Thursday, 3 July 2014

Thursday 3 July 2014

Hello again.  Did you think I had abandoned the blog forever?  I have felt deeply ashamed of my neglect.  It was not entirely within the scope of my fault, however.  My partner has been busy and occasionally unwell over the past couple of months.  Gisèle has been out and about in the lighter evenings of late and, most significantly, our computer was infected with a behemoth of an evil virus.  Specialist software had to be purchased - that's a mark of how serious the problem was...  Thankfully, it was money well spent, and we are back to our regular capacity.  I regard it as highly fortunate that the mighty blog itself (now, after all, in it's EIGHTH year!) was not affected by the virus.  Wretched thing.  But away with all this.  A further regret is that we last parted on something of a cliff-hanger; the sighting by Betty of a young buzzard following little 'Sèle at the very scene of my own past entanglements with such a scourge.  Let us join them once more, as they venture forth once again for an early evening stroll...

"...and that one is a woodpecker, a green woodpecker." explained Betty, as a green bird flew, chirruping, up from the ground into a nearby tree.
"Why is it called a woodpecker?" asked Gisèle curiously, "Is it made of wood?"
"No, it just pecks wood on trees to get out the insects."
"Oh... OK."
"And, over there, you can see a nuthatch - see? That little one with the orange belly in the tree?"
"Do those ones hatch out of nuts?" queried Giz.
"No, of course not, you muppet!"
"Why are they called that then?!"
"Don't know.  Maybe because they like to eat nuts."
"Wow, Bettz, you know EVERYTHING! Are there any owls?"
"It's a bit early in the evening but, yes, there are owls around here."

Gisèle's little face lit up at once.  "Oh WOW!" she squeaked excitedly, "I want to see a big white pretty snowy owl, like Hedwig out of Harry Potter!"
"I think those ones are a bit rare," muttered Betty, "They're mostly brown owls and tawny owls around here..."
"I like Hedwig best, as well as Ginny and Dobby and Hermione. [Harry Potter characters]  And I like Sirius too."
"Is Sirius that one who was a big dog sometimes?" queried Betty, with a sideways glance at her diminutive friend.
"Hihi, yes." giggled Giz.
"I liked him too, hur hur-"
"But Hedwig is my very favourite.  I wish I could be her."

Betty was about to reply with a considered response on the ultimate fate of the brave and faithful Hedwig, when a series of unsettling sounds came from within the canopy of a tree overhead.  She gave a sharp intake of breath and pushed Gisèle hastily in another direction, causing the little Parson Jack Russell to stumble.
"Ow!" protested Giz, "What did you do that for?!"
"That's a buzzard's nest, up there!" hissed Betty, "Didn't you recognise the sounds?"
"I have never heard them before." replied Giz.
"Well, trust me, that's the sound of a buzzard with some chicks.  Stay AWAY little Giz, stay away."  But I could see that Giz had ceased paying attention at the mention of chicks...
"Ooh - babies?" she yipped, turning and trying to crane her head to look up at the nest, "I love little babies!"
"Not these ones, you won't." grunted Betty, as she firmly steered Giz away from the tree.  Fortunately, Betty's vast reserves of strength and determination were too powerful for the reluctant Giz to resist.

Relief at Betty's ability to put herself between little Giz and mortal peril unhappily began to evaporate some 40 minutes later, however, when Gisèle was to be spotted slinking back towards the tree containing the nest with Betty nowhere to be seen.  Unease was further heightened when, after a quick glance about her to check that all coasts were clear, the tiny terrier jumped up and began to clamber awkwardly up the tree...
"Oooff..." she puffed, as she tenaciously scaled branch after branch, sliding back on some, but determined not to be thwarted, "Errgh!  Oops - hngyehh! Hup! Errrkkkk! That's it - errfff!"

The female buzzard perching on the side of the nest looked down at the small dog, with an inscrutable expression in her beady eyes.  She didn't seem to comprehend what she was seeing.  I can't bark that I blame her.  Giz glanced up at the raptor. "Oh!  Hello!" she puffed, still trying to haul herself up into the higher branches, "My name is Gisèle, but my friends call me Giz!  What's your name?"
The buzzard made an uncertain noise that sounded like "Beakrip."
"That's nice!  Please can I look at your babies?"  The buzzard continued to gaze down at the tree-climbing dog, but made no further sound.  Eventually, Giz attained a level from which she could peek at the nest.  There were two fluffy chicks and one cream and brown mottled egg. "Oh, aren't they beautiful?!" she simpered.  This was not what I would have called them personally, but Giz's enthusiasm wasn't to be dampened by the sight of some of the ugliest spawn known to either man or beast. "And will that egg hatch soon?  What do you feed them?  I expect they eat a lot and leave you very tired out, don't they?!"

The buzzard continued to watch Gisèle in silence, although it didn't escape me that she had inched closer to her around the side of her nest.

