What’s going on? First it was months and months of stupidly hot weather. Now it’s storm after storm after storm. It’s so windy! I wondered if I was going to end up under a fallen down tree, it was so windy. Wild? It’s worse than that, it’s livid! Great for drying the washing except that the washing will end up in Somerset!
Last night I had to take Douggie the doggie for a walk. The rain was sweeping down and I wondered if I should put on my waterproof trousers. Nah!! It’s only that fine rain, we’ll only be out ten minutes, it’ll be ok.
Ten minutes, soaked to the skin later I was trudging upstairs for a change of clothes. It’s true you know. That fine rain DOES soak you through!
Tonight we will be braving the wind, but thankfully not the rain, again when we go out for our nightly stroll and training session on the local leisure centre car park. Douggie the doggie is competing in a heelwork to music Halloween themed competition and we have got a whole routine to put together in a month.
Night after night we train on the car park, watched we know by the leisure centre staff on the CCTV. We know this because as we leave they are occasionally outside the side entrance on a break and make comments such as “Britain’s got talent for you is it then, love?” My answer to that is of course no. Douggie the doggie in that situation would just plonk his backside on the floor and start scratching. Even for a massive dog lover like Simon Cowell that isn’t really much of an act, is it?
What I should do is film Douggie in training when he performs brilliantly time after time and show that to our trainer. The reason being that Douggie has very definite diva tendencies when it comes to performing. If all the elements aren’t exactly right or he feels even slightly ill at ease he just won’t do it.
At a fun charity demonstration a few weeks ago we were all lined up ready to start our routine. Douggie watched me with his eyes shining, ready to do his new dance to music from The Greatest Showman. I gave the cue to start the music. Nothing happened. I gave the cue again. The man doing the music shrugged. Douggie looked at me as if to say, ‘well get on with it, I’m ready’. The music was clearly not going to play.
While we waited Douggie and I showed off a few moves and tricks just so we weren’t standing there like lemons. He did really well.
Still the music didn’t play so we left the arena.
When the music system had been fixed we were given a new place in the line up. IN BETWEEN TWO CRUFTS PERFORMERS!!!
Douggie, clearly thinking he’d already done his bit he wasn’t about to do it again no matter how many people were watching. He flatly refused to play. I jollied him on and he gave me the dog equivalent of two fingers. Oh, the shame!
It’s a long walk to get out of the arena when a hundred disappointed eyes are watching you.
Our trainer has suggested on more than one occasion that I get another dog as Douggie hides his dancing light under yet another bushel while I protest, “But he can do this PERFECTLY at home.” Don’t worry, Douggie. I won’t be trading you in for a collie just yet.
It’s been a bit quieter down in darkest Devon this last couple of days. Why’s that? I can hear you ask. Well, it’s because I got kicked in the face by Douggie the Doggie and every time I opened my mouth my jaw clicked. I can tell you it cuts right down on that chat when it’s all interspersed with ‘click, click, clicking’.
He definitely knocked my jaw out of alignment, I could feel my teeth weren’t sitting in their normal position. You’ll be glad to know it all seems to be in the correct place again now.
I never thought I’d get drop kicked by the dog but that very thing happened on Monday.
So how did all this come about? I know you’re dying to know. Well. Here we go then…Douggie the Doggie has got an impressive array of tricks in his repertoire but Kung Fu? That’s a new one.
In the early hours of the morning he woke us up to let us know he was going to have a fit. As normal, we stumbled bleary eyed downstairs and waited for it to happen. Experience has taught us that there really isn’t a lot of point in trying to stop it as he just tends to have a really nasty fit a few days later if we don’t just let it happen. So, as much as it goes against the grain, we just wait. We snooze. We listen. For his part Douggie the Doggie usually goes back to sleep for a while. Then he paces. He whines. He bobs his head.
Then it happens.
This time he jumped onto the settee just before it happened. He leaned into me and his head went down. “Here it comes”, I thought. I was right.
Poor old Douggie started trying to shake himself apart. Boofuls and I have a routine now, we just calmy lift him onto the floor so he can’t fall and hurt himself. Then we wait quietly, timing the duration of the fit and trying not to panic. It never gets any easier. Every time he has a fit I think it’s going to be his last, it terrifies me. Anyway, let’s not dwell on that. This time I had the back end. Just as we lifted him off the settee his foot shot out and he kicked me straight in the jaw. Oh my Gawd! That made my eyes water.
