Category Archives: Puptales

From a dog’s point of view

A Tale of Tails…

What is this thing on my head?

What is this thing on my head?

Flossie here, I thought I had seen the last of this contraption when I was a mere one-year-old pup! The Boss surely threw it away long ago. Hence, I felt quite safe when we went into the Vet’s waiting room, ready to have my tail looked at.
A sore had appeared and despite my numerous lengthy licks, it had not got any better. I am sure it bothered the Boss more than it bothered me but I went along with her plans to have the Vet look at it anyway. I find it best to humour her.
I got into the car without any trouble. I got out of the car. I saw the door to the Vet’s and something inside me flipped.
I began to walk backwards. Maybe this was not such a good idea after all.
The Boss did not seem to get the hint. She pulled the old trick of promising me a treat and in through the door I went.
Inside, it was not too bad. As long as I could stand near the escape route, I felt fine. There was an old black Labrador lolling on the floor and something in a basket in the area the Boss says is for cats. The lady behind the desk knew me straight away and greeted me in excitement. I was only trying to say hello, matching her excitement with mine. Why did the Boss haul me back? I could have made it up and over the counter, no trouble.
The Boss seemed a little flustered and sat down on a bench. I deemed it best to stay close to her. However, she appeared not to want me on her lap.
After what seemed an age, the nice lady Vet came out and called me into her surgery.
Now, you can’t blame me for being a little cautious can you? Memories stick. Was I going to get drops in my nose? (The Boss swore she would not go through that again – although I thought it entirely reasonable of me to put up a fight. I was a little surprised when we found ourselves in a heap in the corner with the Vet straightening up and admitting defeat.)
Or were they going to try and look in my ears? I had to be sedated for that not so long ago. Well, who wouldn’t be worried if some great, green coated Vet, however kindly, suddenly lifted one ear which was incredibly painful and proceeded to stick something into it?
I waited, a tad nervously, while the Boss related some story about how I had been licking beneath my tail and how it had developed into a sore that would not heal. The Vet lifted my tail slightly but I was too quick and twisted round, my head slipping out of the Halti, and backed myself into the corner.
“I think we’ll have to sedate her again to have a proper look,” The Vet decided, “bring her back tomorrow morning at 8.30am. Off you go now Flossie.”
I didn’t need telling twice. How was I to know that the Boss was not quite ready for an exit? I have to admit, I didn’t know she was so strong.
By the time we finally left, on her terms, I was quite panic stricken of course. I didn’t even consider that I was to come back tomorrow.
I jumped in the car and hoped they would forget all about it by morning. The Boss is always forgetting things. Why not this?
Alas, it was not to be.
Well, maybe she did forget because it was her friend who actually dropped me off at the surgery. That’s what confused me, I did not suspect her friend could be so mean.
This time, I was whisked out to the back and manhandled into a cage. It’s true that my entry would have been a little less traumatic, had I not planted all four feet firmly on the ground and refused to budge, necessitating the Surgery nurse actually getting into the cage with me. I hoped for a tasty treat when I saw her there but no, it was not to be. “Nil by mouth,’ she said.
Apparently, I had a little sleep after that while they took a proper look at my tail. Woozy and wobbly, I was greeted by the boss herself when I woke up and taken home. They had found a lump and needed to operate. Operate? I was not prepared for that but worse was to come. After the op, I emerged with this thing on my head, stitches in my side (they had found yet another lump – both benign it seems) and my beautiful feathery tail was shorn. How shall I ever look my fellow Goldies in the eye again?
Mind you, the sympathy card can be played once more as I bang into doors and chase food around on the floor. Charlie is very wary of me and the little humans run for cover when they see me. (I upended a couple of the smaller ones with my cone, before anyone could stop me, earlier.) It was an accident of course, I only wanted to lick them.
I don’t know how long it will be before my poor tail is back to its glorious self but in the meantime, the lion look is quite fetching don’t you think?…

Not quite the tail I am used to...

