I promised Robin a guest blog on Eva Ibbotson MONTHS ago. (It feels like all my blog posts should start with that sentence!)
The problem with this one (or at least the excuse du jour) was that it was a book review. Which meant, obviously, that I had to re-read the book. I’ve started this process three times now. The first two times, I didn’t have a firm deadline. So I read the book and fell in love with the writing all over again. And then I just HAD to re-read all her other books. And then I didn’t have time to write the blog!*
Third time’s the charm, right? *grins*
Magic Flutes is one of Eva Ibbotson’s five young adult romances, titled after Mozart’s opera of the same name. It tells the story of a most unlikely pair: Tessa, the Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein, and Guy Farne, a foundling child abandoned on a wharf at Newcastle upon Tyne.
Tessa is in Vienna, dedicating her life to the glory of opera in the service of the International Opera Company. She works from dawn to midnight for the privilege of learning her trade as the assistant wardrobe mistress. Struggling under a mountain of inherited debt, she has given the order for her old home, Burg Pfaffenstein, to be sold.
Meanwhile, Guy has been sent by the British Government to assist Austria in seeking a loan from the League of Nations. But his visit also has a personal side. Ten years ago, he was cruelly rejected by the snobbish family of his first love, Nerine Hurlingham, for his lack of family and fortune. But now Guy is on the verge of realising all his dreams. For he has become immensely rich in the intervening years, and Nerine has been widowed by the war.
All Guy needs is the perfect setting for the proposal – Burg Pfaffenstein. There is to be a week-long house party at the castle to introduce his fiancée to the Austrian nobility. There will be a ball, a regatta, a banquet, and to crown it all, a performance of the opera at which he and Nerine first set eyes on each other.
And so Guy has secretly engaged the International Opera Company to perform Magic Flutes at Pfaffenstein.
I won’t tell you the rest of the story, because I’d hate to spoil the book for you. But I will say this. This is a beautiful, touching, inspiring book. It fills me with hope and belief and joy.
Go read it!
Next up: The Secret Countess
* I also had trouble because I decided that I loved them all so much that I wanted to review them all. And then I had trouble deciding which book to review first…
A fortnight or so ago a New Friend sidled up to me at St Margaret’s and said that she’d bought a ticket for a charity concert—so she wouldn’t chicken out of going at the last minute, I know that one, on the day you’re too comfortable on the sofa with hellhounds or similar—but she wondered if she could bamboozle me into buying a ticket and coming too? It was a worthy cause and we could hang out. We’ve made half-hearted attempts to hang out previously but they’ve never come off because we never nail one down by saying THIS place and THIS time and putting it in the diary, you know? Modern life. Who has time for spontaneity?*
So despite a qualm or two about the concert itself I said yes. You can put up with a lot in congenial company. And she and I were finally getting somewhere, you know?
And then last week at St Margaret’s when I told her I’d got one of the few remaining tickets** she looked all doleful and woebegone and said she hadn’t rung me because it hadn’t been confirmed yet but for Inarguable Personal Reasons it looked like she wasn’t going to be able to go after all. . . .
Oh. Feh. So I’m now stuck with a ticket to a concert I was only looking forward to because I was going to see her.
But I had the frelling reservation and, at this point, a close personal relationship with the venue’s box office, who had hired a uniformed guard with two Alsatians and a Darth Vader clone to protect my investment till I arrived IN PERSON and offered my palm print as proof I was the correct individual to cede the ticket to, so I’d better go. I went.
Fortunately I took my knitting.
IT WAS UNBELIEVABLY DIRE. UNBELIEVABLY. DIRE. The concert. It was. AAAAAAAAUGH. Words fail. Words need to fail or I will be banned from WordPress for the rest of my life.*** The one minor stroke of good fortune was that I’d arrived early enough it was worth getting my knitting out immediately so it was already on my lap when these jokers got up on stage and started prancing about doing whatever the frell they thought they were doing ARRRRRRRRRRRGH. After the first . . . incident . . . I firmly picked my knitting up again and got QUITE A FEW ROWS done by the time it was over. I swear I would have run away screaming† if I hadn’t had my knitting. . . .
