Proud Pup

This young lady’s so proud of herself! This morning, she was up in time to catch in-the-act the burglar who visits us three times a week and steals the empty glass bottles we leave on our doorstep.

Young French Bulldog, standing, looking happy, tongue hanging out.

She did such a good job of scaring him off that he left us some milk and orange juice by way of apology.

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[Bloganuary] New Tricks

This post is part of my attempt at Bloganuary 2024.1 Today’s prompt is:

If you could make your pet understand one thing, what would it be?

The strangers who we keep inviting into our house do not want to steal your toys and do not need to be “seen off”.

A champagne-coloured French Bulldog looks up from behind a fence, in a hallway.
“Somebody’s at the door! I’d better bark to see them off!”

Lately, we’ve had a lot of strangers in the house: builders, plumbers, and electricians, all working on some significant building works.

And even though she’s got to be starting to recognise the same old folks coming and going, day-in and day-out, our little pup still goes completely mental every time the builders turn up, each morning.

Composite photo showing (a) a white house clad in scaffolding and (b) a workman looking up at a large square hole that's been cut in the ceiling of a bedroom.
It’s been… a little stressful and chaotic for us all, here. Every few days a new hole appears in the house, and a new set of curious buried problems emerges (why does this pipe go here? who thought it was  good idea to wire these sockets like that?).

I get it. They come and go but don’t smell like they live here. They make a lot of noise and dust. But seriously, dog: these people aren’t going to bring us any harm2. Just chill out already!

Today we’re having one of the biggest bits of work done: the removal of the ceiling in the main hallway and the installation of a new staircase. So the dog’s spending the day… elsewhere! We’ve sent her off to play with her little doggy friends at our dogsitter’s house. It’s probably for the best.

Footnotes

1 Also, this is now my second-longest daily-streak of blogging ever. C-c-c-combo continues!

2 Some days they don’t come through the front door at all, but up the scaffolding and in through the roof: she knows they’re here from the banging sounds but not from which direction they’ll approach, and she’ll sometimes gather all of her toys into a pile and guard them… y’know, in case they’ve come here to steal all her most-valuable well-chewed playthings.

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Dog; Person

This blog post is also available as a video. Would you prefer to watch/listen to me tell you about not being a “dog person”, but still loving one dog in particular?

I am not a “dog person”. I’m probably more of a “cat person”.

The Diamond Dogs, from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic season 1, episode 19. A cartoon image shows three humanoid doglike creatures with gem-encrusted collars and gemstones in their pockets. They're facing off-screen, to the right.
To clarify: when I say “dog person”, I don’t mean “anthropomorphic dog”, like those characters from that weird episode of FiM I talked about back in 2018.

My mum has made pets of one or both of dogs or cats for most of her life. She puts the difference between the two in a way that really resonates for me. To paraphrase her:

When you’re feeling down and you’ve had a shitty day and you just need to wallow in your despair for a little bit… a pet dog will try to cheer you up. It’ll jump up at you, bring you toys, suggest that you go for a walk, try to pull your focus away from your misery and bring a smile to your face. A cat, though, will just come and sit and be melancholy with you. Its demeanour just wordlessly says: “You’re feeling crap? Me too: I only slept 16 hours today. Let’s feel crap together.”

A calico cat on a red ledge against the white outside wall of a building, shadowed by leaves, stares into the camera with a grumpy half-closed-eyes look.
“I hate Mondays. Also any other day of the week with a ‘Y’ in it.”

So it surprised many when, earlier this year, our family was expanded with the addition of a puppy called Demmy. I guess we collectively figured that now we’d solved all the hard problems and the complexities of our work, volunteering, parenting, relationships, money etc. and our lives were completely simple, plain sailing, and stress-free, all of the time… that we now had the capacity to handle adding another tiny creature into our midst. Do you see the mistake in that logic? Maybe we should have, too.

Ruth, in the background, watches on as a French Bulldog puppy jumps up at her two children, a girl and a boy, in a wood-floored hallway.
The kids were, and continue to be, absolutely delighted, especially our eldest who’s been mad about dogs now for well over half her life.

It turns out that getting a puppy is a lot like having a toddler all over again. Your life adjusts around when they need to sleep, eat, and poop. You need to put time, effort, and thought into how to make and keep your house safe both for and from them. And, of course, they bring with them a black hole that eats disposable income.

A French Bulldog puppy sound asleep on a doormat.
Sure they’re cute when they’re asleep, but the rest of the time they’re probably destroying things, pooping, or both. #PuppyOrToddler?

They need to be supervised and entertained and educated (the latter of which may require some education yourself). They need to be socialised so they can interact nicely with others, learn the boundaries of their little world, and behave appropriately (even when they’re not on camera).

