Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Duck Neck

I gave Briea a duck neck a few nights back.   What a hoot!!   
They are very long so I cut it in half in case she tried the ‘one crunch swallow’ trick. She gets fed outside the back door on the back deck. She has a bone of some sort with her meal nearly every day.  She always eats all the soft meat first and then takes the bone part of the meal into one of the kennels opposite the back door. I have to add here that she only just fits into the kennels, it is a work of art for her to get in and turn round to lie down.
As she had never had duck neck before, I wanted to see what she would do with them.  She can be very cautious of new food so I watched from inside the back door. 
The necks were on the top of the bowl. She licked them and then very carefully picked them out of the bowl and put them down next to it while she ate the rest. She then picked one half up and took it into the kennel. She licked it first then picked it up and crunched it once and promptly spat it out. She lay there looking at it for a while and licked it again and had another crunch and spat it out once more.  Something disturbed her and she struggled out of the kennel ran to the gate, barked,  rushed back into the kennel and chomped the half neck down in a second. Time for the second half. Same performance, into kennel, turn round, lay down, lick, crunch, spit out, look, lick crunch, spit out.  I was snorting with suppressed laughter and she must have heard me and she came out of the kennel and over to the door. I opened it to tell her to go finish her dinner and the small dog thought he would go out also to see what was happening. In a flash Briea was over to the remaining somewhat mangled piece of duck neck, two chomps and it was gone.  The small dog didn't  even get to see what it was.                                                                                   
There is another one in the freezer for another time.  I wonder if she will give the same performance ??

Thursday, February 14, 2013



1971 and I was in the UK.  A rented gable end house in a row of 18 was our home for the next 2 years.  I was working,  but in the evenings I really missed having animals around.  I thought often of the small dog I left with family so far away.  Special permission obtained from the landlord for a dog saw us quickly at the dogs home.  Back with us came Pooh.

She was 10 weeks old, tiny and very cute and there are no prizes for guessing how she got her name.

 It didn’t take long for the kids in the street to find out we had a dog  that had an almost rude word name, and when Pooh was old enough they came knocking at the door all giggly to ask ‘can we take your Pooh for a walk?’   They were allowed to take her to the end of the row and back and I would hear them calling out to other kids, ‘we got Pooh’ and more giggling would float down the street.  I feel sure it was not walking the dog they liked so much, rather it was being able to say  ‘can we have Pooh’ and later at home,  being able to say ‘we had Pooh today’.  Sometimes little Pooh would have at least 1/2 a dozen walks in a day.

She grew quite quickly.  Her legs first.  They got longer and longer and she looked like a puppy on stilts for a while till her body caught up.  Her tail was not long but it flipped over her back and formed a complete circle that you could see through,  and the whole circle would wave.  It always made me smile.

Pooh loved snow. Absolutely loved it.  :Until I went to the UK I had lived my entire life in comparatively warm countries so snow was also a fascination to me.  The first good snow fall we had, I raced out into our 6 foot by 10 foot yard and excitedly built a snowman.  My first ever snowman.  I called out to DH to come look and when he opened the door Pooh flew out and dived head first straight into it.  She then proceeded to demolish my lovely snowman.  It was an all out frenzied attack.  She snapped and bit it and flung snow left and right, she dug it with her front feet and in less than half a minute my lovely first ever snowman was nothing but paw prints in the snow.  But it was so funny to watch.  Killing Mr Snowman became quite a game.  I was happy to build as many snowmen as she could demolish.  She also loved to catch snow balls and when she caught them they would explode out of each side of her mouth. She would leap and twirl and dance on her back legs to catch them.   Such a funny little dog.

The stairs ball game was another favourite.  Our little house was a two rooms up two rooms down house,  with the stairs separating the two rooms.  I would stand at the bottom of the stairs while Pooh raced up to the top and stood waiting, facing the back wall.  The ball would be thrown up against the back wall and she would leap up and catch it as it bounced off.  Very clever as the landing at the top was tiny.  A quick turn, let the ball go, watch it bounce down the stairs and she was ready for the next wall catch.  She added variations to the game from time to time also.  Sometimes she would only go half way up the stairs and wait for the ball to bounce down to her, and other times she would catch the ball before it reached the wall.  When the ball thrower got tired of throwing, she would play by herself by taking the ball to the top, let it go, watch it bounce bounce all the way down, race down, grab it,  return to the top  and let it go again.  This game would go on for hours if allowed.

