Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wednesday 29 September 2010

My canine chums Ewan and Fizzy were back in the office the day after my encounter with the electric fence.  I described my experience, while they listened politely.

Fizzy, who had never before encountered an electric fence, professed a great desire to see one.  It was decided that, at lunchtime, I would escort her down the bridleway to take a look.  Ewan jumped about excitedly at the prospect of this adventure.  I asked him if he'd ever seen an electric fence before.
"Oh, yes!" he yipped, happily.  "I've seen loads and loads and loads!"
I nodded, doubtfully.
"I like a boiled egg for my breakfast!"

Fizzy and I exchanged a baffled glance.
"Ewan, eggs come from chickens." I said.
"Oh, right. Yes. Brilliant. Chickens."
"They don't come from electric fences." added Fizzy.
"What don't?"
"Eggs!" I barked, irritably.
"I know."  said Ewan, shaking his head solemnly at me.  "Eggs come from chickens."
"So where does the electric fence come into it?" enquired Fizzy.
"What's an electric fence?  I've never seen one of those before!  Is there one near here?!  Can we see it?"

I walked away - it was all I could think of to keep me from giving Ewan a smack.  Fizzy resorted to her tried and trusted method of telling the marshmallow-headed Ewan that he was tired and needed to be asleep.

A few hours later, at the appointed time, Fizzy and I walked side-by-side down the bridleway with Ewan capering around us.  We arrived at the badger-sett, to find that the badgers had been busy laying out all their bedding, to give it a good airing.  Ewan was fascinated and sniffed over every inch of hay, sheep-wool and other associated matter.  We were almost in danger of running out of time and facing the prospect of having to return to our office without getting as far as the electric fence.  In the end, I decided it was best to chivvy the inquisitive Ewan along.  Not because I was desperate to reach the fence, but because I could see the cogs turning in Ewan's limited reasoning - both Fizzy and I were too broad-shouldered to be tempted into an invasion of the large sett, but Ewan was gangly (and daft) enough to hazard a more detailed exploration.  Generally, I don't tangle with badgers (if you've never seen one for real, you'd probably understand why.  They're a lot bigger than you think) - and I had no desire whatsoever to have to explain to an angry head-boar of a principal sett why one of his access tunnels was plugged with a grinning idiot, who was irritating the sows and cubs with ceaseless cheese-talk.  Fizzy lent an eager paw and we managed to move Ewan along.

I quickly found myself at the fox-path entrance to the field once again.  I pointed out the electric fence to Fizzy, who observed it with great interest.  We looked at each other - and then at Ewan.  Fizzy read my thoughts in my eyes and flashed me a surreptitious, conspiratorial grin...
A moment's digression, if you'll indulge me.  I was intending to post this in any case, but I note that my friend Lance has forestalled me in his comment on my previous blog-posting.  In addition, I am aware that some readers may suspect me of cruelty towards pea-brained chum, Ewan.  I can almost hear keyboards being sharpened now, in order to chide me for my actions.  But I appeal to you now:  please be completely assured that I am fond of Ewan, for all his shortcomings, and if I thought that there was even the remotest risk of him being seriously hurt or distressed, I would never have attempted such a prank.  I enjoy a harmless prank or practical jape - but I will never, ever, allow such jests to escalate into bullying or malice.  I ask you to keep this in mind, and judge me not with harshness.  I thank you.

I pointed out the electric fence to pretty Fizzy.  She studied it intently, registering in her mind the regular clicks and hums of the current through the strands of wires, subtly nodding as she comprehended the premise of an electric fence and its purposes.
"Hey!  Ewan!" barked Fizzy, after a few minutes.  (See?  She started it, anyway).  Ewan bounded up to us, tail wagging wildly, abandoning his investigation of the badger-sett.
"What?!" he yipped.
"Look at those fence strands, in the field there." continued the diminutive black Labrador bitch.  "What d'you think they're for?"
"Ooooo..." replied Ewan, staring intently at them.
"Yeah, Ewan," I added.  "They're a bit mad, aren't they?  They're a fence - within a fence!"
The good, simple-minded, Ewan puffed out his chest.
"Stand aside Fizzy, Jasper!"  he barked, loudly.  "Don't you fret.  I will investigate!!!"

Fizzy and I winked at each other as Ewan squeezed himself through the fox-gap in the outer fence, into the field.  He lowered himself to slither under the lowest strand of electrified fence and stood in the inner-section, his vast, bushy tail resting against the inner-fence strands.

I swallowed a mild tinge of guilt as Fizzy and I waited for the inevitable...

It came.  But NOT, in any way in the manner we'd anticipated.


Ewan squeaked and his body stiffened as the current entered his body via his tail and passed through his body.  He stood bolt upright, raised his snout, and in a loud, clear voice, barked:

"Occam's Razor states clearly 'Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate', from which we may conclude that the simplest, most straightforward explanation for an event or observed phenomenon which appeals to the fewest variations or unexplained theories and/or miracles is considered to be the most-likely solution."

