Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tails from the Dog-House
It’s been an odd week, what with high winds and low winds, high spots and low spots and generally bits falling off, not me you understand, just things around me.
Thursday morning I fed the dog, seems relatively simply, the sought of thing I might easily accomplish without incident, which just goes to prove how wrong you can be!
Step one; grasp the bowl firmly and lift, then proceed to enormous bag of dog food and put 3 cups of said dried kibble into bowl.
Step two; Call dog and encourage to sit (Hit over head with 4” length of 2 x 4 to get attention first, then press on rear end screaming SIT in nearest ear!)
Step three; Order semi-conscious dog to STAY and place bowl on spill mat (The only place in the entire house kibble free!)
Step four; Restrain enormous beast in mid lunge and re-position in SIT after removing front paws off shoulders
Step five; six; seven – repeat four and latter part of two using 2 x 4
Step six; gently urge dazed critter towards kibble, supporting as required
Or something like that …
Yet on this particular day, I turned with me freshly filled kibble bowl to find dog missing, this alone would be regarded as sufficient proof in the Catholic Church for it to be proclaimed a miracle! Placing bowl on kibble free, I crunched back into living room to ascertain reason for non-appearance, to find dog head down, neck deep in me bowl of cereal, positioned on coffee table by me, breakfast for the purposes of!
I yelled, “Barnaby!” in a tone of voice indicating my horror and hatred of all things canine and Barnaby’s in particular, which initiated not one iota of response.
Eventually I removed his head from the bowl, laughingly, looked at his milk covered nose and figured, “What the hell”, and dumped the dog infected contents on his kibble.
Note to self; Feed dog first!
“Tails” from the Doghouse.
Death by Squirrel!
Barnaby’s training continues, as I suspect it will for the rest of our lives. The only question really is how long we’re likely to survive, and if this morning’s shenanigans are anything to go by, my days are not merely numbered but fast approaching single digits!
As I’m off work at the moment, it’s my duty, pleasure, to take The Big Galoot for his morning romp, that’s if you can call 125 lbs of canine hurtling across a frost encrusted field dragging a well-layered Martyn behind it, a romp. We arrived at the fence, two strands of wire, he shoots under, and I attempt to go between – Having picked myself up, using the fence post as an aid, we set off again, Barnaby walking, “With Me!” something he’s really good at – mostly. We enter the Cemetery, past the gate and turn left into the avenue of trees that surrounds the plot. Walking through the frozen hoar frost laden branches in the morning sun was a delight, Barnaby, running at the end of an 8 m long self-retracting leash.
(Built in Germany for the holding of Camels - $78! – One should always be at least 8 meters from a camel – they stink!)
Round we strolled/trotted, depending on whom you’re looking at, and turned west, one of the longer sides. Sunlight dappled through the frozen, a cow lowed in the distance and birds twittered & tweeted (‪#‎godisanyoneelsecoldorisitjustme‬?) Passing by the impenetrable jungly bit, we re-entered the brush filled avenue, I crunched over frosted sticks and Barnaby jammed his nose into every footprint and burrow, risking lacerations and attack by anything put out by a large proboscis and teeth entering uninvited and sniffing up their best winter food store!
We rounded the western most corner and headed north, when suddenly – nothing happened (but it happened suddenly!) then Barnaby spotted the squirrel. Now, I say spotted, yet in truth this wasn’t too difficult, a log lay across the trail and Barnaby stuck his head up and looked over and the squirrel, idly nibbling on his nuts or whatever they do with them, stared back. For a moment, time was frozen, then I appeared, at which the squirrel, clearly outnumbered, fled. Barnaby took off after the fleeing rodent, which, all thoughts of nuts abandoned, was scampering flat out for the nearest tree. Then a couple of things happened, 8 meters of best German ran out, resulting in I being catapulted into full run from a standing start, and the squirrel looked over its shoulder and realized that it wasn’t gonna make the tree!
You’ll remember the log? I didn’t and in high dudgeon over this the log lifted itself just enough so I fell over it. Now, you might think that a couple of hundred pounds of well layered might bring even a top-notch dog team to a shuddering halt, well it might, but it don’t stop a squirrelized Barnaby! Thus I was dragged along the barely snow-covered with the semi open coverall zip ideally placed for the scooping up of all snow and detritus and depositing same inside the coveralls – the very things designed to keep all this outside!
