Thursday, 31 December 2009

Thursday 31 December 2009

There comes a time in every man's life when he feels inspired to undertake some construction work.  This being the concept, design and erection of a useful structure with nothing but raw materials and his mighty bare paws.

Long-time readers of this blog may recall my earlier efforts in this sphere - my experiments with hibernation and my subsequent construction of a purpose-built chamber; The Hi-Pod 2006.  Alas, this structure was swiftly dismantled by my partner's mother - demonstrating an appalling lack of vision.

My latest successful project is one of which I am extremely proud - it is called Jasper's Den O' Pillows.

Now then.  My partner and I share a nice big double-bed.  She has the window side and I have the wall side.  There are a number of pillows on our bed (my partner likes lots of pillows, in case she wants to sit up and read a book), two of which are nominally mine, to do with as I please (That barked, she does remove them from time to time, only to replace them newly reeking of floral scents and cleanliness.  This angers me.  I prefer my bed-linen to go entirely unwashed.  We have agreed to disagree on this point).  I generally move "my" pillows around the bed to suit whatever sleeping position I have chosen to assume - usually resting my head on one pillow and clasping the other between my paws.  However, in the recent spell of snow and icy-cold weather - coupled with our inability to afford (or, indeed, desire) to have our heating up to a high temperature - inspired me into architectural action.

Over the course of the next few nights, whilst my partner slept, I began to surreptitiously remove and stockpile the other pillows - always taking care not to remove the ones directly supporting my partner's head.  I knew that she began to suspect a plot was apaw, but was content to leave me to my own devices, given that I left two pillows for her.  With my plunder, I carefully began to build, in the corner nearest my partner's head, a cabin of wondrous comfort.  Once complete and structurally sound, I stepped inside.  I am happy to report that Jasper's Den O' Pillows did not disappoint in any way.  There was enough room for me to curl up completely in exquisite warmth and softness and yet be able to poke my head out.  I even saw my partner smiling at my ingeniousness, and she sleepily patted my protruding head.

I wanted my partner to record photographic evidence of my work and she did comply by fetching our digital camera.  Alas, there was not sufficient battery power to operate the flash.  Before fresh batteries could be obtained from the local shops on our next procurement visit, alas, Jasper's Den O' Pillows was but a memory.  I will explain.

The structure stood soundly for at least three days, and proved testament to my architectural brilliance.  Most unfortunately, a few nights later, my partner felt unable to sleep.  I believe the principal cause was the prospect of yet another Christmas without a human partner (I am sufficient for all her needs, save one.  A major one.).  She had explained to her Other Significant One the nature of my importance and he has accepted this.  He is therefore forgiven and rejoins the blessèd fold of my partner's affections.  But he is currently working and travelling in the dangerous (Al-Qaeda-riddled) bits of Africa.  Only I remain, to comfort our lady (I must grudgingly acknowledge anyone who makes her smile so - his initials are not BC (remember him?), but VI).  I digress.  The crux of my point is that she could not submit to the god of somnia.  Eventually, after much frustration, she decided to illuminate a couple of candles (saves electric light and provides heat) and read a favourite book.


"Jasper..." she began, " Can I take a few of those pillows...?"

I pretended to be asleep but, unfortunately, my partner saw me looking at her (to see if she'd believed I was asleep) through a barely opened eyelid.  She sighed, and began to reach for a supplementary pillow.  Immediate action was required.  I got up, and moved towards my partner's outstretching arm, the hand of which was almost on the keystone of Jasper's Den O' Pillows.  Without further thought, I released a toxic cloud from my bottom in the direction of my partner's face.  It was a concoction of which I was very proud... a heady blend of sprout and broccoli, with lingering topnotes of boiled egg.  It had the desired effect; my partner turned away, choking, spluttering and cursing.

With a self-satisfied smile, I turned and entered my construction - but had to leave it almost immediately.  A most revolting smell pervaded the whole, nauseating and stifling.  Retching and coughing, I scuttled to the far end of the bed, gratefully sucking in the clean air.

Whatever had happened to my beautiful chamber?  I knew I could never return to it - for it held now only memories of the foul, mysterious aroma.  The following morning, Jasper's Den O' Pillows was razed to the mattress and all traces of it eradicated.  Goodness only knows what the smell in the cavern had been - it shall forever remain a mystery...

Happy new year to you.  I hope 2010 brings you all that you hope for.  As for me - I cannot wait to find out what adventures my partner and I will face in the next twelve months.

Thank you for taking a moment to read my blog.

Good night.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Saturday 26 December 2009

'Twas a good Christmas.  For me, anyway (although I may have eaten a little more turkey than was sensible).  My partner, however, was marginally less satisfied.

For - at around 23.20 last evening, her potential interested male party uttered those few words that make a lady's heart quicken.  "So soon?"  you cry.  Oh yes.  As unexpected as they were, they rendered my normally articulate partner totally wordless - hardly able to formulate even the most basic of responses.  She stared, open-mouthed, at me, as the full impact of the gentleman's words hit her with all the subtlety of a speeding locomotive.

"He's only a dog."


Now, I am not deluded.  I am well aware that one member of our partnership is often regarded as somewhat less socially superior than the other.  But I cannot change that.  After all, it is not her fault that she is a human...

What a pity.  And things looked so promising as well.  "He's only a dog." indeed.  For goodness' sake.

And now - because I cannot bear to leave you - or, indeed, myself - with the image of a shattered and frightened young dog in your mind, here is:


I am not sure for how long I was asleep in the back of the van but, when I awoke, I didn't feel any better for my nap.  In fact, I felt sore all over and terribly, terribly sick.  Despite this, I also felt rather peckish.  My belly told me that it was lunchtime, but I waited and the man did not come back to the van as usual.  I decided that an investigation might be necessary.

Rather unsteadily and painfully, I forced myself to stand up.  My legs were shaking and kept buckling beneath me, but I managed to force myself to the back of the seats and had a moment of victory!  At the base of the gearstick, I espied a discarded crisp!  Fortified with the prospect of a whole crisp - and possibly more in the passenger footwell, I decided to get into the front of the van.  After brief consideration, I surmised that my pain and increasing weakness were too great to successfully make the jump over the seats into the front - so I decided to squeeze my way through between the driver's and passenger's seats.  My head and my mighty shoulders proved no problem.  However, as I eased my chest through, there was a sickening grinding sound from the left side of my ribcage and sharp stabs of blinding pain shot through me.  I suppressed my squeals into a squeak and temporarily paused.  By now, I was more than halfway through the gap and so, taking a deep breath, I pushed the rest of the way through and stumbled gratefully into my usual front seat.  After another moment to recover myself, I snaffled up the crisp.

Alas - even this proved unfairly difficult.  I could not crunch the crisp properly.  My jaw was strangely slack and made a bizarre clicking noise whenever I tried to chew.  In the end, I gave up and waited for the crisp (salt and vinegar flavour) to dissolve on my tongue before I swallowed it.  I looked about me.  There were no more traces of crisp, pie or sandwich.  Dammit.  I decided to look out of the window instead.  I liked looking out of the window - there was always something interesting to see.

I regarded my surroundings.  The van was parked on a bustling high street.  To my left, out of the window, was the entrance to a large shopping arcade (mall).  Just in front of that, slightly forward of the van, stood a group of around eight to ten young girls, aged around fourteen years.  I watched, transfixed.  Two of the girls had very, very dark brown - almost black - skin.  I didn't know humans came in different colours.  They were exquisitely beautiful.

I liked (and still like today)  looking at females just generally, of any human race (or mammalian species).  I have always preferred ladies to men (perhaps understandably, given my history), and each one is perfectly formed and exquisite in her own way.  I watched, as they compared clothing purchases from gaudily-coloured carrier bags  and showed each other pictures on their mobile telephones, happily giggling and smiling.

I suppose one of them must have felt my steadfast gaze - for she turned and met my eyes.  On seeing me, she let out a horrified scream.  Her friends whipped around to see what had startled her, and screamed too.  They ran to the van's window and peered at me, with a variety of shocked whispers and gasps.  I attempted to give my most winning smile, and wondered what frightened them so.  Two of the young ladies started to cry.

After an hurried conference between the friends, two of them sped off together down the street.  The others continued to peer in at me, with profound looks of horror and concern upon their pretty faces.

I wondered - what sight could possibly have been so awful that it frightened these girls so much...?

Good night.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Friday 25 December 2009

I am not a mean-spirited fellow - but if I hear one more "classic" Christmas hit, in particular that Wizzard song 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day', I may well have to "get mediaeval" on someone.  Permit me to explain.

My partner has not been sleeping well these past few nights - possibly due to a potential interested male party, whom she finds intriguing.  I'll not bore you with that.  However, to combat interminable sleeplessness, we have had the radio on during the hours of darkness.  I have heard more Christmas hits in the past 48 hours than in the entire history of my past Christmases combined.  The only ones I can still tolerate are Silver Bells and Fairytale of New York - but even they are skating on thin ice.

