Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Tuesday 31 December 2013

I confess that I was beginning to despair of Gisèle ever knuckling-down to write another blog entry.  I know that, during my own lifetime, I could often be somewhat dilatory with regard to this blog - but trying to pin Gisèle down and get her to concentrate on any one thing at a time was proving nigh-on impossible.  Betty arrived on Saturday to stay for a week which, I suppose, was a legitimate excuse but whilst Betty slept this morning I made one more attempt to remonstrate with Giz.

"It's been almost a month, Gizzy, and you're building up a backlog of things to write about.  It's the last day of the year and you've STILL only done three parts of your holiday diary!"

"Yes." concurred the tiny Parson Jack Russell, at least having the grace to look humble.

"AND you've had a lovely Christmas, a very special time in Herefordshire, and I know you want to write about that."

"Oh yes, I want to write about that very much."

"Well, no-one is going to write it down for you.  You've still got some nice stories to tell and photographs to share from your holiday - and that funny misunderstanding with Marnie about the old mines in the hills that you wanted to bark about. Remember?"

"Yes, hihihihiiiii, that was funny!  Can I promise to write it tomorrow, Jasper, as a New Year beginning?"

"I don't know, can you?"

The little sweetheart giggled again.

"I write it tomorrow, I promise I will.  But Mistress promised that me and Betty could go to play in the woods today, so I will be busy doing that for a bit, then we will be having our dinners, and then a bit of sleep and then Betty has promised to curl my Giz-tuft for me in the evening..."

"I know you won't let me down Giz."  I smiled.  Despite the potential misgivings of the more cynical reader; I know a great secret.  There has been a VERY significant development involving Gisèle and my partner - possibly one of the most important since little Gisèle-Stephanie first took up residence here half-way through 2012.

But before I turn to that I must confess that it has brought me much joy over the past couple of days to see the renewed and continuing friendship between Elizabeth and Gisèle.  Despite all that has occurred in the past which could have turned either one permanently against the other, they continue to delight in each others' company - and, I have to bark, that each is much the better dog for their friendship.  As a direct result of their acquaintance Betty has learned that not all small dogs are irritants, to be abused and squashed as harshly as possible.  She has also learned the great blessing of being freely forgiven for her trespasses and loved for herself; not because the other party has been bribed, persuaded or coerced into enduring her company - but because she is genuinely liked; loved, even.  Betty continues, almost daily, to delight in the reality of having a true friend, a friend by choice.  Gisèle, in turn, has learned from her relationship with Betty to be more assertive - that she has things to bark which are worth barking and, moreover, worth listening to. Despite the disparity in their sizes, Gisèle has most definitely emerged as the more dominant of the two girls.  This has given her confidence in every aspect of her life - from encountering other friends whilst out and about to the knowledge that she is loved and secure in her own home.  The development of the friendship between these two unlikely associates has been (and continues to be) both humbling and heart-warming - even for one such as I, whose heart ceased to beat almost two years ago.

And the secret, significant, development?  Well - it is not much, I confess.  Merely - to some, perhaps, - a throwaway comment at the end of a hard day... Something for which I had been waiting.  I confess I thought it would come sooner than it did.  I wretchedly underestimated the force of my partner's love for me and her grief at my death.  But one night, with no anniversary to make it significant - no pre-determinism nor any mawkishness - it was just a very ordinary mid-week night.  No Betty to distract; no pre-conceptions, no burdensome history... Just my partner falling to sleep, Gizzles already snoring alongside her.

And then a murmured goodnight - the words I had waited for since they were last uttered in MY favour...

"Goodnight Gizzy - you're a good girl and I love you."

Happy New Year, my friends, HAPPY New Year.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Monday 2 December 2013

Well... what a hiatus it has been for my creaky old blog... not entirely my fault, but times have been particularly tough here of late and so we have been conserving as much electricity and heat as possible...

But onwards; ever onwards we lumber. My partner recently (well, on 15 November) did her voluntary stint for Children in Need at the BBC, helping the good folk of Radio 2 to raise as much as possible for disadvantaged human pups. But what of Gisèle while my partner was away? I am sorry to bark that a rarely-seen but still existent less-palatable side to her nature reared itself. I confess myself less-than-impressed with her current romantic entanglements. Boris remains present and popular - but now a new and handsome young buck has arrived to turn pretty Giz's head. His "kennel name" is Riverside Maurauder, but he's commonly known by the less-formal (and less-explicable) 'Dylan'. He is an extremely attractive spaniel and an ex-stud dog to boot. He is, in fact, the father of Bug, Giz's younger friend. Gisèle is really quite taken with him.

Poor Boris arrived for a weekend visit, fully expecting a resumption of the frolics he had enjoyed on his previous sojourn, only to find Gizzy's frolic-tap well and truly closed off.  She held him at bay with mentions of Dylan.  Cometh the Monday, however, and the reunion with Dylan, Giz flirted openly with him but then, when he had had sufficient encouragement to believe that he would be welcome if he "clambered aboard", Giz snapped at him and started holding him off with barks about Boris...  Not the sort of behaviour that I would be encouraging... silly girl - but she is old enough to know what she is doing and highly unlikely to pay heed to any advice of mine.  I may have a discreet bark with Betty, when she returns after Christmas, to see if she can bark seriously to Gisèle about being a little less openly wanton in her flirtations.  But this is not the side of Gisèle to which I referred above...

...No, this is something else altogether.  This is what rose to the forepaw whilst my partner was away at the BBC and Gisèle was left in the fond care of my partner's parents.  I was foolish enough to ask how Giz had enjoyed herself during her little holiday.  Giz herself has asked that I now place this before continuing:-

For goodness' sake.

"It was okay," began the pretty little terrier, when first questioned, "But it was very hard.  Very hard indeed."

I frowned, trying to think of a situation in which my partner's parents might be deliberately unkind.  But Gisèle was already prattling on over my thoughts... "And then I wanted to go to the woods, but I had to go to play in the PARK instead!  AND I had to sleep downstairs on the sofa, ALL BY MYSELF!!  Can you imagine that, Jasper, can you?!"

I just looked at her.

"And then - this is the worst bit, so prepare yourself Jasper.  I got a Rich Tea biscuit when I SPECIFICALLY asked for a shortbread finger!  Oh! The horror!"

Gisèle stopped barking, clearly anticipating an outpouring of sympathy.  This was a response that I would never give.  If you have read my "Evolution of Jasper" series, you will know that my life began as a desperately abused and wretched puppy; in fact, my life very nearly ended as an abused and tormented puppy - it was only thanks to a lucky chance, a skilled vet and a salt-and-vinegar-flavoured potato crisp that I survived.  I had also lived for at least a year in a rescue home (in Stokenchurch) for dogs, some of whom had histories so dreadful as to make my former life merely trivial by comparison.  Animal abuse is therefore not a subject I consider lightly.  It took all my patience to listen to Giz's descriptions of the bed, exercise and numerous treats with which she had been provided and hear her calling them "abuse".  She was STILL wittering on as I left the house and wandered away.  I knew she meant well, but I just needed to be temporarily somewhere where she was not.

