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.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Keeping the Peace

The recent events in London have given me paws for thought. Whilst it's difficult to see any good, from my experience as a senior fur, like bunnies down a bunny hole, you sometimes have to look for it. It's easy to be overwhelmed by events, but if you step back, there was one bad human, but a whole wealth of good hupeeps who came to the rescue. At the forefront were the emergency services. When everyone else is running away, they have to run towards, so they get a big paws up from me.
       I have a particularly soft spot for the Police. I know no-one likes being told what they can and can't do, me included, well, especially me actually..... but we all need to be kept safe, and that, at the end of the day, is what it's all about. I sometimes think I'd have made a good Police Dog. I gather they're more flexible on the height requirements for officers these days and I'm very good at sticking my nose into things. I'm also bold and assertive, so I'd be right in the thick of it if there was any trouble.  I'm not sure about the hat though - what's that all about? - although I already have the reflective jacket, but I'm not very good at following orders. I also suspect that I'm a bit too senior these days, which is a pity.
      However, I do have a few connections. A not very well-kept secret is that 'Her Indoors' used to be a Police Officer, which is why she can only be pushed so far on the naughtiness front. She did it for a few years before she had the juniors, and I'm sure the world is a better place for all those paperboys without lights on their bicycles she told off and the cars on double yellow lines that she moved on. One slightly alarming fact is that, for a little while, she was armed. How that happened is a mystery to me as I've seen her hand/eye co-ordination in action - she throws a ball like a complete girl, what can I tell you, so I suspect the world might actually be a safer place now that her career efforts are restricted to writing and teaching.
      This does mean however, that she has a number of friends with police force connections, although most are retired now. One of 'Junior Him's' school friends is in the Met and 'Her Indoors' thought of his mum on Wednesday. So a big woof of thanks to all our Pals in the Police force, human and canine, and those supporting them, we really are grateful. And if you could just continue to overlook my misdemeanours and not mind if I climb into your Police car for a root around, like I did that time over the playing fields, when you were packing up a speed trap, that would be great!
A very young 'Her Indoors' with a rather famous lady!
I've got the right coat....
I'm not under-age honestly.....


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Mad, bad and dangerous to know....

Surely not.....!
I think it would be fair to say that I'm not a terribly well-behaved dog. It's not that I haven't been trained, it's just that I don't see the point in doing as I'm told unless there is something in it for me. Breaking the rules is far more interesting than obeying them, and after all, even if I upset 'Them Indoors', what's the worst that can happen...?

As a connoisseur and practitioner of naughty behaviour, I think misdemeanours fall into two categories: the major and the minor. The major requires opportunity, quick reactions and a certain fearlessness. I would list activities such as squeezing through a gap in the fence and chasing next doors chickens; squeezing through another gap in a different fence into a different next door garden and eating a dead bunny, then regurgitating it in instalments through the following night; nipping into the shed during a family barbecue and munching my way through half a packet of pelleted chicken manure and then bringing it back up just as the main course was being served; digging up and eating all the pelleted chicken manure when 'Him Indoors' had buried it for the plants, eating daffodil bulbs and re-visiting them mid-car journey; eating a dead mouse in one gulp; digging up the slug traps in the vegetable garden and drinking the value lager; numerous small animal and bird incidents; snake hunting; fridge and bin raiding and food/drink theft, all in this category.

Now the only problem with this type of bad behaviour is that it sometimes risks personal harm. I once got out through the gates and onto the main road, which threatened not only my well-being but that of 'Her Indoors' who was in hot pursuit. She was so stressed that even the motorists sensed it and ground to a halt. Danger averted, I led 'Her Indoors' on a merry dance before she caught me as it seemed a shame not to have a bit of fun when you've got a captive audience. I knew 'Her Indoors' was cross anyway so what did I stand to loose? Still, for the benefit of any juniors reading this, just be careful about putting yourself or your family in any danger, we don't have nine lives, that's cats.....

