Smorgasbord – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Eleven – Favourite Walks in Ireland by Sally Cronin


51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time we had two chapters together meeting other pack members and also learning about respect for our elders. Sam was passionate about one other thing in his life that even knocked sausages into second position…. well perhaps not!

Chapter Eleven – Favourite Walks in Ireland

Let me explain first and foremost what a good walk is all about. Unlike humans we dogs rely heavily on our sense of smell when we are out walking and you also have to understand that territory is everything to us.

For the first six weeks in my new home I was restricted to the garden of the house until I had received my final vaccinations against diseases that could harm me. It was important that I did not come in contact with other dogs, particularly those who might not have been vaccinated.

There are certain rules that need to be followed when staking out one’s own territory, and one of the most important is that one does not do any business near ones bedding, as this in not hygienic. I have met dogs in the last ten years who are confined to small spaces for long periods of time and they have no choice but to use the same space as their bathroom. They find this distressing and it stresses them.

I was lucky, in as much as I had my own safe enclosed space in the garden that Henry and I shared from time to time with Sally, who used to lie on the sun bed with us. Later, I also had the whole garden of two acres to play in. However, apart from marking the boundaries of the garden with wee which is acceptable, any other business had to be done in strategic places outside those boundaries, to notify any other packs in the area that there was a new boy on the block.

From the first time I was allowed out of the garden onto the lane that we lived on, I never pooped in my own territory again unless I was absolutely desperate or unwell. It simply is not done.

Anyway, during the time that I was restricted to the garden, Sally had been playing with me on a long lead. The leash was housed in a casing that extended to about twenty-six feet or could be shortened so that I walked by her side. This gave me the freedom to roam and sniff to my heart’s content, but when it was necessary I could be brought back safely. Here I am with my first harness and lead.

We practiced these manoeuvres in the garden, and when we finally went out into the lane I was already trained.

Although it was a narrow farm lane there was quite a bit of traffic at certain times of the day and Sally trained me to sit on the grass verge whenever we heard a car coming; allowing it to pass safely by us.

I had been viewing and smelling the lane through the gate for a couple of weeks and was very excited by the prospect of enlarging my territory. Apart from Henry I had not met any other animals and he had told me that there were several along the lane who were worth getting to know.

He warned me about two feral cats that tended to lie in wait for small rodents and any careless birds that might land. Also about a dog who lived around two bends who was not right in the head. Apparently he had been hit by a car when he was a couple of years old and he now had a terrible temper.

To begin with, and because I only had short legs, we only went to the bottom of the lane towards the main road. The smells sent me into overdrive as we passed the five or six houses that lined the lane. Each had its own distinctive scent, and inexperienced as I was, I knew that there were different humans and animals within each of these territories.

The most fascinating smells came from the house that was nearly opposite ours and the people who lived there owned greyhounds. They used to breed them in my early days and at certain times a tantalizing aroma would waft into my territory. Although I did not quite understand why, I would become very excited and boisterous.

When Sally saw that I was well behaved on the lead and was able to walk a little further, we started getting into the car in the mornings and heading out to the beach which was about two miles away. The sand stretched for miles and miles and we were both as fit as a butcher’s dog within a few short weeks.

This was a wonderful adventure as there were a mixture of grass covered dunes and nearly four miles of wide sandy beach. Other owners would be out with their dogs and I was introduced to lots of new friends over the next five years. My favourite friend was a little white terrier called Abby who would see me from miles away and come rushing up to me.

As I got bigger it got more difficult for her to reach my nose to kiss so she would have to jump up and down to get a good lick in. She would run in and out of my legs in excitement and try to get me to chase her. She was much faster than I was but I loved our games. I still miss her today.

I am afraid that I did continue to be very particular about food and drink even when out for a walk. I like many dogs believe that stagnant water can be harmful to you.  This is why, from a very early age, I would always head for the side of the house where the garden hose was stored to be given a drink from a running tap. Of course Sally and David would often take advantage of the situation and begin to spray me with water which was slightly annoying. However, one of my favourite games was to snap at the spray as they swung the hose around getting thoroughly soaked in the process.

Anyway, I am side-tracked again. When out for a walk of course there was no handy hose but Sally and David used to carry water bottles for their own use. It did not take me long to establish with gentle nudges and the use of the “tongue hanging out side of mouth, obviously I am thirsty” technique to train them both to let me drink from the bottles myself.

For some reason they were reluctant to share with me, I cannot imagine why, so I ended up with my own bottle and at frequent intervals during my walks, especially in the heat of the Spanish sun I would keep myself hydrated.

I was really lucky that when we moved to Spain I would be able to enjoy the same sort of beach on the south coast and for me there is nothing like a walk by the sea with the feel of sand between your toes.

So in the mornings it was the beach and in the afternoons we would go out in the lane. Each week we would walk a little further until at six months old I could walk for an hour easily.

I was never afraid of being in new surroundings and did my best to leave my mark to let other users know who had visited. I considered the lane to be an extended part of my territory and as there were only one or two dogs who walked it regularly it became a competition as to who could mark the most. At that time I was still peeing like a girl and it was not until I was eighteen months old that I suddenly found myself cocking my leg in the air. This allowed me fantastic opportunities to pee higher and higher over other dogs’ markings and I was confident that I was top dog in the area.

That was until the day that the mad dog on the second bend on the lane escaped from his garden and attacked us.