Which leads me to the next thing. I’ve been torturing myself, and some harmless hanks of yarn, trying to make another gift. Me and my frelling Secret Projects. GIVE IT UP, MCKINLEY. I’ve already frogged this one once. This second time it looks a lot better than it did the first time but it’s still what you might call . . . clearly hand made. Does anyone out there have any useful guidelines for when you cut your losses and frog again and when you soldier on on the grounds that your friend will appreciate the effort you’ve gone to even if SHE BURIES THE FINAL OBJECT IN THE BACK GARDEN IN CASE IT’S CONTAGIOUS?
Siiiiiiiigh. . . .
I also got distracted on Etsy the Evil†† from my (relatively) honest quest for a needle roll††† into yarn bowls. And I made the perilous decision to ask Twitter if any of the twitterverse’s knitters use yarn bowls. Am I just being flimflammed by a pretty face? Hand-thrown pottery bowls are very pretty. Or do they help with what I have dubbed the invisible-kitten problem with your wodge of working yarn? In the rush of helpful answers—including plastic bags, yarn cozies [sic], and teapots—I suddenly had a FABULOUS IDEA.
Was this totally sitting on a shelf waiting to be a yarn bowl through the long years of no longer being required for blanc-mange or what? Stay tuned.
* * *
* Hey, I finished the day’s stint early/it’s raining and I don’t feel like gardening/if I hear my neighbour’s extra-loud telephone bell go one more time^ I shall run mad with an axe, want to grab a cup of tea somewhere? No, sorry, I can’t, I’m working a double shift today/it’s raining so I’m sorting out the garage^^/I have to sort out the garage because I need to hide a body fast.^^^
^ They need fewer friends
^^ No friend of mine would ever use that excuse
^^^ Ah. Okay. Need help?+
+ I found a drowned mouse in a bucket today. Ewwwwwwww. I have no truck with the ‘mice are cute’ brigade and am perfectly happy to trap the suckers, using the fastest, lethalest traps available, but drowning in a bucket is a slow, crummy way to die and made me sad.
** And my email, possessed by demons as it is, failed to accept the confirmatory email from the venue so I’m all AM I GOING OR NOT. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO HERE, CONSULT AN ASTROLOGER?
*** Banned—? From WordPress? Um . . . actually . . .
† Most of the people who preach at St Margaret’s I like and find not merely worth listening to but interesting. But there is one . . . I have been trying to decide if it is worth establishing a habit of knitting during the sermons so that the next time this joker stands up I won’t have to gnaw my knuckles till they bleed so as not to run away screaming.^
^ I realise that a Supreme Being needs a sense of humour, but I feel perhaps we might review some of said humour’s minor manifestations? People who have been at this Christian thing a long time keep telling me that God likes engaging with his mortal children on their level. Okay. So let’s discuss the practical jokes.
†† You know I have been complaining about the mess and confusion of Etsy’s so-called search function and have finally realised . . . it’s all a careful plan to entice you in deeper and deeper.
††† The design I like best is only in a bunch of dumb fabrics. ARRRRRGH. Also I object to spending more than £11,872.33 (most of this is the overseas shipping cost from America) for a needle roll. So this is still an open question.
Pav is cycling, or gyrating, through another phase of, Jeans legs and shoelaces, pulling on; and I mean PULLING. ON. —which is interesting when Mavis is walking her because Mavis tends to wear leggings. I happened to be there today when Mavis was trying to get her out the door and . . . it was pretty funny. Anyway. I am a silly person, I consider dogs to be entertaining companions with a slightly unfortunate take on acceptable social behaviour, and I seem to like the ones who don’t pop out of the womb dying to be trained to DO SOMETHING. One of my theories of surviving puppyhood is that puppies do in fact grow out of a surprising amount of their most appalling behaviour*, and you keep mildly insisting they learn where the end of their frelling extending lead is, that they come when called**, and that they sit when you tell them to***, and hey, you let as much of the rest of it go by as you can without losing any major body parts or pieces of architecture. So when Pav decided to take me for a walk this morning by my right pants leg I said fine, whatever. She in fact divided her attentions between the jeans-hem and the shoelace on that side. I didn’t think a lot about this because I knot my laces several times and a wodge that size resists being compressed past being untied again. Oh. Woe. When I got home again I discovered that she’d managed somehow to subvert the laws of physics and created a Whole New Category of Gordian knot, this one with eleven dimensions and a chorus line. I tucked the frayed dangling ends together somehow and pelted off in pursuit of the rest of my day . . .
