Commands

Readers, it’s been ages since my last blog and I do apologise but I have been very busy. Today is a beautiful, warm day and one could even think it is mid summer instead of the end of March – how I would have loved to lie on the garden sofa all day. But no – it is the first day of the school holidays and it was deemed important to go for a Very Long Walk with She’s good friend Madame this morning. Regular Readers will know that walks with Madame involve a fast pace, huge mileage and impressive amount of talking which stops only while coffee is drunk and then resumes. Frankly I was not really up for this long walk but was given no say in the matter.

It didn’t help that Madame and She were trying to ‘find the way’ cross country to a nice pub/coffee shop in a village a few miles away. It goes without saying that a wrong turn was made on the outward trip, which added a good twenty minutes to the whole affair and necessitated crawling under barbed wire in a most undignified way to get back on track. Honestly. To be fair it was a lovely walk, and we saw so much wildlife – pheasants, kites, giant hares the size of dogs and – really this was too exciting – a muntjac deer. Had I been off the lead I would have had that muntjac deer for brunch as I am a Hunting Dog and whilst my track record might not be strong, one day I will surprise everyone. As it was I was on the lead and so the muntjac lived to see another day.

Being dragged through a field full of massive hare ‘forms’ (they don’t burrow, Readers, I have looked this up) and not being allowed to stick my head in the holes was akin to going to Greggs and not having a sausage roll. It was torture. But due to the slight detour off the public footpath, we were now late for meeting a friend at the coffee shop in the village several miles away and so there was no time for me to hunt hares any more than chasing muntjac. Indeed, She and Madame spotted some other walkers who were not consulting Google maps or waving vaguely in different directions to try and work out where we were, so a decision was made to follow the other walkers who were straight-backed, walked with purpose and had no need of mobile phones for directions. They had simply stuck to the public footpath.

This tactic worked and we eventually made it to the coffee shop where I was allowed some water, and then sat nicely in the nearby park while She, Madame and their friend drank copious amounts of coffee. And talked. Well, I sat nicely until a lady appeared nearby with a freshly baked large sausage roll from the coffee shop (I must say they have an excellent pastry chef there), and from then on I whined and barked. Eventually the lady gave in and handed me some sausage from her expensive hand-made artisan sausage roll. This isn’t the first time this has happened recently, Friends – more of that later.

Then we walked back from the coffee shop/pub in the village several miles away (having booked a table outdoors for the minute Lockdown lifts in a couple of weeks), and you won’t be surprised to know that by sticking to the public footpath we got home in under an hour. We also didn’t have to climb over a stile this time, as we happened to notice there was a big gap in the hedge right next to it. You couldn’t make it up.

All in all I was made to walk 10km this morning, Friends, which is a very long way for a dog of my age. I have spent the rest of the day upside down on the garden sofa, exhausted.

Let’s go back to the piece of sausage I was given. At the weekend I went for a sleepover again at my New Buddy’s house and in the morning we went for an essential visit to the town centre to buy – actually I can’t remember what the essential item was this time but never mind. We had a lovely walk round the town centre and She went into Costalotta for refreshments, so my New Buddy and I sat down in the square. What do you know; a man came along with a hot dog that he had just bought for his lunch, and when he saw me eyeing up his hot dog, this very nice member of society walked over and gave me some of the sausage.

It seems I am a very appealing dog and complete strangers love me, unlike my own Pack Leader who is endlessly cross with me.

While I was at my New Buddy’s house at the weekend I went to visit some people who had never met me before, and I was impeccably behaved. I rolled around on my back and waved my paws in the air, and there was no sign of the bad-tempered greedy git I am sometimes accused of being. Readers, I was utterly beguiling. Then New Buddy came to my house for the rest of the weekend and I spent a lot of time gazing adoringly at him. It was a lovely weekend. She still managed to moan at me, of course, though when it was discovered I had dragged a bin liner from the kitchen bin under the dining room table and emptied it all over the carpet. I just gazed at New Buddy and ignored the complaints while my Pack Leader lay under the table clearing it all up. I have been very good on my training regime with New Buddy and follow his commands to the letter, most of the time, so long as he has a treat ready. New Buddy still thinks he is winning on this, and I’m still letting him believe it.