Not quite the tail I am used to…


Filed under Living Between the Lines, Puptales

Biscuits and kind words …

The waiting room at the Veterinary surgery, is empty. Flossie and I cross the threshold together. Except we don’t. Flossie takes a backward step and I have to give her a gentle tug to coax her into the room.
She twists round on her lead and makes the whole procedure somewhat difficult but, we are in, eventually.
Why are we here? Simple really. If you have read A twist in the Tail, you will know that Flossie recently had a traumatic experience involving a hedge in which she got firmly entangled. Having emerged, apparently unscathed, it transpired that, unbeknown to us, she had sustained a scratch below her ear.
Charlie, being a caring chap, has been licking this scratch for her. I discovered this, this morning and it has now created a sore patch requiring the Vet’s timely intervention.
So, here we are, standing in the waiting room, waiting to see the vet.
“Take a seat,” smiles the receptionist. I cross the floor to the bench under the window but before I can sit down, Flossie has leapt up onto the leather seat, wet muddy paws and all, and is panting wildly at the window.
I haul her down and reprimand her. Can’t she read? The notice clearly states, no animals on the seats please. Flossie doesn’t think she is an animal of course. I take a tissue from my pocket and wipe the paw marks only to find that she has twisted round and leapt right back onto the seat. She is clearly worried.
Having cleaned the seat a second time, I decide to go and wait by the door. Flossie is happier here. She can see through the glass pane and into the street. Apparently, she is happy if she can see an escape route. This makes me wonder, briefly, if she suffers from claustrophobia. This would explain her sudden determination to get out of confined spaces.
I consider the notion but dismiss it. I think she just remembers previous visits to the vet and is anxious to be gone.
We are booked in for 9.50am. At 10 o’clock, we are called.
“Barker,” says an unfamiliar, soft Irish brogue.
I look up and smile, the very good-looking, young Irish Vet beckoning us, smiles.
“Barker?” he asks.
“Well, I am Mrs Barker, this is Flossie,” I explain. Common mistake.
He laughs and makes a fuss of Floss, who is so grateful to be moving, she fairly flies into the surgery.
She is not so happy to have her face looked at.
“Wet eczema,” proclaims kind, Irish vet, “I’ll just shave the area a little to make it easier to treat,”
You will, will you?
Flossie is thinking the same thing.
My mind, and possibly hers, flits back to the last time our usual Vet tried to give her the kennel cough vaccine which is given in the form of nasal drops. Without going into detail, let me say that the entire endeavour ended with me having Floss in a stranglehold in the corner of the room while the vet, squished in with us, tried to squirt the vaccine into her nose as Flossie manfully struggled backwards and careered across the room in a blind panic.
Our usual Vet declined to give her the vaccine this year.
I convey some of this experience to new, young and kindly, Irish Vet.
He nods and smiles and suggests I hold Flossie while he uses the clippers.
I tempt her with biscuits and kind words but she is wise to what’s going on and refuses to sit still. It is at times like this that I think Floss and I are a little mismatched, she so big and me so small.
The Vet steps back and scratches his head, metaphorically speaking.
“I think I’ll take her out of her comfort zone and into the back room. I find dogs are often better away from their owners when doing this kind of thing,” he decides.
I will try anything rather than end up, bruised and battered, in the corner again.
Floss disappears into the nether regions of the practice. I am left waiting. I can hear voices. I can hear laughter but I can’t hear the sound of the clippers buzzing. I wait. I wait some more.
I hear footsteps.
Nice young Irish Vet opens the rear door and pops his head round, his expression rueful, “Had to use the scissors,” he smiles, “just putting the ointment on…and giving her an antibiotic jab, won’t be long,”
He disappears. I wait.
“All done!” a very relieved Vet reappears, with Flossie, obediently following behind.
“If you need her to have the kennel cough vaccine in future, just bring her in and we’ll take her out the back and administer it there,” he says with confidence.
I am not quite as confident as he appears to be but I will be willing to try. I smile and thank him and we make our exit with far less fuss than we entered with.
Flossie, walking sedately along the path to the car, could well be planning her next escape, however, she’ll have a job, we have had the back garden re-fenced since her last attempt.
Watch this space…

All secure!

All secure!

New fencing

New fencing will scupper Flossie’s escape attempts!

