Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sunday 28 February 2010

Hurrah!  My recovery from a grumbling belly is complete.  This is my first night of peace and it is exquisite.

My partner forbade me from mentioning this before, as she did not wish to set hearts and minds a-flutter, but she really was incredibly worried for me.  As well as the pain, I was running a high temperature and was much distressed.  As mentioned before, a botty-gland evacuation brought relief to my little chocolate starfish and, subsequently, the rest of my well-toned body.  I slept very soundly last night, and long into this morning.  I failed to rise for at least ninety minutes after my partner had got up, but she judged it best that I be left to complete my sleep.  Following a quiet, gentle day, a good walk was enjoyed and my partner was overjoyed and most relieved, on our return, to find that my temperature was normal, the unwholesome gaseous emissions have ceased, and I have stopped my relentless agonised stumblings around the living-room.  My partner's joy and relief are great in their abundance.

Not only is this a day of comfort and relief from pain, but also the celebration of a very special event.

For today sees exactly one year since my partner and I moved to our tiny but lovely new house.  One entire year.  Didn't those twelve months go quickly?!

A brief assessment:-
Do we still have boxes to unpack?  Yes.
Have we decorated our bathroom with the pretty shells we collected on our last Welsh holiday? No - not yet.
Have we still work to do in our garden?  Yes.
Have we lampshades?  No.
Is the house as completed as we would wish?  No.

But be not deceived.  The most important question of all is: Are we happy?

And the answer is yes.  Yes.  Forever yes.  We have a house and garden, in a situation we love.  We are fortunate in our neighbours (apart from the guitar-playing, whingeing fool next door).  And - above all; indeed, above everything: we are together.  Jasper and ****** - together forever.  Life gets no better.

The past twelve months have been filled with pain, trauma, and - at times - despair.  And yet we are happy.  We are incredibly lucky; and rejoice in our settled little home together.  And your - yes, you, dear reader - support, whether silent or acknowledged, has played a big part in our happiness.  Here's to the next twelve months - we hope you will share them with us.

Tomorrow, I will post the next "Evolution of Jasper" instalment.  I intended to share it tonight, but 'tis now too late and I grow sleepy.  For the next episode chronicles an episode involving me and my good friends Kipper and Rex, which was to pass into the stuff of legend in the rescue home's dogs' block.

Oh yes.  For 'twas "The Night of the Isolated Bitches".  Happy memories... but not for all... hehehehe...

Thank you (yes - YOU) for your support over the past twelve months.

Good night.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Saturday 27 February 2010

I have been afflicted with an unsettled belly since Wednesday, and passing gas of increasing toxicity, without control.  Yesterday evening, my partner decided that enough was enough.

This is where a certain Phillippines-based vet, secretary, and their furry family ( hove unwittingly into view.  I believed these good folk to be my friends; I may now have to reassess my views.

My partner recalled seeing a post on their otherwise excellent blog, which offered advice on how to "express a dog's anal sac" at home.  Re-reading the instructions on this traitorous blog-post, my partner then proceeded to grasp and then squeeze the appointed portions of my fire-escape and the botty-glands offered up their sweet nectar to the waiting absorbent paper-tissue.

I concede that I can date the commencement of my recovery to that point.  Although the recovery process is slow, I am already feeling much relieved, and less hesitant about evacuating my fragrant bowels.  However - this should not be taken as my endorsement of such methods.  Those who post instructions online for easily-led and gullible partners to read should examine their consciences.

Good night.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Thursday 25 February 2010

Something unpleasantly fishy has been going on at my partner's workplace.

At an unspecified time, some months ago, when fair England was in the height of 2009's balmy summer, one of my partner's colleagues spotted that a large white, sealed, bucket had been dumped at one of the countryside sites.  It was left there, in case the original owner returned, and was swiftly forgotten about as the long hot days passed, other more pressing concerns succeeding the matter of a discarded plastic bucket, and scrub growth proceeded on its natural course and grew over the tub.

Seasons changed; the new year began - the snow fell, and more time passed.  As the snow melted to reveal the plastic bucket once more, denuded of the scrub that had perished over the winter, another of my partner's colleagues retrieved the said container, put it into the work vehicle and transferred it to the workshop, which sits next to my partner's office, and the large, lidded, tub was forgotten once more.

Until two days ago, that is.  One of the ranger team decided to give the workshop a bit of a tidy-up.  It was a sunny, spring-like day, and the large double doors that formed one end of the workshop were open.  Ewan, Fizzy and I were happily idling about peacefully, supervising the young ranger in his work and joining in as he whistled along to tunes on the radio.  Towards the end of his labours, the ranger spotted the still-sealed big white bucket.

"A-ha!" he thought to himself (as I was later told), "That bucket will come in handy for storing sheep feed [for the winter, when less grass is available to nibble].  I will prise it open and wash it out."  For 'twas a mighty bucket, easily capable of holding around 5kg of "sheep nuts" or the "hi-energy beet-lick" pellets that my cloven-hoofed colleagues love so much.  The long-untroubled bucket was retrieved from its corner and duly prised open with a screwdriver by the unsuspecting young ranger.

It is hard to describe with precision the ensuing few seconds.  At the instant the bucket was opened, the foulest stench imaginable filled the workshop.  It hit our noses with all the subtlety of a speeding freight train striking a tiny, fragile, newly-hatched ant.

The ranger began instantly to retch and stumbled to the fresh air of the work-yard.  Ewan, Fizzy and I fled, yelping and squealing, into the neighbouring woodland.

The bucket contained old fishing tackle, a quantity of VERY dead fish, and some even-deader maggots (fish-bait).  All of this had lain untroubled, from approximately May 2009 until the moment the tub was unsealed.  Oh yes.

When we ourselves had calmed down somewhat, it took Fizzy and I a further fifteen minutes to locate Ewan.  We found him, shivering and whining, underneath a large holly bush.  It was too prickly for us to creep in to retrieve the poor fellow, so we had to try and get him to crawl out by himself.  Ultimately, Fizzy managed to coax him out by telling him that she'd procure him some cheese at home, later in the evening.  (Ewan is somewhat unnaturally obsessed with cheese).  The traumatised dog shuffled out from under the bush and Fizzy helped me to pick the sharp-pricked leaves from his coat.  We trotted hesitantly back along the bridleway to the work-yard, listening to the sound of the workshop being thoroughly cleansed with the high-powered pressure-hose.  The drains had even been opened, to speed the removal of the goo from the bucket.

