Friday, 14 December 2012

It's never simple

So, nearly nine weeks ago Mum did a wonderful (not really) impression of a felled tree and broke her pelvis. Since then it's been slow progress but at last she's walking - ish, very ish and readily transforms into Lurch from the Adams Family or occasionally a demented kangaroo.  A non-walking person can't drive so I've been taking her volvo for 'exercise' but on Sunday's excursion it refused to start.  Flat battery, or so we thought. Organised a new battery and then called the AA to get it started.  Everyone is struggling so call out time was two hours, they then phoned to announce that an 'approved garage' was on route (damn, should have specified a patrol, never mind all we need is a boost and the immobilser unimmobilising) and would be here in half an hour, 45 minutes after the original breakdown was logged.  Designated arrival time came and went, still no mechanic, garage eventually phoned, stuck on another job would be here soon. Finally the van arrived nearly two hours after the original call, he'd come all the way from Darlington. Fortunately he knew how to boost a car when the battery is in the boot next to the spare wheel (I know very lucky to have one of those, but really, who puts a battery at the opposite end from the working section of the car? Those strange Swedes), unfortunately every time the booster pack was unplugged the car died again.  Not just battery but alternator too.
Our AA membership is roadside and home start not relay but little man said he could organise transport, only to return and say, you're not on relay so they won't take - did I not say that, is it not on the membership card you have in your hand?  - your best option is to upgrade and then sort it out and off he went! :0(
Shortly after the AA phoned to enquire how well the service had gone - not well at all was the brusque reply. Half an hour later (thank goodness they phoned us), several bouts of lovely musak and they are organising a flatback, free of charge, to our nearest garage, which is Blue Bank.  We would usually have gone to Chapmans for serious mendings but that would be over £100 just for transport before we even contemplate battery, alternator, mechanic hours etc..... so the new car is being trusted to Donald to put right.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Epilogue: Finnegan, our Goonish boy (27/3/10 - 5/10/12)

An Irish Wolfhound takes over your house, your life and your heart.  They are huge in body, heart and personality, once they've adopted you they will follow you to the ends of the earth ignoring the rest of the world.
For an extortionate amount of money we 'rescued' Finnegan aged just over four months.  He had spent his early days in a concrete and wire compound being trained to the show ring but he was going to be too big - yes he really was that large.
This is him with his breeder aged 10 weeks.
 When we got him home he didn't know what the television was, why hair dryers made all that noise, why radios talked, and he never got over his fear of the snake (the cable) that followed the noisy blowy beast that sucked things up off the floor (the hoover), although The Mother Bean says he followed it around watching it intently to make sure it didn't attack her.  It took months to get him to accept the car although evenutally he would walk in as soon the tailgate was opened. With patience and lots of gentling he gradually grew used to life in a house.
Puppy hound on his bag in the sitting room.

And he loved 'his girls', Juno tried to teach him his manners but didn't really have the patience and was slightly worried about being knocked over so she did pull her punches; etiquette training fell to Maia who on more than one occasion came away with a mouthful of ruff.  Hebe just adored her big mate and together they would cause chaos, careering around the house and garden chasing each other, 'mulberry bushing' around the dining table as we're trying to eat until someone (usually us but occasionally one of them) would call a halt and Finn would lie flat out whilst Hebe would curl up and lean against his belly with his hips acting as a pillow.
Let sleeping dogs lie
We started to introduce him to the outside world which was even more scary. It took all of his first summer with us and into the autumn to get him used to cars, buses and motorbikes although he was always wary of them especially if a noisy one approached from behind. We would saunter up into the village and stand and talk with Kevin on the car park until Finn got fed up and lay down letting the vehicles pass him by without shying away every time one moved.
Everyone who saw him wanted to say hello but he would back off, we had to explain that he was only a baby and to approach him carefully never putting your hand over his head. Eventually he did learn to stand there and let people talk to him all the while looking at you with a "must I really" expression on his face.
He was a real mummy's boy and 'whiffled' up your face to say hello.  He loved having the office in the house and would greet everyone with a sniff, a waving tail and probably a soggy beard!  If the door was closed he would batter at it until he gained entry but after a quick head count and a check of the tops and recycling bin to see if there was anything worth stealing he would return to the house and his life of leisure - Finnegan was only ever a reluctant, occasional office hound although he did have to check every package that arrived.

Poor boy never really stood a chance, in hindsight we can see that his problems began when he was just over a year old when his skin broke out with pyoderma which we treated with Katie's herbs after an allergy test came back negative for everything except a slight sensitivity for rice. Then he ate the bottle top (which we now think might have been the first flare up in his guts).  He had a dodgy tum and would pick up whatever bug was going round, regularly got the 'splats' which he mostly did down the yard thank goodness, we went through several kilos of slippery elm and multiple jars of honey. He struggled whenever he'd had a good run, getting windy and more splats.

