Saturday, 21 October 2017

Finding my voice

Now it probably won't surprise you to learn that I've always been a dog with a lot to say for myself; what can I tell you I'm a vocal fur! There's always so much to comment on: people coming to the house or even just walking past (how dare they!), horses, other dogs (it'd be rude not to), birds flying over, squirrels, rabbits and then, occasionally, just barking for the sheer joy of sharing my voice with the world. It's something 'Them Indoors' can take exception to as my bark belies my size and can be surprisingly sharp when they're not expecting it. I don't know what they grumble about, they've both got robust hearts, as far as we know anyway....

And it's not like 'Them Indoors' are the strong, silent types themselves. 'Him Indoors' would deny it, but he likes a bit of a chat. Get him on the phone and he's there for the duration. He also talks to me although it has to be said that not all of that content is sharable and there's a fair amount of practising of alternative names. 'Her Indoors' chats to her family, her friends, visitors to the house, and of course, to me. She keeps up a little running commentary when we're doing things together, including when we're out for our walks, which has led to her getting funny looks from ignorant pedestrians. 'Her Indoors' takes comfort from her well-worn mantra that talking to your dog is not a sign of madness unless they start talking back. I can't think what she means....

Last week, me and 'Her Indoors' had a joint talking appointment at our local radio station, Uckfield FM, discussing my latest book, 'Sit, Stay, Roll Over'. I allowed 'Her Indoors' to do a bit of chatting to Tony the presenter, after all, what do you have staff for, and I did the backing soundtrack with some panting and moving about. If you haven't already heard it, you're missing a treat, take a listen.....

My radio interview

'Her Indoors' paid a price for such loquaciousness, she lost her voice later in the week and could only croak. This had it's advantages as she couldn't tell me off. She tried shouting in a whisper, but as I've got a bit of senior deafness I couldn't possibly hear her. Still, it didn't last for long and after a couple of days, it's come back and we're back to regular. I can't say I'm sorry. I missed our little chats and the occasional endearment that she sends my way when I'm looking all cute and innocent, curled up in my basket. Us dog's may not talk in the conventional fashion, but we're certainly big on communication in our own, inimitable way...

Professional communicators!

Just contributing a suitable backing soundtrack


 



Monday, 11 September 2017

Bordercamp, book launch and bunking off!

Well it's been quite a weekend! I've been at Bordercamp South, Mersea Island, Essex, launching my new book, 'Sit, Stay, Roll Over'. We arrived on Thursday with our caravan, only for 'Them Indoors' to discover that they'd forgotten to pack my dog-tether stake - their memories are not what they were, at their age, bless them. Anyway, they seemed to think that if they hooked my extendable lead over an awning peg that would suffice. Honestly, you'd think they'd know better. I'd escaped twice whilst they put the awning up! Anyway, 'Her Indoors' reckoned that if she pegged down the awning really well and blocked any obvious gaps, I would have a secure area of my own. That lasted for all of twenty four hours before I squeezed through a gap in the corner, whilst 'Her Indoors' was doing the washing up and had taken her eyes off me for two minutes. When she came into the awning I was gone. She went outside to look for me but could see no sign and started to panic. After all, I'm a senior fur with dodgy hearing a long way from home. Just as she was beginning to imagine the Facebook postings and tearful 'phone calls, I was brought back by a nice lady on a borrowed lead. I'd got bored so had gone to investigate another caravan to see if it was any better than my own. 'Her Indoors' was not happy and her mood was not improved by the fact that as soon as I was put back in the awning I promptly went to escape again and had to be hauled back. My ears were wilting and my lead was firmly pegged down again. This, however, gave me the added fun of tangling it repeatedly around the awning contents and then sitting looking forlorn until 'Her Indoors' came to rescue me. It's just as well I've got a zip up soft crate so at least we could both get some uninterrupted rest.

The following day I was in the marque, selling my book, but I found I could apply the same principle as the awning escapes and I squeezed through the corner twice, dragging my extendable lead behind me, until they tied me down with such a complex arrangement of knots and winding that even I was flummoxed. I don't know why 'Her Indoors' was so upset. 'Him Indoors' escaped for a whole day on Friday to a history event and I notice he didn't get into trouble and tied to an awning peg.

