Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It was on a Wednesday morning the electrician came

If only he had. It was a tumbleweed day at work. There were no appointments booked, which in some respects was lucky because we'd had a letter to say that an engineer would be call to change the electricity meter, so the power would be off for half an hour. We'd phoned to confirm a convenient time-slot and to stress that there would be nobody there between 12 noon and 3pm; the woman on the other end of the phone duly marked the jobsheet. During surgery hours the vet and I chatted, then she went off to another surgery and I waited. At noon I went home. When I returned shortly before 3pm to open up again I found the engineer's card saying that he'd called at 12.20.

During the afternoon I was telephoned by the company to arrange another appointment. We agreed a date, and then I was asked whether morning or afternoon would be most suitable. As both are extremely inconvenient (no power means no computer, so no being able to book appointments or issue medication or sell anything) I decided on the morning.

"So the engineer will call between 8am and 1pm, madam."
"No, there'll only be someone here between 9 and 12"
"Yes, between 8am and 1pm"
"No, 9 and 12. Those are the times there'll be someone here."
"I can only book between 8 and 1, madam."

Who knows of a good wall-repair man? I seem to have made a head-shaped dent in the one by the phone.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Living in a box

As the more intuitive among you might have guessed, one of my interests is dogs; their care, health, breeding etc, and one of the things that gets me warm under the collar is people’s less-than-appropriate treatment of them. The indulgence of ‘furbabies’ (now there’s a word that makes me want to vomit) is as much a form of cruelty as a whipping – dogs are separate species, not deformed hairy children, and should be treated in a manner suitable for their needs. A dog’s needs are really very simple; basically he needs food, exercise, shelter, medical treatment when required and, because he’s of a social species, he needs company. Having a single dog in the home is fine as long as he gets the opportunity to socialise with his own kind several times a week, as well as the company of his owners. This is one aspect where too many dogs are let down. Too many dogs are left ‘home alone’ while their owners work full time – and what’s worse, many are crated for these hours. Now a dog crate can be very useful – it’s a secure space for him when travelling and a familiar secure den if you and your dog are staying away from home. Crated dogs are more likely to be allowed in hotel rooms, for example, rather than the totally unacceptable alternative of having to stay in the car overnight. Crates are handy with a puppy – he can be popped into it if you need to go shopping, knowing that he can’t eat your furniture or electrocute himself on your wiring in your absence. They can be handy for house-training during the night; you have the pup in his crate by your bed and, because they don’t like to soil their beds, when he needs to relieve himself in the night the noise he makes in his discomfort will wake the owner who can then take him out to the garden before popping him back to bed again.

With a blanket over the top and the door open, an adult dog has a secure den where he feels safe.

However some people – and from what I’ve read on various canine internet fora, more commonly in America – misuse crates badly. Firstly, because they’ve heard that crating helps house-train, they assume that simply putting the pup into the crate means that he’ll magically be able to contain his bladder and bowels for hours, not realising that they’ll need to get up during the night to take him out instead of having him mess on the floor if he wasn’t crated. Forcing him to soil his bed only causes distress and sets housetraining back weeks. I've never used crates for my dogs - I dislike broken nights so I'd rather mop up the kitchen floor in the morning when I'm housetraining a puppy!

Even worse, too many adult dogs are locked in their crates, like a battery chicken, the whole day while their owners are at work. Then again if the people go out for the evening. Then the dog’s alone all night too, while the people are asleep. Some poor creatures spend 20 out of 24 hours locked in a space barely big enough to turn around and the owners think it’s acceptable! No, no, no! Misuse of crates like this is out-and-out cruelty. The maximum length of time a dog should be crated is about 4 hours, preferably less. As a rule of thumb if a dog has been crated the owner should release him before the owner needs to use the lavatory. If the owner's uncomfortable, the dog might be as well. It only takes a little imagination and consideration.

Why do so many people fail to realise that animal ownership (any animal, not just dogs) is a privilege, not a right? If they can’t give a dog the treatment it deserves they should rethink their options, and if they can’t change their lifestyle to suit the dog, they shouldn’t inflict such a miserable existence on the poor thing. It's not as if it's that difficult to pay someone to come and take your dog for a walk at lunchtime, and stay in of an evening if you've been out all day.

You get told "Oh, he's quite happy, he sleeps all day." Erm ... what are his options? He can hardly read a book, or watch TV, or surf the net, can he? He's trapped, and all he can do to stop going out of his mind with boredom is sleep his life away until he dies. The dogs are the victims here – they have no choice. It’s not very different to the existence that was, and in areas still is, inflicted on the Romanian orphans.

