Location: Cornwall, United Kingdom

Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's greetings

It’s New Year’s Eve 2005. All the papers and other media are full of reviews of the year – mostly disasters. My year was not so bad; did spend Christmas in kennels while S and G went up to enjoy themselves in Weston. Got my own back, though: they got a call as they drove home from the warder, saying she’d had to call out the vet to look at me. I seemed to have a recurrence of my bladder infection, and was prescribed antibiotics. This really worried them, as it should, and serve them right for banging me up for four days while they had a good time.

There was a rather cute spinone in there, but he was in a cell at the opposite end to mine, so I wasn’t able to establish any rapport. My neighbour was a ratty old retriever, who kept bragging about how big his owners’ house was, and what a great garden he had to dig in. Stupid dog.

S has been increasing his bird feeders; got really excited the other day when seven long-tailed tits arrived on the peanuts. Can’t see the appeal myself, though I suppose they’d make for tasty canapés.

Two squirrels keep eating all the food on the birdtable. S gets cross and rushes out to chase them off. I nearly caught one up by the woods this morning. Fortunately I was off the lead, and he took off just ahead of me. When I was younger I’d have had him; as it was he escaped, but it was a close thing.

Yesterday in the woods we saw a girl holding a puppy. S thought it was a weimeraner, but she said it was a great dane. He was lovely: sort of blue, with big feet and sad eyes, also blue. I tried to sniff him, but the girl wouldn’t let me. He could grow up seriously messed up in the head if she carries on like that. Hasn’t she heard of socialisation?

G has gone into town, leaving S to watch Football Focus and read his Christmas books. All about birds and dictionaries. Fascinating.

I began by reviewing the year, then digressed. What happened? I was ill a couple of times, went into kennels twice, nearly caught squirrels several times, and next door’s cat; I have slowed down a lot, and can’t say I really care for getting old. Being deaf is ok, as I can now ignore people when they call me to stop me from doing disgusting things, or rolling in them. Come to think of it, I used to ignore them anyway; it’s just that now I have an excuse.

They’re going out for a meal tonight with friends, so it’ll be dog alone as usual. Will watch the fireworks from the kitchen window, like last year. They never used to frighten me when I could hear; now that I can’t, they do. Weird.

Happy new year to all my chums and extended family who might read this, and anyone else who gets this far. L has gone all Buddhist, so I’ll finish with a koan. The master asked his dog what is the Way? The dog replied, how should I know, I’m only a dog. The master asked his cat the same question. The cat bit him. He felt this was a profound and enlightening response.

May the way be found for us all…and no more masters.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Auntie Bronte

We are an auntie. At 17.55 my sister Nx had an extraordinary little boy named Jack, who weighed nine pounds four ounces. This is considerably more than I weighed when I was born, so I hope he turns out to be a moderate eater, and does not become a centre back, because they tend to incur injuries, although Frank Lampard did the other day, and he’s a midfielder. Everyone thought he'd be a girl, but as a bitch I'm glad he's not: no worries about enduring what his darling mum just went through. She's so brave, and did brilliantly.

I’m really excited, as I’ve never knowingly had any relatives born before. My siblings all went to different places, and they never write or call, so they could be anywhere. Nx was an absolute star, it seems, and apparently did everything dead naturally, which is what my mum did; just gas and air, so it all went well. Didn't swear, either, which surprises me.

I can’t believe I’m an auntie. Nothing ever happens to me. I did have a funny tummy this morning, and had to get S to take me out to chew grass at 06.30; maybe it was sympathy pains…She did start labour at 04.30…

Of course in the way of things all the attention has been on the new baby and the new mum; has anyone paused to consider how I feel about this? Oh, no. Until now, I have been the baby of the family. Now this new sprout will usurp me. Does anyone consider that? I think not.

I don’t begrudge him though. Gz said he’s like Popeye, surveying the world through one eye. It must be really weird, to suddenly emerge and find there’s a world out there after all the comfort and security of the womb. A bit like going to a Millwall match. All of a sudden there are things to consider, like food, breathing, dealing with all these drooling relatives; people weeping over you. I just think it’s sad he doesn’t have other puppies to romp with. Must be really lonely for him.

We shall see him and the parents pretty soon, I suppose. I wonder if they’ll let me lick him? I don’t suppose anyone has had the gumption to do this so far. He’ll need a thorough licking to get him sorted out.