Meanwhile, back at the sharp end; the squirrel shot right under some low brush and fled for another tree, Barnaby scant inches behind, barking excitedly. Unluckily for both Barnaby and myself there was a third tree (the place is just full of em) positioned for just this eventuality and the 8 meters of best German etc. etc. rounded this and bought both him and myself to a full stop. Two out of the three of us heaved a sigh of relief, one from the floor and the other from twenty feet up and climbing …
I raised my head and looked at Barnaby, who dropped onto his stomach, panting hard and looked at me. My eyes narrowed as thoughts of hiding the body and telling Joy, “He ran away!” crossed my mind – it was at this moment that I became aware of all the frozen stuff now inside the outside, where it should have been. I also became aware that what I was feeling in my nether regions indicated two possibilities, either the snow was melting or I had committed an act that I haven’t done since I was about 4 years old – I got up, called Barnaby, who bounded happily towards me, and we set off home to find out …
“Tails” from the Doghouse.
The Case of the Dog that didn’t Need to Bark in the Night!
Barnaby is a big dog, I think I may have mentioned this? What I didn’t mention is that really big dogs have trouble with stairs. Whether it’s because the concept of stairs is beyond the intelligence of the average over-sized canine, possibly because the distance between the front and back end causes a lag in signals getting there and back, or maybe stairs built for humans don’t work so well for dogs of a certain size, who knows?
What I do know is that Barnaby has taken a tumble or two on the lower portion, some five steps. Let me paint the picture for you.
The stairs start off on the main floor, mainly because the construction team employed someone bright enough follow the plans I expect, although in other aspects of the house, it appears he wasn’t employed full time. Then comes a landing, sporting a potted fig tree that seems determined to survive despite what we do to it. One then turns left and ascends the rest of the stairs to a main landing where one would enter the main bedroom on the right. (Turning left will only get you back down to the main floor a lot quicker than health and safety would like!) The steps themselves are made from scratched pine, if you’re not familiar with this product then tear out you’re stairs, replace with bright and shiny pine and buy a dog, you get the picture…
Each night Barnaby makes an heroic effort to ascend the stairs, each morning he makes an even more heroic effort to descend them, under careful instruction from us – which means we tell him “to be careful”. Despite this he has, on occasion, still slipped up on “fig tree corner” and crashed down the 5 steps.
Personally, I believe the root cause of this to be the fact we’re only speaking in English and he’s only listening in confusion, I may be wrong though…
At approximately 2.00 am last night, we were awakened by a loud, prolonged crash, which sounded exactly as though a 125 lb dog had attempted to navigate the stairs in the dark, slipped and fallen to the landing, bounced off the potted fig tree and slid down the remaining 5 steps onto the wooden floor – without making a sound himself!
As one, Management and I flung back the sheets, and tore to the top of the stairs, I turned on the light, to reveal Barnaby clambering to his feet, shaking his head and wagging his tail. As one we descended and rushed to him, to check close up he was all right I suppose. It was at this point we became aware that both of us were naked and that dogs have no shame about where they’re going to insert a cold, wet nose!
Barnaby survived, the potted fig’s still potted and the scratched stair has a few more scratches. I wonder if we should invest in a night light…
“Tails” from the Dog House
“My dogs an eyesore”
Twas during our cemetery ramble that things became apparent, Barnaby was pawing at his left eye. Wiping either his head down his paw, or paw past his head depending on where you were standing. Closer examination took place at home and revealed – nothing – at least as far as I could see. We kept an eye on it (Spoiler alert – I’m going to keep doing this you know!) and Barnaby’s eye kept leaking. 
Afeared for his sight, Management took him to see the vet, or rather for the vet to cast an expert eye over him! In his considered, and expensive, opinion, Barnaby is suffering from something that most of can’t pronounce, let alone catch. Basically, his lower eye lid is too loose, so it turns over and the fur or whatever irritates the eye – thus the leaks.
(Put simply, when he was made it was a Friday back-shift and they didn’t assemble him right – how difficult can it be to glue four legs, a tail and a snozzle in the right place? Bloody Taiwan!)
So now the poor little (Ha!) sods gotta go and be lazered – which means they put the dog to sleep – laser out a strip of flesh – glue the thing, now shortened, back together – wake dog up – stick cone on his head to stop paw and eye contact and make him look a right berk!
When I was told this, and the price! I expounded, “How much?!!!!” and “For what?” Management calmly repeated all of the immediate above, then added, “We do have a responsibility to look after him, you know”
My eyes narrowed as I pointed out that, “The dog does nothing but sleep, we don’t need anesthetic, just tell em to wait five minutes!”
Management said that we needed to be sure he wasn’t awake for the operation.
“I fell over him as he was fast asleep the other night, tipped over the dresser unit, that didn’t even interrupt his snores, let alone wake him up!” I pointed out, somewhat enraged. “So we’re paying some muffin to put the dog to sleep, something he does about twenty times a day, then wake him up, something he’s learned to do completely on his own since day one, and during the intervening time, some guys gonna use a high tech cauterizing iron on his eyelid, which probably runs on a pack of AAA batteries!”
“Yes” said Management, and gave me … The Look (Stage 1 Tactical Mode)
“OK, fine, right, no problem”, said I ..

