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...).