There is a local dog. We will call him Pistachio, because he is a nut. We will call his owner Mr Pistachio, because he is also a nut. The dog probably can’t help it. . . .
A few years ago, when the first Pistachio sightings were made, he was kind of a nightmare. His owner, of course, let him off lead at the earliest opportunity, and he used to do laps at extreme speed . . . wherever he was. Rec ground, schoolyard, park, cricket lawn, someone’s garden, street, wherever. If he met another dog on his peregrinations, all the better: he would invite it—or, possibly, them—to join him. And he wasn’t good at taking ‘no’ for an answer. To do the twerp credit, he was never the least bit nasty, and even Darkness, who has a fairly low tolerance for strange dogs getting in his face, never reacted. I reacted, however, because Pistachio is getting on for large*, and while I object to any all-over-you dog,** having something about the size of one and three-quarters hellhounds using me as an obstacle course is not popular. This aside from the getting-plaited-by-on-lead-hellhounds aspect. Hellhounds would have been happy to make Pistachio eat their dust, but I am a fierce evil ratbag hellgoddess, and I keep my dogs on lead in all but ideal circumstances.***
Pistachio, however, has slowed down a lot. In hindsight my guess is that he was a somewhat late rescue adoptee, and the early mad pelting was in reaction to having a home at last rather than late adolescent puppyness. When we see him now, he saunters along, deigning to wave his tail in a vaguely friendly manner, but there are rarely dramas. We saw him today—on the same stretch of path that we met the unpleasant specimen who chased us back into town a week or something ago.† This is a designated footpath but it’s also an unsurfaced road, and there are two houses at the end of it. It’s barely a lane wide, and you have to plaster yourself and your dog(s) against the wall to let a car by.
As we came down the hill to the unsurfaced lane, we met Mr Pistachio. Pistachio himself was a vague little spot at the far end of the track. Behind him there was a car. Er—there’s a car, I said to Mr Pistachio. I know, he said. She went down to the end and turned around. And he giggled, like this was terribly funny. Um. She’s lost, it happens. Mr Pistachio went on to the end of the track and started up the hill. I looked at Pistachio, making a quarter of a mile an hour maybe down the middle of the road, and the car behind him. I couldn’t scratch my head because both hands were full of leads. Hellhounds and I retired to a wide place before the wall starts, and prepared to wait. And we waited. And waited. As Pistachio ambled a doggy zigzag with a car helplessly following. Oh, come on, Pistachio, said Mr Pistachio genially. Pistachio did not come on. Pistachio strolled. Pistachio mooched. And Mr Pistachio stood a few steps up from the bottom of the hill and did nothing.
Pistachio waved his tail gently as he went by. As the car behind him passed us, the woman said thank you to me—as we stood out of the way and watched the scene with our jaws dropping. Well, my jaw was dropping anyway. We were standing there a good two or three minutes. I think if I was driving a car stuck behind a moseying dog whose owner is doing NOTHING to get it out of the way I might at least have had words to say as I went by the accountable human . . . particularly since I would have had plenty of time to think of those words.
But I don’t think she did. When the track widened out she could get past, and she did. Pistachio pootled up to his owner and they wandered off together. Eeesh.
* * *
* Although large does vary. We hurtled past a little family group about a week ago, and the nine-ish-year-old boy said to me eagerly, Are those Great Danes? Um—no, sorry, they’re whippet crosses. As we streamed on by, I could hear one of the grown-ups of the party explaining that my guys were much too small to be Great Danes. A Great Dane would come up to your chest, he said. A Great Dane is the size of a pony. A Great Dane is as big as that car over there.
Unfortunately at this point we were hurtling out of earshot. I would have liked to hear the next comparison. A Great Dane stands as high as the St Radegund bell tower! A Great Dane leaps over tall buildings in a single bound!
** Some exception made for puppies. Some. They need to learn not to all-over people before they outgrow being cute.
*** This is in fact one of the additional things I hate about irresponsible jerks who let their dogs run loose in public spaces. My guys would love more opportunity to hurtle off lead . . . but I’m not going to risk it, and I’m also not going to unleash hellhounds on an unsuspecting public. Hellhounds are quite capable of leaping up to lick your face from a standing spring, and they take sudden inexplicable likings to bemused strangers often enough to keep me alert. But it is so unfair when other dogs have more fun because they have bad owners.
