Friday, 28 September 2007

Catching up.....


I'm sorry if I've been a little elusive over the past few days - it's been a busy time. And I've just read that Flowerpot has very kindly awarded me a 'You Make Me Smile' award!! Thank-you so much! Every time I've made people smile in the past it's turned out to be a little trapped wind, so if this case is different, and doesn't require a dose of Gaviscon, I'm delighted....

I think I should now pass the award onto three others, and they are, in no particular order - Mollies Blog and Blogs from the Dogs. My final choice is Oscars Blog, which, rather like this one, has been very sad, but hearing of an imminent new arrival made me smile - and Oscar too no doubt.....

Tilly thoroughly enjoyed her stay at my parents house earlier in the week, and seems to have allayed any fears about her behaviour and energy levels. She behaved impeccably throughout, with the exception of the minor 'pee' incident. Mother didn't seem to appreciate it when I suggested that Tilly clearly thinks that her house smells of wee, hence her contribution.

Yesterday morning I took Tilly out on our usual walk, and she was overjoyed to find the whole 'pack' out and about. At one stage there were fourteen dogs of various breeds and sizes marauding about. Tilly had an absolute whale of a time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it too. There's something so uplifting about seeing such a large group of dogs doing just what dogs enjoy doing, and getting on so well in the process. Clearly the pecking order is fully established. I'm not sure the couple of joggers we encountered on the way around felt the same way - they looked somewhat intimidated to see a great swathe of dogs approaching at speed!

Today was officially my first day back at work, although I spent all of it working from home trying to familiarise myself with all the developments and changes since I left. Tilly was very well behaved and seemed resigned to the fact that I'd eventually have to rouse myself and earn some tennis balls. Tennis balls are her currency, in the same way that bones were Princes currency.

After much consideration, and assistance from Tilly on the map-reading front, we decided to walk at a friends farm this afternoon. One of the downsides of living in Cheshire is that as a dairy county, you can rarely escape the cows - and with Tilly this isn't ideal. Thankfully, my friends farm is one of the rare arable holdings in the area, so with the exception of a lot of horses, livestock wasn't an issue. She had a great time, and we're now both falling asleep on the sofa....

The Amazing Map-Reading Dog.....

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Tilly-less

Tilly is staying at my parents house tonight, as a 'practise-run' for when I have to go up to London for a couple of days next week to ease myself back into the world of work.

Excitement levels were off the scale as usual when she arrived, and she spent much of the evening harrassing my father in the kitchen. He's like the bloody 'pied piper' of the dog world - although he substitutes the tin whistle for the contents of the fridge.

I spoke to 'Grandma' after I got home, and believe she's settled down well, so that's a good sign. Especially considering that she'd had a pee on the carpet in the dining room before I left. This was very strange, considering that she'd had one in the garden only an hour before, and has been to my parents house a good few times before. Oh well, perhaps we were giving off 'vibes' that something slightly different was going to happen later in the evening - like me disappearing without her. She hasn't spent more than a few hours away from me since I got her, so it is quite a big step.

I'm sure she'll be fine though, and hopefully it will put my mothers mind at rest. I think she's petrified at the thought of dealing with Tillys high energy levels and youthful exhuberance. Whilst these things are very real, they're also a joy, and she counters them with a very good understanding of 'down time' and general good behaviour. I think they'll all get on famously.

Tomorrow will be spent cleaning the house from top to bottom, doing a few things that are slightly 'Tilly incompatible', and a paying a visit to the bridge to spend some quality time with Prince.

All being well, and subject to me not having received an exasperated telephone call from my parents at 4am, I'll collect Tilly tomorrow evening......

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Ramblings...

It's one of those days when I don't really have a specific topic to post about, but feel like posting anyway - so I'll apologise in advance. Sorry.

I may not be the only one with nothing of great note to blog about - the blogosphere seems generally quiet at the moment. Many of my favourite bloggers haven't posted for a while, and I do hope they find inspiration again soon.

