Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Water We Going to Do?

The rain continued to pour down across the west of Scotland in biblical amounts last night and civilisation nearly ground to a halt in our house. It was the master's first day back at work after his illness and he returned a weary man in need of revitilisation. His dinner was cooking but firstly he needed to wash the day off his hands. He lathered up on liquid soap and turned the tap but was surprised to find no water. Instead the tap gurgled and spat and hissed air, the little water that did issue staying brown like his diarrhoea from the previous week, albeit less smelly. 

Looking at his soap-covered hands in disbelief and disappointment, he then turned to the mistress to read-lip her whisper about a burst water main repair on the main road. Wiping the soap from his hands on the kitchen towel he sighed, "How long till dinner?" 

"Go and get changed quickly - 5 min" was the scribbled reply. I was surprised to see her write in italics too.

Upon reaching the bedroom, the master changed out of his suit then entered the ensuite to test the water there. He was too tired to think logically. How could a mains tap work upstairs if it was not working downstairs? Never mind. Another sigh and he emptied his bladder, deliberately. Mostly in the bowl too. Then, on autopilot, he pushed the lever to flush. The water whirled away and just as it reached its lowest point he suddenly realised his mistake and let out a loud curse as the cistern began to cough and bluster and make other noises like it might explode. A breathless mistress then appeared in the doorway to remind him too late not to flush and they both prayed the toilet wasn't broken. Eventually the noises stopped and a brown liquid sedimented inside the bowl. He didn't try to flush it again.

For dinner they had a little spicy cajun chicken on a bed of pureed vegetables. I got to watch them eat it from my bed, where I'm sent at their meal times. I'm occasionally thrown a tidbit by the master when the mistress isn't watching. Not that he'd hear her complain now, what with her laryngitis.

After dinner, the master looked across hopefully at the kettle only to be disappointed. There wasn't enough water left in it to make one cup of tea, never mind two. Another sigh. Parched, with a mouth more than a little burny, I noticed him glance at my water bowl and decided not to share. I slinked out of my bed and lapped up a couple of tonguefuls and made my way to the back door. I was thinking time for some more Cat Attack practice!

When he opened the door for me, suggesting I wouldn't want to go, I realised he was right and backed back inside. No cat would be so stupid as to be out in that. It did give me a thought though. Perhaps the master could put a bowl outside for himself to catch the rain water. He could use this to fill the kettle for his tea. It wouldn't take long with the rain coming down in such torrents. But it turns out he's fussy. One little viral bug and he's too scared in case his immune system can't cope with any rain bugs. So instead, he grabbed a plastic bottle of Coca Cola from the cupboard and drank that, much to the minor irritation of the mistress. This was not a treat day for his diet.

How long would this internal drought go on? They wanted to know if it had been reported. This was now over two hours with no water. When were they going to get their emergency water bottles to wash and bathe with? I didn't care. If I was thirsty, I still had my bowl and, when that was done, there were plenty of puddles in the garden to drink from.

Before they could even locate the emergency number, they read on the website that the issue was being dealt with and within another hour the water was reconnected. Panic over. It stayed browny for a while. When the master showered the next morning it looked like when they bath me after a particularly muddy session, only with less hairs left in the plughole afterwards. In fact I missed a trick. I could have been playing in the mud without fear of an instant bath when they had no water. I'll need to remember that for next time.   

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Week my Owners were Sick Part 2

The downside to having two owners ill at the same time was the lack of exercise. Normally they share the walking duties but with the master laid up in bed and the mistress coughing at the slightest inhalation of cold air my walks were restricted in length and frequency. The wet, windy weather didn't help either.

Initially I was pleased to receive my treat rewards without the need to get soaked. I even aborted one walk when the rain was falling sideways to return to get my Bonio and Dentastix. As the week continued however my frustration levels were growing and grumbling. I needed to burn off some aggression and no one was able to play with me. Fortunately I found an outlet in the form of a new game.

It wasn't really a 'new' game, more a sequel to a game I've played before. "Cat Attack 2" is a variation on British Bulldogs, playable by any breed and gender of dog. The dog has to prevent the incursion across his boundary of any of the multiple cats that want to cross into his territory. This involves lots of sniffing, power running, growling and barking threats. It can be played at any time of day or night as long as there are cats willing to play. There doesn't even have to be cats if you just want to be prepared. 

It was inspired by the arrival of another feline next door, Clifford, a pesky critter who likes to poop on our front lawn. I suspect his owners have been spraying cat litter on our grass because it looks like that area is the only place he goes to the bathroom. There's a new massive poo there every day. What are they feeding him? Or is he getting fed at multiple homes? That's the thing with cats, they can just meiow at a stranger's door and, if they're lucky, end up with a regular meal. If a dog tried that they'd get carted off to the pound and end up on prison rations. Where's the justice there?

Clifford has lots of friends who regularly visit his garden. His older brother doesn't get out much after Niro took a claw to him but this one is quite the charmer with his big cat eyes. He even tried to weedle his way into our house one night. I would have liked that - a confrontation 'doggo-a-catto' on my turf, chewing on him till his squeaker popped then ripping out his stuffing. 