The only other things I have done recently that could possibly be labelled as a tadge cheeky was when I was at dear, dear Ebony’s house for daycare last Friday. I stayed a little later in the afternoon than usual, so Ebony’s Pack Leader – who is very kind – decided to feed me as she was giving dear Ebony and her other dog Pippa their dinners. First of all she tried to put Ebony’s dinner on the floor so I grabbed a mouthful of that, and then she tried to put Pippa’s dinner on the floor so I grabbed a mouthful of that, too. What I didn’t know is that Pippa – I shall call her Older Pippa, so as not to confuse her with my other friend dear, dear Pippa – has medicine in her dinners to help with her arthritis etc, so I probably inadvertently swallowed some painkillers too. This didn’t bother me. Ebony’s Pack Leader was a little aghast at my snatching of dinners that didn’t belong to me and I feel my manners may have let me down a little on this occasion.

Anyway, Readers, enough of me. I hope you are sitting down as I am about to tell you that Young Lad has just completed ten successive days in the school building. Yes indeed, Year 10 have actually been on site for two whole school weeks. This is quite a feat and needed celebrating with a trip to the Co-op for sweets on the way home last week. Poor Young Lad is exhausted as you can imagine, so thank goodness they now have two weeks off for Easter.

Now you, and I, would be expecting Young Lad to have spent the first day of the Easter holidays on the Xbox all day. Imagine everyone’s surprise, then when he announced he was Going Out by mid-morning! Not only that, Friends, but Young Lad has only just returned home nearly seven hours later!!! Young Lad has been down at the river with his friends, and actually IN the river – larking around and doing the things that teenage boys will do. All these hours in the fresh air – I can’t imagine what has come over him. Young Lad has a sunburned neck and rather a lot more freckles than he started off with today but what tremendous fun he has had. And there was no need for She to snap “for heavens’ sake!” at him when it was discovered he had leant out pairs of swim shorts to his friends and they are all now in the kitchen ready for washing.

Readers in my last blog I mentioned the stupid pigeons that keep making love loudly on the garden fence. The other day there was a massive BANG on the French windows, and one of the stupid pigeons had flown straight into it at speed. There on the ground lay the stupid pigeon, with its head all bent round and it looked dead. Hurrah, I thought. At least it would have looked dead if its eyes hadn’t kept blinking. Blow me down with a stupid pigeon’s feather, after an eternity the ridiculous bird staggered to its feet, turned its neck back the right way and flew off. Unbelievable. Of course there is still a huge pigeon-shaped mark on the French windows as She hasn’t bothered to clean it. Standards are as low as ever at my house.

Although, to be fair, there has been some attempt at organisation since She was introduced to Command Strips. For Readers not familiar with these, they are double sided velcro strip things that you can use for fixing a myriad of things to walls – they also come in handy hook forms, all sorts. So now we have lots of Command Strips and hooks all over the shop to hold things up – sadly a schoolboy error was made by She, when these sticky-backed handy hooks were stuck on the kitchen tiles behind the hob. She had this marvellous idea of hanging all the kitchen utensils there, so the kitchen looks a little more Masterchef and a little less Slum. Alas, the steam from anything cooking on the hob does not bode well for sticky backed anything, and so the soup ladle or potato masher fall off with a loud thunk whenever anything is being cooked. Oh dear.