Tilly is continuing to do really well. Her recall is improving every day, and we haven't had any serious issues since this post. She's really enjoying catching up with her 'pals' every morning. This morning there was a new member of the pack - a tiny twelve week old puppy. He was a Pomeranian crossed with a poodle, and outrageously cute. Tilly dutifully clambered all over him, batted him around and ensured his socialisation got off to a good start!

Prince continues to be with us in spirit, and I'm sure he really helps Tilly. It makes me laugh sometimes - I can almost see him scuttling alongside her on our old familiar walks. Tilly always seems to know the route to take, even if she hasn't been somewhere before - and it's almost invariably the route I used to take with Prince. It's so hard retracing our steps sometimes, but after a few initial tears I usually remind myself that it would be highly inappropriate to be miserable on a walk that he used to enjoy so much.

I'm going back to work at the end of next week, and utterly dreading it. There are a number of reasons why I feel sick at the very thought of it.

Firstly, I'm worried how I'll cope with work and making sure that Tilly is adequately exercised and stimulated. Even though I work from home most of the time, it's inevitable that she won't get quite the same amount of attention that she's been used to.

There's also the fact that I despise the job I'm going back to. My employers have been very understanding in letting me return after having taken so much time off to look after Prince, and the people I work with are a generally decent bunch, but it doesn't change the fact that I hate the job I do with a passion. It's a high level sales role, and as such comes with enormous pressure. The sort of pressure that leaves you spending the last week of every month thinking that you're going to be sacked. The pressure is only likely to be greater when I go back, as I now 'owe them' even more, due to the time I've taken off. The only reason I'm going back is because it pays very well, and I need a hefty salary to cover the enormous debts I've built up over the years. Cause and effect eh!

Probably my biggest worry is the least tangible, and will probably sound the most odd. I really don't know how I'll cope with the pressure and problems of day to day life without Prince being physically with me. When he was, I always felt invincible. Anything was possible, as long as 'us boys' were together. We had plenty of rough times over the years, and I always used to say to him, "we'll manage - we always do" - and invariably we did. I don't quite know how I'll cope now. I suppose I'll have to cope for Tillys sake, but I've never felt less invincible than I do nowadays.....

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Mr & Mrs...

I find it quite fascinating just how different Prince and Tilly are. There are a few similarities (four legs, hairy face etc...), but other than that they're pretty different. I'm noting these things in a positive way - when I decided to get another dog I was adamant that I wouldn't try and 'replace' Prince, because he's irreplaceable and it would place deeply unfair expectations on the other dog.

And I succeeded - in many ways they're like chalk and cheese.

Prince adored cuddles and being picked up and carried around. Tilly has her 'soft' moments, but they're far fewer. To Tilly, being picked up is just an opportunity to stick her tongue in your ear and wriggle free.

Prince would politely chase something you threw for him, but certainly wouldn't consider bringing it back. Tilly on the other hand will chase and retrieve all day given the chance.

Tilly will actually play with toys. Princes prime objective when given a toy was to 'kill it'. That'll be the terrier then.....

Given the choice between a new tennis ball and a treat, Tilly would choose the ball. Prince would take the treat, half your hand, and the ball for good measure.

As far as Prince was concerned, mornings were for sleeping, cuddling and eating. Tilly thinks mornings are for running, playing and chasing balls.

Prince was of course, a boy. Consequently, if it stood still long enough he would wee on it. Tilly is of course, a girl. She wees when she needs to.

Prince would spend hours chewing and relishing rawhide bones. Tilly would rather spend hours chasing a ball, or chewing daddy.

It's good that they both have distinct personalities, quirks and characters. I miss Prince terribly, but Tilly and the new qualities she brings do help to make it bearable.

Bones for Prince.....

Balls for Tilly.....

Monday, 17 September 2007

Selective Deafness...

What was it that inspired red steaming rage in me today? Global warming? World poverty? The decline of global finance markets?

No, the refusal of a small black dog to return to me on request. What is it about blatant disobedience and selective deafness in dogs that causes us humans such annoyance? I suspect an evolution obsessed with power, dominance and expectation.

