Morning walk

It’s too hot to be out for most of the day, so I take the dogs out earlyish. Walking too early can be problematic because there are still lots of wild animals about, so we wait until 8.30 when the night folk will be hidden away.

I stick to the lane when I’m alone, where the risk of distractions is less. Even at midday there are rabbits and deer about at the edge of the fields…

though Redmond often has to wait patiently while Bix investigates every grasshopper, lizard and mouse he sees in the ditch.

The woods at the side of the lane are full of interesting ‘things’.

and the edge of the corn field at the bottom of the hill is a favourite hang-out for wild boar.

Back home.

The meadows still look pretty, but the earth is bone dry and so fissured it’s hard to walk across.

Even the north side of the house is mainly dry stalks, but the chicory flowers still manage to make a picture.


It’s been a long day. We thought they’d like to curl up together in the same bed as they’re quite a bit smaller than Finbar, and everything is so different to what they’ve been used to. But Bix has other ideas. Redmond has the spare bed until he plucks up the courage to test an armchair. Or we get another dog basket.


The Daily Inkling prompt Slice of Life reminded me of a travelling girl I haven’t seen in ages.


The tent’s gone

it’s tourist season time

and those who walk beneath the bridge

cannot abide tents and dogs

and God knows what all else inside

so the police move them on.

She had six grown dogs and a batch of nine pups,

a cat with kittens and a pair of ferrets.

The boyfriend came and went but mostly went.

She had dogs and no front teeth

but enough rings you could hang curtains from her lips.

The pups, black, grey-spotted and lusty

were all spoken for. They always are, street punk dogs.

The mother was a standard street punk brown dog

with short bandy legs

but she spun a yarn the father was a wolf dog.

With grey spots.

She lent me a baby buggy once, for my dog,

to push him to the vet’s

after her pack had half-ripped the lights out of him, playing.

Offered to push him herself,

but I worried someone would steal the pups or the kittens or let the ferrets loose.

So I pushed a greyhound with blood pouring from a tear in his flank

in a baby buggy halfway across town,

and when I brought the buggy back, she’d gone.

Finbar, King of the stupid accident

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and I’ve just finished lunch after dumping Finbar at the vet’s for emergency surgery. Since he regained his doggy confidence (thank you Congo) he has been the life and soul of every dog party going. This morning he found a new bunch of friends, a right motley crew belonging to a group of rough sleepers. The dogs, six or seven of them, weren’t averse to the kind of rough stuff Finbar excels in when he gets excited, so they all had a ball. Until Finbar and the biggest of the pack had a difference of opinion about who had right of way. There was a bit of pushing and shoving and Finbar ripped his flank open on a broken tree branch.

It looked horrible, blood everywhere and a big crowd gathered including two (friendly) police officers. Most of them probably thought he’d been ripped up by the big dog with the spiked collar and were waiting to see the police perform a summary execution. A sympathetic cyclist phoned her mother to ask could she come in her car and pick us up but mother was at work. The police phoned into the depot to ask if there was a spare van available but the one with a space at the back for dogs was in for repairs. A municipal gardener stopped with his van and tried to make room among his material for Finbar, but it was too full up with trees and bags of compost. Somebody else tried to get him into a pram to push him to the nearest vet.

It was all very comforting except it wasn’t really. When you don’t have a car, and you realise all the sympathetic dog people who offer advice and help are also carless, that even the police don’t have wheels, you feel absolutely helpless. We live in a world that is so car reliant, yet so many ordinary people don’t actually possess one. Taxis won’t take bleeding dogs, so a girl offered to help carry him to the tram stop to get him to the nearest clinic. The police phoned up the clinic. Closed until end of the afternoon.

In the end, husband came to fetch us with lots of torn up sheet for a tourniquet, and a wheelbarrow. Finbar climbed in without a murmur and we set off for our vet who saw to him straight away.

