Monthly Archives: December 2016

All I ever knew

A bit of the lovely Alison Moyet for you this fine Boxing Day morning

Well, Boxing Day if you’re British, anyway. The French don’t do Boxing Day. I don’t know what that’s all about. When are you supposed to visit all the other members of your family? As far as I was concerned, Boxing Day was just like a Christmas Day Do-over, just more casual.

I’ve had a lot of trouble getting myself into the Christmas spirit at all these days – and not because I don’t want to. I love Christmas and all things Christmas. If nothing else, it’s the only time of year where I don’t have as many clients (though I still have some – I’m sure they’re not so happy about the January mock exams!) and I can actually catch up. I spend most of it trying to do a bit of advance writing and getting things filed away for future reference. I’m constantly amazed by how much traffic my teacher blog gets – up til 2016, I really didn’t deserve that much traffic. The fact that it has tripled and I’m now Google’s number 1 choice for a lot of GCSE poetry stuff is always quite amazing to me. I even got 60 hits on Christmas Day, bless them all.

The same is true of Woof Like To Meet, too, and both of them take a bit of work. Both reap rewards though, and that’s all that counts. To be able to inspire people’s understanding of poetry is fabulous. I get a lot of nice feedback that makes it very worthwhile, and a good few clients, which is also a benefit. I love teaching GCSE Literature. I’d do it all day long if I could.

And Woof Like To Meet might not be my most natural niche, but it’s good to be able to share advice that helps adopters get to grips with some of the issues they may find in adopting a dog. With sixteen under my roof tonight, I’m pretty sure I know a thing or two about dog stuff, but to be honest, I have done a lot of revision. Like a stupid amount. It’s all just so flipping interesting! Like did you know homes with a single owner are more likely to have a dog with separation anxiety? Infinitely interesting. Mind you, shouty madame mummy who is here with her babies has a bit to learn about household rules. She’s like a high-maintenance version of Tilly, and that’s saying something. You can see her thinking all the time – something I never see Tilly doing!

Bless my dogs though – they’re so accepting of waifs and strays who turn up for a night or two, or even more. I’ve barely seen Heston and Bandit since the puppies arrived though – it reminds me of that time I went to a festival as a 29-year-old with a load of 18-year-olds. I felt very old and went home early. I know we did all the exact same things they did but when you’re no longer 18, you just don’t find it funny anymore. I think I’m right to say they spent most of the weekend repeating lines from comedies just exactly like we did with Vic and Bob lines, or Fast Show lines. It definitely dates you. I still use a lot of them now. I very nearly introduced the Yazoo track as Vince Clark and his Bontempi organ, which is only funny if you ever enjoyed Vic Reeves Big Night Out. And that’s how it is here. Heston’s all Vic Reeves Big Night Out and these puppies are all Cartman and his Cheezy Puffs.

Also, Much Love this fine Boxing Day Monday for all the friends who mucked in last week – people bringing me puppy pens at 7.30 in the morning and going to pick me up biscuits, flea treatments and wormers are friends indeed. A couple of very kind people have also come over and sat in with the pups to help socialise them and also give me time to walk my dogs and nip out to feed a friend’s. Feff is not good in the car – well, when you’re in a hatchback with a goodly number of other dogs, you’re not likely to be your most calm. The good news is (and cross your fingers) that The Feff may have a permanent home to go to. Fingers crossed that we can make it work out, but it’s the best real offer I’ve had for him in a home I know will suit him perfectly. Okay, it’s in Germany and it’s only a 1000 km away. Only. Anyway, watch this space.

I have to say I will most massively miss having a shepherd in my life. With Tobby gone, Feff took over the following about and the general supervision of stuff. I will find it quite strange no doubt to be left with three dogs who couldn’t give a monkey’s what I’m doing. I know for sure that my next dog will be a malinois or a beauceron. Heston is a most marvellous dog, but he’s very independent. Amigo loves petting and is the cuddliest, sweetest dog of all, and Tilly scutching up to me with her warm little bum is very lovely indeed, but shepherds are different. They are so connected to you – they’re definitely a dog apart. Plus, they’ll do anything for you. All they want is a connection to a person. No wonder they pine so when they’re left at the shelter. You’d think it’d be collies or sensitive souls like setters that would find it the hardest to be abandoned. No. It’s the shepherd and mountain breeds. A shepherd without a flock to manage is a sad dog indeed. They’re like best friend bodyguards. A shepherd is the dog who sleeps all night by your bed, never asking to get in it, never demanding more. They don’t move, because their place is next to you. It’s not Tilly on the bed because it’s warm and comfortable and she doesn’t rightly care where you are, or Amigo wandering around to find the warmest, comfy dog spot, or Heston doing whatever it is he does in the night, looking for places where he can be on his own away from other dogs and sneaking in to bed for a cuddle before dawn. No, a shepherd just wants you to be in your spot and them to be in their spot. If that can be at the foot of your bed, or outside your bedroom, the happier they are. Closeness is a real shepherd thing, and I miss it. I probably miss Tobby more than I ever thought I would. They really are a constant companion. It reminds me of that line in Everyman where Knowledge says to Everyman, “Everyman, I will go with you and be your guide. In your need, I will stay by your side.” That’s shepherds for you. I think this is why I love Hagrid so much at the shelter.

You may wonder why Feff is going to a new home instead of staying here – but to be honest, he needs more than I can give him. He has never learned to play and I wish I had the time to teach him fetch, to teach him to focus that running, stalking energy in a positive way, to take him to agility training and proprioception and get him aware of his massive long legs. He deserves someone who works less than I do and has fewer dogs, who can begin to fill in the socialisation gaps he has. Plus, and it’s not horrible, don’t get me wrong, but there is a tension between Heston and Feff and neither feel relaxed enough to get over it. Had I adopted him, I’d live with it. But I think Feff deserves better.