I drifted up the road and along the avenue in which my partner's parents lived.  To my immense pleasure, who should I see ambling along genially beside his master but... Harvey!  My former protegée, fellow Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and playtime companion, along with my former girlfriend Candy the Labrador, in my trips to the park!  The years had been kind to Harvey.  He was visibly older and had lost some of the thick muscling around his legs, but his rich bronze coat still shone and happiness sparkled in his aged eyes.  Beside him, his owner carried Harvey's most precious treasure; his football.  I stayed with them all the way to the park, wondering if Harvey might sense my presence close to him.  He did look around once or twice... but did not seem aware that his old chum Jasper was with him once more.

Once he'd arrived at the park, he capered happily over to a couple of young spaniels he obviously knew well, and began a lively game of football with them.  At one point I heard him telling the spaniels (both female) of how a friend of his, a fellow-Staffie, had once run all the way down the length of the park and onto the ice covering the frozen river beyond, only for Harvey to have to bravely haul the "other Staffie" out of the perishing water when the ice broke beneath him.  The two young spaniels giggled and Harvey beamed.  Well, you MAY recall dear reader, that it was in fact Harvey himself who visited upon himself an unpleasant dunking in the deep and icy river and that it was I who had to throw caution (and Little Jasper's sensitivities) to the winds and haul him out.  But I was glad to see him alive and well, and making use of the tale to make others smile.  Good luck to him.

It was getting dark by the time I returned to Gisèle.  She had completely forgotten her spurious complaints and was happily watching a DVD with my partner.  Lucky little thing.  And with no further ado:-


... is to follow....!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Friday 15 November2013

Written from BBC TV Centre - working for Chindren in Need, taking donations! More to follow...!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Wednesday 30 October 2013

A somewhat disturbed night.  Both girls slept well - a little too well, as it happened.  Come the wee small pre-dawn hours, some odd noises could be heard emanating from Betty's bedroom.  As Betty seems to be enduring a return of her recurring ear infection, my partner and Gisèle decided that they'd better investigate...

They tip-toed (and -clawed) to Betty's room (aka the bathroom with Betty's bed in it) and peeped in.  Betty was sound asleep, but growling, wuffing and muttering in her sleep.  She was burbling something incoherent about "the potatoes".  Giz looked instantly amused.  I was just quietly warning her that she ought to consider the fact that she, too, mutters in her sleep before she laughs too heartily at Betty - when Betty herself suddenly sat bolt upright with her eyes open (though clearly still in the deepest of sleeps) and barked clearly and loudly "The potatoes!  There aren't enough potatoes!  Nellie -" [Betty's Springer Spaniel house-mate] "- we HAVE to plant more potatoes or no carrots will grow!  Quick!  The potatoes!!  This is important..." and, with that, she collapsed back onto her blanket and fell into deep muffled snores again.  Giz could barely suppress her giggles as she and my partner crept back to their own bed.

I sternly forbade Gisèle from teasing Betty about this during the following day.  With her usual faux-sincérité, Giz nodded and promised not to mock her friend, all the while her twinkling eyes signalling mischievous plots being created...  I shook my head as, some time later, I spotted Giz grasping 'twixt her tiny fangs the little potato bag from my partner's vegetable-rack.  She crept back to where Betty lay sleeping and dropped the bag, arranging the small spuds around Betty's head and then lay down to wait.  I didn't linger to view the outcome, such japes were only occasionally amusing to me.  I did, however, catch Betty following Giz with a look of rapt wonder on her face pleading "But how did you know, Gizzy, how did you KNOW?" Gisèle merely giggled and replied "I saw it in my crystal bowl..."

I despair of those two, I genuinely do.


I had a very good nights' sleep in my sleeping bag and jumped out of bed. I couldn't WAIT to get out and about and on with the business of being on holiday. I heard Devon and Eis, the big (German) Belgian Shepherd Dogs, and their owners from the next-door cottage going out for the day while I was eating my breakfast, but Marnie came bounding up with her trademark rubber-ball when I put my first paw outdoors for a wee-wee. "Good morning!" she grinned. I liked Marnie, she was really friendly. "Come and meet the chickens!" she wuffed (I hadn't quite worked out how she could wuff clearly, despite holding her ball in her mouth, it was like magic). "Oh... I don't know..." I replied, doubtfully. Mistress had not let me forget what happened with the chicken on my last holiday, nor the level of spanked bottom I would receive if I repeated my wicked deed.

"They're locked in!" persisted Marnie, "Only mum and dad can go in to feed and look after them and collect the eggs. Besides, chickens are boring! I mean, they're useful and everything, and I always remember to say thank you for the fresh egg I get every day - but they're RUBBISH at playing ball! They just scratch and cluck and peck about. Come and see though! Dad built them a nice, proper big chicken house what foxes can't get in! Come on Giz!"

"The thing is," I muttered, in the subdued tones of a guilty confessor, "I've got a bit of history with chickens... I was a bit naughty with one last year. I mean, I didn't kill it or anything!" I added quickly, as Marnie's eyes widened, "I just, erm, 'redesigned' the chicken's outfit..."
"What did you do?!" asked Marnie, with a giggle.

"I pulled out all its bottom-feathers..." I admitted reluctantly. "The owner was all right, the chicken should not have been where it was. And she said the feathers would grow back. But I think the chicken had to walk around with a cold bum for a while...!"

Marnie couldn't reply; she was laughing at me. The ball fell out of her mouth and rolled away. "Hang on," I muttered and then I turned and went back into the cottage. Mistress was eating some toast. "Please may I go with Marnie to visit the chickens?" I asked, putting on my prettiest smile.
"I'm surprised you're even asking that, Giz..." sighed Mistress. "No. You may not."
After her parents had assured her that the chickens were safely guarded apart from the best efforts of the most devious, Mistress said that I could go, but only if I stayed with Marnie and didn't misbehave or wander off by myself. I capered out to rejoin Marnie and we trotted up the hill side-by-side.

The chickens were in a well-fenced hillside enclosure. They were close by, but I had somehow missed them when I had gone out for my stroll the previous evening. These were certainly plump, lucky fowls. Not only did they have a nice hen-house the side of a small garden shed, but a shade stand in their yard, a small drinking-pond, secure fencing all the way around, and a notice on the gate with a picture of each resident chicken alongside their name and breed of chicken. There was a little plastic tub by the gate, where you could buy six eggs for £1 (a bargain, especially as they turned out to be the tastiest, freshest eggs I had ever tasted in the whole of my life). "But I get one every day for free, because I live here." explained Marnie. I have a little one, boiled and chopped up for my breakfast every day."
I thought Marnie was the luckiest dog in the world, and told her so. But then I became distracted.
"Where is that voice coming from?" I asked. "I could hear a voice close by, but couldn't smell a person near to us." Marnie giggled again.
"The chickens have got a radio in their chicken-shed." my friend explained. "Dad puts it on in the morning and turns it down quiet at night. They like listening to Radio 4, and it makes the foxes and weasels think that there is a person there with the chickens, and it stops them trying to get at them."
I thought this was a very clever idea.
"I didn't hear the radio last night though." I said.
"No," replied Marnie, when the chickens have been locked in the shed for the night you can't hear the radio outside. It might be annoying for our guests. Sometimes I go up and sit by the chickens to listen to The Archers."
I didn't have the first clue what 'The Archers' might be, so I kept quiet and nodded in a way that I hoped made me look like I understood.

