Saturday, 27 October 2007

A Quarter of a Year....

It's been three months to the day that I last picked my little boy up and kissed his wiry little face. People tell you that it gets easier with time. It does, for a day or two at a time, until you see something, smell something, or think of something that transports you back to a time when such pain seemed inconceivable.

Before Tilly had her second snout incident earlier, we had walked down a set of wooden steps set in a gentle slope towards a stream. It was a place I'd walked with Prince many, many, times. Without exception he would set off down these steps at full pelt, eager with the anticipation of splashing in the stream below. I've seen him paddle in this stream so many times, and I've hurried down after him every time to check that all's well at the bottom - yet today the water remained still when I got there. It doesn't get easier with time. Time might dull the pain every now and again, but it certainly doesn't make it easier or better.

The rather fuzzy picture above was taken days after Princes 'human-mother' and I collected him. We went through a short period of taking polaroid pictures of him with random notes that he 'had written'. As you can see from his face, although he was not a great fan of this game, he played along nonetheless.

He was much darker when he was very young, although the quality of the picture does make him look even more so. He had a particularly dark patch on his side that I spent at least an hour trying to scrub off in the bath when we first got him - before realising it was his natural colouring.....

Dangerous Creatures

Tillys snout has once again been subject to attack by an unidentified third party. This time, the I suspect the offender to have been a squirrel or badger. I'm erring on the side of a squirrel at the moment, as it probably would have been a lot worse had it been a badger.

Out on our walk this afternoon she'd been racing around with a new group of dogs and was having a fantastic time. Such a good time that it had become quite dark before we began to head back, with one of her new-found friends, and I'd put her flashing collar on so that I could keep an eye on her whilst she continued to play. The next minute she shot off into the undergrowth, very close to a barbed wire fence, and then I heard her cry out. I called her and she came flying back. In the semi-darkness I couldn't see any obvious injuries, and was enormously relieved that her eyes looked fine.

When I got back to better light she had a big blob of blood on the bridge of her nose, almost exactly where the previous injury was just beginning to disappear. Running from it, almost down to her mouth, was a deep scratch. At this stage I thought she must have run into the barbed wire, in pursuit of something small and furry, but on later inspection I could see another scratch very close to it that would suggest that her quarry had been cornered and fought back. Perhaps suprisingly, I think squirrels can be quite feisty when cornered. Thank goodness it didn't get her eye - one of my biggest fears. Of course, she is totally unfazed by this and has been buzzing around ever since. She's quite looking forward to showing Angus her scars and showing off about how tough she is.....

The picture above may look quite sweet, but the reality was that we'd been play-fighting and she was biting me at the time! Tilly is so active that I have to take advantage and 'get hold of her' for a kiss when she's otherwise engaged. This was taken a few hours before the second 'snout issue' of recent times.....

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Tilly's just been watching 'The Nature of Britain', and she was particularly enthralled by the rutting stags at Richmond Park, and the parakeets that have taken up residence in a number of other London parks.

She's generally quite impressed with wildlife at the moment, particularly the local squirrel population. My garden (yes Em, it is my garden in the photographs below - you can tell by the weeds!), backs onto a small wood that's absolutely teeming with squirrels at the moment. At any opportunity Tilly is flying up the garden in hot pursuit. There's no great danger in her doing this - there are no roads in that direction, but I do get nervous whenever she's out of sight. She's so damned quick that you only need blink and she's disappeared......

She's been very good this week though. I've been quite busy, and had to go out quite a lot, and she's dealt with it well. I think she was concerned that I'd become a rampant cocaine addict when I arrived back in yesterday, with my face covered in white powder, but I'd been to the dentist to have my teeth 'sandblasted' with bicarbonate of soda. I got a few funny looks in the shop I called into on the way home too.

I'm exhausted today. We were up before the sun this morning - which isn't early for many, but certainly is for me. I had a couple of early meetings and taking Tilly for a quick dash around the block before work simply isn't an option, so we had to get up in time to go for a good hour-long hike as usual. Scenting conditions were very good due to the frost and early hour - so she dashed around following trails happily. I blearily stumbled after her, intermittently swearing, falling over logs, and straining to see her in the distance.

The house was in one piece when I got back from the utterly tedious and unproductive meetings, so she remains in good books. Another two walks, and a lot of ball-playing later, I haven't got a shred of energy left. And guess what? She's asleep.......

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Peas in a Pod...

Funny Face

I'll be in dreadful trouble with Tilly for posting this rather unflattering picture, but I thought it was quite comical. She was mid-sneeze when it was taken...!

