Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunday 26 June 2011

And so we have had the longest day of the year and the nights will gradually begin drawing in as we amble towards the autumn.  No mind - there is still plenty of summer left for me to savour.

I have not been too well this past week - something connected with the insufferable heat, perhaps.  But I have had one seizure and two nosebleeds in recent days - all rather tiresome and distressing for my partner.  I have had brief recourse to my medication but am feeling much better today - recovered enough to assist my partner with some gardening.  We have tidied our borders, pathways and patio and planted out marigolds gifted to us by my partner's mother.  I adore marigolds - but my partner has forbidden me from eating them this year.  I will obey for a couple of weeks and then feast when she has forgotten about her instructions, hehehe...

Aside from ill health (and my current quandary as to whether or not I should take cheese-brained doggy chum Ewan to one side and prepare him for the fact that I am, likely, dying)  my life has been blighted with the arrival of new (will they never cease?) sources of aggravation.

On returning from work this Thursday last, my partner and I were greeted by one of our neighbours and her new acquisition - a Staffordshire Bull Terrier pup called William (he was born on the day of the most recent Royal wedding.  His dam also birthed one other pup - a sister, named Katherine).  William's fur is brindle and he is, both physically and in temperament, a very fine specimen.  He has just had his initial jabs and so is getting out and about for the first time.  He is so happy, so enthusiastic and just so, so... so YOUNG.  He was fussing over me as though I were a long lost, treasured, brother and begging me to play with him.  I hate him already.

As if this wasn't enough, the house opposite (where Honey the ginger cat lives) has got a new kitten (why?  WHY?!). When they saw my partner and I talking with William and his partner in the street, the young children of the household came out to tell us this "news". My partner enquired as to the new kitten's name. In some kind of sick, misguided, tribute effort they have named the kitten 'Jasper'.

I hate everything.  Although that may be down to the heat.  Let us keep our claws crossed for cooler weather.

Good night.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Saturday 18 June 2011

Growwwl...  I mean, seriously.  Growwwl...

An hour and forty minutes it took us to get home from work last evening.  It generally takes around thirty-five minutes.  The reason was some ghastly pop concert, which was taking place at a large open-air venue near to us.  Having been pre-alerted by an unfortunate colleague who was trapped in the traffic, my partner elected (I was not consulted) to take the always-precarious 'through the city' route, as opposed to the more direct journey.  An hour and forty minutes.

Once we were out of the city, I will admit that it was a much more scenic, though still less-expeditious, passage.  It took us past the house to which I was taken after going missing (late October/early November 2009 - look it up on my past blog entries).  I hopped up to see if I could see the dog who had consoled and reassured me at that distressing time, Charlie, but he wasn't at home.  As we went past, the song playing on the radio was Fontella Bass's "Rescue Me".  I observed the irony but did not appreciate it.

There was scant consolation when I arrived home.  No walk for us, as the rain was pouring down in violent torrents, and only the doof-doof-doof-dodododododoooo-doof of the pop concert to look forward to (because of the way the land lies, the sound carries over the low hills direct to my perfectly-proportioned and perky, handsome, ears.  Happily, I still have some of the Milky Bones from The Secretary's generous gift parcel to console me, and my partner let me have two handfuls for being a good boy at work.

I have only had to take my tablets as an emergency measure once this week - which makes a total of, er, once in the past fortnight.  I think it was because I stumbled on a rogue corner of duvet in trying to get myself comfortable before sleep one night and banged my snout on the bedroom wall.  Least barked, soonest mended, however.  The need for medication has now passed over, thankfully, and my strength is undiminished.

My partner's unusual behaviour continues.  Every morning these days, I am greeted by her cheer: "Yayyy!!  Another day of Jasperrrr!"
I find that I am expected to make some sort of response to this, so I generally mumble a sleepy "Yayyy..." or a mere "Yes."  I am not a morning canine.  Indeed, I barely reach the peak of alertness before 10.30 or even 11.30am.  My nocturnal slumber is simply exhausting and I need that morning snoozing in order to summon the full resources of energy for my afternoon nap.  Some people have no consideration.