At that point I was called back to the cottage as my Mistress and her parents were ready to go out for the day. Marnie walked back with me to retrieve her ball and we barked goodbye, with half a promise to meet up for a game in the evening.

Mistress's mother was quite keen to visit the town where she was born and grew up close to, Bovey Tracey, so Mistress and I hopped into The Gizmobile and followed her parents' car along the three miles of tiny winding lanes into the little market town. It was very pretty. We passed an agreeable hour visiting the shops, some old and fondly recalled by Mistress's mother, and some brand new. We also bought some flowers for the little churchyard where my Mistress's great-grandparents and great-aunt had been laid to rest and made a pretty arrangement on the gravestone. It was a very nice place to lie down after life has worn you out.

After that we went up onto Dartmoor proper and Mistress and I had our first REAL walk of the holiday. I remembered my lessons from last holiday (for a few weeks before we left Mistress took me on walks next to fields with animals living in them, so that I could practise behaving myself properly) and behaved myself very nicely with the crowd of ponies near the car park (THEY didn't behave themselves. They leaned against, and tried to fiddle with, The Gizmobile while we were on our walk and Mistress's father had to chase them away. They still left dirty nose-juice all over the car bonnet though. Rude beasties).

Because I had been a good girl, Mistress bought an ice-cream each for her and her parents from the ever-present Molly-Mac's van in Haytor car park (equally welcome hot cups of tea on offer in cold weather)

and I was allowed to share some. Yum-yum!

We were quite saddened though. Mistress and I like to do Dartmoor Letterboxing (Jasper liked it loads. I do too but I'm not yet as good as he was, but this was only my second time) and she owns TWO letterboxes. One was not too far from Haytor, above (well, a couple of miles away, but close enough), overlooking Bovey Tracey in the valley below and the house in which Mistress's late great-aunt lived (and she really WAS, from what I have heard, great in every noble sense of the term), in her memory - called "Auntie Win" (her name was Win Snow) - and another on a different part of the moor commemorating Jasper's late predecessors Jaki (a Jack Russell, but not a Parson one like me) and Tess (Tickle) called "The Gold of Friendship" (the stamp featured the profiles of both girls and the legend "The Gold of Friendship is a Wonderful Thing - The More We Spend it on Each Other, the Richer We Become"). Alas, BOTH have been stolen. A sadness.

Better fun shall follow....

Byeeeee! Love from Gisèle x

Monday, 28 October 2013

Saturday 26 October 2013

A lengthy absence.  Did you think we had all disappeared from the face of the Earth?!  And Gisèle only having done one entry of her holiday diary too...

I cannot explain our silence without being unacceptably indiscreet.  Gisèle is unable to maintain discretion, so she has not been told of the circumstances - and it is hard to explain without revealing too much.  Suffice it to say that my partner recently appeared in a public broadcast under an assumed name.  It had a profound effect on the audience and spiralled outwards (continuing to do so on some forums).  A further statement on the same programme; some attention from a tabloid newspaper and the attention of a UK Government Department.  My partner has stopped reading the online comments and debates - the majority are very touching and supportive.  Some, however, are downright unpleasant (probably courtesy of the online flamers and trolling communities) and are not worthy of a second glance.

This is all I will trust myself to bark.  There is much tiredness in this house, as huge storms afflicted our area last night - 99mph winds and torrential rain; the worst storms seen in this country since 1987.  Betty and Gisèle had to help my partner pull branches off the Gizmobile and out of the road so that they could go to work this morning...  All safe and well though, which is the main thing.

Barking of which, please see the image below from our friends at TheUncommonDog and keep safe this weekend...

...and I apologise for being vague...

Copyright All rights reserved by The Uncommon Dog

I told Gizzles that she should step up and write the second entry of her holiday diary - but she is tired, having been kept awake by the storm last night and woken early by the sound of chainsaws this morning.  Quite apart from that, Betty has rejoined us for the week and the two girls are playing and capering like nutters.  She says she will post it up tomorrow.  Hmmm... my hopes aren't high...

Good evening to you, nonetheless...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Thursday 10 October 2013

A lovely, sunny, Autumn day this past Sunday - so much so that the French Windows stayed open for most of the day.

Gisèle basked in the golden warmth whilst my partner constructed in the garden the hedgehog house (or toad house, depending on who moves in first). It consists of two"walls" of cut wood and sticks, with planks for a roof and a small entrance (to hopefully deter the cats). The rear wall is the stump of an elder tree, which was sawn down when my partner and I moved in and the gaps have been plugged with moss and earth. Hopefully the hedgehog who benefits will show his gratitude by eating the slugs in my partner's border next spring, in one of those symbiotic relationships that exist 'twixt human and beast. The opening of the little shelter looks out on my holly tree and memorial cross.

We have, however, had some sad news this week. Mr. Pavey, for whom my partner used to walk Benjy (his dog) the Yorkshire Terrier, passed away. He had been (much against his wishes) in a residential home for the past few months, as he had grown too frail to look after himself (Benjy has been adopted by Mr. Pavey's great-niece, who also owns a poodle with whom Benjy is great friends). Although Mr. P. had a long and distinguished life, my partner has still been saddened by his passing. He may have been stubborn and determinedly independent, but he was a TRUE gentleman with a marvellous sense of humour. He lost an uncle and a brother in the devastating London Blitz (1940-1941) as they were running for the shelter of an Underground station and just failed to make it in time. He also did his duty for his King and country in one of the most dangerous jobs of World War Two - that of a Rear-Gunner in a Lancaster Bomber Flight Crew. Statistically, for every two Rear-Gunners who went out, only one ever came back (see Crew of a Lancaster Bomber). It was a privilege, my partner says, to have known him and been able to bring some help and company into his life towards the end. May he rest in peace; he has earned his wings.

Let us move on. I turn now to our very latest "part-work"; sweet 'Sèle's Holiday Diary. Enjoy - and forgive any inadvertent inanity; I played no part in the composition of this...


After the day when we ought to have gone on our holiday (but didn't, because of a little suitcase problem), we got up early in the morning, checked that we had everything (my bowls, food, sleeping bag which used to belong to Ewan, lead, Bunny, ball and chucker), we got into our lovely little Gizmobile (perfect for we two), double-locked our front-door and set off.

I napped happily until Mistress woke me up so that I could look at something we were about to drive past. She said that it was important and was called 'Stonehenge'. Well, I looked - it was surrounded by loads of people staring at it, but I didn't understand.
"But it isn't finished!" I barked "Why does anyone want to look at scaffolding?!" I couldn't understand it at all. It was like the skeleton of a big building without mud and wood walls and roof. It was just big stones, with no pictures on them or anything.
There was no answer. Which proves I was right.

An hour and a half later, I asked Mistress if we could stop so that I could do a wee-wee. She said that we would stop at the next service-station (eh?!?). Soon after I learned that this is a place by a busy road where there are people-toilets and petrol (food for cars) and, often people-food places. I was very happy that Mistress had understood what I was asking for and I leapt gratefully from the Gizmobile so that I could empty myself. Our stop was not long and we were very soon off on the last length of our journey.

