and four legged varieties
been spending time at home during the summer before I’m
off again on my next assignment, but not before I was
given tasks to perform in and around the house on the
of these tasks I was happy enough with pottering around
and getting through my list at my pace and regardless
of the weather!! I had left a place that was nicely simmering
in its own summer at 52 degrees!! (Yes seriously) so a
bit of rain and wind (the weather) was not going to bother
me and I welcomed it with open arms.
between times we went out and about and had a jolly good
time doing a whole host of things we promised ourselves.
I think the word here that is commonly used is FUN……..
we had loads of fun…………
yes, there is an exception – my fun was duly brought
to a grinding halt one morning when I was about to go
outside into the garden and cut the grass/hedge cutting/tree
limbing and so on, you know the sort of thing, tidy up
the place a bit and make it look nicer, my way!!
may recall the Dearest One runs her own dog grooming parlour
from home, it is run very efficiently and keeps her very
busy during my periods of absence. It has grown over the
last 12 months and nearly all the locals we never knew
existed suddenly came out of the woodwork and are now
regular customers. Well, not the locals exactly but their
dogs, and all varieties are catered for.
on this particular morning I was creeping out of the house
when The Dearest One stopped me and said “I might
need you to hold a dog for me whilst I groom it”
oh’ I thought to myself
no problem” I stupidly replied
suppose looking back I should have said “And what
is the dog, and what do I hold, and WHY”??
for some unknown reason I didn’t and later that
morning when she was starting the grooming of the aforementioned
dog I was called to assist.
start of my very short lived apprenticeship in dog grooming!!!
dog was a coochy coo variety and the owner a nice lady
from a local village. But the dog was not keen on being
was called in to assist!! Eeek
come here – NOW”!!!
farmers from over the valley also heard her and turned
up as well
I went in and reviewed the situation, it didn’t
look too bad to be honest. The dog was stood nicely on
the grooming table and looked quite calm cool and collected.
Oh how looks can deceive……….
went in to join The Sorcerer and noted a lot of dog hair
on the floor and so I grabbed the broom (not the one she
flies around on) and with due diligence took my time in
sweeping the floor of dog hair and moving it into one
place where I could pick it up and bag it.
This is easy I thought to myself, and equally wondered
what all the fuss was about. I could be outside with my
chain saw doing some subtle tidying up of some of the
trees that had got over enthusiastic, but here I was sweeping
up dog hairs.
that down and come here boy” demanded the Sorcerer
put the broom back and duly sauntered over to the Sorcerer
looking resplendent in her black robe with yellow stars
and that rather fetching black pointed hat……how
sweet I thought.
She waved her magic clippers over the dog then to my horror
I heard the following:
dog does not like being clipped here, here and here. You
are to hold its head for me and make sure it doesn’t
bite YOU”? I said with all the alarm of a 999 call
got its head and you’re bothered about it biting
YOU” “I’m fetching my chain saw”
be childish and hold its head” the sorcerer commanded
so it came to pass that I held its head
think I detected bowel issues at this point
do you do this when I’m not here” I asked
with a nervous twitch setting in as well
doesn’t matter it’s much easier for me if
you hold it”
thought the dog needed a calming voice and some reassurance
that it would leave feeling good about itself and looking
really cool. It would be the envy of the village’s
dogs. A real cool cat in a doggy kind of way…….
was an old Jimi Hendrix song playing on the radio at the
time and a track I love (All along the watchtower) - just
out of interest……
started talking about JH to the dog and was telling it
about his tragic life and what a waste of talent and was
going through some of his portfolio of songs. The dog
was clearly a Hendrix fan as it listened intently to my
rhetoric………I babbled away for the best
part of 3 minutes – when suddenly!! (Uh oh)
its head up”
lifted its head up as commanded and without warning the
little sweet doggy snapped out of its hold and missed
my hand by a hairs breadth. A real live genuine and very
intentional snap at me.