Anyway, the day was a great success. Not only did I sell some books but 'Her Indoors' entered me in the 'Best Veteran' class. As there was a lot of competition and I was the oldest dog there, we didn't really think I had much of a chance but it's all good fun. I greeted my adoring public through the holes in the orange plastic fence around the ring, tried to snaffle treats off all and sundry, and 'Her Indoors' had a nice chat with the other owners whilst we were waiting for my individual scrutiny. Then the judge had a good look, up close and personal, which I enjoyed. I like any attention, it's all grist to the mill as far as I'm concerned. Then we did our trotting. 'Her Indoors' was a bit stiff after all that chasing around after me the day before, but I made up for it by moving well and playing up to the crowd; I love an audience. When we were lined up and the judge was taking a final look, I gave her my most appealing eyes and it worked; I won. I got a rosette and a trophy, plus more importantly, a big bag of treats. I also got an award for 'oldest dog in the show' with a repeat haul of goodies, and another rosette and goodie bag for best veteran in the 'Best in Show' class at the end; clear the shelves and make way for my silverware! I only wish I had been young enough for Terrier racing too...In addition, I was made a fuss of by lots of people, including some juniors who yelled support for me, and given so many treats that 'Her Indoors' didn't give me my tea until eight o'clock that night as she didn't want me being ill - as if!

So I'd like to bark a big thank you to John Lawrence and the team from Essex Borders for a great event and providing a fitting place to launch my new book. I'd also like to thank everyone who bought a copy and if you haven't got one yet, what are you waiting for? There's signed and paw-printed copies on 'Her Indoors' website, just click on the picture of my book to the right of my blog, or there are regular copies for sale on Amazon. I'd also like to thank the judge for making a senior fur happy, and for buying my books afterwards too. She is clearly a lady of discernment and good taste. And if any fur wants some advice on escaping, just get in touch, I'm a bit of an expert, what can I tell you!
My new book!

I've told 'Her Indoors' about fraternising with strange men....

Enjoying a nice squeeze - what male wouldn't!

A distinguished line up

To the victor the spoils....

Just a few of my adoring public!

'Her Indoors' keeping a firm grip!

 

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Senior Snootering

It has come to my attention that some of my pals on Twitter, whilst not as senior as myself, are definitely heading in that direction, so I thought it might be helpful to share the art of having a senior snooter or pootle, rather than a walk.
     For a start, unlike a walk, a senior snooter is definitely optional. If the weather is poor or you just don't feel like it, refuse point blank to go. There's not really much they can do about this. They could carry you, but as exercise is one of the reasons for going, it seems a bit counter-productive although it might save them a trip to the gym. Equally, it's up to you to determine the direction, pace and duration of the walk. I wear a harness for attaching my lead so I can throw my whole weight into influencing these things. I also suggest you master the brace position if they try to make you go faster or further than you want to, combined with a balefull stare, that should sort it.
     Once you are out on your senior pootle, you need to stop and sniff every scent in great detail. Don't be hurried by an impatient walker and whatever you do, don't miss one. Amble along, lingering at particularly interesting scents and retracting your steps if you want another go. 
     If you meet another dog, your greeting will depend on their disposition and age. If they are fellow seniors like my pals Chubby, Trigger and Milo, stop and exchange senior stiff-legged sniffing. If they are a youngster, make it clear that you don't want to play rowdy games of rough and tumble and chasing around. I do a good line in dodging young dogs, but if they persisit, give them a verbal rebuke. You need to put the young upstarts in their place.
    If anything new has appeared overnight, investigate it thoroughly and make sure you wee on it. And talking of wees, for us dogs, cocking your leg is all well and good, but if it's windy or your arthiritis is playing up, feel free to keep all four paws safely on the ground. You don't want to risk the indignity of falling over. 
     There are some places that are particularly good for sniffing and weeing; the corner of the village hall is one of them. All of the local dogs leave a message there and I need to find out what the gossip is. Us village dogs are partiuclarly blessed in having twenty four little posts that seperate the car park from the playing field, to stop youngsters who, for some strange reason, think it's good fun to drive on the playing field and churn it up. Anyway, they make ideal sniffing and weeing posts, although 'Her Indoors' patience doesn't stretch to all twenty-four and I have to limit myself to a chosen few each time. I also like to see if I can get my retractable lead wrapped around a post or railing. I'm the only dog 'Her Indoors' has met who can unwind himself, but I sometimes just stand their looking miserable, waiting for 'Her Indoors' to do the job for me. It is important, as your owner ages, to keep them mentally stimulated so don't be too keen to rush and help them out every time.
     And finally, you need to make sure that when you pooh, you do it at the furthest most point from the pooh bin and that you ideally do it in installments. Pooh, wait for them to pick it up and knot the bag, then walk a few steps and pooh again. It gives them plenty of practise in the clearing up department.
      As some of you will know, I've been working on my new book, 'Sit, Stay, Roll Over' which is out on 9th September. It's a training manual for dogs to help them train their humans, so if you want some more help of this nature, pre-order it now, from 'Her Indoors', website www.helenstockton.co.uk/store, and we'll sign and paw-print it for you. A life time of experience for only £7.99. What can I tell you I'm a generour fur!