It took quite a long time because Mistress drove quite slowly. I like it when we go fast, but Mistress said that we hadn't had the Gizmobile for very long and she loves it very much and is scared in case she crashes it. I can understand that, and I like being in the car so I don't mind (we also had the radio and some carefully-chosen CDs that I like to listen to). We arrived at our little holiday cottage just in time for a late lunch, which Mistress's mother provided after we had unloaded the car. Here is a link to where we stayed:
Primrose Cottage in Hennock - the big upstairs window is the room where me and Mistress slept at night.

After lunch, I wandered out for a little sniff-about with Mistress's father. I was pottering around quietly when one of the VERY biggest dogs I had ever seen (apart from Betty) came bounding out from the next-door holiday cottage (there were about three separate ones on the farm). I stood very still as the hairy giant ran up to me. He smelled friendly and wagged his tail. I was about to greet him properly when he turned back towards the cottage and barked in the shoutiest bark I have EVER heard (including Betty, even when she is especially very angry). "Eis! EIS! Hier kommst! Es gibt ein kleines Hündchen hier! Schnell! EIS!"
A second hairy beast, identical to the first, appeared in the cottage doorway and bounded over. It was difficult to tell under all the long fur, but the second dog was a girl.
"Oh! Sie ist so hübsch!" exclaimed this new lady in a kind voice, sniffing me over. "Hallo Schatz," - she seemed to be addressing me directly - "Wie heißt du?"

I had no idea what sort of gobbledegook they were barking. It wasn't like anything I had ever heard before - they smelled and sounded friendly, and were permitting Mistress's father to pat and stroke them, but I had no idea what they were going on about. They might have been telling me that they were about to kill, cook and eat me for all I knew.
After a pause, the lady said "Er heißt Devon" indicating her hairy twin, and "Ich heiße Eis! Wie heißt du, Schatz? Hmmn?" Then she gave me what could have been either a friendly, encouraging, lick OR a sample 'taste' to see how much seasoning I would need in the oven...

I was (as I always am) afraid of appearing to be rude, so I hazarded a hesitant little bark of "Hello..."
"Hallo!!" replied the two giants in unison. I didn't feel that my effort had helped much.  

Happily, a saviour appeared in the form of another dog, a young black spaniel-type lady, who bounded over with an orange-coloured rubber ball in her mouth.
"Hiya!" she barked, dropping the ball and wagging her tail wildly. I liked her immediately - she totally OOZED the scents of welcome and friendship. "My name is Marnie! I live here, this is my mum's farm. Welcome to Greatrock! What is your name?" At last!! Barks I could understand, yayy!!! She gave the two strange barkers an informal greeting; she clearly knew them quite well.
"Hello Marnie, nice to meet you!" I yipped, displaying my friendliness and offering the formal sniff of greeting, which was received and given with mutual respect and delight. "My name is Gisèle-Stephanie, but you can call me Gizmo, Giz or Gizzy, whatever you like. It's lovely here."
"Yes." replied Marnie, "I am very lucky to live here. And so you have been meeting your holiday neighbours, Devon and Ice, have you?"
"Marnie..." I whispered (I smelt she was a dog I could trust). "They don't bark properly. I can't understand them." Marnie grinned.
"They are Belgian Shepherd Dogs, but from Germany. They are barking to you in German."
Before I had time to yap 'What is German...?', my new friend had turned to the large dogs, grinned, and barked "Devon, was hast du sprach zu ihr?!"
"Ahh - sie spricht nicht Deutsch...?" responded the male Belgian Shepherd Dog, but from Germany.
"Nein, aber ich kann übersetzen..." wuffed Marnie. On turning to me, she continued, "I just barked that you can't bark German, but I can translate. Hang on...."

There were good-natured barks back and forth between the three dogs - and Marnie explained that the Belgian Shepherds thought that I was very young and pretty and had been greeting me as a friend, telling me their names and asking what I was called. She told them what I was called and then introduced the dogs to me. The boy was called Devon and the girl was called Eis (which Marnie said was "Ice" in English-bark). They came to the cottage with their owners every year. It was nice to meet them, although they were still a bit scary to me as they were so VERY big, and their voices were a bit shouty, but they were very polite and kind. We said goodbye to them as they set off for a walk with their owners.

I told Marnie that I thought she was very clever to understand foreign barking. She said that it was only because lots of people and their dogs had holidays on the farm. German-barks were her best, probably because of Devon and Ice's frequent visits, but she could do some French-barking too. She asked me if I knew any foreign barks. I laughed and said that I hadn't quite got to grips with proper English-barks yet; which made her laugh. After that she had to go in for her dinner.

After I had had my own dinner, Mistress and her parents and I went out to explore the grounds. There were two fields especially for dog-guests to play in and one of them had a nice wooden seat in it. Mistress and I played in that field while her parents sat on the bench. When it started to get dark, we went back to our cottage and Mistress and I retired for the night.

I had been looking forward to this bit - my first night in my special doggy sleeping bag, which used to have been poor Ewan's. I was tired, but very excited. Mistress carefully took it out of its own special bag and laid it out on the end of the comfy-looking bed. It looked very good, as the colour-scheme of the room was blue, and seaside, and the sleeping bag is good. I like things to look pretty. Before Mistress had even said it was ready for me, I jumped up and got in. It felt LOVELY and different to what I expected - it was smooth and cool but snug and warm at the same time. I wanted to stay awake and have a bedtime story, but I was so tired that I fell asleep straight away, my head all full-up with my new friends and exciting dreams about what sort of adventures I might have in my holiday...

Mistress took a photo of me enjoying my new sleeping bag for the first-ever time. Here it is:-

 Bye for now! Giz x

Monday, 30 September 2013

Monday 30 September 2013

Gisèle and my partner have returned from their holiday where, I am pleased to report, they had a thoroughly lovely time.  I am even more pleased to find that Giz followed my suggestion of keeping a "holiday diary", with which she will be entertaining the reader over the course of the next few blog entries.  I further understand that my partner has captured some photographs to accompany the diary, which have yet to be downloaded.  I've no doubt that the all will soon be barked.

Alas, however, the holiday had something of an inauspicious start, as one may judge from the previous entry on this blog, and my partner and Gisèle had to start out a day later than planned.  Initially, my partner was to blame for the delay.  She overslept and was unable to locate some key items needed for her holiday (she never DID find them, necessitating an aggravating additional shopping trip).  Ultimately it was Gisèle whose uncharacteristically truculent behaviour confirmed the setting-back of the departure (not, I note with interest, something Gisèle confessed to in her latter post).

The little terrier was already somewhat over-excited at the prospect of an holiday with her Mistress (only her second holiday of all time) and the fact that this was the first considerable journey of note to be made in The Gizmobile (which, I'm happy to bark, acquitted its little green self impeccably), when the time came for her to decide which of her toys she would like to take to Devon.  Sweet 'Sèle began gathering up all of her current favourites and putting them next to my partner's suitcase and her own basket.  When my partner saw what 'Sèle was about, she told Giz that she was allowed to bring a maximum of two toys.  This was for reasons, most probably, of space and the lesser likelihood of a favourite toy being lost or forgotten at the end of the holiday.  Gisèle did not accept this limitation lightly.  She whined, wheedled and pleaded for permission to take more, but my partner was not to be swayed.

