Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sunday 24 July 2011

I had TWO walks yesterday!  Two!!  AND I was naughty on both of them!  Hehehe... I haven't felt so much like my old self for months!

Honestly - for an ageing Staffordshire Bull Terrier with mischief on his mind, I cannot recommend this tumour business highly enough.  One can get away with all sorts of disobedience.  Alas, however, there are inevitably drawbacks - and I don't mean the discomfort and premature-mortality.

I refer, of course, to my tiny-brained chum Ewan.  You may recall that, on 7 July, I had informed him of my cancer.  I suppose I ought to have anticipated trouble...

Ewan, Fizzy and their partner had been away from the office for a few days and returned on Friday.  I was snoozing on the floor behind my partner's chair when I heard their vehicle pull into the yard.  Yawning widely, I sat up, ready to greet my friends when they pattered into the office.  All of a sudden - and without warning -

"DO YOU WANT TO SIT DOWN?!" bellowed Ewan into my ear, the dog having crept up behind me undetected.
"Aiyeeeeeee!!!" I screamed, as I shot about two feet into the air.  "What the - Ewan!! - What was that for?!?"

Ewan looked aggrieved.
"FIZZY SAID - " he shouted.
"I'm not deaf, Ewan," I grunted. "You don't have to shout."
"Oh.  Right.  Brilliant.  Yes.  Fizzy said that I have to look after you and make sure you are all right because you are not very well."
"Well, that's very kind of you both." I replied, with a watery smile.  "But I'm fine.  Honestly.  Don't you worry yourself."
"I's a good boy." grinned Ewan, nodding.
"You are." I agreed.  "You are a very good kind boy.  Off you trot and go and tell Fizzy."

Shaking my head, I watched Ewan padding away happily in quest of his basket-mate.  Once he'd gone, I stretched, flopped over, and got back on with the business of my morning nap.  Inevitably, my peace was not long-lasting.  I was deep in the middle of a very pleasant dream involving my pretty next-door neighbour Rosie the Westie, when:

"Aiyeeeeeee!!! Ewan!!  In the name of -  Will you STOP doing that?!"
"Yes - but DO you?"
"Do I what?"
"Need to go to the toilet?!"
"I'm fine for the toilet just now, thanks Ewan."
"Okay.  Bye!"  And off he scampered.  I could cheerfully have throttled him.  I tried to go back to sleep and my dream, but all I saw in my mind's eye was the hideous image of Ewan, standing upright on his hind-legs, dressed in a nurse's uniform.  Terrifying.

Abandoning all hope of sleep, therefore, and it being almost lunch-time, I ambled out into the yard for my daily potter down the bridleway.  At which point Ewan, clearly on the watch, almost flew - like a racing greyhound in peak condition - across the yard from the other door towards me.  He almost knocked me sideways as he skidded to a halt and collided with my flank.  "Wait!" he panted, "You can't go out by yourself!  Not in your condition!"  He proceeded to half push, half support me along towards the bridleway entrance.  "I will look after you Jazz!" declared Ewan earnestly.  "I will support you as you walk and I can shake the drops for you when you pee - "

Right.  That was the last straw.  Never mind the Big C - this was a terminal dose of Ewan and I could endure it no longer.

As ever, Ewan himself was not to blame for his simple nature and willingness to assist.  To chide him would be to deeply hurt and distress him.  Plus, his love and concern for me were most touching.  No; I knew exactly where to take my views.  Whilst sidestepping to avoid being completely felled by Ewan as he was charging towards me it had not escaped my notice that Fizzy had retreated behind the skip in the yard, cackling to herself at Ewan's unlooked-for ministrations.  I hated to employ such a dirty tactic - but needs must in such circumstances.
"Ewan..." I barked quietly.
"Yes Jazz?" responded my good-hearted friend.
"Thank you VERY much for being SO kind to me.  You are a very good friend indeed."
"Really Jazz?!" gasped Ewan, his tail wagging madly.
"Yep.  The best friend in the whole world."
"Wow!" he grinned - looking like the happiest dog in the whole of existence.
"But, you know, I really AM all right.  You can play with me and talk to me like normal and it will be okay.  I promise."  As Ewan nodded and stopped trying to hold me up, I leaned towards his ear. "But, just between me and you, Fizzy has been barking to me just lately..."
"Oh?" whispered Ewan confidentially.
"Yes.  She says she doesn't feel very well at all.  And she said how much she wished she had a VERY good nurse to look after her ALL of the time..."
"Oh yes?"
"For definitely certain.  Do you know a good dog who might be up to the job...?"