As Ewan recovered, he became talkative (rarely a good sign).
"Jasper," he asked.
"Yes Ewan?"
"What sort of cheese comes from fish?"
Fizzy and I exchanged a glance over Ewan's back.
"We've done this, Ewan." replied Fizzy. "Fish are little creatures who live in water.  Cheese comes from milk, especially milk from cows."
"Oh right, yes. Brilliant."

The ensuing few seconds' pause indicated the imminent arrival of another question.
"What sort of fish comes from cheese?"
Fizzy gave an exasperated whimper and I scented trouble.  I decided to assist.
"No, Ewan." I barked, firmly. "No.  Fish have nothing to do with cheese.  And cheese is nothing to do with fish.  Milk - which makes the cheese that you like - comes from the teats underneath nice cows.  And fishes live in water, a long way away from nice cows and their milk.  There is NO cheese anywhere in the world that is even remotely connected with fish or fish products."
"Oh right, yes. Brilliant."

A further silence ensued, with Ewan's furry brows knitted tightly together as he did his best to process rational thought.  Fizzy and I exchanged more nervous glances across the back of our heavily-concentrating friend.  "There is!" proclaimed Ewan, finally, in triumph.
"Is what?" asked Fizzy.
"A cheesy fish! No - er - I mean a fishy cheese!  There is!"
"Go on." I sighed.
"Cottage cheese with prawns in!" yipped Ewan, wagging his big fluffy tail from side to side.
"Argh!" barked Fizzy. "NO Ewan!  The cheese and the prawns are separate entities!  They don't come out of the cow together!  You get the cheese and THEN you put the prawns in it!  At different times!"
I backed Fizzy up.
"After all, Ewan," I put in, "Think about all the different things you can have mixed with cottage cheese.  Herbs; garlic; onion.  And my particular favourite of course - cottage cheese with pineapple.  That's lovely in a granary-bread sandwich."
Fizzy nodded firmly.
"Oooooo... imagine that... pineapple..." said Ewan, pursing his lips to try and imagine the taste.  "But the poor nice cows... how terrible for them..."
"What?!" barked Fizzy and I, in unison.  Ewan looked back at us sternly.
"Jasper." he announced. "Have you ever seen a pineapple before?!  They are huge and spiky.  The poor cows - having to squeeze a WHOLE pineapple out through their teats along with the cottage cheese..."

I shook my head.  We were clearly wasting our time.  Fizzy rolled her eyes heavenwards.

"Get him!" yipped Fizzy, and we both chased the ever-baffled Ewan all the way back to the work-yard, pretending to snap at his heels, all three of us yapping and laughing all the way.

It was only today that the fishy smell began to fade from the workshop.  I simply adore a bit of nicely-cooked fish - easy to prepare and terribly good and healthy for one's diet.  But, I can assure you, it will be a LONG time before I permit the noble poisson to form any part of my menu once again... 

Dear G-d, the smell...


I was very pleased to note that the pack leader in the dogs' block, Kipper, did not rule his patch with an iron paw, but with an air of dignified respect.  The occasional rebellion was, naturally, swiftly and decisively squashed but, in all of our time together at the shelter, I only ever saw Kipper completely lose his rag once.  That is a story for another time.  For now, I was happy to find my paws and get settled into my place in the pack hierarchy.

I was both interested and pleased to note how well Dave and his staff understood the canine way of thinking.  Small, telling, gestures; which would ordinarily be utterly irrelevant to humans, but which mean a great deal to dogs, were carefully observed.  Things such as making sure that Kipper, as 'top dog', was given his meals before anyone else.  It made things a lot easier, especially for those dogs who were inclined towards belligerence and were minded to challenge Kipper's leadership.

Like most canine-pack leaders, Kipper had an 'enforcer' - a handsome Boxer called Rex, who had arrived about a month before me and who occupied the pen at the end of my row.  It was rumoured that Rex had been something of a performing dog before the death of his owner, which had led to his arrival at the shelter, and that Rex had even at one point had his own series on children's television.  He was certainly a clever fellow, but did not care to discuss his past.  He was not a violent dog by any means, but his strength and power meant that he was ideally formed to mete out any punishment or warnings at Kipper's behest.  His (rumoured) performing background certainly gave Rex a veritable cabinet of tricks, which he could employ to fulfil his role within the pack, right under the noses of Dave and the kennel-maids, without arousing any suspicion.  His skills were truly masterful. 

Generally, I liked all the dogs in my part of the block - but Kipper and Rex were my best friends of all.

The first dog to be adopted during my time at the home was my immediate neighbour, Topic the Basenji.  Topic was a very chirpy, affable fellow, and he was chosen by a nice couple with an 8-year-old child.  In fact, he had been "reserved" by this family not long before I arrived at the shelter, but they'd been unable to collect him, as the child had been unwell.  I was interested as to what would happen when one of our number was adopted.  In fact, it was all rather touching.  I was slightly surprised to note that there was not the slightest tinge of jealousy or bitterness from the remaining dogs as their fortunate kennel-mate was taken from his pen for the last time and walked out to his new life.  I'd expected a certain amount of envy, particularly from the longer-term residents, but there was nothing but pleasure, delight, and congratulations expressed to the chosen one as he departed.  As the departing dog walked towards the Door of Doors, Kipper would lead the remaining residents in a song of triumph, which every dog walked to the door of his pen to howl.  Kipper taught me the words, and I was delighted to join in with the song to Topic as he left to begin his new life.

The pen to my right was empty for a while, until a little scruffy mongrel-type called Jake was brought in as a stray.  He was quite quiet and preferred to keep himself to himself, but he always listened with happy, sparkling eyes to the evening conversations, jokes and songs.  The pen to my left was occupied by a young Beagle called Tag.  He was quite chatty, but not the sharpest stick in the woodpile.  You could be barking to him and you could see in his eyes when he stopped listening to you.  Still, he was generally popular.  And he knew some filthy songs.

The chief source of amusement at that point in time, although he probably didn't realise it, was Plum.

