Birthday Boy

Here I am, Readers, looking very handsome and distinguished this week. The eagle-eyed amongst you might recognise the blanket as it is the one that covers the garden sofa – yes indeed, the weather turned a little more clement recently and Pack Leader put the sofa cushions back on, ready to sit down with a cup of tea and a good book for ten minutes. As She dashed back to the kitchen to fetch her mug, I took over the garden sofa as I felt sure the cushions and blanket had been put on for my benefit. Apparently this wasn’t the case and I was shouted at for putting mud all over the clean blanket and spoiling the first garden sit down of the year.

You can see by my regal expression that I was actually waiting for some sort of table service but of course that never happened.

Friends, it has been a very busy couple of weeks and I am quite worn out by all the goings on. There have been a ridiculous number of walks as the last week has been ‘half term’ and it was felt that stamping through miles of muddy countryside would be a good antidote to the weeks of sitting in front of a laptop day in, day out. I beg to differ on this. Last weekend I was dragged out for walks into town, stopping for coffee of course, and then a ‘scenic’ route back home again to make the walk as long as possible. Now I don’t like to complain, but the scenic route back involved walking uphill a little, and this was hard-going.

Undaunted, the following day She arranged with her good friend Madame to meet for exercise (collecting coffee on the way, naturally) and we set off for another walk. Now Madame is known for her epic walks, and I knew this was likely to be gruelling, but even I wasn’t expecting nigh on 8km through fields, woods and deep mud. Readers, I could barely stagger back up the road. What I find very intriguing is that Madame and She manage to talk incessantly and giggle throughout these fast-paced marches, hardly pausing for breath. It beggars belief.

That was Monday, Friends, and the following morning She decided to look up my paperwork to see how old I was. Call me old-fashioned but wouldn’t a responsible dog owner know how old their pet is? Such is the level of care here. Anyway, you could have knocked me down with a feather as it turned out that Tuesday was in fact my birthday! Yes! What a stroke of luck! Readers, I was nine years old last Tuesday – which in human terms is 63 – and that puts into perspective the 8km hike through the fields the day before. Cruel, heartless and unnecessary. At least you would think it would put things into perspective.

As it happened, I was in for a treat on my birthday – a sleepover at my New Buddy’s house! She didn’t want to take me and grumbled that I would be a pain in the backside, run round looking in all the rooms, keep wanting to go out in the garden and insist on sleeping on the bed with She. It’s good to know your loved ones hold you in such high esteem. Anyway after some persuasion I was allowed to go to New Buddy’s house, taking my bed, clean sheets and towels and food supplies with me. And poo bags.

Friends, I was impeccably behaved. I only sniffed around the kitchen briefly looking for crumbs ( New Buddy had been cleaning so that was disappointing), but other than that I was the Model Guest. I climbed straight onto the sofa allocated to me, put my head awkwardly behind a sheet and went to sleep. I was SO well -behaved. I didn’t even need a comfort break for most of the day – though I did cock my leg against an interesting stick in the garden a few times – but no other motions were needed until the following morning. I did very well.

And as for being a pain at night and wanting to sleep on the bed – well, how wrong can a cynical Pack Leader be. I slept in my bed on the landing all night long without the slightest fuss. The nerve of some people.

I had a simply lovely time at my birthday sleepover, and was treated with far more kindness and respect than I get at home. And far more treats. I would love to go back again at some point as I really did form quite an attachment with the stick in the garden. So much so, that my New Buddy has thoughtfully placed a stick in the middle of my lawn at home here, so that I can cock my leg against it.

We went for a walk on a big field that contains evidence of a Roman settlement – it seems there was once a large amphitheatre and temple where we dared to tread – but frankly this all bored me rigid and I was just glad it was less than 8km all the way round the field. The next day, Friends, as if things couldn’t get any more exciting, I had my first ever ride in a camper van to go for a walk at a nearby coastal area. This was so much fun, and much more up my street as I could lay across the bench/bed thing in the camper van and snooze. Plus the walk took us past a coffee shop that made huge and outstanding sausage rolls, and the smell was divine. Obviously I wasn’t allowed to eat one but a dog can dream.

What a week! Add to that the fact that I have rolled in fox poo, got very muddy AND rolled in something decaying in the garden, so in the space of a week I have had two baths and a shower. I know my dear friend Pippa has rolled in fox poo this week too, and she is a long-haired golden retriever so I’ll let you do the visualising of that, and Loadsakids’ spaniel has also rolled in some fresh stuff, this very morning.

Pack Leader has been cross about all the baths and showering, as there has to be a deep disinfecting clean of the bathroom after each one of these. She says She has better things to do than be endlessly scrubbing with the Viakal, but if I’m honest I don’t know what these better things are.

