Monthly Archives: March 2016

We like dancing and we look divine

Always in the mood for a little DB and Rebel Rebel.

It’s been a windy, squally kind of week of warm sun and heavy showers. Yesterday, I got soaked through when I was walking the dogs. We started in sunshine and the clouds came over quickly.

It doesn’t feel like much of an Easter to be honest. I’d moved some of my Saturday lessons to Easter Sunday because I was taking a little dog up to the new Hope shop in Confolens. Tilly’s been ill again and we’re back to square one trying to find a food that suits her stomach. Couple getting up two or three times a night with too much to do and you’ve got one tired old Emma. Two weeks to go before the school break and I largely suspect I’ll not have much off as the exams are approaching and I’ve got various animals to look after.

The garden is in full growth now and I’m just trying to make sure it’s enough under control before April and May set in. I spent most of last week trying to catch up and chasing my tail. You do get to a point where you just think you are so far behind that you are never going to catch up. I’ve not got the energy – all the extra demands of the last two weeks have really zapped me. What was nice was spending an hour or so on Friday evening just chewing the fat with Robyn at the refuge – so many people do so many incomprehensible things that if you didn’t go “!§%*!#^*%” once in a while, you might explode.

Take this week. I have had a busy one as you can tell. Back in February, Angie, the refuge secretary, asked if I could stop by a house in a town I pass through sometimes. A woman had taken a puppy just after Christmas. She’d left a cheque, but she’d asked if she could come down the day after with the cash, so it was still sitting in her file. She hadn’t come back. The phone was ringing though with no answer at all.

The first address – the one on the contract – was a completely wrong address. It was an old lady who was a bit bewildered to find a strange English lady on her doorstep.

Angie did a bit of hunting and found the address on the cheque. It was kind of similar, but a different town completely. I did a second drive-by the week after. No answer, though the house seemed to be inhabited. I left a note saying we’d tried to call and that I’d stopped by, could she call the refuge.

The week after, no response. I stopped by again and then went to the mairie. Often, they’ll help us out if they have someone who can stop off and knock on. And if there’s trouble in town, they know it. Secretaries in mairies can be very gossipy. They’d not heard anything, but she gave me the number of one of the council workers and said I could ask him if he’d stop by.

He stopped by every day for a week. No response, no sign of life. No dog.

I’d reached the end of what was reasonable when I had a quick thought. We’d always been in work hours. She might be there at lunch. And she was, complete with dog. She was utterly bemused by her own story about paying by cash, said the cheque had been cashed, had no idea why her phone wasn’t working or why she’d not found the various notes I’d left. The dog was fine, she said. And he was. I saw him and gave him a quick check – eyes, nails, fur, ears. He gave me lots of kisses and she told me everything was good. “Can we cash the cheque?” I asked. “You’ve already cashed it.” and so we went round again. I’m standing with a cheque in my hand and she’s telling me we’ve not cashed it.

Cash the cheque, I told Angie. She says we’ve already cashed it.

Ten days later, the lady calls up.

“I don’t want the dog any more.”

“But you told Emma that the dog was fine.”

“The dog IS fine. I’m moving to an apartment, I’ve split up with my boyfriend. I can’t look after the dog…” blah blah blah.

“Can you send someone to pick the dog up?”

Angie calls me and asks. Can we pick the dog up? FFS. Really? You don’t want the dog and you can’t get him back to us?!

I called the woman. “Can you pick him up before Thursday? I’m moving on Thursday.”

I could go at 2pm. Not good enough. It had to be morning.

“I’m working in the morning.” I told her.

“Can you come in the lunch hour?”

What is it with people wanting the moon on a stick?

“Is he okay in the car?” I asked.

“Oh no. He needs medication to go in a car. He’s very stressed.”

Are you flipping kidding me??!

Anyway, because I’m a mug, I prepared myself. I sorted the car out and made sure there were secure harnesses, put sheeting down in case he was sick or worse, only for Angie to give me another call the night before.

“She’s given the dog away to a hunter.”

Cue another saga of trying to get the address, to retrieve the dog, to sort out this further complication. I mean, she still hadn’t paid – the cheque was returned to us for insufficient funding – and it’s not like she owned the dog. Bloody crackers, some people.

Anyhow, that was my saga of last week. No wonder it took me and Robyn an hour to offload all the things that needed offloading!

It would test the patience of a saint.

Thank God for a healthy circle of volunteers and staff who help you put it all in perspective. At least in this case, no animals were hurt. Not so the little scruff that turned up missing a leg from above the knee. She’d obviously been caught in a trap. Never mind that traps are illegal. And suddenly, walking Heston on a lead all the time seems like the sensible option.

Anyway, Much Love to all the shelter staff and volunteers across the world who put up with human foibles, madnesses and insanities.

And Much Love for Easter Monday and a day off work. Well, teaching, anyway. I’ve a million bits of paperwork to do and a couple of articles to write. I’ve 15 things on my to-do list and I’m determined to conquer it!