"I haven't had any babies yet, but I would like to one day. But, to be honest with you, Bea, I've got my paws pretty full at the moment with Betty.  She's my best friend and is a Giant Schnauzer.  She's older than me, but sometimes she does take a lot of looking after.  She's nice to me now, but it wasn't always like that, I can tell you, oh dear me no.  She tore into my face with her teeth once, that wasn't very nice.  It's all healed up now of course - well, I say all healed, there are still some little scars although you can't see those now that the fur has grown back. But you see this mark here?" Giz inclined her head in the buzzard's direction, to show her a scar on her eyebrow, but didn't wait to see if the buzzard looked. "That was Betty as well.  Oh, I mean ages ago now, but the fur didn't grow back properly.  I don't mind that, though, because it's only really small.  I don't know where Betty is at the moment.  She went off into the woods to do some toilet, I think, but she won't be too long, I don't expect.  Then I can introduce you.  You'll like Betty.  She can be a bit grumpy and rude sometimes but actually she's really very nice, and quite funny when she gets going.  She's not very good at climbing trees though, not like me, but I've done lots of practice-"

Beakrip the buzzard simply sat there and blinked at the chattering terrier.  It didn't seem as though she could even begin to imagine what a little dog was doing, half-way up a tree, prattling utter nonsense at her.  Gisèle continued happily gossiping away until her flow was interrupted by an almighty and thunderous roar.

"GISÈLE! What are you DOING?!?  Get DOWN from there right NOW, you ludicrous tool!"
"Betty!  I'm just talking to my new friend! Come and say hello!"
"COME DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!"
"Oh dear; she sounds a bit cross.  I'd better go."  Gisèle turned and looked down, pondering her descent strategy (never a strong point). "But, before I do, I should tell you - you see that clump of little trees over there?"  The buzzard blinked and glanced briefly in the direction Giz indicated. "Well, there is a very fresh dead rabbit behind there.  It must have just died, it doesn't even have - you know - the smell yet and there weren't any flies on it.  Me and Betty wanted to eat it, but Mistress wouldn't let us.  But YOU might like it, for your babies.  It would save you a hunting trip, wouldn't it, and I bet your babies would love all that fresh tasty meat."  Open astonishment registered in the buzzard's eyes for the first time, though she remained silent. "Bye for now then. I'll come and see you again another time.  Make sure you get that rabbit before someone else does!  Bye-bye!"  And, with that, Giz slithered clumsily down part of the tree and fell the rest of the way to the ground.  Once she was back on her feet, Betty gave her a sharp cuff around the shoulder and commenced a stern lecture on the follies of presenting one's self to carnivores who might quite like to eat one.

The buzzard silently watched the two bickering dogs as they ambled back to the car park, rejoining my partner by the gate.  Then, with a soft swish of her wings, she rose into the air and glided smoothly over to the clump of little trees...

Mark my barks, dear reader.  No good will come of this...

Good evening to you.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Thursday 8 May 2014

Since last writing, poor Gisèle has been laid low with an ear infection much like Betty's.  Exactly like Betty's, in fact, for she caught it from her Giant Schnauzer friend on her previous visit.  Betty is back with us once more (unexpectedly, but we are pleased to have her nonetheless) and we have all been hanging around the house.  A plumber was scheduled to visit on Tuesday morning to attend to a leaking pipe in my partner's bathroom ceiling, but decided not to come (grrrowl).

At lunchtime, my partner got to her feet and both girls jumped up, anticipating a walk.  Betty was not impressed to find that a lead was only affixed to Giz's collar and she was told that "we'll be back soon".  Gisèle cackled in high glee - she shouted a cheeky farewell to Betty on the other side of the door and capered down the street at my partner's heels, yapping a rude song at the unfortunate Betty.  Giz's joy was cut brutally short, however, when she crossed the road and all-too-quickly found herself in the vets' waiting room.  There was further displeasure and humiliation to be had when the tiny but powerful terrier was wrestled into a muzzle and had an auroscope introduced to her ear.  To bark that she was not amused would be an incredibly gross understatement.

The vet and my partner were happy, however, as Gisèle's infection is healing nicely (a week ago, she was in such pain that she wouldn't allow the auroscope to even touch her ear) but she still needs to continue with her drops for another week.  Happy days...  Now, one might think that Gisèle would be a little annoyed that she had contracted an unpleasant and excessively painful infection from her best friend.  Not so our Gisèle-Stephanie.  She exclaimed that she was glad she now knew how very painful it was for herself, so that she would better be able to comfort Betty in the future.  Bless her - only one so rare as to be as beautiful on the inside as she is to the eye could look at things in that kind and unselfish way.  No wonder she was able to tame the wild and aggressive Betty where seemingly-greater others had failed.

