Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Wednesday 21 December 2008

Well, I returned from Hereford with life, limbs, "Little Jasper" and most of my whiskers intact.






It was a lovely Christmas, though a somewhat muted reunion with my wife, Isolde. I managed to not incriminate myself with my fair one, but I believe she may have suspected me. After two days, this was the most pleasing picture of us together that could be obtained:


I think I have an air of guilt about me.

The ice had begun to thaw after the second day, but then it was time to come home. It was nice to see the fair maid again, however.


Just a short entry tonight - my partner and I are shortly off to the pub to herald the entrance of the new year. This is going to be a good one; I can feel it in my whiskers. Years with the number nine have not gone well in the past for my partner. A brief examination, to back up what I mean:
  • 1979: My partner was a mere five-year-old pup, but was about to undergo a major life-change, as she and her parents prepared to move from London - the most happening capital that happens - to the small country town where we now reside. DOG: none.
  • 1989: My partner's puberty years. Not a happy time - and only her GCSE exams to look forward to. DOG: Jaki; a sparky, attractive little Jack Russell Terrier. Notoriously accident-prone but ultimately loveable. Lived a long, happy life, ending with Leukaemia.
  • 1999: My partner's mother just recovering from her first brush with Cancer, and my partner recovering from first brush with a rotten boyfriend. Not good times. DOG: Tess; exceptionally beautiful collie-lurcher cross of impressive tail and ginger fur. Loving and with a recorded intelligence that put her in the top 2% of dogs. Was able to open car doors unaided. Was tragically to succumb to cancer after a truly heroic fight, aged only seven.
  • 2009: She's over the wretched BC, plans are in pipelines, things are looking up. DOG: Jasper. Draw your own conclusions.

Tomorrow, you can sit back and enjoy Jasper's review of the year. But now we have a party to go to, people to see, bottoms to sniff (that last one's just me).

Look out world - 'cause Jasper and his partner are COMING!

Good night - and a Happy New Year to you.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Wednesday 24 December 2008

The weather has become increasingly cold of late. So much so that I have been able to revive one of my favourite Winter pastimes: cracking the ice on puddles.

I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed this. My method is to tap on the fragile puddle-ice with my front paws until it breaks and begins to float and I can lap up mouthfuls of the icy goodness contained beneath its tender crust. Wonderful.

Thus it was just the other day, when Candy, Harvey and I stood on the riverbank at the bottom of the park, looking at the crystal waters before us. Harvey was distracted by some interesting leaves and Candy and I moved closer to the water, noticing that it did not seem to be flowing past as usual.
"Look, Jasper," remarked Candy, "The river is frozen from the bank almost to the middle!" And, sure enough, the river had frozen over, apart from a small channel in the middle, which continued to race on by.
"Watch this Candy," I said, stretching out a front paw, "This is really cool." (Hmmm... almost literally...). I tapped on the ice, but it failed to crack. I tapped harder - still the ice did not yield.
"What am I supposed to be watching?" asked the bemused Candy. I explained about cracking the ice puddles. "Well, perhaps the ice is thicker here?" suggested the ever-practical Candy. "Try it again." Tentatively I put my right front paw fully on the ice and transferred my strength to the arm. STILL the ice did not crack. Candy and I exchanged a nervous laugh.
"I'm going to try something else now." I said, and (somewhat nervously) I stepped fully off the riverbank and stood fully on the ice! It supported my weight, and still did not crack. I hadn't seen fun like this since the last Christmas I spent of Dartmoor, a few years ago, and where I had enjoyed skating on large expanses of solid ice. I gave a little jump and Candy squealed with delight and amusement.
"You're standing ON the river, Jasper!" she giggled.

Enter Harvey.

Attracted by our laughter, he barrelled in and said
"What are we laughing at?"
"Jasper's walking on frozen water." replied Candy.
"Wow! Great idea, Jazz!" yipped the little brown Staffie, and before I could shout
"NO!! Harvey!!!", he had leaped onto the ice beside me, laughing, slipping about and jumping up and down madly.

At that point, the ice cracked.

Two Staffordshire Bull Terriers fell into the now-unsheathed water with one, united scream.

The shock of the sudden plunge into freezing cold water had a most alarming effect on my own, beloved, Little Jasper (my mighty willie). With this unexpected immersion in the icy river, Little Jasper retreated back into my body with such force that he nearly became lodged in my throat. I squeaked as I surfaced and began to paddle hastily for the bank.
"Harvey, you total p*nis." I spluttered as Candy helped me out of the water before we both turned and hauled out Harvey.
"Sorry Jazz," he wheezed, as we both sat on the bank, trying to catch our breath. Candy, I noticed, was doing a very poor job of trying to hide her laughter.
"You two had better do some running to warm up." she advised, her bark cracking with sniggers.
"Harvey, go and get your football now." I growled. Harvey immediately trotted off to find his partner and Candy and I began to walk more slowly in his dripping wake, back to the park for a vigorous game of footie.

"Are you OK, Jasper?" asked Candy, more seriously this time.
"I'll live." I replied, my voice slowly regaining some of its gravelly masculinity.
"You were a bit quiet before you fell in the water."
"Yeah..." and I let out a long sigh.
"Come on," said Candy, kindly, with a small lick of my snout and a wag of her tail. "What's up?"
I sighed again.
"Well, to be honest, Candy," I said, "I'm really worried about Christmas."
"Oh?"
"Yes. I'm so paranoid that I might slip up and actually mention your name and the names of all my other girlfriends to my wife Isolde - urk!" WHAT HAD I DONE?!!

Oh ball-bags. Why, Jasper, WHY? OK, I'm dead. I looked meekly at Candy out of the corner of my eye. I'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdea-
Candy regarded me through narrowed eyes, with her head on one side, for a moment and then burst out laughing.
"Oh, Jasper!" she barked, "You're so FUNNY! You're a naughty little pickle, to be always trying to wind me up like that! Oh look, here comes Harvey with his football!" And she bounded happily up to him and playfully tried to wrestle the ball from him.

I appear to be not dead. A lucky escape.

But now, dear reader, do you see why I am concerned about Christmas? Isolde is not so easily hoodwinked as sweet Candy. But I have bought my dear wife a handsome present and I hope and trust that it will distract her from any indiscretions that might inadvertently tumble from my lips. We travel to Hereford on the morrow. I shall provide a full analysis upon my return.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very, VERY happy Christmas and a healthy and enjoyable New Year. I hope that Santa Paws is good to you this year.

God bless, (Is that sleigh bells I can hear...?) and good night.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Why is it? Seriously, I want to know. Can anyone tell me?

I want to know why, when one part of your life starts improving and going well, another part of it turns inexplicably to sh*t.

To illustrate my point, enter my partner.

She realises the truth about BC. Years of torment for her are now at an end and her renewed self-confidence has already attracted the attention of several new young bucks. So, naturally, things immediately start to go wrong for her with a sudden and unexpected recurrence of the violent ear infection which nearly claimed her life earlier this year.

Fortunately she was able to get an emergency appointment with a doctor, who prescribed immediate and regular application of strong drops which, I am happy to say, improved the situation before it required hospitalisation.

Immediately after that trauma, my partner scored a success with her appearance in the local pantomime. Her character was well-received and her performance appreciated. Happy days again. But be not calmed by this. Oh no. Less than 48 hours after her final triumph on the stage, we both (Jasper AND partner) succumbed to the worst case of food poisoning that I have ever known.

How can you deny that I have a point when faced with this overwhelming evidence? But it's the food poisoning that really wound me up - perhaps because I suffered as well. Some sly detective work by my partner identified the culprit. It was a pot of prawn mayonnaise sandwich filling, obtained from a leading supermarket. It was well within its use-by-date, but still it felled us. My partner made herself some sandwiches and then allowed me to lick out the little pot. Never again, I can tell you that right now. It was the only thing that the both of us had consumed. However, knowledge of the cause was scant comfort as we spent the day fighting each other for access to the bathroom.

The world has now stopped spinning quite so violently for us both, I am happy to say. Although we still continue to view the humble prawn with deep suspicion.

Away with these torments! I have not posted an entry for some time, due mostly to the events described above. But I am happy to report that there has been progress on the Ewan/Fizzy front. In my last blog posting, you may recall that Fizzy had reached the limit of her tolerance with the cerebrally-challenged mutt, Ewan.

Fizzy (left) and Ewan (right) in the work-yard sunshine today.

I greeted my two friends as they bounded into the office this morning. They both greeted me heartily, with none of the animosity of the previous occasion.
"How's things?" I asked.
"Brilliant!" said Ewan, with an enthusiastic wag of his tail. Fizzy corroborated this with a nod.
"And did you play the 'Ewan Sits in the Corner...' game?"
"Better than that!" cried Ewan, "We played, um, er, ummm..."
"We played 'Ewan Sits in His Basket and Lets Fizzy Watch The Weakest Link in Peace'." put in Fizzy, quickly. "Ewan is very good at it."
"Oh, really?" I grinned, winking at Fizzy.
"Yes! Brilliant!" grinned Ewan, wagging his big tail even faster, "And after ten minutes, I found a secret hidden magical level in my game."
"Ah yes, the secret hidden magical level." said Fizzy, looking quietly pleased with herself, "That was called 'If Ewan Doesn't Shout out Stupid and Pointless Answers to the Questions in The Weakest Link for the Rest of the WHOLE Programme Then He Can Have One of Fizzy's Biscuits'."
"I won TWO biscuits." said Ewan proudly.

"And tonight," said Fizzy, "I have told Ewan that if he lets me watch my programme without making a single sound, he can talk to me for five whole minutes afterwards about cheese." The pretty Labrador smiled and sighed. "Life is so much sweeter, Jasper. I never thought it would be so easy."

Ewan grinned happily.
"I love you Fizzy." he beamed, giving the hapless Fizzy a big, slobbery kiss while she winced and tried to escape.