Plum was a smooth-coated little Jack Russell, somewhat overweight, whose fur was partly white but mostly an intriguing shade of brown; such as I'd never seen before (or since).  When looked at in a certain light, the brown fur looked almost dark purplish-red, hence his name.  He lived opposite me, in the next pen on the right to Kipper's, so I could only just see him by craning my neck.  Plum was affable enough, but a real oddity.  He had arrived at the shelter with a toy: his dolly.  It was a small, plastic, human, baby-doll with black-coloured skin and hair and dressed in a little flowery frock.  Plum was utterly obsessed with his dolly (we never found out her name - he only ever called her "Dolly").  He used to wash her meticulously every evening before bed, taking care to smooth down her dress and her hair.  Plum would not get into his basket if his dolly wasn't there, and he was fiercely protective of her.  One of the kennel-maids once committed the cardinal sin of thinking that Plum would like it if his dolly had her dress washed.  She was swiftly disavowed of this, however, as her attempt to part Plum and dolly led first to warning growls, snarls and, finally, a nasty bite.  Everyone left Plum's dolly well alone after that.  But that was not Plum's only eccentricity.

On my second night at the shelter, I was just beginning to fall asleep, when I heard Topic hissing at me.
"Pssst!  Captain!  Come and watch this!" he whispered.  We padded softly to the doors of our pens and Topic quietly indicated where I should look - I noticed the glint of a number of eyes from various pens, all looking in the same direction with the occasional accompaniment of some stifled giggles.  The focus was on little Plum, who was just completing his dolly's ablutions and was carefully placing her in his basket.  Plum's blanket had been pulled right out of the basket and flung onto the floor of his pen.  Then, Plum clambered into his basket, totally oblivious to his audience.  "This is the bit." whispered Topic, his eyes not leaving Plum's pen, "It's amazing.  He does it every night."

I watched, transfixed, as Plum got into his basket, then turned and grasped the edge of his blanket firmly in his mouth.  With careful diligence, he then pulled the blanket right up over his head and let go only when it was completely covering him, his dolly, and, in fact, the entire basket.  "Keep looking." whispered Topic.  I did - and saw the shape of Plum, beneath his blanket, going meticulously around the inside edge of his basket, tucking every bit of blanket edge under the pillow on which he slept.  The whole process took at least five minutes and wasn't finished until Plum was totally satisfied with the result.  Once he had succeeded in completely sealing himself in with his blanket, we heard him flop down, give his dolly a little kiss goodnight and then, almost immediately, begin to snore.

It was a bizarre and highly comical process - and the serious dedication with which Plum performed his routine just added to the humour.  Even Kipper thought it was hilarious.  Every night, those of us who could see into Plum's pen would gather to silently (save for the quiet chuckles) witness this strange ritual.

However, it was another mark of Kipper's skilled leadership that Plum was never informed that his habits were the object of our mirth - or that any of his neighbours' amusement was derisive or mean.  Any dog that looked like he might enjoy a cruel, malicious, or inappropriately mocking laugh at one of his fellows was swiftly stepped on.  Usually a look or a warning from Kipper was enough to nip bullying behaviour in its bud, although occasionally Rex was engaged to "have a word with" the offender.

Some weeks down the line, the shelter was visited by a wealthy older lady who had recently been widowed and was looking for a canine companion.  She had a slight whiff of eccentricity about her, although she was clearly also a very good-natured person (in fact, she donated some money to the shelter so that each dog could have a rawhide stick to chew as a treat - top result!).  But we all suspected who her dog of choice would be.

Sure enough, a few days later, Plum, his beloved dolly, his basket and his blanket left to begin their new lives in the lap of luxury.  Without the slightest hint of sarcasm, we sang two songs of triumph to Plum as he trotted to the Door of Doors - one for him and one for his dolly.  He grinned from ear to ear all the way.

Good night.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sunday 21 Febrary 2010

What a few days of high emotion we have had just lately in the house of Jasper.

On the positive side, I have a new follower, hurray!  Welcome Jean; glad you've found my blog.  Also, Spring is Springing up everywhere - the evenings are growing lighter; the bulbs we planted in the summer are sending up their shoots and the buds of the first croci are beginning to wink at me.

But to counteract these joys, our household has been plunged into a sudden and unexpected period of mourning.  The Grim Reaper swung his scythe in our direction and a young one was cut down in his prime.  I am almost overcome with grief.  Before I explain I should, perhaps, warn you to fetch yourself a cup of hot, sweet tea or a glass of brandy before reading on.  Tragedy strikes us when we least expect it; and, in this case, it struck in the small hours of the morning whilst my partner and I were deep in slumber.  Now you must prepare yourself.  For, whilst I innocently slept, I lost a whisker.  Oh yes.

My partner found the fallen soldier on one of my pillows in the morning.  Fortunately, it was not one of my prized black whiskers; but a white one - and I have far too many of those these days.  Yet still I grieve.  My anguish was somewhat assuaged when my partner reminded me that I would soon grow another one.  She then went on to suggest that we could have a little competition on my blog and give the whisker away as a prize.  But I could never bear to part with it.  I know that, ultimately, time will heal my grief - as I trust it will heal yours.

I must offer grateful thanks to those friends who enquired of my partner's health after the "bathroom like a butcher's slab" incident.  We both appreciate your concern.  Happily, there has been no recurrence of this and all seems well.  My partner was sore for several days afterwards, but the ministrations of the good Doctor Jasper worked its magic, and we are confident that there has been a full recovery.  'Twas an interesting, if unpleasant, episode to say the least.  But I can tell you that it will be a long time before my appetite for raw liver returns...


Taking a deep breath, I walked alongside Dave through the door and into the dogs' accommodation block.  There were several lengths of corridor, each with around nine or ten concrete and metal pens on either side, facing each other.  Each pen contained a dog, who all trotted up to the bolted metal bar door of their pens, sniffing at me curiously as I passed.  In the first corridor through the door, the fourth pen on the right was empty.  Dave opened the door and gently ushered me in.  Above the door, he pinned a white card with "Captain", "Staffordshire Bull Terrier", my age and the date of my arrival written on it.  He then went off and returned with a comfortable-looking basket and a large bowl, which he then filled with water from a watering-can.

I sniffed out my new home.  It smelled clean, disinfected and was nice and dry.  I took a big drink from the bowl and padded to the door of my pen.
"Hello."  said the dog in the pen to my right.  He was a Basenji, who introduced himself as 'Topic'.  He was very good-natured and asked me if I was alright, if I was comfortable, etc.  He then proceeded to explain the daily routine, the sort of dinner I could expect, what to do when visitors came, wanting to adopt a dog, and the best spots to head for on the daily walk.  It was hard to take it all in, but I was most grateful to him.

It only took a few days for me to be fully settled-in.  Most of my kennel-mates had a sad history which had led them to the rescue centre, and it was accepted that one did not ask about such things - it was up to the individual dog to share his experiences if he wanted to.  Few did.