Less happily, my partner was taken extremely unwell yesterday and had to keep to her bed.  So poorly was she that her parents came and removed Gisèle and Elizabeth from her care so that she could rest in complete quiet.  Fortunately, the malady (an incredibly powerful migraine) has almost entirely gone, but it was not pleasant.  The most concerning point for my partner came during the later part of the afternoon - weakened and in pain and hardly able to move upon her bed, my partner suffered a most alarming phenomenon never before experienced: an hallucination.  That is to bark, not a visual one, but a corporeal one.  She felt me jump onto the bed and snuggle up to sleep beside her, as I ever did during my lifetime, she says she even felt me beside her and heard my breathing (and - yes - deep snoring).  Most alarming for, if I am certain of anything, then it is that that is completely impossible.  I think my partner was thoroughly creeped-out by the experience (well, wouldn't you be?) and much relieved when Betty and Giz were brought back later that evening.  Most odd.

But away with these miseries and tales of non-existent phantoms.  Betty's stay has been extended, which has set both tails (well, one tail and one little blunt stump) a-wagging.  They have been enjoying sitting on the patio over the recent bank holiday weekend, "helping" with the gardening tasks.  My partner was showing them how some of the seeds they had planted a couple of months ago were now growing into healthy little plants (specifically, for the most part, the radishes; the tomatoes died a swift and brutal death and our hopes for the courgettes aren't high...).  Both dogs were very impressed at this example of nature's magic, Giz in particular, and I could tell from her slightly misty expression that she was formulating some sort of plan.

This plan manifested itself later in the afternoon.  Betty lazily got up and stretched after a nap in the sunshine, and was greeted with the sight of Gisèle carefully carrying something in her mouth which she then placed in a small freshly-dug hole in one of the borders.  The large dog padded over to her friend, as she began to scrape soil over her trophy.

It was an egg.  Gisèle was burying an egg in the garden.
"What, in the name of sanity, are you doing?!" demanded Betty, as Giz gently patted the top of the earth down on the buried egg.
"Gardening." replied Giz simply, as if this ought to be enough to satisfy Betty's curiosity.
"But... what - why...?"
Gisèle sighed heavily and turned to face her friend.  "Lillibizzles-" Betty grimaced and clenched her teeth at this detested new pet-name Gizzy had allocated to her. "I think you and me are both very much agreed that there are few things nicer than some tasty roasted chicken.  Yes?"  Betty nodded, mutely, looking doubtful as to what might be coming next. "Right.  So I'm going to grow a chicken-tree!  Then we can have them whenever we want!"

At this point, had I not been certain that chronological and biological evidence precluded the possibility, I might have wondered if the late, lamented, lunatic Ewan's father might once have had a dalliance with little Gisèle's mother.  This was precisely the sort of nonsense he used to come out with (recall, if you will, the episode during which Ewan grew concerned for cows whose milk was used to make cottage cheese; he feared for the cows who had to pass pineapples through their udders for the 'cottage cheese with pineapple' variety.  Or the time he believed that he could relieve Fizzy's menstrual sufferings with the topical application of a potato...  these are but two examples amongst a myriad of delusional nonsense).

"So, to be clear, Giz," frowned Betty, "You have planted an egg in the hope that it will grow into a chicken-producing tree...?"
"Yep!" Gisèle was extremely pleased with herself.
"And you think that's going to work, do you?"
"How else?!  I hope it starts to grow as quickly as the radishes!  Should we put some water on it?"
"Erm... I'm not sure it works like that..." offered Betty, dubiously.
"Well, not if it was a boiled egg, obviously, but this is a fresh one. I got it from the shelf in the kitchen pantry.  How do you think it works then?!"
"Er, I haven't got much experience with chickens, but the gamekeepers on our estate raise the pheasants from - well - other pheasants..."
Gizzy laughed.  "That's just stupid!"  Betty remained unconvinced.  "Look!" persisted Giz, indicating some pigeons sitting in the tree nearest to our fence, "That must be a pigeon tree!"
"Well," replied Betty, looking around, "What about those three sitting on Rosie's back fence?!"
"They're just having a rest, you duffer!" giggled Giz.
"Right." wuffed Betty sceptically, as the pigeons in the tree flew off, "So those three are having a rest, and those ones flying away have just grown and hatched out of the tree, have they?"
"Yep!" declared Giz, a rather self-satisfied look on her face.
"You are a very strange little dog, Giz, you know that?" sighed Betty, shaking her head.
"Hihihihiiiii - oh yes!" squeaked Giz happily, content with the world around her, however ignorant of it she might be.

Next time - A spotter's guide to dubious birds of prey, courtesy of Betty; from which Gisèle is not minded to profit...



Monday, 21 April 2014

Monday 21 April 2014

She arrived.

