Walking the Dog





It has been a couple of months since our Boxer (see above) was put on enforced rest to heal a sprained knee.  The other knee was reconstructed two years ago after he blew his ACL  (he wasn´t playing football or skiing) and so the good leg has taken a lot of the strain of being an extremely boisterous 40 kg block of muscle.   Now we are into rehabilitation.  ¨Go gently¨, said the vet, ¨and try and keep him calm”.  What a completely pointless piece of advice.  We left the house at a flat gallop with me fluttering behind like a flag on the end of a rope. and tugging uselessly on the lead.

Normally Diesel is fairly well behaved with only the occasional bark at other dogs who have the temerity to look his way, and he accepts the lead with good grace.  Today, the delight of being able to lift his leg against his favourite trees was too much for him and he rushed down the road making yipping noises of high excitement.  It was therefore unfortunate that his nemesis ¨The Golden Retriever¨ was coming up the road in the opposite direction.  I had taken the precaution of taking a heavy duty lead (his old one snapped the other day in a cafe when he was approached by an over friendly German Shepherd)  and I felt fairly confident that I could drag him past his arch enemy and on to the park.  Big mistake.

We both realised at the same moment that he was stronger than I was.  To avoid a noisy confrontation,  I attempted the age old trick of running quickly twice round the nearest lamp post so that the lead would be wrapped around a solid anchor and the offending dog could saunter past undisturbed.  Unfortunately, for the first time ever, Diesel kept up, trotting nimbly beside me, so after two revolutions of the post I was extremely dizzy and he was all set to tell the Retriever exactly what he thought of him.  As luck would have it, at that moment a squirrel shot out of the hedge in front of us and bounded past the Golden Retriever and down the road.   Both dog’s eyes bulged with excitement  (think ¨UP¨) and the mortal ememies set off in hot pursuit, with me and the Retriever’s owner (an extremely small elderly woman)  being towed along behind.  Fairly quickly my lead broke again but the elderly lady wasn’t so lucky and was dragged up the hill shrieking.

As we all careered up the road, the dogs had obviously decided to put their differences aside in pursuit of the squirrel. Luckily, after about 50 metres it evaded them by darting into the garden of an imposing house.  The two dogs ground to a halt and grinned at each other with tongues lolling and tails wagging and seemed completely indifferent to my telling off or the old ladies expletives.

In the end we all parted amicably. Diesel got his walk in the park and his knee seems completely recovered inspite of the squirrel chase.  Tomorrow I might drive him straight there.


Roast chicken anyone?

backyard hens


There is consternation at the hen coop.  For the fifth day in a row there are only two eggs waiting for me instead of the normal three or four.  My four “ladies” aka  Mustard, Mrs Potsdam, the Gingernut Ranger and Bustle all avoid eye contact and studiously look the other way when I enquire which one of them has stopped laying.

It seemed a great idea at the time when Teenage Son declared that we “absolutely have to get some chickens”.  I had visions of majestic free range hens wafting around the garden and fresh eggs for breakfast, and to be fair, the first two years were idyllic.  There is nothing quite like going and collecting the eggs in the morning and then having them for breakfast.  Not to mention the taste, they are delicious and shop bought eggs are now met with derision and scorn in our household.

Every night the chickens are shut in their hen house and are not allowed out until there are at least three eggs in the nesting boxes.  (We discovered quite quickly that if we let them out early they would lay their eggs all over the garden and then our delightful dog would find them, eat the addled contents  and throw up while we were watching Strictly).  They are then let out to peck peacefully on the lawn and in the flowerbeds.

But recently, in addition to not producing enough eggs, our ladies have become slightly delinquent.  They have taken to hopping up onto the large terracotta pots by our front door and scratching violently looking for tasty titbits and at the same time uprooting all the petunias and leaving them shrivelled on the ground or festooned on the nearby rose bushes.  The petunias have already been replaced twice  but I can never catch the culprits in the act, although there was a fairly startling moment when I returned home and found three of the four hens actually sitting in the pots like an advertisement for kitsch garden ornaments.

So, productivity is down and delinquency is up.  Husband had a quick look on Google to look for solutions to low egg yields but all suggestions come down to the same thing eventually. ” Eat the culprit”.  This is of course impossible as our ladies are now part of the family, so I have resigned myself longterm to owning four ornamental hens, setting up a standing order with the garden centre and buying my free range eggs at Waitrose.