So that was my week. Young Lad has been on half term so there has been some respite from Year 10 Home Learning (hooray scream millions of anguished parents). Instead, Young Lad has had a nice lie-in each day, wandering around in his pyjamas until lunchtime and doing very little other than going on the Xbox. She did insist he made a proper loaf of bread for GCSE Food Technology, as She felt the naan breads Young Lad had made the previous week were a bit of a cop out and didn’t involve much skill. So poor Young Lad had to come off the Xbox to mix and knead dough by hand – in this day and age, for goodness sake? – as it is Important To Know The Basic Skills. Young Lad found kneading the dough very tiring and there was an argument over whether he had done the full ten minutes of kneading or, in fact, three. Poor Young Lad, too much is expected of him. Anyway, the bread was like a brick and totally solid so really that settled the was it a full ten minutes of kneading? argument. Young Lad has now learned the hard way that no pain, no gain. I don’t think Young Lad cared very much as he was busy downloading a new game on the Xbox.

Young Lad is really looking forward to Year 10 Online Learning starting again on Monday morning – at least I think that’s what Young Lad said.

Lad – and I know some of you have been worrying about him – is back at university so that he can concentrate on his studies and finally get to grips with the crappy campus tumble dryers. It seems that University Laundry Facilities are still not up to Lad’s high standards and he finds this vexing. As the gyms and sporting amenities on site are closed due to coronavirus, Lad has had no choice but to set up all his weights and gym stuff in the shared kitchen area. I should imagine this has made Lad very popular, particularly at meal cooking times. There is no pain like catching your ankle on a large dumbell – other than treading barefoot on Lego.

She moaned at Lad a bit today and said he needs to make more effort to join in the weekly family Zoom quiz (more shouting and swearing last week), but Lad says he is too busy. She snorts derisively at this idea and says she does remember university life and it’s hardly a ten hour day at the office, but Lad is not to be moved on this and says he simply doesn’t have time between studying, sleeping, using the Crap Laundry Facilities, working out in the kitchen and cooking his dinners. Today for example, he was also having to fit in a trip to Aldi! Poor Lad. I miss Lad and feel he is very misunderstood, much like myself.

Well, Friends, Young Lad’s dinner is nearly ready – Young’s Cod in batter and oven chips, haute cuisine as ever in my house – so I will have to finish here. We are, of course, all eagerly waiting the announcement on Monday afternoon from Boris Johnson to see when schools might re-open and then, importantly, hairdressers. She says if Year 10 don’t go back to school on March 8th, things could get ugly round here. There is some doubt as to whether Young Lad’s uniform still fits as it is nearly four months since he last wore it.

Stay safe Readers – enjoy the sun when it comes out, notice the bulbs peeping through and just imagine that life might be a bit more exciting before too long. There’s only so much excitement I can take, frankly.

Golly I’m tired.

See you soon,

Russell

Once Bitten….

Cartoon Illustration of Cute Sad Dog or Puppy

It’s been quite a week, Readers. Various things have happened and they weren’t all my fault. Some of them might have been a brief error of judgement on my part but then don’t we all have those? I will come on to this later.

I was originally going to call this blog entry “Savoy There” due to the amount of fuss that was made when I chewed up a savoy cabbage over the lounge floor. Regular Readers will know that I’ve had trouble with my anal glands lately and I thought some roughage would be a very good idea – in fact I was expecting praise for this healthy and sensible decision. But no. I couldn’t quite consume the whole savoy cabbage – try eating one raw and you’ll see what I mean – so the extra tough bits I had to spit out over the carpet. When She came in from work I was shouted at and told to get in my bed, as I had made such a ‘mess’ – for heaven’s sake it was one small pile of leaves – and it’s not my fault that She had borrowed the Carpet Washer Thing from work the previous weekend and shampooed the carpets. The thing is, Friends, that nobody in my house eats savoy cabbage and it had been purchased on a pure whim, so really I did them a favour by not letting it go to waste. This was totally unappreciated as usual.

Last weekend, Readers, was unusual. I have been dragged for an awful lot of extra walks during Lockdown as you know, including several into town so that we can combine exercise with supporting local takeaway coffee shops. This is important for the economy. Then I am dragged up through the flooded fields as well and it really is too much. Last Sunday we started off on our usual walk into town, which was quite pleasant as it was a beautiful day, stopped for coffee and then a rash decision was made to walk home a ‘more scenic’ way. Two hours later, Friends, I crawled over the doorstep barely able to walk – there hadn’t been a flooded field in sight (I’m now appreciating the soft terrain these provide) and instead the entire two hours had been walked on pavement or paths. No amount of telling me that I’d had a good pedicure and how nice my claws now looked made up for the sheer exhaustion of pounding pavements for so long. Quite how this counted as an essential journey I have no idea, but what I do know is that I slept solidly in my chair all afternoon and hardly even looked up when roast chicken Sunday lunch was served.

