Saturday, 31 January 2009

Saturday 31 January 2009

Well, I've seen it. I've even been inside it.

Yes, I have made my inaugural visit to my new house. Aside from its wonderful location (quiet cul-de-sac by the river, overlooking the allotments and watercress beds, in line with the setting sun, etc.), I have to say that I was slightly less than impressed.

The house itself is structurally good, but the state inside when I made my inspection was appalling. Suspicious marks on the wall, cracked and flaked paint all over the place, no carpets anywhere and a very large and VERY dodgy stain on the bedroom floor - it looks (and, to be honest, smells) like someone has continuously p*ssed on the floor over a number of years. My partner and I were not happy, and neither was the lady from the Housing Association. She was a fairly grim woman who made it clear from the start that her organisation would not provide assistance with cleaning and re-decorating and answered all my partner's pertinent questions with curt indifference. My presence helped to thaw her, however, and she ultimately confessed to my partner that she was deeply ashamed to be showing the house to us in its present state. She was going around with a digital camera, snapping away at the worst bits (which was pretty much the whole house).

The whole affair was rather depressing for my partner, but a quick Jasper-hug did the business, and we tried to look on the bright side.

The bright side is, in fact, directly through the French windows. The sun shines into the little living room all afternoon. Most acceptable for a light-responsive fellow like myself. My partner invited me to select what I felt would be my future favoured spot and see how I liked lying down in the warmth in my new parlour. I did not care to take up this offer because there was at least an inch of black dust on the floor. As I looked with disdain at the filth, the lady from the agency said "Doesn't the doggie want to sit on the floor?" "No, the doggie doesn't." I muttered, under my breath, "And neither would you, petal, if you had to clean yourself with your tongue." My partner smiled apologetically and we made a hasty retreat from this veritable chamber of horrors.

But, through a strange quirk of fate, the state of the place has actually worked out in our favour. Because of rent, Council Tax, and the myriad other payments that house-holding entails, my partner could not afford to sign the lease immediately (and not until after she had drastically reduced her monthly IVA repayments. Don't ask - trust me, you don't want to know). The Housing Association weren't having any of this. They categorically stated that either my partner signed straight away or she lost the property. A few days later, a very pleasant and rather humble lady from the H.A. 'phoned my partner and apologised for the state of the property. She said that the signing date would have to be delayed because they were getting people in to "deep clean" the house and COMPLETELY redecorate the whole house before my partner and I move in. Oh yes. My strategically-placed spies (of which I have many) inform me that decorators have been going in and our of the house all week, cleaning and painting. They have been accompanied by builders who have been installing all-new kitchen units. Oh YES.

My partner and I can scarcely believe our luck. My partner's mother has offered to lend us the money for carpets and curtains and that takes care of the internal décor. But this is not all our good fortune. Oh no.

Some American friends, Guy, Dee and Jennifer, are returning to the USA in a few weeks' time and they have offered my partner and I ALL of their stuff. Yes, ALL. For FREE. Washing machine, TV, microwave, vacuum cleaner, big double bed (hehehe), crockery, coffee-maker, kettle, toaster, etc. Basically all the things we need for our new abode, but which my partner could not afford due to her straitened circumstances. And they don't want payment for any of it. In fact, they are actually grateful to us for taking the goods. My partner travelled to Birmingham today, to meet with our generous benefactors and view the items. I was pleased with her report - all nearly-new, beautiful items. How will we ever be able to thank these friends enough? They have enabled us to live. And this is in ADDITION to items set aside for my partner by her parents and monetary donations from a generous granny and great-aunts.

Without wishing to scupper our present situation, my partner and I are both truly encouraged. Let us briefly re-cap:

My partner's long-held wish was for a little house, as opposed to a flat, in the town where she has passed all her adult life: We have a beautiful little house in our own town. End of terrace, in a quiet road, with the little river running right past our perfect little bit of garden.

The inside of the house was in a state that would have disgusted a pubic louse: The house is being professionally deep-cleaned and re-decorated throughout, with brand new kitchen units at no cost or hassle to us.

My partner could not afford to immediately take on the lease: The signing of the papers has been delayed to 9 February, and may be delayed again if the decorators have not completed their tasks.

My partner could not afford any household items whatsoever: Our wonderful American friends have offered us more items that we actually have room for, at no cost, and are thrilled that we can take them.

My partner's parents say that this shows that God is answering all their prayers and providing for their daughter and her Jasper. Well, it certainly seems that way; though we keep our minds about such matters wide open. But God, or whomever, definitely does seem to be smiling on us at last. Now, we have no fear about the forthcoming major change in our lives. We have only excited anticipation.

Perhaps 2009 IS going to be our year, after all...

Good night.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Wednesday 21 January 2009

I am returned to myself once more. The relief is exquisite.

I must apologise for my inarticulate last entry - I was off my whiskers on drugs and in considerable misery. I really was in the most extreme pain. I wept without cease for three days after my surgery, but began to recover on Sunday and now I am feeling better than I ever did. My stitches are due to be removed tomorrow, and I am extremely happy to report that my shaven patches are beginning to regrow. Thank heavens - this is no time of year to have half of one's body shaved bare.

