Life is an ugly pond-scum rat-assed bastard and then you die.
This not-eating spell with the hellhounds has been grinding on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, and they’re moving into serious weight-loss and loss of condition territory. You can see there’s something wrong, especially if you know them from a good patch. Darkness is as bad as I’ve ever seen him. He had another double-ended geysering fit last night, during which he dragged me across half Hampshire; today he had what I call ‘colic’ and what it means is that his guts howl like rabid hyenas and he won’t eat.
Usually we cycle through these spells and come out again without too much damage except to my sanity. Not this time.
Okay, here’s the promised bad news: Pavlova is going the same way. Oh, she eats. But . . .
She’s been having irregularly squishy crap for several weeks. I’ve tentatively put it down to the hormone storms of first heat. But it’s worrying. And I’m a little oversensitive on the subject of critter digestion after almost seven years of the hellhounds.
Then about a week ago she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers. Noooooooo . . .
I took her to the vet. The vet said ‘colitis’—which is one of those fancy no-help non-diagnosis words, it just means inflammation of the lower gut. We knew that. He gave us some stuff—including some stronger or different or more comprehensive probiotics, in case this was a result of the antibiotics she’d been on for the skin infection on her forehead after the Malign Encounter in the Churchyard.
We went home.* Her output has been better this week, but not that much better. This has made me unhappy. Meanwhile there are the hellhounds. My stress level could fuel the energy grid of Hampshire, and possibly the entire south of England.
This morning, while she is still on what the vet gave us for ‘colitis’, she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers.
The Yellow Geysers, which is exactly what the hellhounds have. Have had for almost seven years. It’s not just the runs, it’s a specific form of the runs.
I am so going to the vets again tomorrow. This changes the entire game, you know? If the totally-non-related, different-frelling-breed Pavlova is going down with the same damn thing that has haunted hellhounds and me for seven years. Whatever it is. Doesn’t it almost have to be parasites?** But WHAT parasites? Hellhounds were exhaustively tested for everything known to veterinary science—when they were first geysering. As my bank balance still remembers.
Meanwhile . . . you’ll forgive me if I don’t burble on tonight. I’m not feeling very burbly anyway, and immediate circumstances include that I got four hours of sleep last night. Er. ‘Night.’ Starting about 6:40 this morning. . . .
* * *
* I can’t starve her or she eats her bedding.^ She gets a little rice boiled to mush in chicken stock after an acute attack. This week she’s been on chicken as well as chicken stock and rice.
^ She’s in my lap+ as I write this.++ She’s trying to eat the left mid-thigh of my jeans which I appear to have spilled something INTERESTING on.+++
+ It’s okay. Hellhounds had a sofa earlier.
++ One-handed typing oh joy. What price voice recognition software that actually, you know, recognises, rather than expressing its unique creativity?
+++ No, she’s gone to sleep with her nose on the wet spot she’s been licking. Maybe it will give her tasty dreams.
** Unless I’m the vector.^ Toxic hellgoddess. Yellow Geyser Mary. I also don’t see any escape from the articulated lorry-load of GUILT when—that’s when—we finally find out what this is.
^ And in case anyone is trying to think of a tactful way of making an inquiry of a personal nature . . . I was diagnosed with IBS over thirty years ago, before anyone had frelling heard of it, including me. And Digestive Issues are dead common with people with ME. If this is a trans-species parasite I wouldn’t have a clue. I wouldn’t know normal if it bit me.
Yesterday evening when Fiona and I took my assortment of hellcritters out for final pre-prandial scrambles Darkness produced a crap that Did Not End Well. My heart sank to the centre of the earth. Twice in one week? What on, in or beyond earth is the matter?
When we got home I whacked some Ars Alb into him immediately—the classic food-poisoning and Montezuma’s revenge remedy—which is my first line of defense with the hellhounds’ digestion, on the presumption that when it goes wrong it’s probably because the hellhound in question found a sandwich-end in a hedgerow when I wasn’t looking. The thing is that I am pretty well always looking, especially the last couple of months when everything is pretty dire hellhound-wise, and since last Thursday night I can barely blink for watching Darkness. Which raises the appalling spectre of the possibility that whatever is wrong with their digestion, at least Darkness’, who is the worse, is coming loose from being a specific reaction to a specific allergen, ie the sandwich-end. This does not bear thinking about.
