December 27, 2012

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.


Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.