Friday, 30 December 2011

Friday 30 December 2011

I would have dictated this entry from my bed, from which I was struggling to rise.  I am tired today.

My partner has been out to the shops, but I didn't want to accompany her, so she allowed me to remain in my bed.  I decided to get up when she returned, so here I am back at the keyboard to bark to you.  It turns out that I made the right choice in getting up, as my partner returned with a packet of cooked chicken roll just for me.  I also ate the last of the Christmas sausages, which were a gift from my pretty neighbour Rosie.  I also managed half a tin of dinner last evening, though my partner had to hand-feed it to me.

I must continue to reassue you that I am not in actual pain - but I am not deceived.  I understand that I will not recover and the time remaining to me is short.  But let us not paddle in those waters just now.

For almost the third day in a row I have had the gross misfortune to encounter the ghastly little scrote Peaches when I was taking the air in the grounds of my estate.  After our last little affray, he did not deign to stop on seeing me, but slowed his pace considerably and mewed loudly
"Can anyone smell rotting flesh?!"
"What's that Pea?" I replied cheerfully, "Have you been testing out a new cologne?"
Peaches stalked off, muttering vile insults under his breath.  I cared not.

As I was about to turn and re-enter my house through the French windows, a door opened further up the street and out bounded Edward the Rottweiler.  I hadn't seen him since the summer, when he had had a furious spat with his fellow Rotti and long-term gentleman "companion" Angus and refused to appear in public - only speaking to his friends under the gap of his garden fence panelling.  Angus had been on a summer holiday to Scotland with his human partners and had, apparently, had a holiday romance with a dog called Benji.  Eddie had resolutely refused to entertain Angus's protestations of innocence, denials and requests to be allowed to explain the truth and had been playing the wronged holy martyr for all he was worth.  Even Archie from the end of my row of houses had got fed up in the end and started ignoring Edward - and Archie is remarkably patient for a young Jack Russell Terrier.

Sighing over this sorry state of affairs, then, I watched Eddie bound towards me.
"Jazz!  Darling!!" he barked.
"Alright, Ed?" I smiled, glad to see a friendly face after being confronted with the face and then the bottom of the scheming Peaches.  "How's it hanging?"
"Divine, dearheart, simply divine.  I had the most fabulous Christmas!  Angus excelled himself with his gift this year!"
"Oh yes?" I replied dubiously, casting my mind back to the troubled history of the summer, preceded by the misunderstanding over Angus's Christmas gift from last year - an handsome designer jacket, but I shall not torment you with a repetition of that sorry saga.
"Yes!  A brand-new beanbag bed!" beamed Edward, wagging his tail happily.  "Bright pink, with a repeating pattern of black paw-prints.  Utterly exquisite."
"That's a very thoughtful gift." I remarked, wondering what on Earth had happened to Eddie's former venom towards the beleagured Angus.  "Yes," continued Eddie, utterly oblivious to my confusion.  "He tells me that he dallied with a distinguished tartan print, but felt it might seem a little crass after the business over the summer."

He proceeded to laughingly relate the events since last I had barked with him.  It transpires that Angus had NOT had a holiday fling with a dog called Benji, but had been taken to a demonstration of a traditional Highland Fling (a traditional Caledonian country dance) and then to a tour of the distillery where they produce Glenmorangie (a fine whisky).

I'll admit that I found it hard to smile at this, as I had long-suspected Angus's innocence and had been forced to repeatedly listen to Eddie's foul, poisonous invective against him.  Nevertheless I have also long been aware of the futility of raking over old coals and, despite the fact that Eddie and Angus can often be a right pair of vicious old queens, there was a clear deep and lasting affection between them.  So I sighed, grinned (as I knew I must), and limited myself to barking
"Ed, you daft old s*d, you really ought to go and get your hearing checked."
"What?!  Oh no, nothing wrong there!" replied Eddie, imperiously, "And besides, I gave dear Angus a beef shin-bone to make amends.  All grandy and dandy now!"
"Oh, that's alright then." I sighed, with inwardly raised eyebrows.  "And did Angus enjoy the Christmas festivities too?"
"Absolutely!" wuffed Eddie, "Though I had to be very strict with him again about what he ate.  Honestly, the boy is a slave to the expanding waistline."
"Oh dear."
"Well exactly."  nodded Eddie sanctimoniously, "Though I fear I may have carried it a little too far this year.  Dear Angus was so hungry on Boxing Day that he stole the box of crickets from atop Pickle's vivarium and scoffed the lot!"  [Pickle is a salamander who lives in the same house as Eddie.  He is an affable chap, though he has been reduced to frequently hiding whenever Angus visits (the reason for this?  Click here: Pickle's torment)].
"A whole box of crickets?!" I spluttered.
"I know." nodded Eddie. "Well, they weren't to know that they're virtually fat-free, the poor dears."
"Look, Ed," I hesitated, "Far be it from me to suggest... but - well - why don't you let Angus have the odd pudding now and then, eh?  Life is for living, my friend."
"But his hips - more pudding would..."
"I know, I know!" I grinned, "A moment on the jaws; a lifetime on the paws... But let it go Ed.  Life is for living.  Living.  And it's over all too soon."