It's quite rare that Tilly utterly ignores me now, but there was one incidence of this on this afternoons walk. It always follows the same formula:-

1) Tilly bounds off in search of squirrels, playmates, rotting delicacies or a lost chicken.

2) I cheerily blow on the whistle and call a melodic, "Tilly, come!".

3) A scrawny black tail continues to disappear into the distance.

4) I blow the whistle with a little more urgency and inject a touch more authority into the command.

5) The scrawny black tail is now out of sight.

6) The whistle is blown like that of the 10:14 to Bangor. The bellowing of non-official commands begins, such as, "get here!", "come here!", "Tilly, cooooommmmmeeee!"

7) The area is declared as dog-free.

8) A small man is witnessed jumping up and down with rage, screaming a range of obscenities that would shame a sailors convention.

9) Tilly returns nochalently, wondering what all the noise is about.

10) I take deep breaths, try to sound pleased to see her, and praise her liberally through gritted teeth. I try to hide the fact that my gut instinct would be to pick her up by the tail and swing her around my head a few times, before letting go.

11) Treats are dispensed.

12) Tillys lead is applied firmly, and I vow never to remove it again.

13) I feel guilty for restricting her, and remove the lead.

14) The process begins again.

Is it just me?

Friday, 14 September 2007

Tilly Kisses

Tilly has a rather embarrassing tendency to offer 'special kisses' to anyone prepared to accept them. Unfortunately, she doesn't always wait to see if the target is prepared to accept such intimacy at their first meeting.

Take the unsuspecting middle-aged lady she met this morning as an example. The lady in question was lovely, walking two English setters, and certainly not prudish. However, she made the mistake of leaning over Tilly to say hello - an action that in Tillys mind is a green-light for a full-on snog. So, before the poor lady could do anything about it, Tilly had leapt up and joyously forced her tongue into the somewhat stunned ladies mouth.

After much spitting, rubbing of her mouth with a sleeve, and apologies from me, the recipient of Tillys greeting moved on with considerable poise, but a certain urgency.

I keep trying to explain that this is not a socially acceptable way of conducting oneself, but Tilly doesn't seem to understand. She achieved her number one objective this morning, but nearly as satisfying is achieving full tongue on ear or nostril contact. This is quite sweet, but I fear may not be appreciated by all recipients.

Tilly spent the rest of the morning considering my pearls of wisdom......

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Tagged....

I've been tagged by Em & Mollie to play the 'word game'. I believe the rules are as follows:-

  • Players must list one fact, word, or tidbit that is somehow relevant to their life for each letter of your first or middle name.
  • When you are tagged you need to write your own post containing your first or middle name game facts, word, or tidbit.
  • At the end of your post choose one person for each letter of your name to tag.
  • Don’t forget to leave a comment telling them that they have been tagged, and to read your blog.
Now, I'm not sure whether I should be using my name, or Princes, or Tillys. Being the idle b*gger I am, my first instinct was to use Tilly as her name is shortest. However, perhaps predictably, I'm going to use Prince.

So here we go....

P - Is for 'po-face', which he could generate at will to demonstrate his displeasure should things not be going his way. Within seconds of said displeasure being resolved, his adorable face would return!

R - Is for 'rudy-roo', which is an odd, made-up name that developed over the years for his bottom. It was employed in many ways, for example - 'roo-pops' (flatulence) and 'rudy-issues' (either gland problems, or an errant clingon).

I - Is for 'indeterminate breeding'. Over his entire life everyone who met Prince had a different view as to what breeds he was made up of. I think patterdale cross border, but frankly don't care. He was the best canine creation possible as far as I'm concerned.

N - Is for napping. A pastime Prince enjoyed increasingly over the years. Usually employed flat-out and with great pleasure, but could be employed when po-faced (see above) in a fully curled up position - usually if daddy had failed to meet his expectations!

C - Is for companionship - one of many things that Prince excelled at. He invariably liked to 'help' with whatever activity was taking place, whether it be digging in the garden, cooking in the kitchen, or exploring a new town. He was constantly at my feet, through great times, terrible times, and everything in-between. He was, and is, the best friend I could wish for.