We travelled quite a lot, and Pooh always travelled with us.  A small dog is so easy, and I was amazed at how dog friendly the whole country was.  She also spent many happy days at work with DH and would come leaping up the hallway to greet me when she got home and do a little back leg dance to tell me what a wonderful day she had.

Pooh was gone suddenly, through no fault of ours, leaving us shocked and numb.  No more dogs I said,  too much pain, but the week dragged and it was so quiet in the house that the following weekend saw us outside the dog home……..

PENY came……….

She was a pretty, cuddly, teddy bear of a puppy.  


When she had grown, she looked like a Lassie Collie without the big coat.   She was the first of my big dogs.

I assumed Peny would love snow.  Not so.  She hated it.  As a puppy she would not walk in it.  She would simply refuse to move and it was either drag her crying  through it or pick her up.  Of course she got picked up.  When she got bigger she found she could tippy toe quickly through snow, lifting each leg high off the ground with every step.  Absolutely hilarious.   There was an eight inch ledge that ran along the kitchen wall toward the back wall of the tiny yard,  it was about 2 inches high.  When there was snow, Peny was somehow able to balance on it, go toilet and come back inside without getting her feet wet.  It was quite a feat and fascinating to watch her.

She loved the car and of course came with us as much as possible.  We knew we would be doing a few trips to Scotland and decided that it would a good thing if there was somewhere we could leave Peny if needed on those weekends.  I looked at a few boarding kennels and hated them all until I found a very small country kennel run by a lovely older couple.  They suggested Peny went for a one night stay for free, and if she stressed I could go straight away and bring her home.  Peny was perfectly happy, no stressing,  probably because the couple thought she was lovely and she stayed inside the house with them.  She would bound out of the car when I took her there and race straight in the house.   I never had to book her in, I could just ring up on a Friday morning and let them know Peny was coming in the evening and I would be back to get her late Sunday.  Peny always stayed there if we were going to be away and the weather was not good.

She had some funny little quirks.  I had a very pretty pot plant.  I called it a purse plant as the flowers were just like a tiny purse, the oval shape with a clasp in the middle, type.  If Peny was left on her own at home she would get my pretty pot plant and remove it from the pot.  I never did see her do it, but she must have been so careful as it was never damaged,  just out of it’s pot.  It survived to flower many times.

She liked to get under my chair in the living room.  I always said to her …you hiding Peny?.  As she got bigger, she still loved to hide, but only half of her was able to.  I would walk round the room saying ‘where is Peny she must be hiding’ and no matter where she was she would rush over to the chair and wiggle her head and shoulders under and stay there, tail thumping wildly and very visibly on the floor until I said ‘oh there you are hiding under the chair’.  Out she would come and jump round in great excitement.  She also did that when we had been out.  She would be under the chair hiding when we came in the door and she would stay there, while I examined the de-potted plant and did the ‘where is Peny she must be hiding’ bit before she would wiggly her head and shoulders out and excitedly greet us.
Peny didn't know she was a big dog, and thought she should be able to sit on any knee that was offering.  She couldn't fit on my knee in the chair, parts of her hung off like tan coloured sticks, but she did fit lovely on DH's knee.  She was very well mannered at the table.

The time came for us to move on,  back to my home country.  We made all the arrangements for our travel and for our belongings and I then set about arranging for Peny to travel.  I searched for weeks, tried everywhere and everyway available but always the cost added up to nearly twice the amount of savings we had left.  Finally I had to accept that Peny could not come with us to our new life in New Zealand.  I was heart broken,  It had never occurred to me that Peny would not be able to come.  So we did the next best thing for her.  We found  a new forever home  with friends who loved her and would cherish her the way we did.  It was with a very heavy heart and feelings of having failed her that I delivered Peny and her belongings plus the pretty pot plant to her new home.

We heard from her new family for a couple of years and we knew Peny was happy and well loved.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ch Salissure Dor D' Angevin CDX Smudge

SHE CAME hand picked by me from a special never repeated mating.  Her name Salissure Dor D' Angevin, call name Smudge was chosen long before I ever saw her.  Salissure roughly translated means smudge, Dor indicating her colour, fawn or you could say, gold..  My Smudge of Gold.  Never did I dream that as she matured, her colouring would also depict her name so exactly..   She was my very  'special'  girl.

