Wednesday, 23 November 2011

3. Bella's List .... of things to destroy!

              So you heard about the duck statue, the flower pots and the pond pump hose. And now we have discovered why our Sky suddenly lost its connection last night: Bella had chewed through the little bit of cable before it goes through the hole in the wall to the lounge!  Will have to ask the tech to site it a little higher!  On top of that, it appears that the electric cable for the pond pump – not just the water hose – has been chewed! Amazing the fish are still in the pond – well they were the last time I looked!

              The washing machine problems we cannot blame on Bella – I don’t think! And I don’t think the water seeping out of the main down-pipe has anything to do with her – or at least I hope not! She has dismantled the trellis which was along the same wall, but nah! it can’t be connected!

             The vet has seen her for the last time regarding her leg and he doesn’t want her taking long walks just yet – long as in 1hour. So somehow we’ve got to get rid of all the frustration and energy without taking long walks and playing rough! Mmmmm! Poor thing! She’s missing out on puppy-hood!
Who? Me?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

2. Canine respect & archaeology

       Bella has been with us for a month. She is beautiful, soppy, lovable and responsive to simple discipline. She jumped on the white sofa just once – yes of course she had muddy paws! She took Daddy’s sheepskin slipper out into the garden – just once! “No!” simply means NO and when we say “Out”, you can almost see the bottom lip curl as she turns and walks away!  The vet has taken the final x-rays of the broken leg/pin & plate and given her the all clear; just one more vet check-up next week. Let the long walks begin! 

       On Monday we went out along Lings Lane, a tar road linking Chelmondiston to Harkstead with open fields on both sides. Bella is still on a lead as we’re still not sure of her ‘recall’.  The peace and quiet of a cool country walk is definitely good for both body and soul!  While Bella enjoyed the new smells on the side of the road I was enjoying the misty line of trees, the sun giving off not much more light than the energy saver lightbulbs, and the birds twittering and twattering as they extracted reluctant earthworms from the farmer’s fields! After 45 minutes and within sight of what I presume was Harkstead church, I realised that however far I walk, I have to walk back again, and we turned around, but this time taking a ‘footpath/bridleway’ route across the slowly greening fields and after about 20 minutes or so, happily found ourselves at the (closed down) Red Lion pub next to the bus stop and just a few minutes away from home.

       On Wednesday we went the other way towards Shotley and Bella put up no argument as we walked down the narrow pathway past St Andrews graveyard and into the Chelmondiston Baptist Church graveyard (there’s a public pathway going through the CBC graveyard!) However, once on the main road with cars, postie’s van, farm trucks and delivery vans ambling past at 30mph, Bella was as frightened as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs (got that from a Google search!!) Her tail was safe between her legs but she was obviously very, very scared. I will have to look up the counseling on that problem.  We eventually found a footpath and enjoyed another walk through open fields on a beautiful autumn/winter day.  I decided that Bella had been really good and unclipped her lead – she sprinted 100m ahead, stopped, looked back at me tail wagging furiously and I had that sinking feeling that she wasn’t going to come back when called. I’d hardly pulled my hand out of my pocket with the ever-present treat than she ran back and was duly rewarded and safely clipped back onto the lead!  Whew! She enjoyed the burst of freedom and I enjoyed the fact that she returned so quickly without a fight or cajoling!

       After both these walks Bella spent the rest of the day sleeping, either in her warm sheepskin basket in the kitchen or in/on the old tyre in the overgrown corner of the garden! But on Tuesday, when the only walk she had was with Daddy in the pitch dark at 5pm, she had an archaeological day in the garden!  I’ve lost count of how many balls have ‘appeared’, some probably thanks to the primary school on the other side of the fence! My desk is right next to the window overlooking the garden and I get to see all newcomers - who are immediately investigated.