They say that humans have an unnatural strength when they have a fit and I can tell you it’s the same for dogs. That was a kick and a half. I spent the next day nursing my clicking jaw and cut chin and Douggie spent most of his time getting his brain back in order. You’ll be glad to know that we are now both absolutely fine and looking as gorgeous as ever.
I came across this article on Facebook today.
It was a good read.
It’s about how some dog owners think it’s ok to let their dogs just rampage round, running where they like and approaching any and every other dog they see.
It touched a nerve.
Usually said dog owners are a hundred yards away while their little darlings are having fun. My opinion is that if your dog is a hundred yards away then by no definition ever can it be deemed to be ‘under control.’
Now that might be ok if your dog is well mannered enough to leave other dogs alone but all too often they aren’t.
It’s about time we all started to understand that dogs, like people, are not all the same and a little courtesy and understanding can go a long way. The article talks mainly about fearful and reactive dogs but actually, the issues it addresses are relevant to all.
I don’t have a reactive or fearful dog but I have also experienced much of what is said in this article.
If a dog is on a lead I don’t allow Douggie the doggie to go up to them until I check if it’s ok. If it’s on a lead, it’s for a good reason.
If my dog, Douggie is on a lead I don’t allow him to interact with other dogs.
Have I had people be offended when I’ve said so?
Absolutely I have. “snotty bitch’ has been heard muttered more than once.
Why I keep Douggie the doggie away from other dogs when on a lead is my business – but I’ll tell you. After he’s had a fit he can be unpredictable. He’s never turned on another dog or a person but I don’t know what’s going on in his head at that point and I prefer to be safe than sorry. Also, he’s a big, powerful dog. If he decided to drag me across the road because his best mate was on the other side of the road he could. By teaching him that other dogs are off limits when he’s on a lead he knows to keep himself to himself and me safe from being run over by a bus. Common sense. Other dog owners leading their dogs, often on leads, up to him and telling them to ‘say hello’ undermines everything I’ve taught him.
I’ll politely point out that I don’t allow him to socialise when he’s on a lead. At that point they will either give me a dirty look and walk off or ask me in a very surprised voice why. My reply is usually, “for exactly this reason”, as Douggie
pulls me round from pillar to post to get a better sniff at the other dog’s nether regions. Not so much of a problem with a chihuahua, bit more of a problem when you have a six stone golden retriever.
While I’m in mid rant, may I also point out that my dog is not public property. He might look like a great big, soppy teddy bear but that does not mean he’s there to be petted, have his ears pulled or generally act as entertainment for your kids. At least have the manners to ask before parading your kid up to him telling them to stroke the nice doggie. Although I suppose that’s better than when your child runs up to him, arms outstretched and screaming, “Doggie!” in his face.
Please be aware that when I tell your child to keep away I’m protecting the dog from your child not vice versa. Shouting at me “Well it should be f*ckin’ muzzled then” is just aggressive nonsense. Actually, I think you should be muzzled as your mouth is much nastier and far more dangerous than my dog’s.
Now I don’t want to come over as holier than thou in this post. It took a lot of training and a lot of training mistakes on my part before we ended up with a well mannered dog. I vividly remember when Douggie was just a few months old that if he saw another dog ten miles away he would run like the wind to get to it. On day I stupidly took him to a local playing field.
There was a person with a leashed dog at the other end of the field. Douggie took off, I took off after him, frantically calling his name as the irate owner of the other dog swore and cursed me and my dog while fighting to keep his leashed dog under control, “GET YOUR DOG AWAY YOU STUPID BITCH MY DOG’LL KILL IT! I was running as fast as I could to get to Douggie before he got killed.
I was mortified that I had so little control over my dog that he, and by that I mean, I, could have caused a really nasty incident. It certainly taught me the value of training and respecting the needs of other dogs and their owners.
After that I never took Douggie anywhere where he had a clear line of sight. For months we only ever walked in the woods where he could only see a few feet in front. That way he learned to stay near to me. Eventually, once I knew I could trust him we braved the open spaces again.