Good afternoon.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Saturday 11 June 2011

With paw firmly on wood, I am happy to report that I have needed no recourse to my medicine since my lately-described vets' visit (a week ago now).  In fact, I seem to be as buoyant as ever I was.

I even found the energy to be a naughty boy on Wednesday, disappearing into the woods whilst my partner's back was turned, in pursuit of a pungent wily beastie and was gone for ages!  Joe (Ewan and Fizzy's partner) and my partner were searching for me for at least twenty minutes; ultimately admitting defeat and returning to the office to wait for me to make my own way back.  Heheheheee....

When I ultimately returned, I only received a light-to-mild telling-off.  In fact, it rather pleasant.  My partner was incredibly pleased to see me again and dashed out to the yard to greet me.  I'm not entirely certain what has happened, but she seems to be taking care to savour each and every moment with me.  I do still get told-off for being naughty, however, so that is an on area which I need to work.

Another high point of the week was the return of my doggy chums Ewan and Fizzy from their camping and canoeing holiday.  You may recall that the noodle-brained Ewan had been making plans to catch a big fish for his belovèd Fizzy to eat, though his planned methods did not bode well for success.

When I first encountered my friends they were both so exhausted that neither could summon the energy to do more than greet me affectionately.  The following day they were a little more forthcoming.  Ewan, it seemed, had become something of a celebrity among his fellow-campers.  His madcap antics when in the canoe had attracted many amused spectators.  I bark "when in the canoe" but, in fact, it seems that he was more out than in, as he constantly leapt from the boat into the water and had to be retrieved.  Every time he was hauled back into the boat by either of his partners, a great cheer went up from the riverbanks.  Alas, it was not just Ewan who got a regular dunking.  Such was the force with which he launched himself from the boat, that more often than not, he upset the entire canoe, sending his partner Joe and some of her possessions into the river as well. Her tobacco tin is probably half-way to Nova Scotia by now.

I listened with amusement as Ewan chattered on about his holiday (Fizzy let him do the barking, as she was still fairly exhausted).  At length, I asked him if he had met with any success in his fishing.  Ewan cocked his head on one side and stared at me as if I'd asked him whether he'd seen any dinosaur-eggs.
"What?" he asked, eventually.  I reminded him about his plans to catch a fish for Fizzy's supper.  Ewan shook his head.  "Sometimes I worry about you, Jazz.  Are you losing the brains from behind where your eyes are?"
"No..." I sighed, getting to my paws and stretching before heading off to the bridleway.  After a moment, Ewan trotted after me.
"Jazz!" he called.  I stopped.
"What is a fish?"

Oh, for goodness' sake.


The bond between my partner and I continued to grow and blossom after my late attempts to save her from harm, whether imaginary or real.  Each day I became more and more thankful that I had found myself with her and especially, after I had done my utmost worst to scupper things for myself, grateful that she had been good enough to offer me a second chance.

With passing time, I made more and more friends.  Maisie and her husband Bob, who lived in the house across the road, chief amongst them.  They have a great affection for me (which continues to this day; Maisie buys my tins of dinner-meat, to help my partner out during our current financial troubles) and Maisie asked (nay, practically begged) my partner if she could look after me whilst my partner was at work.  Of course, my partner said yes, and I have had some wonderful times with Maisie.  I would amble over to her house after my morning nap, and Bob and I would enjoy a play-fight with a large garden broom.  Then, Maisie would prepare me a light lunch - meat with chopped egg or a bit of mashed potato in the winter; a tasty, refreshing, salad in the summer.  After another short nap, Maisie and I would go for a long walk - sometimes lasting around three hours!  We would go to the river, where I learned to swim, sit in the War Memorial Garden, where children from the local secondary school would come sometimes to eat their sandwiches (they would let me help them with that arduous task!), visit the local station to watch the steam trains coming in and out and chat to the Station Master, browse the local shop windows, and ramble far and wide across the local countryside.  And, as if that weren't enough, I had my partner's return from work to look forward to, and she would often take me for another walk in the evening!  I sometimes wondered what I had done to deserve such blissful happiness.  I go to work with my partner every day now, as Maisie's advancing age precludes her from exercising me, but I visit her every Sunday, which is always a pleasure.

