April 29, 2013

A question of bedtime


Last night at St Margaret’s the vicar, fresh from a ‘retreat’ with his Leadership Group, attempted to light a fire under the rest of us—possibly slouched down in our seats praying for the strength to keep our eyes open*—about what one thing we were going to start doing this week to deepen our relationship with God, make the world a better place, or generally become a bigger, gobblier holier-than-thou turkey.  And in our groups people were talking soberly about being more organised** about time for prayer and volunteer work and this or that course they have been meaning to go on*** and when it was my turn I said, Go to bed earlier.  So I don’t hit the floor already in a panic of lateness the next morning.  It’s a whole lot harder to do the contemplative prayer routine when the monkey mind is gibbering like a whole treeful of monkeys.

I got to bed early enough last night to be talking in nearly complete sentences by the time Atlas showed up to finish nailing the shelf up in my greenhouse this morning.  And I totally have to go to bed early tonight because Fiona and I are going to have a YARN ADVENTURE tomorrow.†

* * *

* Fortunately I’d caught a ride with Minnie.  Even Wolfgang might have found it a bit challenging keeping me on the road by yesterday evening:  I’d had a rotten night for sleep even for me, worrying.  It wasn’t all bad:  I finished another book for the Book Recs list.^

^ I kind of wasted that last hundred pages of LOCKWOOD by reading it in the bath, with all the lights and the radio on, hellhounds snorting in their sleep round the corner in my office and the hellterror moaning about injustice downstairs+.  It would have been much more effective if I’d been reading it Saturday night tucked up in bed with everything turned off but the bedside light and the demented robin singing to the streetlight outdoors.

+ As soon as go lie down’ conveys meaning, the hellterror will be allowed upstairs.  It will be a while.  It will be a much longer while before she’s allowed upstairs while I’m in the bath and at a disadvantage.  It is interesting, however, watching the Development of Relationship.  Puppies are adorable, as we all know, so we don’t kill them, and you have to hope that you develop a relationship before they stop being murder-resistingly adorable.  Ahem.  I’m also not so hot on the formal training thing—I can get away with this (mostly) because I’m home all the time and can encourage or mercilessly crush certain behaviours.  An awful lot of relationship is just being there.  And sometimes you get a break you not only didn’t earn, you had no idea what you were going to do if the problem didn’t just magically disappear.  I had no idea how I was going to oblige hellhounds—hellpuppies at the time—to LIE DOWN in their box in the car.  When we’d had the three whippets# both of us were still driving, and Peter drove and I Suppressed, till they got the idea.  Hellhounds just . . . lay down.  It was never an issue.  I have no idea.  Thank You God.

Hellterror is either going to learn not to gnaw the short strap that attaches her to the seatbelt or I will buy a few short lengths of chain.  I’m not, perhaps foolishly, anticipating a huge problem about this.  She’s not actually a big chewer, although she likes her thighbone of mammoth.##

But she is still the possessor of hellterror jaws.  And when you need to get something away from a puppy you generally need to do it fast, and unless you are carrying desiccated liver in your mouth, which I am NOT,### you don’t have time for fancy swapping routines, or let’s be blunt, I don’t have the coordination.%  So I was getting bitten and IT HURT.  Not to mention being bad for hellgoddess/hellterror relations.  Speaking of relationship.

Well, I did get a bit cleverer about tactics for getting stuff away from her, and, when there’s time, she is ALWAYS open to a bribe—and once she’s learnt that bribery is a possibility, she will often meet you halfway.  But I realised recently that she seems to have decided that I’m allowed to take stuff away from her.  There is sometimes a trifle of resistance.  And she can stab you with a look out of those little beady eyes that would bore through cement.  But if I am wearisomely DETERMINED to get something away from her . . . she lets me.


# Which were, all three together, small enough to fit in the box.  That was sixty-maybe-slightly-plus pounds of dog.  Two hellhounds are eighty-definitely-plus pounds of dog.  Even if the hellterror were a model of decorum~ there isn’t room for her in the box.

~ And not in season

## All those fancy expensive guaranteed-your-dog-will-LOVE-them Kong toys?  She spurns them.

### All other things being equal, which they are not, I need my mouth immediately available for yelling, which I suppose is not a show-dog-handler’s first priority.

% I’m frantically fishing in the wrong pocket anyway

%% It’s probably connected that she’s a surprisingly tactful accepter of treats from your bare hand.  You can give her a tiny fragment of kibble and she nails the kibble but not your fingers.  I hadn’t thought about this till I was giving her infinitesimal scraps of chicken the other night, having misjudged the amount of chicken available—all three hellcritters get a bit of neat chicken as dessert—and despite the significantly higher frenzy level for chicken as opposed to mere kibble—she was snatching the chicken without nicking my fingers.

I wonder if all that screaming when she play-bit me when she was tiny has an effect here?  It was a different situation with the hellhounds—they mostly taught each other how hard (not) to bite, and sighthounds are bred to bring things down, not to mangle them, as a fighting dog is (presumably) encouraged to do.  I also don’t have a problem with a dog mouthing me so long as there’s no pressure behind it, so all my hellcritters are somewhat accustomed to having bits of me casually in their mouths.

** ::weeps::  I was so standing behind the door when they passed out organizational skills.

*** Minnie’s taking one on teaching Sunday School to the tinies

† God created everything.  Therefore he created yarn.


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