I was cheered by the prospect of a roast beef luncheon yesterday, and my annual turkey dinner today.  Because of the appalling weather, my partner's brother and his family (including delightful cherubs Carys and Ewan) are unable to journey South to join us for the festivities.  A disappointment - but with some compensation, as there will be more food for me, hehehe...

Now then. 'Tis not so festive, but I feel able to release it now.  Here is Part Two of the story of how I came to be Jasper and sitting here this very day: The Evolution of Jasper.  Should you need it, here is a link to the first instalment:

The last evening described proved to be something of a watershed in the life of our puppy-hero.  An uneasy atmosphere settled throughout the house.  I was not beaten again, but did not feel loved - or even, at times, tolerated.  Privately, I suspected that things could not continue in this hostile state of truce between my man and my lady, and it was not long before my suspicions proved correct.  After making my toilet in the rear garden one evening, I crept back into the house to the sounds of screams and shouts.  Mindful of what had happened on the previous occasion, I concealed myself under the kitchen table and cowered there.  I heard the sounds of things being thrown in the next room, hands and fists smacking into flesh and the most awful shouting, swearing and screaming.  The next morning, the lady walked out of the front door and did not come back.

The man did not deal well with this development - and, unfortunately, I bore the brunt of his temper.  I began to live my life in a strange paradox.  On the one paw, the man fed and walked me and took me to work with him every day.  I'm not sure what he did, but he had a big white van in which he travelled a lot and I used to love to ride in the front with him.  Every lunchtime, he would have some crisps and a little pie or a sandwich, which he would share with me.  I would sit in the van all the time while he was working outside of it, but I didn't mind.  However, on the other paw, I was regularly kicked and beaten during the evening hours.  The man would drink lots of strange smelling liquid and then hurt me.  In time, I learned to quietly accept my beatings.  It only made it worse if I protested.

His favourite way to hurt me was to squeeze my neck and throat until everything went dark and I passed out.  As I regained consciousness, gasping and wheezing, he would laugh at me as I staggered about.  In fact - this is the only truly lasting scar that I bear from those times.  Once established with my partner, it took around three years for me to learn that, when she or anyone else raised their arm to reach for something above my head, I was not going to receive a beating.  However, even after all these years, I still fear having a collar put on or removed.  I am ashamed to bark that even with my partner, when she goes to affix my collar around my neck, I regularly cower, trying to flatten myself against the ground, and scream and cry.  I cannot help it.  My partner, however, is always kind and gentle at these moments of anxiety for me.

Anyway, after a year or so of this life (during which I noticed that the man was drinking more and more of the strange stuff that made him cross), there inevitably came the day that the man pushed his luck (and me) too far.  We arrived home at the end of the working day to a difference in our home.  Taking a deep sniff, I scented that my lady had returned home!  I capered around the house, scenting her fragrance in every room.  To my bewilderment, however, the lady herself was nowhere to be seen.  Still feeling puzzled, I trotted downstairs and noticed for the first time that around half of our furniture was missing.  The television and most of the ornaments around the house had also gone.  Placed neatly on the coffee table was a small stack of white papers in a large envelope, with a set of house keys on top of them.  My puzzlement grew.

The man sat down and looked through the papers.  He said some very uncomplimentary words about the lady and, to my surprise, began to cry.  I edged closer to him and attempted to offer comfort.  After a few swigs from the ever-present bottle, the man suddenly swept the stack of papers off the table and across the room.  He stood up and kicked over the coffee table, shouting and swearing.  He then took the set of keys and hurled them at me with as much force as he could.  They struck me on the cheek and I squealed.  I tried to crawl out to the kitchen to hide, but he grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and lifted me, wriggling and screaming, right off the floor.  The beating I received was too horrific to describe.

The following morning, I opened my puffy, swollen eyes slowly.  I ached all over.  At one point during the previous evening I had been brutally kicked and heard a sickening crunch in the area of my ribs.  Now, my whole side was very painful, and it hurt to move.  I noted the presence of blood on the carpet and knew it was my own.  There was also much pain and a strange sensation in my jaw.  I heard the man coming downstairs, and tried to shuffle away to hide, but couldn't summon the strength to move quickly enough.

When the man saw me, he looked horror-struck.  "I'm so sorry." he kept repeating, as he patted my head, with tears in his eyes.  "You forgive me, mate, don't you?  I promise I won't do it again."  I wagged my tail feebly, although I had heard all these things before.  I heard the man go into the kitchen and make himself a drink and then he helped me to my feet  and I staggered out of the house after him.  I wondered how I would manage the jump into my seat in the white van, and hesitated on the pavement.  The man looked at me and then said "I think you'd better stay in the back today."  He helped me into the rear of the van.  I made myself as comfortable as I could amongst the tools and rags and fell painfully into a fitful sleep.  I woke up to find the van empty and my broken little body struggling to be sick.  With difficulty, I spat out the contents of my mouth and belly and was shocked to see only blood emerge.  Feeling increasingly weak, I closed my eyes once more.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Surely only a fool or a lunatic would repeat an action for which they had already received a comprehensive butt-whipping?    Surely that would be the case?

Not so, apparently.  Witness for yourself:

See him?  Yes.  Strategically positioned under the garden bench, to avoid any aerial assault.  Peaches once more.

And to those friends who enquired - yes.  Peaches IS a boy. (Here is a link to the Blog entry in which he was first mentioned:  I agree with my friends - 'tis an unusual name for a male black cat.  It may well go some way to explaining his violent, foul-mouthed, hatefully vicious nature - but it does not excuse it.

I marched boldly out to challenge him, feeling thoroughly fed up at his trespass.  I was also well aware of what cats like to do in other people's gardens - and had NO desire to find a shiny little sh*te in amongst the bulbs we planted in the summer.  As soon as I appeared around the corner, the charming Peaches hissed and spat at me.  He edged a little further from under my bench and began an outpouring of spiteful comments and threats - none of which I care to repeat here.  From the corner of my eye, I could see a number of blue-tits queueing up in the tree branches - cold and hungry, yet each too afraid to venture down to take its nut.  Some tell-tale scratch marks up the post of my bird table told me that their hesitation was justified.  I felt utterly disgusted.  Peaches moved closed to me, still snarling his filth.  I am afraid, dear reader, that I lost my normally-well-controlled temper.
"OH B*GGER OFF!"  I bellowed, in my most angry bark.  The birds fluttered, alarmed, into the air.  My shout echoed around the close.  I was expecting violent retribution from the target of my rage - but he merely heaved up his fat bulk with as much dignity as he could muster and with a parting angry glance, stomped off, looking aggrieved.  To date, he has not returned.

My throat hurt for the rest of the day, but it was well worth it, hehehe...

No more work for me and my partner now until after the New Year.  She has taken some holiday days so that she can have a nice long break over Christmas.  However, today was an unexpected extra, due to the recent heavy snowfall.  We were almost stranded at work last night.  Despite being allowed to depart at half past three, it took us TWO AND A HALF HOURS to get home.  It usually takes 35 minutes at most.  Scary too.  My partner was given the option of not working today by her kind boss, and she decided that she did not want to put her Jasper through a similar experience once more.  She said that she didn't mind for herself - but Jasper is too precious to risk.  That's my girl...!

The second instalment of The Evolution of Jasper is still on its way and will be posted either tonight or tomorrow.  It is taking me all this time because, although we know that the tale has a happy outcome, the first parts are distressing for me to recall - particularly this second episode.  It reminds me of just how close I came to missing out on life with my partner - or, indeed, any life at all...

Good night.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Monday 14 December 2009

I am totally barkless.  Completely and utterly barkless.  Barkless is what I am.

When my partner and I awoke yesterday morning, we descended the stairs and - wishing to greet the fresh morning - I stood by as my partner opened the curtains to our French Windows - and THIS is what we saw through the glass:

WHAT THE --   !?!?

Yes.  'Tis Peaches.  The violent, furry turd from the devil's own satanic a*se, staking out MY bird table, on MY patio, in MY garden.  I was livid.

My partner and I crept around to the front door (on the other side of the house), and she quietly released me.
"AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGH!"  I yelled, as I launched myself with insane rage at the evil moggy.  The desired look of stricken alarm on Peaches' foul fat face was achieved although, unfortunately, he was not sufficiently concerned to quit my garden.  Instead, he composed himself and rounded on me, with a look of evil about him.

Oh poo.

I edged nervously towards the French Windows, realising just a split-second too late that they were locked.  I let out a little squeak, as Peaches moved around to the side of the garden, cutting off my escape route.
"I'm gonna cut you, you b*st*rd dog..." he growled menacingly.  I gulped, and braced myself for extreme pain.