And so we come to Tuesday last week. She came in from a long day at work in a foul mood as the car had failed its MOT, whatever that is , and was going to cost a ‘lot of bldy money’ to put right. The garage had given She a courtesy car so that She didn’t have to spend the night at work, but the way things turned out She might wish that She had. Anyway, the courtesy car was a ‘bldy nightmare’ to drive as first gear was nowhere to be found or some such drama, and the mood was tense. Add to this the fact that the washing machine has started leaking due to the seal coming off the metal circle (I suspect this has been caused by Lad’s huge designer trainers going round on spin cycle ) and you can see how things were. Regular Readers will know the never-ending trauma of White Goods malfunctioning in this house.

So the evening didn’t start well. Things did cheer up considerably thanks to dinner and my New Buddy coming to visit, but then events took a Serious Turn For The Worse. My ears have been sore and itchy again lately, as I have yet another ear infection – it’s either that or my backside every week, they take it in turns – and I sat on the sofa clawing at them violently. She found this irritating as it interfered with peaceful TV watching after a VERY vexing day, but thankfully my New Buddy is far more sympathetic and said ‘poor Russell.

Now, Readers, you know that I simply will not tolerate anyone putting drops in my ears, eyes or anywhere else. Having learned from experience, She gave my ears a half-hearted wipe with the ear drops on a cotton pad, but this is simply not sufficient to reach a deep-rooted infection. And so She made an ill-judged move to fetch my muzzle and force it over my head. Look, my ears were hurting. She gave me a chewy treat to try and placate me first, which simply over-excited me. Then a Hannibal Lecter type huge black rubber muzzle was dragged over my face and poked me in the eye. I did what any self-respecting dog would have done, Readers – I made my feelings clear. With my teeth.

It was a very short snap and I didn’t hang on or anything, but I managed to sink my teeth in very deeply to a fleshy part of She’s hand. I knew immediately that I had done a bad thing and ran to my armchair where I looked ashamed of myself for the next two days. But dear Lord, Readers, the drama that ensued.

You know how we do like a medical crisis in my house. Well, blood poured from the puncture wounds (all over the lounge carpet which as we all know has been recently shampooed) and She made a dash for the kitchen sink to bleed into. Once there shock took over and without being ably propped up by my New Buddy, She would have ended up on the kitchen floor which was as filthy as ever and not a good surface for Open Wounds. Readers, I stayed in my chair and listened to all the fussing and snivelling; thank God for my New Buddy who stays calm in a crisis and is also an excellent first aider – really my New Buddy is a dab hand with a steri strip or ten – and to be fair I think that being bitten by me has highlighted the fact that we don’t have a first aid kit in this house. What sort of parenting is that?

In all honesty, once the bleeding had stopped I think the crying could have ceased as well but no, that kept up all evening. She and my New Buddy gave me lots of very stern looks and nobody spoke to me for the rest of the evening – neither was I allowed to sleep on She’s bed for the next two nights. I was relegated to Young Lad’s room.

It’s not easy for me to admit any imperfections in my nature or behaviour, but I will hold my paws up to this one. It was a nasty bite and my Pack Leader didn’t really deserve it as She was trying to help me.

Obviously now there have been several days of milking this injury for all it’s worth and needing lots of ‘help’ with things. I am hoping that She and my New Buddy will have forgiven me before too long as I can’t really remember what I did wrong now. There is some talk of ‘training’ but I will ignore this.

Young Lad had Food Tech last week Readers, but of course he is doing Home Learning due to Lockdown so the Food Tech Practical had to be done at home again. Imagine She’s joy when it turned out to be home-made pasta. Thus it was that after a long day at work, eggs and special expensive flour were beaten together and rolled out as thinly as possible to make tagliatelle. In fact they weren’t rolled out anywhere near thinly enough and ended up slow-worm thickness rather than ribbons. It wasn’t the best in all honesty.

Lad continues to study hard and send irrelevant text messages to She at work. This is rather endearing I would think. There is now the excitement of a family quiz over Zoom once a week which involves quite a lot of shrieking and arguing over whether fig rolls count as biscuits. Don’t ask.

There is also now the bi-weekly entertainment of She taking a Covid test at home – Young Lad and I are a little fed up with all the gagging noises and retching and are wondering if swabbing can be done with less exhibitionism.

Friends, snow is forecast for tomorrow. A lot. This will give us all something to talk about other than coronavirus and Lockdown and should cheer everyone up immensely.

Take care, Friends,

Russell