Let me make it quite clear that I wasn’t best pleased when Himself took this picture of me in the bath. I don’t mind bath time at all and happily jump in when I’m muddy for a warm shower and shampoo, but as you can probably see I’m actually quite clean.
Let me explain.
Storms Ciara and Dennis have been chucking it down for days, seriously reducing the opportunity for decent walks. This afternoon, I was so bored that I joined Himself on the bed for a snooze, only to be woken up by strange noises in the sky. Himself said they were thunder and nothing to be worried about, but what does he know? It could just as well have been the four horsemen of the apocalypse warming up for Armageddon.
As a precautionary measure I abandoned the bed in favour of the bathroom. If the End of Days was coming, it seemed very sensible to surround myself with the protection of enamelled cast iron rather than a flimsy woollen blanket. Having shown the way, I waited for Himself to join me behind the shower curtain. Instead of which he almost fell over laughing.
‘When the going gets tough,’ he chortled. ‘The tough hide in the bathtub.’
When Himself said he was going on a Freefall Course and that I could come with him, I imagined high jinks at 15,000 feet – like Henry the paragliding Cockapoo in this picture.
Imagine my disappointment when we got to Hawkwood College and I was made to lie silently in front of the fire while a dozen people sat around listening to stories. It turns out that it was a Freefall Writing Course and that the only thing being done without a parachute was putting one word after another. I should have known better than to imagine Himself would ever jump out of an airplane. He seemed to be enjoying himself though. I think he must have a very low excitement threshold.
He asked me on the way home if I recognised his writing when it was read out. Naturally, I wagged affirmatively and gave his chops an encouraging lick even though it all sounds the same to me. Humans respond well to praise and learn new tricks more quickly through positive reinforcement, as the writing teacher herself clearly understood.
Once I realised that my dreams of skydiving were not going to be realised, I decided to enjoy the fire and to make the most of all the cuddling that was on offer. One day though, I shall pull on a parachute harness and plunge joyfully through the wide blue yonder. Until then, greetings from us all on the Freefall Writing Course in the Old Library at Hawkwood.
Try not to overdose on adrenalin as you look at the picture.
Captain Midnight here with greetings for the Birthday Boy.
When Himself says ‘Sit’ I usually give the matter some thought and then, like any self-respecting canine, I make up my own mind. It’s great fun: He stands there, arms crossed, while I decide what I’m going to do, then he shouts a bit and goes red in the face when I slope off into the garden.
Occasionally I do go along with what he likes to call the Voice of Command, just to see the look of surprise on his face. I can generally wheedle a treat out of him when I do this. If I had opposable thumbs, I could open the packet myself and then there’d be no need to feign obedience.
Last week Himself had a ‘big’ birthday so I agreed to sit properly for my portrait to be painted. It was a present from his daughter and it was a secret until the very last moment. He laughed when he unwrapped it, so I gave him a stern look. He apologised and told me he’d been thinking about something else that had tickled his funny bone.
I said that neither of us was getting any younger and that he should be happy to be having a birthday at all. He rather took the wind out of my sails when he replied that he was looking forward to us growing old together, so I jumped on his lap and gave both his ears a birthday lick.
Anyway, this fine portrait of me in dress uniform now occupies pride of place in his study. I’m hoping he’ll eventually bequeath it to my old regiment –The Royal Bark-Shires – so they can hang it in the Officer’s Mess alongside the pictures of my old mates Fearless Freddie Foxhound and Brigadier Bertie (The Bonecruncher) Basset.
Himself is not much of a photographer, is he? I told him to bring the Leica and set it to ISO 200, aperture f/5.6 and shutter speed 1/125sec. But no, he just bangs away with the old iPhone and hopes for the best. No matter, it’s the walk that counts and this is one of my favourites. This time of year, we head off most days at dusk in our reflective jackets, for about an hour’s run in the fields behind Kingscote Church. Just to be clear, I run and Himself plods along behind. It was full moon tonight…
That’s my werewolf impression. Not bad, eh?
the life out of Himself when I crept up behind him and let rip!
Quite often, the foxes leave the remains of pheasants lying around. I don’t like foxes much but I am fond of their leftovers. Crunchy. Chewy. Gamey verging on rancid. Perfect gourmet meal for a canny canine. No such luck tonight, so I had to make do with a stick, as you can see.
here, back in the land of the living.
Not to put too
fine a point on it, I’ve had a bout of the collywobbles. Himself noticed that I
was off my food last weekend and when we took our evening constitutional on
Saturday evening, things took a turn for the worse…
…at both ends.
We had an
emergency visit to the Vet on Sunday afternoon but I couldn’t keep the medicine
down. The next day I was all floppy so Himself took me back and they decided to
keep me in hospital for 24 hours and put me on a drip because I was dehydrated.
If you look carefully at the picture, you’ll see where they shaved my foreleg
to stick the needle in.
I’ve lost a bit
of weight but I’m feeling much better now, although my tummy is still a bit
delicate. I don’t recommend gastro-enteritis to anyone, human or canine.
That said, the
past week has not been entirely without benefits: a staple diet of hand-carved
organic turkey breast from Waitrose; gentle walks twice a day; and much
cuddling on the sofa in front of the fire. Himself said he loved me and he didn’t
know what he’d do without me, so I’d better not get ill again.
He even seemed
pleased when I got up and barked at the postman.
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.