He didn't help himself being an inveterate thief, everything (and I mean everything) had to be above head height to be out of wolfhound range, all kitchen worktops cleared, nothing left on the table, even the mantlepiece in the sitting room was within range and, according to Finn, fair game.  He could smell a tissue in a pocket from across the room and became a really good pick pocket.  Ash trays were to be inspected and the contents to be snuffed across the room.  The office recycling bin was checked and any little shredding or post-it was carefully extracted before he skipped off to munch, giving himself away in the light, delicate skip out of the door!  The notice in the office kitchen read "Think Finnegan, Description of a Wolfhound: legs like a giraffe, the reach of a not so small elephant, the digestion of a race horse and the appetite of alley cat."  As if a long neck was not enough he had no clue where his feet were and as for his tail, well, it was light years away and would clear low table (or even dining tables) in one long sweep, Finnegan would turn round at the noise of the tea cups hitting the floor with an expression of "what did you do that for?" and then a keen eye for anything vaguely consumable (not necessarily edible). 
Upside down was a favourite sleeping position:
kangarooney hound

He found the outside world fascinating, if a little scary, and would spend hours watching out of the window barking at those turtles that walked by (people with rucksacks), waving his tail at friends (not that they could see it although he wasn't aware of that) and leaving great streaks of wolfhound tongue and nose prints. He bounced up to greet everyone at the door and promptly backed off when they spoke to him.  His house, garden and road were to be protected against all invaders and his people even more so with his great baying barks rattling the rafters, on a clear day when he was in conversation with dogs further down the road you could hear him when standing outside the post office.

 Hounds are well known for not being as bright as Labradors (well, who is? asks Hebe) and Finnegan must be the only dog to have been run over by a stationery car, read this chapter here.
But for all that he was not as green as he was Irish looking and was quite capable of working out how to get at the food, the scraps he wasn't allowed, how to nick Hebe's toys (and destroy them when no one was looking!).  If the kitchen water dish was empty or the contents not to his liking he would head off into the office kitchen for a drink, opening doors and nudging curtains aside to get there.  Some things fascinated him.  When he was a young hound in attempting to take a dropped ball back out of the water dish he discovered he could blow bubbles. After that, for quite a while, he would approach the dish as if he was going to drink but then pat the edge with a foot to make ripples and small waves which he would then bite before finally taking a deep breath and plunging his whole muzzle into the dish and blowing out of his nose making bubbles which if he blew hard enough would explode over the side of the dish to soak the floor.  If the bubbles weren't flooding the tiles enough for his liking he would deliberately tip up the dish with a foot.  However, he didn't like water, either puddles or rain.  He would stand on the back step under cover looking at the falling rain and turn with a "must I really go out there?" expression or if it was particularly heavy a "you must be kidding, I'm not going out there, no way, no how" before returning inside until finally his 10gallon bladder was too full even for him.  Upon his return he would dry himself off on the furniture, the girls, the floor, people anything but the nice warm towel which was waiting over for him the aga rail. 

Despite all that he was a typical wolfie - in other words bone idle!  He took over the four-seater sofa and claimed it as his.  It's ever so empty now.

Oh, it's such a hard life being a hound, it's exhausting!

Sleep well our foolish, goonish boy.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Finnegan: the final chapter

It was too good to last. 
Last Monday evening Finnegan went down hill rapidly; at tea time he was throwing bags around and trying to chase labradors but by the end of University Challenge he was in pain, after a phone consultation we tried easing his symptoms with some metacam but it didn't work so we had a swift dash across the moors (in the dark and pouring rain) for stronger meds.  He had a very restless night (and so did we, I don't do well with sleep deprivation!) and on Tuesday we saw Katie for the next phase of more meds including a quick refresher course on injecting dogs so he could have painkillers every four hours, although these took the edge off he was still uncomfortable and would not stop pacing. He was admitted for sedation and 'knock-out' drops to get him over the hump.  These did seem to work and before long he was up and about again but not really eating properly so he stayed in Pickering for a little while longer adopting Katie as his personal attendant. By Thursday he was looking for us, towing Katie around the garden and the waiting room and generally wanting to come home again. He was delighted to get back home and see his girls, going down the yard to mark it again with large wolfhound sized puddles and several dumps, he spent most of the day looking for food and gazing out of the window. Friday morning he started with the stretching and belching, another phone consultation and I was belting off into town for buscopan which did the trick and he settled.  He had a lovely peaceful afternoon dreaming about I know not what but it involved nose wrinkling and feet twitching. Unfortunately, something happened at just before five and he went into shock, another dash to Pickering where a couple of tests to try to find a possible cause came back within normal ranges while the poor boy was going downhill with every passing minute.  We took the decision that enough was enough and he shambled into his own Room 2, lay down on his bed and went to sleep.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Hound update