Fizzy and I stared, barkless, at each other whilst Ewan coughed, spluttered and caught his breath.  He wagged his tail and grinned broadly, but did not move away from the inner-fence.  As he turned and beamed stupidly at us both, the current moved again.


Once more, Ewan's body twitched instinctively.  Once more he stood upright and firm.  His voice sounded clearly for a second time:

"Einstein's Theory of Relativity has not yet become an everyday application in this lifetime. Relativity predicts concepts that are not tangible with current technology.  In time, perhaps, such concepts will become as commonplace as Newton's apple-generated conclusions."

As the electric charge left Ewan's body he stumbled a little, but continued wildly wagging his tail.  Fizzy and I, however, were altogether more effectively stunned.  In fact, Fizzy was so shocked that she had to suddenly sit down.  I could not think of a single sound to bark and merely gaped, open-mawed, at my friend Ewan.  Before either Fizzy or I could react:


Another little squeal, a quick glance back at us and then, as clear as before:

"In any given capitalist environment the disenfranchised proletariat will revolt against the repression of the bourgeoisie and, after a brief period of socialist rule, emerge in a classless society governed by the community corporation."

I was the first to move.
"Fizzy," I barked, ashamedly. "We have to stop this.  It's bordering on the cruel."  Wordlessly, Fizzy nodded, and we summoned Ewan back to the bridleway.  He trotted back to us without complaint, coughing and wheezing very slightly.
"What just happened?!" he muttered, dazedly, still wagging his tail.
I wasn't quite sure what to reply.  Fizzy was noticeably avoiding my eye as she trotted back towards the office behind us.

"Sorry, Ewan." I replied, sheepishly.  "I don't think that fence was normal.  I really am sorry."
"That's ok, Jazz!" yipped Ewan, giving me a good-natured lick - which I felt I did not deserve.  "To be honest, it did smell a bit funny.  Between ourselves," he continued, leaning towards me and whispering conspiratorially, "I think electric fences are a bit boring.  I don't know why Fizzy was so interested in seeing one.  Don't say anything, though.  I don't want to disappoint her."
"Ok, Ewan." I replied, grinning at my good-natured friend.  "Our little secret, eh?!"  My chum nodded and winked at me.

I felt more relieved that I suspect I deserved to be.  Fizzy continued to trail behind us.  After about five minutes, when we had almost gained the work-yard once more, Ewan turned to me again.
"Jasper?" he asked.
"Yes, Ewan?"
"What about them?"
"Would you say they are more of a vegetable - or a mineral?"

I grinned, almost as widely as Ewan often does, with a vibrant wag of my tail.  The dear, affectionate, unrepentantly-idiotic Ewan that we ALL know and love was back!

"Ewan,"  I sighed happily, in reply, "I think they are a bit of both..."

Ewan nodded confidently, and we returned to the office - having shared a uniquely bizarre experience.  An experience, however, that has helped me to better understand that I love and cherish simple Ewan just the way he is...

Good night.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Saturday 25 September 2010

I find that I have been deceived as to the true nature of my partner's "song-bird", discussed in the previous entry.  It was not, I now know, affiliated with an avian specimen but, rather, an awkward condition associated with human "ladies' bits".  This revelation did not please me.  At the first opportunity, whilst my pox-addled partner slept, I downloaded a wee-mail onto our clean bedsheets, making sure that a bit of it went on her leg.  She woke with a start and sleepily began to clean up (I pretended to be asleep), glaring at me and muttering darkly about "canine napkins".  Witness for yourself: Jasper's in Trouble...

But away with this madness!  For I have a most interesting episode involving meat-headed chum, Ewan, to relate.

To set the scene:- some days ago, Ewan and Fizzy (dogs belonging to one of my partner's colleagues) and their partner were having a day off.  At lunch-time, my partner and I took a walk in the woods together.  For one part of the path, just beyond a large and very active badger-sett, the bridleway lies between the woods on one side and a large field, empty at the present time, but generally full of sheep.  I had never been into this field before but, on this occasion, I noticed a recent fox-path giving easy access under the wire fence into the field.  Having run on ahead of my partner, and the field being empty of sheep, I decided to check it out.  I successfully slipped under the wire and trotted further into the field.  A few rabbits were taking advantage of the early-afternoon sunshine and were enjoying a lively game.  I decided to stalk them.

Approximately three metres away from the outer wire fence, another wire-type fence ran all the way around the large field.  Keeping my eyes fixed on the young rabbits in the middle of the field, I crept under the lowest strand of the fence, stopping still as a couple of the rabbits turned and looked in my direction, crouching under the wire, which seemed to be emitting a low hum.  All of a sudden, there was a click and I felt a sharp jolt, which shuddered through me.  It was as though I had received an unexpected smart slap on my rump.  Squealing in surprise, I leapt away from the fence.  I stared at it as it continued to hum.  At regular intervals, another soft click would sound.  I sniffed cautiously at the lowest strand of fence - only to receive another shudder-inducing zap on my snout.  This was my first encounter with an electric fence.  The shocks were not especially painful, but unpleasant enough for me to understand that such fences should be left well-alone in future.