He seemed all right the rest of the evening. He ate dinner* if with less than overwhelming enthusiasm, but we haven’t seen enthusiasm toward food in anyone except the hellterror in months. He crashed out in the dog bed as if he hadn’t a care in the world.** Usually when he’s bad there are signs: you know your own dog. But he sure caught me out last Thursday.
So last night when I let them out in the mews courtyard again I didn’t merely go out with them—which I always do, I was just really, really unlucky last Thursday—I went out with their leads. Not really expecting trouble. He can’t have found a sandwich-end without my noticing. He can’t. I was not expecting trouble enough that I wasn’t wearing my coat.***
Darkness set off briskly for the archway.
Oh, no. Nooooo.
He stopped long enough for me to get his lead on, and Chaos’. All hurtles are fine with Chaos.
We were out about half an hour. And golly we were moving. We probably almost got to Turpitude again. It was not pretty. But I kept thinking I am SO GRATEFUL he wasn’t gone HALF AN HOUR last Thursday. I’d probably have exploded or something. I don’t know if he heard me screaming, or didn’t like being out on his own, or what. But he came back. Last night he had Chaos and me with him so he could, I don’t know . . . ‘relax’ seems singularly inapropos in the circumstances. But I’m the one finally turned around—I was freezing to death† and he couldn’t have anything left to lose. . . .
I was also whapping myself up longside the head, or I would have been if I hadn’t had my hands full of leads. Ars Alb works pretty well—but one of the basic rules of homeopathy is that you stop dosing when there is improvement. How are you supposed to know if there’s improvement? He hadn’t been restless or visibly unhappy or any of that. I should have kept giving him Ars Alb all evening—BUT HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?
Instead I gave him Ars Alb all night. I’m a little short of sleep . . . again. Last night however I decided I was tired of lying wide awake in the dark worrying, and I wasn’t really in the mood for fiction†† so I’ve been tearing through my homeopathy books looking for ideas. You can’t cure something like a violent allergy, I don’t think, but you can strengthen the system . . . if you can find a good enough match for the system in question. People are hard enough††† to find the exact remedy or remedies for, and they, at least, will answer questions‡. A dog . . .
Darkness has been fine today. Jolly, even. I’m a wreck.‡‡ I took him along to the vets‡‡‡ this afternoon: I want informed input, and maybe a few big guns. Homeopathy is a precision instrument: sometimes if you can’t see what you’re doing what you want is a sledgehammer. The vet looked back through the records and pointed out that Darkness had tested positive for campylobacter six or so years ago when both of them were streaming almost nonstop and we didn’t know why. Campylobacter is something that doesn’t go away, and may flare up for no reason—with reference to my terror that whatever is wrong is widening its range. He also said, and while he said it with great plausibility, well, he would, wouldn’t he, that these awful bouts may look worse than they are—one of my bottom line fears, especially strong at 4 am with an eyestrain headache and surrounded by homeopathy books, is that hellhounds are going to be seven in August, and that’s getting on for late middle age in a dog. How much abuse can Darkness’ gut take? The vet said, you can’t know without a biopsy, but his guess is—the additional damage is less than I think. Although since I’m sitting there with the kind of all-over bad hair day that comes of very little sleep and lots of worrying ‘less than I think’ may not be all that reassuring.
Still. So we’re going to re-test for campy, and I have a big gun to try: Buscopan. This is based on my sense that it’s not the runs per se that trouble Darkness, and which the Ars Alb will usually deal with, but the unpleasant kaleidoscope of effects I call ‘colic’, and which may make a bad stretch a great deal worse, especially because of the speed an ailing hellhound goes downhill. If I knew this, I’d forgotten, but the vet said that sighthounds are like this: they are pulled down really quickly, their coats get stary and they look like death’s door.
Roll on not needing to find out if Buscopan works.
Oh, and the hellterror is slightly constipated. . . .