Edward looked up at me, almost as though seeing me anew for the first time.  And then he asked the question which I knew was imminent, but was dreading nonetheless...

Good night.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Had a bad day yesterday; bit better today.

I was able to assist my partner in opening her Christmas presents on the 25th, which was most enjoyable.  However, she returned from assisting with the old folks' home Chrimble lunch with a wretched migraine and had to take to a spare bed in her parents' house and eschew her Christmas dinner.  I could hear her crying from my station downtairs by the Christmas tree and festive candle-arrangement.

I didn't fancy my Christmas dinner either, I have to bark.  It would be fair to say that I have little appetite at all. My partner's mother gave us some food when we departed in the evening for our own house.  Although I couldn't face it when we returned, the following day my partner sat on the floor beside the sofa where I was reclining and broke up the slices of turkey into small pieces and fed them to me individually.  This was much more tempting and I accepted each morsel with alacrity, savouring the taste and the renewed sensation of food in my belly.

My partner was hopeful that this was some sort of breakthrough - but I could not manage my regular evening meal.  We are therefore going to the shops in a minute and my partner will buy some fresh cooked meat for me, in the hope that this tempts me to continue eating.  Do not misunderstand me - I am not playing on my predicament in order to secure more noble fare; I am finding it hard to digest my tinned dinners - smaller fragments of roasted meat or fish are just what I need.  The fact that these items are also incredibly delicious is a welcome side-effect...

After I was unable to have my dinner last evening (although I DID manage two toothbrush sticks [Bakers' Dental Delicious] this morning), my partner went into our garden and I heard her crying piteously again.  I would have joined her, but I was feeling too tired to rise.  I craned my neck, in order to see through the French windows around to the front of our house (my partner, in an attempt to conceal her tears from me, was hiding around the corner).  I hated the fact that she was alone in the dark, weeping without consolation.  I was surprised, however, as my eyes became accustomed to the dark street outside to see that she was not entirely alone...

Honey and Kittenjasper, the two cats who live directly opposite my house, were sitting - on the roof of a car and on the pavement respectively - keeping a quiet vigil whilst my partner wept.  She noticed them too.  As my partner's burst of grief subsided she began to dry her eyes.  At this, Honey jumped down from the roof of her car and she and Kittenjasper (no longer a kitten, but the name stuck) went back into their house, the cat-flap clicking closed behind them.  I felt a rush of gratitude for their quiet compassion.

If only ALL cats were as thoughtful...  I had the misfortune to encounter Peaches (that dark aberration who terms himself 'a cat') this morning as I downloaded my first weemail of the day in the garden.  By the sniff of things he was returning to his house after a night of foul mayhem.
"Jasper!" he simpered, his tail twitching malevolently, "How nice it is to see you dying at last!  You ARE dying now, aren't you...?!"
"I prefer the term 'having an end-of-life experience'." I muttered, not even looking at the beast.
"Eh?!  Oh well, at least you won't have to worry about catching a cold - not where you're going..." grinned Peaches.
"Oh no - and I shall be sure to stoke up the furnaces in readiness for YOUR arrival." I barked.
"Sorry Jazz - didn't catch that," replied Peaches with a malevolent smile.  "Were you talking just then, or was it just your long, drawn-out, death rattle?"

All of a sudden, I looked over Peaches' shoulder with a horror-struck expression.
"Eddie!  NO!!" I yelped (Eddie being my friendly Rottweiler neighbour), "Peaches was only being cheeky!  He meant no harm!  I BEG you to spare him!!"