"Three...?" whimpered 'Sèle plaintively, wagging her tail optimistically.
"Two." declared my partner, shaking her head.
"But I need three!"
"No you don't! It's just possible that you MIGHT need one and I'm letting you take two!"
"I want to have THREE!"
"Well, you have to choose two."
"Two and another one?"
"One big one and two little ones...?!"
"That's still three! Choose two, or I shall choose for you."

At this, Gisèle became frustrated and in combination with her over-excitement she suffered a rare loss of temper.  She jumped into the open suitcase and began kicking out my partner's clothing, growling and snorting and, when chided for her antics, let fly with a selection of angry barks and obscene insults directed at my partner.  (I have no idea where Giz picked up some of the choicer phrases, although I sensed the influence of Betty in one or two of the more exotic examples).  My poor, tired, partner was not impressed and the potty-mouthed terrier was sent upstairs immediately to calm down and reconsider her actions.

The malevolent influence thus removed from the scene, packing was completed, although the hour was now long-passed if my partner had wanted to arrive at the holiday destination in daylight.  A remorseful telephone call was placed to my partner's parents, who were already in situ, and it was agreed that a departure the following morning would be better for all concerned.

My partner climbed the stairs to inform the recalcitrant Giz of the situation and to seek to clear the air with her diminutive furry friend.  At her approach, Gisèle sat rigidly on the bed, guilt visible in her eyes, which were carefully averted from my partner's and her expression firmly blank.  As soon as my partner opened her mouth to speak, Giz barked loudly and clearly (still not looking at my partner):
"I am sorry.  Gisèle-Stephanie is not here at the moment.  Please leave a message after the bark and she will get back to you as soon as possible."
"Gis-" began my partner, only for the tiny terrier to interrupt with a hiss:
"Noooo!  I hasn't barked yet!  You can't leave a message for me until AFTER the bark!!"
My partner was thus silenced.  She patiently looked mutely at Gisèle, who seemed to be counting down seconds in her little head, each second marked by an almost imperceptible nod... after six such nods - "WOOOOF..." Giz intoned.

Bemused silence followed, after a few moments of which 'Sèle leaned towards my partner and loudly whispered "You can leave your message now."

My partner had been fighting an urge to smile.  The battle thus lost, she said loudly and clearly in Gisèle's direction:
"Gizzles, this is Mummy.  I know you are sorry for being cross and rude and you didn't mean the things that you said.  I forgive you and want to let you know that, when you feel ready to come downstairs again, your supper is there for you, in your food-bowl.  We aren't going on holiday now until tomorrow morning, so you can have your meal and then choose which two of your toys we are going to pack.  Then we'll have bedtime story and sleep and leave early tomorrow morning.  You may come down when you are ready.  Thank you.  Bye."

At this, my partner patted 'Sèle softly on her furry, tufty, head and withdrew downstairs.  After a couple of minutes, Giz padded meekly downstairs.  She was warmly greeted by my partner, who enquired as to whether the "message" had been received.  It apparently had.

Following her meal, Gisèle trotted up to my partner and nestled firmly against her for an apologetic and conciliatory cuddle.  This duly performed, two toys were selected and carefully packed in the suitcase: the highly-favoured 'Bunny' and Gisèle's ball and 'ball-throwing claw' (a plastic springy device which aids the throwing of a tennis-ball for those like my partner - a girl - who throw like... well... a girl... See here:

In the event, only Bunny ever left the car on our holiday - 'Sèle enjoyed Dartmoor SO much that the false charms of chasing a ball were deemed irrelevant.

Full holiday details to follow, beginning next time... Stay tuned!


Saturday, 21 September 2013

Saturday 21 September 2013

Hello - it is Gisèle here.  I hope you are well. I am fine.  

I have been very busy stealing biscuits and playing with my friends, but tomorrow I am going on holiday to Dartmoor for a week with my Mistress.  We were supposed to go today, but Mistress and I overslept and then we couldn't find something we needed to take (not my fault, I promise), so we are going tomorrow morning instead.  I expect I (or Jazzy, if he's around) will tell you all about our adventures when we come home.

Keep smiling!

Bye for the moment!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Saturday 14 September 2013

A mostly photo-based entry today.  Due, at least in part, to my partner's endeavours to achieve a Summer 2013 joint-portrait of Elizabeth and Gisèle, during the former's recently lengthy stay with us.  Alas!  The path of charming photography rarely runs smooth...  

My partner was thwarted in her attempts by, amongst other things:
Sudden movement


Idle dozing
Deep sleeping



Sudden itchiness

Betty getting distracted
Unexpected discarded crumb discovery

An impromptu friendly kiss

Betty losing it & deciding to pose alone

AT LAST!!  Something passably acceptable...

So there is a summed-up summer for you.  And now, that tell-tale autumnal nip is in the air...

Gisèle's first boyfriend, Boris the "Labra-Doodle" is coming to stay for one night from tomorrow.  Gisèle is almost beside herself with anticipation.  I am preparing myself to be wilfully blind to 24 hours of giggling, coquettish flirtation and general cheeky silliness.  It's times like these that I wish Betty was back again...

Pip pip...

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Sunday 1 September 2013

As anticipated, Betty returned to her own home on Wednesday evening.and peace reigns supreme here once again.  I cannot decide whether Giz is happy to have the house (and my partner's attentions) to herself or whether she is keenly feeling the absence of her friend.  A mixture of the two perhaps; she seems happy when at home or work and in need of Betty's company when out playing and exercising.

Betty has left behind a souvenir of her long stay, however - an unpleasant dose of fleas, to whose bites Gisèle seems to be allergic.  My partner feels that she is nearing the end of her fight to banish the little parasites from our home, but Giz needed a trip to the vet, an injection and a prescription of unpleasant topical cream, which has to be applied each night before bed-time to the sorest parts of Giz's little body.  I am happy to report that she is being very mature about having the cream rubbed on and is, consequently, making an excellent recovery.  Poor little mite.

Happy days were enjoyed by both girls in the last week of Betty's stay, as my partner's nephew Ewan (7) and niece Carys (4) spent a week at my partner's parents house.  Carys in particular was very fond of both dogs.  We all passed a very happy day at a local woodland play area, with games in the woods, a long walk and a lovely picnic.  It was quite heartening to see Betty's delight at being not only included in the group - but being welcomed and accepted.  Both girls - but especially Betty - were completely exhausted at the end of the day.  It took them a full 48 hours to recover to their full capacities.  Only one thing occurred to cast a shadow over the day out - towards the end of the afternoon, sweet innocent Ewan piped up and asked my partner "which of her dogs she liked best - Jasper or Gisèle?".  With a pang and a sideways glance at Giz (who was playing with Betty a short distance away) my partner quietly replied "Jasper."  I actually felt rather touched (though guilty) about this, but was heartened to hear that first Carys and then Ewan confirmed that Gisèle was their favourite.  Happily, that was the end of the matter - Giz and Betty approaching shortly afterwards so that if anything had been overheard, it would be that Gisèle was the children's favourite.