A wry look at life


Filed under Puptales

A Twist in the Tail…

Flossie here. I have to say I am feeling a little embarrassed today. I’d really rather not tell you about my latest escapade at all but if I don’t, the Boss will and she is bound to make far more of it than she needs.
I suppose I should start with the current state of play, since the days of my cunning plan.
For the past few weeks, my freedom has been curtailed. Having blocked up as many holes as she supposed I could escape from, and in between bouts of pulling her hair out, The Boss has ordered new fencing and my outings into the garden have been limited. I am either accompanied by the Boss (give her her due, she is out there in all weathers with her wellies and raincoat) and allowed to have a romp with young Charlie or, should it be dark, taken out on my lead (the indignity of it) to have a wee.
This is not so bad as it sounds as the Boss is quite good company. She doesn’t seem to mind if I forget I am on the lead and suddenly lurch off in the direction of a new smell. She seems to follow quite quickly though she does curse a little. The lead is abandoned during daylight hours for some reason. The Boss is under the delusion that she can keep an eye on me and pre-empt any escape attempts.
On some occasions, the front gate is closed and we are shooed out there though it is not half as interesting as the back garden. Having seen that I have attempted to squeeze through the main hedge in the front garden more than once, the Boss has had the Boss Man strategically place a couple of heavy pallets to thwart my attempts.
This makeshift arrangement has worked for a while without mishap. It has worked too well for my liking. Every time I venture close to the hotchpotch of fencing in the lower garden, she yells at me to stop. I do of course. I am trained you know. However, the other day, I spotted a new hole in the hedge, higher up the garden, and the Boss, evidently not suspecting its existence, was busy elsewhere.
Seizing the opportunity, I wriggled through—oh the joy—the freedom—the sudden panic when I heard the Boss yell. I knew I shouldn’t have done it but try as I might I could not quite make myself go back just yet, just have a sniff here, a snuffle there…
I returned unscathed some few minutes later through the same hole and the Boss let me in the house with a frosty look. I knew I had done wrong.
Charlie of course, goody two shoes as ever, bounced around her ankles and preened under her praise for being a good boy.
That dog will get his comeuppance one day, I thought to myself, he will slip up and she’ll see him in his true colours.
So, back to the present.
I think my misdemeanour in the back garden the other day, influences the Boss’s decision to let me run round the front garden this morning. Charlie, ever ready to join in the fun, grabs his yellow ball and tears ahead of me. The Boss decides not to accompany us. She can see us from her desk and it is a bit chilly.
After a while, I think she has actually forgotten about us because otherwise, how am I able to find the time to inspect that pallet arrangement properly? If she was out there, I might never have known that yesterday’s gale force winds have apparently dislodged one. As it is, there is a gap through which I am sure I can squeeze, just give me a few moments to gather my strength.
The front hedge is particularly dense, I should explain. Had I known just how dense, I might never have embarked on this mode of escape. As things are, I think I can squeeze between those branches and I know the road is on the other side.
Charlie, abandoning his ball, has come to investigate. Thinking to follow me, he begins burrowing further down in the hedgerow and to my chagrin, gets to the other side in record time. I make a concerted effort. My head breaks through a tangle of branches only to encounter more of the same. My body strains against the wood and briar that seem to be pinning it to the spot. This is not so easy as I first supposed. I am about to give up and retreat when I realise — I am stuck.
Oh the indignity of it. I wriggle my shoulders. I attempt to shuffle backwards. My efforts are all to no avail. I am well and truly jammed. To make matters worse, I can hear the Boss calling me.
At this point, I realise the full scale of my predicament. Not only am I wedged firmly deep inside this prickly hedge, but neither can I be seen.
Well, this isn’t so bad, I suppose, who wants to be seen in such an embarrassing situation? I keep quiet and concentrate on wriggling forward again. It is then that the Boss begins staring at the hedge and calling,
“Charlie, is that you?”
No, of course it isn’t Charlie … old goody two shoes has legged it hasn’t he?
I realise I am making a bit of noise with all this scrabbling around. The trouble is, all the boss can apparently see of me is a flash of tail. She soon realises that it does not belong to Charlie of course but when she realises it is little ol’ me encased by all that shrubbery, she doesn’t know whether to laugh or shout at me. Despite her hastily smothered chuckle, I sense she is a little concerned,
“What are you doing in there?” she asks.
Well, what does she think I am doing? Isn’t it obvious? I hope one of her cohorts won’t saunter down the road in a minute, and bear witness to this travesty.
I can see The Boss but she plainly cannot see me very well. She goes round the hedge to the roadside and peers through the branches. There really is not much to see, except a tangle of wood and briar and if she looks very carefully, a rather sorry-looking golden retriever who has by now given up.

Flossie and Charlie under surveillance

Flossie and Charlie under surveillance

The Boss mutters something about there being no way I’ll be able to get out on the road side of the hedge. It is far too dense. (Tell me something I don’t know?)
She stands back and surveys the problem for a second before marching round to the garden side. I cannot see her now of course. She is at my rear end. She calls me. I suppose that is just in case I am pretending to be stuck.

Where am I?

Where am I?

I try to get a foothold so I can push myself backwards but it is no use. I am doomed. I envisage being trapped here forever. Oh, woe is me.
The Boss has other ideas. She pulls back a couple of the thickest and thorniest branches so that I can at least twist round a bit. She frees my head and shoulders. However, even half turned round I am still trapped. This hedge is a jail. The thick wooden stems are its bars.
The Boss assesses the situation for a short while before she grabs the nearest branches and tugs them back a little. With a satisfying crack, the one that was caught round my leg is gone. That’s all I need. As The Boss huffs and puffs and encourages me, I take a deep breath and manage to turn all the way round. She is almost in the hedge herself now. I push myself over the final hurdle. Only the pallet stands in my way now. With an almighty effort, the Boss wrenches it aside and I hurl myself out of the abyss and into daylight.

Where it all went wrong

Where it all went wrong

Thank you Boss! I am overcome with emotion.
The Boss is laughing until she sees the little yellow ball on the driveway. Where is Charlie?
It makes a change for Charlie to be the one who is missing. I trot into the house and begin cleaning the brambles from my coat. The Boss spends the next half an hour, hunting for Charlie, no longer a goody two shoes. He comes home eventually of course.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

What a twist in the tail indeed!


Filed under Living Between the Lines, Puptales

Flossie’s Cunning Plan

Dog tired

Dog tired

I have a secret.
You didn’t think dogs had secrets? Well, think again!

