Friday, 27 January 2012

10. The Dog who wanted to be Cat

       I am sorry to report that given a parole day last Saturday, Bella broke her parole terms and attempted to get in to the school playing fields once again. It was fortunate therefore, that the house arrest officers had been tipped off that she might try the escape again, through a distinct change in her behaviour. She had started sniffing at dinner plates even though she has never been fed scraps before, and worse, she started destroying her foam lined bed, and not displaying any visible signs of remorse.  The Saturday parole date had been set however, and with one officer in the school grounds and one in the garden (under cover as an industrious gardener), she was released as promised.

       Although the officer in the school playing field had taken a book with him expecting a bit of a wait, he didn’t get far before receiving the BBM from the officer on the inside that Bella was climbing the tree which having grown up with the original fence now didn’t know which side of the fence it was supposed to be!  As the officer in the garden watched with disbelief, standing almost directly behind her as she continued to scramble up the tree, and clinging to the strangling ivy, Bella reached the top of the 5ft 6in fence and was about to make the leap over. At this point both officers moved in and prevented the final transgression; Bella was marched back to the house where she lay on the conservatory floor while the officers discussed the next stage.

       The tree she clambered up is dead and probably has been for some time. It has already been cut but at a height of about 10ft. What made it easy to climb was the step formed by the tree forking about 12in (30cm) from the ground. From there using the ivy and other dense parasitic plant-life, it was easy to clamber up and on to the wire fence, but the descent is something left to our imagination, it couldn’t have been very elegant or graceful!

      Having hacked away a good pile of said parasitic plant-life, and dumping it in the newly acquired Brown Suffolk Council Garden Refuse Bin, it was a little clearer that the tree itself would need to be removed and the fence re-done. The higher ground against the fence caused by piling up garden waste week after week (previous owners), would also need to be dug out and levelled to the rest of the garden.

      The tree, as I said, was dead and would have been fairly easy to cut down with the right tools and if the fence wasn’t in the way! The sawing started, but as I went inside to fetch the axe, the doorbell rang – a Surprise Visitor saved the (hard work) day! And about half an hour later it rained. So once again, Bella has been confined to the house, going out for four or five wee walks a day!

     Maybe a little more progress can be made this Saturday!

9. Blushing Bella!

(Apologies! Blog numbers 8 & 9 got left behind and only discovered when posting No. 10! So this one should have been about 13th Jan 2012!)

       Bella is, according to the estimation of the Blue Cross, about 11 months old. Unfortunately she’s no stranger to the place that smells so incredibly interesting, that almost certainly has new friends to meet and old enemies to terrorise, the place that has really nice people to look after you and the place where someone like Bella is nearly always put in an embarrassing situation!

      Bella was handed to the Felixtowe Blue Cross in about September last year with a broken leg. They arranged for her to be treated and now she has a pin and plate in her right back leg.  X-rays on dogs, even just to check everything is knitting together, is not as simple a procedure as for humans. Animal X-rays are done under anaesthetic; so she’s done that too.

      This week we decided to take Bella to the vet (different to the one the Felixtowe Blue Cross use) because she was biting and nibbling her tail quite a bit which, having had dogs before, we knew may have been mites or maybe the flea treatment wasn’t working.

      Unlike some dogs who just know that climbing into the car means “VET!!!!” and start dancing on the end of the lead trying to escape, Bella was calm. Inside the waiting room, we were the only ones there for about a minute until a cat was brought in a cat-box.  As far as Bella is concerned cats are friends - who keep running away! There’s a ginger cat who I’m sure saunters deliberately across the muddy pathway when she sees Bella coming back from a walk.  (Unfortunately I didn’t see Ginger Cat one day and Bella did, and the jerk on the end of the extender lead nearly pulled my arm out of its socket!)  But then again Bella is very responsive and very obedient and soon lost interest in the cat-box.  A young lady sat down next to us with a little Yorkie in her arms. Yorkie was obviously not well as he didn’t show any interest or emotion in Bella’s excitable dance just under his nose.  Next in the waiting room was a dog called Stella, which got a little confusing as both dogs only heard the ‘ella’ bit when spoken to! While Yorkie’s owner simply said she was grumpy (dog that is not owner!), Stella’s owner said she didn’t like dogs (again, dog, not owner!) Our turn to weigh in - 20.2kg, that’s 4kg up from last time, a growing puppy!

       With the problem explained to the vet, Bella realised that she had a potentially embarrassing situation on her paws!  Vet lifted her tail, felt around her belly, legs and bum and then thankfully let go. Whew! That wasn’t too bad. So vet told us he didn’t see any evidence of fleas or mites, but that as a matter of interest, they had stopped stocking Frontline as some dogs had become immune to its effect and as a practice they now recommended Stronghold – something to keep in mind for the next flea treatment in about a month’s time. 

       One of the main causes of itchiness, he told us, was allergies; allergies to house-dust, grass, pollen, etc.  We live in the country with open fields all around us which Bella loves to jump around in, long autumn grass which camouflages her in the dawn light walks. Imagine a dog being allergic to grass!

       By this time Bella was lying quite comfortably on the examining table, unperturbed by the talking – and what was about to happen.