.“Tails” from the Doghouse 
The Procedure …
Yesterday Barney had his lower eyelid surgically altered as it was irritating his eye. Basically the problem is this, his skin has outgrown his body, so his lower eyelid turned inwards to see what the problem is and where to start in rectifying the issue - in an attempt to make itself fit – or something like that. This type of problem is common in Barnaby’s and has a name, which my nurse friend Pam knows – and told me – and I promptly forgot (Which just goes to prove how bright nurses are and how I’m not!) besides which, semi ordinary people like me don’t talk like that…
So Management and I drove to Brandon at 4 pm to fetch him home. Arriving in a snow covered parking lot, dumped the car and slid into the reception area where we were received (How apt is that!) Moments later we were shown into a small room and minutes later an attractive young lady dressed in scrubs – which doesn’t make them a scrubber apparently – gave us a short lecture over a short finger and threatened to shorten our lives if we cut any of her instructions short. Having given heartfelt assurances that we’d listened, we were reunited with Barnaby, sporting the required XXXXXL head cone! He looked for all the world like someone had gift wrapped his head and all you should do was to put it in a vase with water – in deference to possibly having bits shortened, I restrained myself. Poor wobbly Barnaby, legs splaying, whining for team Canada, he even ignored the “furry white rat” running rampant on a leash and irritatingly inserting itself in the center of things – if you’re in this position yourself, “accidentally” step on a paw, await yelp, then apologize profusely to owner reeling in leash frantically and glaring at me – (maximum points there methinks!)
We ambled off to the car and I lifted the Barnaby front end and gravity gave up and so Barnaby was placed in the rear of the car. We drove home uneventfully. On arrival we decanted, I supporting the front end and gently pulled until gravity paid attention. Barnaby wobbled through the snow till we arrived at the front door, at which point the problems began. Barnaby’s come with a big head anyway, add a couple of feet of cone shaped plastic to the neck and a creature that has no concept of width and you’re going to find that paint removal, spilt coffee mugs on low coffee tables, circular bruises to the legs are all the order of the day.
Stairs are a no-no too, as the first step starts at the top and ends at the bottom, ten feet and thirteen "fallers" (the opposite of stair risers of you’re coming down I should think) probably with various broken limbs (both dog and potted fig tree) in-between.
Barnaby’s initial crash into the door post was repeated twice, once each side, before running headlong into the bottom of the stairs, at which point he gave up and lay down.
Have you ever tried to gently manhandle 130 lbs of totally relaxed dog? It’s like picking up a sack of dog skin, you manhandle one end, and then the body inside slides to the other end, most unhelpful!
By a dint, well more a seriously deep impression really, of hard work we pushed, pulled, lifted and slid the semi-conscious critter across the floor to the rug, whereupon we rolled him onto it. No sooner had we done so that he stood up, wobbled uncertainly to the edge of the rug and fell in a heap on the wooden floor, whining pitifully. We left him to it…
So passed the evening, we watched TV, I say watched because listening to anything, accompanied as it was by not-even-remotely-close-harmony-whining, was out of the question. Bed time and in deference to Barnaby’s inability on stairs, he slept on the rug in front of the TV (off!) and I slept on the sofa, lulled to sleep via Scotch

“Tails” from the Doghouse
First, a Merry Christmas from Barnaby, we know he’s merry as he stuck his tongue in Managements G&T and later in my Scotch and showed every indication of finishing both! 
Barnaby was at the vets last Wednesday for a check up on the eye op result, so naturally he lunged at everything and one and sat nicely on the scale (he actually gained 1 lb) before covering the vet in saliva – I expect they’re used to that kinda thing. 
Following this we encouraged him to leap into the car, some small difficulty here as he has the attention span of a Cocker Spaniel Puppy overdosed on sugar, caffeine and heroin, but eventually he was ensconced. On arrival home he leapt from the car and destroyed the plastic cone he’s been wearing since the op to prevent eye rubbing. Let me tell you, when a Barnaby destroys a cone, he destroys a cone. This is a cone from which all chance of resuscitation has been removed, we’re talking shrapnel here, get it?
So we replaced the dead cone with a sporting new one, which lasted all of ten minutes. On our daily sojourn he wandered under the wire fence, I called him back and ran – head raised - straight into the bottom high tensile wire, with the cone. There was a curious twang followed by a high speed shattering of plastic and the sound of shrapnel hitting our cowering winter coat covered bodies. As one we raised our heads to see a cavorting Barnaby grinning happily at us. I did look to see if it could be repaired, but that would have meant finding all the bits and who lives that long!
Management fretted that he might destroy his eye, I said I’d duct tape a pillow to the side of his head if need be – it hasn’t come to that – yet!

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