Which culminated tonight in a FREEZING COLD CATHEDRAL† listening to Harry Christophers’ The Sixteen being unbelievable.†† If you like this kind of music, it doesn’t get better.††† But because of my little shoelace problem I couldn’t wear my sheepskin boots tonight: I was stuck with my drafty canvas All-Stars. I took my knitting, of course. And my hands were perfectly happy, knitting, and wearing a pair of Jodi Meadows’ fingerless mitts.‡
My feet are still cold.
* * *
* Sometimes several times
** The audible jingle of kibble in the hand is a perfectly acceptable training aid, including that when your hellcritter is too far away to hear it any more^ she will still respond to the sight of your wildly shaking hand. Which is only shaking to make the kibble rattle together, okay? Right.
^Well, I think. I have no idea how spectacularly acute dog hearing is.
*** I am really not doing this right because she so makes me laugh. Our ‘walk’ command which is to say walking on a short loose lead as opposed to official ‘heeling’^ is not one of our best tricks but unless the weather is unspeakably dire and/or the Wild Hunt is bearing down on us from behind I do make her ‘sit’ before she’s officially released . . . to practise learning where the end of her frelling extending lead is. Sometimes she sits beautifully—I think I’ve told you that she’s got it that ‘sit’ usually does get her something she wants, so she has started sitting spontaneously and hopefully when she thinks something desirable may be impending, like, you know, FOOOOOOOD—and sometimes she does not sit beautifully. Sometimes she just stands there and stares at me—because by this time I’ve got her chin in my hand and we are looking at each other. There’s nothing quite like being stared at by the miniature Mack truck which is a hellterror. We could be here a while, I say, at which point she usually does sit.^^
^ For some reason my fingers just typed helling
^^ She is so not the spirit and essence of obstinacy, the way the bull-terrier mythology runs. She’d much rather have a good time than demand her own way. You can see the wheels turning behind the little beady eyes: Oh drat the woman, she’s going to insist.
But, you know, obstinacy? I have grown up in a hard dog-ownership school. I have sighthounds. Although I don’t think it’s exactly obstinacy. When Pav stares at me and considers not sitting, she is thinking about laying her will against mine, she just decides against it because life is short. Sighthounds are all la-la-la did you say something? Sighthounds, as opposed to being born LONGING TO BE TRAINED TO DO SOMETHING are born autonomous. Which, as many working sighthound owners have pointed out, makes perfect sense in terms of the job they were bred to do: run things down and kill them. To do this successfully they have to be able to use their own judgement: their human may be miles away at the kill.
I SO NEED A SIGHTHOUND. The Border Collies can’t catch the little sods. (Unless a hare was very very unlucky where it was situated).
Well, what are you waiting for? GET A SIGHTHOUND. You are going to have to train it to come back to you—there is a lot of rather dreadfully amusing training text out there about getting a sighthound’s attention and convincing it that obeying you is a good thing to do. (Mine are perhaps the extreme end, but they are not at all unusual in being totally resistant to food as bribes, I mean, training rewards.) You want something from a good working line, but you’d know that. And for the rest . . . hares are tricky, but a (good working) sighthound will figure out a strategy. You build its confidence first by letting it catch lots of stupid bunnies. Chaos frelling caught the first (stupid) bunny he ever went after. Well weren’t we all very startled (especially the bunny).
And Mrs Redboots, this area is rotten with brown hares. This time of year you just about have to knock them out of the way with sticks, as well as have your hellhounds on short lead more than either you or the hellhounds appreciate when you’re out in the countryside where you’re supposed to be able to run around. We have thickets of hares, skylarks, and bluebells— and it’s been like this for the twenty-one-and-a-half years I’ve lived here—but all of them are endangered, so they say. We’ve also got dormice, water rats and otters, and I think some rather nice little wild orchids. I mean, I know we have little wild orchids, but I think they’re considered nice ones. It’s a good area. I like living here. I’ll like it better when the weather warms up.
† I seem to specialise in freezing-cold places of worship. This was not in the plan.
†† http://www.thesixteen.com/page/the-choral-pilgrimage-2013 I don’t get to their choral-pilgrimage tour every year, but more often than not. And now that Nina and Ignatius live in the area we can sometimes hoick Peter by the armpits and make him come along. As tonight.
††† I’ll take a grown-up soprano over a kiddie soprano any day. I realise this is heretical, but I don’t much like child sopranos. They sound sort of squishy and creepy. You need some weight of both years and size to bring it off—to my ear.