Training and mutual respect. It’s not that hard is it?
Oooh, this article got me all fired up, didn’t it? Rant over.
It’s taken me week or two to be able to write this post, every time I thought about it I was filled with lets say less than christian feelings.
Some friends of ours, Marks and Spencer, came to visit us for a few days. They are thinking of moving to the area after having been to stay with us a few times and realised how very lovely it is in Devon.
Proud to show off our new home and surrounding area we decided that a trip to Buckfast Abbey was an absolute must. It’s a stunning place, absolutely breathtaking in fact and I couldn’t wait to show it to them.
After a tasty breakfast we packed ourselves and Douggie the Doggie into the car and set off to Buckfastleigh where we spent some time admiring the beautiful quaint old railway station with it’s characterful old steam trains before we headed off to Buckfast Abbey.
As both our friends are disabled we managed to park right outside the entrance using those ever so useful blue badges, worth their weight in gold they are. I was bit disappointed to see that the entrance to the abbey was covered in scaffolding and shrouded to try and hide it all but they covered all the shrouding in pretty, evocative photos of the interior of the abbey so it could have been worse. As building work goes it was as non-intrusive as you can get.
We strolled through the grounds, obviously heeding the signs to keep dogs on leads. After all, we were in the grounds of a magnificent, working abbey and due respect should be given such a place. Dogs rampaging round the gardens would be so disrespectful. Douggie was tethered to my side the whole time, much to his disgust. The gardens were a delight. The lavender garden was just lovely, I can imagine what it must be like in summer.
As we walked it quickly became very apparent to me that I’d massively overestimated my recovery after my operations and this amount of walking was way too much way too soon. I was starting to struggle but trying not to show it. With nowhere to sit I had no choice but to plod on.
A heavy downpour of rain encouraged Marks and Spencer to go inside the abbey. I was so pleased.
Me, Marks and Spencer all went into the abbey. Boofuls stayed out with Douggie in the rain.
Marks and Spencer went off to admire that abbey in all it’s splendour. I stood for a moment, knowing I was in too much pain to go with them and aware that Boofuls was outside in the rain. So. I scanned the entrance inside and out for signs saying if dogs were allowed or not. No sign of any signs. Happy days.
“Boofuls, there is nothing to say dogs aren’t allowed. Why don’t you come in. I’ll sit quietly in the pew by the door with Douggie the doggie and you can go and be tour guide for Marks and Spencer.”
So that’s what we did.
Dougie tucked himself in by my feet and settled down and I revelled in sitting in such a beautiful place, enjoying the atmosphere and feeling so grateful just to be sitting and easing my poor aching body.
Then came a tap on my arm. “I’m sorry, you can’t come in here with a dog.”
“What? It doesn’t say dogs can’t come in. Does God not like dogs?”
“You have to leave, dogs aren’t allowed in the grounds never mind in the abbey.”
At this point, the ignominy of being thrown out was overtaken by my body screaming at me to SIT DOWN! YOU’VE DONE TOO MUCH!
I sighed. “Right. Look, the thing is, I had a large operation three weeks ago. I just need to sit for a few minutes. If I can’t sit in here can I at least sit outside in the entrance porch?”
“No. No dogs allowed.”
By this time Boofuls had disappeared. I left the abbey, close to tears and in extreme pain. Knowing I couldn’t walk as far as the car and Boofuls had the keys anyway. I hobbled up to and sat on the nearest steps in the wind and the rain and tried not to cry as Douggie the doggie cuddled up to me.
Luckily I had my phone with me and sent Boofuls a text message.’I’ve been thrown out.’
After a few minutes, a few minutes where people stared at me like I was a mad woman, sitting in the thankfully now light rain on the wet steps and looking a picture of misery, Boofuls appeared.
He helped me back to the car and we waited for Marks and Spencer to return.
As we waited I stopped being upset and started being angry. So very angry.
At this point it had stopped being about the dog. I had no real issue with that. I know I don’t have the right to take him wherever I want. Their house, their rules and all that …or did I have an issue? It turns out I did.
No dogs allowed in the grounds the woman had said. Why then were there signs all over the place saying to keep your dog on a lead? Are dogs allowed or are they not? It turns out there is a very long and convoluted answer to that which involves a public footpath running right through the abbey grounds.