I didn’t have time to post this before the vet phoned to say he was all stitched up and ready to go, so have just been to get him. Poor thing’s feeling very sorry for himself and is having difficulty with stairs. Even lying down is difficult. Being put together like a horse doesn’t help. I’d like to think this will make him more ‘reasonable’ when he plays, but I know it won’t. He doesn’t do anything by halves, and he has a horror of not being boss, not being the fastest. We can probably look forward to more big vet bills for a long time to come.


Choosing a classy name for a pooch

A short while ago, I wrote a piece about names—in particular the names we give to our four-legged companions. You can read it here.
Some of the names I have come across have been bizarre, absurd, and completely improbable. I just wanted to add another one to join Virus, Tonsilitis, Sandwich and Cube: Pegasus, a roly-poly Amstaff cross.
When poor old Pegasus (in French that’s Pégase, pronounced Peg-ass) waddled over, I couldn’t help thinking that for a rotund, wingless dog, Pig Ass wasn’t such an inappropriate name after all.


There is a sort of epilogue to yesterday’s post about names, a chance meeting coming home from taking Finbar for his trot yesterday. We were rounding the corner by the library just opposite the market, Finbar surging ahead, dead keen to be getting back to his comfy chair, when he pulled up short, nose to nose with the most enormous, Rotweiller, a head the size of a calf’s and slavver dripping from its chops.

Finbar backed up, the beast followed, I tensed up. It had a muzzle dangling round its bull neck like a necklace, but wasn’t on a lead. It lurched at Finbar who skittered to one side as the Rot’s owner appeared, beer can in hand, and shouted at his pet.

“Leave it, Pâquerette!”

If you don’t know what a Pâquerette is, here’s a pic of one. Sweet.


Eight short poems

These short poems I posted yesterday at the request of Charly. For some unfathomable reason today they were all run together so I’ve trashed yesterday’s post hoping they’ll stay in their proper places today. Sorry for the lost comments and likes.

Crushing grinding

wheels of commerce

pushing futilities like dealers.

My dog’s eyes say—

accept this

only the heart matters.

* * * *

Snarl up on the road

Hot anger flares

Furious gestures stir up summer dust.

Safe within

Dog sniffs a dead moth on the stair.

* * * *

Questioning eyes

questing nose

lost dog dashes



searching for

the centre of his world.

* * * *

Loneliness sits

in brown eyes

searching without hope

seeing only antipathy—

lost dog.


The hour of the wolf

the dog howls but does not wake

from his wild dreams.

* * * *

Dog runs through morning meadow

nosing tufts of dewy grass

delicately industrious

searching for the perfect blade.

* * * *

Lightning flickers

the world trembles

the gods of nature rage.

The dog finds comfort

in a simple presence.

* * * *

Liquid eyes

calm and dog brown

look into mine

and see the whole world.

The dog-proof garden

Spring is half-way through, so I thought it was about time for a gardening blog.
Since I can’t live in the middle of a forest in splendid isolation, I stick to close focus, on a very small garden. We live in the centre of a city that prides itself on its low level, low density habitat, where behind nearly every house wall lies a secret garden. Most of the gardens are tiny. In fact, in a previous existence I wouldn’t have classified them as gardens at all. We are lucky enough to have found a house with what passes for a ‘vast’ garden. In reality it is rather smaller than our last garden that I already considered pretty minimalist.

Among our other blessings, or self-inflicted curses, is a dog. Sort of. There was a fork in the evolutionary scale when the big mammals decided either, to eat grass and trade paws for hooves, to become herbivores, or to keep the meat-eating habit and the paws, and become honest to goodness carnivores. Finbar is a product of indecision at this parting of the ways: a dog that cannot quite resign himself to not being a horse.

The offending article
The offending article

A big dog that thinks he is a steeple chaser, in a small garden, is not good news for delicate plants. Especially as when he isn’t chasing an imaginary cat round the place, he’s grazing on anything green and leafy. When Finbar arrived, the path that runs all around the garden became a race track, and the flower beds in the middle became shortcuts to the finishing line. Last year I decided to bow to the inevitable, and rethink the whole concept of the town garden.

Looking at the result this spring, I thought our solutions might be useful to other gardeners faced with the same adverse forces of nature.