Yet another run in today with a known pernicious quantity. Some strutting male human with three spaniels. I think they’re gun dogs—the four of them together have a kind of shadowy aura of guns and beaters and dead things. And my guess is the one who has to go for the hellhounds every time he sees them is an entire male who is boss of that little pack and has to prove what a big guy he is every time he sees another entire male.^ The human is perfectly well aware of the situation and he does call the bloody animal off—but he does so in that same All Things Fear Me Because I Am The Man way that he swanks around generally—and he doesn’t bother till his hormonal buddy has had his rush and growl.
I was thinking today that this has now gone on long and often enough that I’ve begun thinking of something to say that I can memorise in advance, coherent thought in the heat of confrontation not being one of my skills. This will nonetheless not go well. Some scrawny old broad taking him to task? Brace yourselves. The earth may tremble on its axis.
^ Should I be specifying the entire male is one of the spaniels? The accompanying human has so much of the same testosterone arrogance.
† Whom we saw again today. On lead. He slunk by, pretending we didn’t exist, and while hellhounds stood six inches taller than usual—we’d again prudently withdrawn to a wider bit of path—and watched him very carefully they allowed him to slink past without challenge.
People think I’m kidding when I say if I have to choose, I’ll take cold and raining. I’m not kidding. I was thinking about it today as I examined the latest crop of mysterious evil toxic bug bites, scrapes, scratches, bruises and gouges, that I don’t actually like wearing shorts quite aside from the fact that wearing shorts means that it’s HOT: I frelling damage too easily. Also the bugs are getting worse. This is the second time I’ve had one of these red-haloed purple doohickeys and they last for weeks.* And the nettles, because of all the rain, are extremely fierce and juicy. They’ll burn you through heavy jeans denim—they’ll burn you at twenty paces in shorts.**
It was a particularly bad day for off lead dogs too. I knew walking by the river was going to be fraught but the idea of climbing into Wolfgang and driving somewhere in temperatures of 112°F (nearly) was pretty loathsome. And most of the river trail is shady. Today it was shady and covered with wet lolloping off lead dogs.*** Arrrrgh. Fortunately most of them were friendly but most of them were also gigantic, and ran in packs. Listen, you bloody human morons, being mobbed by five or six thugs individually twice your size counts as harassment, okay? Even if there isn’t any snarling.
Our best encounter, however, was the last, after we’d left the riverbank and were headed back toward town on one of the little one-and-a-half-lanes wide back roads that don’t have a speed limit which means you can do sixty and some people do. I do not plug into Pooka on these roads. There was body language on this particular dog that even I could read—from farther away than I could tell if it was on lead or not. We got a little closer and—relief—it was. I still cranked hellhounds in before I really needed to because this thing was making me nervous even on lead. And then the UNBELIEVABLE TWO LEGGED HALFWIT, no, QUARTERWIT on the other end of the lead as we drew abreast smiled vaguely and said hello AS THE FRELLING DOG BROKE FOR MINE AND HE DIDN’T MAKE ANY ATTEMPT TO STOP IT. I think the only reason we didn’t have serious blood on the pavement in this case is because Chaos, for a wonder, agreed with Darkness’ view of the situation and lunged forward with his brother—McKinley shoulder muscles here going AAAAAAAAH but holding—barking and snarling right back, and, like so many bullies, I don’t think their opponent† was expecting resistance—or quite up to taking on two of them at once. Nasty quick little beggars, sighthounds. Anyway in the melee, and somewhat conscious of my bare legs, although hellhounds were out in front of me clearly prepared to take on all comers, I was mainly interested in getting out, which in this case meant backing up into a morass. Those used to be pink All Stars. And there was this large, complex, affectionate bramble. Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh.
At least the excitement seems to have given Chaos an appetite. He’d eaten two of six†† meals in the previous forty-eight hours, to his human’s despair.††† He ate lunch today! He ate dinner!
. . . I’ll let you know how supper goes.