Taking care not to touch the wire again, I slithered back under the inner fence.  It did not escape me that a couple of the rabbits grinned and gave me a cheeky wave as I retreated to the outer, non-electrical, fence.  I declined to waste my breath in shouting angry profanities at them, so I rejoined my partner on the bridleway.

As we proceeded on the rest of our walk, the more mischievous of the wheels in my mind began to turn and plans for a cheeky little "experiment" took shape...

To be continued....

Good night.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Well, well, well.  It seems that my partner is going to have to admit that she was completely in the wrong regarding the ghost-buzzard scrattin' away in my airing cupboard, which has been tormenting my sanity since early August.  Oh yes.

My partner did not get a single wink of sleep last night.  She kept fidgeting about, getting up to go to the bathroom and coming back again and was in a general state of agitation.  Nothing seemed to soothe her.  I merely concentrated on pretending to be fast asleep and trying not to look smug.   I overheard her talking to someone about her predicament.  Although I didn't catch all of what was said, I distinctly heard her mention something to do with "a thrush".

Later, once the acceptable part of the day had dawned, I watched as my partner - in a distinct state of crossness - stripped our bed of its linens and put them in the washing machine, replacing them with cleaned, fresh coverings.  And yes -  yes, my friend, - this involved her in having to pay a visit to our airing cupboard.  There was my first clue.  I also heard my partner muttering about aggravating itchiness - "itching", as we all know, is another word for scrattin'.  A second clue.  At work today, I mentioned the subject to Fizzy.  Sympathetic to my ghost-addled predicament and anxious to make amends for our previous disagreement over the kittens, she helped me to get a reference book down from the bookshelf in the office and together we looked up "a thrush".  It is, apparently, a charming little song-bird with a beautiful voice. My third and final confirmatory clue - if one were needed (which it wasn't).
"Ah-ha!" I cried triumphantly, "That's where I've been going wrong!  It isn't a ghost-buzzard - it's a ghost-thrush!  I knew my partner would have to admit that I was right all along in the end!  Jasper Stafford is vindicated once more!"
"You're SO clever, Jasper!" coo-ed Fizzy, admiringly.  Ewan spoiled my moment of triumph by laughing and snorting when he saw that the Latin family-name for the Thrush is 'Turdidae'.  But, at least, now that my partner agreed with me that the ghost-bird (whatever its species) was real, steps could be taken to finally get rid of the hellish spectre.

My partner decided that some kind of holy cream, which could be procured quite easily, was the answer to our problem.  I can't remember the name of the stuff, but I think it came in a "canister".  I followed my partner upstairs, to watch her spread this miracle cream which was to exorcise our phantom and restore my peace of mind.  However, when I saw where my partner was applying this cream, I became doubtful as to how that was supposed to be dealing with the ghost-thrush.  My partner seems much happier now, though, so perhaps this somewhat unorthodox method will prove ultimately successful.  I am still looking forward to her abject apology and admission of the fact that I was right all along.  Never doubt the perceptive and superior mind of Jasper.  Oh no.

This triumphant episode has led to the postponement (again, for which I apologise) of my next Evolution instalment (as well as that of the tale of Ewan becoming inadvertently wired-up to the National Grid).  I will endeavour to complete those editions tomorrow.  But I am sure you will agree with me that such an epiphany in my partner's understanding cannot go un-remarked.

I do concede that I had mistaken the species.  But ghost-buzzard or ghost-thrush; this cream will, once and for all, banish the phantom feathered-one from our temporal world back to the realm of the spritual, from whence it fluttered.  What a happy day!

Good night.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Monday 20 September 2010

I am beginning to think that the perennially lovely and wise Angie might have a point.  I saw my girlfriend, Candy (the chocolate Labrador), for the first time in ages a few days ago - and I was both stunned and distressed by her appearance.

I was walking with Maisie last Wednesday and encountered my belovèd, with one of her partners, at a favourite bridge over the river that flows through the town.  I was barkless.  Her fur had lost its rich, deep, velvety chocolate colour and had paled significantly.  She was thin - almost skeletal - and she sat with her bloodshot eyes closed against the sunlight as Maisie stopped to chat with Candy's partner.
"My dear love!" I gasped, running to my sweetheart's side and sniffing her over.  She bore a strange, medicinal, metallic scent.  "Whatever has happened to you?!"
Candy slowly opened her eyelids, almost as if they were intolerably heavy.
"Jasper..." she croaked, sounding like the very epitomé of a raddled old crone.
"What happened?!" I repeated.
"I just got out of the vets' yesterday." she replied.  "I've been staying there all week.  Gastroenteritis.  I was on a drip for four days.  I nearly died."
"Whatever is Gastroenteritis?!" I yelped.  It sounded awful.
"A whole heap of 'you-do-NOT-want-to-know'..." replied Candy.  "I'll be fine, given time..."

I bade her farewell, shocked and distressed at her appearance.  And I haven't seen Harvey in ages, either.  Apparently, he has been grief-stricken by the death of his best friend, Starsky.