Finnegan progressed well, started playing with Hebe again and I never thought I'd be pleased to see him try to pick up a labrador by a back leg! We increased his food and steadily added more eukanuba.  But Finnegan's tummy really doesn't like eukanuba. Over the weekend his ear starts flooding again and by Monday 24th and he's yawning and stretching, both clear indicators of tummy pain and then we notice he's licking his front leg which is red - his skin's flaring up too.  I gave him a full dose of prokinetics which helped, Tuesday morning he seems quite bright and happy but we decreased the quantity of euk however an hour later he's unhappy, stretching, yawning and flat.  More prokinetics.  He's hungry for lunch but we decide no more euk, meat, some left over potatoes and fish only.  I phone Eastgate and Katie agrees that we'll get his allergy tests done as soon as possible, we don't want to risk it any longer but not today, it's the middle of the autumn storm and the roads are awash - and we'll go back to bland food. All Tuesday he's clingy, in pain but still interested in the world and food, Tuesday evening he's being a lapdog.  Wednesday dawns and Finn's a bit brighter but we're not taking any chances, more pills before heading across the moor for his latest blood tests - which proved slightly difficult, he's fed up of being stuck with pins but we did manage to extract the required red stuff, good job he's such a big dog otherwise he'd have run out by now! We have the results of the first battery of tests, his b-vits are normal which means that although his guts are inflamed they are actually working; his thyroid is normal too, so that's double phew.  We invest in some ZD to add to his winalot instead of the euk. He's eating well but by Thursday morning we're now reaching the 24hour mark since he last did a dump, his guts have slowed down again and that filling is causing him pain.  At lunch time a saunter round the garden and he decides that perhaps he is overfull and getting rid of some might be the right idea and a large deposit is made on the lawn, he's much happier after that.
We've now reached Saturday and he's full of beans today and most of those are bad ones!  We're happy with his progress, he's eating well, he's happy and at last beginning to put on some weight.
The sun is shining, the dog is happy and Tigers are winning (even Hebe has gone to sleep in the sun and not hidden away from the oval ball). What could be better?

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Finnegan has lost a few more of his lives.

I don't know how many lives a dog has, nine like a cat? or more?
However many it may be Finnegan is now short of a few more.

About two months ago we began to get a little concerned about the hound, he seemed to be panting a bit more than we thought he should but it was hot so were not too concerned.  But then he seemed listless and a bit down and was he loosing weight too?  So an appointment was made to visit Katie for a checkup, we queried heart and possible lungs, perhaps Maia bronchitis was contagious?  Upon examination Katie couldn't really find anything, maybe a faint hint of a heart murmur, maybe his lungs were working harder than they should.  With his family history we all decided that an x-ray of his chest would be a good place to start and an appointment was made for the following Tuesday for Finnegan to be the guinea pig for Eastgate's super new digital x-ray machine.
But Finnegan took things into his own paws.  On Sunday he was really down, flaked out on the sofa and then he turned his nose up at his tea.  Now, he may be a hound but he thinks he's a labrador and not eating is seriously not good.  Then at just after nine he was sick, bringing up his breakfast which was very sour having been in his stomach all day.  He didn't want his bed time biscuit and was sick again overnight.  Consequently at 8:30 on Monday 3 September we were on our way to Pickering with a very poorly hound.  He was booked into his private room, initial tests again showed nothing in particular.  Last time he'd been like this (last year) fluid therapy got him through it so that was the initial treatment along with blood tests for cardiac enzymes and a heart scan.  We'd see how he went and then maybe x-rays, but we were all thinking he'd eaten something and got it stuck.  No significant improvement but no marked deterioration either, the heart scan had shown that his cardiac muscles were doing what they should and functioning well.  X-rays on Tuesday to see if there was anything obvious.

There was.

But not what we thought, the lower part of his guts were full of gas.  Katie phoned at lunchtime to say he was on his way to theatre and she's let us know how he was doing later that afternoon.
It didn't look good, his colon was distended and virtually black and the whole GI tract was in stasis. No foreign object was found and biopsies were taken.  He came through the surgery well and began to recover.  We went to see him on Wednesday taking boiled chicken and pasta (we're old hands at this).  He didn't like being at the vets and wasn't really eating properly, sulking Katie called it.  Thursday afternoon he was deemed fit enough to come home.  He was delighted to see us and pleased to be coming home.  He couldn't settle and paced back and forth until we thought if you don't lie down you'll fall down.  He has so many pills he should rattle, this is just one dose!
Nearly two dozen across three doses in one day. Now he was home he was eating well but hadn't done a dump yet.
His first check up was on Friday morning with another booked for Saturday morning.  Friday morning he was up and about again, quite bright and interested in life, he left a lovely deposit on the car park and Rob declared him well enough not to need to come back on Saturday but we would be back on Tuesday for Katie to check on his progress, stitches and hopefully have bloods and biopsy results.   Huge sighs of relief all round.

