Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Mighty have Fallen

The damage at Barshaw Park was both impressive and depressing. The combination of rain-sodden ground and gale force winds had taken its toll. Huge, thick, ancient trees lay toppled. The route along one of my walks was now completely blocked by a sea of branches which speared out at us. At night, in torchlight, it was creepy to encounter it, so many shadows being cast by so many branches and moving as we approached. In daylight it was just as odd, the top of the tree, normally reserved for the birds, pressed against the muddy path like some primitive deterrent against invaders. 

"Thou shalt not pass!"

It wasn't just trees falling that gave me a fright. My master took a tumble too. We were on the Brandy Burn side of the Glennifer Braes, walking at the far end. The ground was wet and many trees had blown over. As we headed down a grassy incline, above the entrance to the spooky wood, he slipped. Usually it's funny to see him wobble when he slips, his arms waving wildly in the air in an attempt to correct himself, normally succeeding, but today his boots headed horizontally and he flipped to the ground like he'd been chopped by a professional wrestler.

His back hit the ground first, then his head. He lay there dazed. I wasn't expecting it so barked my annoyance at the sudden fright. When he didn't get up I barked my concern. Why wasn't he rising? How was I going to get help so far from civilisation? We'd not seen another dog walker during the entire walk. What if no one came? What if everyone had gone home for their tea? Heavens! Stuck up here I was going to miss my dinner. This was serious. I barked louder and more desperately, darting in and poking him with my nose.

He stirred and moaned quietly to me that he was okay, not exactly sure where I was as he stared at the sky. I barked repeatedly till he lifted his head and looked at me, then danced around him till he got up. He was in a little discomfort and became annoyed at my reluctance to be quiet. His carelessness nearly cost me a meal. I wasn't going to let him off the hook so easily.

He rubbed his head, which was sore from the fall, and checked his jacket and hat. There was no blood or mud. He was lucky. No evidence of the fall and nothing broken. Just dented pride. When he was sure he didn't have concussion he attempted to shush me but I wasn't finished telling him off for scaring me. It was going to take more than the tease of a tennis ball or wave of a gravy bone to buy my silence.

Eventually I let him attach my lead after he pointed out it was me that was delaying us from returning home for dinner. We walked carefully back to the car and home without mentioning it again. We've not been back since.

Maybe he should try walking on all-fours like me. There's less chance of slipping and not so far to fall if he did. Of course he'll have to wait until his whiplash eases. At the moment he can't lift his head so he wouldn't be able to see where he was going. I'll wait till he's better before suggesting it. With the angle he needs to keep his head at, he wouldn't see the funny side. 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Wind gives the Willies Part 2

The trip home from the cabin after the storm was fraught. The mistress was driving.

Our exit from the park was initially blocked by two fallen trees. This delayed our journey while they were sliced and the chunk of trunk in the middle removed to let the cars pass through. Then the first route home we selected was blocked early on by a tree, as was the second, and, as you can see above, the third was not without excitement. The Kingston Bridge was closed in both directions due to two toppled lorries. The Erskine Bridge was closed to all vehicles. The road at the Bowling roundabout was closed due to flooding. As we listened to the travel reports on the car radio we realised all our usual routes home were blocked. We just kept travelling on unknown roads hoping they connected up somewhere to take us home.

Along the route many locals had come out to move the debris. Women and children with brushes swept broken branches to the side of the road while the men chainsawed through the larger branches. Tractors were employed not to hold up traffic but keep it moving, dragging whole trees off the road. With so much wood on the road I was hoping we'd need to stop so I could retrieve a chunky stick to chew on while we waited. When the wind gusts shook the car I shuddered. There would be no sticks for me. If I went out in those winds I'd end up in Oz . I just closed my eyes and kept muttering, "There's no place like home," over and over again but still found myself in the back of the car. This wasn't a dream and I wasn't Toto but you'd believe in flying monkeys with that wind.

After a couple more detours we eventually made it back to Paisley via the Clyde Tunnel. Bent railings and unearthed tree stumps indicated the storm damage had been quite bad here too. When we reached the house, I was greeted by an unusual sight. At first I couldn't quite put my pad on it, then realised we had a gap beside the house where the gate used to be, a gate now lying flat on the slabs beside the wheelie bins. I was excited but tried not show it. No gate meant freedom to wander and a better chance of catching next door's cat in the act of pooing on the lawn. Then the mistress spoiled it by commanding the master to be a man and screw it back on again. Which he did, getting soaked in the process. She helped too, I might add.