E - Is for eating. Another one of Princes favourite pastimes. His favourites included sausages, warm chicken from the oven, ice-cream by the river, and anything cooked by my father. Despite his love of food he had very good table manners. You could leave anything on the table, and regardless of whether he could reach it, he'd never pinch it without permission. He also had a rather embarrassing (but good) habit of refusing anything offered to him by someone he didn't know.....

Okey-doke. I believe I need to tag five other bloggers to do the same so I'll nominate our pals over at Blogs from the Dogs, Linda, Watson and Waldo, Bailey (if his Mum has time to help!),
Balboa, and our friendly Lurchers.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Brotherly Love....

I took Tilly to Tatton Park yesterday, one of Princes favourite places and where the picture to the right was taken during one of his best days whilst he was undergoing treatment.

The first five minutes were spent trying to see the path through the floods of tears. I cheered up when I realised that Prince was very much with us, and already leading Tilly towards the best rabbiting spots. The photograph below shows an apprentice Tilly trying to emulate her brother.

She had a great time, and we managed not to chase any deer - so it was a highly successful walk. She was somewhat tired afterwards.....


I've been tagged by Emma & Mollie! Don't worry, I'll be playing the 'name game' in my next post.....

Memory Lane (11)

Looking at my last post, it reminded me that as much as I miss Prince, he wasn't an angel all the time. Being a typical terrier, he had a rather willful streak and could be a real b*gger at times! He was prone to obsessions - whether this be a particular bush that he'd found a rabbit in once, or a particular type of rawhide bone that he'd taken a liking to. Once an obsession was established, it could take weeks before he'd move on to the next one.

Rather like Tilly, he didn't always welcome his 'guinea sisters' particularly warmly. On the odd occasion when he escaped into the garden when they were in their run, he would chase around the outside at break-neck speed - causing them to whizz around the inside, doing a very good impression of the 'wall of death' stunt.... Ultimately, he didn't have a huge amount of respect for the piglets when he was staying at his Grandparents house....

He was never a fan of 'small furries' and would do his utmost to get to a cat, or a guinea pig, or a rabbit. We had a few 'issues' with cats. Very soon after I got him he managed to scale the garden fence and chase my neighbours cat around the garden. The cat, quite sensibly, headed for the cat flap in the back door, but didn't bargain on Prince trying to follow it in at high speed and getting his head stuck in it.... There was also the time when I opened my back door to find the aforementioned cat having a sh*t in my border. Prince did a double-take and lunged at it - removing a chunk of orange hair from its rear end, but thankfully doing no further harm. I don't think the cat availed itself upon our facilities again.

There were also his more endearing foibles, like his love of warm human beds, and long lie-ins. My mother caught the picture below soon after she'd got out of bed when he was staying with 'the aulds'. Clearly he didn't feel it was time to rise and shine....


There's no point me pretending that he didn't drive me crazy at times. He was remarkably well behaved for a terrier though, and I think I sometimes took this forgranted. Hindsight can be a great thing or a terrible thing, and I know now that I'd give anything for him to be next to me, doing the naughtiest thing he could think of. It would be a small price to pay.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Sisterly Love

Tilly and I have guests at the moment - in the rather small and squeaky form of my parents guinea pigs. We're looking after them whilst they're away.

It took Tilly a while to realise they were here, and when she did - she welcomed them by barking at them loudly. I'm glad they're out of reach - otherwise it might be carnage.....

Wait! - What's that?!!

Your days are numbered, piglets....!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy.....

Lap(top) Dog

I've been very lax on the blogging front over the past few days, and have no excuse other than the fact that I've been busy and consequently knackered. Not an excuse that would wash with a mother trying to juggle two toddlers, four dogs and a part-time job, I accept - but true nontheless!

On Friday I combined Tilly's two hours of exercise, numerous ball games and collie-fun with riding three horses one after another. A friend of mine has recently become a staff-member short and asked for some help exercising the horses, hence my burst of activity. I haven't ridden so many horses in quick succession for a long time, and in conjunction with running around after Tilly, it left me flattened that evening.