A few of the dogs regularly bewailed their misfortune in ending up in the shelter; but I never did.  I felt that I had much to be grateful for. True: it was not the same as being in a house.  However, the pens were dry, reasonably warm, and clean.  Each dog had a basket and was daily provided with a simple breakfast, a walk with either a member of the staff or a volunteer helper (during which time the dog's pen would be cleaned), and a perfectly acceptable dinner.  Compared to the life I had led with my original owner, this was luxury.  No dog was beaten, taunted or threatened.  All were treated with kindness, patience and understanding.  After dinner and 'lights out', there was much chat amongst us.  Always interesting and often very amusing, stories and songs were exchanged, tales of former residents, plans for the future from dogs who had been adopted and were waiting to go to their new homes.  I soon grew settled and content in my new pack.

The undisputed leader of this ever-changing pack was Kipper.

I will admit to feeling a little put-out at this.  I had not been used to playing a subordinate role amongst dogs and I had expected that, as a young, handsome and powerful dog - and a firstborn to boot - I would instantly be proclaimed as leader in the shelter.  However, it was almost impossible not to respect Kipper.  He was five years old and of mixed lineage, I suppose about the size of a border collie but with longer fur, and his coat was mostly caramel-coloured in varying degrees of shading with a white underbelly.

Kipper was the longest-serving resident in the shelter, having lived there for well over a year.  He was friendly, sociable, intelligent and engaging.  Unfortunately, however, Kipper had been born with a congenital heart defect.  Quite a number of people had wished to adopt Kipper but had been put off when Dave had explained about Kipper's weak heart.  Kipper did not have a shred of bitterness about this misfortune.  He explained that he had accepted the fact that he would probably spend the rest of his life in the shelter but, like me, he was grateful that he was well cared-for and was philosophical about his fate.  Kipper's pen was opposite mine, two pens down to the right.  He treasured his position as pack leader and had the respect of all.

It was only a day of two before Kipper and I developed a strong friendship - and one that would lead me into a path of greater wisdom, understanding, tolerance; as well a few little joint escapades that would give me memories to treasure and smile about for the rest of my days...

Good Night.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Three cross-cultural celebrations in almost as many days.  What a good time to be Jasper.

Today was Shrove Tuesday - or Pancake Day, as preferred by gourmands such as myself.  My partner and I took supper this evening with her parents.  My partner's brother and sister-in-law, along with their children Ewan and Carys, were visiting.  Carys has just reached the age where she can pick up food with her hands to feed herself - so, naturally, I dined well this evening, hehehe...  Babes in high-chairs are so forthcoming...

Prior to that was the dawning of the Chinese New Year - Happy New Year to our friends from China!  This, they say, is the Year of the Tiger.  According to Chinese mythology, my partner is coincidentally also a "Tiger".  As for me - I am, apparently, a "Rabbit".  I am not overly-impressed about this.  However, I believe I would rather be a rabbit than a scabby old over-stuffed orange-striped cat.  And I DO love carrots... uh-oh...

Hopping Moving hastily onwards - 'twas St. Valentine's Day on Sunday; always a celebration for me - less so for my partner.  I received a bag of Valentines (cards and eats), so all was well.  My partner, however, received TWO.  And only one of them was from me.

I scent trouble...


There is not a great deal to bark about my final days at the vets' clinic.  The surgeons had done their work well and, once my broken bones had mended, the remainder of my recovery was swift.

On the appointed day, the nurse Claire and her colleagues came in with little 'goodbye' gifts for me, as they had done with Bobby.  I was profoundly grateful - for the treats and for their loving care and attention and was careful to thank each and every person.

With some difficulty, a collar was placed around my neck (then - as still now, occasionally - I tend to panic, squeal and try to flatten myself against the wall or ground when anything is about to be affixed (even by my partner) around my neck. This harks back to my first owner's previous "hilarious" game of hanging me up by my collar or throttling me until I passed out.  Perhaps I am missing out on something - but I never found this game even remotely funny.) and a lead was clipped to the collar.

For the last time, I was lifted from my cage and trotted happily, alongside Claire, out to the reception area.  But there was no kindly-faced owner waiting there for me and no tears of joy for my recovery.  There was, however, a genial looking chap with a beard, dressed in slightly shabby jeans and a t-shirt.  This was Dave.

He knelt down to greet me.  He smelt friendly and I liked the way he patted my head and spoke gently to me, so I decided he was worthy of a few licks and tail-wags.
"What a super little chap." said Dave to Claire.  He was clearly an intelligent and perceptive man.  "Who on Earth would want to hurt such a lovely dog?"  I liked him more and more.

Dave took the end of the lead from Claire and they walked outside with me.  It was vaguely recognisable from the day I'd been brought in by the Policeman, though I felt like a vastly different dog to the battered little wretch who had been carried, bleeding, through the doors all those weeks before.  I was intrigued to see that Dave had a white van, though much smaller and less tall than the one I had been used to.  Claire gave me a big goodbye hug and I bestowed a kiss upon her pretty cheek.  Dave opened the back of the van and then the door of a comfortable-looking crate inside.  Without much prompting, I jumped into the crate (privately rejoicing that my jumping skills had not been permanently affected by my injuries).  Dave told me that I was "a good boy."  I certainly was.

And, with that, he said a few words to Claire, got into the front of the van and we were off.  I was only a little put out, as I preferred to travel in the passenger seat upfront, but the journey was smooth and not too jerky.  The van smelled clean, but with lingering scents of a wide variety of dogs.  I wondered what was to come at the end of the journey.

I couldn't reach up to see out of the back window, but eventually the van slowed, turned a sharp corner, and began moving slowly down a somewhat bumpy track.  I heard the sound of someone outside closing a large gate.  The vehicle came to a gentle halt and Dave got out.  I heard snatches of his conversation with the gate-closing person: "Lovely little Staffie Bull Terrier... black and white entire male... very good nature..."  The van door opened and, all at once, the air was alive with the scent of dogs.  Bitches; bitches on heat; neutered dogs, whole dogs; friendly dogs; just dogs everywhere.  When Dave initially got out of the van, there was a volley of barking, but it was all good-natured in tone and soon quieted down.