I am working on ways to pull myself and my saddened friends from our shared despair.  Time is a healer - and it will help us all, in due course, I daresay.

Good night.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Dear, oh dear.  No sooner am I unwittingly ushered into widowerhood - than the icy fingers of fatherhood come scrattin' at my door.  It's so unfair.

By way of explanation: a few weeks ago, three semi-feral kittens were born within the haystack in my partner's work-yard (my partner's colleagues maintain three conservation grazing herds - two of Manx Loaghtan sheep and one of Highland Longhorn cattle - and their diet is supplemented with hay and sheep-nuts during the Winter months whilst grasses are sparse).  The kittens were blissfully ignored until the weekend - when their feral mother (the "semi" part coming from the insatiably randy tom who lives at the farm opposite the depot) was tragically killed in a road accident.  Since then, Ewan and Fizzy's partner has been feeding them.  The idea is to humanely trap them, have them neutered, and then either release or find new homes for them.  I'll admit that there does tend to be something of a 'rat problem' on the premises over the Winter (I killed one of the b*st*rds myself, just before Christmas last), and a semi-feral cat may be a useful addition to the team.  Because - of course - once rat or mouse poison is put down, the toxins are introduced into nature's food-chain.  I wasn't allowed to eat the rat that I bagged, in case it had been poisoned beforehand, and one of my partner's colleagues brought back to the office a dead snowy-owl in perfect condition (yes - it had been poisoned via the mouse it had lately consumed).

Fizzy is livid.  She is desperate to stalk and kill the kittens, but Ewan - for the first time in his life - has taken a stand against her and I'm siding with him.  I would never have intended to kill the kittens myself, and I was keeping a low-profile eye on them. They are now too big to be in any danger from rats, but a plucky weasel could still be tempted to try for a hard-won dinner, so I make it my business to check that the toddlers are well at various intervals during the day.  I was snoozing 'neath my partner's desk yesterday afternoon, when the most frightful shouting and growling woke me.  Fearing lest a rogue aggressive dog had strayed into our yard, I jumped up and dashed outside.

Seeing only Ewan and Fizzy, I wondered what had happened - until I looked closer and saw that Ewan was in an uncharacteristically aggressive stance.  He had his back to the tarpaulin-covered haystack and was hissing viciously at Fizz-Bang every time she tried to pass him.
"No, Fizzy, NO!" insisted my simple friend, in a respectful but defiant tone.
"Ewan!" snarled Fizzy, "Out of my way, or I'll bite your nose!"
"You will NOT hurt them!" replied Ewan, "They are babies!  Little babies!  And their mummy is died!  I won't let you hurt them, and I don't care even if you bite me on my willie!"

Both dogs turned as I trotted towards them.  Ewan stiffened his defensive stance.  Fizzy wagged her tail.
"Thank goodness!  Jasper!"  she barked.  "Come and help me beat some sense into this meat-head."  I stared back at her.  Then slowly, deliberately, I turned on my paws and went to stand beside Ewan, my back also to the haystack.
"Sorry, Fizz." I replied, not in the least bit apologetically, "But you'll have to batter your way past two meat-heads if you want those kittens.  For I'll never turn on defensive, helpless, motherless babies."

Fizzy backed down, muttering curses, and stalked off to her bed.  I knew the kittens were safe - Fizzy might defy either one of us individually - but never Ewan and I acting in unison.  The daft but good-hearted Ewan watched her go and then fell on me, licking my ears and wagging his mad tail.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" panted the gangly dog, "I thought you were going to help Fizzy beat on me! Thank you Jasper!"
"Urgh!  Gerroff Ewan!"  I spluttered, trying to push him off, "The kittens are watching!"  When I barked that, the three little ginger heads retreated under the wooden pallet on which stood the hay - but their little blue eyes continued to watch...

Two of the three kittens
 I will keep you updated with any kitten developments as and when they happen.

Prior to these feline shenanigans, I took advantage of a quiet afternoon - whilst Ewan, Fizzy and I were basking in the sun-drenched yard, to confide in my friends about the spectral baby buzzard whose ghostly presence still haunts my airing cupboard.  I had given up seeking solace in my partner; she felt that my waking her up at regular intervals to go and check the cupboard for me was becoming "unmanageable".  Perhaps waking her up on three separate occasions after 2.00am on a work night was a little extreme... but there was no need for her to threaten me so...  She told me that if I woke her up again for spurious reasons then I would have to spend the rest of that sleep alone on the kitchen floor.  And if I ever use the word "scrattin'" in her presence again I am, apparently, also guaranteed a spanked-bottom.  Each time I tried to protest, she repeated the same tiresome mantra: "There's no such thing as ghosts."  But you and I, dear reader, WE know differently...  It's got so bad now that I refuse to go up our stairs and past the cupboard by myself in the dark - even if I am especially tired.