Don't miss a sniff, whatever you do!

Try and get yourself wrapped around a post

If something appears overnight, give it a good sniff then wee on it!

The only correct way to deal with a post!


Lots more good advice in my new book



Friday, 4 August 2017

Holiday hilarity

I've just been away for my holidays, whilst 'Them Indoors' disappeared off to Bristol in the caravan. 'Her Indoors' was at a conference for a couple of days and, for some strange reason, didn't think it was a good idea to take me along. I bet I would have livened up the workshop she was delivering, and attracted more people, she only had to ask.

Anyway, the latest caring arrangements worked well and I'm back all chilled and in fine fettle. I've been through rather a lot of different care arrangements. I used to stay in a local kennels until a few years ago, but I kept coming back with an upset stomach so 'Her Indoors' put a stop to that. Then I stayed with a nice lady Ros and her family. She had three dogs of her own, that I approved of, but used to have other dogs staying too who I occasionally disliked, so Ros tactfully suggested I might be happier staying as an 'only dog'. I then went to a nice man in Uckfield, and got on well. He seemed happy enough with me too, but when 'Her Indoors' tried to get in touch with him for another booking, he didn't answer her numerous phone calls, text messages or e-mails, which left 'Her Indoors' wondering what I'd been up to. She's got a nasty suspicious mind, that's all I'm going to say on the subject.

Anyway, she found Shirley and Paul via Holidays 4 Dogs, Sussex. We went over to pay a little visit so I could give my approval before committing to staying there. 'Her Indoors' gets a bit tense on those occasions, a bit like at the Vet's. I can't think why. I investigated the kitchen, showing a bit too much interest in the fridge. I then went to explore the garden and did a big pooh on the patio so that 'Her Indoors' could demonstrate the bagging technique to Shirley. 'Her Indoors', having told Shirley I didn't go upstairs, had to go and retrieve me from the bedrooms, twice. I also investigated the fish tank and fish food, plus discovered that I could squeeze into the magazine compartment under the coffee table. There was also an interesting shoe rack in the hall to explore. 'Her Indoors' kept telling me off, but I've found the best tactic is to desist when scolded, but recommence two minutes later as soon as she's distracted and then repeat, indefinitely.

'Her Indoors' was a bit concerned about my stay. She was sure I'd be well looked after but, with a frankly worrying sense of priorities, was worried about Shirley and Paul. Anyway, they sent her a couple of little photos whilst she was away, to reassure her that they were ok. I had a great time. Paul has just had a knee replacement which made him the ideal walking companion for a senior dog. When Shirley and 'Her Indoors' were having a little chat over a cup of tea after she came to pick me up, Shirley gave the immortal judgement that I'm a 'little monkey' citing me grinding to a halt on my walk and only finding my forward gear when the treats were provided. I also refused to go out into the garden at night! 'Her Indoors' did a bit of unfeminine snorting and taught Shirley a few of my alternative names, which was quite frankly beneath her. She should only use that kind of language at home!