As I said, my frustration level is inappropriately high owing to the shortage of walks.   

I can't let Clifford poo on the rear grass because with both my owners shy on poop scooping duty I'm running short of fresh space for me to go. I've pounded the line of the fence so much the grass has turned to a muddy trench. I return to the house so dirty after a gaming session they've used up all the clean towels. They now have to use the carrot stew bowl to wash my legs before I'm allowed further than the mat in the kitchen.

I hope one of them gets better soon. Or else I'm going to need a pawdicure. I won't show you my nails. They're in quite a state.  

The Week my Owners were Sick Part 1

My owners are not talking to one another at the moment. They've not fallen out though. She has laryngitis and has been left with no voice. One of the plus sides for him is he gets to watch the saucy bits on TV without being told to "cover his eyes". I can see her shaking her finger in disapproval but he can't see her, his eyes transfixed by the screen. At dinner, she's taken to writing him post-it notes. He pointed out if he ever lost his glasses they'd never be able to communicate again. She then mimed she could text him. I thought that would be a waste of time: one - he never checks his phone; and two - he doesn't know how to change the font size on his phone so he'd still be stuck if he'd lost his glasses.

He's not been well either. He came home early from work on Wednesday and went to bed with a hot water bottle and a bucket. I thought I heard him calling me so went upstairs. I discovered the bucket contained a warm, lumpy carrot stew, which I sneakily nibbled at. He got very annoyed. He scolded me and threw it all away down the toilet. He didn't want any of it. A bit of an overreaction I thought. He was so upset he stayed in bed and didn't eat another thing for the rest of the day. Great for his diet though. We made up later when he let me snuggle with him under the covers. To be fair he was too ill to argue. That hot water bottle was really cosy. I want one for my Christmas. I just need to promise I won't chew it.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Children in Need

This year's BBC 'Children in Need' charity appeal is subtitled "Show your Spots". Given the high incidence of teenage acne I find this to be in very poor taste (unless they're collecting Clearasil in those buckets).

We had a young boy at the door wanting sponsored 'per spot' for Children in Need. My master took one look at him and said, "They're not spots, they're blisters," and closed the door. The boy rang the bell again, determined to get a donation. From behind the door, my master shouted, "It's chickenpox, go away! You're contagious." When the boy's sobs began to drown out the fundraiser on the telly, my master took pity on him and reopened the door. The boy's smug grin faded as he was handed a secondhand bottle of calamine lotion. He deserved some credit though. I'd never thought of varicella as a fundraising virus before and at least now he wouldn't be so itchy. 

On our walk tonight a kid ran up to us and demanded money. I never saw where he came from. He was about eight years old and was wearing slippers, pyjamas and a dressing gown. At first I wondered if I had misunderstood the whole concept of 'Children in Need'. Was this a night where children were allowed to beg on the street? I thought, no, that's Halloween! He explained he needed the cash to buy sweets from the ice cream van, which was strumming towards us along the road, playing the Magic Roundabout theme music. My master couldn't hear either the van or the boy's demands over the sounds from his Ipod and walked on, knotted poo bag swaying. This was the only donation being made on our walk tonight and I'd made it. 

Just as well my master was oblivious to the boy's request. He's a sucker for beggars and charity collectors. He'd probably have been too embarrassed to refuse and ended up being blackmailed by the boy's parents, who were videoing the encounter from a first floor window. How would he explain to the police giving cash to a boy in pyjamas on a street corner? Maybe next time, the boy's parents won't over think their plan and just mug him for his Ipod. I'm sure Cash Converters will give them more than ice cream money for it. And he'll never hear them coming.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Death is just a Click Away

Should undertakers now have online sites complete with checkouts? Would it be considered distasteful to load your deceased partner's details into the basket and be one click away from their final resting place: a virtual graveyard for the digital age? GoogleGone. FaceBookedOut. Having picked their favourite sound to accompany this final program task, watch as their ashes are scattered in faux 3D across a specially themed desktop landscape from the emptied Recycle Bin. Would it become the norm to organise an online 'Confunerance', passworded or public, allowing all the elderly relatives to attend without having to travel while wondering if they'll be next?

Warning: during this process do not click 'back' or 'refresh' or else you may create a zombie program to haunt your computer till it's dying pixel. Defrags won't exorcise these living dead and neither will rebooting them remove them. Norton AntiUndead may be one solution but expensive.

That's the future! Just you wait...

Scratch, Scratch, Scratch

No, I've not got fleas. This was the sound coming from the walls of our converted garage. My master was watching the new Ricky Gervais comedy, 'Life's Too Short' on his leather recliner sofa when the noise started to irritate him. No, not Ricky Gervais' voice. He wondered if his expensive in-wall speakers were starting to fuzz distortion (not that it really sounded like that). Declining the recliner, he rose and crossed the room to listen to the speaker. The sound stopped. He waited, ear to the mesh. It started again but not from the speaker. From the wall way below. It sounded like scrabbling. Something was trying to scrape their way into the house from floor level. He had one thought: 'Mice'.

