It’s noble and it’s brutal

Bit of Miss Annie Lennox for you this morning with Love is a Stranger

You can’t go wrong if your Monday starts with the Eurythmics if you ask me.

Bit of a gentler week last week, which was well-needed. For the first week since April, I’ve had no kittens in the spare spaces, and four dogs just doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’ve had six bigguns for a good long while. I stopped over to see the puppies I’ll be getting here over Christmas – they’re all cute little velvety beans at the moment, wiggly and sweet, just beginning to interact with each other in meaningful ways. It’s been a week of puppy arrivals through the shelter – obviously it’s the done thing now to kick your puppies out if you can’t get a few quid for them on Le Bon Coin. Four bigger puppies came through to the refuge this week, two female shepherd crosses, a labrador cross and a breton spaniel cross. They were followed by two puppies who are down as being “pointer crosses” but look for all intents and purposes like Jack Russells of one flavour or another. Then on Friday, two more tiny pups came in, starving and malnourished, huge wormy bellies. Kittens slow down and puppies begin.

I managed to get another assignment in for my dog behaviour course, and trying to squash another in before the puppies arrive – I always feel a bit of a gap once the exams finish and I’m left with “spare time” which had never been spare time, but was just time I took from other places to mark papers. It takes a while to think that you can actually use it to do something in like actual relaxation, which feels kind of alien to me at the moment.

This week, a Christmas lunch and a lot of assignment writing are on the cards – certainly seems bizarre to find myself at almost Christmas and wonder where the year has gone. I know I’m trying to keep the house puppy-proof, but it certainly feels like I should break out a few Christmas decorations.

Out and about a bit this week, trying to finish off a few projects before the new year, so not sure I’ll have the time to break out the baubles, but I’ll do my best.

Have a fabulous week!

Bring the firestorm

Bit of Motorhead for you this morning. Can’t think of anything more appropriate

If there was ever a kindred spirit for Lemmy, Tobby was probably it. Lemmy died at the tail end of last year, having undertaken a world tour that finished less than a month before he died. I mean if anybody personified that same spirit, it’d be Tobby. He too refused to take it easy and had never taken it easy one single day since being here. I mean, Amigo hops around on three legs when he’s feeling sorry for himself. Heston stops eating. Tilly pees on everybody’s beds. But Tobby? He never let me know he was out of sorts.

Last Monday, I took him for a last-ditch try. The appointment could have gone either way. If the vet said no chance, I wouldn’t have let him go on. She said she didn’t think steroids would work because the damage was neurological, but it might give him a bit of power in his muscles and give him his appetite back. In the end, it was easy to see that it made his muscles more relaxed, but heavier too. I had to help him every single time he got up. He was losing sensation in his legs and tail too. He wouldn’t eat on Tuesday, and nothing would tempt him, not beef, not turkey, not even a sausage. It was time.

The house has been so quiet since then, even with the great galumph that is Effel. Amigo has been more needy than usual. He stood in the rain with me when we buried Tobby in the garden and he wouldn’t come inside. I didn’t think Heston would care so much, but an energy has left the house and he definitely feels that. He’s been so flat and quiet. Tilly is just Tilly, although she did mark the occasion by peeing in one of the beds.

I said when Ralf died that there would always be a space for an old dog. There always will. I think it’s time to leave it until after Christmas, as there will be a few more guests than usual here. Tobby would no doubt have packed his bags and toddled off.

One thing is for sure… I miss those radar ears and those bright eyes, those nudges for attention and the endless company. He was such a typical shepherd – only really happy with a job to do or a bit of companionship. He was loyal and connected to me in ways that my other dogs just weren’t. In the night, all my other dogs move about and pick spots that are warm or comfortable, or cooler. Tobby always, without fail, lay by my bed. That’s the dog he was.

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He had 19 months of good food, comfort and companionship. This is my favourite photo of him even though it’s the least posed – that’s maybe why it’s my favourite. He just looks so content. No ribs on show and handsome as he ever was.

As for the other stuff, my two remaining kittens were homed at our Portes Ouvertes this weekend. Last night was the first time since April that I have had only one lodger. Despite everything Effel is proving difficult to rehome. He is welcome to stay as long as he likes, but he has never felt like my dog. It’s a shame, because he’s beautiful, but Tilly avoids going out when he is outside, as his bouncing and racing without care are too much for her. There is a bristly tension between him and Heston. Heston has to tell him three or four times a day that he’s too much. Feff is so great with new dogs and such an arse with ones he knows better. Seeing him bump Amigo last week also makes me very conscious that I’ve still got two old giffers here, and although Tobby is no longer here to barge and bump, Amigo is now all but deaf and he needs a home where he feels safe.