Perhaps the most humiliating part of this whole affair was that the veterinary nurses used a lemon-scented soap mixture to cleanse my torn and bloody post-operative body. The vet took the opportunity of my being rendered senseless to clean out my ears with the lemon-wash as well. This annoyed me intensely - I had been collecting some of that earwax. I stank of lemon-freshness for ages after my surgery. Disgusting. Happily, I was able to make a partial return to my exercise régime after a few days and availed myself of the first opportunity to banish the citrus-whiff with a hearty roll in a delightful cocktail of exotic fecal materials in the park.

Naturally, I have maximised the appearance of my scar. It looks fairly hideous (hence no picture of it here; I do not wish to upset the more delicate reader), so I have taken care to favour that side of my body when approaching people in the park. Successfully too, I'm happy to say. An outpouring of sympathy and quality snack items from random strangers have proved to be the cream on top of the milking of my situation.

But I do not wish to trivialise this episode; I was actually very poorly indeed and am blessed in my recovery. I must say thank you again to those wonderful friends who left comments of support and good wishes on my blog and through private emails. It is impossible to overstate how much we appreciate these. I must bark an apology for not replying to them individually and hope they can forgive me; life is hectic at present for a number of reasons, of which major surgery is only one.

I must send a particular bark-out to Bailey - good to hear from you, me ol' mucker. I can't find an email address for you, otherwise I'd have lifted a leg and sent you a weemail before now. For, dear reader, Bailey and his partner achieved the most flattering mention of me on BBC Radio Oxford this morning. Apparently, some interloper was claiming to have started the world's first Dog's Blog in Abingdon.

I think not.

Bailey (a handsome Staffordshire) and his partner sprung into righteous action and contacted the show, resulting in a plug for yours truly from a suitably penitent presenter. Thank you Bailey!! In fact, I have connections to this area - my partner adopted me from a shelter for beleaguered canines in Stokenchurch, which isn't too far from the Oxford area. I was very touched that someone took the trouble to fight misrepresentation on the wireless service on my behalf. When I have made my first millions, a golden bone will be on it's way to Bailey...

I note the interesting events of yesterday from our friends across the Atlantic. I do sincerely wish Mr. Obama well and hope that he is able to live up to the things expected of him. One thing can be barked in safety, however: he cannot be any worse than GW Bush. Not that that is much of a challenge - a lobotomised parsnip would do a better job than Dubya. But what do I know? I am no political animal. A wicked little part of me will miss his gaffes - though I have to say that they would have been more funny had they not come from the mouth (and mind) of one of the most powerful men in the world. My favourite one is "I believe human beings and fish can co-exist peacefully." Dear, oh dear.

Dear blog, I have much to report. I feel as though I have been away from you for a lifetime. The most significant item of news is that my partner and I could shortly be writing this blog from our very own new house! Oh yes. This is still a developing issue, so more news will follow shortly. Suffice it to say that my partner and I have already clashed over the colour scheme for our décor.

Now that I am recovering my former strength, I can get on with all the things that I have been formulating to share with you. Including, but not limited to, my review of 2008, the interactive game "Where is Jasper?" and (I'm highly sceptical of this one) "Ewan's World of Cheese".

My partner's mother has started wearing a tartan bobble hat when out and about and, this morning, described an oven as being "cr*pped out". Should we be worried? I think yes.

Did you hear that Pedigree Chum has gone into liquidation? They have called in the Retrievers. Sorry reader, just a little credit-crunch humour there. Aren't you GLAD that Jasper is back? Oh yes.

Good night.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Monday 12 January 2009

Ohhhh.... I is sore. I hav finnishid mi operatshun this afturnoon and now the annistetik is wareing off and I is cryying, It hurts it hurts. I is wants my partnur to cuddle me wiles I crys. Its sore its sore its sore.

I goes to lie down and crys now. but I is still alivve. Yess.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Sunday 11 January 2009

Who was a good, brave, little soldier at the vets, then? In case you can't guess, the answer is: me.

Before I regale you with an account of my little adventure, I would like to say a VERY sincere thank-you to those who sent me messages of goodwill. To Lance; to Angie; to Jenny and to Mossie - I appreciate your kind words and good wishes more than I can say. As does my partner. Thank you for taking the trouble to send us your encouragement.

Here we go then...