I explained my impossible and sleep-deprived predicament to my two friends, who both sat up to listen, with sympathetic sounds and concerned looks.  As I finished my phantasmagorical tale, Ewan began to assume a bizarre expression as his facial muscles contorted together in his effort to think logically.
"What... if..." he began eventually, and with the strain evident in his voice, "Why don't you get a priest in?"
"Eh?!"  I barked, as Fizzy nodded in agreement with Ewan.
"Me and Fizzy and our people were watching a film a few nights ago," explained Ewan, beginning to pant with the effort of mustering coherent thoughts.  "And horrid stuff was happening and they got a priest in to sort it out."
"They did." concurred Fizzy.
"Well, did it work?" I asked, the wheels in my head beginning to turn.  I have, of late, been engaged in promotional work for a "pet service" at the local church, which takes place next Sunday.  My presence is expected at this event (they need a "celebrity" to kick off the event and my diary was regrettably free) - I may avail myself of this opportunity to enlist the local priest to my cause.

"It's called an extortionism." continued Ewan.
"An 'exorcism'." corrected Fizzy, quietly.
"Oh, right, yes.  An extorcism."
"Yes, but did it work?!" I barked, impatiently.
"Don't know." shrugged Ewan.  "The film was too scary for me so I went away after a yukky bit and played with my toys instead."
I turned to Fizzy.
"Sorry Jazz." said Fizzy apologetically, "It was late and I fell asleep before the end."
"Oh, bl**dy hell, Fizzy!"
"Well, if it's any consolation, it did seem to be working..."
"Worth a try, I suppose." I decided, "I'm running out of options."
"Yes." nodded Ewan  "Or you could always tempt it out with some cheese."

Ah yes.  I was wondering how long it would be before Ewan returned to his favourite subject.

"The priest?!" I enquired.
"No!" barked Ewan, scornfully, "The ghost!  You could get some ghost-cheese!  Why do you need a priest?"

Fizzy and I just gaped at Ewan.  At last he muttered, almost to himself, "Of course!  He would need a priest to bless the goat cheese....!"

I felt a sudden chill, as the late summer sun disappeared behind a soft, grey, drifting cloud...

Next time: Definitely the next Evolution episode (running late due to the kitten-situation) - and some rather unexpected results ensue when 2,500 volts of live electrical current pass through Ewan's body...

Good night.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sunday 12 September 2010

It is with a profound sense of loss that I announce the death of my wife, the Springer Spaniel, Isolde.

She had been poorly for some time, following an operation, ultimately succumbing to pneumonia a few days ago, after losing all will to eat and drink.  I grieve for her.

Our Wedding
Rest in peace, my beautiful Queen.  The day of our reunion will come one day, and we shall once again run side by side.

I suppose that Candy will be pleased - I have now been pre-deceased by all of my wives, so she is going to think that her way is clear.  I suppose I have been keeping her waiting long enough.  As long as I remember to avoid using Rosie's name in her presence...

Mrs. Isolde Henderson-Stafford
(1999 - 2010)

Good night.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Saturday 11 September 2010

New York City

Washington D.C.

Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Rest in Peace.

I started this blog, back in August 2006, with grand designs and high hopes.  I wished to carve out my chosen career as a canine writer.  In terms of meeting and sharing with friends, I have realised those hopes.  Angie, Lance, The Secretary, Mads, Bailey, Keetha, (and Bridget - I know you're out there!) and all of you - YOU, who is now reading this, you have enriched my life.  But no-one in the media world, it seems, is interested in the idle chatter of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

But no-one can tell what may happen in the future.  Perhaps, some time after I am gone, someone will stumble across these old musings of mine and take the time to read what a long-dead dog had to bark for himself.  Should this happen - and someone, in years to come, has a look at what ol' Jasper had to bark for himself on 11 September 2010, I want - on this anniversary day in particular - to ask the following:

WHY?  Don't you realise what you humans are doing to yourselves?  And to the planet we all share?  It doesn't ONLY belong to humans, you know.

Whenever we see any form of human insanity: racism, bigotry, genocide, terrorism; be it the Nazi atrocities, the massacre of Tutsis in Rwanda; the evil perpetrated by American troops in My Lai (Vietnam), the 11 September USA and 7 July 2005 London attacks, or some nutter announcing a public burning of the Koran (inflammatory in more ways than one), the animal kingdom cries with one united voice: "Please STOP!  Can't you see what you are doing?"  Species matters not - cat, dog, rodent, bird, reptile, fish, mammal, marsupial - predator and prey cry out together: "No!"

Remembering all September 11 2001 victims today - human (2,996) and canine (1).  I have provided a link to the song written to honour the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93.  You may care to take a moment to follow the link and listen to the piece, in contemplation of their sacrifice.

Good afternoon.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Where to begin...?  In matters concerning my dimwit but lovable doggy friend, Ewan, one NEVER knows where to start.

Before I turn to his plans for dealing with the Ghost-Buzzard, which is presently tormenting my sleepless nights, I believe I shall take a paw back in time to yesterday.  Fizzy the pretty black Labrador (Ewan's basket-mate), Ewan and I were playing a lunchtime game along the bridleway that goes into the woods from my partner's workplace.