This week, exams have finished and I have about a gazillion tasks to finish off that I started before the exam hibernation. The house couldn’t be dirtier what with the filthy weather we had last week, and it’s time I got out the mop and bucket.

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This time next week we’ll be into December… can’t believe the year has gone so very quickly.

I know you won’t believe it’s true

Bit of Pulp for you this wet Monday morning. Something about those grey skies reminds me of Sheffield.

My favourite Pulp moment was when Jarvis Cocker invaded the stage when Michael Jackson was performing. All of us need a bit of that when we believe the hype of ourselves, I think. My favourite moment of all of that was the fact that when he was charged with assault, he was represented by the lovely, lovely Bob Mortimer. Surreal is not quite the word for all of that, including Michael Jackson’s performance itself.

Sometimes I find myself really missing Sheffield. I always wonder what it would have been like to have lived there as a proper grown-up. How you experience a place as a piss-poor student living in places which you can’t afford to heat is always different from how you experience it as a functioning member of society. I suspect that it is a vastly different town these days and that some town council has gone about respecting the heritage and removing the concrete. One day, I’ll come back and see you, I promise, Sheffield.

Mostly the week has been lost in marking and looking after the Tobb. A bit like my house, Tobby seems to be held together with chewing gum and string. Not quite sure what’s keeping him going. Back at the vet’s this week and hoping for something to help him manage the pain. All the twinkle has gone out of his eyes. Here’s hoping this week brings him a bit of relief. Last week not helped much by reading the great “How Dogs Love Us” by neuroscientist Gregory Berns. Actually, his job title seems to be ‘neuroeconomist’ but I don’t even know what that word means. Anyway, the book is a narrative about him training two dogs to go into an MRI scanner conscious for a functional MRI scan to see what’s going on in dogs’ brains. I won’t spoil it but I will say I spent about four hours weeping on Thursday morning in the wee hours. One thing is for sure about the next fifty years: science will reveal that animals are much smarter than we think, and that people are much dumber than we could ever have imagined. It was quite strange to realise that we are the only meat-eating primate (well, large-scale meat anyway) except for the tarsier… we’ve more in common with dogs than we think.

Anyway, onto the last quarter of my marking. Hoping to have it done by next Monday, Tobby aside. It’s another busy week and I think I’ll be spending most of it cleaning: filthy, filthy house!

Enjoy Pulp and may your Monday be as unique as Jarvis.

Thank God it’s not that simple

It’s never going to be an uplifting Monday in the week where the great LC dies, is it?

Here’s a track from one of my favourite Leonard Cohen albums, Ten New Songs, which is In My Secret Life

To be honest, when Leonard Cohen dies in the same week that Donald Trump is named President-elect of the USA, I think that kind of says it all about the universal dischord.

I think I would have to say that I mostly fell in love with Mr Cohen in 1990, with the film Pump Up The Volume. That was a quiet film of angst that appealed to every single part of the teen me. There were some great tracks in that film, from the Pixies to Henry Rollins. Music has always been the thing that spoke most to my soul, and there’s not much to wonder about a film about the role music plays in the lives of teenagers. I bought I’m Your Man off the back of that movie, and everything else followed. Whilst everyone else is singing love songs, or love gone wrong songs, I loved that these were songs that were about a different kind of love. A real love. A love that was sometimes obsessive, and often unrequited, a love that was painful and dirty, lustful and unfaithful, but a real love nonetheless. None of your cheesy ballads for Mr Leonard Cohen. It’s a bit like James – their stuff kind of touched on that weirdness of life and love that most music doesn’t. But after all, that’s the stuff that gets to me the most.

I know some people find him depressing, but I don’t really think they know him very well, except maybe for Hallelujah, which I still can’t stand to be sung by anyone else at all. It’s like they really don’t get what it’s about. There are some great singers out there though who really, really got those songs. Ian McCulloch’s Lover, Lover, Lover is amazing, and Antony Hegarty singing If It Be Your Will. Nick Cave singing Suzanne… there’s a lot of singers out there who really got Cohen. If he’s good enough for a Jarvis Cocker cover, then he’s good enough for me.