Ewan immediately took the hint.  Standing up straight, he puffed out his chest.
"Yes, Jazz!" he announced.  "I am the dog for the job!"
"Excellent fellow!" I grinned, winking at him. "But don't forget; It's our little secret!  Shhh!!"
"Shhhhhh!" repeated Ewan, covering me in spittle.  Then, he fled at full-pelt back to the yard where, through a gap in the bushes, I could see Fizzy emerging from behind the skip, still giggling.  For many months I shall treasure the look upon her face as Ewan galloped towards her, frantically barking "FIZZY!  FIZZ!  FIZZY!!  DO YOU NEED TO SIT DOWN?!"
"No, Ew, no! Not me!" she spluttered, but in vain.

Chuckling to myself, I trotted off down the bridleway for a nice, peaceful walk - all to myself.


My evening at home was scarcely less-troubling, alas.  In exploring my borders, I was brutally attacked by a rose-bush.  It bashed me with its spiny talons and I was forced to flee.  As my partner pulled the thorns from my soft, trembling, flesh I ordered her to destroy the miscreant plant.  Watching her activities later, I thought she was obeying me - but it turned out that she was just having a general pruning session.  I will have to take steps to deal with the evil shrub myself.  'Tis often said that there is no peace for the wicked.  They made no mention of the torments suffered by one as truly perfect as me.

To return, briefly, to the former topic of Ewan and Fizzy - my partner thought that it would be nice to have a sweet picture of the three of us together.  We decided to comply without protest and Fizzy eventually succeeded (after 20 minutes) to persuade and cajole Ewan into sitting still for the pose.  Alas, my partner made the fatal mistake of saying at the last moment "Now, everyone look at the camera!", which proved an instruction too far for Ewan:

Bless him.

Good night!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Saturday 23 July 2011

Just a short entry to express my horror and sadness at today's events in Norway.  This tragedy for our peaceful near-neighbours is as heartbreaking as it is shocking.

Fred være med dere, mine venner.

My thoughts are with the victims and their families and friends.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Saturday 16 July 2011

At 3.44am today I delivered up another alien baby from my nostril.

Smaller than its brother from a couple of weeks ago, it put up something of a violent struggle.  Blood gushed in its wake in a seemingly unstoppable river.  As I tried to sneeze out the troublesome matter, blood sprayed up the bedroom wall.  My partner began to wail and cry as her attempts to staunch the outpouring of blood proved ineffective.  I couldn't prevent myself from sneezing and, with every new sternutation, blood spattered across the wall, the duvet, and my distraught partner.

At around 4.21am, after approximately half a roll of lavatory paper lay fragmented and blood-soaked around us, and some quarter of a pint of blood had daubed everything in the immediate vicinity, I was exhausted - yet still the blood continued to gush.  In her desperation, my partner cried out, aloud, to God to help me.

Now, I'm not barking anything odd, but a few seconds after this heart-rending plea, the bleeding slowed to a trickle and then stopped.  The rich red haemoglobin began to clot and my partner ceased dabbing at my snout, lest she accidentally re-start the bleeding.  Feeling drained (quite literally) and weak, I collapsed into a state of semi-sleep.  My partner gently kissed my cheek and stroked my neck and flank, telling me what a good, brave, boy I was, how much she loved me, and what an amazing, wonderful, dog I "had been".  It had not escaped my notice that she had been clutching her mobile 'phone for the last twenty minutes.

I roused myself, wishing to reassure my trembling partner that, as far as I was concerned, this was NOT "my time".  I kissed her hand and began to clean up some of the spilled blood.  "It's all right, Jasper." said my partner softly, "Don't worry about the mess - I'll clean it all up.  You just concentrate on resting and letting your body mend itself."  She asked me if I needed the toilet, but I didn't.  She then gently explained that she was going to get herself a cup of water and I wasn't to worry, as she would be back in just a moment.