There is a hole in the fence. I can squeeze through that hole. Exciting eh? I’d tell you exactly where it is but it’s my secret you see. I use it when I feel like going a bit further afield than the back garden.
This morning, Charlie and I were let out to carry out our ablutions. Between you and me, I have decided that Charlie is a bit of a goody-two-shoes.
“Come here Charlie,” and he’s there.
“Leave, Charlie,” he leaves whatever it is he isn’t supposed to have.
I should stress that this has not stopped him from shredding the fabric on the Boss’s stool, chewing up a pair of old shoes left outside the back door, using a child’s plastic plate as a frisby, and committing other minor infringements. However, all things considered, he is pretty good.
Actually, goody two shoes stuff, does pose a bit of a problem for me and my secret. You see, every time I slip through the fence, Charlie goes whining to the Boss and reports me missing. Luckily, even Charlie doesn’t know exactly where I can fit through the fence. It is buried deep in the shrubbery. The Boss has yet to figure it out too.
Take this morning for instance. I swear I saw a deer. Naturally, I raced down the garden but when I got near, that deer had vanished. Standing there, surveying the landscape, I caught the trail of something else. Following it, I discovered that it led straight to my secret gap in the fence. So, I just had to go through it didn’t I?
I knew I’d not be very long. Five minutes at most. The Boss wouldn’t even miss me in that time. I slipped through the gap into the next garden and from there it was easy to slip into the next. Finding my way round to the front of the house, I was soon heading back up the road and arrived at my own front door just in time for someone to let me in.

It’s always best to look nonchalant and wag your tail on these occasions so I did just that and although their mouths hung open, no one said a word as I walked in. I think I got away with it. Charlie was beside himself of course. He had been trying to tell them I’d gone but they were all so busy getting ready for work or whatever it is these people do, he was ignored. Never mind Charlie.

I have learnt that one of the best ways to keep a secret, is to throw everyone off the scent.

After our morning walk in the woods – which included a few wallows in the stream and lots of racing through the bluebells which the Boss keeps photographing



(not sure why), we returned home. Goody-two-shoes, Charlie, was allowed to go straight into the garden without his lead. The Boss decided the twigs in my tail and the mud clinging to my underside, needed to be removed before she let me go.
Charlie waited patiently, as he does, while I was showered.
Finally, we were both allowed to head off into the garden. At this point, the Boss normally gives us a treat. Today she didn’t. Today, she decided to go and hunt for the secret gap in the fence instead.
“Where’s the hole Floss?” she asked as she scoured the perimeter. Did she really expect me to tell her? A secret is a secret after all.
Charlie darted in and out of the shrubbery like a lunatic as though he might find the hole for her. (I told you, a bit of a goody-goody). The Boss took this as a sign that the hole was somewhere in the vicinity and kept climbing through the bushes and exclaiming,
“No, surely you can’t get through this Floss?” as she pulled a piece of wire up or pushed a piece of wood into place. Of course I couldn’t get through that but like I said, throw them off the scent…
My cunning plan took route.
I casually wandered around the perimeter, Charlie at my heels. I’d nose my way a bit further into the shrubbery and scrabble at the ground a bit. The Boss would be behind me, shooing me away. Crawling into the smallest of spaces, she ignored the scratches and the things in her hair and tested the fence. I sensed she was frustrated.
I moved on to another section. She followed. She shooed me away. Charlie bounced around, a little perplexed.
“Can you jump over this?” she asked, eyeing a particularly dangerous looking collection of wood, fence and tree. I would have sniggered but I don’t think we dogs can snigger — not so you’d notice anyway. I moved on, she followed.
We did this several times until we reached a particularly bramble filled patch. I had to crawl into the gap, never mind the Boss. Once she was in there, I wriggled away (I am not telling you where, it’s a secret)
Charlie noticed and tried to warn the Boss but she was so caught up in the brambles, she couldn’t extract herself with speed. Charlie shivered and shook with frustration. Finally, the Boss emerged. I only heard about this afterwards of course because by this time I was exploring the neighbourhood gardens.
I could hear the Boss calling me and I could hear Charlie barking but neither had any idea how I had got through the fence. Mission accomplished!
I hadn’t intended going for long of course but there was a lot to to see and sniff so I might have been longer than five minutes.
Charlie and the Boss decided to wander up the road and were most surprised when I came tearing up behind them, grinning with excitement.
“Where have you been?” the Boss asked.
I’d tell her if I could but she wouldn’t understand. I let her clip a lead to my collar and we trotted home.
She thinks she heard a door open and shut just before I came racing up the road. She thinks I may have gone into someone’s house but I am not telling her. I mean, who’d want a strange, soaking wet, hairy dog running through their living room?

I am resting in the house now, looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth. I am also pretty tired after all that adventuring but at least my secret is safe.
No, no photos, please!

No Photos please

No Photos please


Filed under Puptales

Garden capers, dried sausage and deer

While I was pottering in the garden this morning, a family of Deer ran across the lawn in the garden that backs onto our own. Flossie went mad of course, barking and jumping at the railings. I didn’t take much notice apart from making a weak attempt at telling her to be quiet. I was far too busy picking up chewed up flowerpots and the mangled remains of footballs not to mention the stuffing from Charlie’s favourite stuffed toy that was strewn from one end of the garden to the other.
I didn’t become concerned until Charlie came running back up the garden, alone.
I scanned the horizon and was just in time to see Flossie, racing across our neighbour’s grass in hot pursuit of the deer, heedless of my frantic pleas to come back.
I could only be thankful that she had by-passed the pond on this occasion.
It was 9am. I had just returned from giving a friend a lift to the garage and had planned to take the dogs to woods. Well, they’d had that now, I grumbled.
Charlie whined and yelped at the fence. He didn’t follow her.