Peaches squealed and streaked off across the road like a bolt of lightening for the safety of his home, before Eddie pounded him to a pulp.  Alas for Peaches' future credibility, there was no Eddie there.  There never had been - but Peaches didn't know that.  Chuckling to myself, I turned to re-enter my house, only to find Honey at the other end of my garden.  She blinked her pretty ginger eyelids at me.
"I have always thought it was brilliant, the way you've stood up to Peaches."  she mewed, after a pause.
I wasn't sure what to bark.  Honey gazed at me sadly. "Who's going to deal with him now?" she asked.

"You are, Honey." I replied, with a small smile.
"Me?!  Oh no - he will kill me for sure!"
"Ah, well, there's the thing." I sighed in reply, feeling tired all of a sudden.  "Peaches is a bully.  And, like bullies of all species the world-over, he is also a coward.  Turn that to your advantage, my dear, and he won't so much as lay a claw on you."
"Thanks Jazz." said Honey, finally, with a watery smile.  "See you around."  She walked along the top of my fence and jumped down into the road on the way to her house.  Kittenjasper was waiting for her, sitting on the pavement.  As Honey reached him, he nodded to me, with a half smile.  I'm not sure he can quite bring himself to forgive me for rescuing a shrew from his clutches earlier this year.

My partner and I are going to the shops now - my partner hasn't been paid yet, so she is going to use her Christmas vouchers to buy some fresh cooked meat for me, in the hope that I might be tempted to eat.  Bye for now, then.

Good afternoon.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Saturday 24 December 2011

I have just returned from a delightful little potter on the local common.  It was a nice way to spend the morning.  I had a bit of a run and a sniff about, and met a delightful family with a feisty, friendly whippet who was full of the joys of Christmas.

As I approached the top of the common (a regular haunt of young local ne'er-do-wells), I happened upon a most bizarre sight.  Fixed to a tree was a very large wooden cross with decorative edging.  All around it were photographs, little paper windmills, mirrors, baubles, etc.  At the foot of the tree was an odd assortment of paraphernalia and a number of candles.  A few garden chairs and other bits of furniture/baggage were srewn randomly about.  There was no obvious evidence of someone living there.  Most peculiar.  I turned to glance back at my partner.
"I think we've got a bit of a 'Big Fat Gypsy situation' going on here." I muttered.  She nodded and we looked at the odd, shrine-like arrangement in silence.  As we turned, we met the young family and mentioned the strange site.  The mother replied that she thought it had been put there by the friends of a young local man, killed in a road accident recently. 

The fellow had lived in the same street as me, though I did not know him or his family.  As tragic as his untimely fate had been, it had been entirely self-inflicted.  In the wee small hours one night, stoned out of his gourd and drunk as well, the lad decided to drive to his girlfriend's house, eschewing the inconvenience of a seatbelt.  Alas for his family and friends, the inevitable happened and his end came swiftly and suddenly (although I understand that the lack of a seatbelt was ultimately the deciding factor).  That is the trouble with those who live life on the edge - one can all-too-easily topple too far and fall off.

After musing that it was, perhaps, fortunate that at least the late fellow had not taken innocent lives along with him, we bade each other compliments of the season and parted company.  As I trotted off, it occurred to me that, when I am ultimately claimed for Heaven myself, I would rather have a tree planted in my memory than have items nailed into a living tree at a local countryside site and surrounded by what is not far removed from fly-tipping (and I am certainly intending no disrespect whatsoever to the deceased, nor to the no doubt well-intentioned efforts of remembrance - but the place on the common really is a litter-strewn, sordid, foetid eyesore).  Yes.  Plant me a tree then, against which generations of dogs can gratefully download their weemails.  But do not befoul the coutryside with items which pose a very real threat to the welfare of England's wildlife.

Only a short walk then; but interesting nonetheless.  I did not want to get back into my car at the end.  I procrastinated by drinking deeply from every puddle I encountered - a draught of chilled puddle water is my very favourite tipple, after all. 

And, barking of procrastination, it is long past time that I posted the final instalment of my "Evolution of Jasper" series.  I must apologise, particularly as the last instalment concluded on something of a cliff-hanger (here: previous episode) and even more so, as the final part has been complete for some time now.  But I have been putting-off sharing it.  I have very much enjoyed sharing the story of my early life with you and I suppose that I did not want that enjoyment to be over.  It was almost as though my posting of this final episode completes a certain purpose to my life - and I have never been fond of endings and goodbyes (unless Peaches the cat is involved...).

But what would have been the point to completing the last instalment and then keeping it to myself?  That would have been foolish indeed.  So it with the greatest pleasure that I share with you now:


I felt utterly wretched.  Not only had I been abandoned by my partner, whom I now loved more than anything, but I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong to deserve such a fate.