* * *
* Last time I had one was . . . the last heat spasm we had. May? I might assume it was the same one hideously re-revealed but it’s on the other leg. I think.
** Too much information alert. And then there’s Darkness, who has a strange fetish for crapping in tall stands of nettles. If he restricted himself to indulging this curious behaviour when we’re out of town I wouldn’t mind. Fishing around by the side of the footpath with nothing but a plastic bag for protection. . . .^
^ Even more too much information alert. It’s perfectly true that there are way too many irresponsible slobs of dog owners who look the other way so they don’t have to pretend to pick anything up.+ It’s also true that town councils are chronically short of money, including for things like public green space upkeep. I don’t want your two-year-old falling down in dog crap either. But there’s not always a lot the anxious, trying-hard dog owner can do about picking up efficiently in long grass. And if I limited my poor hellhounds to freshly-mowed landscape there would be days when we never found anywhere they could use. And I’ll teach my hellhounds to employ a litterbox just as soon as the legislation is passed ordering people to keep their frelling cats in their own gardens.
+ I’ve got a great idea that I’m sure would make my fortune if I could figure out how to market it. Filled Dog Crap Bags. I’d need to find a source of some cheap, inert substance that can be broken up into globs of roughly the right size and weight . . . and then I start putting globs in dog crap bags and knotting them closed with the convenient plastic tie handles, and then I sell the frellers to the creeps out there who want to look like they pick up after their dogs without actually having to do it. There would need to be several sizes too: it would never do for a Rottweiler owner to be swinging a Yorkshire-terrier-sized bag . . . or vice versa. As I say, I’m sure these would go like copies of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY# if I knew how to find my buyers. I think the full page ads in USA TODAY, the SUN, and YOMIURI SHIMBUN## might not reach enough of the right people.### There must be a way. Discretion absolutely guaranteed. Orders sent out in plain envelopes and no database will be created.
# All other comparisons are, of course, iniquitous.
### I may be missing a trick. Perhaps it should be full page ads in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and the GUARDIAN.
*** I think I’ve told you my guys are not the least interested in getting into the river. They can be panting like bellows and draaaaaaagging on the ends of their leads and they still aren’t interested.^ I can stand in the river and call them and they will remain on the shore, waiting for me to come out before they trot up . . . and start licking my wet legs in a there-there-you-poor-soggy-thing sort of way. Feh.
^ Our native hell is a cold, raining one.
† Border collie crossed with something bigger. Alsatian, maybe.
†† Little and often is the rule for sighthounds anyway, because their extreme undercarriage design makes them prone to gut trouble. Times 1,000,000 in my hellhounds’ case. So they get three little meals a day. When they eat them.
††† Both of us went to bed in a bad mood last night.
Eat, you crummy rotten animal! You’ll have a stomachache tomorrow morning if you don’t!
I’m not going to eat, leave me alone! I won’t have a stomachache! I won’t!
Like all those other stomachaches you haven’t had when you don’t eat!
—Darkness, in another corner of the kitchen, having eaten his ration, whistling through his teeth and looking innocent.
It’s RAINING. Why is it RAINING? I know, I know, it’s the frelling jet stream, it’s not streaming, it’s settled down in its deck chair with its Pimm’s* and isn’t going anywhere. But for the last three days the national weather report has declared that all the rain is in Ireland and up north. THEN WHY IS IT RAINING HERE? Hampshire is about as south as you can get, unless you want go down to the edge and fall in the Solent.** It will remain dry in the south, says the radio. It will not remain dry in the south. It hasn’t been dry in the south in about two months. It rains EVERY DAY. Sometimes it rains more and sometimes it rains less, but it rains. I am expecting to wake up some morning and discover that the hellhounds and I have turned mossy green overnight. Getting laundry to dry . . . eh. Even with the Aga on*** you can just about feel water droplets forming on your face if you walk in the bathroom after I’ve hung a load of laundry on the overhead airer. Airer. Ha. The fogger. The moister. It’s kind of interesting, in a depressing sort of way, what’s happening in the garden, which I haven’t got out to do any work in . . . probably about two months. There’s the stuff that says YAAAAAAY RAAAAAAIN WE LOOOOOOVE RAIN and is growing six or eighteen times its normal size. And there’s the stuff that’s drowning. But trying to make my work-for-pay schedule align with the whimsy of the heavens, so I could get out and do some weeding and some rescuing, is not on: plus if there’s a break in the downpour I probably need to try to hurtle hellhounds. Hellhounds are not at all good natured and cooperative about getting wet and clearly feel that something should be done about the frequency with which this undesirable occurrence is foisted upon them. I couldn’t agree more. I’m just a little at a loss about how to implement it.