I ranted about how thrilled God must have been at their display of christian kindness to a person in need. No. Wait. What I meant was their very unchristian jobsworth attitude to a person in need. I ranted about their mixed message dog policy. I ranted about the embarrassment of sitting outside on the rainy steps while abbey staff walked past staring at me, not one asking me if there was an problem.
Such was my ranting that Boofuls offered to go back down to the abbey and register my discontent. Off he went.
After having registered my discontent he was helpfully informed that there were in fact ‘no dogs’ signs at the entrance. Oh really? As a dog owner we always make a point of looking to see if dogs are allowed or not. They call it responsible dog ownership.
We searched and searched for them. Eventually we found them. On the wall at the entrance, two small signs completely covered by scaffolding and the picture covered shrouds covering it. There is no way we could have seen them.
Time and time again Boofuls and I have come across this attitude of people who claim to be christians but who’s christian attitude leaves a lot to be desired. We have left more than one church because they were less about doing the work of God and more about the egos and holier than thou attitudes of the church members.
Sadly, this unfortunate incident at Buckfast Abbey has done nothing to change my view.
Every day Douggie the doggie and I walk down to the beach. He does like his daily swim. If he doesn’t get it for whatever reason he gets a proper cob on.
The good thing about walking on the beach every day is that the bad old days of a stinking, muddy dog are long gone. The bad thing is that he, and I, are always wet through.
He gets so excited he runs round me flicking water from his long, waggy tail all over me. It has got so bad that I have taken to wearing wellies and waterproof trousers no matter what the weather is like. I can’t even wear the wellies without the waterproof pants as he always ,manages to flick water down my wellies and I end up with my own private paddling pool in my boots.
It’s even worse when I forget to put thicker socks on. My feet flop around in my slightly large welliebobs and the walk back up the hill after an hour walking up and down the beach gets more difficult every day. I’m sure they have a device to make the hill steeper when I’m on my way back home. Y’see, on the way out it’s a more gentle slope. On the way back it’s more like a mini Everest. That, dear reader is whenI trudge, trudge, trudge up the hill, tired and grumpy.
Roll on summer when I’ll be glad to be showered with cold water.
Still on the subject of dogs. I got a letter yesterday telling me that the guide dog I sponsor has been dropped from the guide dog programme because of his unpredictable spending habits. WHAT? Who the hell lets a dog go shopping anyway? It’s only ever going to end in disaster giving a dog a credit card and freedom to use it as he wants. Mind you, if I gave Douggie a credit card he’d just eat it.
It’s rained here today. A lot.
As Douggie and I set off to the beach I realised with dismay that I’d timed it wrong and the tide was in. As I guessed, by the time we got to the seafront the waves were crashing over the sea wall. Oh well. A walk to the harbour instead, I think. As I walked round the harbour I noticed through the pouring rain dripping off the end of my nose that someone had kindly put a note on all of the benches saying that the paint was wet. Well OF COURSE the paint was wet. It was pouring down! It didn’t take a genius to work that out but I did appreciate the fact that someone tried to help out the tourists by telling them. Heh.
Wherever you are, I hope you’re having better weather than we are having at the moment. Happy weekend!
Boofuls, Douggie and me have just got back from a week away in sunny Devon.
“Oh! Have you been away?” I can hear you saying. Dang! I love how you all miss me so much!
Yes we have, we’ve been searching for our perfect home on the south coast.
One day we decided to broaden our search and investigate a few of the other towns and villages along the coast. People kept telling us how nice it was in Sidmouth so we went for a look. Quant little English seaside village. I think it’s actually God’s waiting room. I’ve never seen so many grey haired people all in one place in my life. Pensioners were marauding everywhere with their walking sticks, wheelchairs, zimmer frames and scooters. Don’t get all excited thinking that the pensioners on scooters were zipping round on the scooters of your childhood or on trendy Piaggio’s, how cool would they be?
No, I’m talking about yer good old mobility scooters.
My mum used to have a mobility scooter. It had two speeds: hare and tortoise. It had a picture of a hare and a tortoise on it’s dashboard. My mum only ever used to use it on the ‘hare’ setting, or as she used to call it, ‘rabbit speed’. She once got told off by a traffic warden for speeding on her scooter. She nearly took his kneecaps off when she came ‘haring’ out of a shop (see what I did there?).