Other friends made in the early days included my partner's friends, including the fair Dolores, and extended family.  I had the pleasure of being present when my partner visited her brother and he introduced us to his lovely new girlfriend, Nicola (who went on to become Mrs. Partner's Brother and mother to the effervescent and adorable Ewan and Carys, our nephew and niece.)  I also made my first-ever canine friends since leaving the rescue home.  Jack the Retriever was the earliest, and he was soon followed by Candy the Chocolate Labrador, young Staffie pup Harvey, and a number of others.

One of the highest points in my first year with my partner was when she took me to Dartmoor for the first time, on a little holiday.  She had reserved an holiday cottage for the two of us, run by a delightful couple with whom she had some prior acquaintance.  The couple had a beautiful young bitch of uncertain ancestry, named Hazy.  She and I enjoyed a brief holiday romance or two over the years (sadly, Hazy's life was cut tragically short when she fell prey to Lyme's Disease after being bitten by an infected tick.  I mourned her death).  I had never been on holiday before - and it was fantastic!  I wasn't allowed off the lead on the moors, though.  My partner explained that I had to learn that I must never, ever, chase the sheep, ponies, or cattle which graze freely on the moors.  That was the year that my partner and I fell down the side of an ancient quarry (not my fault - she fell, and I followed because I was attached to her via my lead.  This episode is described in an early blog entry).  I took care to learn this lesson well, as I was keen to be unleashed and race all over the moors, exploring the granite tors and rocks, delighting in the heady, bewitching, rich perfume of heather and gorse.  Even now I never allow myself to forget that lesson, as the merest hint of my desire to chase the sheep only results in a spanked-bottom, reapplication of the lead, and the nearest path off the moor and back to the car.  A lesson well-worth the learning, then.  On the final day of that holiday my partner, with much trepidation and many repeated warnings, unclipped my lead and allowed me to run free for a supervised period of twenty minutes.  I did not let her down.  I raced around like a mad pup, leaping over spiky gorse bushes and plunging into a crystal-clear moorland stream.  The sheep in the area eyed me suspiciously, but I yielded not to temptation.  At the end of my twenty minutes, my partner called me back and I took care to instantly obey.  She declared herself utterly thrilled with my behaviour and spent much of the 3½-hour drive home telling me how impressed and very, very proud of me she was. We haven't had a Dartmoor holiday for a number of years - since my partner became insolvent, in fact (this will come to a closure in around 18 months' time).  I would like to have just one more Dartmoor holiday before I die.  But we shall have to see whether the fates allow me that privilege.

As the barking goes, however, "Into every life a little rain must fall".  It was not all that long before the heavens opened in torrents upon my furry head.

Maisie and Bob had gone away on holiday to Jersey.  I always missed them, but they never failed to return armed with booty for me from the Jersey pet shop.  One day, not long after their departure, I watched as my partner retrieved her suitcase from the cupboard.  "Brilliant!" I thought to myself, as I watched her pack her clothes and bathroom items, "Another holiday for me!".  I was slightly unsettled to see that she didn't put any of my things in the case, but I didn't worry too much.  Perhaps there was a separate bag for me.

There was - and it was placed in the boot of my partner's car alongside her suitcase one fateful Friday morning.  We set off - but had not been going for more than fifteen minutes before we pulled off the road into a driveway by some low buildings and a large field.  There was a large, shed-like, wooden building at the top end of the field.  My partner got out of the car, clipping the lead to my collar, and I hopped out after her.  A man with a cigarette in his mouth came out of the nearest building to meet us.  It did not escape me that my partner had taken my bag and bed out of the car-boot.  "This is Jasper." she said.  The man muttered something in reply, without taking the cigarette from his mouth.  I thought he was very rude.  "This is his bed, and here is a bag of his favourite toys..." continued my partner, with a slight tremble in her voice.  She leaned down to give me a cuddle but, without further ado, the cigarette-man grasped my lead and the items brought by my partner, and dragged me away from her, towards the wooden building.  I struggled furiously to get away, but the man was too strong for me.