He summoned the mistress, who was lounging in the living room watching a recording of 'Downtown Abbey'. I came along too, as my body heater had annoyingly departed the couch. We all listened and she freaked as the noise returned, this time further along the wall and clearer. Demands were issued to search the cupboard under the stairs, then the kitchen cupboards, then behind the living room sofa. Check for any signs of entry: mouse droppings, nibbled cartons, scurrying vermin. I hoped she was talking to him and not me. If there was any nibbling at cartons to be done I would volunteer, but I would much rather use my time cuddling on the sofa. Her body heat was heaven.

After a quick inspection, revealing no evidence of invasion, the mistress then pondered where might be open to buy a sonic deterrent. Would Asda have any? The master was not keen or approving of such a visit. He doubted Asda would have any anyway, never mind a 'range of appropriate products' ("I've never seen a rodent deterrent aisle in Asda"). B&Q was closed. Could we risk waiting till the morning or would we be overrun?

I sighed. They were mice. It was nothing to worry about. They'd mess up like they always do. Worst case scenario: they'd nibble an electricity cable, get frazzled and the alarm clock radio wouldn't work, causing the humans to sleep in and I'd get a late breakfast. What we hadn't to do was panic and buy (or borrow) a cat. I wanted to be very clear on this. This is a one pet home!

Then I wondered if they was the same mice that had nibbled their way through the cabin central heating pipe. Had they followed our scent all the way from Aberfoyle or hitched a lift in the exhaust of the mistress' 4x4? Were they planning to become house mice instead of field mice? 

Then the master leapt in the air, roaring like a frustrated Hulk, and landed with a massive thump, making me jump out of my coat and bark alarmingly. What was he playing at? Had he crushed one underfoot? I sniffed around his feet and realised there was no mouse (but he may have athlete's foot again - the irony in one so unfit). He shushed both of us and we all looked silly, standing like statues, with only one of us pricking up their ears to signify listening. The noise had indeed stopped and didn't return

He waited up for a few hours just to check and I got some extra time under the duvet before being sent to my own bed. Quite what he would have done had it returned I'm not sure. He couldn't go bouncing up and down all night. He might break the weakened floor boards and collapse into the foundations if he did. Then the mice would have a massive entry point into their new winter home. 

Friday, 11 November 2011

Two Men and a Doggy.

I met an Airedale Terrier called Terry at the Park tonight. We've sniffed bottoms before but never really chatted till now. He seemed a bit emotional. I asked if his perm was too tight. He looked at me, confused. Did he not know what a perm was? I started to explain but he cut me off declaring his curls were all natural. Not a great opener but I've never been known for my tact.

"So what's upset you?"

"My owners are splitting up."

I looked around and could see two men in their late thirties walking ahead. Neither were talking.

"Which one of them is your master?"

"They both are."

Now it was my turn to be confused.

"How can you have two masters?"

"They're gay."


"You don't know what that means, do you?"


"It's when two people of the same sex love each other."

"So why are they splitting up?"

"They don't love each other any more."

"So they're not gay any more."

"Yes they are, just not for each other."

It made no sense to me. We ran over to them and, ever curious, I gave them both a quick sniff. Terry noticed and barked, "They smell the same as your master."

"So is he gay?"

"That's not how it works."

I got a scowl from both men and Terry was summoned to stay closer. Did gay men not like brindle cross breeds mixing with their pedigree chum? I looked over at my master and realised he was keeping his distance too. The two men started arguing and Terry returned.

"Here we go again."

I asked diplomatically, "So which of them's getting custody of you?"

"They haven't agreed that yet. Neither wants to give me up. Both want to walk me and won't let the other take me out alone."

"That's a shame. If they walked you separately you'd get twice as much exercise and there wouldn't be that air of irritation. It would be good if they could sort things out and split before Christmas." 

"Why?" He raised his eye brows incredulously.

"Twice the presents. No 'joint gifts' anymore. Maybe one could get you a pair of straighteners for your coat and the other a shaver for that beard."

Terry grumped and bounced back over to his owners to continue his formal walk.

"No sense of humour," I sighed. "Which is surprising given he looks like he's running in furry leg warmers."

Argument paused the two men walked apart with Terry running between the two.

I returned to my master.  "It's not just his coat that's tightly sprung tonight!" He had no idea what I was saying but still rewarded me with a tidbit of schmacko, which I inhaled in one. I liked my master. He gave me treats even when I didn't deserve them. Unlike the mistress, who preferred to trick me into accepting a worming tablet then asphyxiate me to make me swallow it. She did have her good points too though. She's warmer than a hot water bottle in bed and spends more time playing with me than he does. If they ever split up I'll ask to be put up for adoption I think. Make it a three way split. They can split the house between them and I'll take the cabin. 

Which reminds me... I wonder where those mice went?