Once again the blasted hound took things into his own paws.  Saturday morning he ate his breakfast and seemed to be doing OK but by 11:30 he wouldn't take his pills in juicy chicken morsels and I ended up putting them down his throat.  By three he was burning up and radiating heat.  Emergency call to Eastgate, Helen would come and look at him. His temperature at half past three was 40.4 (should be 38.5).  We would trying bringing his temp down with cool damp towels and fans, he had a shot of loxicom too.  It didn't work, at five his temp was still 40.1, this was relayed to Helen and as expected once again we were back to Eastgate.  Helen and Laura met us, Finnegan slouched into room two and lay down on his already prepared bed. It was decided that they would open him up again there and then. We hugged him and once again said our goodbyes.  Helen phoned at around nine to say he had come through the surgery well; it was, as we'd feared, peritonitis, the colonic biopsy had come apart and was leaking.  They'd cleaned him up, checked the rest of his guts which were pink and looking healthy (one good thing), repaired the leaking biopsy site and double stitched it back up (I think they would have superglued and stapled it too if that would have helped) and left him with a open drain - in other words only partially sewed him up again to let all the foul smelling the fluid leak out.  When he was running the extreme temperature his scrotal skin had become inflamed and damaged so we'd agreed to a castration at the same time as the surgery, as being the quickest and easiest solution.  Because Laura decided on using the open drain technique it was thought that a surgical wound so close to the 'grot' was not a good idea so Finn was left intact (for now).  The next 24 hours were critical.  He was left in peace with IV fluids, anti-everything and painkillers.  His dressings were changed every two hours (even through the night).  Helen phoned early Sunday morning to say he was still with us and looking a little brighter, he'd been out in the garden and done a puddle but they weren't going to offer any food yet.  She'd phone again later with another update, which she did at just after six.  He was improving, looking much brighter and had taken a little turkey, everyone was very pleased with him.  Once again she'd phone in the morning. Monday (10/9) the improvements continued, the drainage fluids were decreasing in volume, looking much cleaner and no longer smelly.  Tuesday morning Katie's back on duty and takes over Finnegan's case again.  The bloods have come back and he's in the lowest risk group for cardiac events, you can never rule it out but it looks unlikely.  The biopsies are back too showing that he has Irritable Bowel Disease but throughout the whole GI tract, she didn't take a sample from his stomach but looking at how far up the tract the IBD is showing it seems likely and sensible to assume his stomach is affected too.  In addition the gut is highly reactive, so he's allergic to something. As if that's not enough on the microscopic level he's got 'leaky guts' meaning that proteins (including the allergens) escape his digestive system and infiltrate the whole body.  On the positive side there is no evidence of any tumours or any markers either.  And even better they're planning to sew him up again and do the castration.  He came through this latest surgery well but by the evening his ear is pouring with green pus, it wasn't yesterday or this morning but now...
All things being equal we can collect him on Wednesday.
Wednesday (12/9) lunchtime Katie phones to say he's raring to come home.  No poo yet but he's eating well and although he's listening to classic fm is just lying around being bored and she thinks he'll recover better at home.  Needless to say we're there within an hour and he's home.  Which so far is where he's stayed giving Mum her favorite birthday pressie of a normal dump on the yard (well she's strange, plus she's his official poo monitor, I deal with pills and gunky ears!).

He's steadily improved, eaten more, gained more energy, shown more interest in the world and is even trying to play with labradors again.  We had a watchful 48 hours after he started dumping again but he came through without any further disruption.  He had his stitches out on Thursday, having healed well, and more bloods taken because now we start trying to work out the root cause and look at future management - Dr House is in the house!  We're weaning him back onto his normal euk and bonios so that in a few weeks when all the usual proteins are back in his system we can do an allergy test.  We're all hoping it comes back for something easily excludeable, like wheat, easier for dogs than for people.
And yesterday's light bulb, OMG moment with the plaster may have a role to play or there again it could be a complete red herring.

Watch this space...

Saturday, 22 September 2012

And what do you do on Saturday?

I'll bet it wasn't to chisel plaster off two walls!

We think Finnegan may have been eating the ancient plaster (and 1910's paint - eek) in his dog house - there goes another one or three of his lives.
So today I've taken all the loose, damaged and scratched plaster off two walls and painted over other dodgy looking bits and where the original green paint is showing through.

Hebe is so excited, "look, Finnegan, it's PINK!"  and "Oh, and so am I - oops."

It's not pink just for Hebes, it was the first colour I found that wasn't green or white and we want to see if the hooligan tries to munch any more and to stop any attempts to lick the (probably poisonous) green paint.

Oh yes, and meet our resident Porpoise - it gets cross, swims off its wall and gets into the middle of conversations. (take that apart and put it back in a different order and....).  This wall has been used for years for laying off brushes, thus the odd collection of colours and somehow one of my blues took on the shape of a dolphin; having got the head the tail wasn't entirely accidental.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

We're not singing in the rain anymore

 OK, enough is enough. We're fed up now.  Even Hebe is wondering when it will all stop.

It's not a glorious feeling and although we might still be singing, we're not happy about it and certainly no longer dancing in the puddles, even small black is carefully walking around the edge.

I think I'm wet enough now, Bean.
Do we have to go out again?
I'm a hound, I don't do wet.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

He's only done it again

Further adventures in the life of Finnegan the Foolish Hooligan.
He's caught the top of his tail on something. It's oozy, gooey and gunky, nice. And now has been clipped to expose the damage for cleaning and treatment.
One raw, gooey patch - not for the faint hearted!

Now for the rest of his medical bulletin (oh, yes there's more); he's got an appointment with Eastgate's new toy next Tuesday - they're getting a digital x-ray machine.  Katie has booked his private room out because he'll need a spot of tranquillizer to lie still for long enough, we're looking at his heart and lungs and being such a huge beast one shot doesn't cover the whole picture - it could be three and possibly a scan too. Like Maia he's huffing and puffing, but unlike her he's only two and is also a little lethargic, plus his bloodline isn't too great on cardiac matters.  Fortunately Laura has just finished a cardiac course so he'll be in the best of hands, with his very own Mandy to soothe his furry brow and stop him destroying the door!
Oh, you stupid boy - who'd have a hound?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Dur, what? Don't bother me...

