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.