I jumped out of the van onto some grass and Dave handed my lead to the gate-closing person, who turned out to be a dark-haired young lady wearing a navy-blue fleece jacket with "Stokenchurch Dog Rescue and Welfare Centre" in small writing on one breast.  A large sign at the gate proclaimed the same title, as well as displaying a series of telephone numbers and opening times.  While Dave was retrieving my veterinary papers from the van, the girl squatted down beside me and talked to me.
"Hello sweetheart." she said, fondling my head. "You're a handsome one, aren't you?  My name is Sarah, that man over there" (she pointed at Dave) "is the Centre Manager, David."  She led me slightly beyond where the van stood and pointed out the lie of the land.  To our right was the office block and reception area.  Adjoining the left-hand side of that, and directly in front of us, spread a larger building.  "That's the dogs' block." said Sarah.  "That's where you're going to live now.  Don't worry - we'll take good care of you."  Further down the slight hill was another, separate building.  "That's the bitches' block.  Have to keep handsome young fellows like you away from the ladies!" said Sarah with a grin, and I chuckled politely.  Off to our left there was another, smaller building, which was separated from the dogs' and bitches' blocks by a large swathe of daisy-spotted green grass.  I looked at it with interest. "That's the isolation block over there," explained Sarah, "That's where you live for a little while if you're ill or you've had an operation.  The bitches go in there when they're on heat or about to give birth."  I nodded.  "And finally," said Sarah, pointing further on down to beyond the bitches' block, to where a nice-looking bungalow stood, "That's where Dave lives.  He's the only one who lives on site.  But you'll soon get used to all the comings and goings of the rest of us."

After I had relieved myself on the grass, Dave and Sarah took me into the reception area.  Another young lady was there, wearing a fleece identical to the one Sarah wore.  She greeted me just as pleasantly as Sarah and Dave had.  I began to feel more and more relaxed, and more certain that I was not going to be beaten in this new place.  Dave put my papers on the desk and the new girl took some forms from a cabinet and started writing on them.

"What's his name?" asked the girl.  Dave replied that no-one knew.  The man had never referred to me to my Policeman rescuer as anything other than "the dog"  or "the little b*st*rd"  and neither of these were suitable names for anyone (with the possible exception, of course, of Hitler).
"We'd better think of one for him." said Dave, and all three of them looked down at me.
"Bullseye?" suggested Sarah, and the others laughed.
"Yeah, he does look like that dog from Oliver!, poor thing." grinned Dave, "But we've already got a Bullseye in at the moment.  That Jack-Russell-Cross?"
"Oh yes, of course.  Silly me."
"I like his black 'eye-patch', it makes him look a bit like a pirate captain." said Sarah.  "What about 'Captain'?"
The others readily agreed and the new name was entered on my admission form.

So I now had a new place to live and a brand new name.  "Captain".

It could have been worse, I reflected to myself.  It could have been "Fluffy".

And then, the Door of Doors was opened.  I was about to meet my new kennel-mates...

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Saturday 13 February 2010

I have been developing a theory.  It involves pigs.

The chap who farms the land adjacent to my partner's workplace has been developing and extending his piggery, at the bottom of the hill, approximately a mile away.  The genesis of my theory came about when I noticed the construction and development works at this piggery.

My theory is this: that if one were to lick (not harm in any way; just lick the flank) of a pig, one would taste the delightful flavour of bacon.  The pig would appreciate the licking - contrary to popular opinion, pigs are actually very clean creatures - and my taste-buds would be happily assailed with one of my favourite flavours in life; everyone's a winner.  I began to formulate a plan.

Alas - all my speculative plots ended in discovery by my partner and the inevitable punishments that would ensue.  I even went as far as mentioning this to Ewan (a dog owned by a colleague of my partner).  If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you will know all about the dog Ewan (diametrically opposed to my partner's delightful 5-year-old nephew, who is also, confusingly, named Ewan.  SO selfish of my partner's brother and sister-in-law to name their child without a thought to the confusion it would cause in my blog.  But some people consider only themselves.  Selfish.).  To Ewan (dog), the act of thinking and thought-processing is just something for others (the boffins) to worry about.  Ewan has an intellect that would shame a parsnip.

And yet it is impossible to hate him.  Many times, I have wished to batter him until the pea that sits in his head, where his brain should be, working the controls, rolls out of his ear waving a little white flag.  But Ewan loves and adores everyone he meets.  His simple capacity for friendliness and good humour in every part of his existence and his selfless concern and enthusiasm for the wellbeing of others more than balances out his cerebral disadvantages.  Above all - Ewan was a sympathetic listener and Fizzy, his basketmate and now (inexplicably - given her intelligence) his wife, even suggested some improvements to my piggy-plans.  But my doubts remained.  I sighed, heavily.

"Oh,"  I lamented, "If only I was in charge of the world.  Things would be so much easier."

"Well...yes..." replied Ewan, doubtfully.  "But it would be SUCH a burden of responsibility.  After all, in any given dictatorship the suppressed proletariat will inevitably revolt against their oppressors - leading to a revolutionised democratic society."

I was unable to bark.  I stared, open-mouthed, at Ewan and his sudden, inexplicable, ascent into lucidity and intellectual debate.

"Also - Jasper - consider the fate of the Capets in the French Revolution, the Romanovs in the Bolshevik Russian Revolution, and - indeed - the changing fortunes of our own Stuart royal family in the Civil War, the period of the Commonwealth, the ensuing Restoration and finally the Glorious, Bloodless, Revolution.  As Shakespeare is wont to remind us: 'Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.'  Dictatorship - however well-intentioned - is fraught with perils.  After all, deprive ANY culture of food for more than three days and you WILL have anarchy.  The example of history confirms it."

I was barkless.  UTTERLY barkless.  As I stared at Ewan, he lit a pipe, and leaned back in an easy-chair, allowing his argument to sink in.

"Oh g-d." I groaned, despairingly.  "This is a s-dding DREAM, isn't it?"
"Ah, poor Jasper." said a giant lamb-chop, as it floated past my head, "Of course it is.  Sorry about that..."

Frustrated and annoyed, I opened my eyes to a brand new day.

I refused to let my dream spoil the day, however.  This was the appointed date for Operation Piggery, after all.  My partner began to grow suspicious as she drove into work and noticed the fixed look of concentration on my face as we passed the piggery.
"What are you up to, Jazz?" she enquired.
"Nothing." I replied earnestly. "Just admiring the piggies."
"Hmmm...."  How do they always know when we are up to something?  I cannot fathom it.