* * *
* I’ve said before that if I starved them every time their guts went a little ropy—the classic advice about dealing with diarrhoea—they’d’ve starved to death years ago.
** And lay on his back with his legs in the air, to Fiona’s considerable hilarity.
*** It was about forty degrees—four Celsius. You would want your coat.
† Adrenaline does help keep you warm. Warmish.
†† Although I can feel a Georgette Heyer/Diana Wynne Jones fit coming on. No, not Peter Dickinson—his underlying view of humanity is way too bleak.
††† I’m sure I’ve said this before: I believe homeopathy does have all the answers. The big steaming problem is the delivery system—the homeopath. The set up as it now is, it seems to me, expects the homeopath to be superhumanly intelligent, preternaturally intuitive, prodigiously well-read in the relevant literature, and divinely observant. Not too many homeopaths live up to this standard. There are excellent homeopaths out there—but there ought to be more and there ought to be better. I think we’re missing a crucial step/stage/link/trick in the study and practise of homeopathy. I just don’t know what it is.
‡ Or if they don’t, that’s a clue. Homeopathy is about the entirety of a person, and not answering questions totally counts.
‡‡ I went to abbey practise tonight. Speaking of things that aren’t pretty. But at least I went.
‡‡‡ The conventional vets. There’s a homeopathic vet in this area I haven’t tried, and am beginning the long grim phone-tag process of trying to get hold of an independent consultant who is at different clinics in different towns on different days of the week and doesn’t have a secretary-type person keeping the bits plugged together.
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.
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.
I’m frelling ILL. I’ve got some kind of head-cold-flu thing. It’s all that hanging out in freezing-cold chapels with monks.*
A while ago on the forum Mrs Redboots asked for the ‘go-to’ homeopathic remedy for a head cold. There isn’t one. But I’ve been meaning** to use the question as an excuse to give you a(nother) little disquisition, not to say harangue, about first-aid homeopathy.
One of the great strengths of homeopathy, as well as its chief central frustration, is that it’s so INDIVIDUALISED. Barring Arnica, which works, often amazingly, for almost all blood-and-bruising injuries, there isn’t much else that is one size fits all. The two remedies I carry teeny-tiny bottles of in my pocket are Arnica and Aconite. Aconite is the go-to remedy for shock and fear, and one of the guidelines about using it is that if you’re in a situation where someone is freaked out enough for you to be giving it to them, you should probably take it too because fear is contagious. You’re first on the scene at a traffic accident? While you’re waiting for the ambulance, give anyone who’s injured Arnica***—but give everyone present Aconite.
But most things you have to choose a remedy that suits the individual. I’m pretty sure I’ve done my little tap-dance about this before: if, say, you are treating five people (or you have five friends who ring you up because they know you’re a homeopathy wonk) for flu, chances are very good you’ll be recommending three or four—or five—different remedies.† All five of your friends are achy and feverish and fluey, but if you ask them what’s bothering them the worst, one of them will say the headache and sore throat, one of them will say the sneezing and streaming nose, and one of them will say the nausea and photophobia. That’s three different remedies.
And even for ‘acute’ prescribing like this you have a better chance of hitting on the right remedy if you know something more about them than the symptoms of flu. Do they tend to be fussy and particular or are they easy going slobs? Are they usually hot people or cold people (when they’re not ill)? Do they like warm rooms or fresh air? Do they prefer company or solitude? Arsenicum album, for example, is chilly, persnickety, cranky, fearful, restless even when they’re ill and prone to burning pains (if their noses run, it’ll burn their upper lips). You’re going to nail an Ars alb more on the ‘mentals’ than on the fact that they’re wobbly and sneezy. Allium cepa has a runny nose that burns the upper lip, Gelsemium is wobbly and Rhus tox is restless and fearful. They’re all flu remedies.