All of a sudden - seemingly almost from nowhere - a small shape flew down from the nearest tree, shrieking as he plummeted towards the ground:

It was the little squirrel.  Still yelling like a wild banshee, he landed on the back of Peaches' neck, and clamped one paw on each of the wretched cat's ears, digging in his claws and hanging on for dear life as Peaches ran madly around my garden, yowling and trying to shake him off.  "Whe-heee!" squealed the squirrel, who then leaned forward and sank his sharp little teeth into Peaches' right ear.  Peaches gave a loud holler and another sudden violent shake.  The squirrel lost his grip and flew off his enraged steed, landing with a sickening thud on the patio.

I watched Peaches, still wailing and shouting, speed off home and then, when I was certain he'd gone, turned nervously to look at the little squirrel.  He lay almost motionless on his back, his chest rising and falling almost imperceptibly, and was making an horrific wheezing and gurgling sound.

Wondering if I would be able to save him with some rudimentary snout-to-snout resuscitation, I tipclawed nearer to the prone little body.

It then became immediately apparent that he was not struggling to live but was, in fact, helpless with laughter.
"Did you see-?" gasped the squirrel, still convulsed with uncontrollable laughter, "Did you see that idiot's face?!"  He wiggled his arms and legs as he laughed, and I allowed him to grip onto one of my paws as he struggled up into a sitting position.  I hid my face so that he wouldn't see how profoundly relieved I was.

"Nut power...?" I said, with one eyebrow quizzically raised.
"Haha, yeah." replied the squirrel.  "I thought I could be like a super-squirrel.  That could be my secret phrase.  Like, my battle cry."
"Nut power?"
"Well. Yeah, it is a BIT rubbish, isn't it?" grinned the little rodent.  "Needs more work.  But that was brilliant, eh?!"
"It was pretty funny." I conceded. "But you want to be careful with that one.  He's a total psychopath.  He'll be looking out for you now."
"Good." said the squirrel defiantly. "Let him.  I'll be up the trees and long gone before he even works out what's going on."

I had to admit - I admired the squirrel's pluck.  I asked him how he was settling in.  He certainly looked a bit healthier than he did at our first meeting.  He was still undersized, but had begun to fill out a little.  "Oh, I'm grand, thanks to you Mister Dog." answered the squirrel.  "Now I'm feeling a bit stronger, I've been out and about collecting moss to line my drey with.  Brilliant."

I grinned as I bade farewell to my new little friend.  I certainly did enjoy seeing him get the better of the much-despised Peaches, and I felt good inside for having helped him to survive and build his new home.  Some of my friends were kind enough to send me messages approving my actions, and that made me feel very happy as well.

However - one friend suggested that I may have befriended the squirrel, only for him to turn out to have evil intentions concerning me and would ultimately hoodwink me into risking my life and/or becoming embroiled in heinous mischief.  Now - I ask you.  WHAT is there in my past history to suggest that?!  I cannot believe it.  That would NEVER happen to such a worldly dog as me.  For goodness' sake...

Next time - the long overdue Part Two of "The Evolution of Jasper" (Here's a link to Part One, in case it is of interest:

Good night.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sunday 6 December 2009

Well - 'yer 'tiz.  My 200th blog post.  And yet I am annoyed.

Approximately a month, it has been with us.  Approximately a month.  And ALREADY it has caused trouble.

I refer, of course, to my bird table.  The first few days, my partner and I were enchanted (as, in part, we continue to be) by the visits of our feathered brethren to seek sustenance at our table.  Alas, just a few short days ago, I was dozing in a sunbeam, which poured through the French windows, when an upstart interloper caught my drowsily closing eye.

A squirrel.

Why?  Why am I tormented by such beasts?  The memories of the disrespectful hedgepig nemesis from my previous home had just begun to fade with the passage of time - and now here was a new ne'er-do-well to haunt me.

I crept quietly into the kitchen, where my partner was preparing lunch, and asked if I could be let out to go to the toilet.  She kindly obliged, and I tipclawed around the corner of our house in order to catch the beast in his heinous act.

"OI!!!"  I yelled.  The small grey thief started, and dropped the armful of nuts that he had been collecting, "What the H*LL do you think you are doing?!"

The squirrel was a young one, probably born this spring.  His eyes darted about madly, looking for an escape route but, finding none, stood stock still on the table, trembling.  I continued, angrily, "Those nuts and seeds are for the birds, not you!"
"Oh, please," implored the squirrel, "PLEASE, Mister Dog, please let me take some.  I'm so hungry.  PLEASE!  There are no nuts in the hedges here and if I don't eat these, I'll die!"
I looked at him.  He was incredibly thin.  His eyes were sunken hollows in his face.  His ribs were clearly visible, rising and falling rapidly, and his grey fur was mangy with bits missing.  I felt a stab of pity.

"There is a squirrel colony about a mile over there, with plenty of beech and hazel." I said. "Why don't you go over there?"

The little squirrel's shoulders sagged.
"I was born there."  he replied, sadly.  "Lots of us were this Spring.  In the end, there were too many of us in the colony.  There was a huge fight, and the weaker ones had to leave.  I don't know where the others went, but I came here.  I built my own drey before I realised there was no food here.  Now I am too tired and it is too cold to find anywhere else.  And then I saw the nuts here."  He looked defeated.  "I'm sorry." he continued, "I won't trouble you again.  Please don't kill me.  I shall die soon anyway."

I stared at him, sighed, and (not for the first time) despaired at the benevolent streak in my nature which, somehow, made me feel less masculine.

"Hold!"  I called, as the forlorn squirrel turned to go.  "How many of you are there here?"
"Just me.  No-one else."

I sighed again.
"Very well." I barked, "You may dine freely at this table."
The squirrel turned and regarded me, his eyes now filled with hope.  I continued.  "Just you.  And just for this Winter.  You will find fresh nuts every morning - but my partner stops putting them out at the end of March.  You may take what you need, but no more.  And ensure you leave enough for the birds."
"Oh yes!" panted the squirrel, happily, "There is plenty here for all who want it.  Thank you!  Thank you Mister Dog!  God bless you!"  And he began to re-stack his armful of nuts, with renewed hope and happiness.

I must say that, despite my misgivings, I did feel a warm glow at having helped one of my fellow creatures.  I turned to go back indoors - and then turned back towards the table.
"Don't go directly back to your drey." I said, "Turn left; go across the garden fences, cross the road and go back that way.  There is a cat hiding behind that tree there" (indicating the nearest tree) "waiting for you."
The squirrel fixed me with an earnest gaze.
"Thank you."  he said.

I nodded, and returned to the house.

After the squirrel had been gone about ten minutes, I had the satisfaction of seeing a highly annoyed young female cat emerge preyless from behind the nearest tree, with a look of thunder upon her not-unpretty face, and stalk off home.

Perhaps doing the right thing by starving rodents had hidden advantages for me - as well as proving balm to my conscience.  I'd almost go as far as to say that my act of goodwill made me feel Christmassy.

Almost - but not quite.

Good night.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Monday 30 November 2009

I really am most inordinately annoyed.

I wasn't going to post a blog entry tonight, but I have been stung into it against my will.  For goodness' sake...

Now, I am fond of all of my neighbours - except the g*t next door, who "entertains" us with his electric guitar most evenings and whinges for all the rest of the time.  The first thing he ever said on beholding my partner as we moved in was "I don't like dogs."  In fact, he doesn't like dogs, cats, birds, small children, big children, women, etc... And he always deliberately parks his car across TWO spaces.  I digress.

To the point.  In between my returning home from work and my popping out a few moments ago to download a wee-mail, the house opposite has been decorated with.... CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!  NOOOOOO!!!!!  It's only November!  Argh!!!

Now then.  I will attempt to be reasonable.  The lady who lives in the house (with her children) has a boyfriend and I understand that he is a Muslim.  Therefore, perhaps they are celebrating the festival of Eid.

But methinks I am being generous.  They are Christmas lights and I know it.  Tinsel is present.

I haven't even opened the first door of my Advent calendar and already coloured lights are twinkling into my living room.   Grrrowl.

If the lights are joined by a ruddy-cheeked, illuminated, plastic Santa I will be left with no option but to "take steps".

Good night.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Saturday 28 November 2009

It is over.  I knew this day would come.  It was inevitable, after all this time, and living in this worldly cycle as we do.  But I didn't think it would come this soon.

Yes - my partner and I have, today, FINISHED our Christmas shopping!  Yippppieee!

We'll admit that much of it has been done online, and at less cost than formerly.  But, nonetheless, the task is completed and we are happy with our choices.  We do, admittedly, have one or two odds and s*ds left to buy for various friends - but the bulk is behind us now (and that is NOT a reference to my partner's bottom...).

We had a lovely day today, on a rare occasion without rain (although it is now raining as I type, but it is dark outside now so I don't care).  First of all, we drove to the shops in our New Teal Megane.  I stayed to guard our carriage whilst my partner made our purchases (and carried out our monthly big food shop).  Afterwards, we went to the woods for MY half of the excursion and we had a lovely walk.  You will never guess who I met in the woods as well - Candy!!  Yes, the chocolate Labrador, my main girlfriend!!!  We had a joyous reunion, followed by a rip-snorter of a game amongst the trees, whilst my partner explained to Candy's partner about Maisie and her "little accident" (she is happily much on the mend now.  I am going to visit her tomorrow) and why I had not visited the park recently.