I spent most of yesterday talking to Blackberry technical support, trying to sort out the 'Crackberry' problems I've been having over the past week, whilst simultaneously thowing balls for the Fruitbat.

Today has been slightly more relaxed, and Tilly has continued to be an angel. Her recall's slowly improving, which gives me a bit of a break and her far more fun when she's off the lead. She's also now part of a big group of doggy friends - we meet most mornings as we all walk at a similar time. It's a real motley crew, incorporating several terriers, a couple of labradors, two collie-crosses and a range of crossbreeds. She gets on with them all really well, and it's great for her to be running with 'the pack' most days.

The latest issue of 'Dogs Today' came out yesterday, and includes my final piece about Prince. It was heartbreaking to read it again, but it was so well presented and sensitively edited as usual that it made it a lot easier. The editorial team at Dogs Today are a really lovely and very talented team. I also received a cheque, which I've decided to use to pay for a plaque for Princes Bridge. Any excess will be donated to Milton Keynes Pet Rescue, where I got Prince from all those years ago.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Memory Lane (10)


The plaque I had ordered for Princes bench in the garden arrived today. It's small and understated, and says all I needed it to say.

Prince and I spent many happy hours lounging around on the bench in the garden. He'd wait for me to go and get his bed from the back of the car, and as soon as I'd carefully placed it on the bench (on his side of course), he'd hop straight up and settle down. He was a real 'outdoorsy' dog, and even if he wasn't doing anything in particular, he always preferred to be in the garden.

As long as it wasn't actually raining, and occassionally even if it was, we would spend time surveying the scene from the bench. I would read, stroke Prince with my free hand, and drink countless cups of tea. Prince would doze, chase the daring rabbits if they tried to break cover, and intermittently blow down the mouse holes to see if anything popped out of the other end.

I chose not to plant a tree in his memory, or anything plant related, as I have such an ability for flattening the most hardy specimens. I simply couldn't bear it if something I planted for him started to go downhill. I may plant some daffodil bulbs around the bench this year, but purely based on the expectation that the squirrels will probably have removed them by Spring. Prince thought daffodils were excellent to wee on, and had a slight obsession with sticking his face in them - before he urinated on them thankfully.

I'm considering putting another plaque on the bridge that I visit to talk to him, but I need to establish who it belongs to first, and ask their permission. I would hate to blunder up there one day, tears streaming down my face as ever, to find it had been removed.


Ah, my baby. My little cherub.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

One step forwards.....

.......and two steps backwards.

At least, that's what it feels like sometimes. I thought I was coming to terms with not having Prince physically with me, but the last couple of days have been really hard. I don't really know why I seem to have taken a backward step, but I suppose that grief is an unpredictable bitch. I miss everything about him, and the future still looks very, very, bleak without him. I'm dreading going back to work without him to give me the strength to cope with the (many) bad days, I'm dreading the onset of a beautiful Autumn, and I'm really dreading Christmas.

The only glimmer of light is Tilly, who's such a lovely little girl. In many ways it's deeply unfair to burden her with my 'baggage', so I'm trying not to let my more despondent moments affect her. She's so full of fun and joy that it's hard to be down when she's around, thankfully. I'm trying to concentrate on making sure that she's happy, settled and knows how much she's loved already. She's repaying me ten-fold by helping me retain a degree of sanity. And of course, physical exhaustion helps too. So she tells me.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Fruit Bat

I'm beginning to wonder if Tilly might be related to a fruit bat. There are some physical similarities, like the well-developed ears, and black coat, but I think it may go further than that.

We've been in the garden for the past couple of hours, intermittently playing ball, dozing, reading (me) and enjoying the sunshine. During that time, Tilly has hoovered up several windfall damsons (complete with stones), two windfall apples (complete with cores, stalks and probably maggots) and a selection of twigs, leaves and other vegetation. I do feed her, honestly. She also has a penchant for strawberries, nectarines, and sleeping upside down.

Should I contact the Natural History Museum?