“Excuse me…” said a little voice beside me.
“Go away.” I sniffed.  I was in no mood to be comforted.
“Are you alright?!” said the voice .  I was about to make a sharp and rude retort, but my nose told me that the voice was female.  I lifted my head and looked around.  A pretty caramel-coloured spaniel bitch in the next pen along was looking at me with kind concern.  “Why are you crying?” she asked, in a gentle bark.
“Because I’ve been abandoned here for being naughty and I don’t know what I’ve done!” I replied in a shaky voice.
“No you haven’t!” beamed the spaniel, wagging her tail.  I looked about me again, and began to wonder if they’d put me into some kind of psychiatric block.

“Um…” I began warily, “I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but…”

“You silly dog!” yipped my neighbour, “You haven’t been left here!  This is just where you stay when your people are away for a bit – your person will come back and get you soon!”
“Really?” I whispered.  I allowed myself to feel hope whilst keeping also in mind the lesson of Pebble – a worthy young friend from my rescue-kennel days who had been cruelly abandoned by the humans he trusted and who, for many months, persisted in the tragic delusion that his family were coming the next day to fetch him.

“Of course!” smiled my lovely new friend.  “This is just a boarding kennel!  I’ve been here a few times before.  I don’t usually come here, it isn’t terribly nice, but the one I normally go to was full up.  My name is Pepé.  My people have gone on holiday but they’re coming back for me on Monday.  How nice to have a neighbour to talk to!  There was a Labrador in there until a few days ago, but he wasn’t very chatty.”

I sniffed about me.  There was a distinct whiff of Labrador in my pen – and everything about the spaniel next to me smelled honest and sincere.  I decided, therefore, that Pepé was to be believed and stood up, feeling immeasurably better.

“I’m Jasper.” I said, sniffing at the pretty lass through the bars.  “I’m sorry to have blubbed.  It’s just that I used to live in a rescue home and I thought I had been left at a different one.”
“That’s OK.” Pepé smiled.  “I’ve never been in a rescue kennel before.  What’s it like?  There are two dogs from a rescue home in the next-door house to where I live.  I go to shows where I have to win prizes for being pretty and some of the other bitches at one of them said that I oughtn’t to play with those dogs because dogs from rescue homes are dirty and bad.”

“Well, you SHOULD play with them.” I said, trying not to sound annoyed.  “I’M not dirty or bad, am I?”
“Actually, no.” replied Pepé.  “For a handsome Staffie you are remarkably clean…”

She said one or two other things, but I stopped listening after she said I was handsome.  Eventually, however, my good manners overcame my vanity and I realised that Pepé was still barking.

“…so I’m glad that you have said it’s not true because they are both very nice dogs and I have often thought that I would like to share my toys with them.” She concluded.
“I am sure that they would like that very much.” I replied, hoping against hope that she was still talking about her two ex-rescue neighbours.

I went on to tell Pepé all about my time in the rescue home (though prudently keeping the tale of “The Night of the Isolated Bitches” to myself), how I had arrived there, and my various escapades since being adopted by my partner.  We had to stop halfway though, as the man (and his cigarette) brought us our dinners and then let us out, one at a time, into the field for brief exercise and lavatory.

Pepé was an excellent listener, laughing and gasping in all the appropriate places.  She even shed a few tears when I related the death of poor Kipper.  She asked plenty of questions and, in turn, she told me all about her life as a “show-dog”, her regular grooming and pampering sessions and all the prizes that she’d won.  I have to bark, I didn’t envy her this life, but she was clearly loved for who she was as well as how she looked and performed by her partners and she enjoyed her showbiz life.  It was almost sunrise the next morning when we stopped chatting.

My delightful friend helped the time to pass quickly and enjoyably, which was a mercy, as nothing about the boarding kennel itself was remotely enjoyable, nor even particularly quick.  The staff were surly and brisk, exercise was limited to the field, and the cleaning of our pens left a great deal to be desired.  I understood why Pepé had only been placed here because the other place was full.

Come the Monday, my heart leapt within my breast as I heard the familiar sound of my partner’s car turning into the driveway at the bottom of the field.  I jumped up and dashed to the door of my pen, my tail wagging nineteen-to-the-dozen.
“There you are!” beamed Pepé, “I told you she’d come back for you!  My people will be back in a few hours, when it starts to get dark.”