We were walking along minding our own business but I have to say that I found it hard to resist marking the hedge on the bend where the dog lived because he used to go wild and race up and down desperate to get out and show me who was boss. I had passed that way so many times that I was very blasé about the whole thing. After all he had never got through the fence before and young and cocky as I was I enjoyed winding him up.

We had just passed the edge of his territory and had left him barking in our wake when we both heard the sound of wood cracking. We turned and looked behind us and were horrified to see a large black dog, with teeth bared, charging up the road at us.

I had been on an extended lead but Sally rushed towards me and shoved me between her legs and faced the oncoming dog. He ignored her and leapt on me trying to drag me out and under him. Sally was screaming at the top of her voice hoping that the owner would come out of the house that was a good fifty yards away but she could see that despite my thick fur I was going to be killed if she did nothing.

Sally would never harm any animal but she knew she had no choice and pushed the dog hard in the side. He yelped and moved away but decided that he was not going to give up. He leapt in the air and as he did, Sally grabbed him by the ruff and threw him into the ditch. I do not know where she got the strength but the dog obviously decided that this combined with the shouting and screaming that she was doing meant that she was a larger and more dominant dog than he was. Addled though his brain was he retreated back into the safety of his home and we ran past his territory to the safety of our own stretch of lane.

Shaking we went into our garden, locked the gate and retreated to the house. Sally knew the owner of the dog by sight and when she next saw him in the lane in his van, she stepped into the road and stopped him. She told him in no uncertain terms that she would report him and his dog unless he assured her that he would ensure that the dog was completely unable to get out of the garden again.

True to his word he reinforced the entire fence around his house and in fact a year later became our gardener and a good friend. He loved his dog despite him being vicious with strangers and other dogs and Sally understood how difficult it would have been for him to have the dog put down.

Despite the new security for the dog it was two years before I would even go past that corner, and I always stopped and turned around. Even when I was much older I would only go past the bend if David was with us reckoning that as the Alpha male of our pack he would only pass if it was safe to do so.

I am happy to say that has really been the only time that I have found another dog to be simply vicious. As I have got older I have found that I am getting a little intolerant of uppity youngsters myself and in my own youth I was told off from time to time by older dogs who wanted to teach me some manners. It is true to say that their bark was worse than their bite and I am grateful to them for educating me about social graces.

Over the next five years I got to explore a lot of Ireland as David was a mountain runner. We also went to Wales across the sea in a large smelly box, where I had to stay in the car alone.  I was of course extremely brave, but just in case Sally left me with a pig’s ear to keep me busy. Our favourite places were sandy beaches where we could paddle in the water. Life was good.

As you can tell apart from that one unfortunate experience when I was young, I had a wonderful variety of walks each day, and I knew every inch of them intimately. After five years all this changed, and after spending at least half my life sopping wet, I was to move to a very different territory with strange smells and hot sun, and I will tell you more of that adventure later.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

Thanks for taking a walk with us and I hope that you will join us next time for my favourite car rides.

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

As always I look forward to your comments.. thanks Sally

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Sam, A Shaggy #Dog Story – Chapter Four – Henry’s Story by Sally Cronin


Last time we left Sam at 14 weeks old given more freedom in the garden which led to him meeting his first real friend.. Henry now settles down in Costa del Sam to tell him his challenging story.

Chapter Four – Henry’s Story.

“Okay young’un,” Henry grinned toothlessly. “Time for the next instalment.”

With that he fell rather than leapt arthritically down onto the grass and sauntered over to a sun bed that had just caught the first of the morning sun peeping over the house.

He lay down and stretched and I moved over closer for a good sniff.

Henry lay still whilst I examined nearly every inch of him. There was definitely a lifetime of smells on that cat and I could tell that grooming had not been his main focus recently if ever.

Finally satisfied that I would now know him anywhere I settled down and looked at him expectantly.

“Happy now?” He sighed theatrically. “Did you want to hear my story or not?”

I nodded my head and rested it on my paws as I waited to hear this strange creature’s tales.

The telling of this story took many days and what I didn’t realise at the time, was that our friendship did not go unnoticed. The kitchen window overlooked my play pen and neither of us saw the smiling face that looked down at us through the glass.

It would take too long to relate all the adventures that Henry experienced but I will try to give you an idea of how he became this bedraggled and toothless creature and one of my best friends.

Henry was about ten years old which is getting on for a feral cat. He had not begun life in the wild having been born, one of ten kittens, to a farm cat called Maisie. She was a great mouser by all accounts and this last litter was a surprise as she had not had one for over four years and the farmer thought she was too old.

Anyway, one by one his litter mates were either given away or sadly in one case taken by a fox. At last it was just him and his youngest sister that were left and the farmer felt that they would be a useful addition to the three other adult cats who patrolled the farmyard in search of mice and rats. There were two dogs that had been puppies when Henry was born and they had become friends over the years, hence his ability to speak Dog. Most young animals if brought up together will live happily side by side and apart from an instinctive and unspoken method of communication they will learn each other’s language too.

Henry gave great service at the farm until he was about nine years old when the farmer died and the buildings and stock were sold off. The new owners were not going to farm and they knocked down the old barn and outbuildings and laid down concrete.

The other two cats drifted away as the mouse population decreased. The dogs had gone to the farmer’s son miles away and the new owners brought in two large and mean looking Dobermans that could not speak Cat and only wanted to chase and eat him.