      One other thing, said the Vet, that could make her bite her rear end and her paws, is maybe her anal glands are blocked. Bella’s comfort was immediately disturbed and she was lifted to her four feet.  As she obediently turned her backside to the vet, her ears went back, her head lowered into my chest to hide, and if a dog could blush, her eyes said it all!  The vet stuck his gloved finger up her backside – now how embarrassing is that with her owners present!  But it was all over in less than a minute and no-one else seemed to be bothered, except the still blushing Bella.

     Fortunately we were able to answer the vet’s question about pet insurance in the affirmative as, he said, allergy testing could cost hundreds of pounds!   Let’s hope that we don’t have to go that route and that the finger up the bum helped!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

8. Ah Bless!

(Apologies! Blog numbers 8 & 9 got left behind and only discovered when posting No. 10! So this one should have been about 5th Jan 2012!)

         This is getting a little monotonous. After Bella’s excursions into the school playing fields (during Christmas break – no children harmed in this trespass) and her escapades into the neighbour’s garden, she’s been under house arrest for long enough to make the punishment more than the owners can bear!

         After being woken up one morning with dog Handler Number One shouting out of the bedroom window: “Hey! That’s not your garden!” I just knew it was going to be a long day.

         With one fence raised and no (visible) means of entry to the school playing fields, Bella wasted no time visiting the neighbour’s beautifully laid out flower beds among the well manicured lawn paths. Not exactly the good impression one would like to make among the neighbours in a new village! But they were both very calm and continually told us not to worry and that we could fetch our doggy anytime! 

        The frustration is that we cannot just let Bella out into the garden at regular intervals, but we now have to take her for wee walks a few times a day (I love that pun!)  Not that we don’t take her on regular walks anyway – Handler Number One is up and out before the sun rises each morning and one of us tries to take her another longish walk during the day – if it’s not raining cats and dogs!

       Walks are good times any time of day. It’s good to be out in the country (winter) air, suitably clad with thick socks, wellies, jacket, scarf, hat and gloves. January seems to be the windy month and trees, grasses and clouds all seem to dance to the wind’s tune as it roars, whistles and whispers along the pathways. During the daylight walks there’s many a casual conversation with other dog walkers usually including the “What breed is she?” question everyone asks about Bella (A bit of Chow, a bit of Staffie and probably a bit of Husky.)

      While prowling the streets as the sun was setting (just before 4pm) looking for one light coloured, free-running female hound, I was waylaid by another neighbour who asked in jest, “Have you lost him?!” Well yes, I replied, have you seen my dog?! Twenty minutes later, having learnt neighbour’s name, address and previous address over twenty years ago, he gave this useful piece of information about the Suffolk natives:  “Their favourite saying,” said he, “is: Ah! Bless! Doesn’t matter what’s going on! The TV could be sailing through the lounge window on to the pavement and they would simply look and say Ah Bless!”  This was an attempt at explaining the unfazed attitude of the country folk here in the east of England! However, I still feel uneasy and unhappy that Bella would visit the neighbour’s manicured garden without permission!

       Walks are good times any time of night! The wee walk at the end of a day when the wind is blowing the clouds away reveals the stars as bright and unfazed as the villagers seem to be. So what if it’s 5ÂșC, with an evil wind dancing through my hair and pinching my exposed hands and nose until they glow red! The parish lantern (another local saying I really like!) is shining bright and the stars add a winter sparkle to the dark mysterious sky.
Google Images

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! …… When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him….? (Psalm 8 v 3)

How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! …. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. (Psalm 147 v 4)
Thanks Megs!

 (The fence will be fixed by the weekend!)

Monday, 2 January 2012

7. Bella's Political Statement

“Whoof! Grrrr! Woof! Woof! Howwwwwl!”  (roughly translated: House Arrest results in Psychological Damage!)

        After Bella’s Houdini escapades and having to be kept under “House Arrest” as a precaution against a repeat escape into the school playing fields, she has taken very well to being taken for extra walks in lieu of not going into the garden. Unfortunately she has also taken an intense fear of going into the very same garden she played in previously. Whether she’s asking us not to put her in temptation’s way, not understanding that the tempting escape route has been blocked, or whether she has something else going on in her little doggy brain, we don’t know.

       She goes outside – under false pretences, e.g. someone donning a jacket and picking up the lead – but then sits in the little raised garden bed, under the bushes directly opposite the back door and waits for us to let her in again. At which point, and yes I know this sounds illogical and contradictory, she won’t come inside and needs to be physically coaxed even though she’s shivering from cold! Rather frustrating for us non-doggy brained humans to understand.

       A walk on the lead to the bottom of the garden produced a very slow look-around but not really going beyond half a metre of the human hand. Treats were of course accepted quite eagerly while the lead was disconnected, but once again she followed human very closely, and then sneakily overtook, back to the door.

      Walking the dog is not an unpleasant occupation, it’s just that dog seems to have lost the joy of the home garden, which is very sad. (while reducing the number of Pooh-Patrols needed!!)

The good ol' days.
        We do hope that Bella recovers soon and conquers her fear (or whatever it is) of the garden – grass, mud, bush, trees and newly raised wire fence!