You'll note that she's also been chewing a stick in the photograph. To me, this is fairly typical of dogs in general - you provide an unlimited range of rawhide treats, and the pooch chooses a stick from the garden to chew instead.....

With the exception of rawhide, which was always gratefully accepted, Prince was the same. Over the years, hundreds of expensive dog toys were purchased and offered with a flourish. Hundreds of dogs toys were then destroyed in a matter of seconds before being discarded for good. The best toys were always, in order of preference - me ('Daddy-Kong'), and an old sock tied up with a ball at the end. I'd give anything to see him now, sitting in the middle of piles of toy-stuffing, usually with a bit sticking out of his mouth, wondering what Daddy was going to do to entertain him next.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Little & Large

All is quiet in the house as I write. 'Trotter' is upside down, asleep, with her head under the cushion. She's been in bad books today after leaving yet another puddle in the dining room last night. The dining room is quickly becoming her own personal latrine - free from the autumnal draughts of the garden, and conveniently close to the kitchen and its culinary delights. I'll boot her all around the bloody garden if I catch her relieving herself a foot from my dining table again.....

I took her to Tatton Park today, to meet up with 'Grandma' for a walk. She was very well behaved, and had a jolly good run around with a fellow pooch of dubious parentage. Mother barely got a look-in with Tilly who was in 'canine athlete' mode, and interested only in rushing around like her life depended on it. Regardless of how much she does during her afternoon walk, she's never tired when she gets home. After her morning walk she always passes out for an hour or two, but there's no such respite later in the afternoon. She continues to buzz around like a fly in a jar until about nine o'clock, when she admits defeat and falls asleep.

The 'Little and Large' title refers to my neighbours comical duo of dogs - a flat coat retriever and a miniature schnauzer. The retriever is a youthful lunatic - boisterous, yet very amiable. The schnauzer is much older, wiser and incredulous at the antics of his older brother. I had the unenviable task of letting them both out yesterday afternoon, as my neighbours were due to be out until early evening. I had great concerns about the retriever heading for the hills, but thankfully I managed to fulfil my duty without major incident. I took a quick photograph of each of them....
Tosca - complete with almost permanently 'inside-out' ears....

Tudwall - decidedly unimpressed with his brothers antics.....

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Four Legged Fiends

Tilly was faced not only by horses, but also by cows on this mornings walk. Neither are her favourite things, and both species tend to trigger a round of growling and barking. She sees lots of them most days - but doesn't seem to be improving. This is a little frustrating, as I ride horses and we live in an area with an enormous number of cows. Oh well, I guess perseverence is the key...
We're waiting for the horses to move, the horses are waiting for the cows to move, and god only knows what the bloody cows were waiting for!

She also met her enormous pack this morning, but we moved on fairly quickly as a couple of new-comers had thrown the pecking order out slightly and a few squabbles were breaking out amongst the others. We decided to cut and run before a monumental fight broke out.......

Monday, 15 October 2007

Weekend Round-up

One of the problems I have as a result of living where I do is that in the Winter you can't really walk after dark. It's not that there are yobs on every corner - it's because there are no pavements and no streetlights. Country lanes in the dark aren't much fun - especially when an idiot in a BMW comes flying around a blind bend on his shortcut home from work.

To get around this problem I have a few 'urban' walks that I used to do with Prince that I'll soon have to employ with Tilly on dark nights. One of my favourites is a walk that takes in the ancient Roman walls of Chester, and the racecourse there - which is open to all outside of race days. Tilly is much happier with traffic now, but I still thought it would be better to try the walk in daylight first, so I took her there on Friday. Of course, it brought back lots of memories of walking there with Prince, and eating ice-creams by the river, which was hard, but Tilly made me really proud. She was fine with the traffic, grinned and wagged appealingly at every passer-by just like Prince used to do, and did her best to emulate a racehorse approaching the finishing post at the racecourse..... On Saturday I made a pilgrimage to Princes Bridge to spend some time with him alone and consider what to have put on the plaque I'm planning to put there. I'm still not sure, but I'm sure it'll come to me in time. I'll bet no more than five people cross the bridge each day, but the last couple of times I've been, someone has always wandered across as I'm sitting there with a face like a sodden tomato. It's deeply embarrassing - I may have to fabricate a fake sign saying 'footpath closed' for future use!

I took Tilly to my parents house on Saturday evening whilst I went for dinner to celebrate my brothers birthday. She continued her charm assault, didn't pee in the house, and cemented her position as new 'grand-daughter'.