True to her word, she soon returned with her water and lay beside me.  As a pleasant little treat, she read me two chapters of our book to send me off to sleep (she reads aloud to me some evenings.  It helps her to practise her dramatic voice and diction and I take great enjoyment from hearing a story and, more importantly, the sound of her voice.  At the moment, we are re-reading Jane Austen's books in order and are halfway through the first volume of Sense and Sensibility).  As intended, I drifted into sleep.  As I floated into unconsciousness, I heard my partner whispering thanks to God for helping me.

As you will have gathered from reading this post, I am now very much recovered.  Breathing is once again easy (if not easier) and blood-free.  Aside from the mildest dull ache in my nostril, I have no other ill-effects - not even so much as a headache.  I scoffed down my breakfast hungrily, enjoyed a nap with my partner as we caught up with the sleep we had missed, and helped with a spot of gardening.  In the evening, we went to Abbotstone, where I raced about like a happy pup - delighting in the moist grass and fresh smells after the rain of yesterday.  I met a couple of young spaniels and played with them for a bit - more than able to keep up with them, and delighting my partner.  Good times.

In fact, I am - in a roundabout way - somewhat grateful for the distraction provided by this episode.  For, prior to these events, my partner and I were on most uneasy terms.

The problem started late on Wednesday afternoon, when my gaseous emissions proved unacceptable in our office environment.  As the weather was not too hot, I was escorted by my partner to our New Teal Megane and invited to conclude my day within its doors.  I minded not, and relished the chance for a snooze in complete peace and quiet.  A mere half an hour later, however, all tranquillity was rent asunder.

A certain need had been knocking at my fire-escape for some while but, enjoying my snooze, I paid it no need.  When, finally, I was left with no option but to summon my partner it was, alas, all-too-late.  I had an attack of the profound squits all over the inside of the car.  When my partner came to check on me some thirty minutes later, she let out a piercing scream at what she found.  Two of her colleagues - we'll call them Keith and Lee (because those are their names) - ran out to defend her, only to collapse in helpless hysterics at  what they saw and the revolted look upon my partner's face.  B*st*rds.  Lee actually wanted to film my partner clearing up the mess in order to post it on Youtube.  Fortunately for our dignity he fled, retching, as soon as my partner opened the car door.

Keith gave us an in-car air freshener and then left for the day, still laughing.  My partner put all the soiled blankets, in-car clothing, leads and my collar (also befouled) into a black plastic bin sack and spent the next hour cleaning the mess on the seats, floor and fittings of our vehicle, whilst I looked on in mortification.

But this was not the end of the matter.  Oh no.

On arriving home, my partner gave me naught but a small bowl of plain boiled rice for dinner.  I protested, but to no avail.  Whilst I consumed this meagre repast, my partner emptied the contents of the aforementioned black plastic sack into our washing-machine and set it to its most powerful setting.

Cometh the next morning; cometh the last act in this drama.  The washing-machine had proved unable to cope with the contents of my bowels and had flooded our kitchen.  My partner had to fetch a screwdriver and dismantle the filter and drainage pipe - and then had to scoop out, by hand, the blockage - previously known as the matter which had soiled the garments and car interior, previously known as the liquid excrement from my bot-bott.  My partner, after telephoning her colleagues to announce that we would be late into the office, and after consulting the user manual for the washing-machine, was able to mend the machine, clearing up the water on the kitchen floor as the machine recommenced its heavy-duty cleaning cycle.

Despite her justifiable pride at having mended the washing-machine without having to summon an engineer (or her able-to-fix-anything-just-by-looking-at-it mother), the achievement was soured by its genesis.  To have to clean my liquid botty-feculence by hand ONCE (from the car) was, my partner claims, "bad enough".  To have to clean it by hand TWICE (the washing-machine) was "a turd too far".  Oh dear.

But now, harmony and love have once again been restored between us.  And we smile.  We have much for which to be thankful.  Through good times and bad - we remain, for now, together in this world.

Good night.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sunday 10 July 2011

There are still times, despite my history as evidenced on this blog, when I mistakenly believe that I've seen it all.  No.  Oh, dear me, no.  But this is part of the rich joy of my life - the fact that one is constantly challenged by bizarre occurrences.  In fact, I really don't want to depart this life for fear of missing out on what tomorrow may bring.

I refer, of course, to the odd events of a week ago.  Last Sunday found my partner and I beside a local river, supporting friends and colleagues in a charity Dragonboat race - for which we had submitted a team (captained by Ewan's and Fizzy's partner), called "The Knights of the Rant Table"/aka 'Ranters'.  I was the Team Mascot.