So, job done - although I'll admit to feeling a twinge of jealousy...

Good night.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sunday 30 November 2008

The volcano has erupted. And I'm not talking about my bottom.

The signs were there. I knew it was on the horizon. I mean, we all saw it coming. But I'll admit that the suddenness and vehemence of the blast took me by surprise.

But before I turn to that rather fizzy topic, I must report that my partner has experienced something of an epiphany. She has finally seen BC for the gutless turd that he is. On Friday, she had to go to his workplace, to collect something from one of his colleagues. She was looking particularly beautiful and felt particularly cheerful. He hid from her. She ACTUALLY saw him hiding. Thus, she realised what I have been trying to make her learn for the past few years: her former beloved is a spineless goon. 'Twas a difficult conclusion, but a necessary one. It cost her much heartache and some tears, but she has finally acknowledged that the higher intelligence is mine. Three years have been spent in the learning of this lesson. She is now on the look-out for a new beau. I shall keep a close eye on progress and, naturally, be swift to scupper any progress with a new lad...



But now I turn back to my headline. There have been developments in the workplace. Oh yes. I noticed that things were beginning to simmer on Wednesday. I was in the office before Fizzy and Ewan (dogs of my partner's colleague). As they entered, Ewan was coming to the end of an anecdote. Fizzy, the recipient of this gripping tale, was looking vacant and was wearing a hunted expression. Ewan was speaking as they came through the door:

"...the cheese, so we let him put his trousers back on! Hehehehehehe...!"

Fizzy looked at me and squeaked "Help me...!" in a rather pathetic voice. I winked at her and shook my head.

Then, on Friday, it happened. It had been a relatively quiet morning. After lunch, I was just returning from taking a drink in the kitchen when Fizzy came storming in from the workshop closely followed, again, by Ewan. This time, the look on Fizzy's face was dark and thunderous. If I had been Ewan, I would have noticed these ominous signs and left the lady alone. But he didn't. Settling himself down to bathe his hands, I watched as Fizzy shook with pent-up rage. Then she turned to me and exploded.

"Aaaugh! I can't stand it!" she wailed, "I can't stand another second of it!"
"Another second of what?" I asked, innocently.
"Another second of his puerile nonsense!" snapped Fizzy, jerking her head back at Ewan.
"Shhh, Fizzy!" I hissed, "He will hear you!" But I knew it was already too late. Ewan was keeping up the pretence of thoroughly licking his front paws, but I could tell from his eyes that he was listening.
"I don't care if he does!" yelped Fizzy, "Let him! Do you have any concept of what it is like to put up with him on a 24-hour basis?! He's driving me mad! If it isn't the stupid stories about f***ing cheese..."
"Oi! Watch your language!"
"Oh, shut up Jasper. If it isn't the cheese stories, it's having to explain everything over and over and over again. Even when he's asleep there's no escape, because as soon as he drops off to sleep the bl**dy humming starts. Meaningless, tuneless songs about nothing! I can't stand it! I can't stand it!"
"I know it can be challenging, Fizzy," I began, kindly, but Fizzy was having none of it.
"Why wasn't he drowned or smothered at birth?! He's worthless! He doesn't deserve to live!"
"Fizzy, that's enough!"
"No it isn't!" barked the angry dog, "I can't bear another day living with that!"
She said the word "that" as though she was spitting out a foul and bitter tablet. I glanced over at Ewan, still pretending not to hear and still determinedly licking his paws, and saw that his lip was trembling. I felt a stab of pity for him.

I gently but firmly grasped Fizzy's collar in my mouth and dragged her into the next office. "Jasper, what...?" she spluttered as I pulled her along. I stopped and released her when we were a safe distance away.
"Sit down, madam. You have said enough." I snapped, "Now it is your turn to listen." Fizzy opened her mouth to bark, but then thought better of it when she saw the look on my face. "I know that Ewan is frustrating and stupid. I know how you feel, I really do. But, Fizzy, Ewan cannot help it."
"Of course he can!" grunted back Fizzy.
"No, he cannot." I reiterated, firmly. "I don't know what happened to Ewan. Perhaps he was starved of oxygen when he was born and thus incurred brain-damage. Perhaps he was in an accident or was beaten on the head by the owner that he had before he was adopted by your partner from the rescue home. I simply don't know. But he can't help it. You have not known him as long as I have. He has made some progress since I first met him and he does as well as he can. Believe me, he used to be a lot worse than this. He tries and it is not his fault that his brain doesn't work properly."
Fizzy sighed. I knew she could see the reason in what I barked. I could, of course, have pointed out that she herself had been the runt of her litter (her small stature makes that fact strikingly obvious - she is tiny for a Black Labrador) and raised herself to better things - therefore she should give Ewan more leeway. But I chose not to.
"And, Fizzy, consider." I went on, "It could be far worse. Ewan is not vicious. He is an imbecile, true, but he is kind, playful and affectionate. He loves his friends and likes nothing more than their company. He is gentle, he always tries his best - even if sometimes he doesn't quite get there - and he would willingly and gladly give up his last biscuit in the entire world to help feed a starving kitten. Think about it. You know, deep down, that it's true."

Fizzy looked meek and utterly ashamed of herself.
"I am sorry, Jasper." she said, humbly, "I should not have got angry and said those things. But it's just so difficult sometimes. I don't know what to do."
"There are ways and means, Fizzy, to make life more bearable for yourself and to keep Ewan happy too." I said, smiling and winking gently at her. "Would you allow me to show you how?"
"Of course!" replied Fizzy, with a weak little wag of her tail, "Anything that might help...!"

We trotted back into the other office. Ewan was still licking his now-sodden paws, looking extremely morose. I pitied him.
"Ewan, "I began gently, "Fizzy is very, very sorry for the mean things she said just now."
"Yes, I'm sorry Ewan." said Fizzy, meekly.
"Ewan, would you like to play a game?" I asked. Poor Ewan wouldn't even look at me.
"No, thank you, Jasper." he replied quietly, "I think I'll just lie here for a bit."
"Oh, come on Ewan," I barked, encouragingly, "I know a game that you're REALLY good at. And you ALWAYS beat me. Oh, PLEASE play a game with me...?" A feint glimmer appeared in the dog's eye - he was starting to feel tempted... "Please, Ewan?" I repeated.
"Oh please, Ewan." said Fizzy. Ewan smiled and jumped up.
"Go on then!" he yipped, and Fizzy and I cheered as he got to his feet. "What shall we play?"
"Well, do you remember the game that I invented a few months ago? The one you are always SO good at?"
"Oh! Yes! Erm... what was it called again?"
"It's called 'Ewan Sits...'" I prompted.
"'Ewan Sits' erm... erm..."
"'Ewan Sits in the...'"
"'Ewan Sits in the...' Oooh...Erm..."
"'...the Corn..." A sudden flash of memory spread across Ewan's face and he jumped up and down while he yipped:
"'Ewan Sits in the Corner and Doesn't Annoy Jasper'!"
"Yes!" I cried, "Well done! I knew you'd get it! And you're SO good at it, Ewan. Would you like to show Fizzy how clever you are at it?"
"Yes!" he barked, excitedly, "Yes! Oh yes! Can I, Jasper, can I?" I barely had the time to nod, before Ewan was off to his favourite corner, determined to stay as quiet as possible, although he couldn't stop himself from indulging in a satisfied chuckle every so often. After about twenty minutes he was fast asleep.

"You see?" I grinned, winking at an astonished-looking Fizzy, "He's happy because he believes he's playing a game that he's good at. He won't wake up now until it's time to go home and then you can tell him he's won. He's thrilled and you've had a nice quiet afternoon: everyone's happy. Ways and means, Fizzy, ways and means."
"I don't know what to bark, Jasper." said Fizzy in tones of inexpressible relief. To my surprise, she planted a great big kiss on the side of my snout. Now, that was a prize worth winning.

Good night.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunday 23 November 2008

A somewhat traumatic blog entry this evening, pregnant with potential disaster. But first, dear reader, I shall lull you into a false sense of security with some good news. The very best news.

My partner's sister-in-law has been safely delivered of her pup. Ewan (adorable nephew, not numpty workplace hound) has a brand new little sister! We were somewhat surprised, as we were sure we had seen a little winkle on the foetal scan pictures - but there we go. The little girl has been named Carys, and Ewan is delighted with his new sibling. Here are a couple of pictures, to charm and delight you:




Bless 'em.

My partner's preparations for her pantomime continue apace. Alas, she has performed the usual trick of recording her many lines onto CD and listening to them constantly, leading to much confusion when I am trying to locate her about the house. It isn't fair.

But this is not the trauma to which I alluded. That occurred on Friday.

I was out on my walk with Maisie, and arrived at the park at the same time as young Harvey, my former protegée. We ambled down through the park together, chatting about the new beauty in my workplace, Fizzy. I was careful not to be too explicit, however, Harvey not being the most discreet of lads. We were just remarking on the uncharacteristic absence of Candy (my girlfriend), when a sudden scream from the bottom of the park roused us. We both trained our eyes in the scream's direction and saw several flashes of white feather, followed by more screams and the sound of splashing. It was immediately clear: Candy was being attacked by the devil-swan - the purest lump of malevolent evil that has ever been! (See my entry for Thursday 28 June 2007 for more about this foul scion of Satan).


Harvey and I wasted no time in rushing to her aid. We were just in time. Candy was in the water, under ferocious and repeated attack, while her partner attempted to save her.
"Oi!" I yelled, my fear of the swan not even thought of in the heat of my anger, "Get your wings off her!"
"Yeah!" called Harvey, always eager to back me up, but never quite sure what to say, "Erm - what he said!!"
The swan didn't even look up.

