December 31, 2012

Fair Day (guest post by Black Bear) *

 

I look forward to the Indiana State Fair pretty much all year long.  By late August, when the barns close up and the food stands roll out to their next venue and the roller derby takes over the expo hall for the season, I’m already looking ahead to the next year’s fair.  I’ve been going since I was a little kid; and like most little kids, for me back then the fair was all about this.

Or this.

Or possibly this.

 

As I got older, I realized that there was more to the fair than eating dangerously colored foods, going on rides, and possibly throwing up.  My parents are both artists, and so we spent a lot of quality time in the Home and Family Arts building, which runs the gamut from paintings and sculpture to kitchen creations that back in the good old days would succumb to the ravages of mold before the first week of the fair was out.  The 100+ year old building lacked air conditioning until the early 2000’s, and by the end of week two each year, culinary arts was a chamber of furry horror that had to be seen to be believed.  My mother and I found this hilarious, and were devastated when funds were finally raised to upgrade the climate control in the HFA building.  Now we’re forced to make do with unintentionally amusing petit fours and the occasional ill-advised cake.

One of the big things that I’ve come to really look forward to in my adulthood is the heavy horse championship events. I was never much of a horse kid; I liked horses just fine, rode them at summer camp now and then, but my interests at the fair always ran to the BIG horses, the Clydesdales and Percherons who terrified and awed me with their sheer size and power.  I loved walking through the barns on Percheron days… but for some reason, it was years before I happened to stumble into the Coliseum during the Clydesdale hitch competitions.  Now I can’t imagine visiting the fair without at least an hour or two of big horses and bright carts; I actually plan my visits (yes, visits plural) around their schedule.

It’s a beautifully consistent experience year to year, right down to the tiny little old lady who plays the electric organ (she has a CD out–one of these days I’m going to buy it.)

I’m continually amazed at what goes into putting together these teams–not just the horses, but the tack, the hardware, the carts, the drivers.  I find the whole thing unbelievably beautiful, which is probably why I’m so content to spend an hour of my precious fair time allotment sitting on an uncomfortable folding seat, drinking a chocolate milkshake from the dairy tent and watching the horses go by.  So here, for those of you who were unable to attend this year’s fair, I offer you the experience via Youtube.

Percheron 4-Horse Hitch

Clydesdale Unicorn Hitch

 

Enjoy!

 

* Note first that for some reason WordPress won’t let you change font colour in a heading or that asterisk would be pink, and second, that poor Black Bear wrote this up soon after the event, but it was MY ONLY GUEST POST and I couldn’t, um, bear to put it up and lose it.  B_twin has now supplied the replacement ONLY GUEST POST so I can hang this one. 

Further Complications of Abbey Ringing

 

The wedding at the abbey today finished only seven minutes late.*  Shock.**  I hadn’t even got my knitting out yet.  I was busy worrying about parking for New Year’s Eve and applying to long-time abbey ringers for advice.  I don’t fancy the long walk back to my usual edge-of-town car park at midnight-thirty;  the centre-of-town one that casuistically calls itself the abbey car park and which has been full since the middle of November is unpredictably*** full the rest of the year too—and even that one requires an unpleasant saunter down a dark high-walled medieval alley† and an excellent opportunity to fall in an open and magnificently unlit water-channel if you are so inclined.

Now that I’m an actual branded member of the Forza band I’m eligible for a parking permit for the close . . . which has made me fall down laughing so hard that I keep forgetting to apply.  Ulrich gave me the form today†† but even if they decide to overlook my foibles I’m not going to have it by Monday†††.  Don’t worry about it, said the old guard in unison.  Nobody’s going to be checking abbey parking permits at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  So if I don’t post here on the 31st it’s because I’m walking home.