“Oh, thank you Pepé!” I yipped, beside myself with joy, “You were right all along!”  I jumped and strained for the earliest glimpse of my partner, which couldn’t come quickly enough for me.

At last I saw her.  My partner was clearly equally eager to reunite with me and beamed broadly as she heard my yelps of delight.  The chain-smoking proprietor trudged up and fixed the lead to my collar.  As he grabbed my beanbag and my chews, I bid a hasty farewell to Pepé, thanking her for her barks of comfort and wishing her well for the future.  Such was my eagerness to get to my partner, the smoking man couldn’t withstand my strength, and I raced down the hill, the lead trailing behind me, and jumped into the open arms of my partner.

As overjoyed as she was to see me, I could see shock registered in her eyes.  She noticed that I’d seen this and explained immediately.
“Jasper – you reek of wee!”  As my beanbag was handed over, my partner was astounded to find that my bed was damp and also smelled strongly of my urine.  She began to apologise straight away.  “I’m so sorry – so, so, sorry.  I promise I will never leave you in a boarding kennel again.”  Of course, I forgave her instantly.

Finally, and yet for the first time in my life, I realised that I was safe.  I knew that I was home.  I knew that I was loved.

I had become the me that I was always destined to be.  I was then, am now, and always will be, finally Jasper.

So how does one end a series such as this?  Beginning was easy enough - but how to conclude a story of such a life saved?  How two such diametrically-opposed individuals came to be together, to survive their initial mutual dislike, to become two souls united as one, to the point where each saved the other in so many ways?  But alas; there is where my voice falls silent and my paws cease to tap at the keys.  I possess not the skill necessary to put into barks how much my partner has come to mean to me.  I have endeavoured to repay her love and faith in me; I hope I have succeeded.  To the words of another, then, I turn - and I realise that I am straying dangerously near melodrama here, but this beautiful song by Kate Rusby is all that I want to say.  If I was clever enough to be able to write a song for my partner, these are the words I would choose:

Something of a rollercoaster early life then.  But I would not change a single thing - it made me the dog that I am today.  It made me Jasper - and for that, I will always be grateful.


Well...  I am not quite sure what I was expecting to happen when I uploaded that final instalment.  I suppose I thought that, as soon as I had barked "The End", a bolt of lightning would crash down and eliminate all mortal trace of me from this Earth.  But here I still am!  Granted, I may not be destined much longer for this World - but here I still am...

I wish you a very happy Christmas and every conceivable happiness for the new year and beyond.

Good night.


Friday 23 December 2011

So, inevitably, my permanently-baffled canine best chum, Ewan, has found himself floundering about in hot water once again.  His latest blunderings had their genesis back on 4 December when he, his long-suffering mate Fizzy, and I went to investigate Owl - the over-sexed and under-moraled tomcat from the farm across the lane from our workplace - following the latest in a long line of litters of increasingly inbred kittens emanating from Owl's loins.  (My report into our investigation is here: Owl).

Fizzy had revealed that one of the farm dogs had barked to her that Owl, when no queen-cat was within clawing distance, had been known to "have a go on" a passing farm duck or hen in order to sate his revolting appetites.  And, you may recall dear reader, that this snippet of gossip guided Ewan down a dark and bewildering path of inter-species breakfast items.  Briefly, he expressed delight at the prospect of finding an hideous part-kitten, part-chick foetus in his dippy-egg (a soft-boiled egg, into which he dips his breakfast biscuits - I believe that this is popular among human pups, who like toasted bread "soldiers" to dip into their egg).  I did try to enter into the spirit of his imaginings - I really did - but the mere idea of discovering such a monster in my breakfast egg provoked in me nothing but nausea.

Alas, I now find that the matter was not laid to rest there - at least, not for Ewan.  When next he and Fizzy and their partner (one of my partner's colleagues) arrived at work, it was clear that a state of high dudgeon towards Ewan existed.  He twitched nervously whenever his partner walked by him (which hinted at the fact of a previously-spanked bottom) and Fizzy wasn't barking to him at all.  My marshmallow-brained friend wandered aimlessly around the office, trying to be conciliatory, but it was clear that he had committed some kind of major misdemeanour.  I was trying to nap, having slept only fitfully the previous night.  At length, I could avoid Ewan's eye no longer.

"Go on then." I sighed, emerging from my bed beneath my partner's desk and sitting beside the forlorn wanderer in the middle of the passageway.  "What did you do?"