Since Betty has gone home, my partner has resumed her efforts to help Giz regain her confidence in water.  I am pleased to report that there has been progress.  Buoyed-up by the promise of an extra supper-treat if she was a brave girl, Giz managed to swim - all by herself - to the middle of the ford and back.  My partner was delighted and Giz was SO proud of herself.  Even more so when a large and muscular Border Collie trotted up to the ford with his owner in tow.  He leant down to drink from the crystal clear waters of the stream as Giz stepped out of the water onto the road beside him.
"You're looking pleased with yourself!" he remarked, as the tiny terrier shook off the excess droplets of water, her eyes shining with excitement.
"Yes!" she piped, her tail wagging wildly, "That was my very first swim for AGES.  I had an accident in the sea once and was always afraid after that, but Mistress has been helping me to be brave and to like swimming again." The larger dog nodded politely and Gisèle chattered on. "I was doing really well, but then I had to stop when my friend Betty came to stay and she was here for over two months, she has gone home now and I thought I might have forgetted what I had learned - but as soon as Mistress persuaded me to just have a little paddle and get used to the feel of standing in the water where it is shallow and safe I remembered that it might be OK and so I did a little swim!"

She hardly paused to draw breath.  I expected the large and intelligent-looking dog to mock Gisèle for her inability to swim properly.  But I was happily mistaken.

"Well done you!" he grinned, winking at her.  "It's very difficult when you are trying to overcome something that frightens you and you're very brave to keep trying.  Keep up your practising and you'll soon be able to out-swim a fish!"
Gisèle giggled as the collie bade her a good evening and continued on with his walk.  Bolstered by these kind barks, Giz had a few further swimming attempts, before my partner decided that she had to get out; she didn't want Giz to get tired and begin to struggle (and thus undo the evening's good progress), plus the sun was beginning to sink lower in the sky, and it gets chilly by the river when the sun goes down.  Gis was so excited by her achievement that she practically danced all the way home, where a warm towel from the airing cupboard was waiting for her.

In the meantime, my partner's attempts to teach Gisèle the noble art of the game Dog's Bottom have, as yet, come to naught.  The little gem seems to have mastered the theory, but has yet to perfect the studied art of the game.  The rules of Dog's Bottom are explained in an earlier post, here:  Dog's Bottom - The Sport of Kings  I will admit to disappointment that this noble sport was excluded from last year's fine London Olympics.

Newer readers may also be interested in  my autobiographical series, The Evolution of Jasper, which explains how I began life as an abused and tormented puppy and survived, learned and grew to become Jasper Horatio Stafford...  The first episode can be located here: The Evolution of Jasper - Part One.

My partner is engaged in looking out photographs of Betty and Gisèle's summer together, with which to delight you.  In the meantime, I offer you this example of Giz; exhausted but happy at the end of an action-packed day, clutching her favourite bedtime-story book and her current favourite stuffed-toy (A rabbit, imaginatively-named 'Bunny'.  Quite how these girls come up with names of such inventive genius I shall never know...).


Monday, 26 August 2013

Monday 26 August 2013

The games bitches play.  Or - more specifically - the games Betty and Gisèle play...

With Betty due to return to her home on the forthcoming Wednesday after her longest-ever residence with us (over two months), I have been casting my mind back over their antics and capers.  They have never been so devoted to each other as on this visit - perhaps their late shared traumas (the "I Love Peaches Party" episode, the incident where Gisèle was trapped underground and very nearly buried alive, etc.) have drawn them closer - but I am happy to report that there have been NO distressing violent outbursts, no murderous attempts or horrendous savagings - not even the slightest irritable growl has passed between them.  Their mutual affection and delight in each other's company are such that I am even beginning to grow concerned for their moment of parting; I am certain that each will miss the other most terribly.

Gisèle, as you have probably ascertained for yourself from this blog, has an almost incessant and irrepressible sense of fun and desire to play.  Betty has always been more of an observer, content to sit quietly and watch.  She is perfectly happy to spend her day sitting in the garden watching the world pass all around her.  But Giz is never more persistent than when she is seeking a companion in her games - and her persistence is far stronger than Betty's contented ennui...

Below I list, for your information, their particular favourites - not in any especial order or level at which I find them unsettling...

1) Fighting

By far the most favourite game, played almost relentlessly.  Both girls know how to temper their bites so that no actual hurt transpires.  It can look vicious to the outsider but is not more than a game.  They race all over the house in pursuit of each other, laughing and wuffing.  When they clash they roll over and over, pretending to bite and nip at each other's necks and bellies.  They take it in turns to dominate, but Gisèle generally wins with her greater persistence and crafty cheekiness.  They will often play until they are exhausted, rest for a moment (giggling, tapping and nudging each other all the while), and then recommence.  It is tiring just watching them.

2) Dams (Mothers) and Puppies

As is common with most animals, humans included, the major skills of life are learned and perfected through play.  Thus, parenting skills are developed through watching one's own parents and playing make-believe games.  Young Gisèle and Elizabeth are no exception.  What chiefly strikes me about this other favourite is that Gisèle (who weighs in at an average of 7 or 8kg) always wants to be the Dam (Mother), whilst Betty (25kg) prefers the role of unweaned pup.  As Betty's snout by itself is bigger than Giz's little belly, am I alone in finding this somewhat troubling...?  Such a monstrous pregnancy and birth would certainly defy nature and prove fatal to tiny Giz - but reality rarely troubles these two friends when they are playing and Giz loves "nursing" her "helpless newborn".  Ye gods...

3) Come Bye!

This is a relatively recent addition to the cerebral toy-box.  One of Gisèle's very favourite activities is to watch the television.  We don't have a television in our home, so she is rarely able to indulge this pleasure.  My partner's parents, however, have a large and impressive set, so a weekly treat (my partner works in a different office every Wednesday, so Giz - and Betty, whenever she is resident with us - spend that day with my partner's parents) is to watch some television.  A few weeks ago, Giz and Betty were reluctant to leave when my partner arrived to collect them.  They had been glued to the BBC Alba channel (BBC Scotland), which was showing the finals of the UK and Ireland Sheepdog Trials.  I affected to ignore their saucy comments on the (mostly male) canine contestants but was genuinely rather charmed by their open enjoyment of the programme.

Once back at home, after they had eaten their dinners, both girls trotted out into the garden.  I remained for a time with my partner who was, first, cleaning the kitchen and then sitting at the computer writing a magazine article.  Bored with observing this latter activity, I sauntered over to the French windows and very nearly tripped over my own paws at what I saw.  Gisèle was carefully "herding" Betty around the garden in a very realistic enactment of what they had seen on the television.  Giz spotted me watching and broke off to explain.
"I'm a sheep-dog!" she declared, her tail wagging wildly.  "I'm in the dog competition!"
"Oh yes?  And what is Elizabeth up to...?"
"Show him Bettz!" yipped Giz.
"Me-eh-eeeh!" bleated Betty, in such a realistic impersonation of a recalcitrant sheep that I whipped around to look for a stray sheep in the garden. "Me-ee-eh-eeehh!"
"That's pretty impressive!" I admitted.
"Yes!" piped Gisèle, "I has to herd her around the patio, down to the front door and back along the border-"
"Don't destroy the plants, especially the honeysuckle, for goodness' sake." I muttered, "She'll go berserk if you do." (by 'she' I meant, of course, my partner).
"No," continued Giz, supremely unconcerned about potential plant-destruction, "Betty loses a point if she treads on a plant.  Then she has to go down to the end of the end of the garden, around the bench, back between the bird-table and the bench, once around your holly-bush and back onto the patio.  Top marks!"
"Yes, thank you, Betty." I shook my head with a smile at the pair of them.  "I'll have to get my partner to put the film Babe: The Sheep-Pig on for you.  I think you might enjoy that."
"Ooh, yes Giz!" chimed in Betty, forgetting to be a sheep, "That's a really good film; I like that one.  Don't watch the sequel though; there's bits in it that would upset you."
"Like what?!"
"Erm... Meh-eeh-eh..."