‡ http://www.jodimeadows.com/?page_id=804 No, Jodi made mine. I am an unadvanced beginner, and I don’t do cables.
The good news: hellhounds ate lunch. The bad news: Eventually. This is the first really long grim eating-resistant patch they’ve had since Pav came home and in the first place I’m out of practise being made this crazy and in the second place I. DO. NOT. HAVE. TIME. FOR. THIS. NONSENSE. Night before last Chaos didn’t eat more than two mouthfuls of supper—Darkness scarfed his and looked like he’d eat more. Last night I gave Chaos less . . . and Chaos scarfed his, looked like he’d’ve eaten more, and Darkness didn’t eat more than two mouthfuls. AAAAAAAAAUGH. And . . . which is why I feel obliged to be made crazy TRYING TO MAKE THEM FRELLING EAT . . . you can pretty much tell who didn’t eat much last meal: he’s the one who tries harder not to eat anything NEXT meal.
Hellterrors are clearly my future.* But I sometimes think Pav carries it to extremes. I’d heard rumours of dogs that will lick up a homeopathic pill if you offer it to them—the pills are sweet, after all. Pav does. No problem. Hellhounds do not, of course, hellhounds who closely inspect even bits of chicken before they accept them (when they accept them), although fortunately they are only weary rather than hostile to my periodic prying open of their mouths to dose them with one thing or another. I wouldn’t DREAM of trying to give them actual medicine any way but stuffing it down their throats by hand, or rather by poking finger. Pav’s first pill a couple of days ago I went through the business of opening her mouth to put the pill at the back of her throat, and she was so HEY, DO I GET TO SWALLOW SOMETHING? THAT’S GREAT, I LOVE SWALLOWING THINGS that because I am a silly person I offered her her next pill on the flat of my hand, like offering a horse a carrot. She ate it. She picked it up and ate it. I waited a minute—probably with my jaw hanging open—to make sure it didn’t re-emerge. Nope. The next one I gave her the same way and I heard her chewing it up. Crunch crunch crunch (they’re kind of big pills for a relatively little hellterror).
. . . It’s been another frantic day. Fridays usually are.** And in a few minutes I have to face hellcritter supper, two-thirds of which is likely to be fraught.
* * *
* I’ve told you I had my hand pretty much poised over the phone to make the appointment to visit the local greyhound rescue when I saw the ad for whippet-cross puppies—and that I came out of hellhound puppyhood gasping that I was getting too old for this and they were probably my last puppies. Ahem. Pav, however, as puppies go, is so frelling easy that I can imagine doing this again^, but I was thinking, if I ever get to the greyhound-rescue point again, a good rescue shelter knows its dogs, and I CAN ASK FOR ONE THAT EATS.
^ And if I breed the little hussy+ I almost certainly will
+ Southdowner asked me if I had a plan in place for when she comes on heat the first time. I said that I was going to continue to crate them, and crate them separately, and the hellhounds thus far had never shown any great interest in bitches on the make. . . . So you’re hoping to get away with it, said Southdowner, only a little sardonically. It’s not impossible, she went on, but bullies tend to be sexy little things. I was afraid you were going to say that, I replied sadly.
** Try warming up your singing voice while your hellhounds are refusing to eat their lunch. Between the sheer ARRRRRRGH factor and the absolute necessity not to say ARRRRRRRRRRRGH to them, your voice snaps shut like a switchblade. I sang anyway. I am DETERMINED this time to start singing for Oisin regularly. I am NEVER going to get used to singing with someone else doing something else/an accompanist/a partner if I DON’T DO IT. Meanwhile I’d had this possibly sensible^ idea that I might have a better run at figuring out the system for singing-with if I started with songs that I know really, really, REALLY well—like the songs I sing when I’m out hurtling^^. So I fished a few of these out of the rather terrifying stack(s) of music standing beside and around the piano^^^ and discovered . . . that in the weeks, months or years of singing them away from the piano I have, in a few cases . . . as one might say developed my own version.
I sang ’em anyway. I tried to sing them the way Oisin was playing them. . . . #
^ Sensible? Sensible? Who do I think I am?