I certainly failed today. We drove out to Warm Upford (in the fantastically reliable Wolfgang) for some different soggy landscape. I had just been listening to a weather report saying dry in the south as I parked under a tree and it started raining. Arrrrgh. We hurtled anyway. I wasn’t going to waste the drive, and it was indeed a different soggy landscape. However one of those moments of Utmost Humiliation occurred.† We were stopped under another tree while I was texting to Niall about how I wasn’t going to accept his almost irresistible offer to ring handbells with his fancy Wednesday group tonight when there was an unexpected opening, which doesn’t happen very often . . . because I am not going to blow off abbey practise till I RING BETTER and also they’ve accepted their fate and made me a member††. There was some urgency involved since it was only about eight hours hence and, as Niall knows, Pooka hangs around my neck pretty much 24/7.
But as I was texting, standing under a tree out in the middle of nowhere in the beautiful Hampshire countryside with two wet cranky hellhounds and the rain trickling down my glasses, a runner went past us. A serious runner, clearly, from his tall skinny frame to that lope that only long distance runners have to the spandex running gear which was absolutely devoid of any little rectangular pockets containing mobile phones. And as he sped past us he gave me exactly the look of contempt I have given other slaves to technology on similar occasions.
* * *
* Humans don’t like Pimm’s and deck chairs in the teeming rain. We’re funny that way.
** Which you would hardly notice. Oh yes, you’d say. This is very heavy rain. We’ve had a lot of it lately.
*** And why wouldn’t it be on when the ambient temperature tends to hang out in the fifties? (That’s the low teens somewhere in Celsius.) July you say? Maybe it’s not the jet stream, maybe some of the eastern Australia winter got lost and fetched up here?^
^ And has joined the jet stream with the deck chairs and the Pimm’s+. They’ve discovered they’re twin souls and now we’ll never get rid of them.
+ You all know your Pimm’s, yes? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pimm’s It’s one of these fabulously English things that I as a lifelong Anglophile# have always known.##
# Yes, lifelong. It has survived emigrating here which is pretty robust of it. Real life is a kick in the teeth to most misty ideals. Hey, England is still the only country with lots of change-ringing bell towers. Even if this somewhat begs the question about how/why I learnt to ring in the first place. A silly-with-it Anglophile who moves to an area of this country whose local chapter of the ringers’ guild runs to dozens of towers~ (even if not all of them are managing to maintain either a band or the ringability of their bells, sigh)? I was doomed.~~
~ Tonight at the abbey went reasonably well. I got through my de rigueur touch of Grandsire Triples better than sometimes which is to say that I held my line when other people were losing theirs. Arrgh. Scary Man was not there tonight so some of us peons were revolting. Gemma stood her bell after successfully ringing an unaffected touch of Stedman Triples and said to me, wouldn’t you like to give it a shot? Oh, go on. And I said, no, no, I haven’t been asked. Gemma, while a proper member and booming up through the ranks with speed and panache, is still a lower-level ringer, but at this point Linnet joined us, found out what we were talking about, said to me, would you like to? And I said I would love a shot at Stedman Triples here, so Linnet, who is an upper-level ringer said, I’ll have a word with Albert. Who did his slightly-stunned look and said okay. I had a minder, and I didn’t do it perfectly, but I did it and I clearly can do it. Even at the abbey.
I’m also sure that my rather startlingly successful evening at New Arcadia last Friday was an aid to progress. The abbey is not an easy tower. I was talking to one of the other upper-level people—one of the ones who can actually turn in the monster abbey tenor, which is to say ring it as part of a method rather than just bonging behind—and he said that one more thing about ringing there is that all the bells are more or less odd struck, which gets increasingly interesting the more and the bigger bells there are.