Have a fabulous Easter Monday – let’s hope for some blue skies later.





You can’t figure out the bag I’m in

Bit of Sly and the Family Stone for you today. Such a beautiful day, we can do with a bit of soul just to remind us that we’re all Everyday People.

I’m in the middle of a two-week block of busy. It was the refuge Open Weekend this weekend. It’s been a bit of a dead spell of late with very few adoptions and lots of arrivals. It’s the end of the hunt season and it seems to me that we’ve got a lot of sad-eyed boys and girls in. We’ve also not had as many adoptions to Germany or Northern Europe because of transportation issues, so the hunt dogs have stayed and stayed. The weekend saw the final adoptions of several dogs, and a couple of dogs adopted who’d gone right out of the refuge without a trial. Most people take dogs on trial these days. It’s a great idea. I had a broken-hearted little soul here on Friday, called Fripouille. He’s a six year old poodle whose owner had died. He’s obviously been very, very loved and he was completely lost. I’m still sad for him. You just can’t tell a dog that their whole world has changed and that the life they knew has gone. He was agitated on Saturday morning, pacing up and down. He finally found what he was looking for: his lead. He sat with his lead as if to say, “Lovely sleepover. Time to go home.” That poor little soul. It’s not the first time I’ve taken a dog on arrival, and they’re the only ones who are really sad to be here. They’ve lost everything and they don’t understand why. All the other dogs who come here are on a stopover out of the refuge, and they’re all “yeah!! Space! Whoooooo dogs!!!!” Not so for those who’ve lost everything.


He was the kind of dog I’d have definitely ended up keeping by accident, even though perfumed poodles are not my thing. Luckily, he went on a trial adoption and there are a couple of other people who were interested too if it all falls through. I’ll stick with my random posse of weirdy misfits.

I also had my first lunch outside last Monday, though it seems longer ago than that. Lovely to catch up with people and actually sit and chat like a human being and grown-up with a group of actual people for once. A few of us met up again on Thursday for a co-working session and lunch at the café in Gourville, which was just lovely. Lunch was very good. Two lunches in one week, though! Not looking like that this week.

The river in my garden has finally gone back underground, leaving me with a knee-high tick zone. Looks like a few of the local creatures have been having a bit of a frolic. Spring is definitely in the air. This week, I’ll be mostly trying to get the grass under control. Everything else has benefited from a winter of heavy pruning. One of my peaches seems to have given up the ghost. It was planted in a hedge of conifers, which was rather strange. I’ve been roughly planning out a new bed and wondering if I can fit in a quick plant-buying trip at some point. I’m determined that the garden will be more flowery on my departure.

Anyway, I must get busy and get out of here – a million and one errands to do. By this time next Monday, things should be on slightly more of an even keel up to the holidays. Just where is the year going to?


It feels like years

Is there any better way to welcome back the sunshine than with a bit of The Beatles? Here’s Here Comes The Sun.

It might be sunny, but it is still I-C-Y

My car was frozen over yesterday morning and there’s a cold wind that cuts to the bone. The lake in the garden seems to have lost its source feed so I’m hoping I can actually get down there and mow it in the next week or so. It’s still very swampy and under about a foot of water.

Two busy weeks coming up and a bit of a busy one last week too. It’s a spot of lunch with some lovely ladies today, which I am very much looking forward to. Plus, I might get to see Billy the Kitten. He grew up to be a very handsome boy indeed, despite being a bit special.


We’re still not quite at kitten season yet, so I’m missing the little beggars. One year, we may never get to the point of needing kitty foster homes, but this year won’t be it.

Last week, I took an emergency foster on Monday afternoon. She was a sweet little girl called Vanille.


Needless to say, when she arrived, she didn’t look this pretty. The week was a whirlwind of cat tests and kid tests, haircuts and ferryings-about. Vanille was a super house-guest. If only all my visitors were so well-behaved! Vanille went to her new home on Thursday.

Other than that, it was a bit of a gearing-up for the Open Weekend at the refuge. We’re at full capacity and it’s time some dogs and cats found homes. Twelve or so will be off to Germany in April after a bit of a hiatus. The transporter had van issues and it’s only then that you realise just what a great deal he was giving us. Hounds are always the first to go, which is all good. It’s the end of the hunting season, so there are lots of dogs let loose or left. The lady who grooms our dogs at the refuge (including little Vanille) found one of a pair of old sisters a couple of weeks ago. Both dogs were in a disgusting condition. They’d either been on the lam for a long time or they’d lived like that. I think the latter. Both girls were caught within days of each other and they were easy enough to catch. Between these two and Turquoise, an elderly beagle, you can see what the end of the hunt season means. Traumatised dogs with broken spirits who are barely approachable.

That’s not to say that they’re all like this, but there are too many for it to be okay.

