Monday, 30 May 2011

Sunday 29 May 2011

I believe that I may not have too much time remaining to me in this world.

This is something that I am keen to share with you, my friend.  I have been preparing for it for some time, and I need to entreat you to prepare yourself also.  I ask this because, as you will know if you have been reading this blog regularly over these past few months, the sudden death of my dear, belovèd, friend Angie earlier this year hit my partner and I so terribly hard.  We still grieve for her loss.  I hope that, with preparation, the news of my end might not affect you in the same way.

I alluded briefly in my previous post to a recurrence of my nose problems.  They became worse overnight, to the point where I could (just about) inhale through one nostril, but was forced to exhale through my mouth.  As well as being unnatural, inconvenient, and very noisy (alarmingly so for my partner, our friends, and our colleagues), it made eating and drinking most unpleasant.  My partner was genuinely afraid for me.  I confess that, for once, I shared her concerns and began to prepare my mind for the "ultimate journey".

One day of these symptoms was more than enough.  I was taken, coughing, wheezing and gurgling to the vets' as early as possible.

I was dismayed to see, when my name was called, that the appointed surgeon was female.  I had hoped for one of my regular gentleman-surgeons.  Of course, I do not object to having my parts probed and prodded by a lady  - but only if she is of the canine persuasion.  Human females rarely float my boat.  That barked, I was by this time too weak to protest as I was lifted onto the examination table.

I will admit that the lady-surgeon's hands were assertive yet soft as she tapped my snout-bones and skull to check for the tell-tale sound, which would indicate the presence of a fatal growth or obstruction.  She donned a stethoscope and took great care in listening to my chest, belly and throat.  At length, a tentative diagnosis was made.

It would seem that the nose infection from recent weeks did not entirely clear up and has returned, with vengeance in mind, to take up residence in both nostrils.  No evidence has been found of a fatal growth, though a benign lump may be in place - in which scenario I will remain on medication to make the rest of my days "comfortable".  If surgery should be required, I would need to be referred to a specialist hospital - as the necessary operation will be intricate, dangerous, and not suitable for unpractised hands.  In the meantime, I was given two different sorts of tablets - antibiotics and steroids - and NO injection, hurrah!  My partner ensures that I take my medicine daily and we are to return on Friday to the same surgeon.

I already feel immeasurably better.  I breathe through my nose once more and, as a result, can again eat and drink without pain and embarrassment.  I am restored to my buoyant self, though not without limitations.  I get tired terribly easily, and require sleep more often than normal.  However, my partner offers the suggestion that, despite feeling better due to the steroids, I am still unwell because of the infection, just less-aware of it.  Something in this, perhaps.  I had more energy this day than the day before and, just this morning, my partner noted that the lively sparkle had returned to my eyes after a discernable absence.  I need to accept that I must pace myself and take my fortunate recovery as it comes.

But already I look forward to my return to the vets' (and it's not often you'll find me barking that!).  Her name is Lucy.  Just five days separate us.  How bewitching she looks in her uniform!  I still feel her hands upon my snout, the concentration on her pretty face as she listened to the beating of my heart!  The blessèd relief that her prescription has wrought upon me (even though she did get the labels mixed-up on the tablets - fortunately my partner knew which pill was which).  The thought that soon, I shall be once more upon her table, demonstrating to her how her talents (which I never doubted for an instant) have preserved such an humble one as I.

I have asked my partner if I can present dear Lucy with a rose from my garden on Friday, as a small token of my gratitude and affection.  She frowned and replied that she'd "think about it".

But, above all this, I entreat you, my friend, to be yet undeceived as to any prognosis.  I am not a puppy.  Let us, then, hope for the best - but be not unprepared for the worst.

And I caught bl**dy fleas from a grubby mongrel in the waiting-room.  The humiliation!

Until the next time - Good Night.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Yayyy!  A new follower!!  Hello Pam - thank you for 'following' me - you are very welcome here.  Only the best find their way to me, hehehe...