So fingers very tightly crossed.

Other than the lovely people who did a lot of dogsitting and puppy fondling, wormer taxiing and pen constructing, there are a fair few people out there who have made it a better Christmas than I would have had myself without them. It has been a week of relying on friends, and I’m very glad I have them to rely on. Not least because my Christmas lunch would have probably been soup if I hadn’t had a very lovely hamper of deliciousness dropped off.

Anyway, here’s to the next post, which will be 2017. How on earth has another year gone? Let’s hope globally it’s less shit of a year than this one. Fingers crossed for that too!

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Shimmering and dirty

With the release of Trainspotting 2 just over a month away, I thought it was time for a bit of a throwback to the dirty nineties.

If The Lost Boys soundtrack was the soundtrack to my early teens, Trainspotting’s sound track was the sound to the last months before I properly grew up and did things like getting a mortgage and a car loan, buying vases from Ikea and thinking about kitchen cabinets. I can’t tell you about surreal nights which seem just as vivid as they ever did. I can remember those nights as clearly as if they were only two months ago, not twenty years. This was such a great soundtrack as well. You’ve just got to hope that Sickboy’s comments about getting old and not being able to hack it aren’t self-fulfilling prophecies for this film.

Anyway, nothing makes you feel old like Trainspotting being twenty years old. What I love most are all the people I knew back then – still living as big as ever. Not a one of them is conventional. I love that. I feel like I need a bit more ‘big’ living. I keep seeing all their photos of mountain biking in the alps or hiking in Scotland and not only does it make me realise that they live life as hard as they ever did, but that I’m so very, very tired by comparison. I need more excitement! I think 2017 needs more adrenaline again. I forgot how good adrenaline feels. Sadly not everyone from back then made it through to 2017… you carry some people with you every day in your heart.

Truth be told, I don’t really know where last week went. It was my birthday, and I celebrated by babysitting two cute puppies until their new homes were ready for them on Saturday. I made the mistake of waking up at half four on Friday morning, which was a bit painful. Why it was painful was that when standing outside with the puppies waiting for them to do a bit of personal business, there was obviously a bit of barn owl activity. Have you ever heard a barn owl? It seriously sounds like people being murdered in their beds. I’m never going out in the dark ever again. Between the dogs howling and the screaming barn owls, it was quite terrifying. Who’d live in the country?

Anyhow, the puppies went to their new homes on Saturday, which is great. I’m so glad there are people who still want to take on a puppy. I’m at that point where I’m so past puppies. Even Heston, who used to spend hours rolling around with puppies attached to them was not enamoured. He even growled at one. He is now at the grumpy old git stage. The Feff was also not enamoured. He was a bit like that scene in the Empire Strikes Back with the AT-ATs. When you think tiny small bitey things might bring you down to your knees, life can be a bit worrying. Amigo sat on the couch and ignored them. Tilly sat on the other couch and watched them suspiciously. Life is hard when you are a puppy surrounded by grown-ups.

More puppies are arriving this week for the Christmas break. They can’t be vaccinated until the first week in January, so they’re sitting it out here. I think it’ll be February school holidays before I get a day off and a lie-in once again. So much for big living! I’m too tired for that! In those intervening twenty years, gone are the days when I used to stay up til five or six, or forget sleeping altogether. Now, all I can think of is my bed. I think the last time I had a night out with the Trainspotting soundtrack, we all slept on the floor in some house in Bolton. I can’t function without sleep any more. I wonder what happened to me?!

Anyway, have a great Christmas week and I hope you’re rocking all around the Christmas tree. All photos of ski trips in the Alps gladly accepted… I’m living life vicariously these days!

Heartbeats, intimidation

Bit of Alien Ant Farm for you this December Monday, with Smooth Criminal. 

What I love most about Youtube are people’s comments. I was watching a comedian talking last night about how his comments on Youtube were funnier than his videos, with the bickering going on between the people who liked his video and those who didn’t. I can’t work out if people really think Michael Jackson covered this song, and they think this is the original, or they are just having a laugh. Either way, it made me laugh. Especially when you are dealing with Michael Jackson fans who don’t see that this is in itself a great tribute (as well as a bit of a pisstake). If you’re at the point where you’re correcting people who may or may not be joking about who recorded this first, you need to find something else to keep your fingers busy.

I know it’s not very Christmassy, but I’m way past the point where I could get myself amped up for Christmas this year. I got out a solitary Christmas candle yesterday. Pretty sad if that’s all you can rattle up, if you ask me.

Last week saw a bit of wrapping up of projects and even lunch in the sunshine. I’ve eaten so badly these last three or four weeks that I’m putting myself on a vegetables, fruit and pulses mission over Christmas. Another reason for people to stay away from me! It’s not good when you feel all yuck.

This week, I’ve got a few miniature visitors coming for a bit of a stop-over. It will be strange indeed to have puppies about and not have an alarmed Malinois wondering who’s going to bite his ankles, then choosing to run away. My other dogs had their Tobby-versary sausage baguettes today – it was our first time without Tobby. I’m really missing him at the moment. If nothing else, he was the dog whose nose I kissed the most. Amigo may be cuddly and Heston may love to be by my side, but I miss kissing that Tobby nose.

Brief today – for which I apologise. Too much to do and none of it worth writing home about! Have a great week, all ❤

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!