Other than that, we’ve got a co-working lunch later this week. That’s a lot of lunch. I’ll also be doing a lot of gardening as it really kicks up a notch temperature-wise. I say this, and I’m writing wearing a scarf and a super-thick cardigan. I think it’s just wishful thinking.

I’m also celebrating a year of Woof Like To Meet and the fact that my Facebook page picked up 2500 fans in a year. Well, that was mightily unexpected. Most of them came by way of the USA who got a bit obsessed by Bob the Labrador. I am the only person I know who ever went properly viral. It got stupid in the end. I think he’d been shared over half a million times, and seen over eleven million times! Don’t know what that was all about, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll never do it again. When I die, I want “Went Viral On The Internet” added to the list of stuff I’ve done.

Wobbly Old Codger Tobby celebrated his eleventh month birthday here as well, which is very, very cool. I can’t believe it’s just less than a year since my big old fella Ralf died though. This time last year, I had a devil of a job keeping him from frolicking with calves, the scoundrel. I hope Tobby lives so large right up until his last days, I really do.

Right, I have a cake to bake. Must get my skates on. Have a good one and hopefully the sun will be coming out where you are this week




The Light of the Night

I think you all need a bit of Freddie to get your motors running this Monday morning, so here’s Queen with Now I’m Here. 

There’s a Queen song for your every mood. It’s why I love them. 42 years old, this song, and it still does the business. I was watching a documentary about his last year or so last week and that man was just the consummate showman. I wish all popstars were both such amazing performers and also so very private. I do wonder how Freddie would handle Instagram and Twitter. Best not to think about it.

Well, I’ve still got a river and a lake, so too wet to be getting really busy in the garden, but the plums near to the house are planning to burst into blossom at any moment. I’m taking the time to tidy up the woodshed. That’s not a euphemism. I found a 5 Franc piece in there the other day from 1982. I might keep it. You never feel certain with Europe any more. Besides, you can’t exchange them any more, so it’s neither use nor ornament.

I’m also running out of interesting things around the garden to photograph. The skies are yucky and it’s been wet more than it’s not. The only thing in bloom are a few spartan hyacinths and a random load of daffodils in places I didn’t plant them.

Since I can now get outside and since there is little to do when the grass is under water, I’ve been running through Heston’s heelwork stuff. We were a little rusty when I first re-started and he was so absolutely giddy I could barely get a ‘sit’ out of him. I run through his basic positions and then we have some transitions and trick stuff in there. Last year, he wasn’t a fan of anything involving my legs, but this year he’s loving it. We finished last year with a routine to Bohemian Rhapsody, funnily enough.

This year, Stand and Deliver seemed to really float his boat, and I’m putting some more jumps in. I figured I might try some hoop stuff too. Heston’s alright at jumps but he’s too big and heavy to really enjoy them. I forget sometimes that he’s much bigger than your average collie or even your average flat-coated retriever, being 63cm at the garrot. That’s bigger by a good 6cm than your tallest collie, and heavier by 9kg, bless him.

I got in a bit of a pointless argument last week with a man on the internet. I don’t know why I say it was “a bit” pointless, since it was completely pointless. He was trying to say that you could only get a good “gundog” (he meant field trials dog in actual fact, since I’m damn sure his dog never heard a gun being fired) without getting a puppy. He was obviously very proud of his “pointer” and its paperwork. Heston might not have any paperwork but when the man posted a video of his dog “working” I nearly cried laughing. Not only was the dog’s paperwork hiding something of a fib, since his dog was a pointing griffon if I ever saw one, but Heston’s track, point, flush and retrieve skills made me very proud. I’d long since given up arguing by that point since the man was incapable of understanding that people who work in rescue are not all (if at all!) bleeding hearts who actually know nothing about dogs, trials or breeding. Sometimes I do just give up arguing. The man was an arse.

Still, paperwork and lineage he might not have, but my dog is amazing to work with. And my muttley Amigo would beat that random internet man’s dog too. In fact, Tilly would. That dog can find a pheasant like no other. There’s show dogs with paperwork and then there’s dogs-what-does without. I know which ones I love. All of them!

Other than various doggage and Youtube Photoshop tutorials, last week was thin on the entertainment scales. That’s probably why I felt it so very necessary to correct people on the internet. In fact, it reminds me of a Saturday lesson. My student was trying very hard to explain why the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valois are such dastardly villains: they were libertines, he said, rebelling against the social conventions of the time. “They were bored,” I said. “They were bored and they were rich and they had too much time on their hands.” Sounds a bit like Donald Trump. That either the characters in Les Liaisons Dangereuses or Donald Trump ascribe to some philosophical movement of any form is purely accidental if you ask me.

Well, here’s a sample of my photo-a-day project from February. It got kind of green and yellow there.

367 368

Bits of blue… more please!

Let’s hope that March picks up a bit of warmth too.

Hope your Monday has blue skies and warmer winds.