* * *

* Which means you hear it thundering through those vast spaces as you creep along your open gallery on the way to the tower.  This is the down side of that fabulous angle on the choir queued up for their parade through the nave that you have coming down, since the usual service ring is before.  If you’re ringing after something then you’re coming in while it’s going on^ and . . . you want to mind your manners, even if your big feet are out of your control.  You trip over that danglefrabbing break in the stair tread^^ again and you bleed silently.  No language.  The initial thud and gasp will go unremarked:  Forza is over fifteen hundred years old.  Ghosts are inevitable.^^^

^ If the bride isn’t having brunch in Monaco first and got a little held up.  Grrrr.

^^ It hasn’t been mended in six hundred years because Saint Inexorabla narrowly missed being martyred there by tripping over it with her big feet and the ninja archer’s shot whistled through where her head should have been.  She was passing as Dom Inexorable, of course.  This was a monastery.  She was a monk.  History does not record what she had done to rouse someone to sufficient exasperation to hire a ninja to deal with her, nor what a ninja was doing wandering around the back woods of Hampshire in the 1400s and hiring out to kill annoying monks.  The story does say that he laid his bow down forever that day and entered the monastery as a novice and that he and Inexorable later became good friends.

^^^ Including, according to some authorities, Inexorable and the ex-ninja, Dom Goro, having a passionate dispute about a tricky point of theology.

** Fortunately my shock was not so great that I embarrassed myself on the end of a bell rope any more than usual.  We were not a particularly good band, which meant call changes and plain hunt, since the usual rule is that you want as many bells going as you have pairs of hands for, so your worst ringer sets the standard.  But there were twenty-nine of us, which meant twenty-eight ringers and a stand-out, and Scary Man stood out to call the call changes.  Having your conductor standing out works extremely well in that airplane hangar because with umpty-mumble bells going you cannot HEAR a THING but a generalised roar, certainly not some puny little human voice screaming:  SIXTEEN TO FOUR!, THIRTY-THREE TO FIFTY-SEVEN!^ and instead he wanders around the circle standing in front of his chosen victim and screaming directly at them.^^  The only thing that went horribly wrong with the call changes is that I’d moved too slowly when he called us to fill in and all the front bells were taken so I ended up dead centre on the fourteen^^^.  To make the shouting easier Scary Man tends to break call changes into the front and back halves . . . and put me on the lead forever.  I HATE LEADING WHEN IT MATTERS.  Leading ruthlessly exposes your rhythmic shortcomings, of which I have many.  I stood there trying not to twitch, which is one of those things that makes you ring unevenly, and telling myself that if I were doing it too badly he’d get me off the lead even if it messed up his pattern.   Arrrgh.

^ For those of you who know how call changes work, yes, then he has to move briskly to shout at the other person affected, who may or may not have figured it out for themselves.

^^ Did I say twenty-eight bells?

^^^ And most of the front thirteen and Scary Man instantly said, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT THERE? and started offering me alternative ropes, and I derived some backbone from somewhere and said that I was fine.  The middle bells of twenty-eight are not heavy and frelling totally within my capabilities if I weren’t so frelling prone to PAAAAAANIC, especially at the frelling abbey.

*** Weirdly unpredictably.  I think there must be secret global conferences going on underground in the catacombs or something.  I never knew Forza had catacombs^, but then . . . they’re secret.  And any number of those gnarly little medieval doors could lead to crypts and grottos recently refitted with cutting-edge multi-media, infinitely twiddle-able indirect lighting, and coffee makers that look like a bad day on the FARSCAPE set.  And frog graveyards.

^ Except for frogs.  Especially lately.

† With very irregular paving stones.

†† It’s forty-seven pages long and demands your genealogy back to 1066 and the name of your sixth-form sportsmistress, and the vehicle you are wishing permission to possess its being briefly within the shadow of the abbey must present a clean and well-cared-for appearance as will not frighten any passing deans or deacons or ghosts of monks.  Maybe I should buy another motorcycle.   There’s less to keep tidy.

††† Especially because I forgot to put it through the office door on my way out today.