       The ornament duck which once sat next to the pond, has now died. Its throat was totally removed as were its feet.  The 20cm diameter frog pond ‘thing’ which appeared this morning has been replaced on the stone next to the pond, but I’m not too sure how long it will stay there – in one piece. Yesterday a black piece of ribbed hose joined the treasure chest and I only discovered today where it came from. I switched on the pond pump while I was clearing debris – chewed sticks, trampled Chinese lantern flowers and a red velvet bow – but noticed that the water didn’t seem to be flowing into the pond as strongly as it had been. Pushing aside the greenery that almost engulfs the pond I found the water wasn’t quite getting to the top rock, but was flowing quite gently out of a chewed black piece of ribbed hose! 

       Next to the pond was a bottle – one of those old-fashioned green thick glass bottles. Where did she get this from?!  After a bit of cleaning I could make out the words ‘Talbot & Co. Mineral Waters Ipswich’.  I can’t find the same image on the web, but the Talbot & Co. company dates back to 1840, so there’s some Googling to do to see if I can find out when ‘my’ – sorry, Bella’s bottle was made. I’m sure it’s not worth much but I’m almost certain it’s a collector’s item – another sale on Ebay!

      There is one garden ornament that has earned Bella’s respect and has not experienced even a slobbery lick – the little latex mould garden mole!  He is her doorkeeper and worthy of all respect and appreciation. He holds the back door open in all weathers to ensure that Bella can go out if she needs and come in if she wishes. Brave little mole!


That’s all for now – I wonder what she’ll do when/if it snows?!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

1. Of Muddy Fields & Tidal Rivers

Do you remember those puppy days? When a walk to the end of the road was pulling, coaxing, and pirouetting around dog and lead?  At 9 months old Bella has had to adjust to a different household but for the first month she was only allowed 10 minute walks while she was recuperating from a broken leg. But after the all-clear from the vet, the longer walk was a Big Thing! 

7.30am. It was a dull, overcast autumn day, with a cool breezy wind blowing past our faces as we stood patiently in the backyard, waiting for said puppy to stop tearing around the garden and to become calm and submissive before the lead was snapped on – as per The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan!

She was so good as she walked down familiar tar, smelled familiar bushes, watched with interrupted intensity familiar seagulls in their morning ritual, but soon she got beyond the doggy smells of the lane and into the field where until now she’d only had a whiff of the horse smells. The excitement grew as she started to pull as if she was playing a game of solo tennis! We managed to distract her before a roll in buck droppings, which would have meant banishment from the kitchen bed, and then she quickly learnt the ways of the country stile. She goes under, the lead gets passed under – oops no, she went through the wrong hole – and then human climbs over and retrieves lead - what a palaver!

A distinctly sea, fishy, boat smell keeps her nose close to the ground as we walk single file past the boat yard, with tantalisingly new, albeit yucky, smells mingling about 12 inches from the ground.

For us humans, the sight at the end of the muddy fields and smelly boatyard is the prize of the morning. The sun is just a 40w glow behind dirty white clouds, the air is still, the River Orwell is very, very gently lapping up the slipway and the yachts dotted at anchor sway contentedly. The sight that famous oil paintings are made of!

Bella’s first visit to water – apart from puddles with which she has no problem:   maybe there is no Labrador in her after all! In our human wellies we wade a little way down the slipway to try and coax her to try the healing streams, but apart from her toenails, nothing else is going to intentionally get wet!  Unbeknown to her however, walking four paws through puddles has thrown up muddy splashes to her golden belly, and then like a good puppy, she sits, left leg comfortably tucked under so that her haunches sit fair and square in the muddy puddle!

We are so blessed to have this picturesque spot on our doorstep, and Bella will have many more opportunities to dip her paws into the tidal River Orwell!

Back home, the mud needs to be banished.  Remember those puppy days? Having eventually found the most comfortable spray nozzle that doesn’t make her look like a Springbok in the backyard, she runs off to dry herself under the bushes and to continue the game she thinks we’re playing. Ears up – well perhaps one folded over – she stands on the forbidden not-yet-planted vegetable plot and plops down in that playful pose – and the clean blonde underbelly is magically turned to muddy black underbelly! 

Fortunately she prefers being outside to inside, so humans leave wellies on the doorstep, close the back door and settle down to a warming cup of coffee. Bella will play herself clean – eventually!

(Photo of Barge at Pin Mill by Megan Kelland -