"Don't make me come in there after you...!" I snarled. The evil psycho-swan glared at me and hissed malevolently. Candy seized this opportunity to scramble away from him and clambered onto the riverbank, taking refuge behind her brave saviours. Seeing that he was faced with not one, but two angry Staffordshires, plus the rapidly-recovering Candy, our nemesis decided that discretion was indeed the better part of "valour" on this occasion. He paddled away, but not before he turned to me with an evil gleam in his eye, saying,
"There will be an answer for this, boy, you mark my words..."
"I'd welcome it." I sneered. But now was not the time for such things. Candy must be attended to.

"Oh, thank you boys," she gasped, "You saved me. Thank goodness you came when you did - I thought I was a goner." We escorted her back into the park.
"Our pleasure, Candy." said Harvey.
Candy gave me a big kiss.
"Thank you, Fizzy." I said.

Oops.

"Fizzy?" said Candy. Harvey made a little "Urk!" sound and flinched, as though someone was coming at him with a big stick.

"Er, heh heh, who said Fizzy? I didn't." I spluttered, wildly attempting to extricate myself from my faux pas.
"You said it." replied Candy, looking quizzical, "Just now. Who is Fizzy?"
"Fizzy?" I replied, nervously, "Errrr..." I looked for support to Harvey. He had developed a sudden fascination with a tiny mushroom poking up through the grass and was examining it closely.

"Yes." replied Candy, searching my face with her deep brown eyes. They felt like lasers, burning through my flesh. "Come on Jasper. Who is Fizzy?"
"Err, heh heh, Harvey? Did you mention Fizzy?" I turned desperately again to Harvey, but he was still determinedly concentrating on his mushroom and would not hear me.
Candy cleared her throat. She was not going to let this one go.

"Errr... Fizzy... Fizz... Fizz... Fizzzzshe's a jolly good fellow! For she's a jolly good fellow! For she's a jolly good feh-eeh-looow! Which nobody can deny!"
"Which nobody can deny!" joined in Harvey, looking mightily relieved, his reedy little treble swelling my song. We worked our way through to the "And so say all of us!", at the end of which, Candy was delighted.

"You are too lovely!" she exclaimed. I breathed what was possibly the longest sigh of relief of my life. A narrow escape.

"Football!" cried Harvey, "Let's play football, to cheer us all up!" Candy and I concurred. "I hate bl**dy mushrooms." I heard the little dog mutter as he bounded over to his partner to request his football.

I simply MUST remember to think before I speak. Candy is a relatively benevolent woman, but were I to utter such an indiscretion before my wife, Isolde, at Christmas, I'd be toast.

Good night.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Uh-oh.

There has been a development pertaining to Christmas in this household, over which I don't know whether to rejoice or despair.

My partner has just informed me that we will be spending Christmas Day in Hereford, at the kind invitation of the parents of my partner's sister-in-law, Nicky. (Nicky is in pup, as you may recall, and is due to have her whelping induced in hospital tomorrow - a new baby brother or sister for Ewan (lovable tot, not brainless mutt).). This means that my Chrimble festivities this year will be spent alongside my wife, Isolde - a perky little Springer Spaniel of immense beauty and uncertain temper. I may be in trouble.

What if she finds out about my girlfriend Candy? What if Candy finds out about the new apple of my eye, Fizzy? What if Candy finds out about Isolde? What if Isolde finds out about Candy finding out about Fizzy? What will become of me?

My partner saw me muttering distractedly to myself, but she seems to show scant sympathy for my plight. All she had to say by way of comfort was:
"If you are finding yourself in hot water now, Jasper, it would do you good to remember who turned on the tap in the first place."

Eh? Why is the silly girl talking in riddles? I do NOT turn on taps - I have people to do that for me. I DO know what she means, of course, but it isn't MY fault. How can I be the one to blame? Just because the ladies love me. It simply isn't fair.

I thought about trying to die before Christmas, but I really haven't finished being alive yet. It's too much fun. And it takes a long time to drive to Hereford from where I live - I don't think they pick up our wee-mails up there. No - settle, Jasper, settle. I think it might be alright. If I can just keep quiet and not let anything stupid slip out, all might be well. Yes: that shall be my plan. Mute, submissive devotion to my dearest darling wife. Hmmm... I wonder if I can steal some of her turkey dinner when she's not looking....?

A brief entry tonight, alas. My partner is just inviting me to continue my musings on Christmas plans in another room. Apparently my bottom-breath is "unacceptable".

Good night.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Monday 10 November 2008

The rain lashes down and the wind hurls itself violently against my window-panes. But I welcome it.

For it has ushered away the fireworks which, for this year, have been somewhat excessive. I'll admit that they terrify me. The pretty colours - yes. The ear-splitting bangs - no. I am happy for what they represent - the foiling of terrorism (albeit 17th Century terrorism, but terrorism nonetheless), but the noise does trouble me. Ah well. 'Tis only once a year - though the bangs seem to continue from 5 November to 31 December. I never mind the New Year ones, however. My partner and I are often in the thick of the party at New Year's and far too merry to worry about a quick bang or two... so to speak, heh heh...

My, but what a troubling past few days we have had in this household. My partner attended a funeral on Friday and a funeral today. And, in between, a costume fitting for one of her pantomime costumes (although this took place very close to the site of some of my partner's happy memories with BC for the beleaguered young girl, which was in itself a funeral of sorts. Oh poo. I've mentioned him again, haven't I? Sorry - won't happen again). Never mind - her costume was truly lovely, and made by a lady named Sally - a seamstress of extreme talent. My partner's red dress is fabulous (think The Lion in Winter).

But enough of this. Life in the workplace has been traumatic enough even without any of the above.

A few days ago, Ewan and his new basket-mate, Fizzy, joined me in the office under a distinctly dark cloud. Ewan immediately padded softly up to me.
"Shhhhh!" he hissed. "We aren't allowed to talk to Fizzy today."
"Why not?" I asked.
"I can't remember. But she isn't allowed to go outside by herself." No matter. A quick glance and sniff at Fizzy told me the truth. She looked mutinous and was wearing an expression which distinctly said "unless you are bringing me a hot-water bottle, a blanket and a BIG bag of doggy-chocolates, DO NOT approach me." I crept up to her to ascertain the truth, by way of commiserating with her. The truth duly confirmed, I returned quietly to Ewan.
"It's alright, Ewan. It won't last long." I said, patting his paw. "Fizzy is on heat."
The perpetually cerebrally-disadvantaged Ewan squinted at Fizzy and regarded her for some time, with his head on one side.
"Are you SURE, Jasper?" he asked. "Her bottom doesn't LOOK sore."

"What?"

"Well, I would expect her bottom to be burned." continued Ewan, still looking confused., "If she was sitting on some fire."

Oh G-d.

"No, Ewan." I said, patiently, "She isn't literally ON heat. I mean she's in season." I went on quickly, seeing Ewan's lips beginning to form the word "Autumn". "It is Fizzy's Period, so she has got a sore tummy and is feeling a bit cranky. She has got the decorators in." The poor mutt looked more confused. I tried again. "Surfing the crimson wave?" Nope. "On the blob?" Still nothing. One more. "Ewan, Fizzy is ovulating."
"AHHH!!! Oh yes, of course. Silly me. Right. Yes. Ovulating. Brilliant. Yes."
"Do you understand, then?"
"No."

I sighed. A deep sigh, full of meaning. How to explain female biology to one who struggles to comprehend his own bodily functions.

"Right, I've got it." I said, grasping Ewan's collar with my teeth and leading him into the next room, so as not to disturb poor Fizzy. "Ewan. Imagine you are a farmer. You want to plant some potatoes. With me so far?"
"Oh yes." replied Ewan, "I like potatoes."
"Good." I said. "Now then. You, Farmer Ewan, will want to choose a time to plant your potatoes. Naturally, you will choose a time when the soil is at its most fertile."
"But, of course." nodded Ewan.
"Exactly. Well, Fizzy is the soil. Dogs like you and me - well, before the operation of which we do not speak - dogs are the farmer with the potato. OK?"
"Ye-es."
"Good. Right, well then. Fizzy being 'on heat' means that she is very, specially, fertile at this moment. And Farmer Unsnipped-Dog will want to plant his potato-seed in her private-ladies'-place-SOIL at this time. THAT is why Fizzy has to be kept inside, away from naughty Farmer-Unsnipped Dog and his potato seed just now. And why Fizzy is sore inside and a bit irritable. Do you understand what I mean?"
Thankfully, Ewan nodded and actually LOOKED like he understood. Phew. I took him out for a game of football in the yard, to celebrate this breakthrough, and also to keep him away from Fizzy.

Some two or three hours later, I was dozing peaceably under my partner's desk. I heard a few mutterings coming from the other office, followed by a sudden snarl and growl and then a shrill yelp, which made me jump into wakefulness. Ewan came belting into the office, trying to stem the bleeding from a nasty little nip to his snout with a paw.
"Ewan, what on EARTH did you SAY to Fizzy?!" I cried.
"Nothing, Jasper." he replied, innocently.
"EWAN...?"

I nodded, with a weary sense of inevitability, as Ewan replied
"I asked Fizzy if I could plant a potato in her private-ladies' place."

That'll be the last time that I tangle with Ewan and the mysteries of female ovulation. I guarantee you this.

Good night.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Monday 3 November 2008

Do you see this, AOL? Do you? Do you? Eh? I cannot be silenced! Oh, yes, your universal cr*pitude may try to suppress me but, phoenix-like, I rise again. I refuse to be crushed!

I must say that I have strongly felt frustration at the hiatus that ensued whilst my partner was scrambling to salvage my works before AOL banished them to Internet Purgatory. I made her work as fast as possible, but she only just made it before 31 October. She then came down with a nasty bug (from which she is just recovering), brought on, no doubt, by the strain of the important conservation work she was undertaking. As a consequence, there was no Jasp O'Lantern for Jasperwe'en this year (she was too ill to even carve a pumpkin. Hmmm. Lazy, more like). Next year, she says that I can have a special turnip one to make up for this year's disappointment. I'll bet you never knew that the Hallowe'en lanterns were originally made from turnips as opposed to pumpkins, did you? See - it's a lifetime of learning with ol' Jasper. Not just spurious stuff either - these facts are important.