Utterly delightful.

As if that were not exciting enough, my partner was given, via her mother, an intriguingly-scented and tied-up carrier bag from Maisie on Friday evening.  My partner would not let me investigate it more closely and has put it in the kitchen, on top of the microwave oven - the highest point in the room.  I keep sneaking in for a sniff, and my suspicions are confirmed - it is an advent calendar, with a scrummy doggy-treat behind each window.  Yayy!   My partner thinks I don't know what it is, but I do.  However, I know she won't let me have it until December - and, if last year is anything to go by, I will only be allowed to open one door (thus gaining just one treat) per day.

The Christmas trees went up in our little town today.  Every year, instead of garish, tacky illuminations, each shop or house in the main bit of the town has a small, real tree adorned with lights affixed to their property.  It has happened ever since my partner moved to the town as a small girl, and long may it continue.  Here is a small picture (which doesn't really do justice to the beauty of the sight during the hours of darkness):

So now, after an extremely satisfying day, my partner is enjoying a well-earned cup of tea whilst I finish off this blog entry.  I have recently eaten my supper and now, as I draw this post to its conclusion, I am thinking that I may enjoy a light nap before bedtime.  'Tis a hard ordeal, but a necessary one.

And if you thought that the opening sentences of this entry were proclaiming to the world the demise of Jasper - shame on you.  I am a man in my prime.  And not a single drop of Botox in sight...

(I meant not to deceive - but my partner hinted at how my words might be misconstrued when she sneaked a cheeky peek over my shoulder, and I'm too tired from thinking about my pre-bedtime nap to go back and change it now).

Good evening.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Thursday 26 November 2009

Another very satisfying day at work with my partner.

I was even able to contribute to her workload by acting as her "Security Guard" when she went to the bank for her petty cash.  I was poised to attack all the way to the bank, but fell asleep whilst she was inside.  I only woke up when she returned with the cash and got back into our New Teal Megane.  I feel I did a good job.  As ever, though, I wasn't thanked for my efforts.  Ungrateful girl.

Further shades of the pre-Fizzy Ewan revealed themselves this afternoon.  Instead of a game of football, Ewan and I trotted a little way down the Bridleway that begins at the edge of my partner's workplace yard (and which provides the first entrance point into the woods), while Fizzy amused herself with one of her toys.  I was investigating some fresh traces of squirrel and pheasant when, out of the corner of my eye, I happened to glimpse what Ewan was up to further down the path and quickly became fully engrossed in watching him.

All traces of potential prey were cast from my mind as I watched Ewan first sniff at, and then urinate on, a small beech sapling at the side of the track.  Nothing unusual there, you may think, but do not forget that this is Ewan with whom we are dealing.  Immediately post-pee, he turned around to face the sapling, sat firmly down on the ground in front of it, and began to stare fixedly at the small tree.  I watched him for a minute or two; his gaze never wavered.  I couldn't resist it any longer, so I trotted up to him.
"Ewan.  What are you doing?"
"Shhh, Jasper!" he hissed.  "I'm waiting for the tree!"

Oh, dear G-d.  What fresh hell was this?

I sat down beside Ewan.
"What are you expecting it to do?"
"Has your head gone funny, Jasper?" asked Ewan, still not averting his eyes from the sapling.  "I'm waiting for it to grow, of course!"
"Ah. For any reason in particular?"
"I want to do a wee-wee on the top of a really BIG tree instead of on the roots.  Fizzy says that I can't because we can't climb up and it would be dangerous."
"Right.  With you so far..."
"Yes.  So I thought of a plan.  I have wee-weed on this little one and now I am going to watch it grow and it will grow really REALLY big and then I will get Fizzy and tell her that I HAVE wee-weed on the top of this big tree."  He glanced at me during this explanation, but quickly resumed his steadfast meditation at the end.  I wasn't entirely sure what to bark.
"Um.... Ewan..." I began, "How long are you expecting it to take for this tree to grow into a big one?"
"Not sure, exactly.  Probably not that long."
"Right."  I glanced behind us, to the other side of the Bridleway, where there stood several huge, many-limbed, majestic and beautiful beech trees.  "Ewan.  That tree behind us there..."
He looked at it.
"Oh yes.  I like that one.  That's exactly what I have in my mind."
"Er, yes.  But you know that that tree is probably around 300 years old?"
"Oh yes."
"Right.  So it has taken 300 years for that tree to grow so big and strong."
"And this sapling - "
"The one I have wee-weed on."
"Yes.  This sapling, on which you have wee-weed, is tiny."
"Tiny weeny."
"And it has probably taken around 5 to 10 years to grow just to this tiny size."
"Hee-hee!  Not long now, then!"
"Yes. Um... Ewan, look at the BIG tree again." He did. "That took 300 years to grow.  The little sapling is only 10 years old at most.  Look at them both VERY carefully.  How long do you think you are going to be sitting here, watching that little tree grow to the same size as the big tree?"

Ewan flicked his gaze several times between both trees and considered the matter carefully.
"Errrr.... err... twenty-three minutes...?"
"Almost - but not quite."
As I explained the true picture as gently as I could to poor, deluded, Ewan his expression moved from mildly crestfallen to utterly distraught.  His lip began to tremble and I sincerely pitied him as his dream was crushed.

Just then, a violent gust of wind shook the trees in the woods, blowing our ears about wildly.  I was struck - not by a falling twig - but with a flash of inspiration.  "EWAN!" I barked.  "You've DONE it!  Well done, mate!"
"What do you mean, Jasper?" he sniffed.
"Well, that gust of wind has just blown the droplets of your wee-wee from this sapling all the way up to the top branches of that really big tree!  Didn't you see it?  So, now, you can say that your wee-wee really IS at the top of that really big tree!  Brilliant, eh?!"
"Yes!  Yess!!!" he yipped, jumping up and down. "I really did it!"  He charged off back down the Bridleway towards the work-yard as fast as he could, calling "Fiiiiiiiizzzzzzzieeeeeeeee!  Fizzy! FIZZY!!!"
I smiled and shook my head as I retraced our paw-prints back along the path to my partner and comparative sanity.  Good old Ewan.

And now - apropos the grossly disrespectful drawing of me, which appeared on a work notice-board.  My partner retrieved it from the bowels of her computer.  I did not thank her.  For what it's worth:

Don't you even dare to smile.     Grrrrrowl.

Good night.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Wednesday 25 November 2009

The past few days have been ones of high joys and inexpressible lows.

First off, my partner's murder-mystery evening was a rip-snorting success, enjoyed by all.  My partner even received a few wolf-whistles (nothing to do with actual wolves, though) for her leather trenchcoat and trilby combination (she played the detective).

Also, now that our finances are on more of an even keel, we are turning our attentions to making our little house more of a home.  The kitchen and living room have been somewhat reorganised and space has been made for my favourite armchair from the old house.  These days I even eschew the once-treasured sofa in favour of my old friend. Lovely.  We have also been labouring hard on our bathroom, which had been full of cardboard boxes.  The boxes are stored away and, in some cases, even emptied - our bookshelves are groaning with my partner's books (actually we need more bookshelves, but have no space to put them.  My partner says there would be room for another bookcase if we ditched the armchair.  I have vetoed this.).

The first birds have visited our new bird table, carefully positioned in our garden.  First to call was a little blue-tit, closely followed by a female robin.  All most exciting.  Other areas of my estate are less encouraging.  The extremely unpleasant weather has made my nasturtiums go a funny colour.  I am hoping that they will recover with the coming of kinder atmospheric conditions.

I am now firmly established as a daily fixture in my partner's workplace.  I enjoy accompanying her, and doze happily 'neath her desk, until lunchtime when we go for a lovely walk in the woods.  Sometimes I snooze in the afternoon; sometimes I play with my partner's colleagues.  I have even managed to assist the team in a very exciting event: last Friday, I killed a HUGE rat in the yard.  It was massive - larger than a puppy - and very dangerous.  I dispatched it quickly, and basked in my glory - I have not actually killed for some years and was beginning to think I might be past it.  Not so!  Alas, my partner would not let me eat my prize because the farmers next door usually put out rat-poison and my partner feared that I could also ingest poison via the rat, if it had taken some.  But the praise and gratification was reward enough for me.

