Monthly Archives: October 2016

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.


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 ❤