In actual fact, we are (in a roundabout way) grateful to AOL, for we LOVE our new home here on Blogger. It's much easier for a dog to use and infinitely preferable. If AOL is a plasticky supermarket's-own-brand disgusting dog "treat", then Blogger is a huge meaty bone fresh from the butcher's shop, dripping with blood and oozing with marrow-bone goodness. We love Blogger.

But enough of this. For I am enraptured.

Utterly enslaved by her quirky beauty.

Her name is Fizzy. She is a black Labrador of small stature; a sleek, ebony beauty. Actually, her full name is Fizz-Bang (she was born on Guy Fawkes' Night), but she prefers Fizzy. She is a true delight. But there is a thorn (actually more of a thick plank) in the ointment here - Fizzy is the new companion of EWAN. Yes. Do not imagine that he has disappeared off the thicko-meter. He and I still share our office space and Ewan is still happily baffled by life and the many mysteries it holds for him. The basic facts are these - Ewan and his partner were looking after Fizz-Bang while her partners went on holiday. On their return, they mentioned that they were having to find a different home for the poor lass. Ewan's owner instantly said that she'd keep her and thus it was that Ewan proudly (and a bit smugly, in my view) introduced me to Fizzy one Monday morning.

I think that Ewan's partner is hoping that some of Fizzy's intelligence might waft over to the unfortunate mutt. Hmmm. Let us not forget that he recently tormented himself with thoughts of a cancerous lump, which ultimately turned out to be his willie. My hopes aren't high.

After a few polite conversations, I took the first opportunity (while Ewan was outside trying to remember how to go to the toilet) of speaking alone to the enchanting Fizzy. "How are you getting on with him?" I asked.

"Don't even ask." replied the sweet maid, "What's the matter with him? He went on forever about that bl**dy lump of his, and how he was only saved when you operated on him at the last minute."

?

She continued. "It's constant. Every cough is T.B. Every splutter, a stroke or heart attack. He woke up last night thinking he was choking to death. He was burbling something about having something stuck in his mouth and throat, which he couldn't spit out,"

"Don't tell me." I put in, "His tongue?" Fizzy nodded wearily.
"It took me nearly half an hour to talk him down from that one. And don't even get me started on the cheese."

Ah, yes. Cheese. I have only briefly alluded once in the past to Ewan's obsessive predilection with cheese in all its forms and his bizarre theories thereof. To be blunt, I find them disturbing and try to blot them from my mind. One of Ewan's chief comforts in life lies with cheese. He believes it to be a precious mineral - used by humans as currency and mined from the earth. I had tried on a number of occasions, as, I'm sure, had Fizzy by this point, to disabuse Ewan of this bizarre theory and the dairy-based cheese-making process. All to no avail - each time, he would nod his head, wag his tail, claim to understand and simply revert back to his own strange notions. In the end, I washed my paws of the matter and let him believe what he wants.

"Still on the cheese then, is he?" I said, with a sympathetic smile at the poor beleaguered Labrador.
"Oh, G*d." replied sweet Fizzy, becoming more and more agitated. "The bl**dy cheese. What is it with the cheese? Our partner has a barbecue the other evening and, afterwards, Ewan found some cubes of Red Leicester on the grass where the table had been. He thought they had fallen out of the stones in the rockery. He kept them under his blanket for five days, until our partner worked out where the smell was coming from." I politely concealed a laugh behind a cough. It was clear that Fizzy was not in the least bit amused with her new basket-fellow, and it is clear that she is not a woman with which to trifle.

I smell trouble. And it isn't the broccoli I had for my tea.

Good night.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Saturday 18 October 2008

My partner and I made some pumpkin soup today (I tasted some: delicious). This can mean one thing: A Jasp-O'Lantern for Jasperwe'en this year!! Our efforts last year (our first) were very successful (see pictures on relevant blog entry), so I am confident about this year's carving.

This coming week sees the birthdays of both myself and my partner. I will be ten. Maisie has promised me a special cake. My partner doesn't want anything. Except BC, but he won't be back. I might offer her a bit of my cake, but hopefully she will be too full of pumpkin soup to take it.

I hope my partner hurries up and finishes uploading my back catalogue to the new blog site (http://jasper-thedogsblog.blogspot.com/); my little furry head is simply bursting with tales to share with you. Tales of ladies, of adventures with my partner, of all sorts of escapades. And also some thoughts on cheese.

Good night.

Tuesday 6 October 2008

Oo-er. There is a new woman in my life. But wait! She is also a new woman in EWAN'S life! Will this lead to friction...? ...bloodshed? ...indifference?

Find out very soon - over at http://jasper-thedogsblog.blogspot.com/! (Just as soon as my idle partner has finished transferring over my back dogalogue).

Good night.

Wednesday 1 October 2008

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

I am very, very, very, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY angry.

Just take a look at what arrived in my inbox this morning:

Dear AOL Journals user,

We regret to inform you that AOL Journals is shutting down on 31 October 2008. After this date your content will no longer be available and will be deleted.

In order to save your valuable data we suggest you save your AOL Journals content as soon as possible and we have... ...to receive more information on how to save your content.

Sincerely,
The AOL Team



Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgh! I can't believe it.

Two years - two years!! - of my work is shortly to be deleted. All my adventures, mishaps and triumphs confined to the AOL dustbin. I am to disappear from search engines, all the blog directories kind enough to feature me will now be lumbered with redundant links and - worst of all - I will be denied YOUR readership. My heart breaks with the injustice of it all. But I will not be rendered impotent by the suits at AOL.

As soon as I read the email, I commanded my partner to ring up DHL or FedEx and have me couriered 'round to AOL's head office, to give them a piece of my tiny, livid mind. But my partner pointed out that the office is actually in the USA so, if I went, I would not be back for supper. S*d that then. But I will not be silenced. Oh no.

My partner has already located an alternative location for my writings (although some unthinking proletarian has already claimed the term "The Dog's Blog" - pah!). I have ordered her to begin uploading my archive of entries tonight.

The NEW address for my blog (which will, of course, retain its customary tone and quality - I leave it to you to decide whether or not this is a good thing) is as follows:

http://jasper-thedogsblog.blogspot.com/

PLEASE do continue to visit me there. I would be terribly sorry to lose you.

My partner says that, after all this vitriol, I must find something nice to say about AOL, lest I grow bitter (ha-ha-bl**dy-ha). OK then. AOL - I thank you for hosting me for the past two years. I am sorry that we may not continue to co-exist, but I daresay you have your reasons. There.

Bye bye on AOL then. - See you over at http://jasper-thedogsblog.blogspot.com/, for the latest on Ewan and a new development at my partner's workplace...

Good night.

Sunday 28 September 2008

What a beautiful weekend it has been.

There has, however, been a definite autumnal nip in the air. So much so that I feel it may be time to hang up my swimming towel for the season, for fear of the trauma that a sudden plunge into the icy-cold river may cause to my own dear, tender Little Jasper.

Friday afternoon saw Candy and I sitting on the riverbank, discussing this very issue. We had both dipped tentative paws into the water and decided against our swim. As we chatted happily, we became aware of a strange sound, growing in volume as it approached ever nearer. We both turned and looked up the gradient of the lower park field, which sloped gently down and ended at the riverbank. We saw a tan-coloured speck hurtling towards us.
"CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA..." said the speck. The speck became a tan-coloured blob. The blob became Harvey. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGE!" he hollered, running with all the speed of a healthy young Staffordshire. I quickly stood up and nudged Candy to one side, for fear she would be knocked over by the speeding youth. He barrelled past us, running so fast he was barely visibly.

Have you ever seen the Road Runner cartoons? In particular, the bit where Wil E. Coyote runs over the edge of a cliff - when his little legs continue to run for a few seconds while he hangs in mid-air, before he plummets downwards. This was the effect displayed in Harvey as he shot off the edge of the riverbank and proceeded to plunge into the deep icy water. Candy snickered a bit at the sight but I winced slightly, imagining the shock and despair that Harvey's 'Little Harvey' would be experiencing any second now. Sure enough, when the head of Harvey broke the bubbling water's surface, it was accompanied by shrill yelping and squealing. As quickly as he had entered the water, he was out of it again. He positively flew past us again, still yipping shrilly and proceeded to run around the lower park field twice, squealing all the way.

This completed, he returned sedately to the riverbank and sat down beside us.
"Good afternoon." he said, trying not to shiver.
"Harvey." I said.
"Good afternoon, Harvey." said Candy.
"Bit fresh, that water." said Harvey, after a pause. "I'd give it a miss, if I were you, Jasper."
"Thanks Harvey, I'll bear that in mind." I said, nodding. There was another awkward pause.
"See you later then." said the young Staffie, trying to disguise the chattering of his teeth. In fairness to him, Candy and I waited until he was well away and in the arms of his partner, before we collapsed into laughter. Poor Harvey.

Yesterday (Saturday), I was part of a really quite madcap scheme. It was my partner's father's idea. He had noticed that I was miserable through being tormented by the hedgehog, and knew that my partner had not been feeling well, so suggested that we should all take a day-trip together - to Dartmoor! Yipppieeee! I had not been since 2006, so was more than happy to accede to this suggestion.

Thus it was that my partner, her parents and I all piled into their car (not my Little Green Corsa, but their swanky new wagon - lovely), and made the four-hour journey to Dartmoor. It was a truly delightful day, the pleasure of its unexpectedness only enhancing the enjoyment that the scenery and the weather occasioned.

