Wednesday, 28 December 2011

6. Run Bunny Run!

It was a dark and icy December night. Bella, under house arrest for trespassing, was walking under supervision and restraint for the last toilet of the day. There are no streetlights in Bella’s ville. Most Christmas lights had been switched off and thick dark curtains kept the warmth in the homes of the villagers and the light off the pavements.

Dog and handler stepped out, dog enjoying the cold fresh air and handler bundled in jacket, hat and scarf with head down aiming for a suitable dog toilet spot as fast as possible. 

Suddenly, both Bella’s ears pointed to the stars as there in the middle of the pathway huddled a little grey fluffy ball. Not one to look before she leaps, Bella quickly dominated the little bunny, standing like a giant over it. Bunny froze. Handler franctically jerked the lead but not before Bella’s nose and teeth had well and truly tickled the ribs of the very frightened bunny rabbit.

Why didn’t Bunny run? Was he deliberately waiting in the predator’s path? Was his Christmas lunch giving him bunny tummy trouble and impeding his getaway?  Had Mrs Bunny thumped him out for telling scary stories to his Bunny boys and girls?  Or had he been caught in a clandestine meeting and bravely stayed to protect a Bunny Beauty now hiding and shivering with fear under the holly bush?

Run Bunny! Run!  Bella’s handler was clearly a bunny-lover and watched sadly, but with relief as Bunny slowly hobbled off into the darkness. Of course Bunny may have been injured before meeting Bella, or perhaps he was a Granbunny with bunnitis in his joints and bunions on his toes. The good news is that when Bella and handler left that spot on the path, Bunny had disappeared under his own steam.

(Hope he wasn’t someone’s pet Houdini Bunny!)

5. The Rise & Fall of Bella Houdini

It was a beautiful Christmas morning. The lights were twinkling on the tree, the shiny Christmas paper was waiting to be torn off, and we were relaxing for half an hour before heading off down the road to the Christmas day service. Ding-dong Ding-dong. No it wasn’t the church bells or the ‘merrily on high’ ones! The neighbour’s half smile and Merry Christmas wishes held that tone that said there was a problem.

I just wondered if you knew that your doggy is running around the school playing field.

Oh! Ah! That’s why she hasn’t been coming back when we call her!  Fortunately by the time Mrs Neighbour had called, Bella had returned. We would need to investigate the back fence – after church, after opening of presents, after Christmas lunch, after post Christmas lunch snooze, by which time it was dark. This event occurred in England, in December, ‘in the bleak mid-winter’, when the sun rose at 8.03am and set at 3.48pm.

Bella was restricted to going out in the back garden on the extender lead – to give her a little privacy if necessary! She was not impressed. She did benefit from one or two extra walks down the road at which times the desired result of bladder relief was attained.  But how did Bella Houdini get on to the school playing field. With one of us climbing over the school gate (that’ll give the villagers something to talk about ‘that new Baptist vicar….’!) and the other bundu-bashing among the fir tree branches, berry twigs and other indescribably prickly thick vegetation at the bottom of the garden, we found the three foot wire fence in good nick, no holes, and firmly secured into the ground.

Phase 2 – let Bella Houdini into the garden and see where she goes. While I was clearing a pathway between the fence and the sheds under the fir trees, Bella came and lay innocently next to me, ahh sweet!  And then she disappeared and was seen tearing around the beautiful green grass of the primary school!  Argggg! How did that happen!!

Fortunately Bella still loves us, and dogs do have a conscience! After 20 minutes of haring around the field and definitely a contender for the Dog Olympics, she was quite content to have the lead slipped over her head.  She refused to show us how she returned to home base so had to be lifted unladylike over the fence – with no thought of the pin and plate inserted in her broken back leg just three months ago!

Tuesday 27th December 2011 : Bella and handler went for their regular early morning, before sunrise walk. We live in a beautiful part of the country with fields through which there are footpaths, a pretty tidal river, country stiles etc. Dog + water + soil = one very, very muddy dog!  She returned from the walk with the legs and underbelly of a black Labrador. Anyone could see that she’d entered the house by the back door into the red slate-tiled conservatory, and on to the lino-floored kitchen. Much rubbing down didn’t seem to make any difference, but when she escaped to her bed, the green Blue Cross donated blanket turned black with green spots. The hosepipe sprayer will have to be engaged. (Has anyone invented a dogwash like the carwashes? One that can be installed at the back gate? complete with all-over spray, doggy shampoo, gentle brushes, rinse water, and blowdryer?) Spraying Bella down is not usually a one-man operation, but one man tried it anyway keeping Bella on the lead with the gentle spray nozzle massaging the mud off her underbelly. Once inside again, the lead was accidentally dropped making a sudden clanging on the slate tiles, Bella took fright, knocked the child safety gate being stored in the conservatory crashing to the floor and Bella spraying dark water on the white sofa, the white painted door and the glass door panes! 