I had recently said farewell to the smaller of our two dogs, and was in that saddened waiting phase.
I saw a picture of two dogs in a magazine, Briards, French Herding dogs such beautiful looking dogs, big, with long coats,  fawn colour, black ears and black beard.  It was just love at first sight and I knew I had to have one..  I had never heard of a Briard, and could find little about them at that time.  I didn't even know if they were available here in New Zealand.  I mentioned them to a friend and she told me she had looked at the breed a few years earlier, there was a breeder in the South Island and she still had her details.  So I sent a letter off to the breeder, asking about the availability of a puppy and also mentioned that I competed in Obedience with my previous dog, a Border Collie and I would be continuing  to do this with a new dog.  I later learnt that this had intrigued the breeder no end.
A mating had just been done and all being well, puppies would be born in January.  I must have driven the poor breeder to distraction with my constant phone calls over the following two months.
The litter was born on 22 January 1995.  A small litter, initially 4 boys and 3 girls but one boy did not survive.
When the puppies were 7 and a half weeks old,  I headed for Dunedin, armed with puppy temperament testing paraphernalia.  The breeder had not had a litter tested before and again was intrigued.  I was looking for very definite reactions to particular situations.  Oh and I must also mention here that I only wanted a female. The main reason being that the males were big, I am small.  I also should mention that until the actual testing began, I had not seen or touched the puppies, and I barely touched them during the testing, so was not really aware which was male and which was female.
The testing was completed and one puppy ticked every box I wanted.  A female.  Strangely enough it was not the puppy the breeder thought would be best suited to me, in fact she tried very hard to change my mind, but no, home with me came the box ticking lighter coloured female.
                        SMUDGE     8 weeks old

We did so much together, my Smudge and I.  We traveled the country, North and South Island, competing in Breed and Obedience and even dabbling in Agility.  We met many people and made many friends, some of those friendships continuing still.

My beautiful blonde girl,  her life was too short.  At just past her 8th birthday she was gone, and I was robbed of the pleasure of sharing with her those wonderful golden older years.
But the memories, oh so many, and so many stories.  I will share on here for anyone who cares to read, the ups and downs, the joy and happiness, the fun times throughout those eight years with my beautiful dizzy blonde, my snow queen,

My Smudge of Gold

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two Dogs

TWO DOGS came to visit.  Usually when dogs drop by, they stay a while, grateful for a resting place, some food and water, in fact mostly they don't want to leave.  These two were the exception to the rule.

It was the night after Guy Fawkes, about 7.30pm and I was busy in the laundry.  The laundry was opposite the kitchen door across the back porch.  As I went to cross back to the kitchen door,  I saw to my absolute amazement,  two dogs calmly sitting at the bottom of the two steps of the back porch.  Just sitting there, looking at me.  They didn't appear stressed,  just panting like they had come a great distance. One was a tan smooth coated medium sized dog, the other was smaller, longer coated.  I wondered if they had been scared by the firecrackers the night before and run off, but they were so calm it didn't seem likely.
I got a small bucket and filled it with water and offered it to them.  The tan dog stood back a little and waited until the smaller dog had finished before drinking.  I had no idea what I was going to do with two dogs at 7.30pm at night. Inside my house were two cats and one dog who probably would not appreciate these two staying the night, to say nothing of  DH. 
The two dogs finished their drink and lay down at the bottom of the steps. I gave them both some biscuits, which they ate quickly but calmly.  I sat down on the step to talk to them.  I noticed that the smaller longer coated one was terribly matted.  Big thick wads on its legs and hips.  They seemed to be pulling the skin in places.  I went inside and got a pair of scissors and tentatively  started to cut the mats into thinner strips.  I was very careful, not knowing what the reaction from either dog would be. They just sat quite relaxed while I cut away.  I did this for maybe 1/2 an hour.  The two dogs had been there for about an hour by this time.  I went back inside for a few minutes and when I came back out they were gone.  Just gone......
I went quickly out the front and looked along the street, there was no sign of them.  They had disappeared as silently and mysteriously as they had appeared.
I hope they got to where they were going, and the smaller dog felt more comfortable for the attention from my scissors.......