Henry soon realised that there was no job for him with the new people and reluctantly decided to leave the only home he had ever known.

With a last look over his shoulder he walked through the hedges, across fields and tried to find somewhere he could find food and shelter.

By the time he ended up in my large garden, Henry had travelled miles across the county, stopping at what working farms were left, catching a few mice here and there but usually forced to move on by younger and stronger cats on the premises.

He had to fight to eat on most occasions and eventually after several months he was tired, sick and hungry and decided to find himself a bush to go to sleep under. His intention was to let nature take its course which is often the way for animals if allowed. He had endured enough and not ever having really bonded with humans he knew no other life. He had never sat on a warm lap and felt a kind hand or been given food instead of catching it himself.

The large garden with its hundreds of bushes and trees seemed a peaceful and unpopulated place in which to end his days and apart from the hunger that grabbed at his belly he lay down his head and closed his eyes.

My mistress, Sally had been in the garden walking with a man that she hoped would come with his ride on mower and cut the acre and a half of grass a couple of times a month. She knew that with her new business she would also be unable to keep up with the weeding and was willing to pay someone else to do this onerous task.

She and the man were moving between some of the bushes to inspect the large privet hedge that separated them from the neighbours when she stopped and motioned the man to move back.

She knelt down and gently lifted a branch out of the way and was about to tell the man that she thought the cat was dead when she saw its chest moving up and down.

“He’s come here to die.” The old man from down the lane leant over her shoulder and shook his head.

“He won’t last the night, better leave be and I will take him away when I come down tomorrow to mow the grass.”

She looked sadly down at the dirty bundle of skin and bones and tears welled up in her eyes.

She could not bear any animals to suffer and she could see that this cat had been through the wars and had probably had a very hard life.

After the man had gone with a promise to return first thing in the morning, She went back inside the house and filled a shallow bowl with warm milk and crumbled a little bread into it. Returning to the cat under the bush she moved the dish as close as possible and carefully stretched out her hand to stroke the top of its head.

She felt a little movement beneath her fingers and continued to carefully stroke the dirty fur down to the tail. She saw the little black nostrils twitch and decided to leave the cat for a little while to see if it might be enticed by the milk.

An hour later she came back and found herself staring into two brown mottled eyes that were red rimmed as if the cat had been crying. As she leant forward to pick up the empty dish the animal moved backwards slightly in fear but gently she moved her hand around its side as it watched her carefully with its eyes.

Slowly she stroked the trembling animals matted fur until its head dropped onto its paws and she felt a slight vibration beneath her fingers. Satisfied that it would now accept her help, she placed another bowl with some newly acquired tinned kitten food in front of the cat. It would need very high nutrient packed food quickly if it was to recover enough to survive the night and despite being just skin and bones she had seen the glint of survival in its weary eyes.

Henry seemed lost for a minute or two as he stared into space as if reliving the dark days again when he was lost and so hungry. He turned his head and looked at me and then surprised me with some very interesting information about my mistress.

“You know young’un she can talk cat.” He nodded his head a couple of times.

” At first I thought there was another cat nearby but the sound was definitely coming from her. The language was strange and a bit mixed up but I understood that she meant me no harm and I sensed she was trying to tell me I was safe.”

Henry went on to tell me how he believed that Sally must have had a cat before and learnt to communicate when very young which is the best time to learn Cat and Dog language. She was a bit rusty but over the time he had lived in the garden they had often enjoyed conversations although he said it was a bit like a couple of foreigners trying to make themselves understood in a strange country.

Anyway on with Henry’s story of their original meeting.

Although the Irish summers are not known for either their consistency of sunshine or warm weather, that particular week of Henry’s arrival, was dry and the earth retained the heat of the day. She had put down a bowl of water and some more food in the early evening and felt that the weather would not be a problem. She was however concerned about predators as she had seen fox tracks and knew that there were rats and other cats that prowled the lanes and gardens.

She was also well aware that sometimes nature had to be allowed to take its course and felt that at least she had given the cat a fighting chance. Fingers crossed she went back into the house and waited for the morning.

The next day the cat was still in the same position but it was looking much brighter and somewhat expectant as it looked steadily at the bowls that she carried in her hands. She placed them on the ground in front of it and stretched out her fingers to touch the dirty coat. This time the cat did not move and she spent several minutes talking Cat softly to it and gently massaging its fur. Happy that he seemed more alert and was purring at her touch she left him to eat breakfast and rest in his sunny spot.

At this point I swear that Henry had tears in his eyes. He sniffed and tossed his head and glared at me.

“Don’t say a word, do you hear?” He growled into my face and I shook my head vigorously.

After a moment he collected himself.

“That was a year ago, and I don’t have to tell you that I recovered and have been living here ever since.” He raised a paw delicately to his whiskers and then rubbed up behind his ear and down to his mouth.

“She feeds me every day and I let her stroke me from time to time as it obviously gives her pleasure, and of course I earn my keep because I can still give the odd mouse and rat a run for their money.”

I was impressed and had a whole new opinion of my mistress. Instinctively I had adopted both Sally and David as my pack when I came into their den and she was making it quite clear that they were the leaders of the pack and I was number three. I wondered where that put Henry but I suspected that he was probably a lone wolf.

Henry stretched out on the sun bed and I popped into my paddling pool for a cool off as the day had now got quite warm. I could see that Henry was dropping off to sleep and it was not long before I got out of the pool and joined him beneath the bed in the cool shade.