I won't insult your intelligence, dear reader, by repeating Ewan's explanation verbatim.  Suffice it to bark that, on his arrival home after our afore-barked investigation, he had sought out and cracked open all of the eggs in his house, attempting to find a feathered and beaked "chickitten" foetus inside one of them.  His partner had returned from her living-room to find her kitchen floor and surfaces covered in sticky, eggy, mess.  Quite apart from having to clean up this ovum-based turmoil, the financial implications of having a month's-worth of eggs utterly wasted did NOT sit well with Ewan's partner.  Fizzy (Ewan's exquisitely beautiful, smart, diminutive black Labrador wife) was annoyed partly because of the human anger in the household, but largely because Ewan's "investigations" had not been limited to the kitchen.  Egg-gunge and eggshell fragments were liberally strewn across Ewan and Fizzy's shared marital basket.  No matter how hard Fizzy endeavoured to clean the basket, a rogue sharp piece of shell lurked within to prick her flesh.  She was unbarkably livid.

"Right." I decided, after listening with ever-decreasing patience to Ewan's explanations.  "Ewan.  Listen to me.  Chickens - and poultry in general - CANNOT make babies with cats.  A cat could NEVER be a chicken's daddy.  A cat can only be a cat's daddy, a chicken can only be a chicken's daddy and a dog can only be a dog's daddy.  ALL mummies have eggs - but only PROPER daddies can turn eggs into puppies.  Got that?!"
"Oh!  Right.  Yes.  Brilliant!" grinned Ewan enthusiastically.
"And the egg bit?  Do you understand about eggs now?"
"Definitely.  Yes.  Yes I understand all about eggs now as well.  Brilliant.  Yes."

Abandoning all hope of a quiet and restful morning, I sighed and prepared for another flogging of this long-dead horse...

Let me assure you, sweet reader, that I strongly debated within myself as to the wisdom of pursuing this subject with Ewan.  I had not forgotten that my last attempt to explain the mysteries of the female menstrual cycle to Ewan, using analogies that I thought he'd understand, ended in violence, recrimination and an ill-advised suggestion of Ewan's involving a potato, Fizzy, and the lips she doesn't kiss with (if you really want to acquaint yourself with this, it's here: The Potato Affair).  I know that I vowed at the time that I would never again endeavour to explain ladies' matters to Ewan - but three years had passed since then, and I pitied him in his disgrace.

"Right then, Ewan."  I sighed reluctantly.  "Ladies and eggs.  Here's the thing.  ALL ladies have eggs inside them, which can turn into babies if their man does his bit properly."
"Which bit, Jazz?" asked Ewan, puzzled.  "Is it a magic bit?"
"Well..." I hesitated, "I suppose you could say that a magic wand IS involved... But let's leave that for now.  So.  Eggs.  All ladies have eggs in them.  Alright?"
"Yes.  Brilliant.  Eggs."
"Good. OK then.  Things with feathers or scales - "
"Mummy's got scales in her kitchen!" interrupted Ewan eagerly.
"Not those sorts of scales, Ewan."  I muttered.  "I'm barking about lizards, snakes, and crocodiles."
"Are they the ones with the feathers?" whispered Ewan.

Bl**dy h*ll.

Trying to battle a rising urge to bite Ewan hard, I gritted my teeth and began again with forced calm.

"No, Ewan."  I barked firmly.  "Those animals have scaly skin.  Chickens, ducks, geese, things like that have feathers."
"Oh, right.  Brilliant.  Yes."
"Well, animals who have scales or feathers lay their eggs outside of their bodies and then sit on them to keep them warm.  Ladies like Fizzy, your mummy, my partner, queen-cats, mares, vixens, mice... they have their eggs inside their bodies - and when their man, erm... 'waves his magic wand', the egg turns into a baby inside them and comes out as a proper baby and not an egg.  Alright?"
"Oooo... ummm..."
"Here it is again."  I frowned.  "All ladies - eggs.  Ladies with feathers or scaly skin - eggs outside.  Ladies with fur or smooth skin and hair - eggs inside.  Right?"  (I decided not to even venture near the Piscine world.  Fish aren't normal - trying to explain their whole procreative mess to Ewan could well have been the death of us both).
"Right.  Got it."  nodded Ewan, to my inexpressible relief.  I flopped back down onto my bed, exhausted, as Ewan trotted off happily wagging his tail, delighted with the information he had just learned.