Now then.  Anyone who knows me intimately will recall that one of the things I love best is a nice fresh, crunchy, salad.  I enjoy tomatoes, radish, cucumber, beetroot, etc., but when none of these delights are close at paw I will often substitute a tasty grass snack (not, I hasten to bark, the sort of 'grass' that can win you a night in the cells - I prefer to take that in smoke-form, hehehe....  just kidding Mr. Plod!).  I understand that some canines will only consume grass for the purpose of temporary relief from belly-ache through vomiting.  Not so Jasper H. Stafford.  I often enjoy a graze and several mouthfuls of the fresh green stuff.  Oftbetimes this can lead to trouble at the exit-route of my digestive system, where long strands of grass are wont to dangle after the laying-out of dog-eggs, but - hey! - that's what partners and baby-wipes were created and united for...

After a few good rounds of 'Tag' with my two friends, I opted for a snack whilst Ewan investigated a scent elsewhere and Fizzy went into labour with a batch of fresh dog-eggs.  Ewan swiftly became bored with his search and meandered over to watch what I was doing.  My mouth was too full to bark politely, so I just grinned and nodded at Ewan.  He wagged his tail and grinned vacantly back at me.

After studying me for long enough to feel that he understood what, and the reason why, I was munching, Ewan decided to sample an entire mouthful for himself...


I find it difficult to describe precisely the sensations that Ewan experienced.  That is because I, personally, have never grabbed an entire mouthful of blackberry brambles in my mouth at any one time.  After grasping and nipping-off what he believed to be the same type of stuff as I was chewing, poor Ewan's squeals echoed throughout the woodlands.  His whole body contorted with pain, before he righted himself and fled back to his bed.

Fizzy followed him immediately and, with the utmost care and patience, unhooked the prickles impaled in the tongue and palette of her belovèd, whilst the dog himself lay whimpering and crying.  Once she had comprehensively liberated Ewan from the consequences of his misguided actions, Ewan happily slept-off the memories of his pain within the consoling warmth of his lovely Fizz-Bang's embrace.

An hour or two later, Ewan came up to me with a serious look upon his face.
"Jasper." he announced, sternly, "I honestly don't know what you see in that green stuff.  Self-harming is a sign of psychological problems and is never something you should resort to."  He made as if to walk away - and then turned back with an after-thought: "You can always talk to me, Jazz.  If anything is bothering you.  I know you aren't as clever as me - but I'm here for you, anytime.  Know that."

I wasn't exactly sure what I should bark in reply.  Ewan, as always, meant well, no matter how gravely he had misunderstood things.  Finally, I settled things by wagging my tail, grinning widely, and saying:
"Ewan.  You are absolutely right, my friend.  In future, I will stick with simple, cheese-based, solutions."

Ewan nodded confidently.
"You and I both know that is the wisest thing." he remarked.

With a wink at Fizzy, who was hovering unobtrusively in the background, I concurred.

Until next time, my friend.

Good Night.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Monday 6 September 2010

Our favourite pea-brained dog very nearly met a nasty end this afternoon.  'Twas only the vigilance of your humble author that spared him from an unpleasant, painful, death.

Long-time readers of this blog may recall that Ewan - the lovable but empty-headed dog belonging (together with Fizzy, Ewan's basket-mate) to one of my partner's colleagues - has an inexplicable and somewhat delusional passion for cheese.  He's obsessed with the stuff.  No-one (least of all Ewan himself) knows why or how this came about, and his theories as to the cheese-making process are wide-ranging and random, and totally unconnected with milk or any other dairy products.

Ewan invites his friends to join him in a game of football
This afternoon, following the luncheon break, Ewan had somehow procured himself a wedge of cheese (probably a gift from his owner).  It was laid out on a small sheet of Clingfilm and Ewan was sitting over it.  I was intrigued by what followed (never actually having seen Ewan with a piece of cheese before).

Fizzy dozed nearby, occasionally opening one sleepy eye to watch her basket-mate with resigned indifference.  I was fascinated, and torn between watching Ewan and debating as to whether I could steal a piece of his cheese.  It was a rectangle of deliciously-scented mature Cheddar.

Ewan spent a full fifteen minutes praising the piece of cheese, enumerating its many good qualities and apologising to it for the fact that he was going to eat it.  Finally, he bowed his head (-this was my chance!-), barking earnestly "For what I am about to receive, may The Lord make me truly thankful..."  and, still with his eyes closed, opened his mouth to take a bite of his cheese.

At that precise moment, an immense hornet bumbled its way down from the sky and alighted on the cheese - directly below Ewan's mouth.  It was too late to slap the cheese away from him and - in any case, even I think twice before annoying a hornet.
"EWAN!!  NO!!!"  I bellowed, leaping up and throwing myself at the dog.  I knocked him to the ground, where he lay, whimpering, on his side.  I fell on top of him.  Fizzy was up in an instant, growling and snarling.

"Jasper!" thundered Fizzy, her fangs glittering and her eyes flashing.  "What the f***ing hell are you doing to my Ewan?!  You'd better have a bl**dy good explanation for what you've just done!"