As I neared the wooden building, I gave a gasp of horror when I saw that it contained a number of locked metal pens.  I could hardly believe my eyes.  It was my worst nightmare made real.  A rescue home.  Panicking, I wondered why my partner was getting rid of me.  I could only think that I must have misbehaved in some terrible, unwitting, way.  I tried to wrench my body around, as my partner was still standing beside the car.
"I'M SORRY!" I cried desperately, "I didn't mean it! I PROMISE I won't do it again!  I'M SORRY!  PLEASE FORGIVE ME!"  None of this had any effect. "I'M SORRY!  PLEASE FORGIVE ME!!" I squealed, with increasing desperation.  I tried every form of apology and entreaty I could think of , but to no avail.  I was pushed into one of the metal pens, my bed and toys were flung in after me, and the door clanged shut and was locked tightly.  I continued to wail and scream "I'M SORRY!  PLEASE FORGIVE ME!!" over and over again, even after I had heard my partner's car driving away, until a rough voice bellowed "SHUT UP!"

Picking up a corner of my beanbag bed in my mouth, I dragged it to the back of the pen, flopped down onto it, and lost myself in silent, uncontrollable, sobbing...

Good night.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sunday 5 June 2011 b

Let us now journey back to Friday, a couple of days ago.  At the office, my fluff-brained canine chum Ewan was virtually beside himself with excitement.  He could not sit still for more than two moments together.

Getting even less sense from him than usual, I enquired of Fizzy as to the reason for Ewan's state of perpetual exuberance.  It transpired that they were heading off to Herefordshire with their human partners for a long weekend of canoeing and camping.

Quite why anyone of sound mind would willingly put Ewan into a boat, in which they themselves intended to sit, was totally beyond my comprehension.  In my mind's eye, I foresaw only chaos.  Ewan would probably think he could make the boat go faster by biting a hole in the bottom.  Fizzy, however, did not seem to share my sense of foreboding, so I left my thoughts unbarked.

On our lunchtime potter along the bridleway, Ewan was good enough to outline to me some of his plans for the trip.
"We's going fishing!" he beamed.
"Oh yes?" I responded.
"Yes." he barked.  "I am going to catch a big fish for my Fizzy to eat."
"Coarse or fly?" I enquired.  Ewan looked utterly bewildered.  I might as well have started barking in Swahili.  He trotted up to me until he was level with my face.
"FISHING!" he shouted into my ear, making me jump.  "FISHING!  FOR FISH!"
I side-stepped hastily away, shaking my ringing head.
"Thank you, Ewan." I muttered, "I'm not deaf."
"Sorry Jazz.  I think I will be good at fishing."
I raised an eyebrow.
"It takes more than a fishing-rod to make a fisherman."  I said sagely.  Ewan nodded.
"No, but I'm going to use a basket." he explained. "I has it with me and then I is look into the water and say 'Come here, tasty fish, come here!'"
"And you're confident that this is going to work, are you?"
"Oh yes."  Ewan fell silent for a moment, obviously contemplating something.  At length, he said "Actually, I think I will also say 'Only big fishes come here.  Big tasty fishes come and sit in my basket'.  What d'you think, Jazz?"
"I think," I replied, "That Fizzy will not be getting a fish supper this weekend."
"Brilliant!" cackled Ewan, before racing off to find his football.

Good old Ewan.

My partner and I were delayed in leaving the office on Friday, as there was much to do.  Consequently, we just missed the vets' opening hours for my check-up appointment.  I snickered quietly to myself as we pulled out of the vets' empty car park - alas, it was but an ordeal deferred.  My engagement was rescheduled for the following morning (Saturday).

On entering the waiting room, I was pleased to see that I had been assigned the principal surgeon of the practise - the good Mr. Matthews.  I was slightly less-pleased when he called up my medical records on the computer screen and laughed at the late problems I had experienced with my 'Little Jasper'.  Through his guffaws, which I did not appreciate, he explained that it could be that I had a prepuce that was too small.  I didn't understand what that meant, but my partner did and she, rather archly, told Mr. Matthews that some men might be prepared to pay good money for such a thing.  He laughed again, and my partner hastily redirected his attention from Little Jasper to my troublesome nostril.  It was from hereon-in that things took a somewhat downward turn.