She repeated her query once we had arrived at work and spied me tipclawing out of the work-yard.  I was gently propelled into the office and onto my cushion and blanket 'neath her desk.
"Jasper, you are up to something." she declared.  As I shook my head, my partner continued.  "It's written all over your face.  I don't know what it is, but I'm sure it involves those pigs."
"No, no, no!" I protested. "I have no such scheme.  Upon my honour - upon my life - I have NEVER given a thought to those pigs."

At that moment, Ewan and Fizzy's partner pulled into the work yard and the two dogs leapt from the car.  They were, of course, both complicit in my plans.  VERY foolishly, I had made up a song for Ewan so that he would remember what we were going to attempt and Fizzy had helped me to teach it to him.  We'd set it to the tune of his favourite song.  Gritting my teeth and wincing painfully, I watched my partner through the corner of one eye as the sound of Ewan loudly singing his song with carefree abandon echoed around the yard...

"If you will farm near the woods today,
You're sure of a big surprise!
If you put pigs near the woods today,
You're really not being too wise!

'Cause Jasper and Fizzy and Ewan too
Will visit the pigs who will oink "How d'you do?"
For today's the day the farmer will have his pigs licked!"

As Ewan laughed madly and began his song again, my partner looked at me with one eyebrow raised.
"Anything you'd like to add to that, Jasper?" she asked, dryly.

I flopped down onto my bed and prepared for sleep, reluctantly consigning Operation Piggery to the dustbin of history.
"No, madam." I sighed resignedly.  "Nothing to add at all."

Good night.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Monday 8 February 2010

Oh dear.  I appear to have achieved a certain level of local - albeit anonymous - infamy.

The other evening, my traitorous partner chose to go out with a small group of friends and leave me behind at our house.  Feeling initially aggrieved, my spirits soon lifted.  As she was out with her merry band of Iscariots, rootling through the house I discovered the twin delights of my partner's mobile 'phone - switched on! -

...hang on, have just looked out and seen that it's snowing.  Just have to go outside for a minute to dance about in it... that's better...

and my partner's debit card.  Well, well, well...

Some time ago, I successfully managed to place a call to my partner's friend Dolores, simply by sitting on the 'phone.  Well, then, I thought.  What is to stop me this time?  I placed the debit card close to the 'phone and beat upon the handset with a paw, until I recognised a category of numbers headed "food".  Hehehehe...  With no further ado, I bashed the 'phone once more and chuckled as I heard a ringing tone.
"Good evening, Pizza -------." said a young female voice.
"Why, good evening, my dear," I replied into the 'phone. "I would like to place an order for 27 meat feast pizzas, 12 cheese and tomato and 7 portions of garlic bread, please."
"The card number is six-"
"Is anyone there?  Who is this?"
"Yes.  Mr. Stafford.  I would like 27-"
Click! Brr-rr-rr-rr-rr-rr.

Well, that is annoying, I thought.  Perhaps it had been a bad connection.  I was about to try again, when I reconsidered and decided that, perhaps, I had a mind for oriental cuisine.  I smacked my paw against the handset until I heard ringing again.
"Hello, ----- -----." said the friendly voice of the Chinese takeaway lady.
"Good evening, madam." I replied.
"Hello.  I should like to place an order, please. 3 sweet and sour pork.  7 crispy shredded duck in Hoi Sin sauce.  16 Kung-Po chicken. 5 portions of crispy seaweed. 2 egg-fried rice and a pancake roll.  Oh - and also some prawn crackers.  That's all, thank you."
"Hello?  Who is speaking, please....?"
"Mr. Stafford.  How much will that be, please?  My card number is six-one-six..."
Click! Brr-rr-rr-rr-rr-rr.

Feeling increasingly irritated - and hungry - I decided that I might have more luck with the local Indian restaurant - a particular favourite with the townsfolk here.  Patting the handset with forced measure, I repeated the cycle.
"Good evening, ------."
"Greetings, my good man.  An order for some takeaway, if you will."
"Hello...?  Do you want takeaway or to book a table?"
"Takeaway, please.  I shall have 6 chicken balti, 3 portions of your delicious onion bhajias, 2 king prawn korma, 6 mushroom rice, 17 peshwari naan, some plain poppadums and 3 lamb jalfrezi.  Jasper's feeling spicy tonight!"
"Who is this?!"
"Jasper.  Mr. Stafford."
Click! Brr-rr-rr-rr-rr-rr.


Perhaps I may have more luck with traditional English fare.  I slapped the handset with increasing venom.
"Hello, ----'s."
"Ah!  Yes.  Hello.  Please may I  order 17 battered haddock. 8 large chips. 2 pea-fritters and 13 southern fried chicken?  My card number is-"
"What?  Hello?!"
Click! Brr-rr-rr-rr-rr-rr.

I gave up, and concentrated on trying to look innocent for when my partner returned.  I think I got away with it.  However, a day or two later, the free local newspaper dropped through our letterbox.  Uh-oh... Take a look, if you will...

This is what the full article has to say:
"---------'s restaurant proprietors were left mystified on Friday evening, after a spate of bizarre telephone calls. Pizza -------, --- ----- ----- Chinese Takeaway, The ------ Indian restaurant and ----'s Fish and Chip shop each received a similar call between 8.00 and 8.30pm in the evening.

Laura -----, a waitress at Pizza -------, received the first call. "I assumed it was someone ringing to book a table or order a pizza to take away." Laura explained. "But there was just this really weird snuffling and grunting sound on the end of the line. It went on for ages - just all these little 'wuff'-type noises. I know it sounds stupid, but it sounded like a dog."

--- ----- ----- Chinese Takeaway in ----- Street received the next call, some five or six minutes after the call to Pizza -------. Mrs. -----, the proprietor, said "Friday is one of our busiest nights, with many people ringing up to order food. I answered the 'phone and was ready to take an order, but all I could hear was grunting and growling. It was maybe a pig or a dog, I'm not sure. I thought someone was playing a trick and so I put the telephone down."

Next on the mystery caller's list was the popular ------ Indian restaurant. Waiter Mohammed ----- took the call. "It was most unusual." Mohammed told our reporter. "I would swear that it was a dog on the telephone. My colleagues all laughed at me when I told them - but I am certain of what I heard. --------- is not the kind of place where people make prank telephone calls. It is hard to explain."

The last person to receive a similar call was David -------- of ----'s Fish and Chips in ---- Street. "Most of our customers come in person, but we do get a few calls ordering food in advance. I thought it was one of them. I answered the 'phone and there was all this snuffling and snorting and sort of a quiet barking. I'd swear it was a dog. I just put the 'phone down and we all had a bit of a laugh about it. I'd have thought it'd be a cat who'd be ringing up for a bit of fish!"
Unfortunately, none of these calls could be traced - so the mystery canine caller is likely to remain just that - a mystery."

