Monthly Archives: March 2017

How Much Should We Give?

Bit of a step back in time today for a Monday incentive  to put a spring in your stride…

It does feel a bit like give-give-give at the moment.

I’ve been working with Lidy at the shelter this week to build in frustration tolerance and a bit of patience, a few manners and so on. She’s a cracking dog. I’m really, really taken with her. I mean… really. She is such a smart dog. Hard-faced when you first know her, then all soft eyes and belly rubs. It torments me that she does Tobby’s soft eyes and relaxed smile. I mean really torments me. Plus, she has such a bad (and deserved) reputation. Not a dog for first-time owners by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve spent all my lunchtimes this week taking her out and giving her a bit of a reminder about how to behave with people, and when she cried to see me on Friday, it practically broke my heart. That’s very tough.

We had a drop-off in Poitiers to do this week again, and instead of Ruth listening to me prattling on, I took my dad. We had Larry, Loyd and the inappropriately-named Fifi to drop off. Fifi is a boy. He doesn’t care much for his name. Loyd was terrified and took a bit of wrangling to get into the van. For the first time, Fifi looked scared too – I really hope they all arrived safely in their new shelters. All three were boys that nobody looked twice at here.

It was also magazine run week and another few errands as well. I don’t think this week will be much quieter, and I’m looking forward to Easter, though I have so many GCSE students this year that I might as well give up any hope for a break of any kind.

I think I ended up accidentally offending the world last week. I upset some woman with some accidental science she disagreed with, and then upset some meat-eaters by accident who didn’t like to be implied that they don’t love animals as much as vegans (sorry – that’s not me speaking, either…. that’s a survey of your peers, dude) and then I upset some other people. If I’d not become so very efficient at pissing people off, I’d have thought Mercury had slipped into retrograde again. Thankfully, all of these people felt free to take issue with whatever thing stuck in their craw. What makes me most sad are people who don’t tell you that you’ve pissed them off, and then behave like smiling assassins, slagging you off to all and sundry even when they’ve taken issue with something that someone else told them that you might once have done. Maybe. And rude people. Since when did it become okay to say what the hell you like to other people? There was a court case up for hearing at the tribunal here, and if the judge could take into account the various death threats and insults, I think the guy would probably have been locked up. By all accounts, the lawyers had never been threatened in such a way before. The world doesn’t feel like a very harmonious place at the moment. I think it would be great if people just took a breath.

Anyway, this week is a busy one as per… Double lessons today, and Lidy Lunchbreaks and final drop-offs. Tomorrow I absolutely must get on top of the grass situation, as I’m one wet week away from living in a jungle. I’m running a training course here on Friday for reactive dogs, and I simply can’t expect people to accept the huge Feff-sized turds in the garden, or the knee-high grass.

Have a lovely week, and make it your mission to be as kind as you can be to as many people as you meet.


You still believe

Last week’s sunshine couldn’t have been more welcome. Hopefully it’s shining today on my friends back in the UK. Thinking of them all.

Bit of Pharrell for you this morning. I don’t think it’s possible to feel sad if you listen to this:

Off out to lunch today with my favourite ladies and very much in need of some human time. I had a fab trip to Poitiers with Ruth as well on Friday, which took me more into the land of the living. When you spend all your time with antisocial dogs, I guess you pick up their habits and it was good to spend a full four hours talking to an actual adult, as opposed to my super-talented students, and also as opposed to talking to dogs, who don’t do much by way of replying. I’m very much looking forward to some more human time today too.

I spent a lot of last week with a hard-eyed shepherd called Lidi, who had more than begun to soften by the end of the week. She is so super-smart that it hurts. She learned touch-targeting in two goes, ‘look at me’ in the same, and blasted through my basic obedience programme in twenty minutes. I’m moving her on through In the Doghouse’s Rookie trick training this week – left paw and right paw, stand, leave it (which we already started), peek-a-boo and leg jumps. She’s a girl who loves to work and she is so focused. Makes a change from the eight months it’s taken Effel to learn to pick stuff up in his mouth to move it. You’d have thought Tobby would have taught him well, but no. Eight months. I cheered so loud when he picked the ball up – he was so pleased with himself, bless him. It was just fabulous to get out into the garden, but very weird not to have Tobby moving any toys that have not been claimed. Amigo and I have been doing a lot of gentle stuff to give him his balance back, but also because that cheeky old giffer has become a bit of a rapscallion since his stroke. He never liked walking on the lead – what happens when you teach with punishment rather than love – so I let him off because his recall is good. But since he is now deaf, his recall is obviously non-existent and that cheeky beggar has been taking advantage and buggering off to do his own thing. He hates being on the lead and obviously doesn’t get the exercise he needs, so it’s good for him to do a little fetch and some chewing – his breathing is very poor though his balance is much better.

Bit of a busy one after that for me – assignment 14 is ready to send off…. a fair few drop-offs on Thursday, and I hope I have the sun for some of them. The sun seems to have given me back a bit of energy – it was well-needed!

Much love to you all this March Monday. The spring equinox means the worst of the winter is over. Here’s to a most blossomy day.