I decided not to panic (I had been here so many times before) but having shut Charlie in the house, I fetched lead, dried sausage treat and my coat (it was a tad cold out there) and walked up and down the road looking for Flossie who I had decided would probably go through someone else’s garden and end up in the road. I asked a couple of people along the way, if they’d seen her but no one had. Their little dogs became very interested in the sausage treat though.
It was time for Plan B.
Still clutching the dried sausage treat and feeling more than a little cold, I got in my car and drove round the block – there was a slim chance she’d have got through to the front of our neighbour’s garden and ended up on the main road.
There was no sign of her of course. Eventually, I admitted defeat and went home.

As I drove into the drive I thought I heard Poppy, the German Shepherd, from the garden adjacent to ours, barking, so I assumed Flossie might even be next door. I decided to go back into the garden to call her one more time. As I walked into the kitchen, who was standing at the back door, barking to be let in? Yes, Flossie of course.

She was so pleased to see me and so pleased with herself for having chased those deer away, what could I do but give her the dried sausage? Just to be fair, Charlie, now nicknamed, “The Grass,” got one as well.

At least she didn’t go swimming.


Filed under Puptales

A Step too Far

The trials and tribulations of Charlie Brown

The world is a strange and scary place for a pup sometimes. Charlie Brown is almost 6 months old … “a big dog in a small body” to paraphrase those who know the breed well.

Charlie Brown

Here I am!

In the house, he is indeed a pocket rocket, living up to his pedigree title. As we relax after a hard day’s work, he zips from room to room, ball in mouth, only stopping to attempt to tease Flossie into playing as he passes.

Charlie brown

Pause for breath…

Sometimes she obliges. Sometimes she ignores him.

Charlie and Flossie

Want to play?

Should I scold Charlie, Flossie is quick to distract him from whatever he has done to annoy me. She will find a toy and lure him away. Her mothering skills are amazing. In fact, Flossie has really come into her own since Charlie arrived. She is definitely the grown up.

Flossie and Charlie Brown

Under control Boss

There was a time when Charlie would not venture far into the garden on his own. Now, he scoots out the door and forages in the bushes for hours, if left. He barks at the dog next door, though Poppy is hidden from view. He barks at the neighbour’s children on the other side, though they too are just sounds behind a six-foot fence. I seem to spend my time calling,
“Charlie, quiet!” “Charlie, come here!”
He comes of course, tail wagging his body in excitement.

He is brilliant with all the grandchildren but does have a special playmate at the moment…

Playing cars

Arthur Bear and Charlie Brown playing cars

Yesterday, I heard a strange crunching coming from the living room. What had he got now? Generally very good, he sticks to chewing his toys but he is not without an opportunistic streak. The sound was very like that of shattering glass.
I left my computer and peered round the corner of the study into the living room. There he was, crunching a DVD – blue ray no less and my eldest son’s copy of “The Hobbit” that he had leant us a while ago. Shards of DVD lay all around and Charlie was happily munching on the remains.
I managed to retrieve the DVD but it was beyond repair. I pieced it together to find out which one it was and groaned. I have ordered a replacement.
Charlie was none the worse for his misdeed, thankfully, and turned his attentions to a child’s plastic watering can in the garden – with which he raced round and round the garden until he tired of that game too.

Today, I thought he was asleep in some far-flung corner of the house with Flossie. Then I heard a muted bark. I checked the living room. I checked the kitchen. I checked all the rooms downstairs and even the garden though I didn’t remember letting him out. Flossie was lying at the foot of the stairs – alone.
I looked up. There was Charlie, peering round the bannisters. This was the first time he had discovered upstairs. Alas, it was evident that having discovered how to get up the stairs, he was unable to come down again.
I carried him down.
He did this twice more and each time had to be carried down. Perhaps it would put him off I thought.
I underestimated him. I have just spotted him on the landing and as I took this photo…

Charlie Brown

That looks steep…

…he legged it down the stairs.
Charlie Brown

Watch out – coming down!

Maybe it is time to put the stair gate up…


Filed under Living Between the Lines, Puptales, Uncategorized

If you go down to the woods today…

If you go down to the woods today,
You are sure of a big surprise,
Flossie and Doris have gone for a swim,
You wont believe your eyes!

Flossie here after quite a gap in posts I must say. The Boss tends to keep me away from the computer when she is writing a lot and she has been writing a lot it seems. You’d think there’d be another book or two completed by now but judging by the groans coming from her, she still has a way to go. As far as I can see she is spending a lot of time reading too. A while ago two big boxes of books arrived and she has been drooling over them ever since.

Well, that’s enough about the Boss – I have far more important things to tell you. For one thing, Doris has been staying with us for the week. It seems her people were away on holiday – something the Boss is far too fond of doing too I might add.