This was the day Bella would be left alone with the family ‘visitor’ in the house – scary option for Bella, until said ‘visitor’ took her on a loooooooong walk, after which she became Bella’s best friend!  But before we could leave the house to drive Grandma back home (3 1/2 hr drive) after Christmas, the floors should really be de-mudded.  Oops! We’ve run out of floor cleaner. A spray clean-and-polish can was called in for the emergency. Bad idea, as we discovered later – don’t go into the kitchen or conservatory in your socks! (hint: "polish")

Wednesday 28th December 2011 : Back to a more or less normal daily routine – except that Bella Houdini is still restricted to indoors and like a cat, was following my every step around the house.  So Wellies were donned and in the pretence of Pooh Patrol Bella and I stepped gingerly into the back garden. So far so good. She lay, seemingly happy under ‘her’ bush and watched me go in and out of the garden shed, waiting for her chance! I saw her at the school fence, shouted NO, then realised she was squatting, sorry!  Next blink I could see her rear up like a polar bear on Frozen Planet and she was over the fence! Success – for both of us! She got over and I got to see how!

In previous excursions to retrieve her from the school playing field, one of us had a mobile phone to call for help from the other. This time it was just me. I had to clear the make-shift barrier we’d put up where we thought she could get over – and she didn’t – and with Wellies four sizes above my shoe size, I clambered over the fence.  By this time Bella Houdini was halfway through the course and was not going to come back to the finish line until she was ready! But once again it wasn’t a hectic chase across fields and she did slip back into the lead quite happily. Of course I felt the need to explain to another neighbour hanging her undies out in the wind to dry that I was not taking my dog for a walk in the private property school playing field, but having discovered how she got there, would now be making plans to prevent it happening again!

Bella Houdini has fallen. As will our bank balance once we get a new fence fitted. But we still love our Bella!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

4. Freeeeeeeee!

I figured it out eventually – Dad was not feeling too well, so I didn’t get my 7am walk. (accusing look on face). He did let me out this morning and fed me, but he didn’t come back down to take me for a walk! The house was so quiet. What am I supposed to do? I’ve slept all night, and now I’m awake! Why is everyone so absent and quiet?!  Oh good! Here comes Mum!

 Hello Mum! Hello Mum! Hello Mum!  I love you! I love you! I love you!  I know she loves me too and I’m sure she’ll take me for a walk. Yay! She’s opening the door! Come, let’s go! Come! Come! Come!  Hey! Don’t go back inside! Hey! I want to go for a walk! Come on, out this door! Muuuuummmm!  Oh well! I know they still love me, maybe we’ll go soon.

It’s cold out here! I think Mum said it was 1°C, but I don’t mind. I’ve heard Mum say something about Husky and looking at me when talking to visitors about the cold!  Oh well, I’ll just wander about the garden a bit, watch the children at the school – oh, dear this must be one of those days they don’t come to school, it’s quiet out there too. Ooh! Bird! Hello bird, come play with me! Hey bird come back, let’s play chase!!

OK I think it’s about time we went for a walk. Hello you two inside there! Can you see me? There’s a tree inside so maybe they can’t see me! Why do they have a tree inside? Yoohoo?!

Yay! They’ve seen me. I’m ready! I’m ready! I’m ready for a walk! No, I don’t want to come inside, I want to go out for a walk!! They just don’t get it!  Ooh! wait, here they come! Yay! I see coats! I see scarves! I see boots. Wheeeee! I’m going for a walk, at last! Whee! Sit still! Of course not, I want to go, come on let’s go, come on, come on, come on. I can’t sit still, I’m so excited!  Especially ‘cos Megan is coming as well!

Oops, this is a bit different, the path is slippery, fun! Come on Mum, run, let’s go! I can’t stay next to you, I’m too excited, I want to run!  Oh dear, we’re going to the noisy place. Oh I hate cars, they make such a noise when they go past me and it’s scary, I hate it, no Mum, please don’t take me there! OK, let’s get away from the noise. Another slippery path, but this is fun slippery – mud. I like mud! Big field, so many smells, please let me go Mum, please let me go Mum, please let me go!

I promise I’ll be calm, just for a while. I promise and then you’ll let me go?  Yay! Wheeeeeeee! I loooove running! Wheeeeeee!  Ooh bird! Ooh rabbit! Wheeeee! Was that Mum calling? No, it was probably just the trees talking! She doesn’t mind me enjoying myself!  Uhmm, oops where am I? Oh there they are, good, as long as I know where they are! Rabbit! This is fun!  Mum isn’t even calling me back!!  Seagull, hey you’re the one who teases me from on top of the house roof! Come back here! Hey!!  Oh hello, Megan, are you coming to join me? Come on then, let’s run!  Come, I’ll fetch you! Hey! That was sneaky! I was having such fun. Oh well, maybe another day. I suppose we’d better go home, I’m starved, I didn’t have much breakfast!

It's a different story from Mum's side!!!  Bella could have beaten anyone at the 100m or 1000m for that matter! She just disappeared down the path, fortunately didn't see the hare that we saw dashing across the field, but she obviously saw something and flew across the other field in the opposite direction. The fields are fallow in winter so we could see Bella as a small dot in the distance, happily running, smelling, darting, and enjoying her freedom. She couldn't hear us call, so Meg offered to retrieve her. 10 minutes later Bella was calming just a little at the end of the lead in Megan's hand and quite happy to go home! So were we! I thought I'd lost a dog!