Both of us were unaware that Sally had come into the play pen until I felt the bed move above my head and saw two legs over the edge.

“Hi Henry, how are you doing you old moth eaten love.” She then made some rather strange noises that Henry responded to in kind.

This I had to see and I squirmed out from under the bed to see Mr. Indifference rolling around on his back and purring so loudly that the bed vibrated.

I knew that Henry was not allowed into the house and when I saw how dirty he was I could understand why. As I watched this playful interaction between my mistress and my new friend I saw her hand go to the back of his neck with something between her fingers. A few drops of liquid fell onto his fur and I saw that she was wearing something that covered her hand. She gently massaged Henry’s neck while he wriggled in delight and then she looked at me as I sat with my head cocked to one side.

“That should keep the fleas off him for another few weeks and you too my darling.”

I was not sure what fleas were at that point but I jumped up and put my paws on her lap and laughed up into her face.

“Sometimes Sam I think young as you are, you understand every word that I say.”

She removed the covering on her hand and stroked the soft inside of the top of my ear which I loved. My eyes closed in ecstasy as I surrendered to her touch. For me this was perfect, the leader of my pack paying me so much attention and a new best friend.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

I hope you will pop in again next weekend for another two chapters of Sam’s memoir.

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Three – My First Real Friend by Sally Cronin


51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time Sam arrived at his new home and began to get used to managing his mistress and master to ensure that he had the appropriate food and attention due to him……

Chapter Three – My First Real Friend.

It may surprise you to know that I learnt to speak Cat before I fully understood human talk. When I was twelve weeks old Sally took me to the place with the strong smells again and I remembered the sharp pain that I had experienced last time and was ready this time.

I did not understand the word that the man who gave me the sharp pain said when I sank my teeth into the soft part of his hand but it was very loud.

By this time I had learnt quite a few words as Sally and David talked to me all the time. At first I only got the basics like ‘sit’ and ‘good boy’ which always seemed to be accompanied by a small piece of chicken and because this treat was my favourite at the time I made a point of remembering these words as it obviously pleased her.

What I did not understand at the time was the conversation that Sally had with the man with the sharp object. He apparently told her that I would end up with a vocabulary of about fourteen to twenty words. How wrong can a man be.

However, on our return from this visit, to what I now know to be the vet, I was allowed a little more freedom and was introduced to the front garden of the house.

The previous owners had built the house in the middle of a two acre plot with nearly an acre of garden to the front, half that again at the back as garden then the remaining left as wild meadow.

The cultivated part of the property was laid out with hundreds of bushes and trees as the previous owners both belonged to families with garden centres who had obviously been very generous. The one drawback was the size of the lawns which required the hire of a local odd jobber with a wonderful smelly monster that he rode up and down on and which belched regularly. One of my favourite games was slipping out of the front door unnoticed and barking encouragement to monster and driver as they drove slightly crookedly across the lawn.

It was a wonderful playground for a young dog but the reason I had not been allowed to play out there until now was because another dog was also using it as his territory. He would crawl under the flimsy fence whenever he felt like it and for months I thought his name was “That Bloody Danny” since that is what my mistress called him each time she saw him peeing on her begonias in front of the house. His name was actually just Danny and he was a rather daft Spaniel who was also rather lacking in manners but more about him later.

There were also other creatures that used the gardens and meadow at the back of the house, such as foxes, feral cats and rabbits all of whom might have been infected with disease. Hence my fenced off area by the kitchen door with my kennel, sun beds and pool, affectionately known as Costa del Sam and one of my favourite summer hangouts. Funny that I would end up living on the Costa del Sol when I was five years old.

Back to my new found freedom. I was due to have a final vaccination at about fourteen weeks but the vet said that I should be safe enough in the rest of the garden.

Sally and David had been living in the house for about a year when I arrived and I did not know that I was not the first four legged person on the premises.

One morning Sally left me outside the front door for a couple of minutes whilst she went back inside for one of my new balls to play with. The moment that she stepped through the doorway I heard a strange sound coming from around the side of the garage that was joined to the front of the house.

“Pzzt.” It was a sound that I was unfamiliar with and being young and foolish I immediately tottered towards the side of the house.

I poked my head around the corner and found myself nose to nose with a rather mucky, aromatic, white and ginger creature with one eye that seemed to move independently of the other.

I leapt in the air and shot backwards convinced that this very smelly individual was going to attack me.

“Calm down for goodness sake otherwise she will be out here.”

I got every other word of this because despite this creature’s efforts to talk Dog he was disadvantaged by only having two or three teeth and he lisped rather badly.

“I’ve been waiting for you to be let out here, you’ve got it cushy haven’t you in your little pad out the back?”

I was beginning to understand a little more of this garbled delivery and wondered how this strange creature had managed to learn to speak my language.

It was almost as if it read my mind because it turned around and waving a rather bedraggled ginger tail in the air he looked over his shoulder.

“I grew up around sheep dogs and learnt how to talk to them very early on.” The creature strode off around the back of the house with me in tow, totally mesmerised.

As soon as it got to the back garden it turned and sat motioning with its head for me to do the same.

“She gave me the name of Henry, don’t ask me why but as she saved my life it was the least I could allow her to do.”

I was fascinated but at that moment Sally began calling from the front of the house and she sounded rather panicky.

“Sam, Sam where are you?”

Henry cocked his head in her direction and winked at me.

