Archive for June, 2010

Poorly ‘bard’ Bear

Little Bear is ‘bard’.  If you’re not Welsh I’ve probably lost you already so let me explain quick sharp.  ‘Bard’ is the pigeon English or Wenglish word for ill.  If you’re under 5, a cut, scrape or bruise can also be a ‘bardy’ but if you’re any older you’ll just sound weird.

Anyway, back to Little Bear.  After a few days of him sounding like he’s trying to clear some fluff out of his throat, Other Half very helpfully popped him to the vet this afternoon for the once over as I needed to be in London.  LB half strangled himself on Wednesday trying to chase a cat while out on our walk so I was harbouring awful thoughts that by walking him on his collar instead of searching properly for his Halti I’d somehow been complicit in damaging his throat.

He’s been absolutely fine in himself apart from the very occasional throat clearing so I was amazed when Other Half called later this afternoon to say he’d been diagnosed with kennel cough!

I was amazed!  He’s not coughed at all save for the throaty noise.  He’s now got antibiotics and some gloopy looking liquid to take for a week.  And the worst part is that he has to avoid other dogs for at least another week for fear of passing it on.  On top of that he had to have his glands done while he was there which for obvious reasons never goes down too well with him.  Other Half said he plonked his bum on the kitchen tiles when he got home. 

Poked, prodded, squeezed  – Poor Little Bear.  I bet he’s thinking ‘If this is what I have to go through to get a teddy and a squeaky sheep’ you can keep your flamin’ birthdays!

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Birthday Bear…

Little Bear will be 3 tomorrow.  I can barely believe it. He’s grown so quickly and yet in other ways I can’t visualise my life before twice daily walks, training sessions, a house strewn with chew toys and a permanently dead leg of an evening courtesy of the Schnauzer lap warmer.   

So here comes the confession – he’s getting a new teddy, a squeaky ball-shaped like a sheep and a crocodile chewy for his birthday. 

Oh, and he’s having a party next weekend to which all his best doggie pals have been invited….

On hearing this, one of my non-doggie friends looked at me as if I’d just told her I was taking an elephant sky diving.  I can well imagine the conversation she had with her husband later that evening  and I’m sure the word ‘sad’ came up more than once.  I’d put money on some derivative of ‘mental’, ‘bonkers’, ‘delusional’ or ‘disturbed’ too.

But do I care?  Hell no.  I seriously don’t give a monkeys.  I have animals because I love them and what better, more human way is there to express love than to mark occasions like birthdays with presents and socialising?  Plus, selfishly, I get to see LB happy and when the party rolls round I’ll get to see my friends to boot. 

So I’ll take great pleasure in packing his pressies in the birthday box (an empty, selotape and stable free cardboard box he’ll have great fun ripping up once the presents have been retrieved)  and stuffing doggie party bags next week – as the old adage says, the fun is most definitely in the giving.

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You know you’re getting on a bit when you can get excited about something advertised on the Parish notice board. Our village, being more the ‘nice estate for commuters’ than the duck pond & pub variety really lacks a sense of community which may explain why the village fete is such an occsassion.

The local cricket pitch becomes a mass of people, kids and of course, dogs. There’s the obligatory ferret racing, a brass band and enough cake stalls to give Mr Kipling a run for his money.  Add in a Pimms bar and a beer tent and it all makes for a very pleasant afternoon.  That is of course, unless your dog happens to be the only one barking at everyone who moves in between bouts of pathetic quivering.

Oh yes, Little Bear HATES the village fete.

We have various theories about why this might be the case. The first year he went he rather enjoyed himself. The chap running the hog roast took a shine to him and gave him a nice bit of pork which went down without touching the sides, he met lots of nice dogs and being a very cute pup got cuddles from complete strangers.

But last year was a different story.  Maybe it was the man who rattled the collection bucket a little too loudly as we passed; or the screaming trio of small children playing aeroplanes who came out of nowhere and gave him start, but whatever it was, our little lad was a nervous wreck two minutes after arriving. 

Of course, being a Schnauzer his reaction is to bark.  Thus the peace and tranquility of the fete was soon shattered by our overly vocal little fluff bucket.  In between bouts of barking came the quivering.  I tried to ignore it and jolly him along but it broke my heart.  Distraction and bribery went to hell in the same handbasket as my nerves and we beat a hasty retreat.

Glutton for punishment

Last year’s nightmare aside, I still love the fete.  Maybe it’s the result of watching too many episodes of Midsomer Murders but missing the fete simply isn’t an option. I toyed with the idea of leaving LB at home, but somehow it just didn’t feel right to give up after one bad experience so off we all trotted, my pockets stuffed with treats and squeaky things just in case.  