Well - the inevitable happened.  I mean, it was only a matter of time - trouble had been gently bubbling away under the surface for some time.  I shall refrain from mentioning outright the name of the inadvertent instigator of this insanity, although he is not unconnected from my circle of friends.  The first hint of  actual trouble came a mere day or so ago, when I happened upon my friend and neighbour Edward the Rottweiler and his fellow-Rotti and long-time gentleman 'companion', Angus.  They were sitting in the back of a car, which was parked outside Eddie's house, waiting to be taken out for their exercise (their female human partners - good friends, Eddie lives near me with his partner and her boyfriend; I don't know where Angus lives, but he has been "with" Eddie for many years now - could be heard chatting in their garden).  The sight of the two mighty, always impeccably-groomed, Rottweilers was not as fine as it is in general.  Edward had a red, livid, wheal on his upper-lip and a nasty, oddly-shaped, bite on the tip of his left ear, whilst Angus sported a bruised and puffy eye.  Even from just glancing into the car it was possible to sense the tense and hostile air between the two dogs.  I pretended I had not seen them and scurried past their car to the safe refuge of my own house.

To discover what lay behind this unhappy scene (and my rapid flight from it) we must journey back in time to a few weeks ago.

Ambling home following a most pleasant early-evening stroll with my partner, the first sight that met my eyes on turning into my little road was the vision of Edward and Angus, side by side on Eddie's front lawn, eagerly pawing through a picture-magazine.  As I trotted towards them, snatches of their animated chatter reached my ears.
"What about that little green trouser suit?" suggested Ed.
"Hmmm... Not sure... Oooh!  Look at this positively divine blue bonnet!" squealed Angus, slapping his great big paw down onto a different picture.
"Oh, isn't it darling?!" gasped Eddie, admiring the image.  "It's to die for!!  We must have one of those - and also one in the purple and yellow, perhaps?"
Angus nodded enthusiastically and nipped a small hole in the corner of the page, to mark the place.

As I drew nearer I was intrigued to see that the two Rottweilers were looking at a brochure from a toy shop.  Specifically, pages of dolls' clothing.  I wondered what on Earth they could possibly be up to, as the dollies' clothing was extremely petite.  So small, in fact, that they could have been designed for dolls belonging to other dolls.
"Evening, gents." I greeted them.  "What are we looking at?"
"Clothing for our new son!" announced Angus, proudly.
"Yes, it's true, Jazz old boy." nodded Eddie.  "Angus and I have become fathers!"

"Erm... ri-iiight..." I mumbled, unsure of how I ought to respond.
"Yes!" continued Edward.  "After the little chat I had with you the other day, I realised that I could never allow myself to violate a lady for procreative purposes - but yet I was still keen to savour the blessings of fatherhood -"
"And we looked at your blog and saw this comment about adoption," put in Angus, "And so -"
"Don't confuse Jasper with too many details, dear." barked Eddie.  Angus nodded and, grinning, wagged his tail as he resumed pawing at the catalogue.  Eddie went on: "So we decided to share parental care of a small foundling child."
"Well, that's very creditable of you both." I remarked, wagging my tail in approval.  "And so is your new adopted son also a Rottweiler?"
Angus began to giggle as he shook his mighty head.
"We mustn't laugh at Jasper, dear." chided Eddie.  "No, Jazz," he continued, "It's young Pickle he - ooh, Angus, look at that adorable little sailor-suit; mark that page, we must have a couple of those."  As Angus hastened to comply, and remarked:
"They do one in white with a navy trim and one in navy with a white trim.  Ought we to get one of each?"
 I looked from dog to dog with increasing disbelief.  As soon as Eddie had decided:
"Yes, one of each, if you would, please Angus.  We don't know yet how many little nappy accidents our boy might have during the day." and both dogs had chuckled to each other indulgently, I expressed my incredulity.

"Have you two gone stark, staring, mad?!?"
Both dogs looked up at me from their catalogue.  "You mean you are going to use Pickle - Pickle the Salamander - as your adoptive child?!?"
"What's wrong with that?" queried Edward, as both dogs nodded their assent.