Straight away, my partner managed to hit paydirt. She and I were still in the car park when she was smiled upon and spoken to by a blonde, tousle-haired young gentleman. I questioned her as to whether she only spoke to him because he looked like a blonde version of BC (a bit), but she would not meet my eye, so I dragged her away and onto the moor. And here are the pictures to prove that I was indeed on beautiful Dartmoor only yesterday:
Me, beside my partner's rucksack, in front of the appropriately-named Hound Tor. Blonde BC-alike can be seen in the distance (white t-shirt). Don't look at him.
Getting a "Dartmoor Massage"

Happy to find myself there on such a lovely day.

We had a fantastic walk and did a spot of letterboxing (our favourite hobby, and one we can enjoy together). I am not going to go into what Letterboxing is here, but instead, for those who may be interested, shall direct you to http://www.dartmoorletterboxing.org/, where you can find all the information you need, some very nice people, and some rather charming pictures of a certain Mr. J. Stafford. My partner has been Letterboxing whenever she can since 1988 and I have proved myself quite an accomplished sidekick. This is our 'personal stamp':
Oh yes.

And after our walk, it was another four-hour drive back home, for fish and chips. What Saturday could be more perfect? A wonderful way to bid farewell to the summer and herald the approach of autumn.

Maisie is going away for a few days, so I will be accompanying my partner to work tomorrow. I hope to be able to bring you more tales of the hapless Ewan from my time in the office - although I shall take care to avert my eyes from any pigeon couples this time.

Good night.

Sunday 21 September 2008







Another day, another celebrity appearance.

Last Sunday, my forthcoming presence at the annual Pet Service at my local church was announced by way of an inducement for the general public to attend. Unfortunately, my attendance was announced before the appropriate booking forms had been completed. I was minded to protest, but feel it wise not to tangle with the ecclesiastical folk at present (at least, not until 21 October has safely passed), so I duly pitched up at the appointed time. Actually, my partner and I were a bit late, so I had to sit in between two cats. I struggled dogfully to contain myself, but the mogs were fairly inoffensive and I was able to acquit myself with dignity. I then left my pawtograph in the church record book for posterity. Job done.

I wish my dealings with the hedgepig were as straightforward. He continues to plague me. I saw the fat toerag eating the food my duplicitous partner put out for him the other night, and raced down the path, hoping to have the satisfaction of sinking my teeth into his foul, corpulent behind. Alas, he heard my approach and hauled his tubby ar*e under the gate, putting the wooden posts securely between us.
"Evening, numb-nuts." he said, as I skidded to a halt on the other side of the gate. I snarled at him, but he didn't even have the grace to look a little bit frightened. "How's life in the slow lane?"
"I told you to stay out of my garden." I muttered.
"Just a thought, meatbreath," he continued, "I've noticed that the meals you provide are either turkey or beef flavour. I do prefer the turkey. Could you see to it that I get more of that, please?" I just growled menacingly, showing him the sharp, glittering weapons concealed within my jaws. The impudent gitwizard went on, totally unaffected (which, alone, would be enough to annoy me intensely) by my mounting rage. "Also, the water bowl provided for me is a little too high. See that it's lowered for me, old boy."
"Anything else?" I asked, through gritted teeth.
"Now that you mention it, there is," he grinned, winking, and tiptoeing a bit closer. "Your type is generally only fit for servitude. I'd appreciate it if you could stand by me while I eat and serve me chilled champagne on request. Please don't stand too close while you pour, though. Your breath is rancid and makes my eyes water."
That was it.
"COME HERE!!" I bellowed at the fat fool, who merely snickered, provoking me further. "COME HERE NOW!!!" I hurled myself at the gate and felt the wooden fence and posts give way slightly against my mighty shoulders. The hedgepig abruptly stopped sniggering and scuttled into the hedgerow. I watched him receding into the darkness. He can wait for his battering - I will catch him one day. For now, I turned, lifted my leg and urinated over the remains of his supper. There is his champagne - a premier cru. Much good may it do him.

I sighed as I walked back up the path to my house. I had once thought to make a companion of the hedgepig, learning from him and teaching him much in return. But the old adage holds true: you cannot polish a turd.

And now - dum deedeedum deedumduuuummmm... FINALLY, I post my pictures from my favourite day of my holiday in Wales (from May. Ahem.). My partner says I should be ashamed of myself for leaving it so long. But I didn't want to post them before because I was so looking forward to sharing them that I knew that, once they were posted, I wouldn't have the posting of them to look forward to anymore. Does that make sense? But my partner says I should do it now or not at all. Here we go then:

Jasper's Holiday Diary - Day Four

This was the day appointed for the achievement of one of my chief aims in life: a ride in a boat. All too often boat companies boldly (and unfairly) announce "NO DOGS". But, on our arrival at our holiday cottage, whilst perusing some of the leaflets provided my partner found one entitled "Ramsey Island Cruises", which proclaimed that dogs were extremely welcome on their vessels - hurrah! We duly telephoned the company and made our booking. (This is the company's website: http://www.ramseyislandcruises.net/. They welcome dogs: support them if you are in the area).

On the appointed day, I could barely contain my excitement. We drove to the parking place and walked down to the lifeboat launch, which also served as the starting point for our trip. I was carried in my partner's arms down the lifeboat slipway and our hosts, three engaging young men (one of whom was the grandson of the gentleman who used to farm Ramsey Island) lifted me onto the boat, a noble little craft called the Coral Ann.

The trip was a delight from start to finish. The young men's commentary was interesting and they were able to answer any questions put to them with competence and humour. My partner was a little concerned that I might have been seasick, but I found my sea-legs almost straight away. Sailing was every bit as pleasurable as I had imagined. In fact the only member of my party (which included delightful three-year-old nephew Ewan) to feel a little unwell was my partner's sister-in-law Nicky. Although Nicky was in pup at the time (and still is) and to this we must attribute her queasiness, for Nicky is a game lass and not at all prone to being feeble.

I relished every turn of the waves, every new sight that enchanted me and the very sensation of travelling over the clean sea water. I wanted to sail off again as soon as the trip was done. Witness my joy:
Enjoying the view from my partner's side (she was paranoid about me trying to jump into the water. Happily, I managed to struggle free, hehehe.)

Contemplating a spot of piracy.

Captain Jasper takes the helm! (I look a bit sulky here because I've just realised that we're heading back to port).

Perhaps the highlight of the trip (along with seeing some dangerous sharp rocks called The Bitches) was the dialogue prompted by occasional sighting of a seal. (Apparently, the boys have a regular seal visitor to the boat. They call him Ron. Ron Seal. Hmmmm. But we didn't see him that day). My partner raised the fact that I have often dreamed of engaging in a 'Battle Royale' with a seal. She asked one of the boat's crew who they thought would win in the event of such a fight. The sailor looked me up and down and considered the matter carefully.
"The dog, probably." he said, "Although he'd come away pretty badly injured."
Yes! YES!! YESSSS!!! This was one of the happiest days of my life.

After the trip, we had a delightful picnic in a field and returned to the cottage. I was tired out by my nautical adventure and climbed the stairs to bed with my head filled with nothing but happy memories. I cannot recommend this little boat company and their trips highly enough; it would be a pleasure to return for another little cruise.

That's cheered me up. I'm not even annoyed by the hedgehog and his impudence anymore. Ah, memories - why do they ever fade?

Good night.

Thursday 11 September 2008


I am still alive, apparently. We all are.

I had it on good authority (Harvey, occasionally assisted by Candy) that the world was going to end yesterday because of some caper that a few scientists are getting up to in Switzerland (for us rational beings, that's the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory). The numpty boffins (the scientists, not Harvey and Candy) are trying to recreate the Big Bang with their machine - though goodness knows why; it will only ever tell them what might probably have happened - only someone who was there at the time can say for sure exactly what occurred and eyewitnesses to that particular event seem to be a bit thin on the ground these days.

I must say, I was almost a little bit disappointed to find that we hadn't all been sucked into a big black hole when the machine was switched on at 8.30am yesterday morning. I felt it would have been an ideal way to deal with the New Cat once and for all. And the hedgehog, for that matter, who continues to blight my life - but more of him later. In the park this afternoon, I challenged Harvey about the fact that we were all still in existence, as he had been getting more and more boring with his doomsday predictions as yesterday drew ever closer.
"Ah, er, no, um, ah, yes..." he stammered, trying to find some kind of explanation that would make him look less stupid than he already did. Candy and I waited patiently while he dithered. Then Harvey piped up "Ah but, if you recall, I DID tell you that they were just switching it on yesterday. The actual experiment isn't happening 'til later."
"No you didn't." said Candy, wagging her tail.
"Yes, I did." countered the unfortunate Harvey, "If you remember, I told you that the first high-energy collisions..." WHAT has he been reading? Harvey's vocabulary has increased almost tenfold lately - his partner must be putting something in his food. "...will happen on 21st October..."
"No you didn't." repeated Candy.
"...and THAT is when the world is going to end."
"Two days before my birthday." I said. "What a lovely gift."
"You didn't say anything of the kind, Harvey." said Candy, "You told us we were all going to die on Wednesday."
"No, definitely on 21st October." protested the young Staffordshire. "It will create a big implosion thingy and we will all be turned instantly into shapeless grey goo."
"I'm not sure that some of us aren't already halfway there." I muttered and Candy laughed. "Anyway, there's no point worrying about it." I continued, "It's out of our paws and there's nothing we can do. I'm sure we'll all be ok."
"Really, Jasper?" said Candy, looking really quite relieved. "Do you honestly think that 21st October will pass by and we'll be alright."
"Of course." I replied, "But not before I have passed this turd." And I scuttled behind a handy bush to lay a little dog-egg, while Candy told Harvey what she thought about his soothsaying abilities.