The Ranters in action
Alas, as ever, Jasper H. Stafford had a price to pay for his willing support.  That price is humiliation at the tainted hands of his duplicitous partner.  Witness the evidence:

Oh, for goodness' sake...

I suppose I ought to be relatively thankful.  Everyone (including my partner) had a team t-shirt, made by Ewan's and Fizzy's and my partners.  A vest-top had been mooted for me, but it was far too hot to clothe me on the day of the event and my partner limited herself to writing "Ranter" along my spine.  She did not understand the bizarre looks my decorations were attracting - until she realised, with horror, that the team logo of a 13th Century cross had twisted as my fur curled after going swimming (well someone had to ensure that the water was safe) into an exact replication of a swastika.  Hasty concealment measures were applied, thank heavens.

I will endure many humiliating debasements in the name of charity fundraising (and we did, I'm happy to bark, succeed in raising plenty of cash for the day's cause - the local branch of The Samaritans - a worthy organisation, if ever there was one) - but the merest suggestion of alignment with Nazi sympathies is very DEFINITELY unacceptable in anyone.

This, however, is not the bizarre occurrence to which I alluded at the beginning of this blog-entry.

Throughout my day at the riverside I was troubled by almost constant nose-bleeds and discomfort in my cancer-stricken nasal cavity.  My partner endeavoured valiantly to remain buoyant whilst privately utterly distraught at my increasing malaise.  We departed as soon as was decent after the final dragonboat race.  My partner had a heat-induced migraine developing and so we retired to our bedchamber as soon as we arrived home.

Come 3.00am, my partner and I were wide-awake and unable to resettle.  At length, frustrated by her pain and her efforts to get back to sleep, my partner switched on the bedroom light and we looked, together, at a book.

I was suddenly aware of a peculiar sensation in my diseased nostril.  I sneezed once, then again - and on the second sneeze I felt a sharp pain followed by a feeling I can hardly describe.  As I sneezed, something shot out of my nose, accompanied by a small spray of blood.

My partner and I gazed in stunned silence at what lay on the bed.  It was about the size of a lamb's kidney, pliable, beige in colour with two thin blood vessels running along the length of one side.  We were transfixed - it was like the scene in Alien where the beastie bursts out of John Hurt.  In fact, we almost expected the unearthly object to utter a terrible shriek and scuttle off across the floor.

Recovering herself somewhat, my partner took up a paper tissue and wiped the small spattering of blood from around my nostril and whiskers.  After ascertaining that I was not bleeding, she carefully picked up the former contents of my head with the tissue and we examined it more closely.  Most odd.  Deciding that my little 'alien baby' should be submitted to the vet for examination, my partner put the mystery blob in the fridge, to keep it from drying out.

Despite my initial shock, I have to bark that my snout felt somewhat more comfortable.  When my partner returned, I found that I was able to settle and drift off to sleep quite easily.  This happy development continued on waking in the morning and beginning my day.  My partner and I were of the same opinion as to what might have happened, but dared not to discuss the matter at length.  However, our suspicions were confirmed on consulting my surgeon.  I have to admit that this was the first visit to the vets' that I have actually enjoyed.

It seems that I have somehow managed to sneeze the tumour clean out of my nose.  I don't mean to bark that I am completely cured - it may grow back; it may only have been a section of the cancer.  All I know for certain is that I have not had a full-on nosebleed or copious tricklings of nose-juice since that sneeze.  And, more recently, my partner discovered that I am starting to inhale and exhale through both nostrils once again.  I will not be optimistic about my future well-being - but I am greatly enjoying the benefit of this development, however long it may last.

Sometimes, you see, good things can come of snorting out little alien babies...

Good night.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Thursday 7 July 2011

I can scarcely bark how excited I was on opening up my blog to post this entry - THREE new followers!  Bringing my total to 31 now!  To my new friends; thank you for clicking on to follow me - you (along with my existing friends) have made me very happy today.  I have so much to be thankful for.

And so has passed another successful week of being Jasper H. Stafford - though a somewhat exhausting one.  Towards the end of last week I had a most enjoyable surprise.

