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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