With Doris here things should have been fun but the searing heat has prevented me from being quite as lively as I might have been. “Searing?” you ask, “Really?” Yes, my thick coat insulates me from some of it but after a while, I just long for a dip in cool waters. A dip in the sea would be nice but the Boss’s daughter hasn’t taken me there since I was a pup – here is a picture of my last remembered trip – cute wasn’t I?

Flossie - Sitting on a sand dune

The windswept look is so very ‘now’ – Photo courtesy of Rhys McCarthy

I keep eyeing our neighbours’ pond with longing. Time was when I could pop through the chestnut fencing and take a swim but not now. The Boss had her son make some railings. She said it was to keep the grandchildren safe but I think it was to keep me out. Mind you, she did get rather embarrassed every time her neighbour led me home, dripping wet.
Looking at the pond with longing...

Looking at the pond with longing…

There was also the time I upset my trainer…
Do you know the tale? Oh dear me, it was a while ago, I was a mere pup and the Boss decided I was in need of some one on one training. She hired a nice young man called Kevin.
What the Boss hoped to achieve, I am not sure but Kevin had all sorts of good ideas. He stopped me jumping at everyone I saw it is true. He made sure I could walk on a lead without too much pulling. Then the Boss asked if he could teach me to come when called. Now, I already came when called if I wanted to. The Boss wanted me to come to her even when I had heard her call but didn’t want to and asked her to wait a minute while I raced one more time round the common or investigated that smelly stone…I think the training was more for the Boss than me to be honest. Having raised one obedient and saintly dog called Keano, she was at a loss to know what to do with me at times.
So, Kevin instructed her to throw a ball half way down the garden and then call me.
She threw, I caught, she called, I came running. This was easy.
“Now throw it a bit further,” he urged.
The Boss hurled the ball towards the slope that leads down to the end of the garden. I caught it, she called and I returned. Simple!
“Now throw it right down to the bottom of the garden,” Kevin told her.
The Boss protested a little, she was not sure about this one I could tell but she did it. She threw the ball. It rolled down the slope to the very edge of the garden. I put my nose down, I sniffed – I was hot now, I’d been running up and down that slope hadn’t I? I deserved to get cool. I could smell water. I nosed my way round the garden, oblivious to the Boss’s calls now. Water is all I thought about. I found a gap in the hedge and wriggled through.
“Oh no!” The Boss groaned.
“Where’s she gone?” that was Kevin.
“She’ll be heading for the pond,” the Boss sighed.
“Really? I’ll get her, I feel responsible,” Kevin said.
With that (so I heard the Boss tell the Dave man later) Kevin squeezed through a gap in the hedge and began crossing the other two gardens to get to the one with the pond. Meanwhile, I was having a wonderful time swimming up and down the pond, frightening the ducks no doubt but so cool, so delightfully cool!
“Flossie, come here,” it was Kevin.
Really? Are you serious? Can’t you see I am having a good time? There was something about him that made me swim slowly towards him. It might have been the smell of chicken he was waving in the air. When I reached him, he grabbed my collar. I munched on the chicken, well I swallowed it in one actually and was about to return to the pond when I realised he did not intend to let go.
“Could you get a lead?” Kevin called.
The Boss disappeared from view, up the slope, up the garden and into the house, returning a short time later with my lead which she handed to Kevin across the fence.
“I’ll walk her back,” Kevin said.
The trouble was, Kevin didn’t know which gaps he had come through and going back was much tougher. He finally staggered back, torn and scarred by brambles, to emerge somewhere along the hedgerow. I had managed to jump the brambles and emerged unscathed, save for a few thorns in my coat. I was so pleased to see the Boss, I shook myself until you’d have thought it was raining. The Boss and Kevin stood there, one now soaking wet, the other bruised and bleeding.
“I think we’ll finish there for today.” Kevin decided, adding as he left, “We’ll have next week’s lesson on the common.”
The railing went up soon afterwards come to think of it.

With the pond no longer attainable, you can imagine my delight when the Boss announced she was taking both of us to the woods. I instructed Doris to be on her best behaviour beforehand – no use getting the Boss irate and causing her to cancel the trip.
Doris was just Doris of course, patient and obedient. How does she do it? I tried, I really did.
I lay at the foot of the stairs trying to look invisible. I saw the Boss come downstairs wearing her ‘going to the woods’ clothes. These are her ordinary clothes (she doesn’t try to camouflage herself) but her shoes are closed in and lace up at the front and she tends not to wear white trousers (don’t ask me why unless it is because little dogs tend to jump at her (they all like the Boss) and leave their little paw prints behind. The clothes she wears for the woods, have a distinct smell that only I can detect. I caught the scent as she stepped over my considerable frame. I felt my tail begin to thump on the wooden floor.
“Wait,” said the Boss. What did she think I was doing? Doris was snuffling and grunting in the living room.
I followed the Boss to the kitchen, keeping a respectful distance but somehow, I kept bumping into her legs and treading on her toes. I don’t know how this happened. I really was trying to keep my distance.
I heard the rattle of the lead as she lifted it from its hook. I almost swallowed my tail at that. Oh yes, I didn’t mention it was now in my mouth did I?
Doris had wandered in and was waiting with annoying patience. I tried harder. I let my tail go but an enormous whine came out of my mouth – oops! I sat down. I stood up. I spun round. The Boss was clipping Doris’s lead to her collar. She was turning to me. I summoned every last drop of willpower and sat in front of her trying not to move as she felt for my collar and clipped the lead in place. I had to lick her hand though as it hovered by my head didn’t I?
There, we were ready.