On a purely personal note - I am not in the least bit bothered about what may or may not happen as a result of these "tests". The scientists can please themselves. But I DO think that it is obscene to spend such vast sums of money on a largely spurious and highly dangerous experiment while there are still starving babies in this world. But I'm only a humble Staffordshire - what do I know? I daresay I'm barking out of my own little black hole.

My partner has been away for a few days, at the wedding of one of her cousins. I was abandoned to the care of Maisie and cried for my partner for a whole day (actually, dear reader, do not fear. I lived like a King for those days, hehehe). The wedding was in Lincolnshire - a long way from home. My partner received "offers" from three interested young men at the wedding reception, but spurned them all. I questioned her sharply as to whether she turned them down because she still prefers BC to all others, but she refused to be drawn on the subject. Hmmmm....

Whilst I was still labouring under the delusion that my planet would be blown to smithereens on Wednesday, I was looking over some past blog entries over a thimbleful of sherry and reliving old memories. I realise - quelle horreur! - that I have not yet finished my holiday diary from my trip to Wales! Shame on me. The hour is now late, so I will endeavour to secure some computer time tomorrow and share with you the favourite day from my Welsh holiday, when I achieved one of my key aims in life. I've got the pictures to prove it.

And barking of pictures, I also realise that I never post the picture of me taken after I had completed the Cancer Research 'Race for Life' from earlier this year. I don't know how that can have happened. Standards on this blog are most certainly slipping. I blame the hedgehog. Anyway; this particular problem is swiftly remedied:

I look slightly more smug than I should here. But I was tired, and did not wish to be photographed at that time. Although I DID finish the race, hehehe...
Before I sign off, I will make a slight reversion to the subject with which I began (that of having made it past Harvey's apocalyptic predictions through to today) - I would like to spare a moment to remember in my thoughts all those good men, women, children and one dog who made it as far as September 11 2001, but did not get the chance to live beyond it. Rest in peace.

We all know how,
We all know when.
But why was it you?
Why was it then?


Good night.

Saturday 30 August 2008

I cannot deny that the past few days have been of a somewhat challenging nature.

In the first place, my second wife, Ellie, passed away a few days after I posted my last blog entry. She had a good, long and happy life and is much mourned by her partners (my partner's great aunts).
Rest in peace Ellie. I will miss you, my sweetheart.

I have not mentioned my bereavement to anyone, lest the news should travel as far as the ears of Candy. Candy has long been angling for an upgrade in status from principal girlfriend to wife, and I fear this may provoke an increase of her jealousy - which, in turn, could prove detrimental to my relationship with my wife Isolde. Oh dear. Sometimes I curse the desirability with which nature chose to burden me.

The only one to whom I confided my loss was Ewan, who immediately offered to alleviate my grief by marrying me himself. I considered enlightening him as to the basics of marriage between heterosexual canines but swiftly ruled it out, fearing the deluge of further questions it would provoke. Instead, I thanked Ewan for his generous offer but politely declined, telling him that I had no further thoughts of matrimony at present.

The next disturber of my peace proved to be my partner's gammy foot. For some time now (since our holiday back in May, in fact), my partner has been enduring an excessively painful foot. She has rarely complained (having a remarkable tolerance of physical pain for a human) but her suffering has been really quite pronounced and her discomfort on her walks extreme. About a month ago, she reached a point where she could bear the pain no longer. I recommended to her a consultation with my personal physician, Mr. Matthews (he's terribly good with paws), but she chose instead to seek the advice of her own GP. He advised her to take some painkillers and procure a pair of sturdy trainers. These things she did, receiving no relief from either.

Thus it was that my partner returned to the GP a few days ago to endure the agony of a steroid/cortisone injection into the muscles at the base of her foot. She departed for this in some trepidation, having been strenuously forewarned by the doctor of the extreme agony involved with this particular injection. Initially, I had scant sympathy for the girl, calling to my mind the myriad occasions when she had ushered my protesting self into Mr. Matthews' chamber of horrors for the humiliating bottom violation that is my anal gland evacuation. However, witnessing the hobbling, whimpering remnants of my partner being escorted back into my house by her mother excited all my most tender feelings. The poor dear was in extreme pain and I accompanied her into bed shortly afterwards, keeping a nurturing, reassuring paw upon her throughout the night. I believe she taught the doctor a few new words whilst he was administering the injection.

With paw on wood, I am pleased to report that with the subsiding of the pain caused by the injection has come the freedom from discomfort altogether in her foot. My partner's relief is exquisite - she is overjoyed and now faces the delightful challenge of remembering how to walk without a pronounced limp. We are going for a very long walk in the woods tomorrow to celebrate.

But, as ever, the joys of one day are soon clouded by the irritations of another. On entering my Little Green Corsa yesterday morning, I saw that several browning leaves had fallen from the sycamore tree onto the windscreen. This is unacceptable. I have not had enough summer and am not yet ready for the autumn. Consequently, I have ordered my partner to get out the step-ladder and sellotape the leaves back onto the tree.

I will not be ushered into a change of season until I am good and ready.

Good night.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Today, I saw a pair of pigeons engaged in the procreative act. I was intrigued, for it looked not only most uncomfortable but also highly impractical. Precarious too, as the young lovers had chosen a very precarious old, decaying branch for their deed of feathery passion. It was all very unromantic too. I thought BC was not good for the ladies, but his efforts against my partner's tranquillity pale significantly when compared with the pigeon. It was over in seconds, amid much flapping of wing, and his lady looked distinctly unimpressed. I almost felt sorry for her, considering she was by now, in all probability, with egg. After this lusty interlude, the couple just went on with the business of building their nest. Not even a post-coital biscuit.

All this was viewed through my partner's office window the other day. It has been preying on my mind, so I am glad to have finally had the opportunity of committing the event to blog. For, I have been denied access to my computer of late. My partner has been adapting a poem into a short stage play. She has been asked to produce and direct a small piece of drama for a group of local children to act at an environment-themed day in October. Unable to find anything readily available that suited the purpose, she turned to the last bastion of support for the needy - Yahoo Answers. I highly recommend it. A bright spark replied and recommended Dr. Seuss's The Lorax. My partner was dubious (not being the biggest fan of green eggs and ham or cats in hats on mats, nor even the duck with luck having a ..., etc.), but when she tracked the poem down, and we read it together, it proved to be absolutely perfect. A serious, valid message, clearly presented, yet not so bleak and chilling that it would distress young and sensitive children. A bit like me, really.

So now, my partner is engaged in forming the poem into a playlet suitable for the children to perform. It is proving a little more challenging that she anticipated, but I believe the initial work is almost done. Honestly, it was Jane Austen last year and Dr. Seuss this year. I sincerely hope there will not be any Fedor Dostoevsky-themed events next year to occupy her and keep my blog and I apart. I have been trying to teach her to say "No", but all I can achieve is a small sound similar to "Of course, I'd love to." The only time she ever correctly pronounces "No" is when I am inexplicably detected in naughtiness. It simply isn't fair.

Yet I digress. I had segued nicely from the pigeon incident to my partner's office before I became distracted. The same day of seeing the pigeon-tryst was the first time I had seen Ewan after he confided to me his fears regarding a sinister lump found on his body. Upon my arrival at the office, poor Ewan was trembling and looking exceedingly forlorn.
"How's it going?" I asked, kindly, "Did you get on alright at the vet's?"
"Didn't go last night." he shivered, "I think I'm going tonight." He leaned in closer. "Jasper, I'm scared. I think it's got a bit bigger."
"Oh no!" I sympathised.
"Oh yes. Last night I was just lying down, thinking about cheese, and I swear that it was bigger. It's still leaking that hot runny greeny-stuff as well." The poor dog began to whimper. I pitied him.
"Well," I said, "It might not do you much good, but would you like me to have a look at your lump? I might be able to smell if there is anything seriously wrong. No promises, but I could try..." Ewan's eyes brightened.
"Oh, would you Jasper?" he said, "I'd be ever so grateful." Ewan flopped onto his side, exposing his skinny, furry belly. I commenced my examination.

After several moments of looking, I had not been able to locate the lump and I could smell neither infection nor tumour. I stole a glance at Ewan's face - he was looking pensive, still waiting earnestly for my prognosis.
"Erm," I said. Ewan jumped at the sound of my voice. "I can't seem to find your lump, Ewan."
"Are you sure?" he asked, trembling, "It's pretty big. You should be able to see it."
"Well, where should I look?"
Ewan craned his neck around to look at me, and jabbed his paw in the general direction of his lower belly.
"Quickly, Jasper." whimpered the unfortunate dog, sounding like the very epitome of dignified suffering, "It's getting dark... I think this might be it...." he howled mournfully. I hurried to examine more closely Ewan's shuddering body.

I found his lump.

"Ewan."
"Yes, Jasper? Should I go towards the light, Jasper? Goodnight, sweet friend...."

"EWAN!"
Ewan opened his eyes and looked at me hopefully. I hardly knew what to tell him. But the painful truth had to be told. "Ewan, that... that lump.... that lump is.... your willie."
"What?!"
"It is your willie."
Ewan looked down sharply, back up at me, then down at himself again.
"Ah, but no. Yes, no - Jasper." he replied, "What about that horrible hot stuff that comes out?"
I sighed.
"Ewan, does that 'stuff' coming out coincide with your trips to the toilet, by any chance?" Ewan tilted his head while he considered this.
"Ye-es." he said, "D'you know, I think it does. Oh, Jasper, what is it? Do you think we shall ever know?"
"It's WEE, Ewan. That is YOU, going to the toilet. It is your own, normal, healthy wee."
Ewan started wagging his tail, and he licked my nose.
"Does this mean that I am not going to die in a minute, then?" he asked. I merely glared at him.
"Possibly, Ewan." I replied dryly, "Possibly." I was not even going to ask about the cheese.
"Wow, Jasper. You're brilliant." enthused Ewan, "You should be on the television."
"I'd only fall off." I replied sourly. I was not in the mood for ANY further conversation with the pea-brained Ewan.
"What?"
"Ewan, would you like to play a little game I have invented?"
"Oh, brilliant! Yeah!!"
"It's called 'Ewan Sits in the Corner All Day and Doesn't Annoy Jasper'. Off you go."
"Wahey! Great game, Jazz!" Yes. I thought so, too.