The first hurdle, man with collection bucket was a breeze. LB was busy sniffing and barely noticed him.  Ha!  This was going to be a breeze I thought smugly.

But then, suddenly realising where he was – he stopped dead in his tracks.  His tail sank and his rear end melted towards the ground – a prelude to the dreaded quivering.

Trying to see it from his perspective I scanned the sea of people stretching out across the field. Banners and flags waved and flapped in the breeze; music blared from a tinny tannoy system; babies cried and children seemed to be running free like wild things. Poor Little Bear – it was a lot to take in.  Seeing your little lad genuinely frightened is horrible. My instinct of course was to scoop him up and go home, but that wouldn’t help him deal with his anxiety in the long run. 

Helpfully, a particularly pretty Cavalier sauntered past us just as I was preparing to jolly him along.  If we’d been in a Loony Toons cartoon is heart would have been jumping three feet out of his chest and his heart-shaped eyes would have been out on stalks!   His goofy advances which amounted to play bows and bum wiggles at super speed were met with a cool and lady-like dismissal. Undeterred, he strained on the lead to follow her as she sashayed into the distance.

His nerves forgotten, to my delight we managed three laps of the fete with little incident.  He growled at an adorable Tibetan Terrier which earned him a ticking off and squealed after me when I left him with Other Half while I went to see the donkey in the petting zoo, but other than that he was incredibly well-behaved and most importantly, seemed pretty chilled once he’d gotten over his initial fear.   

We spotted the couple with the pretty Cavalier as we headed for home.  They were too far ahead of us to catch them up – shame, as I was half tempted to ask if they’d rent her out by the hour!

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Bogwoppit Bear

When I got Little Bear the breeder warned me ‘Don’t expect him to go out when it’s raining – Schnauzer’s hate getting wet.’  He, like me was born in Wales – a country made so lush and green by the plentiful amount of rain that falls sometimes from what appear to be clear blue skies.  Good job we’re living in the (far drier) South East of England then I thought to myself.

Now I sort of thought she meant that he wouldn’t want to go for a walk in the rain; I had no idea that it might extend to setting a paw outside the door too.  A few weeks later, as the autumn weather started to take hold, I found myself in my PJs on the lawn in the pouring rain holding an umberlla over a defiant Schnauzer puppy who point blank refused to wee until I turned that wet stuff off.  It was apparently all my fault and he was entirely less than impressed.

I almost phoned the vet for fear that his little bladder would burst one particularly wet morning and even toyed with the idea of putting up some sort of canopy for the fussy little toad. 

As the breeder had predicted, getting him to go for a walk in the rain was a futile exercise.  If I opened the front door and he saw that it was raining he’d flatly refuse to put one paw in front of the other.  If it started raining while we were out he’d barge my leg asking to be carried and if I refused, he’d break into a sprint for home.

Not all puddles are born equal

But something strange happened when he was about a year old.  Walking in the woods one day, he found a puddle.

This wasn’t just any puddle.  Not the sort of common old garden puddle you find lurking around the sides of suburban pavements waiting for a toddler in wellies.  No, this was a puddle of distinction. Defined not just by it’s watery contents, but by the thick, black almost gelatinous mud that clung to it’s banks.  It stank too.  Of rotting wood and hummus and who-knows what else. 

Off exploring ahead of us LB stopped dead at the sight of this uber puddle in the distance. Other half made for the lead, but I stopped him, ‘Don’t worry, Schnauzers hate the water.’ I said confidently.

If it had been a film I suppose it would have cut to the slo-mo shot.  My smile slipping into what must have been a mix of horror and disbelief and LB running full pelt into the belly of the beast – then squelching and splashing his way into canine nirvana. 

By the time we’d caught up he was up to his armpits.  His beard and snout were black too, having rapidly discovered that if there’s one thing better than a squeaky tennis ball it’s a squeaky tennis ball that’s been marinated in the smelliest mud you can put your paw on. 

 He looked so utterly happy we didn’t have the heart to spoil his fun.  I called him Bogwoppit Bear after a book I read as a child about a creature who lived in a bog and just like the mud, it stuck.  Two years on and he’s still a complete mud magnet.  No tennis ball is acceptable until it’s had a thorough dunking in a muddy puddle and a walk isn’t complete without at least one foray into the black stuff.

He still hates the rain mind you, but he will at least venture out in it now.  Maybe like gardeners the world over he’s thinking ‘Well at least it good for the puddles.’

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