Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Big Chill (Part One)

This week I caught a chill.

At first I thought I was just a little under the weather. I had a temperature, a strong thirst, a very sneezy nose and I felt tired. Then I felt this very urgent need to pee. It was so embarrassing as my owners had just gone out without mentioning to me when they'd return. What was I to do? I lay there trying to forget about it, wondering what Santa Paws might be bringing me for my Christmas. But it was no use. After an hour I just had to go. I rose from my bed and, as I did, I sprayed my bed, my duvet and the kitchen wall. The relief and shame were in equal measure.

My master was the first to return and was quite shocked by the smell. He sniffed around like an amateur and ended up removing the bag from the kitchen bin, thinking it was the wasted food that was giving off the unpleasant odour. I suppose I should be pleased that he didn't think it could be coming from my bed, especially as I was still lying in it. 

He did eventually twig when he returned to make his lunch. A bed washing later and the smell was gone from the kitchen, as the bed lay drying on a concertina tubular clothes airer upstairs. He thought he was going to get a pat on the back for showing such initiative. Possibly he would have had he used washing powder. I don't think he'll ever be fully house trained. The mistress despairs.

I had to sleep on a spare duvet. So did he. It would have been funnier if she'd made him sleep on my bed before she washed it again. I suppose though they train humans not to rub their noses in it when they've been bad.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Night Encounters at Barshaw

Third week of the Freeze. The Snowmen have surpassed themselves this year. Even Santa is going to be delayed this year, according to retailers, unless you got your list away before last Friday.

In this cold weather I can't believe the generosity of some people, leaving free food for the dogs at various points around Barshaw Park. I thank all concerned. I found whole slices of bread near the play park area and more at the pond, some embedded in the ice. Then there was popcorn at the red brick shelter. Makes the walk in freezing temperatures all the more rewarding. Munch, munch, then munch a little more, until my master catches me in his torch glare. It's funny watching him slip and slide towards me in an attempt to put me off my snacking. He should know by now four legs are better than two for staying upright. He's never going to catch me.

I saw a notice beside the pond stating "Danger: Thin Ice". The swans obviously hadn't seen it as they continued to swim around the remaining ice-free area, oblivious to the inherent dangers surrounding them. I barked a warning but they ignored me, as usual. They're so full of themselves in their posh white gowns. They think they're the special ones, the beautiful people, above the rules. Well I hope the thin ice gets them. Then they won't be quite as aloof.    

I wonder, if thin ice is dangerous, what about fat ice? It's probably not quite as nimble but being heavier could pack a better punch if it caught you. It certainly wouldn't crack under pressure. If Scotland was a colder clime, I'm sure we'd be very proud of our fat ice. "Feel that. Pure Scottish Fat Ice. You could dice that and stick it in your whiskey for breakfast. Beats your namby pamby English thin ice any day."

I nearly got into a fight with a man this week. He was cutting through the park in the dark, on his way home, and was walking at pace as it was so cold. I was running about to keep warm and thought I recognised him and ran over, hoping to get a dog treat. His hood was up so I jumped up to have a closer look but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. I was about to apologise when the blighter kicked me. Like I deserved it. I was shocked. Not the 'treat' I was expecting. I ran over to my master and remonstrated at the man's behaviour, hoping he'd take up my case for me but he seemed undecided. The man was quite beefy. So I ended up taking him on myself. I chased him up the path to the pond and bounced around him, barking threateningly. "You want a piece of me? Try that again and you'll see what you get!"

My master was livid. With me. He called me, then got angry and shouted for me to return immediately, while I persisted with my expression of outrage. The man knew what was good for him though and continued on using his feet to walk not kick. Just as well. If he offered a foot in my direction again I wouldn't have let him have it back. One up to me I think. No one messes with the figbane!

I rewarded myself with a lick at some yellow ice. Mmmmn... salty!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

"Freeze. Nobody move!"

The Snowmen got their revenge this week. After I mocked their abilities, they in turn showed what they could do, managing to bring Scotland to a grand halt with their wintery weather. Every Snowman on the estate grew stone smiles as wide as their big heads would allow.