Hebe's feeling a little 'zonked'. 
There's a party at the other end of the village tomorrow evening and they're having display standard fireworks, the whizz-bangs will bounce down the valley and echo off the hill in front of us. So the anti-firework herbs came out of the cupboard yesterday, three doses in and she's rather sleepy.
Finger's crossed she stays that way until Sunday morning!
Our wonderful herbalist vet describes it 'Noise Phobia' (but can't spell Humphreys, oh well can't have everything) here's Hebe's 'script, mostly lavender plus four more.  We start two days pre-event with two doses, and depending upon her reaction two or three more the next day followed by a full day's knock out on the day of the fireworks.  It's warm so we'll have the windows open meaning that she'll hear more than we'd like but the distraction of being allowed to play with a tennis ball in the house usually does the trick. fingers crossed.
There's another one (party that is) in a couple of weeks time so we'll do it all again then.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Finnegan and the bales

Finally it stopped raining which meant that the Mill Green could be cut. As usual the outside strip of good, dock free, grass was cut, turned and baled first.  Finn wasn't sure about the tractor, a shiny new blue one, but it trundled past and went away, and then did it again.  He decided it was was OK and settled down in his usual flat out "couldn't care less" pose.  The baler was also greeted with equanimity leaving only a single bale from the cut strips in front of the house.  However a couple of days later when the machinery returned to cut, turn and eventually bale the main middle section Finnegan was not happy.   The tractor went down one way turned round and came back, turned again and trundled past again, and again. Couldn't it see that this was most out of order, Finnegan had to watch each pass, his huge head swinging one way and then the next, how he didn't get Wimbledon neck I don't know.  At last the cut was finished and he could relax, only the next day another tractor came and did it all again (turning the grass this time) and again had to be watched every step of the way.  Next up was the baler,  which Mum swore blind looked like a guinea pig regurgitating the big round bales, I'm not sure who found the baling operations more interesting the hound or his owner.  Anyway finally everything was cut and baled.

But then...

Thief in the day time.  And then a low down yellow bellied thief came and stole all Finnegan's bales!
As the loader trundled around gathering up the bales and putting them on a flat bed trailer Finn was most put out, it was stealing and it was stealing HIS bales.  He had to tell it to leave them alone and as he was inside and the thief was outside he decided that high volume was necessary otherwise it wouldn't hear him.  Every bale that was 'stolen' was a cause of great concern.  30 or so later he finally began to realise that they weren't coming back and that the 'thief' wasn't listening - or maybe they were simply beyond the area he considers his but for whatever reason he stopped barking, much to everyone's relief.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Juno: Queen of the Heavens.

My beautiful girl died on Thursday 19 July. 
In June she was diagnosed with an inoperable mass on her liver, even had an operation been possible I wouldn't have put her through it, not at 15. She stabilized and had several good weeks and some fantastic days but on Tuesday night without warning she was sick, Wednesday she half heartedly ate her breakfast and later was sick again.  High dose pain killers seemed to work and Wednesday evening she ate her tea and happily pottered around the garden but by Thursday morning it was obvious that she was in great pain and struggling.  Katie put her to sleep at lunch time.

Juno was independent, stubborn, loyal, loving, fiercely intelligent and beautiful.
Juno at three, wet from water retrieval work

 If I said to all three "Jump off that cliff" (not that you ever would). Hebe would dash to the edge and hurl herself over perhaps even with a "geronimo". Maia would trot to the edge look at the drop, look back at me and ask, "Are you sure?" and then step over the edge. Juno would walk to the edge look over and then say "You've got to be kidding, are you stupid? I'm not doing that" and back away.