Although speaking of turning in the tenor—we had a visitor tonight. This modest young slip of a lad who looks like he spends his spare time helping little old ladies cross the street. And who belongs to one of these elite ringing groups so occult we revolting peons aren’t allowed to know its name, let alone its secret handshake. They rang Cambridge major for him to have the opportunity to turn in our tenor. I am pleased to report that while he did it admirably he had the decency to have to work at it a bit, and to look a little overheated by the end.
However I am even more pleased to report that our tower captain, trolling for bodies, asked me if I’d ring for the Olympic opening ceremony they’re laying on Friday week. Gemma and I were discussing the pros and cons of going to the pub (we went) when he strolled up and asked ‘if either of you ladies was available’. I think this counts as being asked. I proudly wrote my initials on the chalkboard.
~~ Have I ever told you the story of the weekend I spent in Hampshire with that fascinatingly peculiar writer Peter Dickinson and his wife? Peter’s first wife was already ill at that point but Peter and his elder son took me sightseeing, which included footpaths, thatched roofs, flint-and-brick architecture, beech trees, oak trees, cider, Morris men and change ringing. I suspect this is another of those how many times have I told you . . . oh well.
##Not that I’m one of its supporters, mind. Single malt Scotch, yes. Pimm’s, no. Previous generations’ alcopops. Feh.
† No, not being caught having a pee in the hedgerow. This has already happened.
†† If they ever do. Sigh. But see previous footnote about being asked to ring.
I. Am. So. Angry.
This morning hellhounds and I went out for a hurtle. As usual. And we usually have our main walk first, and a littler walk or walks later when we’re all getting tired from the demands of the day.* But I was particularly determined that we have a good walk with some countryside involved this morning, because the weather is Doing Its Thing again** and it was going to be increasingly lurid this afternoon. So we set off down the hill to the footpath to Old Eden.
And met a dog. People with dogs come, and people with dogs go, and some of your problems disappear when Henry or Carlotta gets bored with walking the dog and stops doing it.*** This particular dog is one of the replacement problems that has appeared in the last few months. It used to be kept on lead. But its owner has evidently taken it to six half-hours of obedience training for dog owners who want to feel that they’re doing the right thing without having to work too hard on it, or equivalent, and has therefore started letting it off lead because it now does what it’s told, right? Six half-hours of obedience training is enough, isn’t it? There were twenty other dogs in the class (which is why they never practised the recall off lead) so every dog is now perfectly socialised to other dogs as well as perfectly obedient, right?
We’ve met this flower of canine discipline before, but in 20/20 hindsight I realise it’s been getting increasingly out of control, we just hadn’t met it under sufficiently malign circumstances yet. We saw it today at the far end of a long stretch of path with a hedgerow on one side and a big estate fence on the other—there’s nowhere to go. And it saw us. And I didn’t like its body language at all.
We stopped. I cranked hellhounds in on short lead, one on either side of me. The man shambling along behind it—I already know this guy’s a jerk, but that’s an old story—eventually perhaps registered that it was that evil cow with her two dogs standing there, the evil cow who doesn’t acknowledge his perfect right to have the footpath to himself so he doesn’t have to deal with his dog in any way. Anyway, he called the thing. Rudolf, maybe, or Rudolfa. It ignored him. Well of course.
This was still all happening at some distance. I know that you don’t turn your back on an aggressive dog and walk away if it’s close. You hold your ground, don’t look it in the eye and hope that there won’t be blood on the ground shortly. Rudolf(a) was doing that half-mincing half-stalking thing that is usually bad news. The jerk was still calling it. It was still ignoring him. I thought it was worth turning calmly and walking back the way we came . . . this is where the ‘getting increasingly out of control’ comes in: I had thought that walking away would give jerkface a chance to collar the bugger.
No. Wrong. Jerkface was now screaming at it. We kept walking (calmly) but I did glance back over my shoulder, and it was now streaking toward us with its head out and ears flat. OH *&^%$£”!!!!! GREAT.