Then there's the minor misdemeanours; a kind of background level of misbehaviour that keeps 'Them Indoors' on their toes. The other evening was a good case in point. Normally, once the edibles are safely consumed, I join the family in the lounge. In order to do this, I have to go past the dining room and I usually investigate. This involves sticking my nose into everything I can reach, even if I have to jump. I have a good root around in the storage baskets and employ the chew first, think later principle. I also try and get into the study to empty and shred the waste paper basket contents and the cloakroom, to investigate the loo. I like to get upstairs, a dog-free zone, if I possibly can. Now I might be a senior but, given the opportunity, I can run upstairs quicker than you can shout 'naughty dog'. Having finally been confined to the lounge, I conduct a thorough investigation which usually involves squeezing around or under the telephone table and knocking the phone off, trying to climb onto 'Him Indoors' lap and/or the sofa, rooting around in 'Her Indoors' knitting trug which at the moment has some particularly attractive and expensive rare breed wool in it. It smells of sheep, what can I tell you! Anyway, 'Her Indoors' is good at unravelling things. Then there's my party piece, which particularly annoys 'Him Indoors', wiping my eye boggies off on the carpet! When I eventually settle on my beanie bag, I indulge in lots of noisy paw licking and snoring, and when 'Them Indoors' want to go to bed, I refuse point blank to move and have to be enticed outside into the garden for my nightly ablutions, with a treat!  It's quite an impressive catalogue and I repeat it with variations to keep it interesting, every night.

'Him Indoors' reckons I'm the naughtiest dog in the world, and even 'Her Indoors' has nicknamed me 'bad ass Rolo' although I'm not sure my ass is any naughtier than the rest of me unless I'm suffering indiscretions in the emissions department. Still, it stops me from being boring and gives 'Him Indoors' something to moan about now that he's no longer got teenagers. So watch and learn you pupsters out there, there's a proud Border Terrier tradition to uphold. I've spent a life time perfecting the art, so if you need any tips, you know where to come!

P.S In order to offer a token recompense, I'm helping 'Her Indoors' with her crowd funding to raise money for writing for well-being classes at St Peter and St James's Hospice Well-being Centre. So far, I've raised £100 and she's raised, in her own right, well....nothing...! So come on Pals, turn me into St Rolo and dig into your pockets for a worthy cause.

Could I be a 'good boy'?

Sunday, 5 February 2017

New dogs, old dogs

I don't know if spring is coming early but there seem to be a lot of puppies around at the moment. If I wasn't a bit deaf already (pardon, what did you say?) I'd have been deafened by the chorus of 'oooh's and 'ahhhh's, interspersed with 'soooo cuuute' that I get from 'Her Indoors' every time she sees a junior canine. It's quite frankly, embarrassing, at her age, although it has to be said that 'Junior Her' is not much better.

On Twitter, there has been a plethora of puppy photos and videos and even over the playing field I'm not safe. I have a friend, an ageing Labrador called Trigger, whose owner is seriously considering getting a youngster to keep Trigger company in her old age. She was discussing with 'Her Indoors' whether or not this would be a good thing for Trigger, enlivening her twilight years with a youthful presence, helping her find her inner puppy, or a bad thing with the new pup being the focus of everyone's attention and the young upstart plaguing the life out of a senior who just wants to snooze in peace. The final outcome is, as yet, undecided.

If it was down to 'Her Indoors' I would probably have had a little apprentice some time ago, but she has 'Him Indoors' to contend with. He finds it difficult to tolerate one elderly dog let alone an energetic, incontinent pup. Also, 'Her Indoors' feels that I'm now too old to happily tolerate a new addition and I think she might be right. I find very young dogs a bit much even when I'm out on my walks. All that youthful energy jumping up and wanting to play when I just want to sniff the grass, at some length, and read the peemail.

Although I'm pretty lively for a senior, I suspect 'Her Indoors' misses me being young and going for long, bracing, country walks. However, I think she may have found a solution to that. On Twitter, she saw a charity called the Cinnamon Trust who help dog owners who are elderly or ill and cannot walk their dogs.  Apparently there is just such a person near to us, so she's filled in an application form. She had to give more references than she did for a recent DBS check, but if she's approved, she's going to take a couple of dogs out on a regular basis. I've given the plan my blessing, provided she doesn't bring them home with her, which is always a risk. After all, I was young once, and I  take my duties to the next generation very seriously, which is why I offer my services as a senior mentor to the Border Terrier pups on Twitter. I wouldn't want them growing up to be all meek and well-behaved, after all, there's a proud tradition to be maintained.....!

Ooooh soooo cuuuute!

Chosing my family!

Love at first sight!