Anyway, back to the plot and talking about getting told off….
Once Boofuls and I had thoroughly investigated Sidmouth we went a bit further round the coast to Dorset and Lyme Regis.
Sigh. To be fair, it wasn’t the best of days, we were cold and tired, the wind was blowing, we were not really dressed for the weather as it had been quite warm when we set off, we were hungry and we were fed up and on the verge of an argument.
We popped out heads into a few of the local eateries to be met with faces of disgust when we enquired if they were dog friendly. That’d be a no then. Eventually we did find somewhere to eat that was warm and welcoming. I partook of the chestnut and mushroom soup which was surprisingly tasty. I’ll be making that.
Once we’d decided that we could really linger in their any longer just keeping warm we decided to head off back to Torquay. “I’ll just take the dog on the beach for a pee”, said I.
I checked the sign about dogs on the beach: April to November. Blah blah, yeah, yeah. Douggie ran off grateful for a chance to stretch his legs while I trudged up the stony beach feeling like I was on the verge of hypothermia. Up ahead the beach became sandy so I headed to that part. To get to it we had to walk on the prom for about eight feet. I decided I’d risk it without putting him on his lead.
As we jumped down onto the sandy beach an officious looking character approached me. Douggie looked like he was about to go and say hello to him so I threw his ball in the opposite direction:
Officious character: “Your dog is off the lead. It’s not allowed to be.”
Me: “Seriously? We only walked on the prom for about eight feet. Just to get onto this beach.”
Him: “You walked all the way down that beach with your dog off the lead. I watched you do it”
Me: “Yes we did.” Looking vacant as I said it, still not realising where this conversation was heading.
Him. ” Didn’t you see the signs.”
Me: “Yes, course I did. April to November. Well it’s December now, what’s the problem?”
Him: Slowly as if talking to a child, “No dogs at all between April and November and dogs on leads at other times.It says it very clearly and you’ve passed at least four of these signs. There’s one there, there, there, there and there and you’ve gone past them all and totally ignored them, I could fine you £70.”
Me: Turning white as the penny drops. “OH NO!! I totally misread it. I’m sorry, (much grovelling).
At this point he was starting to enjoy being able to lecture me and made a point of lecturing me at length about dogs not being allowed to run free on beaches in Lyme Regis, all this while Douggie gambolled happily around his feet and I squirmed with embarrassment. Eventually, the official realised that the dog was still running loose and instructed me to put his lead on, which I did post haste, still grovelling. My purse was twitching with fear at the thought of having to surrender £70 of it’s hard earned money for not bothering to read a sign correctly.
Eventually the official had had his fill of making me squirm and decided to let me off with a warning. As I hot footed it back to the car a couple who’d been watching with amusement asked me if he’d let me off and informed me that Lyme Regis isn’t known for it’s tolerance for dogs.
We probably won’t be going back there.
Mr Douggie the Doggie managed to break the penultimate rule a while ago and was allowed to start sleeping in our bedroom with us. The ultimate rule is ‘no dogs on the bed’ which he tries to break on a regular basis but gets met with a sharp ‘GET OFF!!’ Every other rule in the book went by the board a long time ago. “I’ll never let him on the furniture”, for instance. Now he just jumps up and gets settled wherever and whenever he feels like it, usually using me as a pillow. Ok, I admit it, I like the doggie snuggles while I’m watching a bit of evening telly.
To be fair, we only relaxed the bedroom rule so he could alert us if he was going to have a seizure but I have to be honest, I hate him being in the bedroom.
As if Boofuls doesn’t make enough noise in his sleep now I also have to contend with the pooch snoring, dreaming, smacking his lips, flopping around all over the floor rather than sleeping on his own lovely chocolate coloured bed, stretching, twitching and scratching, waking me up for a cuddle in the middle of the night ( you’d think he’s know that that was going to be a non starter) and generally having me awake half the night wondering if he’s ok.
A side effect of being woken up seventy five times a night is that I need to visit the bathroom more than I used to. There must be a direct link between my eyeballs and my bladder. As soon as I open my eyes my bladder says hello.