Gisèle was all of a dither, concerned that Betty would mock her recent fur-cut, but she need not have feared.  After less than a couple of minutes' awkward silence, the well-bred Betty made a polite remark upon the weather and they were off!  Giggling, chatting and gossiping, the two girls were delighted to be back together again.  If Betty DID notice Giz's fur she certainly did not mention it.  They had been apart for a long time and had much to catch up on.  They chattered long into the night, still jabbering away as they went out to download their last wee-mails of the day prior to bed-time, but it was nice to see them happy to be together again.

They weren't so happy the following day, however, when they were out in the garden and discovered that one of the large pots on the border adjoining Rosie's (the Westie next-door) had been all-but-emptied out by paws unknown.
"Who's done this?!" exclaimed my partner crossly.  As the usual principal suspects for such an act, Betty and Giz, were both examining the pot warily, they clearly weren't responsible for this one.  Rosie appeared from around the corner of her house and saw them.
"Not you as well?!" she yipped.
"Hullo Rose," said Betty, "What do you mean?"
"Oh yes, hello Betty, nice to see you again.  I can smell that your garden has been tampered with.  Mine has too."
"Who's done it?" asked Giz.
"Don't know," shrugged Rosie, "But there is a new Tomcat somewhere around here, he's been territory-marking all around my garden and it looks like he's done yours too."
"It does stink of cat." agreed Giz, wrinkling up her nose at the scent.
"Well, I'd better not catch him at it, or he won't be marking anything until the vet takes the wires out of his willie." growled Betty.  Rosie giggled and, with her owner, departed off for the day.

"Why do cats do that?" asked Giz, looking at the messy patio with a puzzled expression. "I can understand the marking and stuff, but why do they dig out all the soil?"
"I don't know." replied Betty, as my partner cleaned up the area and re-potted the plant. "I mean, who knows why cats do anything?"
The two girls sat down and began getting themselves comfortable for a morning's sunbathing.  "I don't suppose they would choose to be cats in the first place, if they could help it."
"I wouldn't.  Who'd want to be a cat when you could just as easily be a dog!?"
Betty nodded.  After a while she asked "If you did turn out to be a cat, would you chase yourself, do you think?  Or would you pay someone to chase you?"
Gisèle considered this carefully.
"Chase myself, probably." she decided, "Then I would know not to bite myself too hard when I caught me."
Betty nodded sagely.  And, with that, both girls settled into a comfortable doze.


Later that afternoon my partner took the two girls out to Abbotstone, one of their favourite haunts, as a special treat.  It was, indeed, a place that I liked to visit myself during my lifetime - it is even mentioned in the very first entry into this blog.  Betty and Gisèle were delighted to find themselves there once more.  They capered around, happily exploring.  In the woods, they encountered a small young toad and watched it curiously as it made its hopping way across the path.
"Betty, what is the difference between a frog and a toad?" asked Giz.  Betty thought for a moment.
"Well, erm, a fro-"
"Only ONE of them every gets 'towed' away!  Hiihiihihihihiiiiiiii!" yipped Giz, before dissolving into hysterical giggles at her own joke.  Betty rolled her eyes and turned away, shaking her head, but I caught a trace of a smile playing about the corners of her mouth.

As the girls exited the shade of the woods and trotted out onto the open common land, a small shadow from far above crossed over them.  Betty glanced sky-wards and frowned, muttering something profane under her breath.  She quickened her pace so that she could keep up with Gisèle.  After about five minutes the shadow passed overhead again.  Betty had been watching out for this and called to Giz.
"'Sèle!" she barked, "Why don't you come and walk a bit closer to me?  Come on, come and walk right up here beside me, eh?"
"Why?" asked little innocent Giz, trotting up to her large, bear-like, friend.
"No real reason," replied Betty, clearly bluffing (though unnoticed by Giz), "I'm just getting a bit tired, that's all."
"Aww, poor Betty." smiled Gisèle, and she dutifully kept to her friend's flank.  At the third passing of the shadow, the little Parson Jack Russell noticed something.  "WOW!!" she exclaimed, craning her neck to look up at the sky, "Betty, look at that odd little plane!"
"It's not a plane." replied Betty grimly, without looking up.  "Gizzy, don't you go wandering off by yourself.  You stay here with me now."
"But if it's not a plane, what is it?"
"Bird."
Giz started to laugh.  "Hiihiihihihihi... Betty, you silly!  It's not a bird!  No birds are THAT big!  If a bird that big sat on Mistress's bird-food-table it would snap it in little pieces, hiihiihihihi!"
"It IS a bird Giz, I promise." barked Betty, watching it circle overhead.
"What sort of bird then?" demanded Gisèle impatiently.
A plaintive cry from the skies above the girls suddenly struck me with sickening horror.

Betty pursed her lips and answered the tiny terrier's question.

"A buzzard."






Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sunday 6 April 2014

A wet day today, though reasonable enough yesterday to enable Gisèle and my partner to do some gardening.  This far, they have onions, sweet peppers, courgettes and tomatoes on the go, with carrots awaiting planting.  My partner is most encouraged by the progress of the tomatoes in particular - she has never grown them from seed before and they seem to be thriving.  Indeed, until a couple of years ago, she had no luck whatsoever with growing vegetables in the garden; someone used to eat the seedlings or wait until the fruits and vegetables appeared and then plucked and ate them himself, hehe...  Fortunately, neither Gisèle nor Betty have the same passion for fresh fruits and vegetables as I enjoyed.

Betty's return to the house is imminent and Gizzy has been busy getting things ready for her friend's visit.  In order to stop her fretting herself into a state, I suggested that she might like to write a little more about her last holiday on Dartmoor.  After all, she had only managed two instalments thus far and I knew that she had more pictures that she wanted to share with you.  I did, however, point out that it couldn't really be titled Gisèle's Holiday Diary any more - it was almost six months ago now.  So little Giz agreed to rename it Gisèle's Holiday Memories.

Without further ado, then:-


GISÈLE'S HOLIDAY MEMORIES - PART 4



Oh dear, hihihi! I have been very bad and forgot to write about my holiday for ages. Naughty me. But I have been very busy, yes indeed. But I still have nice dreams about my holiday and the fun I had. Here is a link to the last writing I did about it:- here it is.

The next day when I woke up it was raining a bit - only a bit though, so I didn't worry too much. My friend Marnie had gone out somewhere, but some fresh new-laid eggs had been left by our door and I was allowed to have one boiled for my breakfast. It was the nicest egg I had ever tasted; so fresh and delicious, not at all like ones you might buy in a shop. Everything is nicer when it comes from home and is fresh (I think that is why Mistress is growing vegetables in our garden this year, but we haven't got any room to plant and grow any chickens).

After breakfast, we headed out for the South of the moor, to a nice walk which Mistress said Jasper had used to enjoy. We drove to Shipley Bridge car park and walked alongside the river towards the open moor.

Jazz used to love playing in the river exactly here.  But I am too little and frightened of water -
although I did paddle in the pools at the edge.

After we had turned the corner and crossed the bridge, the road became rougher until it was just a footpath track. We headed up the slopes towards the mighty Avon Dam. Mistress had been there before with Jasper and his predecessor, pretty Tess, but I had never been. Up we climbed, stopping to chat with some walkers coming the other way (that is one of the things I like about walking on Dartmoor, you meet such lovely people along the way). Parting company with these new friends, we soon came into view of the impressive Avon Dam and reservoir...

  the blue arrow below indicates where we were when the next picture was taken...
The vast edifice of the Avon Dam looms into view
As we passed the Dam and walked alongside the reservoir, the rain began to fall more steadily. Undaunted, we persisted towards our destination where, sheltering ourselves as best we could, Mistress and I ate our packed lunches. But not for long...

Giz wet. Giz cold.  Giz going home.  With or without Mistress.

I was very cold indeed - and it took us a good couple of hours at least to walk all the way back to the car.

Later in the evening, back at our holiday cottage, once I had been dried, warmed and fed, I heard Marnie's claws clicking on the path to our front door. After obtaining the necessary permissions I bounded out to play ball with her in the dogs' playing field. After twenty minutes or so, my attention drifted to the steeply-wooded hills on either side of the farm buildings and fields. The woods were teeming with owls, as we clearly heard at night, but it began to occur to me that there might also be squirrels lurking within. I suggested a little foray into the woods to Marnie, but she didn't seem too keen.
"Well, you CAN walk in the woods - " she barked, "But it isn't safe, unless you are very careful about where you are going. There are loads of old mine shafts in the hills and they are dangerous. If you fell down one you would die for sure. That's what those signs say there." She indicated the big notices at the entrances to both sides of the woodlands, but the words on them were too long for me to read. "You have to stay right on the path all the time, because mine shafts are everywhere."
"Why don't you do something about them?" I puzzled.
"Well, they don't belong to me, or my people." replied Marnie, "Even though they haven't been used for ages longer than 100 years ago, they still belong to the old extraction company."
"Eh? But you just said they WERE yours!" I couldn't understand my new friend at all.

"What? No I didn't!" yipped Marnie, "I said they were mines."
"Yes, exactly! So they ARE yours!"
"No!! They're not mine!"
"You DID too say that they were yours!"
"No - they are mines."
"Yes! YOUR mines!"
"No, no! They ARE mines - but they are not mine!"
"Eh?!"
"They are not MY mines. But they ARE mines."
"So if they are not your mines, whose mines are they?"
"I told you! The mine company!"
"Yes!! YOUR company! They are yours! So fix them!"
"But it's not MY mine company."

I began to think that Marnie might be a little bit mad. I knew I was right, and so left it there and we went back to playing ball.