What I love most is he just kept doing great and amazing stuff. One of my favourite albums was released in 2001. And another in 1988. Another in 1974. I mean that’s some feat to turn out something that is equally as powerful at intervals like that. Definitely never, ever any filler from him.

There simply was no-one like Leonard Cohen.

I don’t think there’s Much Love to be had in a post-Trump world, is there? It’s fine to suggest that it was an angry vote, a vote against Clinton, an anti-politics vote… but whilst there are no doubt people who voted for Trump because they wanted to make a statement, just as they voted for Brexit, or they will vote for Marine Le Pen, there are a large majority of voters who truly believe in what they are promoting. I just don’t have words for when knobs like Trump come to power. All of this is the American Dream. Rage Against the Machine indeed. I feel, in the wake of Cohen, there’s going to be a lot of punk in this household over the next few months.

A crummy and grotty week we leave behind: pregnant dogs abandoned, old dogs left at the refuge, dogs handed over by shitty owners… some weeks get you more than others.

Tobby is also having a tough time of it. Even in a week, he has gone down a long way – no longer my shepherd, following me everywhere, inspecting everything I do. Most of the time, he lies by my feet at the table if I am working. Sometimes, he gets up and has a totter about, but he is not the Tobby he was even two weeks ago. I’m glad for the exam marking and to be able to spend time on the couch with my oldest of dudes. It’s crap when you’re grieving them before they’ve even gone. Every painful fall, every tottering step makes me hurt too inside. Often, he doesn’t even get up to come to bed any more until he’s absolutely sure that I’m staying up there and not going to come back down again.

So it was nice yesterday to spend a couple of hours with some great people and their wonderful dogs. Effel had an absolute ball. Somewhere in all the crappiness, you have to make a little space for nice stuff. Nice stuff, nice people, and cake. Not often I use an Oxford comma, but I felt it needed one just there.

Great too to have three new students start last week, all super lovely and amazingly keen. I don’t think teaching GCSE or A level will ever get boring for me.

Anyway, let’s hope for a week of loveliness – sometimes you just have to look a bit harder to find it in amid the crap.

It’s Scientific

Well, two in a row… aren’t you lucky? Bit of Talking Heads this morning with Wild Wild Life

Plus, bonus, you get a bit of John Goodman in there as well. In fact, I could happily have just run a few John Goodman clips, because I love him as much as this song. Walter in The Big Lebowski has to be my favourite character of his. I see a lot of myself in that character. One day, I’ll get a gun out of a bowling bag and be yelling if someone breaks the rules, I can see it coming.

If John Goodman was a dog, he’d have been my Ralfie. That dog always put me in a good mood.

It’s been a week of sorting stuff out before the exam marking restarts, trying to make sure the garden is neat enough to withstand the rains and cold weather that’s on its way and make sure the house is tolerably clean enough to ignore for three weeks until the marking period finishes. There were two days – two whole days! – where the garden actually looked tidy. Then we had hammering rain on Friday night and it’s back to looking a bit sad and forlorn again.

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The early mornings since the clocks went back last week have been spectacularly autumnal, be it mists and fogs or clear skies and hazy morning glow.

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Yesterday gave in to soggy, foggy autumn bleakness, which is timely. No point having nice weather if you’ve got to stay inside and mark now, is there?

So what’s to love this Monday morning?

Much love to the fabulous family who are adopting Mimire the blind labrador. You just know when you take in a dog like Mim that he’ll be with you for some time. I was quite prepared for it to be a very long time indeed. But there you go. He is a super-sweet dog with a giant heart of love and loveliness, so there’s lots of reasons to fall in love with him.

The Feff is still here.

In fact, I thought it would be easier to rehome him than it’s proving to be. French people want a guard dog, and I don’t want him to live outside in a car lot or a garden all on his own. English people think he’s either a dobie or a rottweiler. As it turns out, the requests to see him are getting more and more ridiculous. I won’t even tell you about the man who turned up here on Saturday afternoon having harassed me all Saturday morning. I was so cross I almost let Heston out to shout at him. I wouldn’t mind but I’d been perfectly reasonable about sorting out a visit for Sunday. I found myself wondering if the man was confused and angry because his memory was going or something. Either he was really, really bad at listening, super-used to getting his own way (he’d called on Friday when I was en route to the refuge to demand I take Effel… and even if I had had the call earlier, it’d have still been a big fat ‘no’) or whether he actually was just confused and angry. Whichever reason he had, not a good home for the Feff. I’d have adopted him myself if I thought he had no other option.

