September 9, 2012

Bullie puppy bullie puppy bullie puppy. And a few bells.


Having a terrifying new nightmare* adventure rolling toward me like Boadicea’s spiked chariot . . . I mean, having the immediate** prospect of a delightful bull terrier puppy is obviously good for me. 

             I rang what passes in my case for not at all badly at the abbey this afternoon.***

             AND I FOUND MY LENS CAP.  It’s been missing for months.  I find it the day after my FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT to see MY puppy†?  This is clearly a sign. 

Melissa Mead

Do the boys get along with puppies in their space? 

I have no idea.  But they’re going to have to learn.  They adore puppies met out hurtling, but what they’ll do when they find out this one’s permanent and here may need to be negotiated tactfully.  I’m sure it’ll be okay eventually, I just don’t know how long eventually is going to take.  But to start with the New Member will be crated away from hellhounds, and all meetings will take place under my tyrannical eye. 

skating librarian

I am trying to imagine you taking them all for a hurtle. Can a bullie hurtle? 

Bullies are small square hurtle machines on little short legs that move in a blur.  They don’t have the hellhound capacity to be in Kent before I’ve taken a breath for the recall, but they certainly hurtle.  And I’m trying to imagine taking all of them for a hurtle too.  I asked Southdowner, pathetically, about hurtling three dogs, when the possibility of getting a puppy next year first came up and she said oh, you get used to it.  That’s really helpful, thanks.

            One of the things both Southdowner and Olivia keep trying to impress on me is that bullies have no off switch.  You do not want to wind a bullie up, because it will shortly enter orbit, wearing your roof as a hat.  One of my favourite memories of Southdowner coming here with attendant bullie (not Nemo, whom you met on this blog, another one, Southdowner has several) was watching her trying to get its harness put on before it BURST out of the back of the van.  First there was the frenzied scrabbling and mad barking as Southdowner opened the door, and then there was the rear view of Southdowner with bits of bullie shooting out first one side and then the other.  Ear.  Tail.  Head.  Foot.  Another foot.  Oh, there’s the head again . . .

            Yesterday Southdowner dropped me off at Olivia’s while she went to find a parking space.  Olivia was doing the washing-up and she said, you can go on into the puppy room but ignore Lavvy till she calms down a little.  Yes.  Well.  This was a little like ignoring a heat-seeking missile with your name on it, but I took the point.

            Speaking of Nemo . . . you may remember that the last time I took the train to Birmingham to look at bull terrier puppies I found an exit so obscure nobody, including station staff Southdowner asked for directions, knew it.  This time I was going to make a prodigious effort to come out some, you know, normal exit.  I was just about to get horribly lost again when . . . THERE WAS A BULL TERRIER.  A FAMILIAR BULL TERRIER.  I stopped in my tracks and yelled, Nemo!  Southdowner said smugly, I knew you’d see a bull terrier.  She was right—I would have walked straight past her. 

            But this is also the good side of the maniac outgoingness of the bull terrier.  Nemo wasn’t the least bit fazed by Birmingham frelling train station.  He was a lot less fazed than I was.  Granted he has been very very very well socialised but . . . he also has the personality.  Even very very very well socialised hellhounds would be miserable in a mob like that.  


Congratulations! I’m sure it will be a blast! (As well as the usual hell of puppyhood, with which we are all familiar, of course!)

Yes.  It’s too soon.  It’s only been six years—in, in fact, October—since the hellhounds arrived and I remember it all too clearly.  Noooooooooo. . . . And they were only hellhounds.  This is a bull terrier puppy.  Southdowner’s standard line about bull terriers is that they’re just like dogs, only more so. 

I got a Mastiff pup in April, and he’s the best, quietest, most well-behaved puppy I’ve ever had — housebreaking was a cinch, no separation anxiety, etc. — and I STILL was counting the weeks until those sharp puppy teeth fell out, and I’m STILL counting the months until he’s not a wild and crazy play monster and settles down… Yup — it’s all worth it. 

Well . . . your adolescent probably weighs four or five times what my mini bull terrier will weigh.  The gene pool for mini bullies is still fairly small so (as I understand it) they breed in a few standards to keep the lines strong.  One of Southdowner’s foundation bitches—from whom I believe Lavvy descends—is a standard.  I’ve met her.  She’s old and mellow and a sweetie, but she’s HUGE.  The first bullie I ever met, many years ago, and loved instantly, was also a standard and also HUGE.  They are built like tanks, or bulldozers.  The earth shakes when they gambol, and being bullies, they will gambol. 

            After the whippets died and I went into a Grey Fog of Dogless Despair, and which is why I was determined to do overlapping generations this time although I wasn’t planning on getting the next generation in quite so soon, I had a list of dog breeds or dog types I was considering.  I’ve told you before that I had my hand poised over the phone to ring up the greyhound rescue when I saw the ad in the paper for hellhound puppies††, and sighthounds/lurchers of some ilk were in first place.  But both bullies and Staffies were on my short list, both of them regretfully rejected because I wasn’t going to deal with a fighting breed. I’m thrilled I’m going to indulge the bullie fantasy after all, but I wouldn’t be if I didn’t know Southdowner, didn’t know that she or Olivia will answer questions and back me up if I need it, and hadn’t met several of Southdowner’s mad/charming bullies and have some sense of what they, or at least that branch of bulliedom, are like. 