“Don’t worry I will carry on with the story next time you are in your play pen, off you go now before she gets hysterical.”

I turned tail and raced around the side of the house and wagged my tail beseechingly at her.

“There you are, good boy, I was worried something had happened to you.”

I desperately wanted to please her and when she picked my up I licked her face noting that she had just eaten something sweet and tasty.

After we had played ‘roll around on your back and get your tummy rubbed’ and ‘chase the ball’ Sally put me in my play area behind the house whilst she walked around the house with a large animal that made sucking noises. I had already demonstrated that I found the long cord attached to this monster rather biteable so she put me outside whilst she played with it herself.

I had only just settled my self down with one of my rubber toys that I enjoyed impaling with my small teeth when a ginger and white blur leapt up onto one of the wooden posts of my enclosure and from there to the top of my kennel.

Thank you for coming to read my story.. next time Henry spills the beans on his dramatic life so far.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Afternoon Video – Sausages… what sausages?????


Patience is a virtue but sometimes you have to be a bit faster off the mark – this little chap knows when to steal from under the nose of his companions… hilarious.

 

THIS POST QUALIFIES FOR THE FREE BOOK A DAY DRAW.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/one-of-my-books-free-for-christmas-just-comment-and-your-name-is-in-the-hat/

I would love to give you a copy of one of my E-books of which there is seven available. I am giving one a day away until Christmas Eve.

Please remember before you comment to check out which book you would like to receive if your name is drawn out of the hat and mention in your comment….

1 Visit my books link
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/
2 Choose the book you would like to receive and in Mobi or EPub or tell me your reader.
3 Comment on the day’s posts that are my own – not reblogs – with the title of the book. I will put a note on those that are relevant.
4 I will let you know if you are the recipient the next day.

Post from your Archives – Guest Pete Johnson with Ollie’s Gang


Ollie’s Gang September 16, 2014 ~ beetleypete

 

Despite a short holiday in Kent, our dog Ollie is happiest at home. He misses the river, and his familiar circuit around Beetley Meadows, the woods, or Mill Lane. He misses the scent trails of deer, moles, rabbits, and squirrels, and the remembered aromas of his best friends. I could take him to the same place every day, for the rest of his life, and he would be happy. He doesn’t need pastures new, trips to the seaside, or visits to old and interesting places. He is a creature of habit, and that habit suits him down to the ground. When we got home last week, and I took him across to the meadows, he scampered off as excited as the first time he ever went out. It was a pleasure to see him so enthusiastic and happy.

He misses his friends. Since his first foray into the bigger world outside of our house, he has sought the company of other dogs. Luckily, a group of us tend to walk our dogs at the same time, in the late afternoon, so he is usually guaranteed to have some company, at least during weekdays. At times, there can be up to eight of us walking the circuit, all the different dogs running around together, enjoying the short time as a pack, their instinct telling them that this is the natural way. Each dog has its routines, its place in the hierarchy, and its preferred method of play. Some avoid the water, most plunge in happily. Some swim well and enthusiastically; others, like Ollie, just wade. If there is nobody around when we get over there, Ollie will constantly scan the most-used entrances, desperate to see one of the gang arriving. At times, he will actually cry, until another pal appears. As soon as he scents the familiar smell, or sees the owner in the distance, he will tear off towards them, all cares forgotten.

They are an-ill matched group on first sight. Ollie all wrinkles and curly tail, tiny Toby the Jack Russell, a relentless ball of energy, accomplished catcher of anything, and lover of balls or sticks. Oban, the slim, shy black Labrador. Gentle-natured, a little afraid of strange dogs, but always pleased to run with his friends. He is never happier than when he is carrying a huge stick, preferably at the rear of the group, occasionally tantalising the others with it, then running off before they can grab it. He is most definitely Ollie’s best friend, and they are very happy to stay at each other’s houses, or walk together all day. Big Spike, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, though younger than all the others, towers above them, in height and strength. He can knock Toby over with ease, and if he wants a stick or a ball, he always gets it. And keeps it. Ollie tries to dominate the youngster, and if you didn’t know better, you would think that they were fighting. But their tails are wagging; it is just rough play.

This core trio of the gang are often joined by Bruno, the black Pug. He is a great character, snuffling along, fighting for breath, tiny legs that won’t allow him to keep up with the others. So small, he can pass underneath Spike, he is as tough as the others really. At least in his own mind. Buddy the black terrier will usually be around. He is ball-obsessed, and has no interest in walking around with the others. They might get his ball. Buster is a Lhasa Apso with attitude. Smartly-trimmed, alert and ready for action, he has decided he doesn’t like Ollie. As his owners give Ollie small treats, Buster gets jealous, and very grumpy. He doesn’t mind smaller dogs, but he is not happy around the larger animals. So, he doesn’t join in, but he is usually there, to be quickly sniffed, and checked out by the others. Big Rocky, the Newfoundland cross, is a huge dog. He has a nice nature, and loves to play with the others. He can flatten Ollie with one paw, and often does. Unfortunately, he was a rescue dog, so cannot be let off his lead. Nonetheless, he manages to play remarkably well, on a long extension. Bracken the Springer doesn’t concern herself too much with the gang. She is too busy putting up pheasants, and other wildfowl, her instincts overriding any desire to play.