What annoys me are all the people who think that ‘no cats’ is a ‘maybe cats’ or ‘no kids’ is just a kind of exception they can break. Believe me, if I thought he could live with cats or kids, I’d say so. They’re two big impediments in his adoption. I don’t just make random stuff up for kicks. I know people think they are better at training dogs than they are… and it’s always the dog’s fault if something goes wrong.

Not much love for that!

Much love though for the Wobbly Bob, who is finding the autumn impossibly hard and I’m finding it tough to watch him fade. It’s like grieving him before he’s gone. I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t notice the little differences that tell me how hard he’s finding things, how he can barely stand to finish his whole breakfast (and won’t give in and have a relaxing lie-down to eat, like Mimire did!) and he falls sometimes down the step between the bedroom and the kitchen, how he falls sometimes in the garden even with nobody around. Yesterday, he didn’t get up to welcome me back from my walk. I find myself looking at him every so often just to check he’s still breathing. His breathing is so shallow and so slow these days that I can be watching him for half a minute or more before I am happy he’s just sleeping. He finds it hard to lie down, so he stands until he has to give in, and then he finds it hard to get up.

Yet Friday, he still got too close to a visiting dog, enough to elicit a bit of a grumble from the other. He’s still a menace with no social boundaries. Love that dog so much. We’re spending as much time on the couch together as we can, just so I can enjoy those last Tobby cuddles.

I also finished my fifth ISCP project, which was about appropriate dog play & mental stimulation – I was going to do something for Hagrid but in the end decided to do something for poor play-deprived Feff. No wonder he has so many issues. This week, he decided nipping the lawnmower was an appropriate herding thing to do. I’m not sure how much I’ll manage to do of assignment six and seven this month, although one of them will hopefully be finished next Sunday and the other will follow. That will leave me half-way through! I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying it. I really miss stuff that keeps my brain sharp and gives me a bit of focus.

Well, marking starts today, so I’d better look lively. Much more to squash into the week than usual.

Cancel the thing that I said I’d do

And she’s back in the room.

On a Monday as well! Here’s the Kings with a bit of southern rock and roll for you

Apologies for the severe lack of bloggage these last weeks. My Mondays have been a bit out of whack for several weeks. It’s been a long time since I had an actual weekend as such, even if I do work Saturdays. Weekends have been stolen by various events. The middle of October was the refuge Portes Ouvertes and I spent the weekend before frantically emailing drafts of the calendar left, right and centre so that there were some ready for the day. Luckily, the printer is very accommodating and had pushed us up the print queue so that we had some for the open days. Still, it went out with a couple of errors in it which I’d not spotted. Happily, it was nothing egregious. The first run was quite a small one, which meant we had a bit of time to make corrections before the second run. Next year, I think I’ll be trying to get it done before August is out!

The Portes Ouvertes weren’t the only thing that weekend… it was the Hope booksale as well, so I took Effel up to meet and greet in the hopes of finding him a home. The beauceron is not a breed most English people know, so I spent all weekend saying “no, he’s not a rottweiler… no, he’s not a doberman… yes, he is a big guy… no, there’s nothing wrong with his feet… no, he’s not a cross-breed…”

Sadly, he had no takers.

The refuge Portes Ouvertes fared a little better in terms of interest. One of my kittens was adopted and there were plenty of French visitors who are more familiar with the beauceron breed, including one woman who was obsessed by him, couldn’t take her eyes off him. She said she already had a beauceron female at home but that the dog was badly behaved.

“You’re not having the Feff,” I thought to myself, and spent much of the afternoon hiding from her.

It wasn’t made any better by a weird woman who spent most of the afternoon peering into the eyes of lots of the cats and kittens – I mean like an optician might – looking for “the right one”… you just get a distinct feeling that quite a lot of people keep jars of formaldehyde at home.

Last weekend, I was back in the UK for a meeting on the Monday. At one point, I didn’t think we were going to make it. Not only had the airport only got one team of passport customs officers working instead of two, which meant long check-in delays, but then there was a problem with the plane’s emergency lights. Happily, the emergency engineer was jetted in from Stansted, fixed the plane and we were on our way. The meeting was surprisingly unchaotic. Bit of a brief stopover in the UK, but nice to see my nana and my mum. Plus, I had a happy early birthday present in the form of some new walking boots, which have barely left my feet since.