Fast forward to the woods:

The thing about the woods is that at almost every turn there is something new to explore. Doris tries to keep up with me but normally has to give up. I was not so interested in exploring today though, I was looking forward to a cool swim in the stream. Doris was happy to amble along beside me, sniffing and snuffling her way round. The Boss reckons that anyone hearing Doris could be forgiven for thinking there was a wild Boar on the loose. Failing that, they may have thought the Boss had a bit of a problem.

The first stream was completely dried up, the second, damp with mud. (The Boss didn’t like me walking through that glutinous sludge and was even less impressed when Doris followed suit.)
The third stream actually held water. In fact, it had enough water to allow me a really good wallow. Even Doris, gasping by now, joined me. Here we are, enjoying the cool, clear water — I think even the Boss was a little jealous, judging by the redness of her face as she trudged on.

Flossie keeping cool

Wallowing in the water

Doris in the water

Keeping cool


Back home, it became apparent that the water had not been quite as clear as it appeared but we both stood patiently while the Boss hosed us down and applied the baby shampoo she keeps on the windowsill. I haven’t seen her showering any babies out here but it works for us.

We had another trip to the woods in the week but then the Boss decided Doris couldn’t cope with such a long walk in the heat. As temperatures soared, Doris snorted and wheezed more and we relaxed beneath the shade of the pear tree. This has an advantage. I can sneak the odd fallen pear (a little crunchy I admit) as I lie there, without the Boss noticing. The tummy ache afterwards is worth it.
Doris has gone home now and the weather is a little cooler.
I am waiting for the Boss to suggest another trip to the woods but she seems to be otherwise engaged with one of the smaller humans who comes to stay from time to time. He doesn’t need a lead and he can’t run down the garden with me like Doris. He is good fun though and with him come plenty of scraps if I am observant. Talking of which, I must go now because it is time to take up my place by the feeding chair and accept whatever the little chap cares to throw at me – well, a dog has to help out doesn’t she?

That’s all for now,

Flossie 🙂


Filed under Puptales

A letter from Flossie

Dear Boss,


Here is my lead and here is your coat…is there a problem?

I know you have been busy of late and our woodland walks have been either rather rushed or have failed to materialise at all. Don’t worry, I have taken matters into my own hands. I know you have four small grandsons, two of whom, have needed you more than ever for the past few days. I know that your days have been topsy turvey as your youngest daughter goes back to full time work and there is one crisis after another in her life. Yes, I did hear about the powercut at nursery, the three year old being violently sick in the night and then his mum going down with something akin to the flu and being unable to get out of bed. (All this in the first week of a new job with a husband who has had to be absent for the entire time due to work.) I heard the three year old jumping up and down on the front doorstep and waving to a plane this morning, calling out,
“Hello Daddy!”
That’s when I took matters into my own hands and took myself for a run up the road. It was easy to get past the three year old and the gate was wide open, what can I say? Ok, sorry you had to whistle and call so much and that I barked in someone else’s garden. So, that piece of land belongs to someone else does it? Fancy that—I was so sure it was mine.
Yes, I know you have been doing the nursery run and I know I made you later than planned. I also know you have been enjoying cuddles and stories with the little people and have been sitting on the floor a lot surrounded by jigsaws and Happyland people. I know how much you love those cute little bundles of rusk, milk and orange squash. (The spillages will come out of the carpet I am sure so don’t worry by the way. I have given it all a good lick.)
When all four little grandsons were here, the best thing for me to do was lie low. Doris and I agreed our strategy. Crawl under the highchair, (easy pickings) and wait for food to fall into our mouths.
The almost 6-month old doesn’t drop a lot; he likes his food too much. The almost one-year old is more obliging and the fare is more varied.
The two-year old hates to be messy but doesn’t like it when I try to lick him clean. I know he will be three very soon of course. I heard him telling you yesterday,
“Grandma,” he said, “I will be three on my next birthday. My birthday is in Apricot,”
(A very fruity way of looking at the months of the year I think.)
Well, with all this going on, it seems to me that I have been a tad neglected. Far be it from me to complain. I have been fed, I have been walked round the block with the babies and I have seen quite a bit of Doris. It has not all been bad. I do miss the woods though, it’s been over a week since I was last allowed to run freely through the trees. So, come on now Boss, the house is empty…here is my lead and there is your coat…

What’s stopping you?


Filed under Puptales

The Reluctant Top Dog



Flossie – 3yrs

Hello, Flossie here,

I am very sad to report that I have lost my dear old friend Keano. Ol’ Keans, who had slowed to a virtual stop in the last few weeks, has left us. The Boss is sad, the Boss’s family is sad but they all agree, he had a very good life. Unlike other dogs we have known, he did not require an operation or drugs or round-the-clock care. He simple ate his dinner, walked into the garden and collapsed. Very tidy! (Trust Keano to make sure he ate first).

