees and other stuff that you normally associate with outdoors such as holly and ivy, in the house. Weeing on it is a definite no-no but if you get a chance to have a go at the baubles or tinsel, go for it, as for presents, get stuck into that wrapping paper at the first opportunity. As we get nearer the big day, maximise any opportunities in the food department, particularly dropped noms and unattended items. The only caveat is to avoid anything that's poisonous to us dogs as you don't want any unscheduled trips to the Vet.

If your standards of care start to slip a bit in the all card signing, wrapping, shopping and general seasonal bustle, make sure you draw that fact to your family's attention. I favour a little tactical naughtiness. So far, I've refused to come in from the garden when called and led 'Her Indoors' on a merry dance. Just as she got within grabbing distance I'd trot off again. The only disadvantage with this is when she did catch me I got such a scolding my ears wilted.

Next I found that someone had forgotten to fill my water bowl up, and when I woke at 5.30am for a little drink, I was thwarted. Not for long! I chased my empty metal bowl around the kitchen and made such a noise that 'Her Indoors' got up to see who was breaking in. She guiltily refilled my bowl but I decided it was play time. She wasn't very obliging. I then felt that I needed to go outside so she had to stand out in the garden, waiting, in her dressing gown, amongst the frost-fringed bushes, while I, after a token wee to deflect her wrath, sourced a quick snack under the birds' peanut dispenser. She gave me lots of advice about hurrying up, none of which I heeded.

Later on, when she actually wanted me to go outside for my walk, I stopped mid-way to the playing field and refused to budge. What can I tell you, it was cold. She had to pick me up and carry me home although once I got back I remembered it was breakfast time and started frolicking around like a spring lamb. What kind of name is 'little bugger' to call your senior Border Terrier?

Anyway, the big day is not far off now and I'm eagerly awaiting the return of my Juniors for a festive season of attention and tummy rubs. However, a few events have given me paws for thought. 'Her Indoors' runs a writing for well-being group at a local hospice and also dog walks for the Cinnamon Trust, so she knows a few people who are facing Christmas with serious and/or life-threatening illnesses. There are also those who've been bereaved in the last year, both of human and canine companions, for whom Christmas is an especially difficult time.

In addition, we saw a post on Twitter about senior dogs being dumped in rescue at around this time of year so that people can get a festive puppy instead. I guess there will also be the knock-on effect in a few weeks or months time, when people realise that puppies need a lot of caring for and also grow up, amazingly, into dogs, with all the demands on their attention and finances which that rightly entails. Such reminders, of some of the harsh realities of Christmas, don't do much for seasonal good cheer that's for sure.

So I'd like to spare a few moments to consider both furs and hupeeps for whom Christmas is a difficult, lonely and emotionally charged time and offer them my senior dog's breath licking and nose bumps which I know will be some considerable consolation. And if it's your Christmas that doesn't look as you'd wish it to look this year, consider it like an unattended kitchen table, and take from it what you can, enjoying what can be enjoyed, in the moment.

So, it just remains for me to send all of my Pals, real and virtual, my kindest thoughts and very best wishes for the festive season. I'll see you on the other side of the celebrations, in January. Happy Christmas to you all!

Waiting for Santa Paws....

'Her Indoors' gets revenge with a pom-pom on my bum!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

A Christmas Medley!

Do they Know it's Christmas

*in a serious voice*

It's Christmas time
and there's a need for a warm glow.
At Christmas time, we let in noms
and we banish 'no',
and in our tweets a plenty,
we can spread a smile of joy,
throw a ball across the park
at Christmas time.

Stop the Cavalry

*with a jaunty rhythm*

Bang! that's another bomb
on another town
while Kim Jong-un and Trump disagree
If we get way with it
live to wag our tails,
I'll run for the presidency.
If I get elected, I'll swap
The Senate for the BT Posse

White Christmas

*crooning gently*

I'm dreaming of a tight Christmas
With all the beers I've got to know
Where the treat tin glistens
And small furs listen
to hear the postman in the snow.

I'm dreaming of biting a biscuit
with every parcel that alights
May your dreams be rabbits aflight
and may all your Christmases be white

Whilst Shepherds

*sings with solemnity*

Whilst gardeners watched their crops by night
All growing in the ground
The bunnies came and nommed them up
And fury flew around.

Fear lots said they
for mighty dread was sneaking up behind
bad tidings of destroy he brings
to you and all bunny kind.

For few in Rolo's grounds this day
will escape Rolo's ire
so savour freedom whilst you can
from consequences dire!

All glory be to all BTs
and in bunny burrows be peace
Ne'er move henceforth from earth to garden
and chasing you will cease.

Merry Christmas Everyone

Special dog mince pie Pals...
*barks joyfully*

Snow is falling all around us
furs are pootling, having fun,
it's the season of noms that we're demanding
Merry Christmas, everyone.

Time for parties and celebrations,
BTs barking all night long,
time for ear-plugs and posse advices
so we're never in the wrong!

We're gonna have a party tonight
we're gonna raid that fridge,
underneath the hupeeps nose,
nom cheese by candle light!

With popcorn waiting, balls for playing
and the old furs, drinking beer
Oh I wish that every day was Christmas
what a nice way, to spend the year.