I thought “Gosh” or words to that effect
four legged JH fan was not going to be as compliant as
I originally thought and so I took hold again and re-asserted
my authority “Oh please don’t do that again
little doggy” “it has had a disturbing effect
on my bowels and my heart rate has risen to double the
burden on my body”.
then determined that perhaps my JH chat wasn’t quite
what it wanted to hear and so I talked for a few minutes
about the weather and the state of the economy and the
Olympics and how the banks that we always knew were as
corrupt as the vast money in them let them be, were absolutely
untouchable. The Government was defenseless against them
and that their fines were pathetic. 5 minutes business
to them……..and and and now the government
is setting up a small businesses fund!! I thought that
was what the banks were for. Silly me – they just
launder corrupt money don’t they. Sorry, my mistake.
dog must have agreed and got angry and took another swipe
at my hands. Not the one hand but both of them. Sore subject
I thought, even to the dog.
escaped again and asked The Sorcerer how much longer I
was needed for?
was getting hairy!!!
long it takes” said the black robed one
how long is that”?? I bravely asked
won’t be long” she said – another useless
was fed up, the dog was fed up and the only person enjoying
this was the sadistic one.
a while the Sorcerer stopped and stepped back to admire
little bit now with the scissors and a clip here and there
and here and there again and its bath time” “Then
we are finished”
was dismissed to the kitchen to get the Sorcerer her bucket
went back to the parlour with the bucket of tea to have
a look at ‘Sweetie pie’ in all its finished
glory when the Sorcerer picked up a bottle of dog perfume
and sprayed a little here and there to complete the work
and I suppose to give it a feel good factor??
luck would have it I was in the way!!
of that perfume went on me and I spent hours fighting
off the advances of JJ, Duncan and the others who thought
I was some sort of Canine beauty queen. I don’t
know what was worse? Sweetie pie trying to bite me or
having to be very careful when putting the chain saw down
on the ground after I had turned it off.
afterwards I saw the completed article both looking good
and scented!! To be honest it looked really good and I
had to admire the crafts-womanship in the art of dog grooming.
It not only looked good but genuinely seemed to be stood
was shocked to see the difference from when it arrived
to how it will go away with its owner that had now arrived
to collect it.
sweetie pie don’t you look just gorgeous”
said the owner
thanked her and said I looked better without my work clothes
but appreciated the compliment.
just looked at me with disdain
she picked up her dog (and it didn’t try to bite
her) and with Thanks left to return another day.
reflected on the skill involved in grooming a dog and
it sure ain’t easy with owners demanding specific
preferences and “Sweetie pie” being the love
of their lives it was crucial to get it right.
for the apprentice??
he got out unscathed, But!!
went back to my chain saw and took my frustration out
on some of the overhanging trees in the drive up to the
house. The Dearest One had given me her permission to
prune them with sympathy.
I showed her my sympathetic pruning and I ended up at
the bottom of the lane about a mile from the house with
The Dearest One in hot pursuit with my chain saw exclaiming
that my sympathetic pruning was not quite what she was
expecting and that I was to be sympathetically pruned
if she caught me.
bought her dinner that night!!
later resigned as The Groomers Apprentice ?
a moment of “Well he’s got to be done”,
Claude was next on the table………
few days later it was the turn of the Spins. I couldn’t
wait for the next bit??
oi you with the dirty clothes and all garden labourer
looking” “Yes you boy, come here”
looked around to see who she was talking to…….
God – it was me
going to groom the Spins during this week and next”
“And won’t need you as they are all used to
it and well drilled in what is expected of them”
went all religious and decided that I would thank some
deity or other when the time was right. I really didn’t
fancy holding JJs head!!
he bit me I would lose a limb and he is a very strong
dog…….passive but strong.
it turned out, she of the black robe and pointy hat was
right!! The Spins were really good at the grooming thing.
I asked the almighty sorcerer of the grooming variety
if Kallie would go in and ask for a slight rinse and a
trim here and there, or if Mia our eldest went in and
asked for a blue rinse. Or if Freya wanted a perm only
on the brown bits……of genuine interest as
you can imagine!!
scissors landed in the wall just to my right!!
the dog brush I saw too late and it hit me in the region
where I should not be hit………I limped
out to my workshop nursing my wounded bits.