Before I finish tonight, Readers, I must give a shout out to Nana aged 89 who is now Nana aged 90. Last week saw her birthday, and whilst none of us could go to see her because of Lockdown, Lad did manage to get out of bed before late afternoon at university and go to visit. Well done, Lad. Nana aged 90 had a lovely day, considering we are in Lockdown, with lots of phone calls, several visitors on the front steps at different times, and about three hundred bouquets of flowers for which Nana aged 90 doesn’t have enough vases. I am going to visit Nana aged 90 later this week, on Good Friday, as we are allowed out for the first stage of Lockdown Lifting. Nana aged 90 will be very pleased about this as she likes me such a lot. I am hoping to see Lad, too, but Lad is very busy at university and it’s a struggle for him to fit everything in. Snippy comments about going to bed earlier, drinking less alcohol and getting up earlier show a distinct lack of understanding and also memory loss from one’s own time at university.

Friends it is going to be a beautiful warm day again tomorrow – do enjoy our new freedom to meet each other in groups of six outside. Really, make the most of it as wintry showers are forecast for the weekend.

Stay safe, see you soon.

Russell

Ahoy There

Here I am, Readers, doing my best Pirate or Sheik impression on the garden sofa in the sunshine. It was another beautiful day and She had put the cushions and blanket on the sofa so we could all sit down – however I soon kicked the blanket out the way and put muddy paws all over the clean cushions underneath. I preferred the blanket being over my head rather than under my filthy feet, as I made clear. Needless to say there were snorts of laughter when the blanket became stuck at this rather jaunty angle on me, but I just ignored them.

Friends, it has been a trying few weeks. I have occupied myself at times by distributing the recycling round the garden and by adding to the collection of cat bowls that are in the bushes. (There are many, many cat bowls in the flower beds – it’s quite amazing that we had that many in the first place. Gingercat is the only cat, after all.) Since the lawn has had its first cut of the year, the garden is looking slightly better and I find it quite pleasant to sit on the garden sofa and look around my domain. The fly in the ointment to this peaceful scenario, however, is the ridiculous fat pigeon that lands on the fence very heavily and clumsily with a dreadful crashing sound each time, making me jump. It is nigh on impossible to sleep with this stupid bird making a loud entrance every few minutes. I would dearly love to eat the bldy thing.

Talking of pigeons, I presume it is something to do with the time of year but I am rather put out by the amount of amorous activity in my back garden at the moment. The Clueless Collared Doves are forever strutting up and down the fence and leaping on each other – it looks most uncomfortable for the one underneath that is pinned against the wood – and really I feel this is too much. There must be more private places in which they could engage their love-making and I certainly don’t wish to see it every time I pop out for a comfort break. Honestly.

So, back to the trying few weeks. Ever since the incident a few weeks ago where I may have made an error of judgement and bit my Pack Leader when She tried to put my muzzle on me, I have been labelled as a Bad Dog whose Behaviour and Attitude need sorting out. Last week She took me to the Evil Vet for ‘a little chat’ which turned into twenty minutes of telling the Evil Vet that I Can’t Be Trusted and what should we do? The Evil Vet has known me a long time, Readers, and said that I am a complex dog, who tends to overthink things. I know! I was dead chuffed by this! It turns out that the Evil Vet is not so bad after all and knows a thing or two. Then the Evil Vet said she would take me inside and check me over to make sure there was no physiological cause for my bad temper, – Friends, I let her put a muzzle on me without a murmur, and then let her prod me all over without so much as a grumble. This included looking in my ears and Regular Readers know how much I hate that!

I was taken back out to Pack Leader with a smug look on my face, and Pack Leader was told that I had been totally compliant and no problem at all. The Evil Vet suggested there was probably a psychological reason behind my behaviour what with lockdown, life changing and the shifts in my daily universe, so recommended a Dog Behaviourist for advice. Pack Leader is thinking about this and checking whether the Pet Insurance covers it. If it doesn’t, Friends, you and I know quite well that I won’t be going to the Dog Behaviourist.