(By the way, that dog seen on the far side of the canal at the MongMeet, and that caused such curiosity, wasn't a Labradoodle or any of the other fashionable overpriced crossbreeds. It was simply an ordinary standard poodle.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

I just heard my cyber-friend Libs (real name Alison, but her Forum username was Liberty, after one of her dogs) has died. She recovered from the coma that she'd been in some months ago, maybe with help from all of you who wished her well, and was discharged from hospital. But sadly the recovery was short-lived.

She was one of the glorious people who, from the instant you meet them you feel you've known forever. We used to meet up at Crufts each year (I'm so sad I couldn't make it last year) and drink red wine poured from a Ribena bottle into plastic beakers, giggling like schoolgirls. Carla, Libs and I embarrassed another friend by whooping and cheering when she handled her Shar Pei to Best of Breed, and everyone else looked down their noses at us. I was so hoping there'd be another opportunity, despite her having been so very ill; she kept the details very quiet and was always unfailingly cheerful, never giving a hint of how seriously ill she actually was.

Bless you Libs. Although you'll be very greatly missed I'm glad your pain is now gone and you're reunited with your own absent friends. I'll raise a glass of Ribena to the brightest new star in the heavens.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Three wheels on my wagon

How cool is this? I wish the dogs were as well-trained! :D

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane

As we all know there are many concerns for the health of not only the population but also the planet. We're told the population is becoming more obese and we all need to cut our carbon emissions, and so Gordon has slapped a 'green tax' on air travel. (Do we think for a nano-second that the revenue will be spent on 'green issues'? Do we bollocks.) With a bit of lateral thinking both these problems can be tackled at once. Bear with me.

When it comes to the tricky problem of baggage allowances and excess payment due, would it not be much fairer to give a total weight allowance per passenger, person and bags, and not just the weight of the bags? The average baggage allowance for European flights is 20kg; a small person with full allowance would still weigh less in total than an obese person, but the porker is still allowed a baggage allowance on top, without penalty. How can it be fair for a light person to be given what is effect a fine for having a bag that weighs 21kg, when in total they still weigh less than a heavy person who can then add a further 19kg to the weight on the plane, and yet not get penalised? With a total weight allowance system the fat person would have to pay a surcharge simply to travel at all, and the skinny person could take another suitcase without penalty. A blubber-surcharge or the risk not being able to take any luggage would surely be an incentive to lose weight - especially for the return journey (no stuffing one's face and bloating on holiday)! If the options of losing weight or paying extra are both unacceptable then maybe fewer people would fly, so less carbon would be put into the atmosphere, especially at the altitude where it does the most harm.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The weather outside is frightful

A mere four inches of snow on an ungritted road means that nobody's going anywhere!

But some people thought it was very exciting to sniff out crumbs fallen from the bird feeder.

But then they got cold feet and had to come running in again.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pounding away, pounding away

It was when Ned wanted to order some new clothes and we checked his measurements that he realised his belt had stretched (the tape-measure was checked against a metal rule), and his figure was less sylph-like than he thought, that we decided that the time had come to liberate the man I married from his tomb of too, too solid flesh. Accordingly I dusted off the diet books bought during my angst-ridden teenage years, Ned contributed his copy of the F-Plan diet, which involves eating the greatest amount of roughage for the lowest number of calories, and I started planning the campaign.

I'd always thought that the more roughage one ate, the faster things passed through one's system. Not so with Ned - his insides seem to have gone into a state of shock and have decided to hang on to all food in case no more is available. In other words, he's full of it. And no, it's not particularly blustery at Genie Towers either. Thank heaven for small mercies. Ned was a very naughty boy today though because after his walk with his gang they adjourned to the pub for lunch and he had ham, egg and chips and a pint. I thought he'd be coming home for lunch so I waited for him before I ate. By the time he arrived I'd gone through the hunger barrier so didn't bother. I don't think this is how other people's diets are meant to work. However it seems to be working, and he's lost 10lb in the past three weeks. Unfortunately I can't just give him his cardboard-and-water and sit and scoff other stuff so I've had to join him on the regime, and I've lost 5lb, taking my BMI down to 18.1 but because I still have wobbly bits I'm not panicking that I'll disappear quite yet. If he and I could just average out our BMIs (his comes in the 'Lardboy' category) we'd probably be all right. Because he's already had a main meal today I ought not to do our roast tonight, but I've not eaten so I'm going to. He can just have a teeny portion. But I won't do a pudding, and I'll drink the wine.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Each little bird that sings

Ned was wondering whether Bernard Matthews' next advertising slogan will be "Bootiflu".

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A time for every purpose under heaven

I know there's a season for everything, but I never realised that it would ever be necessary to mow the lawn on February 1st.