A crowd of humans and their dogs watches as Dan uses his finger to lead Demmy the dog through an agility course. She's mid-way through leaping over a yellow pole suspended between two mini traffic cones.
At the end of elementary “puppy school”, we tried some agility course obstacles. Jumps were a success, even for Demmy’s little legs, but she’d far rather hang out inside a tunnel than run through one.

Even as they grow, their impact is significant. You need to think more-deeply about how, when and where you travel, work out who’s responsible for ensuring they’re walked (or carried!) and fed (not eaten!) and watched. You’ve got to keep them safe and healthy and stimulated. Thankfully they’re not as tiring to play with as children, but as with kids, the level of effort required is hard to anticipate until you have one.

An 8-year-old girl in a flowery pink dress lies on her back in a meadow of long dry grass, laughing with her eyes closed. On her belly, Demmy lies, looking up towards the camera with her tongue hanging out.
Whether you’re a human pup or a canine pup, there’s fun to be had in leaping out of long grass to pounce one another.

But do you know what else they have in common with kids? You can’t help learning to love them.

It doesn’t matter what stupid thing they’re illicitly putting in their mouth, how many times you have to clean up after them, how frustrating it is that they can’t understand what you need from them in order to help them, or how much they whine about something that really isn’t that big a deal (again: #PuppyOrToddler?). It doesn’t even matter how much you’re “not a dog person”, whatever that means. They become part of your family, and you fall in love with them.

Under bright blue skies and in a green field, Dan and Demmy stare into the camera. Dan's flushed from the heat and wearing a purple-and-rainbow "WordPress Pride" t-shirt; Demmy's tongue hangs low and she's clearly panting.
Panting and too hot from a long run under the hot summer sun, but loving the opportunity to get out and enjoy the sights and smells of the world. #PuppyOrDan?

I’m not a “dog person”. But: while I ocassionally resent the trouble she causes, I still love our dog.

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Note #20304

After talking about impulse control, our “puppy school” OABT half-jokingly issued homework to photograph our dogs waiting patiently next to their initial, written in treats. #holdmybeer

Claire’s Birthday, and Preston

Well, Claire and I are in Preston. We travelled up here last night (after a few false starts, including getting to Mach before realising we’d left the Green Day tickets blu-tacked to the wall “so we don’t forget them” in Aber and having to turn back). Claire’s been made out to be a bookworm again, with a heap of new reading material to keep her occupied for the coming year.

Visited my mum’s house. My sisters are typically hilarious. They’ve got a new chicken (after the last ones were eaten by foxes) + chicks, and a new guinea pig (called Pork Chop, which I think is a fantastic name for a guinea pig), and the puppies have grown up so it’s complete mayhem of the excitable 3-month-old doggy variety. They’d decorated a cake for Claire’s birthday, which read “Happy Birfday [sic] Mini Melton” and had an (anatomically correct) picture of her, with an arrow and the word “You” pointing to it.

This evening, we’re off to see Feeder and R.E.M. at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground, which’ll be fab, and then tomorrow, we’re travelling down to Milton Keynes to see Green Day (& friends), then we’ll spend Sunday in London before returning to Aber. This puts Troma Night in the hands of those of you still in Aber. Bryn has a key to the flat, and I’ve changed my password on Duality to something you’ll be able to guess: to determine it, look at the large yellow sign in the kitchen – there is a mis-spelling on it, and there is a number on it. Type the mis-spelled word (in lowercase) as it appears on the sign, followed by the number. If you have any trouble, text me. And if somebody could record/download the Dr. Who episode (as Claire and I will miss it), that’d be great.

I mentioned to my family that the computer game that’s occupied me most of late is Microsoft Train Simulator. My dad seemed pleased, but the rest of my family seem to want to award me an anorak. Once she’d checked to see that I wasn’t joking, the dialogue with Becky went as follows:

Bex: Microsoft Train Simulator?
Dan: Yup.
Bex: Trains?
Dan: Uh-huh.
Bex: So… what? You plan train routes, manage finances, that kind of thing…
Dan: No, it’s not like Transport Tycoon. You drive trains.
Bex: You… drive trains.
Dan: Yeah; you drive different kinds of trains along real-world routes to a schedule.
Bex: So… do you like; earn money and you can buy better trains? Or unlock secret areas?
Dan: No.
Bex: Wh… bu… <disapproving silence>

Well; I’m guessing she won’t be wanting a copy, then.

Instructions On How To Clean Your Toilet

  1. Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.
  2. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.
  3. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. You may need to stand on the lid.
  4. The cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.
  5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a “power-wash and rinse”.
  6. Have someone open the front door of your home. Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.
  7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.
  8. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.
  9. Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean.

Sincerely,
The Dog