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This week was supposed to be a bit of a holiday (the schools are on holiday) but there was a lot of stuff to catch up on. Because I’d done an induction at the refuge the first Friday in the month, and then the Hope booksale, I’d got a list of 30 dogs to photograph. Sadly, there are few volunteers during the holidays, and it makes it a lot harder to get photos.

Tobby had a vet visit as well this week as his pains have been getting worse. The vet did another x-ray and it was easy to see that his lumbosacral stenosis is getting worse, hence the other problems beside his inability to get up or lie down. The problem is that he has been on metacam so long that it’s barely effective any more and she wanted to take him off it unless he has an attack. He’s now on hugely expensive supplements instead. Another vet I know recommended something you can buy for the pain, so I’m trying get my hands on that as well. Tobby is well and truly not ready to give it up though.

Saturday and Sunday I spent at an adoption drive with my two remaining kitties. They certainly attracted a lot of attention and got plenty of fussing, though they are still without a home. I can’t remember two such gentle, loving and affectionate cats. Still, we’re over-run. Lovely though to have so many people interested in our animals at the weekend. We weren’t over-run, but there were certainly a lot of people who stopped to chat and find out about our animals.

This week, mostly trying to catch up on everything else before exam marking starts next weekend. This is the last series of this exam, which has only been in place for a few short years. Next year’s is a return to fiction on my paper, since Mr Gove thought that non-fiction was obviously not worth study in English Language unless it was “literary”. We’ve also got a return to narrative and descriptive writing, which is a colossal shame. I can’t help think of all those students in the summer who wrote about the need for a relevant syllabus that would prepare them for the real world. Mr Gove obviously thought that the real world involved the rather limited number of people preparing to be Charles Dickens. Don’t even get me started on the imbalance of marks and preponderance of marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar.  Not that I am anti-spelling, punctuation and grammar as you well know, more that I am for good content and well-expressed ideas, which are now worth considerably less, comparatively. I definitely am not feeling the Monday Love for Mr Gove. In fact, I feel rather violent towards him. If I didn’t like public school, smarmy, smug-faced twats before, I definitely don’t now. Cameron and his Eton brigade deserve a nice public burning if you ask me.

Couple that with the dismantling of the Jungle in Calais, the tiny, tiny proportion of refugees accepted into the UK, the despicable way in which displaced children are treated and the hundreds of people sleeping homeless in Manchester, it does make me very sad. Not much love this Monday any way you cut and slice it.

Let’s hope the Kings can make us all feel a little kinder to others. Heaven knows we could all do with a bit of kindness.

Another Life

Bit of the Guillemots for you this morning, with Get Over It

Got to love the handsome Fyfe Dangerfield.

My only criticism is that he doesn’t do quite enough stuff. I guess that makes what he has done so much more valuable though. I’d want him to release a new album every year. I wouldn’t even care if it wasn’t his best stuff. Well, I might, if it were very bad.

I think it’s been one of those weeks where you feel very much that the world is in retrograde and communication has been unusually complicated. I had a Monday morning last week of chasing up various organisations to find bills, sort out refunds, try and work out where I’m supposed to be and when – and none of them with any joy at all. I hate days like that, where you get so little done and all communication ends in a dead end. It’s frustrating when you can’t sort out plans because you’re waiting on a date to be confirmed or a venue to be agreed. I wouldn’t mind but these are huge organisations, so it does feel a lot like the world can’t be arsed at the moment or that it has too much on its plate to cope with. It’s the first rule of business: your communication has to be effective or else everything else suffers.

The week ended a bit like that as well, with a rather long conversation about a dog (when is it not?) and whether he could cope with this home or that home, only for it then to transpire that the person who I’m having the conversation with is trying to encourage me to let the dog go to a home that we have previously said is unsuitable. I don’t think it’s crossed wires when that happens. I think it’s the deliberate manipulation of a conversation, as if I’d made a bad decision in the first place. That makes me so mad. If you’re going to try to slip something by me and make me go back on something I’ve previously said by trying to manipulate me, then what kind of person do you think I am? Another person who now tells me that I’m hard-headed, unfeeling and stubborn. Join the queue. What makes it worse was all the unnecessary buttering up that went before and the endless questions about whether I thought the dog could live in this circumstance, or that circumstance, trying to get me to agree to a thing before adding a rather large issue in the fineprint. I’m sure now that the person went away feeling I am unnecessarily difficult and hard without thinking that I would have appreciated full honesty in the first place and it would have wasted considerably less of my time. Since when did direct communication become such a rare commodity?