'The mines aren't mine' indeed. Hiihihihihihiiiiii...!



Betty is coming to visit tomorrow. Yayyy!

Bye-bye love from Gisèle. x

 First and third photographs on this page © http://www.richkni.co.uk/dartmoor/index.html

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Tuesday 25 March 2014

A strange week, to be sure.

Although there is much to be thankful for in our tiniest of worlds, Gisèle has been behaving strangely and my partner has been almost permanently exhausted, dejected and much-depressed of late.

I cannot attribute it to the weather - for spring has truly sprung, with warming sunshine, twittering birdsong, colourful and fragrant flowers budding and receding flood-waters everywhere, along with the promise of more better weather to come.

I cannot attribute it (wholly) to financial woes - for my partner's IVA (see this post for the onset of this particular wretched saga) is, hopefully, to conclude within the next few months.  I had sworn that I would stay with my partner unto the end of this most awful trial.  Rat-b*st*rd cancer; that malevolent marauder of time, denied me even this.  But Death could not thwart me. It took my body - but it could NEVER conquer my spirit.  Gisèle-Stéphanie, as sweet and keen as she is, cannot think upon such topics as finances; they mean nothing to her.  And so I remain; watching over my most only - my partner, who saw my many faults and the manifold acts of wickedness I perpetrated and forgave me, loved me and turned me into a better dog than I had any right to be.  But - not for the first time - I digress...

I wonder if it has ought to do with the sadnesses in the world at the moment?  The appalling upheavals and injustices within Egypt, Syria, Iran, the Ukraine and Crimea... The dreadful and protracted tragedy of Malaysian Airlines Flight No. MH370; those poor, poor families...  Oh, God bless them.

I feel SO deeply on all these things, and more besides.  I should have learned to feel gratitude for the mere fact of my existence whilst I still lived.  But how can one explain to those entangled in the daily rigmarole of life, work, bills, socialising, image-building/maintaining, etc... - that the mere fact that one exists and can feel is the very greatest blessing of all.  It has been so long, that I can no longer remember what it was to draw a deep breath on a crisp, frosty morning, and smile at the mist produced when I exhaled.  What it was to stretch out on my very OWN patio and feel the sun warming my body.  To drink deeply from a Dartmoor spring on a hot day and savour the cool-crisp sensation of the water as I swallowed it and felt it travel through my warm body, chilling and refreshing all at once.  Please, my friends, please enjoy these simple pleasures while you can...

********

But Gisèle has not yet learned to think seriously upon such things.  No.  Oh no.

I almost despair of her - I keep faith that she cannot be entirely lost to better thinking - though my hopes aren't high...  I can only apologise most profusely for what follows.

My partner was stretched to her highest, uppermost limit by Sèle's CONSTANT whining about her ridiculous tuft.  With muttered profanities, my partner finally (reluctantly) seized up her scissors and The Great Snip took place.

Upon initial snipping, a wound was revealed, and further snippage was necessary.  Gisèle had a thorn piercing the flesh atop her head, which was removed painlessly, once sufficient fur had been snipped away.

I have to bark, that I was alarmed at the state of Giz's exposed face.  Many injuries had been revealed - wounds from her former bullying by Betty.  Wounds that I knew about - the time the left side of her mouth was torn open, bite marks on her left cheek and above her left eye; but others too, which I think Giz had concealed to try and spare Betty in those early days before they became the very best of friends.  In any case, if Giz had forgiven Betty, then so could I.  I followed Gisèle to the French Windows, to which she padded in order to examine her newly-shorn reflection...

"Aaaaaarggghhhh!  I look like a complete TIT!" Gisèle squealed.

Well, I couldn't disagree.

Only Rosie, Sèle's friend from next-door, claimed to see notice no difference in Giz's appearance.  I suspect she was just being kind, as everyone else laughed at the newly-trimmed Giz and remarked on her new "Lego-Cut" (my partner not being skilled in canine fur-dressing).

"Put it back!  Make it grown again!!" demanded an angrily disappointed Giz.  My partner and I gently tried to help her to understand that fur, once cut, cannot be instantly regrown.  She refused to see reason, so I kept out of the way whilst my partner endeavoured to deal with the truculent terrier.

********

I only dared to return a few days later.  Gisèle, at least, seemed happier, even if my partner did not.

"Jazz!" chirruped the little terrier, when she sighted me, "Hiiiiihiiihihihiiii!"
I winced and affected to ignore her irritating giggling.
"Are you liking your new furcut, then?" I hazarded cautiously.
"Well, no," she confessed. "Hiihiiiihihiihihihihiiii!"

I knew that requesting an explanation would be admitting weakness.  But, dear reader, how can you blame me?  Let us travel that weak path together.

"Go on..." I sighed, a sense of foreboding fast-approaching.