First, forget the lawn. You don’t need one, that’s what parks are for. In our climate, with very hot, dry summers, a determined dog will turn it into the Gobi Desert for you in next to no time. For sitting or lounging outside, build a deck. You won’t notice the difference. It also gives you somewhere to put the plants you have rescued from the dog track.

PENTAX Digital Camera

Next, forget about scattering seeds to fill in the gaps between large clumps of perennials. What the hooves don’t destroy, dog urine will. If, like me, you can’t resist planting seeds and watching them grow, plant them in pots with the other flowers, or underneath the rose bushes.

PENTAX Digital Camera
Put as much as you can in pots, at least until they get big enough to look after themselves. Plant rosebushes strategically, to protect the more delicate plants behind. Use pots as a barrier, and make sure you don’t leave large enough gaps for dog to try pushing his way round.

Forget-me-not barrier: the ultimate deterent
Forget-me-not barrier: the ultimate deterent

PENTAX Digital Camera

Use all sorts of containers to give variety, and kid yourself you filled your flowerbeds with pots out of choice.

Gives another meaning to the term 'raised bed'
Gives another meaning to the term ‘raised bed’

Old garden furniture, and specially designed plant racks help keep plants out of harms way.

Traditional metal plant rack
Traditional metal plant rack

An old garden chair can be pressed into service
An old garden chair can be pressed into service

...or an old tombstone if you have one to hand
…or an old tombstone if you have one to hand

So far, so good. We are only just getting into the growing season, but I will update at the end of the spring with news of casualties.

Cat tales

Since the work has been going on next door, Trixie has been very unsettled and doesn’t know where to put herself. She has been spending quite a lot of time in the bureau, mooching around and waiting for a seat to be vacated so she can squat on it.
We did give her her own chair and cushion, but she wants Finbar’s chair. And she wants it all to herself.
Trixie doesn’t like sharing, not even carpets. For example, an innocent dog might be lying asleep in front of the fire. Trixie NEVER sleeps in front of the fire, unless that is what Finbar is doing. This is how she usually operates.

Trixie drops heavy hints
Trixie drops heavy hints

A couple of minutes later…

PENTAX Digital Camera

Nobody knows how she does it, but the place is always vacated. At the moment, as I say, she is upset by the noise of the commandos next door and creeps into the bureau looking for a quiet corner. Finbar has got used to it and after voicing his irritation by barking when they start first thing, he ignores it.
This morning, Trixie came into the bureau and stood in front of Finbar’s chair, lashing her tail and looking intimidating. Finbar didn’t budge. He hadn’t been out for a walk and he was lying doggo, hoping I’d forget. Trixie climbed onto the chair and walked up Finbar’s back. She dug about between his back and the chair trying to get him to move. Usually Trixie can shift anything when she puts her back into it. Archimedes had her in mind when he said the bit about give me somewhere to stick my nose and I will move the Earth.

Finbar playing dead while Trixie tries to burrow into the stuffing.
Finbar playing dead while Trixie tries to burrow into the stuffing.

This time it didn’t work. Finbar is a big dog and I have always thought it miraculous that he manages to fold himself up small enough to fit in an armchair. You’d need a massive shoehorn to get him out. Trixie’s snout, for once didn’t work. So after an attempt to dig up through the bottom of the armchair, she sat on the back of it looking down, working out the options. The best option turned out to be me, turning up with the dreaded lead to take Finbar walkies. The look on that cat’s face I would swear was VICTORY.

Spring drama

The sequel to the spring cleaning drama has been the start of serious demolition work in the building next door. The owner warned us it would be a bit noisy. He didn’t say they were going to use surface to air missiles to knock the partition walls down.

At 7.30 this morning the shelling started and all the animals in the household were startled into action. Cats scuttled to hide under the furniture, Finbar ran up and down the stairs barking, even Catherine got out of bed.

They have just started up again after a very long lunch break. I hope the chief gunner didn’t hit the gros rouge too hard or we could end up with a lot of collateral damage from whizzbangs coming through the chimney breast in our bedroom.