Most pleasant of all in my new routine was being reacquainted with my old chums Ewan and Fizzy (dogs belonging to a colleague of my partner).  For descriptions of the pair, you will need to refer back to an earlier blog posting.  As a quick recap, however, Ewan is a large gangly mongrel who has some kind of unspecified mental deformity, but who is unstintingly friendly, enthusiastic and willing to chat.  He also has a bizarre, inexplicable, and entirely random obsession with cheese.  Fizzy arrived on the scene some months after Ewan and I had become friends.  She is a somewhat small, yet highly intelligent and attractive black Labrador.  She came to stay with Ewan and his partners for a couple of weeks - and never left.  There was initial friction at her appearance.  Ewan and I were both attracted to her but she didn't show much interest, save for a rapid loss of patience (which was somewhat understandable) with Ewan who, despite his keenness and eagerness to learn, asks constant questions and generally fails to comprehend the answers.  I had grown accustomed to this, being well aware that it was a manifestation of Ewan's cerebral disadvantages, and had learned to deal with him.  Fizzy, however, found nothing but frustration and anger with her new companion.  In the end, I had to step in to thaw out hostilities and, the next thing I knew, the pair of them had formed some kind of relationship!  It was around that time that I stopped going to work with my partner.

Despite all that had passed, I was delighted to see my two chums again - though completely taken aback at Ewan's appearance.  His once-tousled fur was brushed and combed neatly.  He wore a smart new blue collar (Fizzy wore a similar one, though it was red).  He walked sensibly, without dashing about and careering into things.  We ALMOST had a sensible conversation.  Well - almost.
"Jasper!" he yipped, as he and Fizzy capered around me.
"Ewan and Fizzy!" I cried back and we all ran in mad, happy circles.
"I missed you." said Ewan, panting. "I've got something to show you.  Shall I, Fizzy?  Shall I?"
Fizzy nudged him forward and sat down beside him, grinning proudly.
"Watch this Jasper!"
I wondered what was coming.  But I have to admit, it surprised even me.  Fizzy opened her mouth and barked:
"Rabbit. Squirrel. Fish.  Which one?"
"Fish!" yapped Ewan, as I struggled to comprehend what was happening.
"Why?" asked Fizzy.
"Because he lives in the water and the others live on the ground!" barked an obviously beside-himself-with-excitement Ewan.  I raised an eyebrow.
"Impressive." I said.
"Fizzy has been learning me!  Another one! Another one!" yipped Ewan, jumping up and down.
"Teaching you, Ewan. I have been teaching you." said Fizzy gently.  "Alright then.  Sparrow.  Robin.  Frog.  Which one?"
"I know!" squealed Ewan, "Frog.  Because the others are flying and he isn't."
"Well done." said Fizzy, positively beaming with pride at her "pupil".  She had obviously been working hard.
"That is really impressive." I added.  "How about this: Squirrel. Fox. Monkey.  Which one?"
Ewan looked stricken, and Fizzy hurriedly muttered:
"He only knows British animals - we tried to do zoo animals, but it was too much too soon."
"Ah.  Hey, Ewan!  How about a game of football?"
"Yaaaaayyyyy!" barked Ewan joyfully, capering around the yard.  The three of us had a fine game, which only ended when Ewan became distressed because he couldn't find where he'd put his football.  Here is the proof:

Ewan loses his football.

The best picture of the three of us together that my partner could get:

And no mention of cheese whatsoever.  I was extremely impressed - although I allowed myself a private smile, pleased to learn that, somewhere under Fizzy's teaching, grooming and vigilance, the old Ewan that we know and love was thriving. 

So, then, I turn to the inexpressible low.  An exceptionally disrespectful cartoon, left by an anonymous colleague of my partner's, on a workplace noticeboard.  It nominally depicts both myself and a colleague of my partner's called Peter, in a most unflattering way.  I intended to share it with you - but inadvertently deleted the image of the travesty.  No bad thing.  You - dear reader - do NOT need to see me depicted as a flatulent, obese hell-hound with hugely deformed claws, fangs and horns.  You are too pure.  Suffice it to say that the culprit of this gross mischief was identified and swiftly "disinfected".  Oh yes.

Good night.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Sunday 15 November 2009

What, in the name of Beelzebub and all his little wizards, is going on with the weather?!

Never have I seen the trees shaken by such tumultuous winds. It was most unsettling. On venturing into our garden as the gusts whipped around us, my partner glanced at me and said "Toto, I have the feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

I nodded, sagely. It was deemed too wild and windy for the woods, so my partner took me for a run on the open commons instead where, fortunately, dwell neither Munchkins nor flying monkeys.

The storm seems to have blown itself out now, so I can settle back into my routine, without having to hide under the furniture, candle at the ready lest a power-cut should ensue.

These horrors duly over, follow me, if you will, into my little time machine and we'll head back - for the last time - to the morning following my great adventure. That was the day set aside, prior to everything, for the removal of the stitches that were binding my eye closed. My partner said that we would walk to the vets and get that done and then go on to our evening walk (unfortunately we live extremely close to the vets' surgery. I must pass it twice a day. I would like them to relocate now that I am in the vicinity, but they selfishly refuse. Their arrogance is unacceptable to my stomach.). As we exited our house, whom should we meet returning from his walk? Starsky. My next-door neighbour and his partner. I greeted him heartily as our respective partners stopped to chat, and endeavoured to engage him in conversation.

Something was wrong, however. Starsky just glared at me and would not respond to my polite enquiries. I was confused - I thought we had come to an understanding. At length, Starsky shot me a contemptuous look and said:
"ALL night, she cried for you." He flicked an ear towards my partner. "All night. You selfish pig." His body tensed, ready to flee in case I went for him. But I lunged not, instead trying feebly to explain myself. Starsky would have none of it. "I heard her through the wall," he went on, "That POOR little girl. She treats you so well, and that is how you repay her. Don't you think of anyone but yourself?"

I replied that I knew I had done serious wrong and was heartily ashamed of myself. I tried to explain that I had been on my way home when I was picked up and, from that point, events had been taken out of my paws. Starsky didn't look very convinced, until my voice faltered and finally cracked on repeating how very, very sorry I was. His expression softened and he said "Well, let's say no more about it, then." He gave my shoulder a friendly head-butt and I managed a weak smile.
"I wish there was anything I could say or do to make things all better." I sighed.
"Well, there is." replied Starsky.
"Just don't do it again."
Wagging my tail, I nodded. And, with that, we parted friends once more.

I was slightly hesitant on entering the vets', fearing that news of my naughtiness had reached my surgeon's ears. But, happily, these fears were unfounded. The stitches and button were removed from my eye, and I held my breath...

The procedure had been a complete success. The surface of my eye had COMPLETELY healed, save for the faintest trace of a scar that once was. My vision was entirely unimpaired and all, partner, surgeon, Jasper, were extremely happy with the results.

After the walk (during which I behaved impeccably), the final act in the drama closed the episode. My partner spotted that I had acquired a number of offensive thorns in my flesh during my hours at large. I had to sit under the big light in the living room while my partner knelt over me, armed with a pair of tweezers. I am sure she was wielding them more forcibly than was warranted.

She also, however, discovered on my neck a tick, which had invaded my personal space in order to sup on the delicious, nourishing soup that flows through my veins. That didn't last long against the mighty tweezers. At the end of the examination, my partner showed me the fruits of her labours on a square of tissue: two very large blackthorns (from 'twixt my shoulder-blades), seven bramble-thorns and the ex-tick, with the ex-contents of his belly, which were the ex-partial content of my veins.

Thankfully, the whole is now an ex-episode and this is the last I shall bark on the topic.

Now then. I don't usually post links on my blog, but I have a couple for you here today. The first is to mark the fact that last Sunday was Remembrance Sunday, with the most recent Wednesday being Armistice Day. During 2009, we have also lost the last three Tommies to survive the horrors of the WWI trenches. Here is the link (All featured are Americans; no Brits, alas, but I think you can take it as read that reactions would be the same around the world):

The second is on behalf of my friends, The Animal Doctor and his lovely Secretary. They do wonderful, selfless work for furry folk in The Philippines. One of their dogs, Scarlet - who is an unbelievably beautiful young lady - has found that nature denies her the opportunity to walk. She is well cared-for and happy, but would like to have a doggy-wheelchair (they exist - I've seen one in action!). Here is a link to find out more about pretty little Scarlet; if you are able to help with a few pennies or even just a bit of encouragement for these wonderful folk in The Philippines, well, that would be wonderful. Here she is: And don't forget - in helping each other (no matter WHAT the species or gender), we are also helping ourselves.

Next time - at work with my partner: back with Ewan and Fizzy! And a night of foul, bloody murder...

Well, all right. I WAS going to leave you with that one - but I didn't want to put thoughts of unspeakable evil in your mind, sweet reader. My partner's play was cancelled, as a key actor had to withdraw for family reasons at a late stage. In its stead, my partner and her cohorts are staging a murder-mystery event, where the audience sit at tables, have some supper, and try to guess who amongst the cast of the specially-crafted play committed a heinous misdeed. There's a prize for the most accurate table of sleuths. Sales have gone through the roof - 80 places were originally on offer; 94 tickets have been sold. ALREADY a success (I would blush to take any credit, naturally). My partner plays the detective, who has to help the audience untangle the evil deeds and reveal the culprit(s) at the end. Rehearsals are lots of fun. I shall, naturally, keep you posted.

And, at some point, I must turn my whiskers to providing the next installment of "The Evolution of Jasper". What a busy life it is for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier these days... I even found time to help my partner sort out our bathroom this afternoon...