Too Much Information Update:  The hellterror has been crapping her tiny brains out, the last two days.  Every time she sees me waving her lead^ in a meaningful manner she leaps to her feet and says, Oooh!  Are we going outside?  I’m so excited, that means I can crap again!  No, no, I’m not going to stop with a mere pee, I am definitely going to have another CRAP!  It’s such fun!

^ Her inferior substitute back up lead because in the excitement of getting indoors and having lunch after all on Thursday I managed to leave her good one behind.  Georgiana says she’ll bring it back the next time she comes through, which is most weekends.  I hope this doesn’t turn into a Georgiana’s Champagne Stopper situation however:  she sent the rest of the bottle home with Peter on his birthday.  The champagne was finished off in a punctilious manner and the stopper . . . remained sitting on the table when Georgiana stopped for tea here last Sunday and had a nice little ride in the bottom of my knapsack on Thursday.

KES, 60

SIXTY

 

This was going to be my preliminary shot at finding out if Sid was willing to be compatible with modern American internal-combustion engine transport—or not—before we committed to the drive to Cold Valley.  And back.  Twice.  Like I had another choice if the answer was no.  We were going to take a lap around downtown in the van till I found a long enough piece of street to park it on, and then walk to Eats.

I felt like a cartoon villain as I opened cabin seven’s door and looked cautiously in all directions.  All I needed was the black fedora.  I thought the curly moustache would probably have been going too far.

There wasn’t anyone visible.  There were two cars parked by the office, so Serena was fully occupied.  I hoped that whoever they were, they didn’t come out in the next few minutes.  Sid looked a lot worse in daylight.

“All right, kiddo,” I said.  “You’re on.”  I took her lead off the bathroom door handle, shouldered my knapsack, and we went down the cabin steps and around to the passenger side of the van.  I opened the door.  I’d never really contemplated what an ominous noise a car—or van—door makes.  I wondered if this would be true on an Aston Martin or a Rolls Royce.  I wasn’t likely ever to find out.  (I was carefully not thinking about Merry.  When we got to Merry—if we got to Merry—I might have to knock out the rear window glass, persuade Sid to vault into the truck bed and climb through the empty window.  I wasn’t thinking about Merry.)  Sid stood politely, awaiting developments.  This was at least a lot better than setting off at speed in search of a vehicle-free environment.  The red leather lead looked pretty sturdy, but I wasn’t so sure about my shoulder.  “Hup,” I said, without much hope, patting the seat.

Sid continued to stand politely, not recognising this as a development.  I still had the cheese in my pocket.  I checked.  Sid immediately became very interested in my right hand.  I heaved my knapsack into the passenger side footwell, climbed into the van myself and hadn’t finished crawling over the gearshift when I was slammed into by a hairy black torpedo.  “Hup,” I said breathlessly.  “Ow.  I mean, good girl.”  I gave Sid a piece of cheese.  She sat down.  I leaned past her to pull the door closed.

It didn’t want to close, of course.  “Liver flukes,” I said.  “Parasitic wasps.  Maggots.”  Sid pricked her ears.  I snapped the passenger seatbelt closed, looped the lead through it a few times and then back through Sid’s makeshift harness.  “Wait,” I said, slid out the driver’s side, closed the possessed-by-demons passenger door from the outside, and climbed back in behind the wheel.  Sid watched me.  The way her head was swivelling I considered the possibility she might be part owl.  That might help explain the incompetently-felted effect.

I turned the engine on.  Thubba thubba thubba it went.  Sid sat up a little straighter.  I backed up, turned around, and headed for the exit.  She started to pant a little as we bumped over the ramp and the curb, but she didn’t offer to bite anything.  Me, for example.  Thy new companion is swift and loyal and high-couraged.  Oh, shut up.