And Jerkface stopped calling it.†
What saved us is the dog’s own personality, which is that it’s a lower-level bully rather than an upper-level bully. I’ll take what I can get, thanks. I was at this point looking over my shoulder kind of a lot because if it was really going to jump us from behind, I wanted it to hit me first: I have a much better chance of suing the ass off Jerkface if I can demonstrate teethmarks in my leg. But it would get about twenty feet from us and then oh-my-goodness there is such a fascinating smell emanating from the hedgerow right there. So it would investigate the hedgerow till we got enough ahead of it that it could morph back into the Incredible Hulk and come after us again.
Yes. It chased us all the way back into town because by that time I was streaming with adrenaline and in no condition to make any further decisions. Even at what passes in our case for a stroll†† we soared past some people we’d met on our way out—people with a dog on lead—and I said to them, there’s an off lead dog behind us, I should perhaps warn you, and it’s not friendly, and the woman said miserably, oh dear, yes, this happens so often, Tootles/Tamerlane has been attacked so many times he’s very nervous of other dogs—at which point Tootles/Tamerlane went nuts, and while my confused hellhounds shrank back against me†††, I commiserated—and kept going.
I have no idea what the end of the story was with Rudolf/Rudolfa and Jerkface. Once we were back among houses again perhaps it finally slunk back to its owner like a domestic pet rather than a jungle thug. Tootles/Tamerlane and his people were coming along behind us—on our new route—and I looked back again and they remained unmolested. But we had a town walk when we wanted to have a country walk and while hellhounds cheered up, which is the hellhound way, the hurtle was permanently ruined for me. And we’re going to see Jerkface and his bloody dog again. And sure, I won’t turn around and walk away this time, but . . . then what? How developed is the bully side of its nature becoming?‡
I hate this SO MUCH. That irresponsible [insert sexual perversion of choice here, preferably including excrement and dead things] owners can wreck it for the rest of us. Which is exactly what they are doing. The aggressive off lead dog situation has been relatively low-level for a while . . . but it’s getting worse again. And there is absolutely damn-all we can do about it.‡‡
* * *
* Holding down the floor of the dog bed is very tiring.
** On my way to tower practise last night suddenly there was lightning and thunder and fists of rain beating on the roof of the car. Frelling frelling. And small but alarming flash floods in the dips in the road. If I’d been going any farther I’d’ve turned around. My All Stars were still soaked through in the two-minute sprint—speaking of sprints to your tower—from car park to abbey tower door. I’m sure ringing with wet feet does not help your concentration. There. I knew I had an excuse.
*** And then can’t understand why it’s destructive in the house or mounts people’s legs or bites the children.
† I was so hysterical with rage that when I got home I rang up a friend with dogs—and a local dog problem—so I could bay at someone who would understand. And at this point she interrupted and said, Blokes don’t like losing face. And he was losing face. I bet he not only stopped calling it, but turned around and walked in the other direction, telling himself that that’s what whoever ran that six-half-hour obedience course told him to do if he ever lost control of his dog, and not because he’s a gutless piece of dog crap.
†† Again in hindsight we should have walked more slowly. But we don’t walk slowly. We were walking slower than we usually walk, exactly for this reason, which puzzled hellhounds, who were more inclined to get under my feet.
††† For which I am very grateful because my logical dog, which is to say Darkness, has defensive aggression problems of his own.
‡ I’m also hoping, rather urgently, that Jerkface doesn’t attempt to tell me how to behave around dogs. This has happened once or twice after some incident with some other human-ruined dog: that some pontificating moron wants to tell me I’ve got it wrong. Generally speaking I suffer from l’espirit d’escalier like most of the rest of us, but if I’ve had a chance to brood about something and then someone says something ill-advised—you will hear me in Albuquerque.
It’s not worth it. I’d rather use all that blistering energy on SHADOWS.
‡‡ PS: Yes. The weather this afternoon was diabolical.
Peter and I went to Mottisfont today. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont/*
In the sheeting rain. The sheeting rain. Hey, gardens in the rain: the traditional English experience.**
Between Peter’s bridge playing and my bells and singing*** and, you know, earning a living, there aren’t a lot of free(ish) days in any given week. And we’d planned today, including booking the dog minder to give hellhounds their afternoon hurtle.† Peter said, to the drumming of the rain on the roof, what do you want to do? I said, I’ve booked the dog minder, I’m going somewhere. Fine, said Peter, I’ll come with you.