            I also had thought the hellhounds might be my last puppies because puppies are labour intensive and I’m getting old.  So, right, this makes sense, I’m getting a puppy for my sixtieth birthday of a breed known to be extra labour intensive.  Never mind.  I can still do the rescue greyhound/ couch potato thing later.   


Um. On the subject of “you do not want a male for your first bullie” – have they considered the fact that you have two entire males in your household (have you?)? Not a problem _this_ year, but unless you’re going to get her fixed (which I doubt, given her pedigree)… trouble down the line? 

Please.  I’m nuts, I’m not stupid.  She—supposing my first bullie is a she—will probably board with Southdowner while she’s in season.  No matter what the gender and personality mix I end up with however, hellhounds and bullie will not be left alone together at least till the bullie is past adolescence . . . which on conservative estimate will be two years or so, by which time if it’s a bitch, she’ll have come into season once or twice, and we’ll have the opportunity to find out how hot and come-hither she is, and whether the hellhounds notice, since some dogs and some bitches aren’t big into sex and procreation.  Although this is more a sighthound/lurcher thing and a bullie bitch probably will be swinging her hips and suggesting that they come up and see her some time. †††

            I think the deal is going to be that if I end up with a bitch that either Southdowner or Olivia would like to get a litter out of, I’ll keep her entire—do you say entire with girls?—till this feat is accomplished.  If she’s not worth breeding and she’s a problem when she’s on heat I’ll get her fixed after she’s had a season or two.  My default position is that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it—which is why the hellhounds are entire—so if she has nice tactful seasons she can keep her insides.  I realise this is how accidents happen but . . . well, actually bull terrier is a popular lurcher cross.  I met a quarter-bull three-quarters sighthound when I was casting around for lurchers that was about the most gorgeous animal I’d ever seen.  If he’d had puppies out of a plausible bitch available I’d’ve had one.  Or two.

             More tomorrow.  Yes, it’s true, the only reason I’m getting a puppy is for the blog material.  

* * *

* Friday night I kept dreaming about bull terrier puppies charging around a big sitting room with cream coloured carpeting.  Guess what happened to the cream coloured carpeting.  Last night I simply didn’t sleep.  

** IMMEDIATELY.  AAAAAAUGH.  Although even if I’d had a year’s run at it I’d probably still be melting down three weeks before the event. 

*** Warning:  ringing geekspeak follows.  I’m increasingly short of sleep due to a variety of stresses.  And while I had somewhat recovered myself at practice last Wednesday after ringing like a three-legged goat last Sunday^ I still went in today with a large sense of doom following like a balloon on a string.  And then there were ten or eleven of us^^ and I thought maybe I can just sit out and knit.

            But no, here was Scary Man, saying in a tired and resigned voice, Robin, come ring Grandsire triples.  And I did.  Scary Man did that encouraging/alarming teacher thing of not standing beside me Because I Could Do It Myself.  It was not a thing of beauty, as I usually say of my best ringing efforts, but it wasn’t embarrassing.  My impression is that Scary Man cheered up slightly at this point, gave me the treble for bob major and asked me what else I had been looking at, ie what other method I might like to try.  Blither blither, I said, um, bob triples or bob major?^^^  And he said, Stedman triples?#  Oh, yes please! I said, fool that I am, and I did go wrong, but I had help##, and it still wasn’t dreadful, and he’ll probably let me ring it again.  

^ An intellectually challenged three-legged goat.  

^^ Including a visitor I found on the doorstep.  Unless you’re St Paul’s or York Minster towers are usually pretty friendly . . . and the abbey lets me keep coming, after all.  So I brought him up, indicating which dark mullioned+ path led through the accumulated maze of twelve hundred years of history at which point, feeling a complete fraud, and turned him over at once to Albert.   

            It is perhaps worth noting that he was unusual in that he didn’t have to stop every 300 (vertical) feet, lean on a triforium or a reredos, and gasp.  I almost asked him if he had hellhounds he hurtled regularly. 

+ Well all right maybe not mullioned exactly 

^^^ Any ‘plain bob’ method is the shallow end of whatever follows:  so plain bob doubles is the first method you (usually) learn, five working bells and tenor behind;  bob minor is six working bells and likely the first minor method you learn.  Grandsire triples is usually considered more musical than bob triples and a lot of towers don’t bother teaching you bob triples at all, although Grandsire is harder.  Bob major is eight working bells, and so on.  The point is I was trying not to ask too much. 

# Which is a lot harder.  In theory I can ring a plain course.  In theory.  

## It’s easier to ignore someone going wrong when he’s not going wrong in your vicinity.  

† Whoever s/he is 

†† And I know I’ve told you that.  I really thought I’d told you about how I got Chaos as well as Darkness, but apparently not.  Okay.  I will.   Just not tonight.

††† Olivia says Lavvy really enjoyed getting it on



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