We found an empty half a block in a parking zone after only a minute or two, and it only took me another minute or two to swan into it, like an oil tanker docking.  Arrrgh.  Sid emerged onto the sidewalk with alacrity but no apparent ill effects.  We set off in an Eats-ward direction.  I hoped we didn’t meet anyone likely to know me in the future, and peg me on first impression as a criminally incompetent dog-owner.  For that matter I hoped we didn’t meet any other dogs.  One thing at a time.  I was happy to wait to find out what Sid’s attitude toward others of her species was.

I felt like a traitor as she pricked her ears and trotted happily down the little corridor beside Eats.  Bridget had been watching for us, and came out the courtyard door as we arrived.  She had two muffins on two plates in her hands.  “What do you think she would prefer, oatmeal banana or apple bran?  It’s early in the day for meatloaf and I was trying to think of the nearest dog-biscuit equivalent.”

“Oatmeal banana,” I said, “although I may be projecting.”

“Fine,” she said, and sat down at the table Sid and I had been sitting at less than two hours ago.  “I’m in the mood for apple bran.”   She looked at my face and grinned.  “You’ve got it bad, don’t you?   We’ll be fine alone together for five minutes.  Just hand me the lead and walk away like it’s no big deal.  Although you might just close the gate behind you.”

 

WHOSE DRATBLASTED IDEA WAS DOGS ANYWAY? Chapter 41,006

 

Note that this entire post can be defined as Too Much Information.  Those of you of a delicate disposition should look away now. 

So.  We were going to try again to get three of us down to Georgiana and Saxon’s glamorous open-plan flat on the water.  It had to be today because today was the day the dog minder could hurtle the hellhounds while Peter and I took the hellterror with us.  Peter was really looking forward to the hucklebutting, and promised faithfully to guard the Christmas tree while riot and anarchy were occurring.

The day did not get off to an auspicious start.  I slept through my alarm again.*  Naturally.  There was an email from Peter that he was coming into town anyway, and would walk up the rest of the way to the cottage.  Great.  That would save five minutes going to fetch him.

Except he didn’t appear.  Graaak.  Arrrgh.  Bleh.  I started to worry.  I harnessed up the hellhounds—having been waiting to give them their mini-hurtle to let Peter in first—and decided we would go in pursuit . . . and found him sitting on the greenhouse stairs, reading his paper.  WHAT? I said.  I may have, ahem, shouted.

The car’s not there, he said.  I thought you’d taken the hellhounds somewhere for a country hurtle and I was getting worried you weren’t back yet.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE CAR’S NOT THERE? I said, or maybe shouted.  Hellhounds and I hurtled up the hill and . . . there was Wolfgang.  The frelling cul de sac is deceptive.  It looks straight.  It isn’t, as many people who have tried to back out of it (which, unless you have a driveway to call your own is your only choice, having made the serious vehicular error of turning into it the first place) have learnt to the cost of their wing mirrors, paintwork and fenders.  And the final two parking spaces, the further one mine, do kind of hide.  I’VE LIVED HERE EIGHT YEARS, I said to my husband.  YOU SHOULD KNOW BY NOW TO WALK FARTHER UP THE HILL TO CHECK ON WOLFGANG.

Yes, I should, said Peter humbly (possibly seeing blood and spousal abuse in my eye).  I’m so sorry.

ARRRRRRGH, I said, and flew off with hellhounds.

So, you know, we were already a good half hour late.  And I still had to give the hellterror her mini-hurtle so she would have a crap before we left.

Those of you who have been watching the hellterror’s alimentary antics will know where this is going.

She didn’t crap.  She wouldn’t crap, and nothing was going to make her.  By this time we were about forty five minutes late and I uttered a final, heartfelt ARRRRRRGH, stuffed her into her travelling crate and we left.

Here’s the good news:  we got there.  The first half hour is pretty much B and substandard rural A roads.  The second half hour is Spaghetti Junction South and a nightmare every bit as compelling as the ones I’m having when I fail to wake up when my alarm goes off.

The other good news is that it stopped raining**.  Which is a very good thing since the hellterror and I were out in the weather for about two hours.  Didn’t I say something prophetic, the last time this journey was contemplated, about how the hellterror and I might never get indoors because I would spend the whole visit walking her around WAITING FOR HER TO EXCRETE?