My partner dropped me off at the surgery at 8.30am on Wednesday. I'll admit that I cried a bit when she left me, but I settled in pretty quickly. The neighbouring cage was occupied by a colourful lad of indeterminate origin called Marmite, who was in for ball-removal (poor s*d). Opposite us was a doleful-looking Chocolate Labrador awaiting a blood transfusion and, out of sight somewhere, was a young puppy coming 'round from an anaesthetic. I don't know if you know this, but when us dogs are coming out of anaesthesia, we sing. Involuntarily, but lustily. And let me tell you that this little pup really had a voice on him. He was almost worthy of Covent Garden itself. On and on he trilled, while the Labrador opposite took on an increasingly hunted look.
"How long has he been singing?" I asked.
"Two and a half hours." replied the Labrador, through gritted fangs, before he turned and put his head under a blanket. I turned to my neighbour.
"So, the day for the big chop then, eh?" I said, smiling sympathetically. Marmite nodded and sighed. "It'll be OK." I said. "I've had it done. It doesn't hurt that much. Just think of it as 'tidying up your below-tail area'. You'll have to change your name from 'Marmite' to 'Vegemite', though, eh?" Marmite chuckled at my rather pathetic attempt at a joke but, before he could reply, the nurse came in. The chap opposite withdrew his head from his blanket and the three of us looked up expectantly.
"Right then, Jasper." she said brightly. Just my luck to be picked first... As I trotted out alongside the nurse, I heard Marmite saying to the Labrador:
"After my operation, I will have to change my name from Marmite to, er, er, er Bovril!" Oh, for goodness' sake.

In the operating theatre, my fur was shaved in two places; on my neck for a blood test and on my flank for the biopsy of my lump. I sat so patiently and impeccably-behaved (naturellement) that the vet decided to risk it and do the job without anaesthetic. It wasn't the most pleasant experience, but it was swiftly over and I was ushered, amidst much admiration and praise from the vets and nurses, back to the cages.
"Blimey, that was quick." said Marmite. I nodded, feeling pleased with myself and listening happily to the nurse telephoning my partner to say that I could be collected. I sat back in my cage and listened to the unseen newest auditionee for the "Rex Factor" still trilling away unconsciously. There was a short bustle as the nurses readied the theatre table for the entrance of Marmite and the departure of his n*ds. He looked at me anxiously as the footsteps neared.
"It will be alright, won't it?"
"Of course it will." I smiled, "And just think of this: you will never, ever, get testicular cancer."
He gave a watery grin and trotted off bravely to his fate.

The biopsy results were due a few days later, but my partner was rather surprised when the vet telephoned her the next day.

Oh b*gger.

The lump is mostly fatty tissue, inconveniently sandwiched between my lung and liver. Unfortunately, it contains the presence of some rat-b*st*rd soft stem cells (try saying that quickly after you've had a drink. Bet you can't do it first time...), which are essentially pre-cancer cells. The laboratory advised removal of the lump before the cells have a chance to develop.

My partner was concerned as I am now ten years old, and big operations on a mutt after he passed the eight-mark are very risky. However, there is an unexpected up-side. My blood test revealed that (paw on wood) my heart is in perfect condition, as are my kidneys. Therefore, the risks implied in anaesthesia are no greater for me than they are for a young lad of one or two. Hurrah! (I think).

Tomorrow, therefore, marks the big day. I will be taken in for my surgery at 8.30am and, should all go well, my partner will be able to collect my sleepy self in the evening. I confess that I am a little nervous, but am fixed on positive thoughts only. And of this you may be sure: I will sing most heartily as I come out of my anaesthetic. A few enthusiastic rounds of "I Will Survive", methinks...

Good night.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Well, it took all of five days for my new year to turn into a complete crock of sh*te. I think that may be something of a record.

I daresay you have noticed by now that this is NOT the promised "Review of 2008". The review is still under review. It will be with you shortly. But I grow sleepy, so I shall move straight to the point.

The other evening, whilst my sleeping form was being gently stroked by my dozing partner, something was detected amiss. My partner's dainty fingertips located a rather large, lumpy mass on my left flank. I was spirited off the the vets' last night and prodded by one of my surgeons.

Oh dear.

'Tis a large lump, nestling betwixt my lung and liver. The b*st*rd.

Although, I have to say that it does not hurt (apart from when I am being firmly prodded). But the upshot of the business is that I am to be ushered back to the vets' tomorrow morning for a needle biopsy, to be taken whilst I lie under sedation. I have to stay there ALL DAY and I have not been allowed any food since 9.00pm this evening.

My partner has said that I can have the good pillow tonight, which is very kind of her. I mean, I would have taken it anyway but it is reassuring to know that my appropriation of it has her blessing for once.

In one way, I am looking forward to the sleep. I have not slumbered too well of late. Since AOL closed the blogging facility and forced me to move to Blogger (still happy about that though), I have lost readers in vast swathes. I have dropped at least twenty places in the ratings and am sinking further. Is it me? Am I truly grown so irksome? I am barking to my partner about giving up the whole blogging business. She says I must take heart, though, and not despair. We very much love and appreciate the readers we DO have. And my partner says that, when I am feeling better, she will look at some new ways for me to advertise my blog - so I can turn my mind to this as I lie on the table tomorrow. Perhaps the sedative drugs may inspire me.

I am not afraid. But I am concerned in one respect. This will be the third time I have undergone a surgical procedure. Last time it was trivial, but on my first visit to the operating theatre I lost a couple of very dear friends of mine to the veterinary scalpel. I grieve for them still.

Good night.