Thursday, October 26, 2006

Doing what he likes best

In the interests of being fair, I thought Wellington needed introducing.
He was one of 'The Magnificent Seven'; all-black puppies born around the corner from us, so he frequently gets to play with his mum and sister and assorted aunts and uncles kept by his breeder.
Since his arrival in the household last year, he has remodelled the kitchen, read every book in the bookshelf several times, (well, for what other possible reason could he have scattered them across the floor, ripping pages out in the process?) and chewed through the seat belt in a two-week- old car, to name but three of his crimes.
He has also totally endeared himself to us. At 35kg he still thinks he is a tiny puppy and can sit on our laps. As I write he is sound asleep, squeaking away to himself with his legs going nineteen to the dozen. We have managed to teach him to ignore squirrels and cats, both frequent visitors to the garden - but I'm hoping it's a pigeon he's dreaming about chasing off - perhaps he'll see what he can do about the ones that pulled up all our seedlings this summer- the plants that escaped the slugs, that is.
Wellington is under the impression that we are incapable of showering or bathing thoroughly and if he can, comes to supervise the process. There is nothing more disconcerting that having a cold, wet shower curtain pressed against you, when you least expect it.
He does have one particularly strange quirk, though: he is reluctant to bark, except when protecting the house from visitors, invited or not. As a pup, he kept us awake a lot at night, so despairing and exhausted, we bought a 'friendly' trainer - a bark-activated box, that sprays citronella across the dog's face. We think Sasha worked out that if she barked, he still got it in the face! Now though, he 'blows' for his food and if he wants to go out.
Dogs: not every one's cup of tea - but I'd be lost without mine.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Why 'Wellington's mum'?

Wellington is one of our two black labradors, a gangling adolescent, reminiscent of Harry Enfield's 'Kevin'. One word from me and,
Yawn 'Oh you're so booooring.'
Our love affair with black labs began several years ago when we adopted Sasha, the dog formerly known as Samantha. (I was teaching a very badly behaved Samantha at the time and couldn't bear to be reminded of her all evening as well). Just as we were talking about getting another dog we heard of a sixteen month-old lab who needed to be rehomed in a hurry as her former owners' relationship had broken down. Enchanted by her amber eyes and chenille ears we took her home. Their loss, our gain.
It was not all plain sailing. For 24 hours, she cried and I cried as I took her for several two-hour walks in the pouring rain, and wondered what we had done. With our sons still living at home there were three adult males plus me in the house and she was definitely not sure about men - she had been living with two ladies - but we coped, eventually, as she learned to take her place in the wolf pack, and became the gentle companion that we know and love.
She has a very obstinate streak in her, and we still have the occasional battle of wills over where she sits in my car: fastened in the back with the windows wide open and not on the front seat, as she had obviously been used to doing in the past.
Her toys have to have a rope attached to them to give us some sort of leverage in getting them out of her mouth - otherwise we have no chance. I've learnt to take a spare tennis ball with me when we go to the Rec. in case she takes a fancy to another dog's ball.
Like all labs she loves swimming and does so with an elegance that most otters would envy. What always amazes us though, is the way she can steer herself in a straight line towards a tennis ball thrown into a current. Can dogs do trigonometry?
Ten in November, she is prone to weight gain (but hey! who isn't) and is a bit grizzled around her muzzle, but she can still give young Wellington a run for his money. Just think, humans would be expecting their bus pass by now, but someone forgot to tell her about getting old.
Long may it last.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Now why did I think of this today?

I guess it was watching the Science Fair from Buck House on the news...

A teaching colleague was working with an 8-year-old slow learner and finding conversation quite hard going. In desperation, she cast around the classroom for something that would inspire, and, seeing a model of the Solar System hanging from the ceiling, asked her to
'Tell me what you know about Mars'
'Oi likes 'em,' came the reply.

...then there was the time when I had 9-year-old, who had been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, in my class (main stream). We actually had a very good relationship, although he did drive me round the bend at times. One day, I said
'Oh Chris (names have been changed to protect the innocent). Every time I ask you to do anything, you do the opposite. There's a name for it...'
'Oh yes' he said, looking me straight in the eye. 'Slow torture.'
Suffice it to say, my TAs and I spent some time trying to control our laughter.

Monday, October 23, 2006

... and I am fortunate enough to live within a half hour's drive of Durdle Door.
Now for the confession. We have lived in Dorset for the past twenty seven years - and we had never been there until March of this year.

Getting Started

Getting started... Hmm. How often have I read those words and then spent the next few days fighting with the computer/video/new washing machine? I'm hoping this will be much easier. ( Note: It was. Probably.)

So, why a blog?
Because it's there, waiting to be written.

Like a number of my fellow students who have also just finished the first OU Creative Writing course, I have become a compulsive writer. Some of them (hats off to all!) have just signed up for this year's NaNoWriMo, but I have just embarked on another nine months-worth of study on the OU's Introduction to Humanities and fear failure should I embark on trying to write a novel in a month! Not me. Not yet.
So, this seems to be a compromise - writing as often as I can for 'public' scrutiny, without too much pressure. After all, I still go to work sometimes - and often at very short notice.