Yes.  Well.  At least it was a nice day.  I topped up really well on my vitamin D levels.  And the predicted wind died away to gentle airs, and it wasn’t that cold, although frustrated fury does help keep you warm.  And the hellterror hucklebutted fabulously outdoors on the patch of grass I had randomly chosen, doing backflips when she forgot where the end of her extending lead was.  And she paid close attention to every single person who walked past—I had no idea that Georgiana and Saxon’s development has so frelling many people in it—became engrossed in the passage of buses, was disapproving of the rattly, popping starting of motorcycles, and yearned after other dogs going for walks.  In between times she ate leaves, repeatedly attacked the laurel hedge, wrapped her lead around the sentinel tree, and tried to get me to PLAY WITH HER.

What she did not do is crap.  She peed about forty-seven times, including two or three where she was CLEARLY FINALLY FRELLING about to CRAP and then at the final moment—nope—nope—can’t possibly—I only crap at home (sometimes).  —Which was the other aspect of this dreadful epic:  imagine living with a dog WHO WILL ONLY CRAP AT HOME.***

AARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHH.  She nearly came back tonight as a hearthrug.

I didn’t dare bring her indoors.  I do not want to establish her pleasant habit of crapping in her crate, which is friendly and safe and familiar and she can just flip the blanket over any unpleasantness which will be dealt with later by her indentured servant, and the flat is on the top floor,†† there’s a long hall to the lift/elevator, several doors to negotiate, the lift doesn’t move very quickly . . . and the entrance to the flat is another long frelling hallway.  Poor Georgiana came down three times to check on us, and on the third time††† we went for a little walk while Peter had a nap.

The hellterror really enjoyed her walk.  By this time she frelling well ought to have been falling down with exhaustion‡ but noooooooooooo not the hellterror.  Then we came back and stood around the tree some more while the hellterror cavorted.  ARRRRRRRRGH.  Well, I said finally, a little wildly, I suppose we might as well go home.

So Georgiana went off to collect Peter and the frelling crate and the frelling hellterror spare kit and the frelling hellterror lunch—puppies should not miss meals, but I was NOT going to put more in the front end when nothing was coming out the back end—and I stood there between the tree and the hedge and looked at the hellterror, and the hellterror looked at me.  And the hellterror ambled off in an idle sort of way and . . . had a crap.

So we raced indoors and BOTH HAD LUNCH and I got to sit down.  The hellterror—even the tireless hellterror—wasn’t really up for hucklebutting around the flat, but with only a token howl of outrage permitted herself to be locked up in her crate.  And all these shenanigans meant that we had to negotiate Spaghetti Junction South in the dark . . . but we’re HOME.

And when upon arrival I let the hellterror out of her travelling crate for a pee . . . she rushed over to HER SPOT and had THE MOST ENORMOUS CRAP I HAVE EVER SEEN.

* * *

* All my life I’ve had my most lurid—and they can be very lurid indeed—dreams just before I wake up for the final time in the morning.  This is all explained by human sleep patterns blah blah blah but I have perhaps an extreme case.  I usually hear my alarm, I just don’t always recognise it as a clarion adjuration to GET OUT OF BED.  At the time it seems to be something to do with the assembled forces of the Evil Magician Alliance or the mating cry of a lovesick banshee or similar.  The fact that the hellterror has now learnt the sound—and the meaning—of my kitchen-timer alarm and usually joins in the fun should assist, but it doesn’t.  It just means the Alliance is even more diabolical than I realised, or the banshee brought a friend.^

^ Or possibly the banshee’s love-object is protesting.

** Although it’s supposed to start again any minute.  Hellhounds and I were positively sportive last night at mmmph o’clock, unexpectedly cantering around town on our last hurtle with actual stars overhead.  It had started raining again by the time I put the hellterror out for a last pee and it was grizzly later this morning when I was making tea and unsticking my eyelids.