Still, 'Her Indoors' holiday photos shows that I was on her mind, although I'm not sure the photo of the dog cemetery in Bristol was very encouraging. Apparently, it was the name 'Nookie', that prompted the photo. 'Her Indoors' was intrigued to know how that worked, when shouted across a field. They might have got more than just the dog being recalled. 'Him Indoors' was concerned that she might be getting ideas about having a headstone for me, when the sad day finally arrives, and pointed out it would involve an eternity of strimming round it, but I personally feel that's the very least he could do.

Anyway, on a happier note, 'Her Indoors' saw a very up-market dog drinking bowl outside a cafe. They obviously take their canine pals very seriously in Bristol. Maybe I'll pay a visit one day myself, or perhaps I'll just lounge around, being spoilt, by Shirley and Paul, if they'll have me back of course!


Taking it easy.....

Nice of them to put my cushion on the garden bench

Interesting name for a dog.....

Now that's what I call a dog drinking bowl!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Bookish Border


Now as many of you know, I'm a literary fur. I have had this blog for many years and I've got my own monthly magazine column for a local free magazine, Magnet, as well as my first book, The Last Rolo. Recently, when 'Her Indoors' was womaning a stall at a local fun day, a lady came up and greeted 'Her Indoors' with great enthusiasm as she reads my column every month. However, when 'Her Indoors' suggested she buy my book, she looked slightly affronted and pointed out that she can read me for free in Magnet magazine. My book is only £6.99, but perhaps she really couldn't afford it.....

Anyway, I've been busy working on the next book, Sit, Stay, Roll Over, and I've just finished the second draft. For those of you unfamiliar with the publishing process, I have a chapter by chapter breakdown, and a rough word target. This is divided into a schedule of so many words per week, and my paws have to move pretty quickly to meet that I can tell you. There is always a bit of dithering about the best stories to include out of the many little adventures that seem, for some inexplicable reason, to come my way. There are some difficult editorial decisions about whether any of my mishaps might offend or upset anyone. For example, if you are a bunny lover, you might want to steer clear...

Whilst all this is going on, we're in touch with my illustrator, Sally G Greenfield, so that she can be working on the pictures. We're having one for each chapter this time around as we thought they were so good last time. She's already done the cover and I'm very excited about it.

When the first draft was finished, 'Her Indoors' decided to take a photo of me at the computer, to celebrate. Unfortunately she's quite slow in the photographic department so I decided to make my own fun and nipped up onto the desk with a speed and nimbleness that is frankly impressive in a dog of my senior years. Anyway, I had a good root around in her 'in tray' - there's stuff she should have sorted months ago - and a check of the stationary supplies, before I was whisked off the desk and unceremoniously dumped back in the kitchen. Charming, doesn't she know I'm an artist?

We've been working on the second draft which involves compiling the various chapters into a whole book and checking for any repetitions or obvious errors. Proof-reading a book yourself means about ten different proof-reads to pick up mistakes. I also like to check the quality and make sure I've kept it interesting right the way through.

'Him Indoors' is doing the formatting this time, and the cover, then we'll be haggling with printers and getting the cheapest price for the best quality. 'Her Indoors' is quite good at that these days. She doesn't stand any nonsense - I've trained her well.

Anyway, it's due out on the 9th September when we're attending a Border Terrier gathering in Essex. It's also 'Them Indoors' wedding anniversary so what nicer way could 'Him Indoors' possibly find of celebrating it. He still hasn't read my last book. He's worried I might have given him a bad press, but as those of you who've read it will know, he barely gets a mention...!

Sit, Stay, Roll Over, is a book for dogs on how to train their humans, and it contains a lifetime of acquired wisdom. There's some advice for every dog, young or old, Border Terrier or those of a different canine disposition and I'm hoping it'll become the 'set text' of the dog world. It's better than all that worthy dog-training nonsense people write anyway. So put the date in your diary and I'll let you know when we're open for pre-orders. I'm getting excited, in a senior kind of way!

My magazine column. Who's that good looking dog...?