Ewan and I untangled ourselves and got up, with my simple friend coughing and gasping.
"I don't think the cheese was going to bite me, Jasper." he whimpered, "I made friends with it and everything."  The three of us turned and looked at the cheese as the enormous hornet finished his investigation and flew away.  Fizzy gasped in horror.
"Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!" she panted, clambering almost all over me and licking my ears frantically.  "My poor man!  He could have been killed!  Thank you Jasper!"  I nodded, and pushed her away.  Tongues that lick Ewan's ears will never lick mine.

"Was that bird trying to steal my cheese?"  asked Ewan, sniffing over his piece of cheddar.
"It wasn't a bird." said Fizzy.  "It was a great big insect and you would have died if you'd swallowed it.  Jasper saved your life!"
"Oh, wow, brilliant."  said Ewan, with several wags of his tail.  "Cheers for that Jazz.  Would you like a piece of my cheese?"

I politely declined.  Goodness only knows where that hornet's feet had been.  I will admit this though - I would have been very sorry indeed to lose my harebrained chum in this manner.  I know that I often complain about Ewan and his nonsense - but I really do have the most enormous amount of affection for the lad.  He is, quite simply, impossible to hate.

Next time - some more Evolution (trouble's brewing!)... And Ewan tries to find a way to deal with the Terrible Ghost (baby) Buzzard that's still haunting my airing cupboard that continues to chill me to the core - shuffling, twittering and scrattin' away in the dead of night...   seeking to possess my mortal soul in its hideous, spectral beak......

Good (not for me, though) night.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Another magical mystery tour with my partner yesterday (Tuesday) morning.  We had to drive in our New Teal Megane to a location some 35 miles away in order for my partner to attend a work-related meeting.  'Twas a somewhat frustrating journey, however.  En route, we became entangled first amongst some wide, slow-moving farm traffic and second within a convoy of large-scale, equally slow-moving, military vehicles (there are a few bases not too far from my estate, engaged by the Ministry of Defence and The Crown for my protection).  Our infuriating progress took at least twice as long as necessary - plus, we got lost on the way home, which set the seal on the morning as a whole.  But think not that that was the main source of aggravation.  Oh no.  The deciding factor lay within the folds of my partner's turbulent mind.

Her meeting was scheduled for Thursday morning.   Grrrowl.

I was unable to suppress a smug grin as I sat, leaning back, in my seat.  My partner told me that I looked like a "tubby toad".  I politely withdrew my smile - but the toad within chuckled on.


Her name is Rosie.  She is exquisite - and I confess that she has enslaved my heart.

Rosie is the West Highland Terrier, who arrived from a rescue shelter on Sunday-last to fill the hole in our neighbour's heart left by the sudden and unexpected demise of Starsky.  Somewhat appropriately, she wears a little scarlet half-jacket when out for her walks.

I was not optimistic last Sunday.  We were informed by our neighbour that the new addition would be arriving that afternoon and we were cordially invited to join the welcome reception.  It turns out that a fellow (unknown) resident of our small town was also due to receive a Westie from the same shelter and my neighbour's house had been designated as the single dropping-off point for both dogs.  At the appointed hour, I trotted out of my French Windows to be met with the sight of a young chap with a lot to bark for himself called Scamp.  He was bigger than Starsky and not in the least backward about putting himself forward.  I was about to silence his idle chatter with a pithy bark, when a vision of true loveliness came trotting out from behind our neighbour's garden shed.  I was rendered utterly barkless and sat down, making a polite bow of my head as the small Westie bitch trotted up to the fence separating our gardens and introduced herself.  She was quite giggly, perhaps to be expected as she is only two years old, but with a very bubbly, pleasant character.  Scamp was equally smitten, but he departed with his new owner once the papers had been signed and sweet Rosie was left unchaperoned.  I have seen her three times since Sunday - and, much as I liked Starsky, I have to say that little Rosie is much easier on the nose...

I feel it may be wise not to mention pretty Rosie to my wife, Isolde, or my main girlfriend, Candy, at present.  They may leap to hasty conclusions, which could prove unfortunate (and not a little bit painful)...

And now - FINALLY - :


As the car in which I travelled gathered speed, my anger and frustration increased in direct proportion.  I realised that I had been away from home for so long that my deputy in the dogs' block, the tiny Yorkie runt Mouse, would undoubtedly have asserted himself and proclaimed himself new Pack Leader.  I was going to have to fight him to reclaim my authority.  Of course, I could easily have given Mouse a worse battering than anything to be found in a Glasgow chip-shop - but that did not mean that I wanted to.  Yes; I enjoyed a good fight - but only where my opponent was a fair and even match.  I never was - and never will be - a bully.

Giving a heavy sigh, it suddenly struck me how tired I was feeling.  The day had been non-stop activity since I woke up and I had been living a relatively sedentary life at the rescue shelter; unused to so many new things in one day - and it was STILL only the early afternoon!  I flopped down onto the car seat, leaning against the leg of the young woman next to me (she seemed relatively harmless, so I decided to chance it and risk a nap), and closed my drooping eyelids.