I’m currently reading Marc Bekoff’s book “The Emotional Lives of Animals” which is a great book – all animal lovers should read it. It’s to prepare for my next assignment on the emotions animals feel. I know there is the notion that animals experience fewer or rawer emotions than we do. I’d revisited Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence to read it with animals in mind – a lot of it is irrelevant in that context of course – and in fact, I ended up not thinking about emotions at all and thinking about social skills. It really did make me think that animals are much better at communicating than we are. On Saturday mornings, if I’ve done the drop-off in Poitiers of our dogs travelling up to Northern Europe, I take Heston with me to drop the van off. He loves to go in the van and he loves to go to the shelter. The shelter is like a disco to Heston, full of girls to flirt with, new mates to meet and boys to size up to. As always it is interesting to see how much he prefers dogs to people. Where there are other dogs to be met, Heston doesn’t give a stuff about people. There could be fifty gazillion people there and Heston wouldn’t see them if there was one single dog. I love the dynamic when we get to the refuge – he just stands there whilst all the dogs come and have a smell. At one point, he was surrounded by Maya, Belle, Diva, Aglae, Cachou and Lulu all having a smell. He got humped by Cachou, the ancient poodle who is also out in the courtyard. I have no idea why Heston accepts being humped by a geriatric poodle with a heart condition but why if Amigo tried to do the same thing, he’d go mental. Dogs manage to master communication much more effectively often than we do. Even if it’s a very definitive “F@%k Off!”

I must say though that some dogs have often less effective dog-dog communication where humans have not done their job, especially if they’ve been deprived of the occasion to ‘chat’ to other dogs or only ever done it in being behind a gate. Féfelle is a bit block-headed when he is with familiar dogs, though he is perfectly fine around ones who are new to him. It’s like he’s very respectful at first and then, once he knows you, he’s like Tigger, bouncing all over you. He would absolutely love to play, but not a one of my dogs trusts him to do so. Heston does love to play, and has played with males bigger and badder than him, but he’s not having it with Féfelle. I think he understands it’d be a bit like boxing with Mike Tyson: you start off following the best of Queensbury’s rules and you end up getting your ear bitten off. That is an enormous shame for Féfelle, as play is exactly what he needs. Funny that dogs have a trust instinct and know who isn’t going to end up crossing lines you’ve drawn in the sand. And if dogs trust (and why wouldn’t they, since they can be suspicious?) I mean, those are complicated emotions that ask you to make judgements and predictions about future events. By the way, trust, suspicion and social bonding are all within a dog’s emotional remit, since they have oxytocin, the “social bonding” hormone, just as we do.

Marvellous, isn’t it? A dog knows exactly who’s trustworthy and who is not. And just like Heston and Féfelle, if you don’t get it right first time, you might not get the chance again. But if I trust you and you accidentally hurt me, then I might let you off.

So Much Love this Monday to the Animal Kingdom who may turn out to be much better at social stuff than we are. And Much Love to my crazy friends who have to put up with my outrage and misery when human communication fails.

Have a lovely week, all❤

 

 

 

I just wanted to know

Another Monday, and a bit of Monday love for you with the very lovely Kings of Leon and a bit of Notion 

Well, that was a week that brought me to my knees. By Thursday, I’d even run out of emotional steam. I got to 8pm and realised that nobody had meddled with my mojo. I don’t even know when I got through 24 hours without someone making me want to slap my own face to make sure I’ve not dreamed up their stupidity or lack of humanity. Suffice to say, when that happens, you should switch off the internet and go to bed, otherwise you can be sure someone will set the bees afloat in your bonnet.

We had a very lovely lunch on Monday with the ladies. I don’t get to see enough of my friends, and it was a rare privilege to actually get dressed up, put some make-up on and go out for something to eat with actual human beings. If I must be honest, I’m rather slightly pissed off that they didn’t bring some cake with them, but they more than made up for it.

Monday evening brought a couple of new clients which was fab too… I never get tired of discussing Literature with teenagers. I think every adult should have to spend a little time with teenagers just to remind you how amazing it is to have the whole of your future before you and to be so very eager to seize it with both hands. I do need to spend more time on my Madame Anglaise blog – it’s weird to realise how popular it is. I wish I had more time to dedicate to making podcasts to go with it.

