April 26, 2013

Fun with your dogs


So yesterday evening hellhounds spent crashed out as usual in the mews dog bed.  The system is that I then scrabble everything back into my knapsack and canvas briefcase-shaped object, let hellhounds out for a pee in the mews courtyard—they’ll have their final hurtle from the cottage—schlep knapsack, canvas object, and anything else that may have silted up over the course of the day into Wolfgang’s front seat;  encourage hellhounds to leap into the hellhound box in the back, having first removed Pav’s abominable falling-apart plastic carrying crate;  encourage hellhounds to get all eight feet into the box so I can get the crate back in, replace crate, fetch hellterror, encourage her to relieve herself, bribe her into nasty plastic crate with small handful of kibble, pick up anything hellterror may have produced, lock up, drive to cottage.  Reverse process. . . . **

We have one of our organic-grocery deliveries on Thursdays.  I let hellhounds out, had a fast look around for cats or rabbits or any other untoward distractions, and went back indoors to load my week’s fresh fruit into a carrier.  This took . . . maybe a minute.

When I went back out to put the fruit bag in the front seat with the rest of the stuff . . . there was only one hellhound waiting for me.

One hellhound.

One.  Hellhound.

I looked around.  It took me a good five seconds to panic.  I trotted down toward the archway and called Darkness’ name.  Nothing.  I trotted—rather faster—back to Wolfgang and Chaos, still standing there looking rather bewildered.***  I put Chaos on lead, picked up Darkness’, and pelted down the driveway toward the main road.

Last few times Darkness has been double-ended geyseringly ill, he has lit out for strange parts as soon as I put him out—but hitherto I’ve already been keeping an eye on him, and have managed to get a lead on him and go along when he sets off.  I’ve always had WARNING.  With one—appallingly notable—exception, he’s always been able to give me warning, ie to get him outdoors NOW.  Last night . . . he had eaten only two thirds of an already minimal dinner but, so?   He hasn’t been eating enough to keep a chipmunk alive for weeks†.  There was nothing about last night to make me take notice.

Till he disappeared.

I’ve never lost a hellhound before:  I’m paranoid, and I know how fast they are—and generally speaking their recall is pretty good, and I’m careful not to strain it.  I hadn’t allowed for Darkness having a geysering fit come on without giving me any SIGN.

Chaos and I were wandering around helplessly only a few minutes.  Probably less than five.  Well, maybe five.  I was by this time crying and screaming.  It was after midnight, it was dark, at least there was no one else around—no other dog walkers, no juggernauts on the roads—and that stretch of the main road is mostly parkland on either side, so my screaming was probably not heard by anyone but owls.  I had just turned to go back to the mews courtyard.  This is one of the basic emergency drills of a sighthound owner—your runaway will come back to where he last saw you to find you again.  So long as you keep your nerve and stay there.  Chaos and I had turned to creep back to the mews courtyard . . . when a bit of darkness detached itself from the rest, slunk through the gate ahead of us, and turned around to throw up at my feet.  At least that meant he stood still long enough for me to get his lead on.

Adrenaline spike?  If any of you saw a strange bright burning light in the sky last night emanating from a southern-Englandish direction, that would have been me, having an adrenaline spike.

Today has not been a very lively, awake day.  The hellterror’s more dramatic difficulties seem to have lessened, although she’s not entirely enjoying coming on heat.  She’s still showing no signs of flirting, but she’s licking those Weird Swollen Parts a lot in a kind of LIE DOWN AND LEAVE ME ALONE manner, and while she still wants her tummy rubbed I keep stopping to check that all those tiny but stiff little nubbles are only her nipples, and there are no ticks involved.  Hellhounds are . . . hellhounds, although there has been no further geysering.

I’m about to have to attempt to feed hellcritters for the third time today.  Whimper.  Score so far:  Chaos, one third lunch, one third dinner.  Darkness, no lunch whatsoever, all of dinner.  Pavlova, I’M FINE, CAN’T YOU SEE I’M FINE.  I’M ALSO STARVING TO DEATH.  YOU CALL THIS A MEAL? 

* * *

* We have in fact had a try with the clip-your-dog-harness-with-dog-in-it to the seatbelt apparatus.  It works fine.  Except for the part about the hellterror setting to with a will to chew the seatbelt apart.  Those hellterror jaws, crikey.  I’m surprised miners and engineers and things bother with rock drilling tools.  Put a bowl of dog food on one side of the mountain and a hungry bull terrier^ on the other and . . . stand back.  Gnar gnar gnar gnar crunch crunch crunch crunch. 

^ Bull terriers are of course always hungry.  It’s part of the breed standard:  little beady eyes, prick ears, roman nose, hungry.

** Yes.  I hate my commute.  It’s always been way too complicated^ but a manic hellterror and a hellhound who is still hoping he’s going to wake up one morning and she’ll be gone complicate matters.  The sheer logistics are a big fat pain—in both arms, shoulders and back, chiefly.  It would HELP A LOT if hellhounds could jump in from the other side, but that means making the extra height over the side of the box, and Darkness doesn’t always want to leap to seat level.^^

^ It’s a daily version of—you know how that last t shirt/woolly jumper you threw in your suitcase on a whim and that last book you threw in your carry-on before you got on the plane are the only things that prevent your journey from being an utter misery?  Yes.  Now imagine making those same final forty-six decisions every day.

^^ And thank you, Judith and Diane in MN and anyone else I’ve missed, for those links to Dog Travelling Strategies.  I’m looking very thoughtfully indeed at the folding stair.

*** Although ‘bewildered’ is one of his standard expressions.

† Although I believe all those small rodenty creatures have very high metabolisms.


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