These are the top three - things head rapidly downhill from this point.  My partner has endeavoured to teach them my former favourite game "Dog's Bottom".  Betty has grasped the premise and enjoys a couple of rounds now and then, but the rules seem to be beyond Gisèle's comprehension.  When she is a little older, perhaps.

Today has been a Bank Holiday in England and so we had a nice, special, treat.  We went to a country park with lots of woods and a children's play-area with my partner's parents and her niece and nephew, Carys and Ewan.  There were games and frolics, a delicious picnic and a lovely walk.  Very tiring - I don't think I have seen the two girls so exhausted - but a truly lovely day out with Betty and Giz on their best behaviours.  Only a couple more days together for the girls; but today's amusement has set a perfect seal on this most good-natured ever of Betty's visits.

Happy days.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sunday 18 August 2013

And so - the inevitable has happened.  Gisèle went too far; both literally and figuratively.  A local countryside site and last Wednesday evening provided the location and the appointed hour of her crime.  Travel back in time with me now - to around 8.15pm on a sunny summer evening...

Towards the end of a lovely walk, we were heading for the path leading to the car park, approximately two-thirds of a mile away.  My partner was leading the way, Betty trotting affably at her heels and Gisèle was on the other side of the fence, keeping up with her mistress and best friend.  When the former two had reached the gate, they turned - only to find that the third member of the triumvirate was missing...

"Where did she go, Betty?" mused my partner, "She was here just a moment ago..."
Betty craned her head to peer into bushes and around trees as she turned with my partner to retrace their steps - but of Giz there was no sign.  They walked all the way along the fence-line, calling and whistling for the fugitive terrier.  Nothing.  By the time they returned to the gate it was beginning to get dark.  It being a very isolated spot, my partner's nerves were increasing considerably.  She called more loudly for Giz and, this time, it was possibly to discern several barks in reply.  Taking a deep breath, my partner and Elizabeth re-entered the darkening woods and started along the path again.  On further calling, Gisèle's voice could again be heard in reply.

The normal procedure when out with both girls is that Betty sticks to the path with my partner, whilst Gizzy heads off like a little scout in pursuit of their shared nemesis - squirrels.  As soon as Giz chances upon one, she barks and Betty races instantly to her side.  My partner has even witnessed (the girls didn't realise that they were being watched) Betty helping Giz to climb a tree towards a squirrels' dray - until she stopped them with a vivid description of what was likely to transpire when Giz decided to come down from the branches.  A hypothesis borne out when Giz subsequently chose to ignore advice and common sense, electing instead to attempt another tree-climb (with the connivance of Betty) which ended, as foretold, when the small terrier lost her grip and tumbled from the branches onto Betty's head.  Neither was injured, but Betty is no longer so keen on playing Sherpa Tensing to Gisèle's Hillary, I'm happy to bark.  Anyway, on hearing Gisèle's distant yips, Betty hastened to move in her direction.  My partner unclipped the lead so that Betty could guide the way and ran along the path after the mighty Giant Schnauzer.  She caught up with the large dog at the fence-line, quite close to where Giz had last been sighted.  Betty was in a state of some agitation; my partner scarcely less-so.

Another whistle produced the desired response from the errant Giz, but still no sight of her - and she had never been out of sight for this long before, being in general a cheeky rather than an out-and-out naughty girl.  Betty began to whine and cry.
"What are you doing, Betty, you muppet?!" exclaimed my partner, "Gizzy's not here!  D'you think she went back to the other car park?"
"Wuff!" replied Betty in her stentorian voice, pawing and picking at the wire fence, "Wuff!"
Another volley of somewhat panicked calls from my partner prompted further responses from Gisèle - and Betty began to cry in earnest.

My partner then tumbled to the horrifying reality that Betty HAD found her little friend Giz.  But little friend Giz was trapped underground.

Dropping to her knees on the floor of the wood, my partner took up a nearby stick and, stretching her arm through the fence-line (the top two strands of which were barbed-wire) began to scrape at the ground to locate the hole from which Gisèle plaintive and frightened little voice was issuing.  It was impossible to see her, though it was very clear that she was trapped underground and unable to free herself.  My partner called out to reassure her, as she desperately scraped at the ground with her stick, trying to assist Giz.  It was all to no avail, as the density of roots and hard flints in the earth were too strong and the stick snapped.  By now it was fully dark, my partner was in tears and Gisèle's cries were becoming weaker.  My partner grabbed her mobile 'phone and rang her mother to ask if they could come and bring a spade and a torch.  Alas! My partner's father had gone out and there was no way of reaching him.  Increasingly desperate now, my partner  swallowed what little remained of her pride and telephoned one of her friends (owner of Fizzy and the late Ewan), an eminently practical person who would know what to do.  She, accompanied by her partner, arrived some 40 minutes later, a little before my partner's parents arrived as well.

My partner was petrified at being there all alone in the dark - the site having a reputation as a meeting place for dubious types to engage in lewd and immoral acts.  In her fear and distress, she began to cry.  Betty stretched out a fore-paw and laid it tenderly on my partner's leg.  Burying her face in Betty's flank, my partner wept piteously.  I was utterly staggered to see Betty lift her paw from my partner's leg and stretch her whole arm over my partner's shoulder - I am not exaggerating - and they remained thus, whilst Giz whimpered from her underground prison; my partner being almost eaten alive by midges, mosquitoes and ants but refusing to leave poor Giz, until a much longed-for shout from my partner's father announced the arrival of the rescue party.  Communication was by voice only in the now pitch black darkness (the stars were out, but there was no moon, the canopies of the trees blocked all light in any case) to begin with; my partner being initially afraid to call out, lest the voices from afar belong to nefarious perverts, but the shouts quickly - and thankfully - became clearer and my partner's mobile 'phone rang with a call from her friend, checking for directions.  At length, beams of swinging torchlight could be seen threading along the path.  My partner cried out joyfully and raised her 'phone and waved it wildly, so that the light from it could be seen.

Happily thus together, the liberation of Gisèle now began in earnest.  "How on Earth did you know where she was?!" was the first question.  My partner admitted that it was not she who had located the imprisoned terrier; Betty had done it.  Betty herself was unable to express relief or gratitude for the arrival of and praise from the new arrivals - she was frantic with despair and misery over her best friend in the world.

My partner's friends first bravely climbed over the barbed wire fence, wrapping the top strands in their coats first to protect themselves.  And then they began to dig.