Not fifteen minutes later I was abruptly jolted back into wakefulness by a sudden volley of sharp, angry, female barking, which culminated in a shrill yelp of pain.  Ewan bolted back into my office, bleeding from a nasty bite to his ear, and squealing loudly.
"She bit me, Jasper!  She bit me!!" he wailed as he jumped over my prostrate form and attempted to hide behind me.  Fizzy, however, obviously felt that Ewan had been punished enough, as she did not pursue him.

Wearily, I raised myself to my paws and turned to look at my cowering friend.  Two puncture wounds indicated where Fizzy had nipped him.  After ascertaining that the incisions were only superficial, I began to clean them.
Between licks, I muttered "You asked Fizzy if you could dip a breakfast biscuit into one of her eggs, didn't you?"

"I did, Jasper, yes." replied Ewan, solemnly.  I nodded resignedly, and sighed to myself as I finished patching up the ear.

There really is no hope for the lad.  But no-one could ever accuse me of not trying to help him to help himself...

Good old Ewan.  I hope he never changes.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Thursday 22 December 2011

My ending is beginning. 

Forgive me for sounding melodramatic - perhaps it is an after-effect of my former theatrical days.

I hope that, all being well, I will see the new year in.  However, I am not deceived as to the unlikelihood that I shall live to see the end of January 2012.  My 'Evolution' series is complete and ready to be shared with you.  I am two-thirds of the way through the amusing (although I bark it myself) post I originally intended to publish this evening (Ewan and his late eggy-misadventures) and hope to finish it for you tomorrow.  But late developments mean that I can be nothing but open with you at this precise moment in time.  Please forgive me.


I saw Kipper this evening.  My old friend from the Dog Rescue home (Kipper).  I was in a deep, deep sleep.  He was standing, strong and proud, in a lush green grassy field, his mighty tail wagging wildly at the sight of me.
"Jasper!" he barked, grinning at me.

I was puzzled - how did he know my name?

Kipper grinned again, winked, and looked over his shoulder.  Behind him, a short way off, stood my late wife Isolde - also looking strong, healthy, whole again and wagging her pretty tail.  "It's herself." grinned Kipper, wagging his own tail again.  "She says you don't like being called Captain these days.  Your name's Jasper..."

I opened my mouth to reply - but no sound came out.  As I blinked, the scene began to fade away.  I didn't want them to go.  "It's OK mate," barked Kipper, as I felt myself falling away, "Don't be afraid.  It doesn't hurt.  We'll come to meet you.  It's OK..."  And then, he was gone.

Coughing and spluttering, I opened my eyes.  It was pitch-black and I was in my bedroom.  Sleepily, my partner turned over at her end of the bed and mumbled "You OK, Jazz?" 

I coughed again.  My partner gently manoeuvred me closer to her and placed a blanket around me.  I gazed up at her, and she, in return, looked into my eyes.

And she saw.

I wish this could be as easy for her as it will be for me.  After all, events are now removed from my paws.  The hardest things I have yet to do (and in these I have no choice) - are to wait and to bark goodbye.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Saturday 17 December 2011

Fond greetings, dear Reader.  I must apologise once more for a lengthy absence - I have not been well of late.

My partner has discovered a secondary tumour in my throat.  Be not alarmed - I continue well, buoyant, and pain-free.  In fact, I am better than when I last barked to you - but 'tis only fair to inform you that my partner and I have been investigating local funeral parlours.  We have settled upon a respectable local firm and, together, chosen a casket; an exquisite traditional English wood, as stout and true as my heart.  It has been set aside for me for when the time comes, but who can say when it shall be needed?  Perhaps in the next few weeks - or yet perhaps not for the next few months nor years.  I have already exceeded my surgeons' forecasts and continue to thrive.  So let us cast away, for now, such gloomy thoughts and be of good cheer.  It IS nearly Christmas, after all!

The reason for the minor improvement in my health is that my snout-tumour burst open approximately ten days ago.  "Urrrgh!" I hear you cry - well, yes and no.  I am somewhat outwardly scarred, though my partner's early diligence in tending to the wound has meant that it is healing nicely.  But - oh! - the exquisite relief!  The bursting and subsequent seepage relieved the pressure on my snout enormously, with the results that the lump is about one-third of the size it was at its worst point and my breathing is much eased.