Careful and thorough examination led Mr. Matthews to conclude that there is, in all likelihood, a cancerous growth in my right nasal-cavity.  Should this be the case then there is nothing that can be done, and the remainder of my life may be measured in terms of months rather than years.  My partner and I exchanged a glance.  She looked like she was going to be sick, though we both managed to keep our composure.  Mr. Matthews, in the meantime, was explaining how I could be made comfortable with basic medication.

Once my partner had recovered her voice, she began to highlight the various strengths I still maintained - my interest in life, my continuing visual, aural and mobility abilities, my unwavering healthy appetite and normal lavatory-functions, et cetera.  Mr. Matthews nodded and took down his stethoscope from where it hung on the wall.  He carefully listened to my chest.  After what seemed like an age he turned and looked, first, at the clock on the wall and, then, to his computer screen.  He repositioned the stethoscope earpieces and listened again to my chest, frowning in concentration.
"He's twelve now, isn't he?" Mr. Matthews asked my partner.
"Yes - thirteen in October." she replied.  "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." he murmured, still listening intently to the rhythm of my lifeblood.  Then, looking up, he said "It's just that his heartbeat is so strong and calm.  Unusually regular."
"Well, he does eat well and gets plenty of exercise..." suggested my partner.
"Amazing." remarked Mr. Matthews, patting me on the head and replacing his stethoscope.  "I think we'll leave things with you to judge." he concluded, fondling my ears and smiling at me.  "I'll give you some tablets.  If he needs them, give them to him.  If you need some more, just pop back anytime.  They aren't too expensive.  But you know Jasper best.  We'll play it by ear."

'Ear?' I thought to myself, as my partner gently lifted me off the table and back down onto the floor.  'It's my nose that's the problem, sonny-boy!'  But my partner seemed relatively satisfied with our encounter.

So this, then, looks to be the ultimate fate for Jasper Horatio Stafford.  It's not so much the fact that the Big C is probably, even now, working its injudicious way through my healthful cells.  It's just that I had always hoped to go out in a blaze of glory.  Dragging an helpless kitten from a burning building; pushing a pram out of the path of an oncoming speeding car; taking a bullet for a lady.  Not slowly succumbing to a silent killer, who doesn't even have the courage or the decency to face me outwardly, dog to dog, on the field of battle.

But you may be sure of one thing:  Jasper Horatio Stafford is NOT going quietly into the dark night without putting up a bl**dy hard fight.

Good night.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sunday 5 June 2011 a


The present was from Trudis!  It came to me in a flash at about a quarter to three this morning.  In the sudden instant of realisation, I barked her name a little more loudly than I had intended.  My sleeping partner leapt about two feet into the air, startled into wakefulness.  "Bl**dy hell, Jasper!" she grumbled, sleepily.  So thrilled was I by my powers of cognisance that I had to ask to be taken to the toilet.  And my partner was already awake, so no problem there, hehehe...

Trudis is a lovely lady from The Phillippines, where she and her pack are lucky enough to share their lives with a couple of the most decent people you could ever wish to know - The Animal Doctor and his good lady The Secretary.  They spare no effort in their veterinary practice and their lives to assist the animals around them and their love and compassion are second-to-none.  You might like to check out their blog, which is packed with humour, warmth, love, plus lots of genuinely informative helpful health and lifestyle tips for dogs.  In actual fact, it was from The Animal Doctor that my partner learned how to express my anal sacs at home - but that is not a matter I care to discuss.  You can find all these sweet friends at  You may have to wait a bit, though, as some evil-doer has hacked their blog and they're working about bringing it back online.  Archive posts should be visible though!

TOP, L-R: Trudis, Bambi, Scarlet
BOTTOM, L-R: Woody, MoyMoy, Jappy

Trudis and family: I thank you from the bottom of my heart (and, indeed, from the heart of my bottom) for your sweet and most-appreciated generosity.  Isn't Trudis beautiful?

Ah, is that the chime of canine wedding bells that I hear...?

I have to go and help my partner to hang out some washing now - but I will be back later!