So we went to Mottisfont. It’s after midsummer: the roses won’t keep.
There are advantages to famous public gardens in the rain: you will probably have them to yourselves. There were half a dozen other stalwarts/crazy people there, but Mottisfont in high summer is usually frelling jammed. I shot off more photos in less time than I probably ever have there, and was feeling quite smug till (a) MY CAMERA’S BATTERY DIED†† and (b) I got home and discovered that despite compulsive lens-wiping better than half my photos have large grey raindrop blobs on them. ARRRRRRRGH.†††
* * *
* And we, or at any rate I, have to go back for the E H Shepherd show.
** I should perhaps officially declare that while I like to complain, I don’t actually mind all that much, barring the immediate sulky-hellhound situation, and that not being able to get into the garden at all due either to imminent drowning or the likelihood of being smothered by very happy, very lush foliage does eventually^ make me CRANKY, as does sinking more than ankle deep on any/all local footpaths. Waiting for me to flounder back out of the latest morass also tends to deepen and enrich wet hellhound sulkiness. This is not a self-aggravating cycle likely to make any of us better human/canine beings.^^
But I will take cold and wet to hot and dry ANY DAY. ANY YEAR. ANY CENTURY.
^ ‘eventually’ being one of those mutable concepts
^^ There is possibly nothing more FUN in this world than getting tangled up with some wet aggressive off lead brute whose so-called owner is slogging on with his/her head sunk between his/her shoulders and his/her hood pulled well down against the grievous misconduct of the weather and the screams of the assaulted.+
+ Pam Adams
Perhaps that’s what you need on your hurtles is a bully-bodyguard to protect the hellhounds and you from idiot owners with off-lead dogs.
::Sighs:: Only if I can hire Southdowner as wrangler.
LOL I understand that the hellhounds were worried. I would be too, even though I know that bully terriers are not dangerous.
Well . . . Alex/Southdowner may want to put me right about this but (a) ALL dogs have the potential to be either sweethearts or dangerous and (b) bull terriers were originally bred to be fighting dogs and it’s unwise to forget this. Bullies were actually on my short list when I was between dogs this last time. They do tend to be people dogs, and I like the twinkle in their eyes, and I told myself that I could cope with one. Alex has 1,000,000# bullies and they all get along fine, so it can be done, but Alex is also a professional dog behaviourist and, as she says herself, socialises the bzrgm out of her critters.
# There are photos
*** Nadia is about to go on maternity leave. As you might say, waaaaaaaaaah.
† In this weather it’s easy to tell she’s been. There are streaming harnesses hooked over the rail in front of the Aga, dripping raincoats hanging over the hellhound gate by the front door, and muddy towels on the floor.
†† My camera’s battery died because I took it into the camera shop on my way to Nadia yesterday, to buy a new lens cap, since I have managed to lose mine.^ Not only did they not have a lens cap that would fit, but the Nice Man behind the counter took about twenty minutes to decide he couldn’t figure out how to de-set some of the weirdnesses that this camera has constructed for my benefit. Siiigh. My beautiful no-longer-new camera has not been the greatest success of my life: it has TOO MANY BUTTONS and trying to deal with the thing and (for example) hellhound leads is a disaster, and as I’m frantically juggling all the buttons go squeeeeeeee and reset themselves in fabulous new patterns . . . unknown even to Nice Men behind the counters of dedicated camera shops. Anyway. There had apparently been severe battery drain as the settings all ran around hiding behind things so the Nice Man couldn’t find them.
^ It’s in the garden. Somewhere. Sigh.
†††As I was leaving the garden, Peter having sloshed on ahead for a cup of tea at the café, I met a bloke coming in, carrying a lot of photography equipment and looking gloomy. The rain had got harder over the course of our visit, and was at this point running down the peak of your hood, caroming off your nose and thundering off your shoulders. Gardens in the rain, I said, at least there’s no one else around. Hmmmmm, he said.