I’m just back
from a delightful few days staying with some new friends in London while
Himself went off to Berlin. He said it was for work but you know what he’s
like, he probably thought he was joining Smiley’s People for some sort of Cold
War spy-swap shenanigans.
real reason for his journey, it gave me the chance to have a jolly of my own.
New sofa to lie on, new garden to run around in, gourmet meals, and walks in
the park. All very satisfactory, especially Acton Park, which had some enticingly
Of course, as a
Cockapoo (half Spaniel, half Poodle) I love the water, though my hosts seemed
rather surprised that I should make a bee-line for the mud. They were even more
surprised when I shook myself clean right next to them.
Share the joy, I
There are many good
health reasons for a chap to take a mud bath, including: flea control; relief
of arthritic aches and pains; and soothing hot spots and skin irritations.
Fortunately, I don’t suffer from any of these ailments. I have another reason
entirely for rolling around in the mud.
here with news of an exciting game I’ve just invented.
I call it Sticks and Stones and it goes like this.
Obviously, nothing beats the fun of making your human throw a ball over and over again. It must be some deep instinct, a hangover from hunter-gatherer days that triggers the reflex action of throwing a ball as soon as you lay it at their feet. It’s so sweet to see them in the wild behaving naturally, isn’t it?
But, I digress.
Here’s how to
play Sticks and Stones.
Stage One: Assuming
that there’s no ball, look for a good-sized stone when you are out walking with
your human, preferably somewhere it’s safe to let them off the lead. Pick up the
stone and run away with it until you hear a cry of “Oi, mutt (or something similar).
You’ll ruin your teeth with that, give it here and I’ll get you a stick
instead.” Easy peasy.
putty in our paws, aren’t they?
Stage Two: Look
pitiful and reluctantly give up the stone (which would actually ruin your teeth
by the way) but only when Himself has produced a decent stick and thrown it. Insist
on one with a bit of heft, not some ancient twig that will disintegrate in
seconds. Sometimes they try to fool you into giving up the stone without swapping
it for a stick. That’s not a problem as there are always plenty of stones to go
around and you just begin the game again.
Stage Three: And
here’s the twist… when he throws the stick, don’t bring it back. I’ll say that
again. Don’t bring it back. I know. It’s devilish isn’t it? Your human will
probably just stand there not knowing what to do while you find somewhere to
lie down and chew the bejesus out of it. Chances are this will unsettle your
human whose chucking instinct you have just thwarted. Don’t feel bad about this;
it’s good for them to learn new tricks.
Stage Four: At
this point Himself will almost certainly pretend that he didn’t want you to
bring it back to him and that what he really wants is for you to carry it home.
At which point you pretend to lose it in the long grass and he’ll tell you to
find it and you can run round sniffing the ground, pretending you’re as blind
as bat. Of course, you do know where it is, but the object of the game is to
make him look for it himself. There’s hours of fun to be had from watching your
human walk up and down a field cursing until he gives up.
Stage Five: You now have two options, either casually locate the stick and pick it up with a superior air and continue the game as before for a further round or, if you are fairly close to home, you can go for broke and pretend you can’t find it either. That way you arrive home without the stick for an outright win.
endgame requires careful timing otherwise there’s the humiliating prospect of
walking through the gate with the blasted thing clamped between your jaws and
Himself patting you on the head and declaring that you are a ‘good boy.’
playing Himself at Sticks and Stones for
a few weeks now.
Midnight here relaxing after a hard day’s fishing.
week, Himself taught me everything he knows about Carp. It didn’t take long, a)
because I’m a fast learner, and b) it turns out that he doesn’t know that much
about our noble quarry. Not enough to catch them anyway.
went in Rosie the Campervan to a secret location for a couple of days: a farm with
a private lake, not far from the River Severn. It looked promising to me, not
least because the lake was so small that there didn’t seem to be anywhere for
the fish to hide.
It was a team effort. His job was to sit on his bottom by the water all day holding a fishing rod and staring at a tiny float; mine was to dig up tree roots, chew sticks and bark at anything that moved.
I did my job rather well
Himself got off to a decent start by landing a fish (which with typical hyperbole, he called a whopper) at the close of play on the first day. He was so pleased with himself that he insisted on photographing said beast before returning it to the water. I’m surprised he didn’t attempt a selfie although it was wriggling somewhat.
sad to say that things went downhill the next day with only a handful of carp,
whose proportions were so modest that one might more accurately call them bashful.
For some reason, this was deemed to be my fault and I was obliged to spend hours
on end tied to various trees to stop me running around on the bank.
My only consolation is that, as you can see from the following clandestine snap on my spy camera, Himself spent nearly as much time tied to a tree as I did.