Good morning.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Saturday 4 June 2011

For once in my somewhat loquacious life I don't think I know quite what to bark.  In fact, I am quite overwhelmed.

Half-way through this morning, there was a knock at my front door.  Upon accompanying my partner to answer it, I was surprised to find a delivery driver from our regular supermarket.  Slightly more so because I had already spent some time in the car outside the supermarket during the week whilst my partner did our grocery-shopping.

After signing for our delivery (during which process the friendly driver obligingly fussed me and scratched my ears - lovely), my surprise increased and transformed to delight when my partner placed the delivery-bag on the floor and said "Here you are, Jasper!  This is a VERY special gift for you!"  Intrigued, I opened the bag to find not one, not two - not even three - but FOUR boxes of my favourite Milky-Bone biscuits, plus some delicious chewy sticks!  I squealed with delight.

I open and investigate my special delivery
 I had trouble containing my happiness and my partner said that I was allowed to open some of my present straight away!  Whilst I think of it, I must apologise on behalf of my partner for the slightly dubious quality of the pictures - I was so excited that I refused to stand still for long enough to be decently photographed.

I decide to commence with one of the chews - yum-yum!

The chews are supposed to be eaten at the rate of one per day.  But I had two, because I am Jasper and because I can, hehehe...

I then went to express to my partner my gratitude and pleasure in the thoughtful gift, but she was quick to declaim responsibility.  "Oh no, I didn't get this for you." she explained.  Who, then, could have made such a generous and considerate gesture?

As a very special treat, I am allowed to help myself to some biscuits

"Well, I'll give you a clue," said my partner, as I crunched my way through my first mouthful of delicious biscuity-goodness.  "They're from someone a long way away, far across a big ocean, who loves you very much. She - " [Ha! I thought to myself, I knew it would be from a lovely lady, hehehehe....!] " - she is actually in charge of a whole pack and family of friends, she is VERY pretty, and her name begins with a 'T'."

A 'T', eh?  Who do I know with a name that starts with a 'T'?  My partner's brother's name starts with a 'T'... but he is certainly not a pretty lady.  And he doesn't live far across a big ocean anymore.  I tried to think hard, but I couldn't concentrate on thinking AND eating my tasty biscuits at the same time.  Like males of most species, I am no multi-tasker.  Something had to give way for the moment...

I concentrate on savouring the taste of my presents

Hmmm... A pretty lady; in charge of a sizeable pack; clearly thoughtful and generous; a large ocean away; a name beginning with a 'T'...  This requires further thought...

What my (for now) mystery benefactress doesn't know is just how particularly welcome the arrival of her gift was on this day of all days.  For this morning, I received some potentially distressing and unsettling news from my surgeon.  Such a considerate and handsome gesture of a gift so thoughtfully-chosen as to provide me with the maximum-possible pleasure raised my flagging spirits (and those of my partner) to great heights - something I had, earlier this morning, believed to be impossible.  'Twas almost as if a Divine paw had intervened to ensure delivery of this treasured gift at the precise moment in which I was languishing at a terribly low ebb.

More of the less-happy news tomorrow.  For now, I continue so happy at my surprise present that I refuse to let ANYTHING spoil this most treasured of days.

A VERY good night.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Wednesday 1 June 2011

So, anyway, my partner and I returned to work yesterday after the Bank Holiday weekend.  I am making a slow, yet steady, recovery.  My pills are almost at an end and I await my Friday appointment.

I haven't really seen either Edward or Angus (my Rottweiler friends) over the weekend.  I caught one glimpse of Eddie, through his front window.  He was sitting in front of a settee with his back to his partner as she gently dabbed ointment onto the little bites on his lip and ear.  Eddie struggled and squealed like a puppy while the lotion was being applied.  I was almost ashamed of him.  Against the far wall, I could see his erstwhile antagonist, Pickle the Salamander, blinking out from the little cave in his vivarium; a slightly malevolent and satisfied smile playing around the edges of his scaly lips.  I couldn't truly blame him.