I found her almost by accident. I was in the vet's with her predecessor Bracken having a heart check and ear clean out when a man came in with a lamb that was having an allergic reaction to something.  He left a card on the reception desk, I memorized the phone number and rang them when I got home, they were quite surprised to have an enquiry so quickly. The puppies were not quite two weeks old and had just opened their eyes but I was welcome to visit.  I went and was inspected by mum Rosie who then showed me her pups, six small black furry bundles.  I met dad Jack and talked for ages to breeder Ian about colour genetics, (Rosie was a chocolate show stock girl, Jack was a wiry jet black worker), how working stock was getting very lightweight, breeding for looks and temperament and then I met two year old Jess, a pup from their first litter who looked so like Bracken at a similar age I was sold. But Ian wouldn't let me put down a deposit there and then, he insisted I go away and think about - responsible breeder.  I went back a week later with my £25 deposit (I found the receipt the other night), I would have the pick and could collect her at eight weeks old.  Even on the way home she showed her character, sitting on my lap watching out of the window and inspecting the car, Maia snuggled in and wanted to be cuddled, Hebe wanted cuddling but also to look out of the window.
Juno learnt quickly, eventually knowing all her toys by name and would fetch each in turn, but if she didn't want to do something would skip off with a cock of the head, a glance over her shoulder and a twitch of the tail meaning you had to work harder to make the task or command all that bit more appealing so that next time she would do as asked.  She was a good worker but never took kindly to being 'handled' whilst retrieving and would go conveniently deaf to calls and whistles; it was only when she was struggling that she would look up and say "well, where is it then? give me a clue" before dashing off in the right direction to retrieve whatever was lost.
Bracken taught her to carry her lead and many people would comment on the dog trotting calmly at heal 'taking herself for a walk', waiting at the roadside for permission to cross and looking up and gently nudging my hand for permission to dash off after a good scent or just to get the bounce out of her legs.
Juno taught herself how to open the shower door and would step in asking for the itchiness from her grass allergy to be washed away from her tum and for her feet to be cleaned. She taught me to make sure the bathroom door was firmly closed otherwise I got black fur stuck to my legs and feet whilst my soggy labrador knocked over the shampoo bottle saying "what about me?".
Like all labradors she was incredibly patient especially with puppies - but not children, those were to be studiously ignored or avoided by a swift exit.  She brought up two other labradors, Maia and Hebe, and a wolfhound, Cara, the labs pulled her face and ears and Cara knocked her over in her enthusiasm.  I promised her no more puppies, this was one promise I had to break when we got Finnegan but she handed off training duties to Maia who took it all in her stride and even today she's the only one Finnegan really listens to.  Eventually when Finn became too big and boisterous and she got a bit fragile Juno moved from the dog house into the main house and had over a year of being pampered, the grand Duchess.
Boss, I really think my tennis ball tugger would look good next to those baubles.
She loved presents and adored Christmas, she had one Christmas as an only dog and helped us with the decorations and eventually the presents, watching us unwrap, waiting patiently until finally we got to hers then she ripped the paper off and hurtled about the house in great glee as only an over excited two year old lab can!  But for all her obvious enjoyment of unwrapping presents she never helped herself to the ones under the tree even when she knew (could smell) they were for her. We even left her with the tree and all its presents overnight this last year, nothing was touched.
ST makes a good chin rest and anti-snore device!
As a puppy she snored quite prodigiously so much so I took her to the vet for a check up to be told "you've just got a noisy puppy".  In the evenings we started lifting her chin to allow us to hear the television above her snores.  For all she was a noisy sleeper she didn't bark very often, it had to be something very important that made her bark, but she would grumble and grunt to be let out (or in), at tea time or simply to get your attention.  For all that she was loving and loyal she never liked to be smothered and would wriggle out of your grasp to sit just out of reach with a indignant expression on her face, the steady pressure of a resting head or leaning on your leg was more likely although head rubs and ear ruffling on her terms were fine but every morning I got a hug and even a head but reminder if I wasn't quite fast enough about it or was busy elsewhere.  Sometimes she would head stand, turning herself upside down as she slid down your legs asking for her tummy to be tickled and her chest stroked.
A typical greedy labrador she would eat everything you put in front her, she never stole off tables or tops but if it hit the floor it was fair game unless you could bellow "leave" faster than she could get her teeth around it. She loved fruit and would carefully pick tomatoes from the vine, strawberries and raspberries from the plant and nearly killed herself by eating several pounds of plums direct from the tree (after jumping the yard fence to get there) and blocking her gut with the stones. She also had a strange fondness for compost and soil plus all those unmentionable, green and smelly long dead things you find on a walk but it all seemed to generate a cast iron gut and she rarely had an upset stomach. The only thing she never liked was chicory which she would take from your hand bite and then forcibly spit out with such a look of disgust, everything else was edible even if not always entirely palatable.  When she started on her herb smoothies (which solved her skin problems and grass allergies) she soon got into the routine and if we were lingering over lunch or dinner would place a paw on your knee to remind you and then curl the foot so the claws dig in, if a paw didn't work (ie we carried on talking) a heavy chin would replace the paw with increasing downward pressure until your toes were tingling and finally she got her smoothie. We now have dry floors, Juno never lapped water she chewed it, bending her elbows so that she could lower her chin into the water dish or tipping the bucket to one side so that the water was at the right angle.  After drinking her fill she would walk away with a mouth full of water which she then allowed to drooble out across the floor, she could get from the water dish across the kitchen, through the hall and into the sitting room before the dripping finished and then she'd sit there with a sodden chin and water still dribbling down her neck to puddle on the carpet.  There's a large stain on the office kitchen carpet where she looked up from the bucket and streamed all over the floor.
A gold medal for reaching the grand age of 15
She was the first dog I actually chose, I found the litter and picked her.  We had 15 fantastic years together.

Now my queen of the heavens has crossed the Styx and I paid Charon's fee with my tears.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

It's not all doom and gloom

The garden might be a mess but under the shelter of bigger bushes my apothecary's rose Madame Hardy has managed to flower, the pure white glows in the darkness of the foliage.
Being protected so far her lovely petals remain unmarked by the rain, but for how much longer I wonder.

Fortunately Sweet Peas are more resilient, the first one opened on Tuesday, in the pouring the rain and today (before the, yes you've guessed it, rain) I cut the first bunch.  I really wish you could upload a smell file, the perfume is magnificent especially now they're warmer indoors.