My partner's friends had each brought a spade, as well as powerful torches.  My partner's parents had brought another torch and their garden fork.  The latter two, and my partner, held their torches as the digging commenced - but the ground and the tangled routes, chalk and flint, refused to yield up their captive easily.

One of the first actions of the friends was to request a length of cloth, or towelling.  My partner's father removed his Airtex shirt, which was pronounced to be perfect for the job in question - stuffing it down the small hole in the ground through which Gisèle's cries could be discerned.  This was a time-honoured basic method to maintain a clear airway for the entombed one - for it was by no means certain that this situation was survivable.  As digging commenced, Gisèle began to scream in fear.

I wondered - I had never attempted such a thing in my present state of "existence" - but, somehow, I knew I could do it.  Before I descended, however, one of my partner's friends muttered "You know - what this situation really needs is an Ewan...". There was some assent to this.  I had never known, during our respective lifetimes, that my good friend Ewan was (despite his cerebral deficiencies) an accomplished and indefatigable digger.  I regretted not knowing this.  As a keen amateur archaeologist myself, there would have been much in the way of techniques and experiences that we could have shared. He would have had Giz out of there in a trice - and been glad to have done so.  But I digress.  Down I moved, down and away from the scene of the desperate surface activity.

Gisèle was approximately two metres underground, utterly wedged in a ventilation tunnel of a vast rabbit warren.  Her body was bent into a "U" shape with a large flint pressing into her shoulder.  As I stared at her I wondered how on Earth she had managed to get herself into such a predicament.  Giz is such a tiny and supple little thing, she had never before been trapped anywhere.  All I could surmise was that she had crawled towards the air supply and the source of my partner's and Betty's cries and continued until she became wedged, in the hope of being able to squeeze out somehow.  But there was no denying it - the little terrier was stuck fast with no hope of extricating herself.  She was very frightened and having difficulty breathing in the limited air space.
"Jasper!" she squealed, "Help me!  Help me!  I don't like it!"
"I can't help you Giz, you know that." I signed, trying to sound sympathetic.  Don't misjudge me, I was very sorry for her plight - but it was a situation entirely of her own making; and now others were labouring and fretting because of her.  "They'll get you out - you just stay exactly where you are and it'll be fine."
"Where else would I go?!" squeaked Gisèle.  At that moment, the spade above broke ground and a shower of soil and chalk fell onto Giz.  She screamed in terror.
"It's OK Giz!" called my partner, who continued to offer words of comfort to the trapped dog.

It was an extremely difficult task - harder than it first seemed - to liberate the tiny trapped terrier.  The tree and scrub roots were thickly dense and difficult to penetrate.  And that was even before factoring-in the large flints and compacted chalk.  Several times the liberation party lost contact with Gisèle and feared the worst.  Possibly the most frustrating point came when the large flint pressing onto Giz was finally dislodged and she, in her terror,shot backwards and disappeared down the tunnel again.  The exasperation of my partner and her companions was extreme.  The "digger" with the longest arms had managed to reach Giz with his fingertips - at one point her tiny snout was even glimpsed in the enlarged but still-too-small hole - and now she was gone again.  Betty began to wail and cry.  At length, Gisèle was heard in the tunnel again, whimpering and trying to dig herself out from her side.  As she was sounding noticeably weaker the digging recommenced on a more urgent scale.  And then, a sight that was enough to melt the hardest of hearts - even those of my partner's friends; who were no fans of Betty whatsoever.

The distraught Giant Schnauzer had flattened herself on the ground, turned herself sideways, and had stretched out her right forearm as far as she could.  She was trying her hardest to reach under the wire fence to assist with the digging.  Scraping and paddling the ground as hard as she could, she brought tears to more than one eye in her desperate attempt to help to free her beloved and entombed best friend.

After another half hour's sweat-inducing digging, a section of chalk and flint began to fall away.  My partner's friend advised everyone to stand ready.  A large flint was dislodged and, all of a sudden, with a quick apology to Giz for any imminent pain, my partner's friend grabbed Gisèle around the shoulders and hauled her out of the hole.

Betty collapsed in relief, giving great shuddering sobs, as Giz was passed over the fence into my partner's arms.  The whole end of the process reminded me forcibly of the birthing process - my partner's friend being the midwife; the Earth had laboured and delivered up little Gisèle.

Giz was trembling violently and was covered from snout to tail-tip in dirt and chalk-dust.  The first thing my partner did was to hold Gisèle up to Elizabeth's snout.  Betty, almost beside herself with relief, kissed and licked her best friend's little face whilst the deep hole was carefully refilled.

It was a quarter past midnight when Gisèle was finally freed.  A quarter past midnight.

A much-relieved but exhausted little party trekked back along the path, my partner still clutching Giz tightly to her and Betty leading the way with my partner's father, for half a mile back to the car park.  Personally, I felt they were d-mned lucky not to get a backside full of buckshot from an irate gamekeeper, as the group looked, to all intents and purposes, like an illegal badger-baiting ring.  Spades, torches, two dogs (one of which being a young terrier who had noticeably spent much of the recent past in an underground hole) in a remote part of the countryside... ALL the hallmarks combined.  But it seemed that, finally, luck was starting to favour the whole pathetic situation.

Profuse and grateful thanks were bestowed upon all who came to help (actual gifts followed the following day) and everyone departed for their relative houses.  The one minor (very minor) positive was the sight of all the stars twinkling so exquisitely out there, in the middle of nowhere, with no street-lights to reduce their beauty...

But 'twas neither the time nor the place.  With Elizabeth and - finally - Gisèle secured in The Gizmobile, we departed the whole sorry scene.

We hadn't even got a third of the way home before the inevitable next stage of relief and release washed over Betty, whose nerves had been stretched to breaking point - despite the fact that the very best of her character had been revealed to those minded to dislike her.
"What the BL**DY H*LL did you think you were DOING, you stupid little FOOL?!?" she roared.  And that was the only part of the ensuing invective that I can quote to you, dear reader.  I was astounded that Betty even knew some of the words and expressions which she flung in Gisèle's direction.  Eventually, as we were pulling into our own little cul-de-sac, Betty had either barked herself hoarse or else had reached a state of indignation that rendered her barkless, and she flopped down to concentrate on removing thorns, burrs and brambles from her own fur.

Gisèle was quickly cleaned and sent to bed without supper.  Betty, who was still in a state of utter distress despite the luckily happy ending, was cuddled, thanked profusely for her care, compassion and steadfastness during the late crisis and settled into her bedroom with Gisèle's supper as well as her own.

Elizabeth continues to exude tender concern towards my partner and a more mindful eye upon Giz - tactfully shepherding the latter away from further temptation into wickedness and bestowing affectionate cuddles upon my partner - possibly in part by way of apology for her past ill-judged misbehaviour but, most likely, because of their shared experience in almost losing the sweet, stupid, impetuous, warm-hearted little Gisèle.

Gisèle, on the other paw, has yet to show even a modicum of remorse which, I'll admit, has only served to provoke me.  I trust that Betty will soon succeed in guiding her onto an higher path...

Bit of a turn-up for the books, eh?  Good Betty.  Wicked Gisèle.  I don't know WHAT happened - but it didn't take place on MY watch, I can assure you of that...

For goodness' sake...