After reading this article, my partner gave me a sideways glance.  "Is there anything you would like to tell me about this, Jasper?"
"No." I responded, a little uncomfortably.  "I have no comment to make at this time."
See?  My partner can understand my words - I don't understand how it can be so difficult for everyone else.
Thwarted again.  It simply isn't fair.


Part of me quietly hoped that Bobby's owner would want to adopt me and then I could live with my new friend forever.  But, optimistic though I was, I was not an unrealistic dreamer.  I knew it could not be. And - inevitably - came the appointed day for Bobby to be discharged.  I knew that the day had come, as Claire and her fellow nurses all came in with little gifts for him and a cuddle to say goodbye.  Bobby was profuse and sincere in his thanks.

After Bobby's final check-up, he reached up to my cage before being returned to his pen.  He strained to reach, and gave my snout a big slobbery lick.  I licked him back.
"Goodbye son."  he said, with a good-natured wag of his tail. "Be lucky."
"I am already lucky."  I replied.  "I am alive and have regained my health.  And you have taught me so much.  God bless you Bobby.  I shall never forget you."
"Ah, you're making me well up!" said Bobby, giving a great sniff.
"Sir, it has been an honour to share my recovery with you."  I said.
"Likewise." replied Bobby.  "I wish you all the blessings of life that I have received."
"Goodbye Sir.  Thank you."

We didn't speak much more after that.  What else was there to bark?  At around 3pm, there was a bustle in the reception area.  Bobby's owner had arrived.

Lifting my head, I could see what was happening through the reflections in the backs of the empty stainless-steel cages opposite me.  An older, white-haired, dignified-looking man stood by the desk, together with a smartly-dressed lady of similar vintage, who I took to be Bobby's owner's lady-friend.

Claire came into the room and opened the door to Bobby's pen.  She carefully folded Bobby's blanket and put it into a plastic carrier-bag, along with his chew and his teddy-bear.  Then, she clipped Bobby's lead onto his collar.
"Bye then." said Bobby, winking at me.  His tail wagged madly from side to side.
"Bye Bobby.  Take care."

And he was gone.  The commotion in the reception area increased tenfold with Bobby's entry.  I heard my friend's claws sliding and clicking on the floor as he enthusiatically greeted his beloved owner.  Looking into the reflection, I saw Bobby standing on his hind legs, frantically licking his owner's face.  The old man's cheeks shone with tears of joy as he welcomed his newly-whole beloved pet.

I watched them go - with only a tiny tinge of envy.  I was pleased for Bobby and his survival.  Perhaps, someday, I myself would be greeted with such tears.

As for now, I heard some three days later that, once recovered, I had a new home to go to.  A place had been found for me at Stokenchurch Dog Rescue & Welfare Centre.

And now we arrive at the first point of my ability to supply the proof of my tail's tale.  A link to the rescue centre - and here it is:  perhaps the place that had the single most important effect on my life:

As to the adventures that awaited me there - and how they would shape every day of my life to come... well, you will just have to keep reading...

Good day.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Saturday 6 February 2010

Hurrah!  I see I have another new follower!  How exciting.  I contrast this most favourably with the weekend I had seven days ago, which (despite the lovely Spring-like weather) was slightly less good.

That weekend, here in England, saw the RSPB's "Big Garden Birdwatch", where one is meant to take a note of all the birds that visit one's bird-table and send it to the Society, the reason being that bird populations and activities can be monitored.  However, my schedule over this particular weekend would not permit me the necessary time to undertake this task.  Perhaps next year.  However, I did venture out into my garden in the morning on Sunday, to survey my estate, and I arrived at the base of my bird-table at the same time as one of the regular visitors alighted on the feast of nuts provided by my partner.  It was one of the nice little Robins that lives in the hedge opposite my grounds.  I was feeling particularly cheery, so I hailed him.
"Good morning!" I barked; gently, so as not to startle him.
"Hello!" He chirruped back, in between beakfuls of nut.
"What's your name, then?"
Ah, well.  At least it was original, I suppose...  My new little chum continued.  "Over there is my wife, Robin.  On that branch to the right is my oldest egg from last year - his name is Robin.  And across there in the allotments, you can see my brother.  He's called Robin.  Just to the left of him is his wife; she's called-"
"Don't tell me." I put in, "Robin?"

The little fellow looked at me as if I was deranged.
"No." he replied, sounding aggrieved.
"What is she called, then?" I asked.

"Not Robin?"
"Of course not!  That would be utter lunacy!" 


"Actually," continued Robin the Robin, as I made to myself a mental note to avoid conversing with small garden birds in the future, "My mother (who was generally known in these parts as Robin) never really did trust her.  She always suspected there was something odd about her.  But, hey, my brother liked her, so what could we do?"
"Indeed..." I replied.  "Um... would you excuse me, er, Robin?  I have to go now and be... uhh... not here."

I don't think I will ever understand birds.  I believe I shall confine myself in future to assisting my partner with simply providing food for them.

Margery, indeed.


And so our life continued for some time in much the same vein.  Three times during the week, Bobby would be taken off somewhere called the "Hydrotherapy Pool", a deep indoor tank of warm water, where a lady would get into the water with him and help him to swim up and down the pool's length.  These were the high points of his week.  Bobby explained that the swimming helped his legs and joints grow strong again.  I wanted to go with him, but my injuries weren't the same, so I couldn't.  I always enjoyed listening to him describe the experience, though.  I had never been swimming before and it sounded brilliant.

My shattered ribs were the first to heal properly - and the moment of release from the secure bindings that held me immobile was exquisite.  The stitching had to remain in place but, at last, I could shift myself around my cage.  Bobby taught me a few naughty songs, to celebrate this landmark, and we laughed as we sang them together - until one of the vets opened our door and crossly told us to "pack it in".

Not long after, my broken jaw was deemed to have successfully fused back into its correct place and, with much joy and a whole new naughty song, I was gradually introduced to solid food once more.  I learned how to walk properly again (without constantly stumbling and falling on my bottom) and - most important of all - I learned that life was an enjoyable experience, in which beatings and torture played no part whatsoever.