*** Also . . . what is wrong with my critter karma that all my critters have Digestive/Eliminatory Issues?  It’s a very good thing I like staying at home.

† Southdowner suggested steering wheel cover.  She’s not really big enough yet to make a satisfactory hearthrug.

†† Fourth floor in American, third in Britspeak.

††† I left the hellish hellterror with Georgiana long enough that I could go indoors and have a pee.  Now the hellterror loves everyone and generally speaking ignores me like an old tatty rejected toy if there’s anyone NEW AND INTERESTING around, but Georgiana said she had a wobble when I stalked away leaving her with AN ALMOST UNKNOWN PERSONAGE OF DUBIOUS MOTIVES, and made little pathetic noises.  This is the first known occurrence of the hellterror making little pathetic noises about anything except the speed at which her next meal is coming.

‡ As well as full of well-compressed faecal matter to the neck

Rain and puppies

 

It’s raining.  It will rain forever.  And furthermore it has been raining forever, and that stuff about blue sky and light from up there overhead somewhere so bright you can’t look at it is all myth.  The ONLY GOOD THING about this fribbleglomping weather is that it makes my hair fall into corkscrew curls.  This is amusing, but I’d rather not have my kitchen draped in wet dog-walking kit—harnesses, leads, collars, raincoats both canine and human, gloves, shoes . . . and of course the wet hellbeasts themselves . . . and the wet towels used on the wet hellbeasts (and wet hellgoddess) themselves.  And the mud all over the floor.  And the water halfway up the walls and occasionally splattered against the ceiling because of course the first thing a hellhound does after he gets indoors again is shake.  Violently.  The hellterror is a little less destructive:  in the first place she’s smaller, and in the second place her heart’s not really in it.  She doesn’t love getting wet but except when I am cruelly demanding that she stand there and have a CRAP she’s not hugely fussed about the water falling from the heavy grey louring hanging overhead.*  ARRRRGH.  I’M TIRED OF THIS RAIN.  I WANT IT TO GO AWAY.

We aren’t in a flood area (yet) and I don’t think anyone’s been evacuated from around here but if the rain doesn’t stop it’s going to happen.  Our little river is running pretty much level with its built up and buttressed banks, and in places it has broken over.  Well, in more places.  I was complaining about carrying Chaos through/over a river-path lake a week or so ago.  There’s a whole section of the standard river path that is now only passable in waders.  If you’re short, water wings.  It’s harder either to get into or out of bed in this weather:  into because schlepping way too much stuff back to the cottage** and the final hellhound hurtle must be faced first, and out should be obvious even to normal people who keep normal hours and have normal jobs.

Mind you, contemplating purchasing snorkelling gear as adjunct to going out one’s front door is not delightful, but it still beats what’s going on in a lot of America right now.  And it boggles my mind that the same storm that provided Atlanta with its first snow in eighty years is burying both my friends in the Midwest and also where I used to live in Maine.

I was sitting by the Aga in my dressing gown this morning*** staring at the driving rain and wondering how much longer the hellhounds would hold out† when Pooka chirruped.  Laconic text from Southdowner, going back to Birmingham from Christmas on the south coast with her family, could she drop by?  OF COURSE.  —Looks anxiously at hellterror.  Don’t rend her flesh or pee on her shoes or anything, okay?

I knew it was going to go pear-shaped because I did finally get my assortment of four-footed companions outdoors.  It teemed down on the poor hellhounds who, even in their raincoats, straggled along humpy-backed and cranky.  But it half cleared off for the hellterror . . . and we had a really unusually good hurtle where she came when she was called and didn’t hit the end of her lead (much) and (mostly) trotted beside me on a (mostly) loose lead when I said ‘walk’.