Oh, for goodness' SAKE!  Wherever did I begin with this one?!

"Well, first-off," I replied, endeavouring to sound calm and polite, "Pickle is not a baby.  He isn't even a child!  He is a fully-mature, adult, male.  I'm not sure he'd take too kindly to being forced into a nappy and various assorted infant fashions.  No matter how cute they are." I added hastily at the end, as Angus opened his mouth to attempt to sway me with the picture of the little sailor outfit.

Eddie looked annoyed.
"What kind of a beast would turn down such an opportunity to send the trend in designer baby-wear?" he demanded, sounding aggrieved.
"Yes," added Angus. "These outfits aren't ch-"
"Dear!" barked Edward, a little snappily, "Edward is speaking!  We mustn't interrupt, must we?!"
Angus fell mute once again, as Eddie continued. "These outfits aren't cheap, you know, Jazz!  Only the finest for our little Pickle!"

"He's not your little Pickle - " I began, before swiftly realising that I was already promoting a lost cause.  "Well, on your whiskers be it." I muttered, darkly.  "Good luck to you both - but don't say I didn't warn you..."  And I left them to their fond coo-ing over the little outfits in the toy catalogue.

This brings us right back to the present, in which it seems that Pickle has now made his feelings concerning being clothed and "adopted" abundantly clear to his would-be "fathers".  And this is ALSO why I hastened my steps on seeing the somewhat-battered Rottweiler couple.

For I have absolutely no doubt as to the identity of their NEXT preferred candidate for the role of adoptive "foundling child".  On occasion I may concede to dress for public appearances (times past have seen me costumed, not only for the various productions of Oliver! in which I played 'Bullseye', but also, variously, as Sherwood Forest; one of Santa's elves; some watercress; a crowned monarch; and Robin Hood).  HOWEVER, my partner has tried on two occasions to induce me to wear a nappy (when I was undergoing some minor bladder-troubles, thankfully no longer an issue).  All I need add is that she has not - and will not - try the same indignity a third time.

Rottweilers they may be - even Rottweiler friends of mine - but I don a nappy and baby-bonnet for no-one.  I shall maintain a low profile until this particular storm has blown over.

To higher matters now.  President and First-Lady Obama are visiting my country at present.  And WHAT delightful people they are.  I cannot overstate how much I admire President Obama.  He is one of my all-time favourite World-leaders.  I hope he has a successful presidency (and hopeful re-election) and that no nut-jobs pull a J.F./R.F. Kennedy or Dr. King Jnr on him.  Good luck to him, I bark.  And to his nice-looking family.

David Cameron and Barack Obama dish up the meat at the Downing Street BBQ
UK Leader (hmm...) & US Leader (my favourite, to be honest)

My nose is playing-up again.  To bark honestly, I'm having a little trouble breathing.  I am having to exhale through my mouth for some of the time, which caused me, as my partner was driving us home from work, to have an attack of the hiccups.  I will admit to feeling slightly maliciously amused as I watched my partner cautiously prowling around our New Teal Megane (car) with a suspicious look on her face, trying to work out where the 'rattling' sound was coming from... it was ME all along, hehehe...!!

I am feeling better now, though my partner says that I will have to go back to consult my surgeon again tomorrow if she is still worried...

Good night.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Saturday 14 May 2011

The ugly spectre of extreme substance-abuse casts its dark shadow over our household.

The fault is mine, I confess.  I have grown fond beyond rationality of Sainsbury's Milky Bones (a cheapo version of the Pedigree Milky Bones) dog biscuits.  I must have them in the morning, in the afternoon, and even after I have finished my regular supper I am instantly upon my partner, imploring her for more of those intoxicating biscuits.