Ozzie the Bedlington, and Millie the Spaniel are always walked together. Their owners are friends, and usually appear towards the end of our walk. Millie loves strokes and fuss, and she has the most wonderfully soft wrinkly ears. Unfortunately, Ozzie has issues with constant barking, and after a while, he can set your ears ringing. Sometimes, he has to wear a special collar that his owner ‘buzzes’, to stop his incessant yaps. Little Lola, the tiny and gorgeous heart-breaker of the group. She is a Shih Tzu, with adorable eyes, a soft curly coat, and a love of strokes and cuddles. The boys are very interested in her of course, but she lets them know when their attentions are not welcome, with a snarl and a snap. There are many others. The twin Poodles, the two Shelties, bad-tempered Duncan the retriever; once a friend, now aggressive and lonely. New arrivals are frequent. Spock the Alsatian pup, only fourteen weeks old, ready for anything. The nasty terrier, owned by a family recently moved to the area. So angry, it cannot be let off the lead, and snarls and screams at every other dog, from 200 yards away. Poppy the Patterdale, all jumping and friendly, loves everyone, and every dog too.

We have lost some over the years sadly. Barley the Spaniel, who had to be put to sleep after suffering arthritic hips. The little Westie, savaged and killed by a rogue greyhound. Gem, the blind Labrador, moved away to Birmingham, and old Max the Jack Russel, who lived with Toby, finally reaching the end of a long and happy life. Some have to be avoided at all costs. The aforementioned greyhound, now always muzzled. Billy the Terrier, so aggressive he will bite any dog. Stan the Spaniel, who decides who he does and doesn’t like, and attacks accordingly. Generally though, it is a happy gang, and Ollie is sure that it is his gang. We won’t tell him otherwise.

©PeteJohnson 2014

About Pete Johnson

I retired in 2012, then aged 60, and moved from a busy life and work in Central London, to Beetley, in rural Norfolk. I thought I would start this blog to share my thoughts about life in general, and my new life in Norfolk in particular. My wife Julie is still working in a local bank, so I am at home most of the day, accompanied by my four year old Shar-Pei dog, Ollie.

My interests include local and global history, politics, and cinema and film. I also enjoy music; Motown, Soul, Jazz, along with many modern singers and styles.

After 22 years as an Emergency Medical Technician in the London Ambulance Service, followed by 11 years working for the Metropolitan Police in Control Rooms, it took some adjustment to being retired, and not working shifts.

I am updating this info on the 6th of July, 2017.

Ollie is now five years old, and is still a great dog to own. The blog has continued to grow, and I have now posted over 1330 articles. I currently write a bit about films and cinema, mostly short reviews and suggestions; and I did write a lot of anecdotes about my years in the Ambulance Service. I have written a lot about past travel and holidays, and also about architecture. I also post a lot about music and songs, those that have a significance in my life for one reason or another. The core of the blog remains the same though; my experiences of my new life in Norfolk, walking my dog, and living in a rural setting.

During the past year, I have been adding a lot of photos, and they are always popular.

I have had my blogging ups and downs; attracted some followers, both loyal and fickle, and gained a great deal from the whole process. I have written articles that were published on other blogs and websites, as well as trying my hand at more than 60 fictional stories. I am pleased to report that I have had two of these published in a magazine.

If you are considering starting a blog, I would suggest you give it a try. I really would. It may not change your life; but then again, it just might.

Get in touch with Pete

Blog: https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/beetleypete

Next week Pete shares stories of Bermondsey Summers

I am sure you have enjoyed this post as much as I have and I hope you will consider commenting and sharing… and heading over to Pete’s blog where you will find even more of his entertaining posts. thanks Sally

If you would like to participate in this series of Posts from your Archives here are the details.

All of us have posts that sit idle in our archive with perhaps a handful of visits from readers who are browsing on our blog. But I would like to offer you the opportunity to share some of your posts that you feel would be enjoyed by a different audience.. Mine.

Apart from sharing your post, I will of course share your bio, any book links, social media and of course your blog so that readers can head over and enjoy your more recent hard work.

If you are interested all I need is the links to those posts you are interested in sharing (three of four as a start to see if you enjoy the experience) and then I will take it from there. Most of you have already sent me your links but if we have just met I may come back to you. sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Look forward to hearing from you.

Smorgasbord Laughter Academy – A dip into the archives – dogs, cats and parrots!


I have been delving into the archives and have selected a few jokes that you might have missed or forgotten.. I have my sister here for her first visit to us in our new home in Ireland and I am teaching her how to avoid the puddles……

A couple of Quickies

A man had been contemplating the world’s population,

It’s amazing, he told his friend. Every time I breathe in and out someone dies.

Have you tried mouthwash said his friend

“Doc, I can’t stop singing The Green, Green Grass of Home.”

“That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome.”

“Is it common? ”

“It’s not unusual.”

dinasaurs

Let’s go cruising the high seas.

An elderly couple were on a cruise and it was really stormy. They were standing on the back of the boat watching the moon, when a wave came up and washed the old woman overboard. They searched for days and couldn’t find her, so the captain sent the old man back to shore with the promise that he would notify him as soon as they found something.

Three weeks went by and finally the old man got a fax from the boat. It read: “Sir, sorry to inform you, we found your wife dead at the bottom of the ocean. We hauled her up to the deck and attached to her butt was an oyster and in it was a pearl worth $50,000 . please advise.” The old man faxed back: “Send me the pearl and re-bait the trap.”