But . . . my ears aren’t burning so I assume Southdowner didn’t get home and immediately ring up Olivia and start telling her everything I’m doing wrong.  She was very complimentary about what a little stunner†† Pavlova is growing into†††, although that’s just genes and dog food and nothing to do with me.  But Pav did not pee on her shoes or sink her teeth in her hand, not only because Southdowner knows how to deal with young canine mania.  She also said the hellhounds were doing very well, considering, and were less stressed about the entire destruction of life as they knew it than she was expecting to see.‡  And she gave me some more training stuff to do with Pav‡‡ and gave us both CHRISTMAS PRESENTS.  Pav’s is a hollow knobbly object with a hole in one end, and you put food inside and roll it a few times so a few bits of kibble fall out to get the puppy’s attention‡‡‡ and then . . . stand back.  Now, if I could find the frelling instruction manual/CD for my frelling little video camera. . . .

* * *

* Also when she first gets indoors she’s SO EXCITED about the prospect of either foooooood or hellhounds, or, ideally, both, that mere personal wetness doesn’t really register.^

^ And yes, I still have one of the old fleece-lined raincoats from the hellhounds’ puppyhood.+  But I’m not expecting a hellterror to need it.  If it turns sleety-cold—or she starts doing misery that isn’t for effect—I’ll think again.

+ Very long term blog readers with excellent memories may remember that the second one went to Mike.

** Because I am hopelessly disorganised and I don’t know what I’m going to need either end, okay?  Next question.

*** Late morning.  Very late morning.  Like maybe early afternoon.  It’s both a good and a bad thing that Astarte’s external keyboard means I don’t have to go to my desk to work.  More range and availability for work:  good.^  Difficulty in taking anything I do on Astarte seriously:  bad.  Maybe I just need more practise.

^ The old pencil and legal pad thing was simple and barring letting yourself run out of ink or paper, pretty nearly foolproof.

† I’d managed to get the hellterror out during a break in the downpour long enough to make her crap and had sedated her with breakfast.  Although food doesn’t sedate the hellterror, but she is growing resigned to the fact that I expect her to behave like it does.  After mealtimes tends to be when she gets her most serious gnawing done.

†† Especially when she head-butts you

††† She said that she’s SMALLER than the two white puppies.  That the two tricolour girls are slightly smaller and the whites are slightly bigger.  The other tricolour is in London but the two whites have stayed in the Birmingham area and Southdowner as Roving Dog Behaviourist and Bullie Specialist has stayed in touch with all of them.  Croissant’s owner is a long-time bullie owner and one of the gang, but I don’t know about the other two.  Fruitcake is growing up to be something of an amiable lump, but Scone, aka 666, is extremely bright, and is already coming to Southdowner for remedial training.  Southdowner looooooves her.  Hee hee hee hee.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all if . . . mmmph.

‡ I may even, as a result of a text conversation Southdowner and I had a few days ago after my all I want for Christmas post, be getting somewhere with convincing Pav that leaping on Chaos is counterproductive.  But we were talking about Life with Dogs and . . . I have such an advantage, just being here all the time.  Tales of a Dog Behaviourist will curl your hair^.  But the whole bullie thing . . . in the first place, as I keep saying, my Pav’s not a hellterror at all, she’s a mutant with a bullie-shaped head.  As hellterrors go, she’s very mellow, and as I also keep saying, she’s no worse than any other puppy I’ve had . . . different but not really any more insane.  But some of that is just . . . I’m here all the time.  Things don’t get out of hand because I can squash them before they become things.  And dogs are pack animals.  They’re happier hanging out with their pack.^^  Even if the tyrannical pack leader occasionally introduces a new associate without having consulted senior members first.

^ without benefit of monsoon

^^ Southdowner said, so, you’re not planning on asking me to take her back to Olivia?  Try it and you will bleed, I said.

‡‡ And did not say, You haven’t done what?  You have done what?

‡‡‡ I had an earlier version of one of these for the hellhounds too and they looked at it, and looked at the bits of kibble falling out of it, and looked at me politely . . . and went back to whatever they were doing.

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