My partner has endeavoured to reiterate to me our present financial difficulties, but I heed her not.  In fact, when she speaks thus, I often find myself plagued by the sporadic deafness, which has begun to mark the achievement of my agèd years... The fact that this affliction often coincides with an occasion in which it suits my purposes is naught but random happenstance...  Needless to bark, my partner is far, far from being impressed by "my attitude".  Especially, she tells me, as our circumstances cash-wise, have been very bleak indeed.  I am encouraged to "curb my obsession" with the Milky Bones.  Poor girl.  Clearly delirious from worry, she has forgotten to whom she is speaking.  A pity.

Now then.  I am not a man of poetry.  I tried to compose an ode to a young angel who appeared to me in recent days, but ended up hurting my brain.  So I did what any respectable Staffordshire Bull Terrier would do - I nicked one off the internet.  Here is our:


The world's a better place
Because of folk like you
Who take the time to do nice things
The way you always do.
Thank you so so muchly



The troubling affairs emanating from the household of Eddie and Angus (Rottweilers) and the hapless, beleagured, Pickle (Salamander) have yet to reach a crisis-point.  But, rest assured, that moment is coming soon - and when it arrives your crafty canine correspondent will be first with the news!

And now - for 'tis long overdue:


Please see if you wish to catch up on the previous instalment.

My partner and I continued to grow in our mutual admiration and respect for each other.  Through the simple offices of merely being my original self and allowing the character with which I was born, I endeared myself to all.  I also began to appreciate how pretty my young partner was - and how fortunate I was in being selected by her.  No other human could ever have suited me better.

On one particular evening, my partner and I were walking again in the local park.  We exchanged a wry smile in the twilight and my partner patted my head.  I had learned not to take myself too seriously, now that I was secure of my place within this new "pack" and could laugh at my earlier mishap with the cricket practice-nets.  As we neared the car-park, my lead was clipped to my collar and we approached the large iron gates at the park exit.  At that very moment, a voice hailed my partner from the far corner of the car-park.
We turned, and saw a rather handsome-looking (in my partner's estimation, at any rate) blonde-haired man, getting out of a car.  My partner called back to him and asked if he was alright.
"Yes thanks!" he replied.  "I was just thinking what an unusually fine-looking dog you have there!  What breed is he?"  My partner took a few, hesitant, steps towards him.
"Um... a Staffordshire Bull Terrier." she told him.
"Sorry...?" he called, cupping his hand to his ear.
"A Staffordshire Bull Terrier!" She cried back, taking a few more steps towards him.
"He looks like that dog in Oliver!"
I groaned - already well-aware of my likeness to the fictional mutt and MORE than tired of being told of it by random strangers (an aggravation which occurs to this day).  My partner didn't reply, merely nodded, and made to turn and go.
"I was wondering where you got his collar from?!" shouted the young man hastily.  I frowned.  My collar was perfectly normal; a nicely-patterned navy-blue woven synthetic-thread affair.  Nothing out of the ordinary.
"Erm... the vets'!" called my partner.
"Sorry...?" called the stranger again, cupping his hand to his ear once again.
"The vets'!" shouted my partner.
"I still can't hear you!" called the man. "Could you come a bit closer?  Your voice is so soft!"

This was the point at which I began to grow uneasy.  I started to mutter about needing to go home, but my partner had not yet learned enough of my sounds to be able to accurately interpret me, as she does today.  I sensed that my partner was feeling uneasy also - she did not move any closer to the young man, but it is not in her nature to suspect everyone; particularly handsome young men; of being up to no good.

"You don't happen to have the time on you, do you, love?!" shouted the young man.  As I took another, disdainful, glance at him I spotted that he was wearing a wristwatch...

"We're going." I barked firmly.  And, with that, I turned on my paws and dragged my partner out of the park.  I was so strong in those days that not even a full-grown human could defy my strength when I was determined on a course.

After a few last shouts, we heard no more from the young man and were relieved that he did not dare to follow us along the much-used public road.

Once home again, my partner breathlessly hugged me and held me close.  Yet again, it seemed, I had protected her from serious harm in the park - only, this time, from a genuinely potential threat.