"Did you see what was is cut off?!" squeaked Giz, indicating towards her foam basket, where my partner had placed the snipped-off clumps of fur, "Enough to make a big old merkin*, hiihiihihihihiiiiii!"

"GISÈLE!!" I spluttered, aghast, "Where on Earth did you learn a word like that?!"

Gisèle looked suddenly sullen and muttered something virtually incomprehensible, amongst which utterances could be discerned the word 'Honey'.

"Honey the cat from opposite?" I queried, "That weekend after Betty went home?"
"Yes."
"So you and Honey sat in the garden, repeating to each other saucy words and laughing over them?"
"Yes.  Honey told me loads, hiihiihihi... I only had a few that she didn't hear before, hiihiihihihihiiii...."
"Oh, brilliant.  So you and Honey - two otherwise respectable, likeable, reasonably intelligent young ladies - chose to spend your afternoon teaching each other naughty words and giggling...?!"
"Yeh!  Hihihi! It was one of the BEST afternoons of my life, hiihiihihi...!"

*Oh, just Google it.  Bl**dy-h*ll; now I'm depressed!

'Night.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Monday 10 March 2014

I knew that Gisèle had come up with an idea.  She had been sitting upright, staring fixedly at the soundly-sleeping form of Betty for at least the last twenty minutes - since around 5.00am, to be precise.  She seemed to think that the more determinedly she stared at Betty, the greater the chance that Betty would soon wake up.  Whether or not Betty was aware of the two bright little eyes boring into her prone self, I cannot bark.  However, twenty minutes is usually the outer limit of little Gisèle's patience and - sure enough - I heard the little frustrated sigh that immediately preceded affirmative action.

"Betty!" ventured the tiny Jack Russell, "Betty! Betty! Betty!"  When this produced no effect, a little claw entered the fray.  "Betty! Betty! Betty! Betty! Betty! Betty! Betty!" repeated Giz, each "Betty!" being reinforced with a prod from the claw, "Betty!Betty!Betty!Betty!Betty!Betty!Betty!Betty!Betty!"
"Go'way, 'm'sleep." grunted the unfortunate Betty.
"No! Betty!Betty!Betty!Betty!" persisted Giz, somewhat unwisely in my view, "Betty!  It's urgent! Betty!"

Betty groaned.

"If it's anything other than the house being on fire, I'm going to kill you Giz."
"What?  No, you have to get up now! Betty!"
"I'll bark it again.  IS the house on fire?"
"Ummm... I don't think so..."
"Is there even any smoke?"
"No, but I know where Mistress keeps matches.  I can put the curtains on fire if you want."
"In that case, Giz, kindly lie down on your back, tilt your head up and expose your throat."
"Oh! OK - but..." chattered Giz, doing as she was told.
"Now I'm going to tear your throat out, you little sleep-thieving parasite."
"What? Oh! Hihihihihiiiii - but no.  I need to ask you a really big favour."

"Is there any chance of me getting to go back to sleep this morning?" sighed Betty.
"No."
"What d'you want then?"

"I've decided.  After we were barking about fur-styles the other night, I decided it HAS to go.  You have to pull it out."
"Not your bl**dy tuft again?!"

"Yes.  It's GOT to go.  Ever since you tore- I mean, when you bit me- ages ago, when my face was sore and open and all the fur came off... when it all grew back the tuft grew back even bigger and fluffier.  I HATE it - Look!"

With that, Gisèle shook her head and rubbed it on the edge of Betty's pillow.  The unfortunate fluffy tuft that perched comically atop the little terrier's cranium stood erect.  Betty was unable to stop herself.

"Pfffftht...!  Hur hur hur - snort - hur hur hur!" chuckled the Giant Schnauzer, "Hur - snort - hur hur, I'm not nipping off that little beauty! Hur hur hur...!"


"Oh PLEASE Bettz" implored Giz, "I hate it!  It makes me look SO stupid.  I won't squeal or anything - I will just lie here, good and quiet, and you pull it out.  Go on - do it NOW!"  Giz positioned herself carefully below Betty's jaws, squeezed her eyes tightly closed and braced herself. "Nip it Betty! Nip it!  Pull it out!"
"No! Stop it, you nut! I'm not pulling out your hair!"

"Why though?"
"Because it will hurt!  And if I pull it out again, it will only be even thicker when it grows back again! No!"

"I want mistress to shave it, but she won't." Giz whined petulantly.
"I should jolly well think not!" barked Betty, "The itchiness would drive you mad when it started to grow back!  It's not that bad..."


"I hate it..." grumbled Giz moodily.  I hoped that she wasn't going to go into one of her 'difficult sulks'.  Betty looked down at her and I could tell that she was thinking along the same lines...