I stumbled out into the garden to download my first weemail of the day.  Whilst engaged in that, there was some bustle from next door, excited yipping, and then my beautiful little neighbour - West Highland Terrier, Rosie - appeared; naked as the day she was born!  She wasn't wearing a stitch!

I have only ever seen her collared-up or wearing her little scarlet jacket.  I have to say that she was exquisitely pert and more than usually bewitching.  She capered up and down behind the fence which separates our two gardens, giggling and yipping.  Her partner appeared, clad in her pyjamas, and pursued sweet Rosie, trying to catch her and calling at her to behave herself.  Skilfully evading capture, Rosie trilled "Bye!" at me and dashed into her house - her human partner still in hot pursuit.  Shaking my head and chuckling to myself, I re-entered my own property, reflecting on the fact that this was the first time that Rosie had voluntarily barked to me.

Buoyed-up by this enjoyable start to my day, I decided that it was time to catch the cat by its claws and broach the subject of my Big-C diagnosis to my fluff-brained best chum Ewan.  It was a task I dreaded - for more than one reason.  Ewan is excessively friendly and his enjoyment of life and the company of his loved-ones is matchless.  Alas, he has fewer brain cells than a bean-sprout.  His initially-reluctant but now-devoted wife, small yet pretty Labrador, Fizzy, has known the truth of my situation for some time.  She smelled it straight away, of course, but we privately agreed together that Ewan should be spared as long as possible.

On arriving at my partner's workplace I took the first opportunity of a private stroll and chat with Ewan.  As Fizzy saw us off, with a supportive wink and smile at me, Ewan and I headed down our usual bridleway.
"Ewan...?" I began, as we trotted companionably side by side, "You know that, sometimes, dogs become ill...?"
"Oh yes." replied Ewan, wagging his tail.
"And sometimes," I continued, "They get so ill that they can't keep on living any more?"
"Yes." nodded Ewan, gazing intently at a pair of butterflies circling each other and flitting about in the air nearby.
"Well, I'm not very well at the moment.  I'm told that it is cancer.  I don't know how long, but I..."
I stopped, as I knew I'd lost him to the butterflies.  Taking a deep breath, I tried again.

"Ewan.  I'm dying."

"Hmmmn?!" said Ewan, suddenly turning his face - and his attention - back to me.  "Yes, but you're going to be OK, aren't you?!"
"Well - possibly not.  We must prepare ourselves.  I have looked at various coffin designs and I - "
"No.  Yes, but, Jasper - don't you remember?  The time that I had cancer and you made it better?  And all the time it was just my willie?!  Hehehehehehehehehehe...."  Ewan cackled on as he snapped idly at a horsefly buzzing about his ears.
(If you really MUST - it's here:

"I remember, Ewan." I sighed. "But my problem is inside my nose, not inside my 'Little Jasper', and I received my information from the vet."

"Oh." barked Ewan, looking a bit crestfallen.  "But I don't think willies grow in noses.  So you can't properly have it there.  But you'll be alright.  You're Jasper and you're always being alright."

"Possibly not this time.  I'm doing my best though - I won't go down without a fight!"

"Heeheehee - Yes, yes!" said Ewan, wagging his big, mad, tail. "I'll fight too!  Yes!  Brilliant!  I like some fighting."
"Thanks Ewan." I beamed.  How - after all - could Ewan's simple, innocent, good nature fail to charm even the hardest of hearts?!

"Anyway." continued Ewan, leaning close to me and whispering confidentially in my ear, "I had a cancer lump once and I knew this chap and I got some professional properly advice from... - actually, Jazz, I can't remember who it was - ... But anyway.  It turned out that, all the time, the lump was my winkie just pretending to be a bad lump.  Heeheehee!  Imagine that!  You should speak to him, he's very clever."
"I'll be sure to look him up." I muttered.
"Don't be ill, Jazz." said Ewan, after a pause.  "I don't want you to be ill, I don't like it.  You're my best friend in the world and you're not allowed to be ill."

"Oh, alright then." I sighed, sensing that I had got about as far with Ewan as I'd anticipated.  "In any case, the game's not totally up just yet - there are still a good few football challenges in me!"

"Yayyyy!" yipped Ewan joyfully, capering around me.  As he danced past for a fourth time, I gave him a good-natured nip on his flank.  He squealed and then chased me, laughing, all the way back to the work-yard.  Happy days...!

Good afternoon.