I always grow several varieties to give a mixture of colours but all five of the first bunch are the darker maroon and pinks.  It looks like there are a couple of paler pink or cream (can't tell yet) which are almost ready to open but as yet no blues, I wonder if the weather has affected the timing of the flower production or maybe the darker flowered plants are simply stronger and better able to cope with the weather.  I suppose to tell we'd have to repeat the conditions and no one wants that.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

We're laying in supplies

Just seen the news that the last two days of the Great Yorkshire have been cancelled, not completely unexpected but what a shame, how are our local shows going to manage?
What a 'summer' we're having. Rain, rain and then just for a change deluge with added thunder. So with this in mind we're laying in supplies:

Hebe in front of our load of logs.
The wood shed never got built, maybe next year. But this little lot should keep us going for a month or two!  Of course with this sort of preparation it's going to be steamingly hot all 'winter'.  But just in case I think we'll check the price of oil and top up the tank, oh and add several more bags of coal to the coal house too, now anything else? (yes, 107 bags of Euk - OK Hebe.)

Friday, 6 July 2012

Another birthday

Juno's turn this time, on 23 June (I know we're a bit behind) she reached the grand age of 15 and in this olympic year was awarded a gold medal for such an achievement.
On one of the few dry sunny days!

Since then she's not been so well and has had to endure trips to the vet but with some new pills she's happy and waggy again and is currently snoring loud enough to rattle the windows. Yesterday she got an email from her favourite vet Katie (who was on holiday last week) to enquire how she's doing.  You don't get that from many vets!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

It's my Birthday

Well, it was last week.  I'm five now.  Look I got a badge an' everything, Bean found me a lovely pink ribbon.

Five years old - wow. That makes me a big girl, ready for school the Mother Bean says.  Not sure about that I work all day already so when would I fit it in?

I got lovely pressies too and both in my favourite colour.  One's an Okopus and the other is a Squirtle (well, that's what its label says).  I really don't which is better so they take turns.
Finnegan has tried to steal the Squirtle back but I've taken them beyond the gate so he can't - much, he does pick-mouth as I bring them back to show them off.

Wimbledon - already?

Well no actually.

Yes, that's Pimms, but look at the TV, not green lawn tennis courts but rugby posts.

First time we've been drinking Pimms during a match, well it was the final and it was the end of May but even so.  And no, we're not discussing the result.  Roll on September.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The further adventures of Finnegan the Foolish Hooligan

Shortly after his trip to see his favourite Vet the top from a milk bottle went missing, we had a suspicion that Finnegan had stolen it, as he's the only canine big enough to reach where it had been left; but the window of opportunity was small and it didn't really follow his usual modus operandi,  of taking his booty to munch into little bits on his dragon's den.  We watched him like a hawk for a few days - over a week really - and he was absolutely fine and no sign of the top.  So we began to think it must have been thrown away and we didn't realise, or it's down the back of cupboard or similar equally inconspicuous.
Then last week Hebe picked up a stomach bug from somewhere, the pungent aromas in the office on Friday afternoon necessitated having all the windows open even though it was raining heavens hard. Poor small black was quite out of sorts with herself, not helped by her Beans shouting at the men on the box chasing after the oval ball.  Being a labrador it didn't put her off her food or heading out for walks. But on Saturday night she threw up pretty much everything she'd eaten that day and the dog house was awash in the morning from her at one end and Finnegan at the other. No breakfast on Sunday for either and they were both feeling sorry for themselves with hot noses and warm ears and then by tea time with still no sign of food on the horizon they started grumbling about empty tummies. Hebe was fine on Monday if a little flat because of the shortage of food, brown bread and honey for breakfast cheered her up no end but Finnegan exploded all over the yard - nice! So he was on bread and honey and half rations, all was fine by Tuesday, slightly dodgy tum from hound but getting better - the pro-biotics and slippery elm left over from last year's adventures were working a treat.

And then...
Thursday night he threw up again and kindly left this:

 It's pretty much all there.  Such cheers and smiles over a small piece of blue plastic have probably not been seen before! And hope will not be again. 

Foolish Hound. 
Note to self, he can reach much further and is more sneaky than you think.

Footnote, Maia's got the bug now and is making the pungent smells, lovely...

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Pink bandage AND a trip to see the vet!

Apparently several miles of tape and bandage with dressings thrown in for good measure, not to mention half a tube of fusciderm are not sufficient when it comes to clobbered tails. We changed the dressings this morning and it wasn't looking -or smelling- too good. An hour of open air and more disinfectant scrub and anti-everything gel before a lighter, to let the air in, dressing which seemed ok. BUT twenty mins left unattended one Friday afternoon and Finnegan had not only ripped the dressing off but chewed an enormous hole in his tail gushing blood all over. I know a little blood goes a long way but this was more than a little and required a pressure bandage to make it stop. Mum was recalled from an afternoon "tea party" and off to Eastgate we went. Favourite vet Katie greeted him with a "what have you done now, Finn?" before clipping all the hair off the bottom half of his tail. Cleaned again, lathered in chamomile cream and more dressings, which unfortunately didn't last the journey home. With a bag full of 'shopping' and a few pounds lighter in the wallet we came home. Stupid hound is feeling sorry for himself, partly the trip to the vets, partly a bit on infection, partly the antibiotics and antinflamatory but also that he's still careering about like a crackpot and belting the great long appendage on doors, walls, chairs, people, tables - pretty much anything that happens to be vaguely within range.
A weekend of feeling sorry for himself and having his tail grabbed everytime it went anywhere near any hard (or even soft) surface / upright and it's looking loads better, a few hours of no dressing to let it dry out helped enormously too.  A check up on Tuesday and he gets signed off, we have another bag of 'shopping' to keep him wrapped up until it's healed.
Nearly two weeks later and he's bandage free.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The answer is? Lots and lots of bandage