^^ I’ve been thinking about this. When I was a kid you heard people singing—out walking the dog, or the guy at the garage pumping your gas, or your friend’s mom when you went home with someone after school (because in the ’50s in America your friend’s mom would be home). I’m not so old I remember a time before radio but I certainly remember a time before transistor radios had completely taken over—when people still sang because there wasn’t a professional doing it better out of some small shiny electronic box near at hand. Even then though you still heard ordinary people singing sometimes . . . you even heard them singing occasionally through the early eras of portable playback gadgets. And then the Sony Walkman happened. Wiki says it launched in 1979: I remember it (and increasing numbers of rivals), in its turn, completely taking over in the ’80s. And I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone over the age of about six singing for no particular reason in public. I remember being a little uneasy back then about the turn on, tune in and drop out aspect of everyone’s favourite new toy—I was a teenager in the ’60s after all—although I succumbed pretty soon. I’m maybe more conscious of the dangerous attractions of voluntary isolation than someone who works in an office and quite reasonably can’t wait to plug in away from his/her annoying colleagues. The professionally creative always has the excuse of needing to earn a living for locking herself away from the rest of the world and music can be a very good way to engage with that ratbagging story that won’t tell her what it wants. I’ve already answered my own question about why a nearly talent-free amateur dweeb should bother studying music—because any experience of performance spectacularly opens out your relationship with all music—but I’m still not going to try to strongarm anyone into coming to the Muddles’ next concert. But . . . I think we’ve lost something, if people really don’t sing while walking the dog(s) any more, or hum off-handedly, and possibly off-pitch, while standing in a queue at the chemist, rather than automatically getting their iPod out and closing themselves off with earphones.
^^^ Very similar to the TBR pile(s) around the bed at the cottage. And let’s not talk about the yarn. In the cupboard, under the bed, and in the too-short-for-another-shelf-of-books-because-my-moron-of-a-carpenter-didn’t-do-what-I-said space+ above the upstairs bookshelves.
+Maybe he had a vision that I was going to need stash space in a few years.
# Which in the case of, say, Benjamin Britten taking the mickey out of Peter Pears, trying to follow what your pianist is doing is not helpful.
I took Pav to the vet yesterday. Since our little episode with unspeakable substances in the South Desuetude churchyard a few weeks ago, she’s had a funny spot on the top of her head. There had been a stain there after our adventure and I had rubbed rather hard when I got her home and into the bathtub. My first thought was a soap allergy, and the first time the vet saw her about a fortnight ago he said that was possible, but keep an eye on it.
I’ve kept an eye on it. It’s begun insidiously to spread, and there are little crusty bits.* Eczema? My next thought was that this was a late bad reaction to the final puppy jabs—she’s six months old, and that’s a classic time for a late backlash. It hasn’t been bothering her any—it’s apparently not even itchy—so aside from giving her the obvious homeopathic detox remedies, in case it was to do with the inoculations, I’ve been leaving it alone.
And then Southdowner texted me last week that she was coming this way, could she stop in and how was Monday? Great, I said, let’s meet at the abbey for evensong after my voice lesson.** Of course she wanted to see Pav: I am merely the gateway for the viewing of Pav. Oh what a beautiful puppy, said Southdowner, even if she does have a funny patch on her forehead. Southdowner had never seen anything like the funny patch either, so I agreed that I’d take her to the vet and ask them to culture it, whatever it is.***
Meanwhile the hellhounds are going through a Not Eating phase. ARRRRRGH. STRESS. STRESS.
Here I thought Pav would enjoy the vet—she loves strange places and strange people and strange experiences. But apparently some recent trauma was hanging heavily in the air† and she spent the entire episode trying to crawl inside my shirt. When we got into the examining room she started backing up the wall, which made me all nostalgic for Holly, whose trick that was. The vet said that The Patch might be adolescent hormones—but that he agreed a culture was a good idea. So I trapped Pav, something I’m extremely skilled at from the exigencies of trying to greet three hellcritters simultaneously with a minimum of mayhem, the vet got his scraping, and Pav and I went for a nice restorative hurtle by the water meadows.
It’s Bacterial Overgrowth of Unknown Origin. I am very fond of this vet—who’s been at this surgery for as long as I’ve been in England—because he has a rare combination of skills: He wants you to know as much about the situation as he does, none of this I Am the Expert, Now Shut Up and Do What I Say, he allows you to have your own experience and to frelling well know your own critter (‘look, he/she is off, I can’t tell you how, I just know it’), and he will do his level best to support you in any responsible decision you make about your critter—including, for example, putting Rowan to sleep on a Sunday afternoon.†† So when I came back today for results and drugs, he showed me the culture and told me what all the different fuzzy bits were . . . and I’m afraid chances are the reason whatever this is got hold is because I scrubbed so hard. I probably broke the skin I was trying to clean and let the bad bugs in.