I'm going out to a meeting at one of my favourite places tonight (The Swan Hotel in Tarporley), so she'll be on her own for a few hours. I'm sure she'll be fine, but one thing I have been worrying about recently is whether I'm making a rod for my own back by letting her into the garden to go to the toilet too regularly. She normally goes out every couple of hours or so, and I'm wondering whether I should try and increase the time between visits. Of course, I don't want her to be uncomfortable or hold onto it for an unhealthy amount of time, but I wonder whether I'm 'training' her to need to go out too often. From a practical perspective, two hours isn't long and there'll be many times when I won't be around to let her out at such a short interval, and she gets through an eight hour stint overnight without a problem, so should I increase the frequency during the day? She's only just over twelve months old of course, but your advice would be appreciated.....

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Writers Block

I'm lacking blogging inspiration at the moment, hence the sparsity of my posts over the past week or so. Thanks for the comments in response to my previous post though - it seems that we're all screwed-up, although I suspect that the degree varies wildly....

Little of note has happened of late a la maison du Tilly. Alas, she has failed to achieve full tongue-on-tooth action with any strangers over the past few days, but has consoled herself by taking me by surprise on a few occasions. Snout is returning to normal, but will undoubtedly be stung or bitten again soon if she continues to ram it into crevices in the garden with impunity.

A recent post of Ems made me laugh, as I'd always thought I had the most idiotic and embarrassing range of nicknames for Prince, and now Tilly. It appears I may have competition.
Here's a small selection of Princes nicknames:-

  • Leetle (His main nickname, morphed from being called 'Little Dog' in his younger days.)
  • Bunty
  • Runty
  • Orange Dog
  • Baby Cherub
  • Stinker
  • Tinky
  • Little Sausage
  • Mr Doo-Dandy (God only knows where that one came from!)
  • Windy Miller
  • Doglet & Buggalugs (Both shared with Mollie I see!)
  • Sweetpie (Criiiiiiinge!)
  • Creature (In the nicest way!)
And Tilly has already inspired a range of strange nicknames:-

  • Trotter (Currently number one nickname....)
  • Tilly Tops
  • Tilly Billy
  • Baby Eel
  • Baby Bird
  • Birdy Face
  • Horror-Bag (only used affectionately!)
I'm sure there are more, but they've slipped my mind. Which probably isn't a bad thing.....

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Dull, Dull, Dull...

There's not a lot to report from the Tilly-household I'm afraid. Tillys snout is recovering but still very obviously swollen. She met Angus this morning, who thankfully seemed unconcerned that his girlfriend appears to be growing an additional nose, and clambered all over her joyously.

I was far less than joyous to discover that she'd had a wee in the dining room this afternoon. Especially as she'd had one in the garden only an hour before, and I was in the next room at the time. The little bugger made no attempt to alert me to the fact that she needed to go out. I don't know why she has these occasional lapses. Anyway, I didn't catch her 'in the act' so there was nothing I could do but mop it up and carry on as normal.

I'm not sure what 'normal' is anymore though. I've come to the conclusion that I'm totally screwed-up. I've never been a particularly straightforward person (although I'm a good actor), but I've reached new levels of screwed-up-ness over the past couple of months. I wish I was artistic, then I could opt out of reality and be enormously successfully screwed up. Why is it only artists who can capitalise on going mad?

Friday, 5 October 2007


Alas, the snout is no better. I'm pretty sure it's been stung or bitten by something and it remains rather swollen and grim-looking. To make matters worse, it would seem that when Tilly bites down on a tennis ball, the pressure forces some of the fluid out so she ends up with little beads of it all over the lump. She met Angus (one of her boyfriends) this morning and was not at all pleased that he saw her looking less than her best. He was unconcerned though, as he had a stick, which was infinitely more interesting than Tilly. Rejected and suffering from a swollen nose - Tilly's not having a good day!

It's not getting any bigger, isn't affecting her breathing, and doesn't seem to be bothering her unduly, so I'm going to give it a little time. I don't see any need to start rushing her down to the vets so I think we'll just see how she gets on.....