On Monday, although the day began with heavy rain, washing away the previous night's grit, it soon gave way to sleet then heavy snow and it didn't pause for over three hours, dropping inches of snow on top of already thick ice. A lot of unlucky motorists on the M8 were stuck in their car as the roadway clogged up and halted. It seemed quite unbelievable that the main road dissecting the country could be affected in such a way but it happened.

Then the freezing fog descended and iced up the snow, making it even more treacherous. All in all there was eight inches of snow on the grass in my back garden and I was much troubled. When I ventured forth for my afternoon constitutional I ended up looking like baby Bambi, legs embedded in the snow at awkward angles. I thought I was going to get stuck. The icy snow seemed to grip my legs and wouldn't release them. Latterly I could only walk at the edge of the house where the snow was at its lowest, only going further where the humans had left foot prints for me to step into.

Because it was so cold (minus double digit centigrade) the mistress insisted I wear my overcoat when I was taken for my evening walk. The pavements were too dicey to risk so we ended up parading down the middle
of the street along the tyre tracks. On either side Snowmen giggled from the gardens and mocked me as I slunk along, my head dipped in shame and embarrassment. I hurried to complete the walk but we'd only just started. I considered all the replies I should have given the Snowmen, but ended up just bitter from the freezing cold.  

When I crossed paths with a gentle collie cross, who remarked that she "liked my coat", I was in no mood to distinguish sincerity from sarcasm. I exploded in a fit of festering rage. The mistress was quite shocked by my apparent unprovoked outburst and scolded me. I felt like biting her for making me wear this stupid coat. I didn't care that it kept my body warm. My paws and legs were still frozen. I just wanted to get home and hibernate under the bed covers until spring. I never wanted to see snow ever again.

The big freeze lasted for almost the week. On Friday, a fast thaw developed as a pocket of warm air covered the country offering a welcome reprieve. Only melted stubs of snow remained to remind me of the recent Snowmen invasion. How long would it be before they returned for good? 

Today the temperature plummetted... 

Sunday, 5 December 2010

sNOw Joke

The pain of being rejected last week has given way to numbness. Probably because it's freezing. 

Britain has been in the grip of winter this week with freezing temperatures and widespread snow. It got so bad that motorways were closed and supermarkets and petrol stations ran low on supplies because their delivery trucks couldn't get through. It felt like the end of the world the way some were speaking.

When I say 'some' I specifically mean the 'Snowmen'. They've been rolling up again in gardens across the estate, swearing blind (pebbles for eyes, you see) that this time they're here to stay, that their 'grand invasion plan' was going to succeed. They peddle the same scare story every year but every year the rain returns and they all melt away. They're a bit of a joke. I don't find them scary at all.

For one thing the plan is hugely flawed. It's all very well hypnotising the children into building an army of snowmen for you but what's the point if they can't move. As soon as Private Snowman tries to roll, gravity takes over and his giant head smashes into the ground. How about adding a pair of legs into the design to add a little balance? And did no one at Snowman HQ ever stop to think that wearing warm hats and scarfs are a bit silly when you're made of snow. Not cool.

Their weapon of choice is the snowball. I get confused by snowballs. I keep thinking they're real balls. I get all excited and bouncy then disappointed when they land in the snow and disappear. Or if I catch one, it dissolves in my mouth and I get brain freeze. Not much flavour either, unless it's rippled with yellow snow.

I love it when the Snowmen start to thaw. The look of shock on their faces is priceless. Their noses and arms fall off and I get a choice of snack: root vegetable or stick.

I've not been able to get back to Barshaw this week because of the snow. I've been getting taken on local walks instead. The grit and ice have been getting into my paw pads, making it painful to walk and I have to pause with my leg in the air till it melts or I can lick it away. Not very dignified. Sometimes I have to walk slowly and delicately. Passersby think I'm an old maid. It's so embarrassing.

You pick up some great smells in the snow though. The scent trails are really strong. I followed a fox with my nose for miles the other night. I knew it wasn't Freddy. I just followed it for the sport. Rizza thinks I should forget Freddy. He thinks that I need to have an inconsequential fling with the next guy I meet to help me get over him. A rebound kind of thing. He even winked at me as he said it. I didn't know what to say. He took that to mean permission was granted and went round the back for a sniffy. I snapped at him and he backed away.

He was right though. It did help. It took my mind right off Freddy. Rizza's a good pal.