And thus ended Ewan's brush with death.

Last week heralded the anniversary of the creation of this blog. Two years since I began sharing my thoughts with the world. I had hoped to have something more worthy to share with you on this occasion than Ewan and the everyday functions which baffle him so. How the mighty are fallen.

Good night.

Sunday 10 August 2008

And so now my partner's mother tells me that I am elderly. What is WRONG with the ladies in this household? Could it be that they are jealous of my Peter Pan-like retention of my pupish charms and vitality? I have my suspicions. Happily, on this occasion my partner was quick to defend me. She castigated her mother for her abuse of me and obtained the concession that I "have plenty of good years left".

I suppose I did bring this particular attack upon myself. Maisie had been away for around ten days and I was seriously beginning to miss the specially cooked and blended suppers with which she has taken to providing me, while my partner is finding things a little difficult financially. I was feeling particularly aggrieved at the temporary loss of my fine dinners when, on the evening in question, my partner placed the contents of my usual "Gourmet Hi-Life" sachet in my bowl and set it down on my food-mat. I just stared at it.
"But this... this... this is dog food!" I spluttered.
"Your point being...?" responded my partner, unamused. I was rendered barkless. Completely without sympathy, my partner just muttered "Eat it, Jasper."
I had a full-on strop, refusing to eat my meal and stubbornly resisting any attempts by my partner to take me out for some exercise.

After the afore-mentioned "elderly" dialogue, I submitted to my partner's demands that I get into our Little Green Corsa and be taken to Abbotstone. I quite enjoyed it. Upon my return, I ate some chives from my partner's mother's miniature herb garden, as well as a few of her nasturtiums, to punish her for her insolent accusations. I found that this sparked my appetite, so I gobbled up my dinner while no-one was watching. Absolutely delicious.

Quite apart from all this, there have been troubling happenings at my partner's workplace. I accompanied my partner to work on Friday and arrived to find Ewan (nitwit dog, not cherubic nephew) looking utterly miserable. As Ewan's usual state is 'so relentlessly chirpy you want to batter him' (even when he is asleep), I was concerned.
"Are you alright, mate?" I asked. Ewan let out a doleful howl.
"Oh, Jasper, no." he whimpered, "I have to go to the vet. I have got a lump." I expressed my sincere sympathy and Ewan nodded. "I think I'm going to the vets tonight. I'm really scared." and he howled again. Although it may seem callous of me, long-time readers of this blog may be aware that even basic things like breathing and going to the toilet present Ewan with something of a challenge. I therefore wondered if Ewan's "lump" was going to turn out to be a toe, or his nose. Upon closer questioning, however, Ewan's problem appeared to be genuine. His fear was certainly very real.
"It will be OK Ewan." I said comfortingly, "I've had two operations and everything was fine. You just have a little injection and go to sleep, and then you wake up and it's all better. It will all be alright." He nodded, but didn't look convinced.
"I'm still scared though." he whimpered "The lump is quite big and horrible stuff keeps coming out of it."
"Blood?" I questioned, rather doubtingly. I could not smell blood or broken flesh on him.
"No." he replied, quivering a bit, "It's yukky hot, yellowy-green stuff."
"Pus." I said, "It probably means you've got a little infection somewhere."
"Really?" said Ewan, sounding hopeful for the first time.
"I'd still get it checked out though." I surreptitiously eyed his 'below-tail' area. "Ewan, can you remember ever having an operation before? If you can remember, you'll know that it will all be OK." Ewan frowned and shook his head.
"No-oo." he said, after some thought.
"Are you sure, Ewan? Not a little operation when you were younger? I think you have probably had the same operation that I had when I was a young man..." Ewan looked completely lost. "You know, " I prompted, "A little operation downstairs...?"
"Oh no," said Ewan, brightly, "No. There are no stairs at my vets, it's all on one floor."
Good grief.
This would normally be the point when I would walk away, for fear of doing Ewan actual harm. However, he was in genuine terror about his lump, so I remained to try and soothe him. I think I succeeded, for after a few minutes Ewan said "Can I have a cuddle Jasper?"
Here was a new one.
I gritted my teeth and said that he could, and Ewan flung himself against my flank, whining pitifully. I stayed still, after a short while realising that he had fallen asleep. I dutifully remained, until I got pins and needles in my shoulder and it went all numb, and then I gently freed myself and scuttled away. I will see how Ewan gets on at the vets. If it does turn out to be something serious, I may recommend to him Mr. Matthews - a very gifted surgeon and my own personal physician.

My partner is developing a new game, for readers of my blog to play online. It is based upon my sleeping arrangements and is provisionally titled "Where Is Jasper?" I am interested to see what the game involves, although it does smack slightly of disrespect, so I may not allow it to be uploaded.

Good afternoon.

Sunday 3 August 2008

My partner tells me that I am getting "elderly". The reason for this impudence is not the sprinkling of 'frost' that peppers the black fur on my face. Oh no. This came about yesterday morning - she left me to have a lie-in while she fulfilled her morning routine. On returning to our room, she found me looking out of the window and muttering to myself. And that was it. How, I ask you, does this make me 'elderly'? My partner regarded me silently for a moment before she laughed and, gesturing out of the window, said "Jasper, do you remember when all that was just fields?" I scowled at her. It IS all just fields (apart from the bits that are houses and roads). I suppose that, in human terms, I would now be approaching 63 years old. But I am a man in his prime. Aside from the afore-mentioned frosting (paw on wood) I can keep up with the best of them - and still outstrip some. I have as much energy and vitality now as I had when I was a pup. My partner is very cheeky - and she would do well to remember that my teeth are still in perfect working order.

But this has been a somewhat unhappy week. Last weekend, sadly, came the news that one of my friends from the USA, Stoker, passed away on Friday. Rest in peace, mate. Actually, no – I hope your body rests in peace – the soul that is the true Stoker is, I am sure, up in heaven as I type, harassing angelic deer. Have fun Stoker – and save some venison for me!

Prior to that sad event, my friend Angie told me that she has taken a nasty fall and is not well. I do hope that she will be lots better soon, and flying around like Queen Boadicea in her mighty wheeled chariot. GET WELL SOON, ANGIE.

Compared with the above, my little problems seem rather trivial. But problems there have been. If you are a dog, and therefore lower to the ground than some, you will know that, cometh the summer; cometh the grass-flea. Oh yes. The irritating little b*st*rds have been feasting on Jasper this year. It is an annual problem for me, but this year seems worse than usual. The itching is driving me insane. Accordingly, my partner found the bottle of medicated shampoo, obtained from the vet at greatcost last year. I uttered no protest as my belly and Little Jasper-region were lathered and rinsed with the power-shower. The relief was exquisite.

Not long after I had dried off, Maisie escorted me to the park. Candy and Harvey were already there, playing with Candy's football, the recent troubles all forgotten. They hailed me as I approached and encouraged me to join in with their game. As we gave each other the usual sniff-over, I saw a wicked twinkle appear in Harvey's eye.
"Somebody smells nice!" he grinned, mockingly. I knew what he was getting at, and I wasn't having it.
"Shut up Harvey." I growled, but he just winked at Candy.
"Has someone's little lapdog had a bubble bath? Aren't you all soft and fluffy, like a little puppy?!" Candy laughed.
"Harvey," I cut in, dryly, "Just remind me exactly what it was you said the other day about Candy's fat bottom?" My so-called friends just hooted with laughter, and Harvey snuffled over my newly-bathed belly.
"Mmmm..." he continued, "Fresh as a summer meadow, and silky smooth too..." I bared my fangs and saw the sunlight glinting off them reflected in the silver buckle on Harvey's collar.
"Harvey, I'm sure your mother told you never to play with sharp objects?"
Their giggles continued, and I sighed and decided it was easier to just let them get on with it.

I was diverted from the mocking taunts by the approach of a newcomer, who bounded up - an affable looking border collie. I looked beyond him and saw his two partners stopping to talk to Maisie and Harvey and Candy's partners. The new chap said that he was staying in the town on holiday and his name was Charlie. I introduced myself and he asked who the other two were.
"Oh, they're just some animals I used to know..." I muttered, watching Harvey, rolling on his back, entertaining Candy by pretending to lather soap into his belly. I sighed and shook my head.
"What are they doing?" asked Charlie. At that, Harvey got up and he and Candy came over to sniff the newcomer and introduce themselves.
"Where are you staying?" asked Candy, politely. Charlie explained that his partners had a caravan and they pulled it along with their car and then they parked it and slept in it. I HATE caravans - my partner and I always get stuck behind a slow one when travelling to Dartmoor. I suspect it might be the SAME one, with a secret vendetta to annoy me.
"It's fun." explained Charlie.
"Yes, it probably is." I replied, "Compared to a rectal examination." Candy laughed. "After all, what could be better than living in a tin box for two weeks, listening to your partners pee-ing in a little bucket?" Charlie wagged his bushy tail and smiled.
"I pretend I can't hear that." he grinned. "Can I play football with you?" We all agreed that he could, and his tail wagged even harder. "Yes!" he yipped, bounding over to the ball, "Come on then, England v. Germany 1966! I'm Geoff Hurst's dog!" This was more like it!
"Bobby Moore." I barked
"Bobby Charlton!" yipped Candy, "Harvey, you can be Alan Ball - your fur is the right colour."