Next episode - our unity cemented forever; I return to unpleasant kennel-accommodation; and a "Little" problem...

Good night.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Saturday 7 May 2011

Twenty-five minutes.   Twenty-five minutes!  You'd think she'd have let it stand for just twenty-five minutes.   But no.  Not my partner. After twenty-five - it may have been thirty - minutes, she exhibited a most shocking display of panic, hysteria and distress.  This resulted, unhappily, in an emergency dash to the vets'; tears; and outright, humiliating, distress.  And all for twenty-five minutes of undue prominence.

I refer, of course, to my 'Little Jasper'. 

On Wednesday evening, just after work, my partner took me to one of my favourite local sites for a good walk.  En route, I was musing on nothing in particular when 'Little Jasper' became alert.  Nothing out of the ordinary for a healthy gentleman.  Arriving at our destination, my partner locked our car and we started out.  I found walking to be somewhat awkward and uncomfortable, as 'Little Jasper' was persisting in his enlarged state, and I grew increasingly disinclined to continue my exercise.  Alerting my partner, she - failing to spot the true source of my unease - assumed that I was tired and agreed to terminate our walk and return home.

After our journey home, it still hadn't gone down.  As we pulled into our parking-space, we passed my beautiful neighbour Rosie and her partner departing for their evening walk and gave them a cheery wave.  I alighted from my carriage with some difficulty.  It was at this point that my partner first noticed the source of my discomfort.  With eyes rolled heaven-wards and a deep sigh, she muttered "Jasper, you mucky-pup, put it away!"  Without a bark, I followed her into our house.

I was given and consumed my dinner, whilst my partner made herself and ate a cheese sandwich.  As I followed - post dinner - my partner into our withdrawing-room she was alarmed to see 'Little Jasper' still standing proud and winking at her.  She then went into overdrive.  Panicking beyond measure, she ushered me hastily back into the car and went straight to the vets' - despite it being only a few steps away and beyond normal opening hours.  I was forced into the waiting-room - where other visitors (including, I might add, two cats) laughed at my obvious predicament - and was rushed straight into a consulting chamber.  With relief, I was allocated one of my preferred male surgeons - although that sense of relief evaporated somewhat when I saw my practitioner pull on a pair of latex gloves...

I had to stand patiently on that wretched table whilst my poor pinkle was probed, pulled and manipulated.  Despite the fact that 'Little Jasper's' initial discomfort had turned into actual pain (okay, okay, it was some 45 minutes and NOT my initial estimate of 25), I felt utterly humiliated and debased.  (And this leads me to recall that I have not yet posted my last instalments of 'The Evolution of Jasper'.  You'll find out why this dubious connection exists when I DO get around to posting them).

The upshot was that I was given an injection of "anti-testosterone".  Yes - even in my 13th (91st, in human terms, apparently) year - I am too much of a man for human society to tolerate.

After the injection it was another 20 minutes before 'Little Jasper' (the duplicitous swine) returned fully to his regular dormant state.

A day or two after these embarrassing events, my partner and I returned home from work to find a slim envelope awaiting us on our doormat.  After placing my meal in my bowl for me, my partner opened the envelope.  It was a bill from the vets'.  When I entered our withdrawing-room following my meal, it was to find my partner, head in hands, sobbing, clutching the bill.

"£112 pounds, Jasper!" she cried, despairingly.  "£112!  What am I going to do?!"  (Admittedly, that includes my nasal infection expenses).  I hesitated.
"How much money do we have left, after bills, this month?" I barked.  My partner's chest heaved as she gave another great sob.
"84p." she replied.

Oh.  Oh dear.  I began to whimper as well.  My partner rushed to hold me in a comforting embrace.  "Don't you fret, Jazz." she said, kindly.  "We will find SOME way.  And I don't regret a single penny.  I would give everything I have for you."

And THAT, my friends, is love.  REAL, proper, love.  I am humbled.  But also truly honoured.

We will be OK.  Because we are together.