Sigh. However. We have drugs. And the hellhounds ate dinner.
* * *
* This is some of the reason why there haven’t been hellterror pics lately. It’s not a great weeping sore and people don’t cross the street to stay away from us. And in a photo you can’t really see what you are seeing: it looks a bit like a few pixels have failed and a small spot on her forehead is breaking up. But it makes her look imperfect and that is not allowed. Also she’s enough bigger and faster that she’s a lot harder to take photos of, I keep forgetting to ask visitors to take some, and I haven’t addressed the problem yet.
** This is not the best idea I have ever had. I was high enough, so to speak, after contending with Dido, that I managed to listen to that heavenly, and professional, choir, without either bursting into tears or setting fire to my music. But it was a trifle scourging. I’ve done this a few times—gone to evensong after my voice lesson—but it’s curiously worse when you may actually be getting somewhere in your own embarrassingly negligible way. If you’re a wombat watching a thoroughbred horse race you can just look at those pretty shiny long-legged creatures and think ‘wow’. If you’re a 13.2 hand cob, which is to say a little short square horse, it may be harder on morale.
*** There’s been at least one puppy drama you haven’t heard about because it lacerated Olivia’s feelings so badly and I know she keeps an eye on the blog for Pav sightings. Last time she was down she didn’t bother with any of the niceties like ‘hi, how are you’, but snatched Pav up immediately and looked at her teeth. All four puppies two or three months ago had their bottom teeth growing up inside their upper teeth because their lower jaws were too narrow. If this was a permanent situation it could be bad, like corrective dentistry and expensive and traumatic mucking about bad. It would also mean that none of the puppies would be bred, because this is a significant enough design fault that no responsible breeder would risk passing it on.
I was of course delighted to be let off the show circuit thing, but I felt more than a little wistful about no longer having the possibility of breeding Pav some day in the far distant future. She is so pretty^ and sweet and she is amazingly mellow for a bull terrier^^ and all these generous and comprehensive traits are so exactly what you do want to pass on.
Southdowner was distressed about the narrow jaw situation too: Lavvy is of her breeding and (according to Olivia) more or less took Olivia by the ear while she was helping her choose a stud, and said This one. So she felt responsible as well as involved. We won’t worry about it now, she said (especially to Olivia, who was throwing herself around and declaring that she was never, ever going to breed a litter again and furthermore she was giving Lavvy away and moving to a dog-free atoll), let’s see what they’re like when they’ve grown a little more: puppies do go through some weird phases.
I think Southdowner waited a good thirty seconds before lifting Pav’s lip to check her teeth . . . and then grinned all over her face. I knew that the teeth met better than they had when Olivia had looked but I’m not sure what I’m looking at and wasn’t sure if all was well or not. All is now well. Crufts next year, said Southdowner, still grinning.
. . . Southdowner also says that Pav won’t grow that much more—but that she’s too thin and I need to feed her more. Yeep. Here I thought she was elegant and svelte. Bullies don’t do elegant and svelte, said Southdowner severely. Bull terriers are supposed to be chunky little granite boulders on little short legs. Feed her more. Oh. Well, she’ll like that. Southdowner also says that I can certainly go on carrying her as long as I can go on carrying her: that as far as Pav is concerned, she’s a lap and/or under-the-arm dog. And as previously observed, she dangles extremely well.
^ Sic: you just need to get your bull-terrier eye in. Of course I’m also intemperately biased, but she is very pretty.
^^ I was reading an article in a dog mag at the vets’ yesterday about bull terriers. In the first place the photos were all of inferior bullies, and in the second place the text is all about stubborn. Well, bullies are not Trainability Machines like border collies, but border collies have other drawbacks+ and STUBBORN? At least they EAT. Sighthounds are stubborn and you can’t even frelling bribe them.
+ See: SHADOWS
† I asked Southdowner about this and she said, absolutely. It’s not just that dogs pick up stuff that we don’t—a frightened critter releases fear pheromones.
†† In a long by dog standards life of frequent vet-necessary emergencies, all of Rowan’s happened on weekends. Including the final one.