Just finishing the first draft

Checking out the 'in tray'


Sunday, 7 May 2017

Tweet-up Meet-up

Today was the big southern BT Posse Tweet-up at Headley Heath in Surrey. Having being deprived of the Clumber Park meet by 'Him Indoors' refusal to get the caravan rolling on a bank holiday weekend, I was excited to be heading to meet my pals so I wined loudly for the first half of the journey in the car, just to share the joy. I'm not sure how many BTs were there but there seemed to be a sea of all different shapes, sizes and ages and there were a few dog walkers doing a double-take when they saw us all. It was a bit like 101 Dalmatians but without the spots. They were a few high-spirited terrier skirmishes, but we're a friendly bunch, what can I tell you.
      I take my duties as a senior mentor to the younger posse members very seriously so I was pleased to make the acquaintance, in the fur rather than virtually, of Bramble Coleman and young Parker from BT HQ. I have a suspicion Sir Clapton has been trying to keep me away from his youngster, I can't think why, but I managed a few words in his shell-like, whilst TT was getting the bacon rolls - it's not just BTs who can be distracted by food.
      And talking of which, thanks to everyone who gave me a treat. I think I had one from pretty much everyone but if I didn't get to you, it wasn't through lack of trying. An honourable mention in dispatches must got to Mabel and Achie's humum, for baking delicious cakes for the hupeeps, and, even more importantly, delicious dog treats for the BTs. I even took some home with me for later - now that's what I call a doggy bag. Mabel is supposed to be on a special diet so she was wearing a 'do not feed me' harness which is a particular kind of torture for a BT. Anyway, Whilst her humum was busy sorting treats for everyone else, she managed to get into a lidded Tupperware box, no mean feet, if you'll excuse the pun, when you've only got paws, and did a bit of help yourself nomming! It does my senior heart good to see such promise in younger BTs.
     Oh and Alfie, if you're reading this, I know I still cut an attractive figure, and you're a nice enough chap too, but I don't love you in that kind of way.......!
Me, Barney and Bramble practising our hungry eyes

Age before beauty young Parker!

Where's the noms?




Sunday, 23 April 2017

Election Reaction

As regular readers of my blog will know, I'm not really a political animal, after all, us dogs are not allowed to vote so why should we care? However, after a period of intense political activity: the Scottish referendum, the General Election, Brexit, the American elections, further debate about another Scottish referendum and yet more Brexit, the announcement of another General Election was met with howls of despair by the majority of sane people in this country. I suspect Brenda from Bristol, who appeared on the BBC news, spoke for many folk:

"Oh you're joking! Not another one! Oh for God's sake, I can't stand this. There's too much politics going on at the moment. Why does she need to do it?"

If you didn't see it, here's the link! Brenda from Bristol!

My view is that us dogs have an important role to play in keeping the nation sane at this critical time. 'Him Indoors' has done too much shouting at the radio already and it disturbs my sleep of a morning, whilst I'm waiting for my breakfast. So we need to set an example and I would like to make the following suggestions:
  • Be completely impartial, snooze through all the speeches regardless
  • If it looks like your family are getting over-wrought, distract them. Try barking at nothing, snoring very loudly, singing with impressive volume and vigour heedless of key, roll on your back and wave your legs in the air, and if all else fails, start retching.
  • Have some fun. A friend of 'Her Indoors', Danielle, who has a strong sense of mischief, waits until her husband is at work and then decks the house and car with stickers and poster from the opposite party to the one he favours. He then comes home to find the wrong allegiance has been broadcast to the world for the day. Apparently, over the years, he has got used to it.
  • Join the 'dogs at polling stations' campaign. This isn't difficult for me as our polling station is at the village hall which is next to the playing fields where I walk every morning. 'Her Indoors' hasn't been asked recently who she has voted for when she casts her vote, but if anyone does she's going to say she voted for me.
Which leads me to my last point, whatever happens nothing much will change. The sun will still rise, taxes will still be collected, the NHS and education will still not have enough money and everyone will continue to moan about the weather. As long as there are still dog biscuits to eat and rabbits to chase, I'll be happy. I'm barking anyway and I suggest people try and aim for the same happy disposition. It's the only way to get through it.