Good night.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sunday 1 May 2011

So, anyway, I went to the vets' during the week - to find out if I had a terminal case of The Big C or merely a nasal infection, following the nose-bleeding incident. I have had a great many brushes with death in my long, mostly happy, life and I accept that, at some point, my luck is going to run out.  On this particular occasion, I am going to.... LIVE!!!

Yes; 'twas a bacterial infection, received when I inadvertently hit my nose on the work-yard car park surface during a sneezing fit.  My parter is inexpressibly relieved (there have been tears) and I am restored to my former, lively, full-of-beans lifestyle.  Yayyyy!

Thanks to all those who sent their love and support during these latter difficult days.  And especially to Michal Clarke and the lovely Ann - for their inaugural comments, which are much valued.

THE wedding, then.  A day of much anticipation, joy, and unlooked-for distress.  Yes, distress.  I shall now tell all.

Leaving our house shortly after completing our latter post, my partner and I proceeded along The Mall (aka Old Farm Road).  Glancing into Eddie's house through his window, I saw my friend and his fellow Rottweiler Angus watching the coverage on television.  They were clinging to each other and sobbing.  With a raised eyebrow, the sight prompted me to suspect that there would be more than one old queen in the Abbey that day...  Pickle the Salamander was keeping a low profile, hidden within the rock-cave in his vivarium  (there was a good reason for this - of which more to follow...).

We called in at the local Co-Op store en route to my partner's parents' house, as my partner wished to take along some ice-cream as a gift.  As I waited outside in our New Teal Megane, I saw that the staff were watching the events on a small portable television at the checkout, with small plastic cups of bubbly.  Whilst wondering about what would ensue when Hometown Legend Barry from the Co-Op (!/pages/Barry-from-the-Coop/207739074819) was plied with alcohol, I noticed that the red, white and blue decorations worn by the boys on the till were, most unfortunately, the carbon copy of the revolutionary tricolores worn, on pain of death, by French citizens during La Terreur.  I decided not to raise this point, however - I felt it would not be welcome on such an happy day of Royal nuptials.

And so to the ceremony itself.

The first thing that struck me was Miss Middleton's exquisite dress.  Utterly perfect.  Modest, yet sexy; classic, yet modern; a respectful hint of the Queen's own 1947 dress, brought bang-up-to-date.  This dress is the one my partner would choose for her OWN wedding, were I to permit such an union.  The fact that the dress also came from a fashion house, the head of which died last year in tragic circumstances, also spoke highly of the bride's judgement.  The bride's sister, Philippa, also looked exquisite - and it did not escape me that both HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH the Prince Henry were positively drooling at the sight of her.  I have always liked Prince Philip.  A man very much after my own heart - both raised to believe in natural male dominance - and both finding ourselves having to kow-tow to a more superior female....

I wish every conceivable happiness to the Royal newly-weds.  They seem both wise, grounded, and perfectly-matched.  And I was happy in the feeling that, despite the ever-humbling pomp and circumstance (and no nation does this as well as mine own, I feel justified in barking), it felt like it was, at heart, a happy family affair.  Simply; perfectly; wonderful.

Beautiful music, readings, sentiments, public rejoicing - all combined to make a truly happy event.

The distress, then.  As the bride and groom stepped out of the Abbey, my partner popped the cork in a bottle of champagne, saved by her father for the occasion.  As the sparkling liquid was shared about, the telephone began to ring and my partner moved to answer it, as her father proposed a toast to Queen and country.

It was my partner's brother on the end of the line.  And he, his wife, and their delightful children Ewan and Carys, had just been involved in a serious car crash.

That was the end of our jubilations.  Their car had been written-off in a motorway collision (on the M6, en route to the wedding of a university friend).  Fortunately, although profoundly distressed, no serious injuries were sustained by our loved ones.  But it marked the end of our jubilations.

So there we are.  Exquisite happiness and much sorrow, juxtaposed in one sunny day in April.  But, despite all, a day in which to celebrate that all we know and love are well, safe - and happy.  What more, than that, can one ask?

Good night.