I woke with a jolt as the car pulled into a small residential street and slowed to a halt.  My head had found its way onto the young lady's lap and she was resting her head on my furry crown.  I had to admit that it was rather comfortable.  Any soothing emotions were soon rent asunder, however, as the young lady brightly exclaimed;
"Here we are Jasper!  This is your home now!"
"Captain." I corrected her, yawning as I stood up.  This definitely was not my home.  I didn't recognise ANY of the scents or sights around me and I began to feel slightly panicked.  I jumped out of the car and tried to run away, but I was still wearing the collar and lead so I didn't get far.

The house beside which the car had stopped was pleasant, fairly large, with a nice front garden and what looked like a decent-sized walled garden at the rear.  Unlike my pre-rescue shelter home, the garden was neatly tended-to - the grass was trim and neat, the borders prettily-planted and orderly.  In a directly-opposite house, on the other side of the road, it did not escape me that my arrival was being very closely observed by an older lady under the cunning ruse of pretending to dust her windowsill.  I stretched my legs and availed myself of the welcome opportunity to download an overdue wee-mail. 

The front door of the house appearing to belong to the young lady and her mother flew open, and a pleasant-faced man came out to welcome us.  I instantly saw the likeness between this gentleman and the Miss Smarts - this could only have been the young lady's father.  I cannot overstate my relief on seeing this fellow.  I dashed straight up to him.

"Oh, thank God!" I panted, frantically, "A sensible face at last.  Thank God.  Sir - please.  You have to help me!  These two mad women have stolen me from my home and I have to get back before bedtime tonight.  Please can you help me?  Can you get a car to drive me back?  I need you to telephone Dav-"
"Hel-loooo!" simpered the man, adopting a wide grin.  "Welcome to your new home!"
'Oh Lord.' I muttered to myself.  'He's as mad as the other two.' 

I began to accept the fact that I may not get back home before bedtime that night.

The man looked at his daughter.  "Are you happy with him?" he asked.  The young lady repeated the false assurances she had previously given her mother, Dave and Miss Smart.  "And you're definitely going to call him Jasper?"  The lady nodded.
'No, she bl**dy-well isn't.' I muttered.  'My name is Captain.  And Captain's patience is wearing thin.'

"Welcome to your new home, Jasper!"  enthused the man.
"Oh, s*d off."  I replied bitterly.

I was escorted into the house.

Well, it smelled pleasant.  Walking through into the kitchen, there were a couple of smart, large, new bowls on a plastic mat upon the floor.  One was filled with cool, clean water and I savoured a good, long drink; whilst refreshing myself, my collar and that infernal lead were removed.  I had a good sniff around the kitchen and returned to the large living-room, where the three mad humans were sitting.  The young lady directed my attention towards a large bean-bag.  It had a dark green cover, patterned with gold moons and stars.  It wasn't new and had obviously been thoroughly washed a number of times.  There still lingered, however, scent-traces of another dog from several year ago.  A bitch, to be more precise - and a very ill bitch at that.  'Sh*t.'  I thought, casting a sideways glance at the young lady, 'This must have belonged to her last victim.  I'm toast.'  I felt that it would be in my best interests to make a show of compliance, and so clambered onto the bean-bag and sat down [my partner has a photographic record of this instance, which shows my obvious unease - I will endeavour to find it and post it here. JHS.]

The bean-bag shifted around my frame, which I will admit was pleasing and most comfortable.  Placed around the bean-bag was a varied selection of brand-new toys and chews.  I was somewhat taken aback on being told that they were all for me.  I had never owned so many nice things before.  I was instantly suspicious that the tempting array of delights had been poisoned.  However, being likewise aware that I was being closely watched, I hesitantly selected a small, benign-looking rawhide chew, an began to gnaw on it.

It wasn't poisoned.

Shortly afterwards, I was escorted to the kitchen in order to be fed - another reminder of times past.  I had become accustomed to having my meals delivered to me - and first, too, before the rest of my pack.  I glared accusingly at what had been placed in the non-water-filled bowl, apparently for my consumption.
"There you go, Jasper." said the young woman, with a smile.  "Your first dinner in your new home!"
"Captain." I reminded her.  "And I'm not eating that."
The woman's father appeared behind his daughter.
"Eat up, Jasper." he encouraged. "That's your dinner.  Nice!"
"Captain." I responded.  "I'm sorry, but I don't have that for my dinner, I have something else.  I don't want that stuff.  That isn't what I have."

My comments went unheeded, which served to anger and frustrate me further.  Eventually, out of sheer desperate hunger, I hazarded a few mouthfuls of the stuff.  Admittedly, it tasted quite nice, so I ate the lot.  But that doesn't mean that I was pleased about it.

After exploring the rear garden, with which I was delightedly surprised (apart from the strong whiff of hedgehog), I retired for the night with the mad young lady.  She settled into her bed and I positioned myself at the end of it - as far away from her as I could get.
"Goodnight Jasper." she sighed.  "I suppose this is it now - so we shall have to make an effort to like each other."

"Captain." I growled, irritably.  "And you can say what you like, love, but I am certain that I will NEVER learn to like you."

Good night.