Don’t believe me just watch

Time spring got a move on as I’m tired of waiting around for it. In the meantime, a bit of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for you

If you’re a fan of Carpool Karaoke, the Bruno Mars one is particularly good.  I think I’m in need of a week of  sunshine songs – feels like we’ve had a lot of grey misery recently. Nice to get out on Friday and Saturday and enjoy the fresh air for once.

Still, being in the garden without a certain Wobbly Bob is very tough. It’s weird not having to constantly keep an eye out for him and check he’s not toddling off up the hill in search of a new home. Funny too that my Mr. Hyper-Attachment who followed me everywhere should have left me doing the same things, looking for him everywhere and not feeling quite right without him. Talk about separation anxiety. I find myself hankering for Malinois.

Last week was back to school – though to be fair, I’d not really had anything of a break. It just brings a bit more routine. I finished another of my assignments about separation anxiety (hence the rather sobering realisation that it’s now me left with hyperattachment!) and this week’s is rescue dogs. Kind of my bread and butter, you’d think. I raced through photographs on Friday and spent a couple of hours with Lidi and Hagrid. Hagrid’s affable compared to Lidi. She looks at you like she’s just weighing up whether she can tolerate your requests or whether it’d be quicker to take out the middle-man and do as she pleases. Hagrid’s all soft eyes around people and hard-eyed around many dogs. Lidi’s hard eyes, all the time. One day at a time.

This week is just more of the usual. Hopefully sunshine later in the week. Nothing promising today though. I thought last week might bring the river back – it smelled distinctly swampy out there at points. But no. So far, river-free. Mind you, the garden has been flooded in May sometimes in the last seven years – wouldn’t be surprised to see it again. I’m at that point where I’m restless, knowing how much will need to be done in the coming months, yet it’s still fairly under control. Looking back, we seem to be a couple of weeks earlier with everything than we’ve been in the past – it was another incredibly mild winter, if a grey and dull one. I managed to get in a bit of TV and a couple of books last week – will be a while before there is another lull like that. I finished watching The Good Wife, which was quite excellent – and bored of Netflix now. It’s a good time to get active when you run out of stuff you want to watch. I’m long past tolerating things with one or two series – I’d rather come to something late and know it’s worth the time investment.

Anyway, have a lovely Monday. Today is hurricane-free, which is more than I can say about last Monday. Hoorah!


The sparkle in your eyes

Another Monday and another song that reminds me very much of a friend from school.

I’m sure she would be smiling if she heard this song. I know she’d have shared my thoughts back in 1988 that you can’t beat a bit of Billy Duffy of a Monday morning.

Much love for history lesson notes, the time my ‘Ode to Dode’ got intercepted by Miss Ceb (whose response of ‘My lips are sealed’ makes her one of the coolest teachers who ever lived) Much love for art lessons and French with Mrs Ackroyd, her backward cardigans and her chignon, for PE lessons and gymnastic routines to New Order, swimming lessons, hanging out in various adult-free locations in Holcombe Brook, to one February night in 1990 when we went to see Michael Monroe, to reading Just Seventeen and listening to Simple Minds… signing letters ‘Gros bisous, Bunts xx’ and all of the girls in my class who were my inspiration.

This week has been one of much rain and much refuge time – holidays are quieter for me and busier for our usual volunteers. It’s been a muddy, horrible kind of a week, so nothing to be done in the garden. Last March, my garden looked like this:


But then it rained and rained and rained and the river came back, so it didn’t look like this very long.

It’s a bit unwieldy at the moment. It’s been so yucky that I’ve stayed in and finished the body of most of my remaining assignments for my dog behaviour course. Only the dissertation left to do now! Mind you, since the last ones were separation anxiety, rescue dogs, geriatric dogs and canine law in France, they are much more ‘my’ territory than earlier ones which involved a lot more study.

At the end of March (weather not withstanding) I’m running a day about reactive dogs here. Hopefully it will be the first of many days about dog behaviour or working with dogs, and I’m excited to see how it goes.

My own dogs are tolerating the rain. Amigo seems to have some cognitive repurcussions of his stroke in January, but he is only five weeks out of it, bless him. He’s completely deaf too, which also has its own issues. He’s still hanging in though, and that’s what counts. Me and the Tilly particularly like rainy days as it means staying in and sitting on the couch in front of the fire. Nothing better than a cocker squashed up right next to you.

This week, all the ‘can we leave it til next week?’ appointments to be squashed in alongside some stuff in the garden. I have to face it and stop being so mard. A bit of windchill never hurt anyone, did it? March is NOT one of my favourite months when it’s cold and wet.

Oh, and for the first time this year, I got ahead of my 1000 Mile target. I’m walking 1000 miles to raise money for the shelter, and that means 2.70-something miles a day. I’d finally got ahead after spending three afternoons at the refuge this week, but I get the feeling if it looks chilly, I might really rather stay in bed tomorrow. Bleurgh. Wet March weather.

Anyway, gros bisous à toutes et à tous. Have a fantastic week.