The best thing to do is buy a homeopathic first-aid book and a first-aid kit to go with it, and start experimenting. And I recommend you begin this exercise while you’re feeling well. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to prescribe when you feel like something a bull terrier puppy has spent the last several hours chewing on. Unfortunately homeopathy books go in and out of print really fast and the ones I learnt on and can recommend aren’t necessarily available any more. Don’t even bother with amazon. There are homeopathic on line bookshops however and the two that I use,
are both run by friendly helpful people—and they ship overseas. I’m sure there are good homeopathic bookshops in whatever country you live in as you read this, it’s just these are the ones I know, and they are, not surprisingly, in the UK. Looking at Minerva’s ‘introductory’ category I can recommend any of these:
Miranda Castro, Complete Homeopathy Handbook
Colin Griffiths, The Practical Handbook of Homeopathy
Henrietta Wells, Homeopathy the Modern Prescriber
David Gemmell, Everyday Homeopathy
The latter two are possibly a little shorter and less intimidating than the first two, although it’s the Castro that first made me a homeopathic obsessive.
Helios Pharmacy does kits:
Ainsworth’s is the other well known homeopathic specialist pharmacy, but their kits are all stamped NOT AVAILABLE IN THE UK which is pretty unhelpful. This is another fact about homeopathy: it’s permanently under fire by ConMed and its allies, chiefly Big Pharma, although frequently disguised as Wanting What’s Best for Humanity. Apparently at the moment this is preventing Ainsworth’s from selling its kits at home. I’m not going to go there, the Bash Homeopathy movement makes me furious. Homeopathy is not bunk and it’s not placebo, okay? And there is evidence that it works, it’s just it’s not very good at publicising itself, and the entrenched party line is very good at burying it. I’ve been using homeopathy for about a dozen years and I’m afraid I pay as little attention to the political rows as I can, which is in fact irresponsible of me, but life is short at best and my fuse is too short and ranting is tiring and doesn’t do any good. Homeopathy isn’t for everyone and I’m not saying it is, but anyone who wants to tell me that it’s all water and snake oil and I’m a poor sad deluded fool will be shot at dawn, okay?
PS: I was going to start tonight’s entry by saying that there is a go-to remedy for that first all-is-not-well icky sensation of an oncoming cold or flu virus, but I’m not sure it’s obtainable in the UK: Oscillococcinum. It’s not listed as a remedy from either Helios or Ainsworth’s ††. I have a remedy machine†††, I make it. If you google it it seems to be available here and there, but the problem with here and there is knowing whether it’s the real thing . . . or water and snake oil. Homeopathic remedies can be fake just like almost anything real can be recreated as a knock-off fake. Hannah says however that it’s so popular in the States at the moment you can get it at ordinary drugstores, and apparently it’s the real thing because it works. My system is that I start taking it about once an hour or, if this is happening overnight, every few hours, till the symptoms either go away or become a pattern I can prescribe on. Which is what I did last night. I’m still clearly ill, but I made it to tower practice at Fustian tonight and what really matters . . . ?
* * *
* I will start taking two blankets. And a hat. I suppose it’s possible that we’ll eventually have spring and, you know, summer. When it’s, um, WARM?
** Believe it or not I keep a list of all the forum questions and comments I want to answer. It’s usually quite a long list. This plan has mostly gone the way of Ask Robin, but it might be worth re-asking something on the forum that you were actually hoping for an answer or at least a reaction to.
*** Arnica can save lives. Don’t move them or do anything silly with a badly injured person—but do give them Arnica.
† A proper epidemic will probably respond to a specific remedy or progression of remedies, but that’s for the big boys and girls, not small time amateur wonks like me. Common or garden variety plagues that are two a penny every winter—if you treat enough of them, you may see a pattern. If you’re just helping people make first-aid choices you may not. Three kids in the same family may need three different remedies, for example—or the three kids in one family may all need the same remedy but the three kids in the family next door that they caught it from need a different remedy. Yes. You have to stay alert.
†† And if you want a taste of the way the Other Side talks about homeopathy, look it up on Wiki. Any time I need reminding that Wiki is unreliable, I think about the way they treat homeopathy.
Mine is old, and was a lot cheaper. Also I was in (homeopathic) college at the time, and a bunch of us got together and took advantage of the group rate. Which was a lot cheaper than today’s group rate. A machine does cost a bomb—there are other ones than the Sulis—but if you use homeopathy at all seriously it earns back really fast. I use mine at least every week, and some weeks every day.
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.