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Unsociable Ladies

No, I haven't been chasing scantily-clad ladies around, and been rebuffed. Chance would be a fine thing...

I'm referring to Tilly, who over the past couple of days has taken to retiring to her bed in the kitchen whenever we're not actively involved in a game, or a walk, for example. Now, in many ways, this is very good - she obviously feels safe and warm in her bed, and doesn't feel the need to have me in her sight all the time. All good, healthy things. However, on the flip-side this tells me that she doesn't feel safe and warm sitting on the sofa next to me, and can't stand the bloody sight of me when I'm not entertaining her.

Am I being over-sensitive? She's really not into cuddles and snuggling up on the sofa - but I hope this may come in time. Perhaps she just needs more space and time to herself than Prince did, or is still a little unsure of her new surroundings.

I suppose I'll have to retire to the sofa alone and consider this.... any ideas anyone?

Oh, and about those scantily-clad ladies.......

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Experimentation....

This isn't terribly exciting I'm afraid, but having decided to upload a video as an experiment I might as well leave it up now. After all, it took half an hour to upload and I haven't got the heart to delete it now.... The joy of a knackered tennis ball!


Alpine Doggy

Tilly and I clambered up Bickerton Hill this afternoon. OK, so it's not really alpine - but it's as close as we get on this side of Cheshire! She was very well behaved throughout, although I did let her off her lead towards the end of the walk, which was fine until a fellow collie was spotted. Needless to say, my plaintiff cries were consequently ignored.....

Yay, can we gallop all the way back down now?!


Then I can just relax in the garden with my ball.....


Memory Lane (9)

Apart from the staples of eating, chewing, and bullying Daddy, swimming was always one of Princes favourite pastimes. I mentioned in an earlier post how Prince first came to enjoy water, but throughout his life he took any opportunity to get his feet wet, as long as the source wasn't rain.

The beach was one of Princes all time favourite places, and somewhere my parents took him often. They live closer to the coast than I do, and so whenever they were looking after him and the weather was good, that's where they would head. The beach that both my parents and I used to take him to was reached via a steep sandy track, and then there was a huge expanse of sand before you could get to the sea. Being the North West of England, the sea was usually at least half a mile out. Prince used to take this opportunity to run towards it at full pelt - usually with my parents clinging on to the end of the lead for dear life. I think my mother came a cropper once or twice being towed towards the surf, and I'm sure my father did too - although he probably never owned up to it! Prince was like the proverbial 'pig in muck' on the beach and used to spend many happy hours splashing in the shallows, crunching crab-shells and rolling in rancid mounds of seaweed.

Arrival home invariably brought a hefty dose of showering, which was an experience in itself. He was very good in the shower, and contented himself with looking suitably 'hang-dog' whilst being rubbed down. As soon as he was released, he would maraud around the house and then settle himself in a seated position, in readiness for the hairdryer. This bit he loved, and would squirm and pose whilst he was dried. Once complete and his back-end resembled a bouffant dandelion clock, he would bound joyfully downstairs and tuck into a bone with relish.

Such was his love of water that I bought him a paddling pool for hot days. Below you can see him spying on me through the grass to see if I'd finished filling it up.....


And on one of his many happy visits to the beach, heading for Ireland....

A Lady of Routine...

Thankfully, no further incidents have occurred since Thursday, although Tilly was slightly 'out of sorts' yesterday. I think this was because what has become her usual daily routine was somewhat disrupted. I needed to take my car into the garage first thing in the morning, so this resulted in a different walk in the morning, much earlier than usual, and then me going straight out. I then had a courtesy car, so had to take her out straight from the house in the afternoon, along the dreaded road, and then go straight out again to collect my car again. I think she was a little thrown by this sudden exposure to the realities of life, but generally coped well. She did incredibly well walking on the road, and seems to be getting more accustomed to cars zooming quite close to her. The harness makes life much easier in this respect.

We've been back to relative normality today, as you can see below....

See, this car thing's not really that scary....

and it means I can taunt Daddy from a distance.....

as well as admire the view.....