Good night.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Saturday 7 November 2009

Inevitably, then, came the aftermath.

As we moved away down the road from Charlie's house, my partner clung to me, sobbing over and over again about how much she'd missed me, how she thought she'd never see me again, how much she loved me, etc. Personally, I was divided between feelings of utter elation and total wretchedness. We arrived at the home of my partner's parents, as my partner's mother was concerned for her daughter and wanted to make sure she ate some breakfast (my partner had previously 'phoned her place of work, explaining the situation and informing them that she would not be in that day. Her colleagues were full of kind concern).

On entering the house, I suddenly realised how tired I was. I also learned of the endeavours that had taken place the previous evening to try and locate me.

A search party had been formed. Some scoured the place where I had last been sited. Others drove slowly along local roads, seeking any sign of me. The details grew more chilling by the moment. At length, the deeper waters of the river had been probed as searchers wondered if my drowned and bloated body would float to the surface. One of the drivers (my partner's father) had driven at a snail's pace along the dual carriageway (notorious for traffic speeds and numerous fatal accidents) at the other end of the fields, looking to see if my mangled and bloody remains lay at the side of the road.

After several hours, and way past midnight, the search was abandoned. My partner's mother fetched blankets and pillows and spent the night at my house, comforting my distraught partner as she telephoned the police, the vet and the dog warden, before retiring to pass a sleepless night alone in our bed.

Whilst learning of all this, I was stricken with guilt and lay mutely under the table. My partner's mother persuaded my partner to accept a slice of toast and a cup of tea, which she did her best to swallow. After slipping most of the toast to me, my poor partner fled upstairs to the bathroom and I heard the sounds of her being violently and copiously sick. I crept up the stairs after her and sat quietly beside her while she vomited and wept.

Following this unpleasant episode, we got in the car again and my partner's mother drove us home. I was transported with joy at seeing my own dear house again. I bounded happily into my garden, anxious to reacquaint myself with all the familiar smells, feeling as if I had been away for a year, as opposed to just one night.

I felt that I wanted to dash about and kiss all who were familiar to me. But there seemed an embargo on each and every one:
  • Chloe - No, for obvious reasons;
  • Milo, Zac, Sophie - No, they were too young for it to be appropriate;
  • Peaches - No, as he would rip off my face. Plus he smells unacceptably of pilchards;
  • Eddie - No, as he would think I had switched to the Pink Side and initiate mating procedures.

That left Starsky and Archie (the Jack Russell at the end of the road). I did think about it - but then I decided that it would be too embarrassing to face either of them after snogging them. So, in the end, I gave my partner a really big kiss instead.

My partner was so exhausted that she went to bed. I followed her, and we slept the ENTIRE day. And that was the end of the whole sorry episode.

Well - not quite. One mystery remains. According to my partner, I was last seen before events unfolded at approximately 6.45pm. Charlie's partners picked me up as I was walking towards home at 11.10pm. My partner has repeatedly questioned me as to my whereabouts in the interim.

The fair Dolores, as well as my partner's other friends and work colleagues, suggested that I had been propping up the bar in the pub nearest to my house. I had been picked up whilst walking the relatively short distance between the pub and my house, some ten minutes after Last Orders. But no. My snout is sealed - a gentleman never barks. My partner now refers to that period of time as "The Lost Four Hours".

Apart from being distressing all round, I am now annoyed at the incident. Just prior to the event, I had been putting finishing touches on a blog entry describing a highly similar situation, involving kitten Zac and his brother Milo, which occurred at the end of the summer. I will now have to wait a for a suitable length of time to pass before posting it, or it will make me look even more foolish than I already feel.

And now, I daresay you would like to hear some positive news after all this trauma. I have several items for you. Firstly, my partner's lump is a GREAT DEAL smaller - in fact, it has almost gone. She still experiences pain, but it looks increasingly likely that she will not have to have her drastic operation after all! Fingers and paws crossed... Secondly, our New Teal Megane passed its MOT without needing any work! Hurrah!! My partner says that this is the first time that such a thing has occurred for her. This has helped us to forgive the car for being in a higher road-tax bracket than our late, lamented Little Green Corsa. And, thirdly, my partner and I celebrated our birthdays a week or two ago. Among other gifts, we received five rose bushes for our garden. My partner's mother came over today to help us plant them. We have also installed a nice bird-feeding table, to attract winged friends to feast over the winter months (strategically positioned so as to be inaccessible to my many feline neighbours).

Happy days are here again.

Good night.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Sunday 25 October 2009

On Thursday, I was ten years old. Now, I am not. For, on Friday, I turned eleven. Eleven years of Jasper in this world. The preceding day was my sweet partner's birthday. We celebrated by treating ourselves to fish and chips from the chippy. Happy days.

And what a year it has been. Full of traumas and changes for us both. In the first place, we would BOTH like to express heartfelt thanks to all those friends who sent good wishes for my partner's hospital appointment in the week. Lance, Mad, Bailey (long time, no bark, mate - hope things are wagging well for you) and the ever-wonderful Animal Doctor, Secretary and their brood of furry angels. THANK YOU. Your kind thoughts were of great help.

'Twas not an appointment that brought much good, however. My partner has got three months to stop smoking completely (she only has a couple a day - but that is two too many) and to lose as much weight as she can and then they will operate. 'Tis a very high-risk operation, I understand. My partner and I have discussed things and, although she will comply with the consultant's instructions, we believe that she shall request NOT to have the operation. It will complicate matters, though painkillers can abate the soreness, and it may bring her life-expectancy down to one more in line with my own, but neither of us wish to take the dangerous risk. My partner says that she would rather pass in my company, in a warm bed, than under anaesthetic on a cold table with her chest cavity open. Plus which, she is aware that her breasts are key assets for attracting the menfolk of her species, so best if they don't fall prey to the scalpel... She's not completely stupid.

And, secondly, it is now time to conclude the traumatic tale of my separation from my beloved partner. We left off last time with me being ushered into the spare bedroom of my luxurious prison, with new friend Charlie assuring me that all would be well...

You will not be surprised to learn that I did not sleep well. I was haunted by dreams and thoughts of the bleak, partner-less, future that I may have to face and it was not long before my pillow was wet with tears. I must have fallen asleep at some point, however, because when I opened my eyes light streamed through a gap in the pale curtains. For a moment, I thought the whole episode had been a horrible dream - until I took in my surroundings. I was laid in a neat, single bed with chintz sheets and matching curtains. The room smelled of fresh laundry and roses. As I began to stretch my limbs, and long for the double bed which I shared with my partner, a strange, wailing sound disturbed me. Someone was singing.

"I left my hearrrrt in Saaan Fraaaancisco!"

It was fairly tuneless, but jolly all the same. I jumped off the bed, nosed open the door, and followed the sound. It was Charlie, in the Utility Room, being dried by his male partner. As I poked my head around the door, Charlie looked out at me from under his towel and grinned.

"Morning, mate!" he said. "Sleep well? I've been out for a quick run and a dip in the river. Same every morning - and I like a good sing when I'm being dried. Sets me up for the day!"

I wagged my tail at him. Whatever trials Charlie had experienced in his past life, he was completely happy now. I don't think I'd ever seen anyone quite so content with his life before. Apart from the dog Ewan, of course, but his relentless happiness was principally due to his psychological difficulties. Charlie was sane AND happy. "There are biscuits here, on this plate, for you." continued Charlie, as he was released from the folds of his towel, shook himself, and trotted up to give me a friendly lick. He indicated the plate from the night before, on which had been placed a number of dog biscuits. Charlie had already emptied his bowl of his biscuits.

As I debated with myself as to whether to lower myself to the indignity of dog - dog!! - biscuits, Charlie's female partner entered the kitchen, holding a telephone handset.

"Good news." she said. Charlie and I looked up expectantly, and her husband, Charlie's male partner, came in from the Utility Room after hanging up Charlie's towel. "I 'phoned the Dog Warden." [from the local council] "This fellow was reported missing by his owner last night!"

My tail began to slowly wag. My hostess continued.

"He's going to ring her, and she'll be here to pick you up very soon."

Could this be?!?! My partner had searched for me?!?!?! I yipped, as Charlie beamed and winked at me.

"Hmmn!" said the male partner, "I wouldn't have minded keeping him. He gets on well with our Charlie, and he's a super little fellow."

I bristled slightly at the term "little" - but was almost overwhelmed. At that very moment, my partner was speeding towards me - and our reunion was imminent. My appetite suddenly returned, and I gobbled up the biscuits that had been laid out for me.

"Charlie." I said, as I swallowed the last biscuit, "I cannot thank you enough for your kindness and your hospitality. No-one deserves their good fortune more than you. Bless you again and again."

"My pleasure." said Charlie, confirming his good nature. His partners went to stroke and fuss me, and I expressed my grateful thanks to them, though it is doubtful that they understood. After a short time, a car was heard drawing to a halt in front of the cottage. Charlie's female partner went into the front room, followed by Charlie and I, and looked out of the window.
"Yes," she called back to the kitchen, "This is them."