It does feel like there are a lot of competing interests about at the moment! I don’t want to even think about some of those projects that need finishing off, though I did manage to finish off my third assignment for my canine practitioner course. I think that might be why I’d filled my boots on venom way before Thursday. Never, ever ask people what they feed their dogs. It’s a minefield! When there’s a lot of shouty rhetoric (and none of it from me!!) it’s time to go to the science. And when there’s not much science… you have very little to go off. I think, though, all things considered, that people who get their knickers in a twist about dog food need to get out more. The way some people speak, it’s as if the food they’ve chosen is some kind of medical superfood that will make their dog immortal for life.

That said, though, it was another interesting unit and I’m very much looking forward to the next. The next is on the emotional and mental needs of a dog. Tilly doesn’t have emotional or mental needs, just cake needs. Mimire just likes a comfy bed. Amigo needs cuddles. Tobby likes to pack his bags and vote with his feet if something upsets his equilibrium (because he IS the Littlest Hobo) and Heston… Ah, Heston.  I could have done with finding out about mental stimulation BEFORE I got him. He’s the only dog I know who makes heelwork look mundane. I was doing some ‘back end’ work with Hagrid on Friday to prepare him for obedience heeling, only to realise that he already knows how to move his back end and he knows how to obedience heel. He has the full-on goose-step heel walk. Well, I say that and then he reverts to biting your arm. Hagrid is back to full Hagrid strength and has started chewing the heels of the staff. I love working with him. He is both a handful and biddable. Heston’s distracted and biddable. His goose-step would be useless. He doesn’t put any energy into it. He loves the scentwork though. I’m guessing that’s what much of my next assignment will say: every dog is different! I’ve got a lot of reading to do first though.

So what else have I much love for?

Mostly, a good few adoptions at the refuge. It has been a long and hard summer. I would very much like a family for Féfelle though. Not fair on the big guy to be here, where he is in limbo until someone decides he’s what they’re looking for. In the meantime, he’s just biding his time. Busy with adoptions at the refuge and not so busy here!

Much Love for my lovely ladies who always make me smile and feel somehow less crazy.

Much Love for the late September sunshine and warm lunchtimes reading good books in the sun. I’m reading The Tenderness of Wolves and loving it. I finished Disgrace this week which I’d been meaning to read for a while. I don’t know why but I ended up feeling quite uneasy by the end. It’s a grower, that book.

Anyway, best get off and help my father up a ladder. I had some tiles knocked loose last week in the storm – it’s about the last bit of damage to be sorted out, apart from the dent in my bonnet. Bah to storms. I like them very much unless they take out my favourite trees or a piece of my property.

Have a lovely Monday and enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasts.

The Human Zoo

Well, it’s another Monday. A bit different than last Monday with 34°C, given that today I’m back in jeans and long sleeves; Bit of AC/DC to wake you up with If You Want Blood. 

It’s been a bit of an AC/DC kind of year. I don’t know what you make of that. I blame it on Supernatural. That’s a long time since I started watching Season 1, let me tell you.

I’ve moved on anyway to House of Cards, which is also excellent in a kind of Shakespearean villain kind of a way. I love Kevin Spacey. He’s a bit like Samuel L Jackson – you can be pretty sure that it’ll be a good thing you’re watching. It kind of makes up for the loss of Dean and Sam Winchester.

So what am I Much Loving this Monday? I’m loving my doggie pals and new doggie friends who came to the training day that I hosted here last Tuesday. I’ll tell you there’s a big difference when we had mostly shepherds here… someone should do a study on it. We were definitely supervised by all those dogs. At one point, three of us had walked up to the house to get lunch, we were quite literally shepherded by six of the shepherds. Not so much when you’ve got terriers and spaniels, let me tell you.

I’m not loving the dirty teenage storm that rampaged through my garden on Tuesday night. Turned up, wrecked some neighbouring trees, left them strewn all over my nice tidy garden and then left. The electric went off for a good forty minutes and the internet was down until the morning after. It was only Thursday though that I realised a stray branch had left a huge great big dent in the bonnet of my car. Plus, my garden was really tidy. It’s taken me almost all week just to clear up all the debris. Grrrr.

To be honest, the week went in a bit of a blur – back to school is like that. This week, I’ve got a few extra bits and pieces to do – and then a bit of a breather. I’m hoping to get started on a new assignment as well, having just about finished one. I’ve been reading like a demon at the moment – but I’m finding myself less and less tolerant of crap. I’ve turned into a 5* and a 1* reviewer. I’m getting very polarised in my old age. I finished All the Light You Cannot See a couple of weeks ago which I absolutely loved. St Malo is a great setting for any story. It really made me want to go back again. I think it must be 12 years since I was there. That was one of those breaks that really re-set my nerves, wet and wild as it was. Much Love for St Malo and those lovely, blustery coastlines. It feels like a long time since I saw the sea.