In the meantime, my New Buddy has been to visit me loads and he has been reading up on Beagles and their issues. Thus I am under some sort of training regime, about which I’m pretty happy as it means I get treats, so long as I let him think he’s winning occasionally. I can do all sorts of things now, Friends! I can sit and wait when food is put on the floor and only grab it when someone says ‘good boy’. Sometimes it takes a few attempts but a little persistence is all that’s needed. At the weekend, I even lay down when told to – we’re still working on this one, together with ‘roll over’ but it’s tremendous fun and does pass the time. AND – you simply won’t believe this one – I am now bringing the tennis ball BACK when someone throws it for me!! I know!! For years I have happily run in the opposite direction and dropped the ball in long grass so that it takes half an hour and a lot of moaning to find it again, but no more!! So long as my New Buddy or Pack Leader have a treat or two, I will willingly gallop towards them with the ball rather than a mile in the wrong direction. I am a New Dog, Friends. How long will it last, I hear you ask.…. I will keep you posted.

Last weekend we had a splendid if rather long walk, which took us first into town to support the local coffee shop industry in these difficult times, and then all the way out to PETSrVETSrTOYSruS or whatever it’s called. I haven’t been in there for a very long time, and although it was quite annoying having to queue outside for ages due to Covid restrictions, I stood nicely waiting my turn. Once inside I was very excited – we wandered through the cat food section first and I was rather taken by some of the packets – but then we ended up in Bones, where my New Buddy bought me a large roasted knuckle bone. She said, rather snippily, that She only ever buys me the mini ones and actually the last one I had was probably a year ago, but She was over-ruled and a Large Roasted Knuckle Bone was all mine.

Back at home I spent the rest of the afternoon chewing/gnawing/grating at the bone. Then I spent the next few evenings making atrocious smells as this is what happens when you take in a lot of air gnawing a bone for hours. It was fun.

I had also been bought some charcoal biscuits at PetsRVetsRToysRus or whatever it’s called, which are meant to help with bad wind. They don’t. My New Buddy also bought me breath freshening chews as he said my breath stinks. This is the sign of a true friend, Readers, and I feel very loved.

In other news, Young Lad has had a terrible shock to the system. Yes indeed, Young Lad has been in school for two whole days! School pupils all over the country returned to school yesterday, and while we remain doubtful that Year 10 will stay in for more than three days, so far so good. Young Lad needed new school trousers as he has grown in the many months since he last wore them, and probably needed a map to find his way round the school site again as it so long since he last had to navigate the Science block and so on.

In an ironic and repetitive twist of bad organisation, Young Lad’s school bag was dusted off on Sunday night, only to find that I had once again chewed through the straps. This has happened on more than one previous occasion, as Regular Readers will know, and it beggars belief that my family still fail to check the state of his bag earlier than the night before school returns. So it was that She had to get the poxy sewing kit out late on Sunday evening and try to sew the bldy straps back on – but Friends I had made such a good job of the chewing that there wasn’t enough material left to sew effectively and although She thought She had done a good job, Young Lad said the bag broke by the end of Tutor Time on the first morning.

Young Lad has now been bought a new school rucksack, which will be the seventy fifth black Nike rucksack he has had in the four years he has been at secondary school.

Friends I hear your concern about Lad – we hear so little of him, I hear you cry. Worry not. Lad has just phoned for a chat (he had been ordered to) and as well as discussing how cheap Aldi steaks are, Lad has given She some important dates for the summer. These include two festivals and a holiday to a Greek island, which I think will be akin to his holidays in Benidorm and Zante over the last couple of years. Lad is under the illusion that Life will be Back To Normal in the summer and such things as sunny holidays with fellow Lads will be possible.

I know, Friends. Words failed my Pack Leader too.

Goodness look at the time – Masterchef is on soon and I do love listening in to all that talk of Hasselback potatoes and chocolate fondant.

Stay safe, Friends, and watch out for those frisky pigeons.

See you soon,
Russell