Going to the bathroom during the night never used to be an issue. Get up, walk to bathroom, pee, walk back, get back into bed. Easy. However, now we’ve changed the bedroom carpet it’s not so easy. I climb out of my lovely warm bed and then stand there for a minute trying to decipher where in the room Douggie is. Spotting a cream coloured dog on a cream coloured carpet in a room that’s blacker than a black thing because there’s no such thing as street lighting where we live, is no mean feat.
Once I’ve successfully located him, by peering like Mr Magoo into the dark, I usually find him stretched out to his full length at some impossible angle and nowhere near his bed, I have to try and get past him without standing on him. Again, easy. You think?
In the good old days before I developed plantar fasciitis it was ok. Now my poor feet tingle and throb and just don’t want to move. My first four or five steps look remarkably like those of your average 100 year old, wobbly, painful and uncertain. One move from Douggie as I’m gingerly stepping over him will see me go ear over elbow in a most ungainly fashion.
Amazingly, by the time I’ve reached the bathroom door I’m able to walk normally again so the walk back to bed is nowhere near as treacherous. I climb back into my lovely warm bed and snuggle down trying to get back to sleep before the next disturbance which usually happens as the first rays of light are just starting to break through and Douggie decides it’s time to get up. He sticks his cold, snotty wet nose on my face and bashes his tail against the radiator like a gong.
My first words of every day used to be “Good morning, darling.” Now it’s “Feck off, dog! It’s fecking 6 o’clock!”. It’s no way to start the day. Of course then I’m wide awake so I lie there fuming for a while telling my eyeballs not to tell my bladder I need a wee and then I end up getting up.
With the amount of sleep deprivation I have at the moment it’s amazing I’m not walking round every day tearing the heads of people and breathing fire. These seizures have got a lot to answer for. Tell me again why I wanted a dog.
The complaints department took a call the other day. “Your blog is making me really sad lately. Can’t you do a happy post like you used to?” Ummm……no. Nothing cheery here. Move on along now.
My sense of humour, fun, tolerance and any kind of joie de vivre seems to have fooked right off.
On the bright side – when the going gets tough, the tough start decorating. My living room and bathroom now have lovely new wallpaper so I suppose every cloud has a silver lining. So, what’s this other news then? Well, this happened weeks ago, actually but I haven’t had the metal strength to be bothered to tell you about it. It’s a funny thing, mental strength. You wouldn’t think you’d need it just to speak but you really do – as I’ve discovered. I can be sitting in the car with Boofuls and suddenly think, ‘Oh. I didn’t tell Boofuls that’ but it just takes too much effort to drag the words from my brain and out of my mouth so I don’t bother. So instead I’ll sit there quietly while a million thoughts whizz round in my brain trying to get out.
What? Oh yeah, what happened weeks ago….sorry, I got distracted.
Batty got a guide dog! Among one of the youngest to get one in this country, it has given her a new independence. Now she can get herself to and from school etc. What a shame the dickheads at school have decided to bully her because they can’t treat the dog like a pet and play with it. They don’t seem to understand it’s a working dog.
On the subject of dogs. Douggie the doggie has been to see the vet after his major trauma in Wales. The vet has decided to put him onto phenobarbital, a drug I’ve been trying to avoid because of the long term health implications of it. I hate what it’s doing to him. The light has gone out of his eyes and he’s turned into an anxious, whiny, listless dog with flashes of madness and manic behaviour in between. He’s spent most of this week actually sitting on my knee and at 5 stone that’s not the most comfortable thing. If he’s not on my knee then he’s trying to get on it. Poor little sod has no idea what’s going on, he just knows he feels terrible. I hope it’s true what they say and that these side effects will only last for a few weeks because it’s heartbreaking to watch him.
Right. I’ve spent the last ten minutes starting at my screen and wondering what else is new this week. Nothing at all you’d want to hear about, it’s been traumas and dramas all the way so I’ll go now and take the dog out.
Here are a few photos from our ill fated trip to wales last weekend.
At a cost of over £300 by the time we’d totted up the hotel including the extra night we didn’t stay for, the petrol, competition fees for the competition we ended up not competing in, et. etc. these are working out at some damned expensive phone photos. Enjoy.