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Wayward Parrots

A lady goes to her priest one day and tells him, “Father, I have a
problem. I have two female parrots, but they only know how to say one thing.”

“What do they say?” the priest inquired.

They say, “Hi, we’re good time girls! Do you want to have some fun?”

“That’s obscene!” the priest exclaimed, then he thought for a
moment. “You know”, he said, “I may have a solution to your problem.

I have two male talking parrots, which I have taught to pray and
read the Bible. Bring your two parrots over to my house, and we’ll put them in the cage with Francis and Job. My parrots can teach your parrots to praise and worship, and your parrots are sure to stop saying… that phrase…in no time.”

“Thank you”, the woman responded, “this may very well be the
solution.”

The next day, she brought her female parrots to the priest’s house. As he ushered her in, she saw that his two male parrots were inside their cage holding rosary beads and praying. Impressed, she walked over and placed her parrots in with them. After a few minutes, the female parrots cried out in unison: “Hi, we’re good time girls! Do you want to have some fun?”

There was stunned silence. Shocked, one male parrot looked over at the other male parrot and exclaimed, “Put the beads away, Frank. Our prayers have been answered.”

Giving the dog a proper send off.

Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company. One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked, “Father, my dog is dead. Could ya’ be saying’ a mass for the poor creature?”

Father Patrick replied, “I’m afraid not; we cannot have services for an animal in the church. But there are some Baptists down the lane, and there’s no tellin’ what they believe. Maybe they’ll do something for the creature.”

Muldoon said, “I’ll go right away Father. Do ya’ think $5,000 is enough to donate to them for the service?”

Father Patrick exclaimed, “Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus! Why didn’t ya tell me the dog was Catholic?

catsHave a great weekend.. I will be popping in from time to time to check you are behaving yourselves… don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do!  thanks Sally

 

 

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Four – Henry’s Story


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Last time we left Sam at 14 weeks old given more freedom in the garden which led to him meeting his first real friend.. Henry now settles down in Costa del Sam to tell him his challenging story.

Chapter Four – Henry’s Story.

“Okay young’un,” Henry grinned toothlessly. “Time for the next instalment.”

With that he fell rather than leapt arthritically down onto the grass and sauntered over to a sun bed that had just caught the first of the morning sun peeping over the house.

He lay down and stretched and I moved over closer for a good sniff.

4.1_henry_does_a_spot_of_sunbathing

Henry lay still whilst I examined nearly every inch of him. There was definitely a lifetime of smells on that cat and I could tell that grooming had not been his main focus recently if ever.

Finally satisfied that I would now know him anywhere I settled down and looked at him expectantly.

“Happy now?” He sighed theatrically. “Did you want to hear my story or not?”

I nodded my head and rested it on my paws as I waited to hear this strange creature’s tales.

The telling of this story took many days and what I didn’t realise at the time, was that our friendship did not go unnoticed. The kitchen window overlooked my play pen and neither of us saw the smiling face that looked down at us through the glass.

It would take too long to relate all the adventures that Henry experienced but I will try to give you an idea of how he became this bedraggled and toothless creature and one of my best friends.

Henry was about ten years old which is getting on for a feral cat. He had not begun life in the wild having been born, one of ten kittens, to a farm cat called Maisie. She was a great mouser by all accounts and this last litter was a surprise as she had not had one for over four years and the farmer thought she was too old.

Anyway, one by one his litter mates were either given away or sadly in one case taken by a fox. At last it was just him and his youngest sister that were left and the farmer felt that they would be a useful addition to the three other adult cats who patrolled the farmyard in search of mice and rats. There were two dogs that had been puppies when Henry was born and they had become friends over the years, hence his ability to speak Dog. Most young animals if brought up together will live happily side by side and apart from an instinctive and unspoken method of communication they will learn each other’s language too.

Henry gave great service at the farm until he was about nine years old when the farmer died and the buildings and stock were sold off. The new owners were not going to farm and they knocked down the old barn and outbuildings and laid down concrete.

The other two cats drifted away as the mouse population decreased. The dogs had gone to the farmer’s son miles away and the new owners brought in two large and mean looking Dobermans that could not speak Cat and only wanted to chase and eat him.

Henry soon realised that there was no job for him with the new people and reluctantly decided to leave the only home he had ever known.

With a last look over his shoulder he walked through the hedges, across fields and tried to find somewhere he could find food and shelter.

By the time he ended up in my large garden, Henry had travelled miles across the county, stopping at what working farms were left, catching a few mice here and there but usually forced to move on by younger and stronger cats on the premises.

He had to fight to eat on most occasions and eventually after several months he was tired, sick and hungry and decided to find himself a bush to go to sleep under. His intention was to let nature take its course which is often the way for animals if allowed. He had endured enough and not ever having really bonded with humans he knew no other life. He had never sat on a warm lap and felt a kind hand or been given food instead of catching it himself.

The large garden with its hundreds of bushes and trees seemed a peaceful and unpopulated place in which to end his days and apart from the hunger that grabbed at his belly he lay down his head and closed his eyes.

My mistress, Sally had been in the garden walking with a man that she hoped would come with his ride on mower and cut the acre and a half of grass a couple of times a month. She knew that with her new business she would also be unable to keep up with the weeding and was willing to pay someone else to do this onerous task.

She and the man were moving between some of the bushes to inspect the large privet hedge that separated them from the neighbours when she stopped and motioned the man to move back.