Sad news too about one of our dogs at the refuge, Cobby, who was put to sleep as he had acute leukaemia. The prognosis was terrible and he’d gone down hill very quickly. I’m sorry Cobby my darling. I had thought he had giardia and that’s not good for Tobby, who is frailer and more fragile than I’ve seen him since he arrived, otherwise I think I’d have found it hard to justify not adding another to the big old crazy testosterone-pack. I’d mentally chalked myself up to take Cobby before we knew what it was. Six big male dogs? What the hey. But even so, it was too late and not enough, and I’m so sincerely sorry Mr Cobby. You deserved so much more. I look at Dawson, Amon, Aster, Simba and Cleo every time I’m at the refuge and feel my heart hurting. They all deserve more. And Mimire is snoring in Ralf’s old bed… it’s not right is it? He deserves a home too. And Effel, who needs more than a six-dog house can give him. More adopters please, and more people who go “Give me a big old dude!” That will make my Monday much lovelier. Sometimes I think  we have a hard time remembering that we can’t save them all. We don’t have many at all who don’t get adopted, but it’s the ones who we fail that we remember.

Right, I’m off out to walk the doglets. Time to get Monday started.

Be just as kind as you can be

A bit of a Sixties classic for you this fine Monday morning with Bobby Vee and Take Good Care Of My Baby 

I must have a bit of Grease, Stand By Me or Dirty Dancing in my bones today. When you grew up in the 80s, everyone who made movies was looking back to the 50s and 60s. I wonder if you grow up these days, do people look back to the 90s? It all seems very near to me! It never ceases to amaze me that there are so many years between finishing university and ending up here.

What do I have Much Love for this Monday Morning? First, the sunshine (though give it up just a little and give us a little bit of rain… my trees look like they’re actually dying!) and the warm. It’s at that time of the year I just love – cool mornings, fresh breezes, warm afternoons and evenings. Because there’s been no rain for the best part of eight weeks, there’s been very little by way of stuff growing. Good time to tackle all the undergrowth and hedges before autumn sets in!

I’ve also got a lot of love for seeing my little students again. It has been fabulous to catch up. Some I’ve not seen for ten weeks, and it feels like an eternity. I can’t believe how much some have grown up – a couple who finish Terminale this year, a couple embarking on GCSEs, some going to secondary school or collège for the first time. It was quite a shock to have a door opened yesterday by one of my students who must have grown about a foot in the summer.

Much love as well for those ladies out there who are just really nurturing spirits. A message from them always feels like a hug and a kiss from my Nana. Hugs and kisses from Nanas are well-known to sustain your soul. There are a handful of ladies in my life who just have this super-calm loveliness and you never fail to feel nourished by their kindness and general sharing of the love. More please. And less of me feeling so very grouchy and grumbly. It’s kind of rubbish to just offload whatever random ranting has pushed me over the payload that day. I’ve got such a low tolerance for crap at the moment. I need a break from crappy people’s dramas and offloading so that I don’t turn into a crappy person who just has dramas and offloads!

Much Love for the Mr Heston who cleared a woody strip of deer and other wildlife before the hunters turned up. Gotta love a dog who shepherds deer to safer places. The hunt season started yesterday in earnest and for the first time in months we went to the proper forest. I can’t remember why we stopped – I had a cortisol vacation in mind for Heston. Too much stimulation is not good for a dog. You can’t be a dog version of an adrenaline junkie.

Much Love also for all the free stuff on the internet. I mean just WOW you can read a lot of stuff. I’m feeling a real regret that I didn’t breathe through the gruesome biology lessons and drawing cells. I’m just wondering what kind of life I’d have if I’d been a zoologist. That’d be a cool job. There’s nothing like getting to 43 and wondering how many other careers you might want in your life. I’m writing this listening to a free webinar, got another one lined up and my browser is FULL of science. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Too much to study! I love to study. It makes me so happy, understanding the world. Every time I learn something, it’s like another piece of the world’s jigsaw fits into the puzzle.

Not Much Love at all for having finally finished watching Supernatural. I think I started watching them in January, so it’s been a long relationship with the Winchesters. I feel a bit bereft. House of Cards up next, but you better be good Kevin Spacey, you better be good.

Right… better get a wiggle on.

Have a lovely Monday❤