I held my breath - and a sudden thought struck me and froze me to the spot. What would my partner think? What would she say? All I could imagine was that I would receive a severe spanked bottom for my wickedness. Could my partner EVER forgive me? Would she even want me again?

Charlie called me over to the window. I looked out - YES! It was her!!! It was her parents' car. Her mother got out of the driver's side and she - my Most Only - exited the passenger's side.

But I was appalled at what I saw.

My young, beautiful, cheery, vibrant partner was hunched over - stooped, like an elderly pensioner - and was clinging to the frame of the vehicle door for support. With one hand she gripped the car door and the other hand and arm was clutched around her stomach, as if comforting herself. Her eyes were red and bloodshot, and the area around them was dark and swollen - as if she had just gone five rounds with Lennox Lewis.

What had I done to her? Could she ever forgive me? Charlie's partners opened the front door, and I stepped apprehensively forward.

All my doubts were instantly erased.

At first sight of me, my partner collapsed to her knees.
"JASPER!!!" she screamed, throwing her arms open wide. I instantly broke into a run, and literally flung myself into her embrace; my tail wagging with such fury that I was sure it would wag clean off.

My beloved partner held me tightly, wailing over and over again that she'd thought I was dead, she'd thought she'd never see me again... The hot tears poured from her eyes, down her sweet apple cheeks, and onto the fur on my face.

Her tears trickled down my furry face - and mingled with my own. We were reunited. Nothing else mattered - or ever will.

Good night.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Monday 19 October 2009

A brief interlude in my recital of recent adventures. My partner goes to the hospital first thing tomorrow, to find out if she needs to have most of her left breast removed.

A short while ago, I asked her how she felt about it.

"To be honest, Jazz, " she replied, gently stroking my head, "I'm f***ing terrified."

Now, my partner is NOT a potty-mouth. So, from this, one of two things can be inferred:
  1. She has developed some Tourette's-type, toilet-tongued condition, which manifests itself in occasional random bouts of foul language; or
  2. She is genuinely frightened.

I suspect the latter. Either way, I will be there for her - come what may.

Next up will be the concluding instalment of the thrilling tale of my late escapade.

Good night.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Thursday 15 October 2009

My partner has had loads of her hair cut off. It looks good. Last week, she went to see Ricky Gervais' new live show (partner's brother and sister-in-law generously paid for the tickets). These things have made her smile. However - I suspect that these things have largely been a diversion from the trauma of recent events. You know what I mean.

When last I barked to you, I left you with the image of my sobbing and terrified self, speeding away from all I held dear, in the company of strangers. I shall return to that moment.

After what seemed a lifetime of travelling, the car pulled into a gravelled driveway and I heard a gate close behind us. The engine stopped. The man and lady in the front got out and opened a rear door. I tried flatten myself against the back of the seat.

"Please!" I wailed, "Take me back! I want to go home! Please!"

"Out you get, boy." said the man, "You're safe now."

"I was safe before!" I wept, "Take me back! Take me back!"

But they couldn't understand me. After a few minutes of coaxing, the lady said "Why don't we get Charlie? He might be able to help." And they went to the door of their house. A few moments later, a young dog jumped into the car beside me. This must have been Charlie. His fur was caramel-coloured, tousled and curly. He was ruggedly handsome, with gentle hazel eyes, and he sniffed me over, looking down at me with good-humoured pity.

"Come on mate," he barked gently, "Why all the tears? You're safe now. Out you come."

"I want to go home." I cried.

"Of course you do." he replied, "But it's late now. Come inside with me, and we'll sort you out in the morning. Come on, mate."

Still crying, and somewhat reluctantly, I followed Charlie out of the car. Gratefully, I did a wee in the garden, and then followed him into his house. And it was a beautiful house. Large, with a thatched roof and several thatched outbuildings, like the sort of cottage one sees on a gift-tin of shortbread. But all this meant nothing to me. I felt acutely the distance between me and my partner and wondered what she was doing at that moment, longing to be with her. To see her just once more. The front door closed behind me. At that, I gave a long mournful howl and started to cry again.

"Come on, mate." said Charlie kindly, "No more of that. You come with me and I'll show you around. I dutifully trotted slowly after Charlie and followed him through the kitchen, where his partners were preparing a bit of supper. "Utility room," said Charlie, indicating a small room off the kitchen. As I padded around after him, he was chatting all the while, trying hard to occupy my mind. When we went into the drawing room, where there was a beautiful big inglenook fireplace, my host sat down and looked at me. "What happened, then?" he asked. I didn't know where to begin. "It's alright." he smiled, "I was abandoned too. Ended up in a rescue kennel. Then, about six months ago, mum and dad came to choose a dog and they picked me. Brilliant, eh?" When I didn't say anything, he continued. "I was so lucky. There was a really snotty little poodle in there who said that no-one would want me 'cause I was a mongrel. I took great pleasure in marching past that gobby old sow's kennel the day mum and dad chose me."

I managed a watery smile. "That's better." grinned Charlie. "So don't worry. Just 'cause you were abandoned, it doesn't mean it's all over for you."

"I wasn't abandoned." I said quietly.
"I wasn't abandoned. I ran away."
"Were you being beaten?"
"And you just ran away?"
"Why on Earth would you do a thing like that?"
"I don't know." I replied miserably. "I was chasing a vixen and then I got lost and it all went really badly wrong. Eventually I found the road home and was almost there when your people put me in their car. Please make them take me back."

"Not tonight, it's too late - it's nearly midnight, you know. I'm sorry, mate. But it will be alright. So, was she worth it? The vixen?"
"All things considered, no." I muttered.
"Bad luck." commiserated Charlie. "But look. You'll spend the night here, and in the morning mum and dad will know what to do. We'll have a bit of supper in a minute and everything will be OK after a good sleep."

I know it sounds ungrateful, but Charlie's ceaseless optimism was beginning to grate on my nerves. I was sick with worry about my partner, and desperately unhappy - as well as being utterly ashamed of my actions. Also, I hated the fact that Charlie referred to his partners as 'mum and dad'. My partner is my partner, not my parent. We have an equal partnership - no-one higher than or superior to the other. Both united as one, joined together, a perfect team. Plus, she always... she would... she... she...

"I WANT MY MUMMY!" I wailed, howling out a fresh burst of huge tears.

"Aww," said Charlie, pattering over and giving my ear a comforting lick. "Of course you do - for you are a good boy. And, in the morning, we will find her for you. Easy enough. Of course, you are microchipped?"
"No." I wept.
"But you have an ID tag?"
"No-oo!" I howled, feeling incredibly stupid now about the pride I'd felt when I managed to lose my ID tag during a fight with an Alsatian many years ago. My partner had never got around to replacing it, which suited me fine. Until now.
"Ok-aaay."said Charlie, with a frown and a sigh. "Well. We'll sort things out, one way or another. Try not to fret. Now then. I believe my nose is telling me that supper is ready."

I followed Charlie down the passageway and into the warm kitchen. His partners were seated at the kitchen table, enjoying a poached egg on toast and a glass of something nice. Charlie went to his bowl, beside which was some meat on a china plate. "That plate is for you." he explained, "Dig in." And he got on with the business of gobbling up his own supper.

I took a tentative bite at the meat on the plate, and almost choked. I nearly spat out the meat but, fortunately, remembered my manners at the last moment.
"Charlie," I spluttered, "This is - this is dog food!"
"Oh-ho, yes!" he grinned, his whiskers covered in meaty gravy, "Nothing but the best in this house!" I looked at the rest of the meat on the plate. It stared coldly back at me.
"I'm not really that hungry." I said, "Would you like to finish mine?"
"Sure?" asked Charlie. I nodded, and he needed no second invitation, noisily scoffing the extra meat.

Charlie's owners were incredibly kind. They patted me and fussed over me. After Charlie and I were given a last toilet opportunity, the doors were locked for the night. As we walked back down the passageway, Charlie said "You are going to sleep in the downstairs spare room. I will be in my bed in the drawing room - it's between dad's chair and the fireplace. Scratch on the door if you need me for anything."
"You have been very kind, Charlie." I said, and he grinned.
"Try and get some sleep, mate." he said, "It'll all be OK in the morning."

But I couldn't see how. I had no microchip; no ID tag and Charlie's partners couldn't understand my barks. How would I ever find my way back to my partner again - and how was she coping without me?

To be continued...

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Sunday 4 October 2009

I am NOT a happy dog.

Yes. I had the operation.

When I stated previously that "I would resist it with every fibre of my being", I would like to say that I tried. I really tried. However, I neglected to factor-in the vets' ready availability of extremely potent sleeping draughts. Following the sensation of the tiny pin-prick, I was mid-way through telling my surgeon EXACTLY what I thought of him, when my eyelids became unaccountably heavy and I collapsed into the welcoming arms of Morpheus. When I awoke, my right eyelid had been stitched closed (the stitches held in place by a button - a button, of all things! The indignity!!) and the anti-tamper abomination shown above had been affixed. I was - and continue to be - extremely angry. That barked, my eye DOES feel a great deal better now. The stitches come out in a day or two; and the button/stitches combo has been useful for procuring treats from sympathetic folks. Hehehe...