One day, I was fetched from my cage and taken to one of the vets' consulting rooms.  There stood Jo, my vet (the lady from the day I was brought in), waiting for me; along with someone else.  With a quick sniff and a big wag of my tail, I recognised the tall, kind young man in the dark blue suit - the man who had taken me from the van and brought me to this place of my salvation.  In between times, I had gleaned from the nurse Claire that he was what people called a "policeman".  A strange name, but I was in no position to judge.

"Blimey!" said the policeman, as he fondled my head whilst I licked his hand, "It's a different dog!  I can't believe it!"  Jo, the vet, grinned.
"I know." she said, "He's a real fighter.  He surpassed all our expectations.  Amazing."  She opened a large folder on the table, in which were held a great many big photographs, strange spooky-looking black and white images, and printed documents.  I looked down at the photo on the top of the pile, and gasped.  It was an horrifically-injured young dog.  The white fur on his back and flank was streaked with much blood, and a massive black stain on his right side indicated a bad inside-injury and bleeding.  The side of this poor critter's face had been reduced to a red, pulpy, bloody mess.  Only the eyes were bright.

"Poor b*st*rd." I thought to myself, unable to tear my eyes from the image. "He's not long for this world."  It was only when Jo picked up the picture and other documents from the folder and began to discuss them with the young policeman that I realised.  The dog in the picture was me.

"The former owner is in custody." said the policeman, wincing slightly as he glanced through the early pictures of my injuries.  "Quite a nasty character really.  When my colleague spotted him getting back into the van after we'd picked up this little chap-"  He patted my head again, and idly scratched my ears as he continued. "-the bloke was so drunk he didn't even actually notice that the side-window had been smashed through or that the dog was missing.  So we were able to make an arrest for intention to drive whilst drunk."  Jo tutted and shook her head.  The young man continued. "He didn't have insurance on the van either.  A number of unpaid fines, plus several arrests for assault on his ex-wife - she wanted the charges dropped, unfortunately, - quite apart from what he inflicted on the poor dog."
"Sounds like a real charmer." muttered Jo. "So, we sent you the X-rays a while ago, as well as copies of the injury photographs.  What's the problem?"

The policeman sighed.
"He's saying that we inflicted the injuries on the dog when we removed him from the van.  The girls who discovered the dog all provided witness statements, but he's saying we coerced them - they're all under 16.  Obviously we'd like to have a watertight case against the defendant.  He's not someone who I'd want to see walking the streets."
"Understandable." replied Jo. "I would certainly want to see him banned for life from keeping animals.  Incidentally, if you are in contact with those girls again, you can certainly thank them for saving this dog's life.  He wouldn't have lasted much longer if they hadn't acted."
"It wasn't so much the injuries, but the internal bleeding and shock.  For example, the other dog in our overnight care had far more serious injuries, but he was brought to us immediately.  This Staffie had fewer injuries, but he would have bled internally to death without intervention.  Those girls can feel very proud of their actions."
"Yes.  I'll let them know.  Thank you."
"Right then," continued Jo, "Our delightful hero is claiming that YOU did this to his dog?"
"Hmmm... claims we gave him a good hiding with our batons, to get at the chap."
"But some of the dog's injuries were inflicted hours before you picked him up!"
"It's what he's claiming." replied the policeman, sighing again, with a slightly apologetic smile.

"Okaaay..." said Jo, flicking through the items from the folder until she found what she was looking for.  It was one of the large spooky-looking black and white papers.  Jo carried it over to a flat box mounted on the wall, and clipped it up.  She then flicked a switch and the box behind the image lit up, changing how the image looked.  I was intrigued to see a picture of me - but you could hardly see my outside bits - my skeleton was showing really clearly!  When had they done that?!?  But it WAS fascinating.  Jo indicated a specific part with the end of her pen.  "Do you see this dark shading on the X-Ray here?"  she asked. The policeman squinted at it.  "It's hard to spot unless you know it's there."
"Oh yes..." said the policeman.
"Well," explained Jo. "That's healed-over scar tissue from old injuries.  Patches of it, of varying degrees of recovery and size can be seen on almost every X-Ray, all over the dog's body.  So unless your chap is going to claim that you and your colleagues have been breaking in and out of his house - undetected - at regular intervals over the past year for the sole purpose of tormenting his dog, I'm afraid that that allegation is not going to stick."

"Excellent." said the policeman, looking grim.  He glanced down at me. "Poor boy." he said. "What a life you must have led." I contented myself with licking his hand again.
"Also," continued Jo, switching off her light-box and bringing the image back to the table. "Take a look at this photograph of the dog, taken shortly after you brought him in."  She handed a large picture of my rump - not flattering - to the man.  "You can see a definite trace of part of a shoeprint on the left hind-quarter - obviously from where the owner gave him a good booting, probably the night before.  That might help, if you are able to compare the print with the defendant's shoe."

"Absolutely." said the policeman, gratefully, "Thank you so much.  Your help is absolutely invaluable.  We really appreciate it."
"Not at all.  Anything we can do to get people like this off the streets."
"What's going to happen to the dog now?"
"Well, he'll need a new home, once he's fully recovered."
"I'd love to take him myself," said the young policeman.  I felt a glimmer of hope - I liked this man very much. "But my girlfriend has got four cats.  Don't think it would be a good idea!"
Hope crushed.
"Possibly not!" laughed Jo the vet.  "What about the defendant's ex-wife?"
"We DID contact her." replied the policeman, "But she's getting married again shortly.  Her fiancé's in the forces and they're being posted overseas soon.  She didn't think it'd be fair on the dog.  She did send a cheque through though, to help out with the bill.  I gave it to your receptionist."
"Ah.  That's nice.  Well, never mind.  One of the local rescue shelters will take him, I daresay."

The policeman and the vet concluded their business, and it was time for me to return to my cage.  The young man gave me a big hug and a smile.
"Bye, mate." he said, fondly. "Good luck to you."

After one final lick of his hand, Claire came and took me back to my cage.  Bobby was over at the Hydrotherapy Pool.  I felt saddened by this last parting with my rescuer.  It was also the last time that I ever heard reference to my first owner - the man; my tormentor and, almost, my killer.  And you may be assured that I felt no sadness over this whatsoever.

So here I was.  Recovering well, gaining strength, confidence and fitness... but homeless and unwanted.  What would become of me when my veterinary treatment was concluded?  I had no idea.  But I would face it with a brave heart.  I had sniffed the bottom of death - and returned.  I could deal with anything now.  But I did crave the sensation of being wanted by someone.  Would I ever know that feeling again...? 

Good day.