The Vet confirmed his heart had given out and helped him slip away without pain.

This event occurred the night before the annual Barker BBQ which was difficult I imagine, for the family. This annual party had been planned for months, a live band had been booked and the garden was set up with tables and marquee. What could they do but go ahead?

The Boss says it took the edge of the sadness because some of our guests brought their dogs, including Doris, and I made some new friends, not least, Jerry and Maisie, a Springer Spaniel (hence the name) and a Labradoodle. I confess that for the next few hours I did not really notice that Keano was not around.

Things changed the next day. The Boss sighed a lot and I noticed Keano’s bed had been removed – ouch! That did confuse me. That’s when it hit me, I was now, top-dog. All those responsibilities that Ol’ Keans took upon himself, are now mine.

The Boss has read that sometimes, the personality of the dog left behind, blossoms. I think she is waiting for something to happen but honestly, I feel just the same as before.

The house is very quiet. Ol’ Keans had a tendency to bark at everyone and everything coming with spitting distance of the house. The Boss was always alerted to the paper landing on the mat or the postman calling or someone knocking at the door…now these events happen in silence. I know they are waiting for me to step up to the mark and bark but it just isn’t my style.

I bark when I want something, to go outside for instance, at the dog next door when she is in her garden but why bark at the paper? Why bark at someone knocking at the door? I just don’t get it. I always thought Ol’ Keano went over the top. In latter years, he has barked at the family when they arrive which they put down to failing eyesight.

So, the family are waiting for me to transform into something of a guard dog. Do I look like one? They’ll have a long wait! Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to fill Keano’s shoes and keep the family together but I am really hoping they don’t expect too much…

Keano not keen on sharing his bed with me when I was a pup!

Keano not keen on sharing his bed with me when I was a pup!

Me and my friend

Me and my friend…


Filed under Puptales

Impressing the boys

Flossie here.



It’s been an exciting couple of weeks. First, little Doris (now not quite so little) came to stay for the night. Doris and I are still best pals and although she can’t run as fast as me, or corner very well, we get along like a house on fire.

Alas, Doris was only here for the night. Last month, she stayed for a week and I quite thought she had moved in. Doris does get special privileges when she is here. Apparently, she is so well behaved on the lead that the little human, William, can take her for a walk! There is a video to prove it, if only the Boss could embed it here. A screenshot will have to suffice.

William and Doris

William (aged 21/2 yrs) and Doris the English Bulldog out for a walk

William and Doris

William and Doris at the swings

The Boss declared that there is no way I would be as well-behaved as Doris (I thought this a little unfair at first but on reflection, as I careered past a group of children, standing on the bank of the stream in the woods the other day, I did concede that maybe she has a point).

A few days ago we had another visitor. Theo came to stay! Theo hasn’t been to stay for ages, not since I was quite a young pup. The last time he was here I recall Keano getting a little grumpy with him but this time, Ol’ Keans seemed more relaxed. The Boss thinks this may be because, 1) both dogs are older and 2) Theo has been ‘done’. I do not know what this means but it sounds pretty final.


What is that yellow dog doing?

I was very excited to see an extremely large, Old English Sheepdog arrive, I can tell you. I imagined lots of fun and frolics in the garden and prepared my well rehearsed welcome. I wagged my tail until I thought it might drop off and spun in circles. Theo just stared at me. Never mind, I would wait until he was settled and then invite him for a game.

Theo did the usual thing of sniffing round everywhere to re-acquaint himself with the layout of the house. This done, he found a cool spot on the floor and lay down. Well, you’d think I’d have more effect on him than that.

Not one to give up, I bided my time until he had eaten, been outside and had settled in for the evening with the Boss and the family. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. He lay there for some considerable time. Surely he’d want to play in a minute?

Flossie and Theo

Want to play?

Aha! Suddenly, my luck was in or so I thought. Theo began rolling around on the carpet and grunting as he twisted and turned on his back. I was ready. I scampered up to him—he ignored me.

I turned in circles—he ignored me.


Watch me spin round!

I made a few playful lunges—he ignored me. What was a girl to do to get this fellow’s attention? I did what every girl dog would do. I put my head down and my rump up in the air and did that swivel thing on my neck. I was pushed up against the sofa as I made this manoeuver. Thus, the Boss clicked her camera and there I was, doing my best to make Theo look at me, upside down and, now I come to think of it, looking slightly ridiculous.

Upside down dog

Don’t you think this is cool?

The world looks different when one is upside down but there was no mistaking what happened next. Theo, stood up and casually walked away, leaving me hanging.

Oh-hang on!

Where’s he gone?

It turned out that Theo was only with us for a short while. The Boss has now taken him to his forever-home in Essex where he will live with the Boss’s sister in her new house. I would have given him one more chance to enjoy a game with me but I’m afraid, in the end, I had to give up.

What did I do wrong?


Filed under Puptales