Sunday, 1 March 2015

Netherfield tails/tales

So, on Friday morning, Gail and I went in search of doggy treats (hooray!) We drove to Netherfield, a small community near where Human Granny lives.

Netherfield was built mainly to house railway workers back in the 19th century.

These days it is, let's say, Staffie not golden retriever territory. Amidst the terraced cottages, we sniffed out an eclectic selection of independent businesses. 

Eventually we found the pet shop; a modest establishment, with noisy caged birds more prominent than goods for the canine palate.

The place was empty and Gail browsed the (frustratingly out of reach) selection of bones, pigs ears, dried tripe, chicken feet etc. undisturbed for a minute or two.

Then a man appears from the back and, within seconds, is all over me like a rash.

"A wire-haired fox terrier! You don't see so many of them these days. At least not round these parts. There's a fair few in Lincolnshire. What's this one's name? Bertie? What a fine specimen he is. His coat looks great, I hate to see them all shorn close. My grandfather used to breed fox terriers just down the road from here. He won loads of trophies at Crufts and all. Those dogs wanted for nothing. He took them out every morning for an hour's run round Colwick Woods, then back to heated kennels each with a large run and treats galore. Oh and the time he spent grooming them for the shows".

He pauses for breath and to caress my tail. He notes the slight kink in the middle and asks if it was damaged when I was a pup.

"Of course you're not allowed to dock the tails any more. Grandfather used to do it himself with his bare teeth."

The pet shop man then demonstrates the action, thankfully putting his fingers and not my tail in his mouth.

"Of course my dad always told him not to but there was no telling Grandfather…."

With disturbing enthusiasm, he repeats the demonstration several times, perhaps to indicate the docking of a large litter.

At this point I notice that Gail has gone ever so slightly pale and seeks to change the subject to her intended purchase of pigs ears and a rawhide bone.

To be honest I was, for the first time in my life, not entirely sorry to exit a pet shop.


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Wire-haired fox terrier problems (1)

This is the first of what I intend to be an occasional series of short posts dealing with life problems affecting (but surely not unique to) my own breed.

It has come to my attention that in certain human circles the phase 'first world problems' is used, often dismissively, to indicate someone might be complaining about an issue too trivial to merit a sympathetic response.

Let me assure you that 'wire-haired fox terrier problems' in no way belong in this category.

Today I want to address the topic of what to do when one is out on a walk and finds one's progress impeded by a small but prickly twig caught uncomfortably in one's wiry furs.

I am pleased to report that the solution to this particular problem is fairly straightforward.

What you need to do is first to stop in your tracks, ignoring all calls to "come Bertie COME". Then you adopt a stance which indicates slight discomfort, and gaze up at your human with a pathetic, pleading look.

Pretty soon your human will approach you and, at minimal inconvenience to yourself, will grab hold of said twig and gently but firmly (this may take them a bit of practice) extract the offending item from your furs, allowing you to continue unencumbered on your walk.

The speed of the response will, obviously, depend on your human's level of training and general alertness. For example, it took several 'twig in furs' episodes before Gail learned that I was not just "making a fuss about nothing"…

As if.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Friday, 20 February 2015

Too much woolly thinking?

I expect some of you have been wondering, whatever happened to the Shetland wool jumper Gail is supposed to be knitting for yours truly?

And thinking that if a certain person does not get a move on, then it will be summer already.

Well I guess we can cut Gail some slack on the timing issue, given that what most of the world would deem winter wear is entirely appropriate for our Scottish so-called summers too.

But a recently overheard phone conversation between Gail and a friend gave me new cause for concern:

"It's boring knitting something straightforward isn't it? I like a bit of a challenge, to keep my brain in gear while I'm on unpaid leave from work to look after my mum. So I downloaded some 'pattern generator' instructions from Ravelry and the first thing you have to do is measure your dog and calculate the number of stitches appropriate for his size. Then I decided it would be nice to have some decoration across the back and I found some instructions for a child's cardigan and took the Fair Isle design from that. Only it needs six colours and I have only four so I had to rethink it a bit".

Now all this would be fine if we were talking about someone whose knitting output has, over the past thirty years, amounted to more than one hat, one doggy sweater and one bicycle seat cover. But we are not.

To compound my worries, I then caught Gail watching a YouTube video titled 'Five ways of casting on'.

Like, call me an knitting ignoramus, but this is pretty basic stuff, is it not?

Well finally, earlier this week, Gail swung into action with the needles and yarn, and amidst much cursing, she at last succeeded in casting on the 70 stitches using some fancy schmancy technique suitable for edging a ribbed collar.

A few rows later...

Er, Gail, are you sure you got your sums right? That will have to go over my head you know.

What's that they say about not giving up the day job?

A couple of days on, and things are looking a bit more promising. The colours - totally natural, no dye involved - are quite manly aren't they?

Unfortunately progress has again stalled 'cos a certain person underestimated the amount of yarn needed so an emergency order has been placed with Julia of Hand Knitted Things.

Maybe it'll be ready for my 6th birthday...