She knelt down and gently lifted a branch out of the way and was about to tell the man that she thought the cat was dead when she saw its chest moving up and down.

“He’s come here to die.” The old man from down the lane leant over her shoulder and shook his head.

“He won’t last the night, better leave be and I will take him away when I come down tomorrow to mow the grass.”

She looked sadly down at the dirty bundle of skin and bones and tears welled up in her eyes.

She could not bear any animals to suffer and she could see that this cat had been through the wars and had probably had a very hard life.

After the man had gone with a promise to return first thing in the morning, She went back inside the house and filled a shallow bowl with warm milk and crumbled a little bread into it. Returning to the cat under the bush she moved the dish as close as possible and carefully stretched out her hand to stroke the top of its head.

She felt a little movement beneath her fingers and continued to carefully stroke the dirty fur down to the tail. She saw the little black nostrils twitch and decided to leave the cat for a little while to see if it might be enticed by the milk.

An hour later she came back and found herself staring into two brown mottled eyes that were red rimmed as if the cat had been crying. As she leant forward to pick up the empty dish the animal moved backwards slightly in fear but gently she moved her hand around its side as it watched her carefully with its eyes.

Slowly she stroked the trembling animals matted fur until its head dropped onto its paws and she felt a slight vibration beneath her fingers. Satisfied that it would now accept her help, she placed another bowl with some newly acquired tinned kitten food in front of the cat. It would need very high nutrient packed food quickly if it was to recover enough to survive the night and despite being just skin and bones she had seen the glint of survival in its weary eyes.

Henry seemed lost for a minute or two as he stared into space as if reliving the dark days again when he was lost and so hungry. He turned his head and looked at me and then surprised me with some very interesting information about my mistress.

“You know young’un she can talk cat.” He nodded his head a couple of times.

” At first I thought there was another cat nearby but the sound was definitely coming from her. The language was strange and a bit mixed up but I understood that she meant me no harm and I sensed she was trying to tell me I was safe.”

Henry went on to tell me how he believed that Sally must have had a cat before and learnt to communicate when very young which is the best time to learn Cat and Dog language. She was a bit rusty but over the time he had lived in the garden they had often enjoyed conversations although he said it was a bit like a couple of foreigners trying to make themselves understood in a strange country.

Anyway on with Henry’s story of their original meeting.

Although the Irish summers are not known for either their consistency of sunshine or warm weather, that particular week of Henry’s arrival, was dry and the earth retained the heat of the day. She had put down a bowl of water and some more food in the early evening and felt that the weather would not be a problem. She was however concerned about predators as she had seen fox tracks and knew that there were rats and other cats that prowled the lanes and gardens.

She was also well aware that sometimes nature had to be allowed to take its course and felt that at least she had given the cat a fighting chance. Fingers crossed she went back into the house and waited for the morning.

The next day the cat was still in the same position but it was looking much brighter and somewhat expectant as it looked steadily at the bowls that she carried in her hands. She placed them on the ground in front of it and stretched out her fingers to touch the dirty coat. This time the cat did not move and she spent several minutes talking Cat softly to it and gently massaging its fur. Happy that he seemed more alert and was purring at her touch she left him to eat breakfast and rest in his sunny spot.

At this point I swear that Henry had tears in his eyes. He sniffed and tossed his head and glared at me.

“Don’t say a word, do you hear?” He growled into my face and I shook my head vigorously.

After a moment he collected himself.

“That was a year ago, and I don’t have to tell you that I recovered and have been living here ever since.” He raised a paw delicately to his whiskers and then rubbed up behind his ear and down to his mouth.

“She feeds me every day and I let her stroke me from time to time as it obviously gives her pleasure, and of course I earn my keep because I can still give the odd mouse and rat a run for their money.”

I was impressed and had a whole new opinion of my mistress. Instinctively I had adopted both Sally and David as my pack when I came into their den and she was making it quite clear that they were the leaders of the pack and I was number three. I wondered where that put Henry but I suspected that he was probably a lone wolf.

Henry stretched out on the sun bed and I popped into my paddling pool for a cool off as the day had now got quite warm. I could see that Henry was dropping off to sleep and it was not long before I got out of the pool and joined him beneath the bed in the cool shade.

Both of us were unaware that Sally had come into the play pen until I felt the bed move above my head and saw two legs over the edge.

“Hi Henry, how are you doing you old moth eaten love.” She then made some rather strange noises that Henry responded to in kind.

This I had to see and I squirmed out from under the bed to see Mr. Indifference rolling around on his back and purring so loudly that the bed vibrated.

I knew that Henry was not allowed into the house and when I saw how dirty he was I could understand why. As I watched this playful interaction between my mistress and my new friend I saw her hand go to the back of his neck with something between her fingers. A few drops of liquid fell onto his fur and I saw that she was wearing something that covered her hand. She gently massaged Henry’s neck while he wriggled in delight and then she looked at me as I sat with my head cocked to one side.

“That should keep the fleas off him for another few weeks and you too my darling.”

I was not sure what fleas were at that point but I jumped up and put my paws on her lap and laughed up into her face.

“Sometimes Sam I think young as you are, you understand every word that I say.”

She removed the covering on her hand and stroked the soft inside of the top of my ear which I loved. My eyes closed in ecstasy as I surrendered to her touch. For me this was perfect, the leader of my pack paying me so much attention and a new best friend.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

Thank you for calling in and please join Sally, David, Henry and me next time.