Remember the question? How to bandage the bottom third of a nearly 3 foot long tail.
Like this:

First cut your dressing to size and in pieces so it will flex with the tail, next tape it in place with several metres of microtape. then cover it all with multiple layers of vetwrap.  As you can see it's Hebe's favourite colour - PINK!  It was the threat when the tail licking was going on, "if you don't stop, I'll wrap in in a pink bandage!"  Well the threats didn't work but so far the bandage is.  I'm amazed that it's not been wagged off or ripped off or battered off against cupboards, tails or people. Although some of the tape is coming off, but that's easy enough to replace.
The addition of the dressing has made an already painful weapon into an offensive one!  Everyone has bruises of varying degrees and differing locations  - all except Finnegan who is oblivious to it all.  It's wound check and redress tomorrow morning; fingers crossed it's healing well under there but regardless of the mendedness it's staying covered until it's skinned over again.  Remembering the hock injury this could take a while.  The spare bandage is violent cat sick green, not sure if that's preferable to day-glo pink.  I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.  But not too soon please Finn.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

And Custard cried for a nice safe cage

Whilst all Hebe wanted was to get out.

Last week Finnegan clobbered his tail on a table causing a small fissure.  Unfortunately as he's in the middle of his 'spring rash' pyoderma phase it became very itchy and he nibbled it from a small nick to larger wound.  On Thursday red splashes were seen in the hall prompting investigation and the raw patch was discovered, cleaned up and treated with fuciderm gel.  He carried on nibbling, under cover of paw and out of sight, increasing the raw patch. Cries of "Finnegan, leave", and "Finn, no" were heard for days on end and the tail began to dry up. But then mysteriously the patch began getting bigger and red again, the girls sniffed it and Hebe thought about having a lick, Finn didn't seem in the least bit bothered, but then he's not as green as he's Irish looking. Monday morning and it's red raw dripping blood and looking like fresh steak.  The suspicion fell on Hebe.  So the puppy cage (wolfhound sized puppy I hasten to add) was hauled out of storage and erected in the dog house.  Hebe was very happy to hop in and out having slept in it for months as a puppy and then again when Finnegan was too big for it but not big enough to share the dog house sensibly without wreaking havoc.  Bedtime came and Hebe hoped in, she looked a little worried when Maia didn't join her and then more than a little worried when the door was closed but her bedtime bonio distracted her.  Tuesday morning and Hebe was a liberated prisoner having been in solitary confinement all night what joy unconfined (at last).  Finnegan's tail? Red raw again.  Hebe has been exonerated and now we have to find a way to bandage the bottom third of a nearly 3 foot long tail.  Elizabethan collars don't work on long nosed, long tailed wolfhounds.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Finnegan's revenge

OK, if you've stolen my birthday triangle, I'm having your Christmas penguin.

I guess that's fair so Hebe don't look so mournful. And anyway, I'm sure you'll filtch it back again soon enough.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Finnegan is two.

Happy Birthday to my bestest mate says Hebe.
This is what I bought him

I quite like too. And following the Labrador Property Laws it's MINE too.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Wet stuff, nice for plodging in.  I wish I could do this:

But I fell in the pond when I was very, very little (about 4 weeks old, Bean says) and now I'm not that keen if I can't have a foot on the ground.  Stop sniggering at the back, I know I'm a labrador and I'll plodge and plowter all day and love to cover you all in wet, green, partially solid wet stuff.  But, well, you can't help it can you? things that happen to you when you're a puppy scar you for life, same with fireworks. Oh well. Maybe one day, in the mean time I'll just keep on losing things at the bottom of ditches.

(more underwater dogs on The Guardian website)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Oh, Finnegan, you would choose today

The mercury dropped to almost -10 last night and, so far at least, hasn't got above -1. So, this morning Finnegan decided it would be the perfect day to wash teh dog house and back steps by standing in and then when he relaised it was a little chilly kicking over the neraly full water bucket. Half a gallon or more of water flowed, slowed and then stopped, sticking to the steps. eer helpful Mum brushed and mopped the water out of teh dog house and off the side of the back step - to deal with alter - dropping a towel on the top of the big puddle, overflowing and dripping down the steps onto the yard. Five minutes the towel is frozen solid to the step, the dog house is a skating runk and Finnegan tried a double salko onto the yard. Canines confined to the kitchen and armed with multiple towels, half a bag of rock salt, a couple of brushes and woolly gloves we tackled the rink. It took nearly half an hour to make it safe to exit the building even if the rink still had edges!

(Should have been posted on Saturday but the 'wonderful' ipad app refuses to work - technolcy ain't it wonderful? Ho hum.)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

One of those days

it's been one of those weeks but today particularly.  Nothing simple or straightforward, everything needing extra attention and now Maia has just walked into a hot poker (straight out of Pig's embers) and sizzled her nose!  No yelp so not too bad, just another grey mark, poor girl.