Tuft Dormant

Tuft Rampant
(not all of it - plenty more at the back of the curl)


"It is a bit funny-looking," admitted Betty carefully, "I mean, when you twiddle it with a claw and it stands up straight by itself..." She stretched out a stubby claw and twizzled Giz's tuft into a sturdy upright peak, "You might even be able to pick up short-wave radio, hur hur hur - snort - hur hur."  And with a wink at her tiny friend, Betty made a noise like the interference one encounters when attempting to tune a radio.

Gisèle simply couldn't remain in a sulk at this - she sat up and beamed at Betty, the twinkle returning to her dark brown eyes.
"Bsssszzzzzzt!" joined in Gisèle with a giggle "...here is the news on Giz-FM: Everyone afraid as Betty's ar*e continues to get bigger - hihihihihihihiiiiiii - dangers of tidal waves if she sits down suddenly - hihiihiiii - public warned to stay away - army called out to monitor Betty's massive ar*e..."
"Oh, shut up, Tufty..." grinned Betty and, with that, Giz collapsed with her high-pitched giggles as Betty pretended to be cross and gently swiped at her.

With much relief I watched as the two friends snuggled close together and went back to sleep.  Well, I mused to myself, it may be a mad life they lead - but it is a happy one...

Pip-pip!





Friday, 21 February 2014

Friday 21 February 2014

Gisèle was going to write this entry herself.  I believe she was going to "entertain" you with the fact that she wasn't currently barking to me, apropos my lecture to her on morality after her frolics with Boris.  She was also going to provide you with a list detailing why I was (a) wrong; and (b) a boring old fossil.  These, however, are "treats" to be savoured at some future point, for events have overtaken her easily-distracted mind.  Ah well.  Anticipation, they say, is but half the thrill... For goodness' sake.

Betty has returned.  She is, I am pleased to bark, behaving herself extremely well - despite the insolence of Gisèle, who had convinced herself that it was in honour of another visit from Boris that the house was being prepared.  On discovering that it was The Hon. Elizabeth (she had not bothered to listen to my partner's prior information of Betty's visit) at the door Giz, in response to the Giant Schnauzer's hearty greeting, snapped "Why aren't you Boris?!  Go away!"  Fortunately Betty is used to Gizzy's habit of barking first, sniffing later and actually thinking as the merest of afterthoughts.  All is well now between the girls.  Now...


The very evening of Betty's arrival last week coincided with the worst of these awe-inducing and destructive storms under which much of Britain is currently suffering.  The wind literally roared around our little house, the trees at the side creaked and twisted most alarmingly, branches crashed down, and the rain sounded like pebbles being repeatedly hurled at the windows.  Even Gisèle, who is not normally troubled by such things, was afraid.  The power flickered on and off and the two trembling dogs clung to each other for comfort and support.  My partner, after having lit a few candles "just in case" suggested, in a braver-sounding tone than I suspected she felt, that Gizzy tell Betty about her nice weekend with Boris (by way of a distraction from the wild elements without-doors).  The two girls trotted upstairs and I could hear them chattering away quietly.

After twenty minutes there was a sudden outbreak of hysterical screaming.  There were then two thumps - one soft, one heavy - more screaming, followed by a great deal of scrabbling.

My partner and I raced upstairs.  The two girls were in witless hysterics, screaming and shrieking, pushing, shoving and scrambling over each other in frantic attempts to squeeze themselves into the little airing cupboard.  My partner's clothes were flying everywhere.

"What are you DOING?!" cried my partner, but Betty and Giz were both in such a petrified state that neither heard her.
"OI!!!" I roared, "Pack it in, the pair of you! Now!!!"  The squealing stopped, but the desperate scrabbling did not. "Come out of there!"  Giz was half-way up one of the legs of my partner's pairs of trousers and reluctantly reappeared, still shaking.  Betty reversed out, wearing a pair of my partner's flowery-pink knickers on her head like a hat.  My partner pulled them off her with a look of disdain.

"What's going on?!" I demanded.  Both girls looked too terrified to bark.  They looked at each other shiftily, still quivering and squeaking.  "Come on - out with it!"

Eventually, Betty mumbled "Gizzy told me about all the naughty s*x-things she and Boris did..."
Giz corroborated this with a whimper, and then burst into tears.
"Oh, Jasper!" she wailed, "It's ALL my fault! All MY fault!!!  We're ALL going to die!!!"  Both girls began to squeal and cry again.

After what amounted to almost twenty minutes of extremely tiresome coaxing, I finally got the two to concede that they had decided that the weather and the flooding is some sort of Divine retribution for Gisèle's weekend of immorality.  It took me a further twenty minutes to get them to accept that it was merely weather, and that the natural behaviours of two young dogs, mutually attracted, were unlikely to bring about the full Apocalyptic might of the End of Days on the entire planet.  As soon as that rather heavy penny had clanged down in their relatively empty heads, they were quite satisfied and trotted off so that they could "do each other's fur-styles".

Terrific.  Another evening wasted.  Although I'll admit that the weather WAS pretty scary.