On arrival at work, I noticed that a sheep had appeared in the field opposite my partner's window.  To be more precise, it was a sheep and a half.  On enquiry we learned that a ewe from the farm next-door to our office went into a difficult labour during the night and was put into the small opposite field, along with another ewe to keep it company.  The lamb had been successfully delivered in the early hours.

Later that morning, I ambled across the lane to have a look at the newborn (mindfully keeping a respectful distance behind the fence).  After a short time I was joined by my workplace friends, Ewan and Fizzy.  Fizzy is a small but exceptionally pretty Black Labrador.  Her erstwhile 'husband', Ewan (who has been my friend since long before the arrival of Fizzy), is a dog of uncertain origin who is always genial and enthusiastic, but whose head is almost entirely empty.  Ewan has a fixed and somewhat unsettling obsession with cheese.  No-one, least of all the dog himself, can explain the reasons behind this all-consuming passion.  Nothing else holds sway over Ewan like cheese - not even his belovèd football, nor even his partner.  One could offer Ewan all the riches in the world and they would mean nothing to him.  Toys, blankets, meats - even the nuptial delights of the exquisite Fizzy - all Ewan really wants is a platter of English cheeses.  It is not, however, an educated enthusiasm.  Ewan has all manner of theories as to where cheese comes from.  None of them involve the separation of milk.

My two friends stood beside me, watching the little lamb practising how to walk, as its mother and her flock-mate looked fondly on.  Fizzy started muttering things about 'tender lamb chops and a couple of tasty racks'.  Now I like a grilled chop as much as any dog, but to mention such things in front of a newly-birthed mother and her infant is as impolitic as it is unkind.  I did not deign to reply and as Ewan was likewise silent, gazing in rapt admiration at the stumbling babe, Fizzy lost interest and wandered back to the office.

"Isn't it amazing?!" breathed Ewan, after a while.  I eyed him apprehensively.  Could it be true that the simple Ewan understood and appreciated the intricate perplexities of mammalian reproduction?
"A wonder as beautiful and mysterious as any known to dog-kind." I replied, non-committally.  Actually, that's not quite true.  The most baffling enigma of all is why cats exist.  But let us not traverse those stormy waters.
"Magnificent." nodded Ewan.  I eyed him, suspiciously, one eyebrow quizzically raised.  I strongly suspected, not for the first time, that Ewan and I were barking at crossed-purposes.  I waited for the inevitable dénouement.
"I mean," he continued, "A WHOLE cottage cheese!  With legs!  In OUR lifetime, Jazz!!!  Who could have thought that this day would ever come?!"

A-ha. There it was.

"Ewan," I sighed, knowing even then that it was pointless.  "That is not a cottage cheese.  It is a lamb - a baby sheep, if you prefer.  I concede that it may be similar in colouring to a quantity of cottage cheese - but that is because its fleece is new and clean."
"It is too a cottage cheese!" protested Ewan.  "Fizzy said that cheeses can come from sheeps!"
"Sheep." I corrected him (again - why?  I can't help myself...), "She's right.  Cheese from sheep-milk is extremely tasty.  But you will never find a cheese capable of getting up and walking.  It is a baby sheep, Ewan."
"Me-ehh-ehhh-ehh-eh!" said the "cheese", as if to confirm my comments.  Ewan gasped.  I steadied myself, preparing to support him, as I honestly thought he might fall over.
"A talking cheese!" whispered Ewan, almost beside himself.

Oh, for goodness' sake.

Fortunately, Fizzy had reappeared and was hovering in the background.  She realised that I had had a big-enough dose of Ewan for one morning and brought over his football, for which I was profoundly grateful.  It saved me from having to submit to administering the bite to Ewan, which I was sorely tempted to give.  As soon as his long furry back was turned I scuttled back to my refuge under my partner's desk and pretended to be asleep for the rest of the day.

Before I sign-off this evening, I must bark a word of profound and humble thanks to all those who have wished me well in my present infirmity.  I am feeling a little better again today and my partner is going to take me swimming in a bit.  To Lance, Lilli, Keetha and Kathy - and other friends - bless you.  I would choose your kind words over fame and wealth any day.  They mean so much to me (and my partner).

The penultimate (oh yes!) instalment of "The Evolution of Jasper" next time!

Good night.