I am glad to report this progress, for my illness has taken a great toll on my partner.  One night recently, I awoke at around 3.00am to find her on her knees beside me, wailing in anguish, pleading and begging - literally begging - God to save me; to take the tumour from my snout and put it into her own.  She has also been volunteering madly for every local good cause, for example, in addition to signing up for The Cinnamon Trust, she has also spent this afternoon at the local church, doing activities for children, and is giving up her Christmas Day to prepare and serve Christmas Dinners to residents of local home for the elderly.  All this, in the hope that it might buy me a few extra months of continued existence.  But none of us can change the fates - each of us has a pre-ordained beginning and a pre-ordained end.  I am content in mine, secure in the knowledge that I am loved, valued and appreciated by those I hold most dear.  And, if you are reading this, I extend this to include you my friend.

Incidentally, for those of you not repulsed by the idea, would you like to know what a tumour, burst and laid open for all to witness, smells like?  Certainly nothing I would have expected...

Sherbert Lemon.  A popular tasty and pleasantly-scented boiled sweet.  That is what my tumour smells like.  How odd that something so wretched should smell so delightful.

To other matters.  Regular readers will be interested (and perhaps not a little relieved) to learn that I have now  completed the final instalment of "The Evolution of Jasper" (this being my autobiographical series).  I shall share it with you tomorrow - along with the chaos that ensued when I decided to take the advice of a Lady (Miss Till) in respect of promoting my bubble-brained friend Ewan's understanding of the female reproductive system.  Never - I repeat - NEVER again.  Oh, dear me, no.

Until then,

Good night.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sunday 4 December 2011

'Tis one life's eternal mysteries that those who have genes least-worthy to be passed on to the next generation are often the most fecund.

Another litter of kittens has been born in the workplace haystack.  That's four separate litters this year alone.  Each new litter has been virtually identical to the last and 'tis no mystery whatsoever as to from whence they sprung.

One of the latest batch

Owl.  The rampant, over-sexed tom-cat from the farm across the road.  After each fresh litter, the farmer has taken steps to assure my partner and colleagues that Owl has "been done" (that certain surgical procedure of which we do not bark).  They remain unconvinced.  The problem, you see, quite apart from the kittens themselves is that the woodlands beyond the work-yard are a Site of International Nature Conservation - home to a rare species of bat and an even-rarer species of dormouse.  Easy pickings for the feral cats who are threatening to over-run the woods, all of whom emanate from the over-active loins of Owl.

The further problem is that most of these kittens are terribly inbred and subject to genetic problems.  The only queen-cat who was able to keep Owl's appetites in check was the mother of the original litter who, regular readers may remember, was killed in a car accident on the crossroads at the bottom of the hill.  All subsequent kittens are, therefore, the offspring of cousins, of brothers and sisters, of nieces and nephews or of father and descendant.  Revolting in and of itself, not to mention the ghastly mutations that are the tainted results of such foul couplings.

Even my marshmallow-brained chum Ewan grows weary of the presence of kittens - and he is generally doting towards innocent newborns of any species.  After the appearance of the latest litter, Ewan, Fizzy and I decided to investigate whether the farmer's most recent protestations concerning his fecund feline were true.

We trotted along the lane towards the farm-yard, chatting as we went.  Stopping just before the main lane (which we aren't allowed to cross by ourselves, as it's busier than the other little roads) we peered into the farm-yard.  Sure enough, there was Owl, swaggering about the place with the smug grin of a fellow who knows he gets more action than he has any right to.  I shook my head and tut-tutted.
"Maudie" [one of the farm dogs, a feisty wire-haired Jack Russell] "says he even tries to have a go on the chickens and ducks sometimes." barked Fizzy, a note of marked disdain in her voice.
"That's gross." I snorted.  After a brief pause, Ewan began to cackle with mirth.  "What's up with you?" I asked.
"Just imagine!" laughed Ewan, "If Owl makes a chicken have a kitten!"
"Erm..." I muttered, wondering if I ought to stop Ewan there or wait to see what else had popped into his simple head.
"Sometimes I likes a dippy-egg for my breakfast." giggled Ewan.  "Just imagine if when Fizzy bites the top off for me and there is a little chicken-kitten inside!"

Fizzy and I exchanged a glance.

"Well, Ewan," I managed, after a pause, "If I had a boiled-egg for my breakfast and I nipped the top off to find an unbarkably horrific beaked kitten foetus inside I'm not sure that laughter would be my first response..."

Fortunately for our collective sanity, Owl turned his back to us and stalked off down the hill towards the piggery.  We watched him go.

"Well, either those are two of the largest rectal tumours I've ever seen," I sighed, "Or Owl hasn't been done."

Fizzy laughed and, after a moment, Ewan joined in.  I'm not convinced that he fully understood what he was laughing about, but his laughter was joyful to my ears all the same...

Good afternoon.