I wrote in a previous blog about the end of the world not coming in one cataclysmic event but a series of smaller ones, each contributing to the eventual end of life as we know it. This storm was scary enough to feel like one of those moments. We survived. What a ride!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Wind gives the Willies Part 1

Before - Oct 2011
After - Jan 2012
I've never been a big fan of wind. If I'm outside and need to do my business I want to know where I'll think it'll land. So this recent weather, with torrential rain and storm force winds have not been a pleasure for me.

The day of the recent storm, which saw trees felled and lorries tumbled and bridges closed and chimneys toppled and wheelie bins blown the length of Leith Walk, started with me needing my morning constitutional. I had been awakened with the cabin juddering from the continued gusts and listened anxiously as trunks and branches of falling trees from the forest behind crashed against other trees on their way groundward, their roots ripped from the rain-drenched earth, fearing one might fall in our direction. The radiator behind me was cold as the boiler had stayed silent with no electricity to power it. There was no sound from my owners either to indicate them being awake so I grumped an unhappy, whiney bark to alert them to my bowel need. 

My master arose, dressed ready to go out, but assumed I needed fed first. I never knock back food so still wolfed it down but then made very clear I wanted out. He opened the door and the noise was incredible. He asked me if I was sure but nature's course was imminent so I stepped towards the decking. Extendable lead attached, we both ventured out into the driving rain and wind. It felt like little needles were driving into my coat and face as I rushed down the hill to find my favourite peeing spot. Mission accomplished I turned to make my way to the nearest grass to adopt the pooing position but the wind was intense. This area was too open so I started to run back up the road. My master assumed we were heading back to the cabin and ran with me and was rather surprised when I ran right past and continued on down the road in the direction of the dog walk area. 

I clenched and held on as far as the third cabin before I knew I could hold on no longer. I crouched and pushed and closed my eyes, facing directly into the painful rain. Normally my poo drops behind me and I skip away in case it touches my legs. Today I could feel it bouncing up against my erect tail. The wind was blowing it horizontal. When it released it flew off like a missile and landed a good twelve inches behind me. I didn't wait to check it out or mark the spot with my hind paws. I ran back to the cabin.

Or at least as far as the length of the extendable lead. I was nearly yanked off my paws as I both choked and a particularly sharp gust caught my body. My master was crouched above the poo, attempting the manipulate the poo bag against the wind into a scoopable position and was losing. He couldn't quite keep it gloved as the wind kept blowing it in wild directions. I didn't help either by straining the lead to at least get behind the shelter of the nearest cabin. He wasn't happy.

Eventually he managed to remove my poop missile and we both belted back to the shelter of the cabin.  

Monday, 2 January 2012

Giving Thanks for a New Year

A time to contemplate and appreciate the good things that life has brought:
The pleasure of a warm leg to rest my head upon as I lie between my two owners on the couch, even if they didn't offer me any 3D glasses during The Lion King. I thought I needed an eye test.

The joy of walking behind a tree while on an extended lead and staring at the impasse until the holder at the other end gives up walks round it himself.

Urinating on another dog's poo in the dark so my master thinks I did it and pooper scoops it up. Knows he's been conned when it's not warm.

Central heating radiators beside my bed. But only when the timer is on 24hr. Time can be a cruel mistress. She'll know what that means.
 The good luck to live in a house with a kitchen drawer of endless tennis balls no matter how many I leave behind at Barshaw. And it cleans them too to make them feel new.
 The combo of careless forks and gravity at meal times. Napkins should be outlawed. Eating off a jumper can be fun too.

Meat joints shared between the master and me after the meal meat has been removed. 60:40 in his favour but I'm working on that. Equality for dogs in 2012 is my new motto.

Taking my owners for long walks to tire them out so they fall asleep quickly in bed and forget I'm still there. Wish I didn't snore so loudly.

So thankful for my life of leisure. Sleep as much as I want. Pay no taxes. Do no housework. Get free lifts to all the best walks. Get regular meals. Moan if I don't get my treats. I'm like a dog equivalent of a human preteen. And I don't have to go to school any more. Life is great.

Long may it continue in 2012 and beyond.