S is excited to hear he might have red hair. To my mind that’s a worrying factor. Something to do with recessive genes.

G has been on the phone all night, crying and laughing. This (the birth) is something we all thought might never happen. Thank God it has. A new life has begun. He doesn’t know it yet, but he will do great things. Out of adversity, and with all the odds against him (and her), he has entered the world and changed it. This is a child who will be wonderful, and I look forward to teaching him to retrieve biscuits in the river.

I’m not usually an emotionally excitable dog, but tonight I feel I could burst. Even though the attention is all directed elsewhere, I can almost condone it. My nephew Jack will do such things…

I must start a package of reading materials: Shelley and Blake of course; Kafka for when he’s older. S would like for him to get into something more demanding: Proust, Paul Auster, Dickens, Sylvia Plath, Paul Bowles…Personally I think maybe The Very Hungry Caterpillar to begin with.

I’m a bit old to prance about much, but tonight I’m dancing.

If I could sing, I’d do that, but all I can manage is a rather unpleasant howl. A dogophony.

Just to finish today’s events: men came to do the garden, and the birds had to wait till they’d gone to get back to the feeders S has put up. They get through a bag of sunflower seeds within three days. It’s more expensive than my food. He is quite excited that a nuthatch pair has been visiting, but if you ask me that’s a worrying development. It’s bad enough with the tits.

So; Jack, if you’re reading this, God bless, and sleep tight. We all love you, and special, special love to Nx, for managing to produce him, on budget, on time, more or less, and to specification. These years as a project manager have obviously not been wasted.

Is he named after that scary guy in Lost? The one who looks like a hairless King Kong? I hope not. My little nephew is a darling, and is his own person. I can’t wait to smell him. If he pulls my tail he’s toast. No, not really. But my mum taught me the benefits of a judicious nip on the rump.

Happy birthday, Jack. I love you.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Evil Shetlands and imminent birth

We all went up to Weston to see Nx and Gz last Sunday. It rained most of the time. The car got so dirty S had to clean it yesterday. This is becoming an annual event for him.

Nx looked very well, and we were all surprised she hasn’t given birth already. We had lunch in this great pub at the edge of some hills called Mendip, which strikes me as a particularly stupid name for a range of hills; good name for a swimming pool at which women are barred, though. The pub owners are singularly enlightened, as they let dogs in. I sat by the table through lunch, and was composed, polite and decorous in every way. I did bark once when the excitement became too unbearable, and the food was looking like all going elsewhere; everyone in the pub jumped. Did the trick though: I got some steak from G’s huge pie, which was of Desperate Dan proportions, and some of Nx’s chips. Didn't get any of her sandwich, however.

They still don’t know what sex the puppy-child will be; I was one of eight or nine. I can’t be sure, because I couldn’t count when I was a pup. Half of us were white, the other half black, like our mother. I wonder if this means that Nx and Gz’s baby will be half-blond, half-dark, like a badger.

I was almost relieved when we left after lunch, as Nx was getting all the attention. I wish I’d had pups. I’d have been a great bitch mother. Wonder if Nx knows the nip-them-in-the-neck technique when they’re naughty. I got that a lot. Didn’t do me any harm. Went to see Mary for a bit, and I had a sniff round the garden. Fish have all gone, so no danger of being nipped if I go for a quick dip now. Dogdip hills: that's a good name.

G was home all last week after the Sunday trip. She has her own business line now in her office, and the blackberry, which makes her swear. She’s very self-disciplined. If I worked from home I’d spend all my time sleeping. Come to think of it, I do anyway.

G bought me a bone on Thursday. It upset my stomach all weekend, so I was thrilled. Haven’t had S up at 3 am for ages. Didn’t really feel ill by then, just wanted to make him walk me down to the field. Couldn’t chew grass because of the frost; bit like long green ice-lollies. Good for rolling in.

To Trelissick yesterday. There was a Cornish food fair and crafts, with Father Christmas and nativity animals. Can’t have been the actual donkeys and that, but at least they made the effort. Fooled the toddlers, but not me. Shetland ponies had evil eyes, which they tried to conceal. G bought some expensive soap that smelt like it was made from a puddle in a cow byre. There were some excellent pasties and things on sale, but did they buy any for the dog? Oh, no.

S says he wants to stop now, as he’s tired after preparing all his work for the week in case he has to rush off to see the new grandchild. Don’t see why we can’t just webcam like anyone else…Not that big a deal if you ask me. See one litter, see them all…