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Garden Cat

MUMSIE, so called because she had two litters of kittens under our house before I managed to trap her and get her speyed.  She lives in my front garden and spends time under the front deck or on the front deck in the sun if no one is around.  She has a warm snuggy bed for winter under the front steps away from all weather, lined with warm woollie blankets.  She is 10 years old and has lived her whole life here.
She is feral but not totally wild.  The only time she has ever been touched was when I trapped her and took her to the SPCA to be speyed.
Born under the house at the back of ours from a totally wild mother, I remember her as a tiny tiny kitten, distinctive as she was the only one in the litter that was white and black, and the only one who survived or stayed around.
I never tried to tame her as I already had a tamed feral kitten and another adult cat who was well advanced in old age.
I would see her from time to time, so small and skinny.  I always put food out when I saw her, but usually the other bigger feral/stray cats ate it.  Somehow she survived and learned to fend for herself when there was a free meal going.
Time went on, 9 or10  months maybe. One day I went under the house for something and heard a cat hissing at me.  Investigation turned up this small cat curled up in a dirty old broken down cardboard box full of oily cloths and thick blue plastic cord/rope.  I went closer and the little cat shot out of the box like an ice cube on glass.  Left behind were 4 tiny tiny kittens, eyes tight shut.  Probably only a day old.  The little feral cat's first litter. That was when she got the name Mumsie.
Mumsies first litter
I carefully (wearing gloves) lifted them out, and replaced all the manky contents with newspaper and ready to throw away clothes and covered that all with an old soft dog blanket.
I left food and clean water and asked my family to not disturb her if possible or else she would take them off somewhere and we would never find them.  My intention was to let the kittens get used to me and hopefully by the time they were weaned  they would be tame enough to take to the SPCA for rehoming.
Mumsie moved them round a couple of times in the first week, but always stayed under the house, so I was able to locate them and return them to the  broken down box.  Eventually Mumsie and kitties stayed put, probably aided by the food and fresh water put there every day.  I only touched the kittens when Mumsie was not there.
At about two and a half weeks the kittens obviously needed to be where they could move round more so Mumsie took them further under the house into another cardboard box where they were able to totter round.  Another two weeks after that Mumsie started leaving them alone for longer periods and they were crying and climbing out of the box.  They were all pretty tame by then, and eating well so I bought them into my garage for the next few weeks.

Mumsie was able to get in through a partially open window to feed them if she wanted, but she could not get the kittens out.  The little kittens became very tame and thrived well.  They learnt to use a litter tray and when they were  7 weeks old they went off  to the SPCA.  I have a friend who has worked there for years.  She kept an eye on them and after they had been vetted and vaccinated they went up for adoption.
Poor little Mumsie called for them after they went, but fairly quickly she stopped looking and went on with her life.
She continued to come and go, never letting me or anyone else get closer than about 6 feet to her, even if she was eating.
I fed her regular from then on...............
Mumsie under the house.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Them and Me

Furry friends, the four footed kind.  They arrived and they departed.  Some stayed their entire life, some shared only part of their life, others just passed through, stopping long enough to recharge their batteries with a good feed and a drink.  

The first one I remember was a big ginger persian cat.  I was maybe 4 or 5.  He would hide behind the curtain of the hall cupboard and leap out when anyone walked passed and grab hold of a foot and bite the back of the ankle.  I was utterly terrified of him, or rather I was terrified of the hall cupboard in case he was hiding there.

There was always a cat, most times two or more right through my childhood.  Some were just cats, some were special  The first dog came into the family when I was 16.  My mum visited Australia to attend my stepbrothers veterinary graduation and returned with a small corgi.  Topsy, soft, gentle, sweet natured.  But not mine.  

My first very own dog came when I ventured off shore to live.  I was sharing a house with a couple of others who had a dog, so of course I had to get one also.  In fact I got two.  Being young, (19) and totally irresponsible as far as dog ownership went, I really should not have got any.  Due to my irresponsibility at the time, one only had a very short life.  Somehow I managed to do the right thing with the other one and she lived well into old age.  Of course there were cats as well,weaving in and out of my younger flatting days.

I ventured even further off shore.  More cats came and left of their own accord.  A dog shared her life with us for 18 months.  She moved on to a new family with young children and lived with them happily ever after when the time came for us to return home to live.

Once home and settled the trend continued.  To date 6 dogs have shared their time with    me.  Some had short lives due to illness, some shared their lives with me right through to their senior years, one reaching 17 & 1/2.  
Cats continued to come and go.  Most were only passing through, in need of a little TLC and a couple of good meals and those that needed more were found suitable loving homes. Two cats stayed their entire lives. 

And so to the current FFC (furry footed crew).  

BrieaDor my big girl - Briard, very long haired, 9&1/2 years old.

Dawa  the small dog - Tibetan Terrier, also very long haired, 5 years old.

O.C.  cat - tamed feral kitten, 10 years old

And then there is ME.  Just an ordinary now retired, wife mother homemaker who cares.
More to come..............