My only other comfort in this is that I understand that my wife, Isolde, is also having to sport such an item, having recently undergone a minor surgical procedure to stitch a cut, sustained whilst pursuing a wily beastie. And she had more stitches than I did, so she has to wear her collar for longer. Swings and roundabouts. Hehehehe...

This, however, is NOT the most tumultuous event to have taken place in the past seven days. Oh no. My partner has said that I must post the dreadful event of the latest Thursday on my blog for you to read - and then the event will never be raised between us again. I tried pretending to be asleep in order to evade this necessity, but, alas she was not fooled. Oh dear...

Thursday evening saw my partner and I tripping out for our regular evening walk. 'Twas a delightful occasion. I was sans lampshade collar (aka The Abomination), and glorying in the fresh evening scents and my freedom to run. We were a little later than usual, but not enough to concern my partner. After my nightly swim in the ford, I was overjoyed to pick up the scent of the local fox, my current favoured quarry. Off I sped.

And then, it all went horribly, terribly, awfully wrong.

The scent of the vulpine maiden (for 'twas a vixen) was strong and enticing. I ran and ran and ran - and suddenly found myself in unfamiliar territory, with neither vixen nor partner. Poo and double-poo.

At one point, I thought I heard my partner calling and ran in that direction. But the trail was cold.

I ran through hedges, through streams, across gardens and roads, and finally regained a familiar path. I stopped for a rest. The sky was now thoroughly dark. I carried on trotting along the path that I knew would take me home. At the point where I had to cross a busy road, I paused to wait for a car to pass, as my partner had taught me. However, this car, after passing me stopped, and reversed towards me. The car door opened.

"Hello." said a female voice. She sounded nice. The car was the same shape as the one belonging to my partner's parents. There was a man driving and a lady in the passenger seat, I raised my snout to sniff the lady's perfume.

Hurrah!!! It was my partner's parents! Despite the fact that I was so close to home, my paws were sore and I had some thorns stuck into the flesh on my back. I decided to accept the lift and be driven the short remainder of the journey home.

As the car moved off, and then gained speed as it passed straight by the turning into the road where stood the dear little house that I shared with my partner, I became a little uneasy. Perhaps my partner was waiting for me at her parents' house...? But no! We went straight past that turning too! As we passed under a street light, I took a closer look. This was NOT the car belonging to my partner's parents. And the couple in the front were complete strangers.

Shrinking as far as I could into the back seat of the car, trembling uncontrollably, I began to cry.

To be continued.....

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Thursday 24 September 2009

Humans. What's that all about, then? Discuss.

If I was to be ushered into a room containing the finest minds in history, this is the question I would put to them.

Never has there been a species to cause such joy, and yet such bafflement, to the rest of us. And I include hedgehogs and squirrels in that statement. I shall take two recent examples to illustrate my point.

The first is that most noble of the species: my partner's mother. As you may have gleaned from my recent postings, my partner and I have not been entirely well at present - neither physically nor financially. A week or two ago, things became a little too much for my beleaguered partner. Whilst at her place of work, my partner had a rather difficult conversation with her bank (who were convinced that having only £22 per month to live on did "not constitute hardship"). After this happy dialogue, my partner telephoned her mother and burst into tears. Mother consoled daughter, and the day continued without further incident. That evening, when my partner and I returned home, we were astonished to discover that the said parent had visited - and COMPLETELY sorted out our garden! Weeds - of which there were a great many - were all gone. The invasive elder shrub in the corner had been sawn down and removed. The climbing rose had been trained across its fence properly, and new pots of plants had been thoughtfully sited on our patio. My partner and I were both astounded and cheered by this most generous act, and wept fresh tears - these being ones of humble gratitude and delight.

A few days later, my partner's mother arrived on our doorstep with a box containing packets of bulbs, and we had an enjoyable afternoon planting them in our borders. Come the Spring, all being well, our eyes should be enchanted with rows of colourful crocuses, daffodils, tulips and bluebells. New rose bushes have also been ordered and should be with us shortly.

Alas, during this afternoon of horticulture, my partner's mother uncovered the horde of dead, decaying and decayed little beasts from behind the acer tree, all of which had been left (and were STILL being left on a regular basis) as love-tokens from Chloe, mother to the kittens opposite, and source of several different kinds of terror to me. From the look on my partner's mother's face, I could tell that she thought we had been indoctrinated into some kind of sinister cult, one which revolved around the ritual sacrifice of small hedgerow birds and mammals. I endeavoured to explain the tiny corpses, as my partner's mother wordlessly reburied them, shaking her head. Unfortunately, Chloe meandered past (as she is wont to casually do on a regular basis, whenever I am in my garden), just as I was drawing my explanations to a close. When my partner and her mother took a break in their work for a cup of tea, Chloe jumped the fence (uninvited, I might add) into my garden and glared at me with a pained expression.

"Jasper, my love," she asked, "Don't you like those sweet little delicacies?"

I had been rumbled. I knew I would have to think fast.

"Dear lady," I replied, my thoughts racing, "Dear lady. Don't mistake me. I DO love such treats. I have delighted in finding those little morsels, each more appetising than the last. It is just... It is just... A-ha! It is just that I have an incredibly delicate stomach. 'Tis so fragile that I must keep a constant vigilance over what I consume, lest I die."
"Oh, my love!" cried Chloe.
"I allow myself," I continued, "Only the most frugal of diets. Some boiled rice. Maybe some poached white fish. A little boiled chicken. Perhaps some soft-boiled egg or steamed broccoli as a special indulgent treat..." I assumed my best 'pained holy martyr' expression and gazed wistfully into the distance.
"Oh, my poor, poor love." mewed Chloe, full of compassion, "There shall be no more torments left for you!" (Wahey!) "But," she continued, "I have such soft paws - would you like me to rub your poor belly for you?"
"NO!!!" I barked, a little more suddenly and harshly than I intended. Chloe may have soft paws - but sheathed within them were a set of the sharpest, cruellest claws known to dogkind (I had experienced their effects first-paw in the unfortunate rat-induced event of a few months ago), and the idea of these claws being anywhere near my belly - and therefore the immediate vicinity of my most prized treasure; my own, dear, 'Little Jasper' - was as alarming as it was sickening. The cat jumped at my sudden riposte. "Er, no, thank you, dear lady." I added, in a softer tone. "I should fear, lest any unpleasant germs pass from me, via your delicate paws, to your trio of charming kittens." I bowed politely, as Chloe purred and nodded, tripping out of my garden after a smile and a wink at me, as my partner and her mother returned to the business of bulb-planting.

But I see I have digressed far from my point. What I wished to convey above was the especial pleasure and delight conveyed from one human to another with a seemingly simple gesture, inspired by nothing but love and a desire to comfort.

Which leads me to examine an individual at the opposite end of this spectrum. And this time, a feline is more directly involved.

I refer to a cat from around the corner. This is a beast so evil that even Torquemada would quail before him. My partner and I are forced to walk past this creature every evening as we take our daily exercise. He sits at the end of our road, waiting for his partner to return from work. "Ahhhh, how sweet." I hear you think. But no. Be not deceived. For this monster is a sick demon from the very bowels of Hell. Every dog (and most of the cats) unfortunate enough to have to walk past this beast is subjected to slurs and insults of the foulest kind, delivered in language that would shame a navvy suffering from Tourette's. These barbs are always delivered in the lowest tones, inaudible to humans but all too clear to we dogs and cats that must suffer. No human will defend us helpless creatures from this scion of wickedness, as they hear and see nothing. I have witnessed grown, muscular cats from the locality running away in tears following a verbal battering from the potty-mouthed puss. The cat has thick fur of the blackest shade, and I doubt not that his soul is just as dark.

Now then. Not long ago, there came the time when my partner and I were (as usual) departing for our walk. I was girding my loins to stride dogfully past The Evil One, when a nice-looking, unassuming, older-middle-aged lady bid us good evening. My partner, never having met this neighbour before, stopped for a brief, sociable chat. It immediately transpired that this lady was the unlikely owner of the feline bastion of filth that poisoned our ears. And what do you think the nice lady had named her cat? Can you guess? Sooty? Nosferatu? Adolf? Oh no. 'Twas far worse.

Keep in your mind the image of this cat - fur black as night; mouth fouler than a hippo's cesspit; surely the living representative of Satan on this Earth.

The name of this cat is "Peaches".

For goodness' sake.

As long as I live, I will never understand what transpires within the human psyche. On the one paw, such loving and thoughtful kindness. On the other, a person who looks at the hellish black-coated demon-cat described above - and names it 'Peaches'.

For goodness' sake.

Good night.