Merry Christmas everyone, Merrrrryyyy Chrrriistmaass everryyone! *trills to an emotional climax*

To all Pals, not just the ones we have photos of.....!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Birthdays and long lost family

Well it's been quite a week! Firstly, 'Her Indoors', who's been gadding off abroad making friends with new furies, deigned to come back and attend to her pressing caring duties - namely me. 'Him Indoors' did his best, and he was particularly generous in the food department whilst 'Her Indoors' wasn't there to cast a beady eye, but 'Her Indoors' is my primary carer and I miss her when she's not around. A senior fur can't plump up his own mattress!

Flirting with another fury- at least I don't have to wear a spit-guard!

     On her return, she found that her birthday present from 'A Unicorn Moon' jewellery had arrived. As I had played a key role I was keen to see what it looked like and I have to say Sue did us proud. It's a pendent with tiny replicas of my actual paw prints and my name. In order to get clear prints, I had to have my in between pad hair trimmed. This involved me lying on my back with my paws in the air in my basket, 'Him Indoors' being deployed to tickle my tummy as a distraction, and 'Her Indoors' wielding the scissors. I was actually quite obliging which is more than can be said for 'Him Indoors' who wouldn't allow his hair-cutting scissors to be used on hygiene grounds! 'Her Indoors' had to use her embroidery scissors instead. Anyway, they then wiped my front paws with a special wipe and got me to stand on a piece of card. It took a couple of goes before I was satisfied with the quality - if I'm having my paw-prints immortalised they've got to be good ones, what can I tell you - then 'Him Indoors' scanned them in and sent them off. I have to say that the final result is really good and I like the idea of 'Her Indoors' carrying me with her wherever she goes - only right and proper of course.
What nicer present could there possibly be...

     And then, to add to the excitement, it was my fifteenth birthday. As the average life expectancy of Border Terriers is thirteen to fifteen years, this is quite a milestone, and now that I'm safely into my sixteenth year, I have the distinction of officially not being average. My aim is to beat the world record, after all, it's the least I can do for 'Him Indoors'. Anyway, I got the usual fussing, gifts and cards, and 'Her Indoors' took a few photos and posted them on social media in time honoured fashion. However, this time there was an extra surprise. My pal Roky on Twitter, noticed that there was another BT called Milly on Instagram who was celebrating her fifteenth birthday on the same day as me and who bore an uncanny resemblance. It only turned out that she is my long lost sisfur from the same litter! She was the last one born and I was the last one chosen - what can I tell you, I was saving myself! It turns our she lives nearby in Kent, so we're going to arrange to meet up. What are the chances of that happening?
     So, it's been a bit of an exciting time and I've had to have a little lie down on my new mattress to recover. I need to keep my strength up as I've got an emotional reunion to attend and then I need to get ready for Christmas.....
twenty-first wrapping paper - is she having a laugh?

A pleasing array of goodies

Okay, so it's a mince pie (special dog one from pet shop), but I'm not complaining!

Me and my long-lost sisfur Milly

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Finding my voice

Now it probably won't surprise you to learn that I've always been a dog with a lot to say for myself; what can I tell you I'm a vocal fur! There's always so much to comment on: people coming to the house or even just walking past (how dare they!), horses, other dogs (it'd be rude not to), birds flying over, squirrels, rabbits and then, occasionally, just barking for the sheer joy of sharing my voice with the world. It's something 'Them Indoors' can take exception to as my bark belies my size and can be surprisingly sharp when they're not expecting it. I don't know what they grumble about, they've both got robust hearts, as far as we know anyway....

And it's not like 'Them Indoors' are the strong, silent types themselves. 'Him Indoors' would deny it, but he likes a bit of a chat. Get him on the phone and he's there for the duration. He also talks to me although it has to be said that not all of that content is sharable and there's a fair amount of practising of alternative names. 'Her Indoors' chats to her family, her friends, visitors to the house, and of course, to me. She keeps up a little running commentary when we're doing things together, including when we're out for our walks, which has led to her getting funny looks from ignorant pedestrians. 'Her Indoors' takes comfort from her well-worn mantra that talking to your dog is not a sign of madness unless they start talking back. I can't think what she means....

Last week, me and 'Her Indoors' had a joint talking appointment at our local radio station, Uckfield FM, discussing my latest book, 'Sit, Stay, Roll Over'. I allowed 'Her Indoors' to do a bit of chatting to Tony the presenter, after all, what do you have staff for, and I did the backing soundtrack with some panting and moving about. If you haven't already heard it, you're missing a treat, take a listen.....

My radio interview

'Her Indoors' paid a price for such loquaciousness, she lost her voice later in the week and could only croak. This had it's advantages as she couldn't tell me off. She tried shouting in a whisper, but as I've got a bit of senior deafness I couldn't possibly hear her. Still, it didn't last for long and after a couple of days, it's come back and we're back to regular. I can't say I'm sorry. I missed our little chats and the occasional endearment that she sends my way when I'm looking all cute and innocent, curled up in my basket. Us dog's may not talk in the conventional fashion, but we're certainly big on communication in our own, inimitable way...

Professional communicators!

Just contributing a suitable backing soundtrack