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Out and A-Snout

Poor little Tilly has a very mangled nose today. I think she's been bitten or stung by something, but I'm really not sure. I didn't notice it when I first let her out this morning, which doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't there as she's a bit of a blur first thing, but it was very obvious after she'd had her breakfast. It's really quite odd - I wasn't sure whether she'd bashed it overnight at first, but I'm pretty sure that's not the case now as it's not sore or grazed. She's got a big, obvious lump made up a few other little lumps, right on the 'bridge' of her nose. It seems to be a little itchy and over the past couple of hours some of the smaller lumps have started to ooze a clear / red fluid. I now strongly suspect that she shoved her nose into a shrub before breakfast and something (plant or insect) took exception to this. It looks decidedly grizzly now and she won't let me post a close up photograph as it ruins her usual good-looks. If it's not gone down by tomorrow I'll have to take her to the vets in case she needs some antihistamines or other treatment for it, but I think it just needs a little time.

She also frightened me to death this morning whilst we were out walking by disappearing for no apparent reason. It's the most awful realisation that you've no idea where your dog is, and that they're not responding to your calls. Thankfully she reappeared a few minutes later, but I was starting to worry. This leads me to ask the question - if your dog disappears whist you're on a walk - is it best to stay where you last saw them, or start scouring the surrounding area?

This afternoon she's taken to replicating another of Princes behaviours - lolling around on her (his?) bed on the bench. I understand that she's discussed this with him and he has no objections.....
He said I could - honestly!

Anyway, for the second day on the run I've achieved very little work-wise, so must tie a few things up before the end of the day.....

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Home Sweet Home

It's so good to be back at home with Tilly. She's had a wonderful time at my parents house by all accounts - with lots of cuddles, lovely walks and games. I thought her tummy looked a little pronounced as she trotted back into the house this evening, but I'm sure that must have been a trick of the light. I did note, however, that one of the first things she did upon arrival was trot back into the kitchen from the sitting room, and sniff pointedly at her food cupboard. Hmmm, has Grandpa been overdoing things on the food front I wonder?

Another reason I had to smile when she arrived home was that Prince appears to have taught her another of his favourites - the ritual chewing of a bone as soon as he arrived back from his Grandparents house. Regardless of how late it was, how tired he might be, or anything else, Prince always wanted to chew a bone before he settled down for the night. Tilly's never been a huge rawhide fan, although she does enjoy one every now and again - usually tucked away in the corner, out of sight. This evening, she showed great interest as I unpacked a bone from her 'overnight bag', so I offered it to her. She took it straight to the middle of the rug and proceeded to enthusiastically chew it to completion. She'll be cocking her leg next if Prince has his way!

I can't say I enjoyed my trip up to London, but it was tolerable. The pressure's already on, and the drinking culture unchanged, but I managed to escape unscathed. I sloped off early from the pub last night, so at least I managed to avoid a terrible hangover today.

After the flights both in and out were delayed I've vowed never to fly to London again. There's another reason why I'd rather not fly at the moment, and that's the strange effect it seems to have on my emotions. I've been fairly composed over the past couple of weeks about Prince, but from the moment the plane took off yesterday morning I was really struggling to hold back the tears. I don't know whether it's the enforced time to think, fatigue, or the poignancy of the planes progress through the clouds - but I had to really fight not to make a fool of myself in public. I'm not ashamed to show emotion, but a be-suited man weeping openly on a plane is a step too far.... I was exactly the same flying back this evening. Of course, I was in a terrible state flying to France and back soon after he was put down, but I was far more raw at that time so it was a little more understandable. It's odd how certain situations can trigger such a strong response. Although I can assure you that I'm not in any way suicidal, I also found it quite un-nerving that I was sitting there thinking about, and almost hoping for, the plane to plummet to the ground. Deeply worrying - I think I shall avoid aviation for some time!

On a much brighter note, I'm posting a couple of photographs below - one showing the scene from my hotel window last night, and by way of contrast, one showing how Tilly spent the day today. There's really no competition is there?!

Looking down Moorgate.....

C'mon Grandpa - throw the ball!!!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Tilly-less Again....

Tilly's at my parents house again, as I have to go to London first thing in the morning until Tuesday evening. I believe she settled down well, but of course I'm still worrying about her.

Oh, the joys of being back at work. I'll have to get up at 'stupid-o-clock' in the morning to catch my flight to City airport and spend the day bored rigid in the office, with people who I get on with fine, but have virtually nothing but an employer in common with. I will then be obliged to accompany said colleagues to a trendy bar for the evening and pretend to be having a great night. Tuesday will be a repeat of Monday, but with the added delight of a hangover. I suspect the highlight of the trip will be checking in for the return flight.....

I'll post a Tilly report at some point tomorrow if I can.....

Now, where's Daddy gone?

Oh, and just because I feel like it - a picture of my little boy.....