We began our game, and had been happily playing with the football for a good few minutes, before Harvey stopped and stood still, a puzzled look on his face.
"Hang on a bit," he said, "Shouldn't one of us be Winston Churchill?" The remaining three of us skidded to a halt, crashing into each other as we did so. We all turned to look at Harvey.
"Is he joking?" asked the new dog, Charlie.
"Unfortunately not." I replied.
"Harvey, you nematode." said Candy. Poor Harvey. He's nowhere near as bad as Ewan, but he does have his occasional flashes of idiocy. We stood and regarded him uncertainly, until I happened to catch Candy's eye. We leapt on Harvey in a moment, our footy game entirely forgotten. Charlie joined in, wuffing and scuffling as we all piled onto the unfortunate Harvey.
"Buuuuuundle!" he cried, in rather a muffled bark, from beneath the pile of assorted dog. He wriggled out and took off down to the bottom of the park, with the three of us in hot pursuit, baying like hell-hounds. We caught up with him by the edge of the river and tipped him into the water - a fair price to pay for being witless. Harvey surfaced and paddled back around to the bank, spluttering and laughing. He clambered out of the river and then chased the three of us back up to the park, where we finished our game.

I enjoyed myself so much that I decided I would endeavour to forget Harvey and Candy's mockery. There's nothing quite like your friends, after all.

Good night.

Sunday 19 July 2008

As so often in such situations, the downfall of one heralds the rise of another.

It did not go unnoticed that Harvey was very swift to step in when I inexplicably fell from favour with my chocolate-coloured Labrador girlfriend, Candy. I was smartly dismissed from her good books when I asked her too many questions about another young lady. I still cannot fathom out why this should have been so disagreeable to her. However, I decided that the only option available to me was to offer her a gift and crave her forgiveness.

When venturing to the park, Maisie (who looks after me while my partner is at work) fills her pockets with biscuits, which are shared out among the members of my pack that we happen to meet. Armed with the knowledge that Candy likes these biscuits, I paid a visit to the tin. I proceeded to carefully pick out all the yellow ones, as they are my least favourite. Actually I can't stand them. Sometimes I will be brave and eat them, but I often spit them out. They are yukky. We made a little bag out of clingfilm for the yellow biscuits and my partner found a pretty sparkly ribbon on a Kylie Minogue fragrance set that she got for Christmas, so she made a bow with that at the top of our little gift bag. The next day, it was off to the park...

Half-way down the top field of the park, my ears picked up the sound of raised voices. I couldn't hear the actual barks, but someone was clearly extremely cross. Intrigued, I trotted towards the sound. Before I could get into the lower field, there was a shrill yelp and, a few seconds later, Harvey came crashing through the hedge, yipping frantically. He skidded to an abrupt halt when he saw me. I noticed the sunlight glinting off a few flecks of saliva droplets on his neck fur, indicating that he had been nipped.
"Jasper! Jasper! She BIT me!" wailed Harvey, panting heavily. I quickly sniffed over the young Staffordshire.
"It's alright Harvey," I said, "The skin isn't broken, it's just a nip. Now, just be calm. Who nipped you?"
"Candy!"
I frowned. Candy may have the occasional mood swing, but she is no biter.
"Come on then," I said, "What did you do?"
"Ummm..."
"Harvey...?"
"I said she had a big bottom."

Oh, Harvey. No, no, no, no and no. I thought I had schooled him well. True, he is NOT the brightest bulb in the box, but he is no Ewan. I gave a heavy sigh and fixed my eyes on him.
"Harvey." I said firmly, "What have I ALWAYS told you?"
"Ummm... Not to say things about ladies' bottoms?"
In fact, I had given the pup a sturdy grounding in all things female. Aside from the bottom topic, I had also cautioned him NEVER to mock ladies' weight, fur-styles or menstrual cycles. Never. Not under ANY circumstances. Don't even THINK about them, in case something just slips out accidentally. And I even warned him about the question that should be feared the most... "Beware." I had told him. "Beware. If she turns to you and asks 'Do you think this new collar makes me look fat?', be rightly afraid. For you cannot win here - it is a cruel trap. You are damned either way. If you answer 'Yes' the painful ramifications are obvious. If you answer 'No', you lay yourself wide open to the inevitable 'So you think I am fat normally?'. Flee from this scenario. The only sure-fire way to win this one is to pre-empt the question. As soon as you see your lady trying something on, or brushing her fur, this is the moment to step in. You IMMEDIATELY say 'How lovely you look, my dear. I am lucky to have such a beautiful companion.' If, despite this, the question arises then run. Just run. I usually employ the 'Was that the doorbell?' technique to instigate my flight from the dressing-basket."

All this I had told Harvey. All this I told him again. He nodded sagely and said he would seek out Candy to apologise the following day (when his eyes weren't red from whimpering).
"Will you put in a good word for me, Jasper?" he asked, in such a plaintive voice that I pitied him.
"I shall see what I can do, Harvey." I said, winking at him. Actually, I was privately relieved that I was having this conversation with him, and not Ewan.

After Harvey had trotted off with his partner, I ventured into the lower field and spotted the fair Candy. Looking closer, I could see that she did indeed seem to have a bit more slip to her hips, but I did not care to go the same way as Harvey. As I neared, Candy turned and ran towards me.
"Boohooooohooo, Jasper!" she wailed, "Harvey said I had a fat ar*e!" I wasted no time.
"Oh no, my dear. You are as perfectly formed now as you ever were." And with that, I produced my gift. Smooth, Jasper, smoooooth, heh heh.
"Oh, THANK YOU, Jasper!" cried Candy, bestowing me with happy licks and affectionate nips, "How could I have ignored you? I hope you will forgive me. And you have picked out all the yellow ones because you know they are my favourites! You're just so wonderful!" Ahem, yes....
"No, no, my sweet." I said, "It is I who must humbly beg forgiveness. I tormented your pretty mind and should not have asked you about that smelly old vixen. She is nothing to me. Please accept my apologies."
"Of course!" she sniffled, as her partner took the little bag of biscuits for eating at home. We raced each other down to the river - I let her win.
"And do not mind that Harvey." I said, once we were in the water, "He is young and foolish. We must not judge him too harshly."
"You are right, Jasper." said Candy, looking adoringly at me, "You are ALWAYS right."

A fine result. Phew.

Good evening.

Sunday 13 July 2008

What a rum old week it has been.

I think I have just about recovered from the shame of last weekend's exposure at the fayre. Alas, Candy still is not speaking to me, though I cannot fathom out why. I picked up the scent of my beautiful exotic vixen in the woods the other evening, and had a rather unpleasant epiphany. Her odour marks were, as before, rich in warmth and femininity but were tainted with the scent of something I had inexplicably missed before - pregnancy. Oh bottoms. That's the end of that, then. I wouldn't even want to look after my OWN mewling pups, with their attendant concerns of milk provision, education and tiny puppy-poops, let alone someone else's glut of passion-fruits. Especially a scabby old fox's. I shall just have to sigh over what could have been.

I ventured humbly into the park the other day, seeking out Candy. I saw her in the lower field - she was playing with Harvey (tan-coloured young Staffie: my former protegée, now a bit of a pest. Not a bad soul though, really). I bounded up to them. Candy stopped playing and just looked at me.
"Alright, Jazz?" yipped Harvey as he gave me the customary sniff-over. I offered my greetings to them both. Candy gave a little grunt and raised her snout into the air.
"Harvey." she said, as before, in a high-pitched, rather strangulated voice, "Would you tell Mr. Stafford that I am not speaking to him." And off she stalked, towards the gate that leads down to the river. Harvey looked at me and shrugged.
"Jasper," he began, "Candy says-"
"Yes." I cut in irritably. "Thank you Harvey, I heard what she said."
"Blimey mate, what did you DO?" I shook my head, and explained my last rational conversation with Candy, pertaining to the vixen and my series of questions. Harvey considered this for a moment and then shook his head. "Nope." he declared, "Can't see anything wrong with that." I nodded and was about to reply, when we heard Candy's voice.
"Harvey! Come and have a swim with me!" Harvey smiled apologetically at me, shrugged again, and capered off. I was left to amble back to Maisie, just as confused now as I had been before. I think I might have to purchase Candy's forgiveness with a little gift.

But now to other matters. In the strictly non-Mafia sense of the word, I recently became a godfather.

A delightful pair of swallows set up home in a nesting space in one of the outbuildings at my partner's place of work. Nature took its course and five little eggs duly appeared. These birds being inoffensive, I took it upon me to guard their home and soon grew as fond of the eggs as if I had laid them myself. Ewan and I watched as, one by one, the eggs hatched and the parents busied themselves feeding their new brood. And here, in a picture taken by my partner's boss, are my little godchildren:
My partner says the one in the centre looks like "old man Steptoe".

As Ewan and I surveyed the growing family, I with a growing sense of pride and he with a growing sense of ignorance, the familiar question-and-answer carousel began to spin.
"Jasper?"
"Yes Ewan?"
"What are they?"
"They are birds, Ewan. Little baby birds."
"Oh right, yes. Brilliant."
The usual few seconds' pause.
"Jasper?"
"Ye-es?"
"Wh-" But I was away and into the edge of the woods before the inevitable "what are birds?" could fall from his mouth, to lay a few little eggs of my own, heh heh....

But alas! Why will such things ever come to pass? Wednesday last week was a day of constant torrential rain, without a let-up. The downpour made it impossible for the babes to be fed, and it was excessively cold and damp. The next day brought us the tragic realisation that all the tiny ones, without exception, had perished from hunger and cold. Brad (the ranger) and my partner's boss gently lifted down the five tiny bodies (the parents had gone, we know not where) and laid them to rest at the edge of the woods.

There are some dangers from which even I cannot protect the innocent. Their loss affects me deeply - but, dear reader, do not weep for them. They are gone over to a better place, where the predators never have to be feared and the food is always plentiful. I will miss those little tinkers though.

And so another week begins. I wonder what this one will bring....?

Good night.