I had plucked enough courage to re-emerge into the grooming
parlour she had just finished Unica – now I’m
not exactly sure what Unica had asked for but it sure
wasn’t a short back and sides!!!
of the Spins feinted, two ran off outside and it took
two days for JJ to recover from laughing……….
for Unica she hopped skipped and jumped around for hours
afterwards obviously feeling terrific at her new look
– could be a trend setter.
she was just preparing to go back to Italy!!
look like you’ve nothing to do and its academic
anyway”? said the Subtle One
although for that nanosecond I admit I was doing nothing
I was now alerted to the fact that my moment of peace
was about to be shattered and further, although I didn’t
know at the time, I was about to learn a very considerable
lesson in the power of the Spinone Nose!!
want the deep fat fryer’s oil changing and you should
ensure that the waste oil is suitably disposed of to leave
no trace for the dogs to find”
was the instruction and that was my next task –
and you’re probably getting ahead of me here, but
I’ll tell you anyway.
I’m no arsonist, but I do like to have a ‘garden
fire’ and where we live it is part and parcel of
country life to burn off garden waste, trimmings and so
on along with any suitable and burnable waste. And I had
built up quite a collection to burn………..
decided that I would pour the waste oil on the fire thus
ensuring that it was indeed ‘disposed of to leave
no trace for the dogs to find’
so I carefully carried the container of waste to my awaiting
fire and slowly poured the contents over the top of it.
I had prepared the starter and duly lit it……..within
seconds I had a real fire going and was feeding it with
the waste from the trimmings I had collected whilst ‘tidying
up the place’. All was well…………
fire grew and the heat intense enough for me to disappear
and satisfy myself over a cup of tea of a job well done.
oil incinerated and not a trace to be had anywhere.
went into the house and proclaimed to The Dearest One
my sheer genius……..
next day I went out again and checked around where the
fire had been and indeed it was reduced to nothing. Smug
the day I had another session in and around the ménage
cutting and trimming the growth that was bush, thorns,
overgrowing trees and grass. I gathered it up in the wheelbarrow
and took it to where the fire had been. Another firing
session later on when the greenery had turned to a more
dried out state to allow an easy burn.
During the afternoon the dogs were out with me……they
like it when I’m out and about the place as it allows
them a chance to see what I’ve done and have a good
sniff through where I’ve cleared.
the other hand, Duncan likes to take the bigger cuttings
and generally spread them all over the place taking this
as a game!!!
waits for me to throw something for him to fetch and at
one point it was going to be Duncan
But in Duncan’s case I did not want JJ to bring
him back, which he does with everything else.
the girls it’s the fresh ground they like to explore
and occasionally dig around in.
But for a while I had ‘lost’ Kallie…….not
a worry as she never goes far and always comes back to
the house anyway.
Kallie was gone for ages and after a while I had to admit
defeat and go and explain my loss to the one back in the
house. I went in, explained my situation and both of us
went to the back door to call in Kallie – who was
sat at the back door waiting for it to be opened!!!
had a completely black head, a sore nose and her feet
were also black. Seriously black?
The Dearest One looked at Kallie, then me and just shook
her head……and walked off
looked at Kallie and said to her “How the hell did
you get like that”? “where have you been”?
Obviously she can’t answer me but I had to find
out and quick……there were 6 other Spins I
now worried about.
the next few days they came back to the house one by one
and all looking like Kallie. BLACK
now had Black, white and orange Spins and trust me? The
Dearest One was far from amused. The Black would not come
off either and I was in deep deep Poo Street. There was
only one thing for it? I would let Kallie out and follow
her in a subtle way so I could determine exactly what
was going on. I was too late? The Dearest One had already
thought of it first and was already where I didn’t
expect her to be?
to the fire where Kallie was buried in the middle of the
new setting I had been building from the previous few
my God…………the oil
how? When I had had such a fierce fire that I was very
confident had incinerated everything. Even the Dearest
One was shocked and admitted it was an amazing sight.
Kallie had sniffed out the remnants of that oil, dug through
the ashes and was obviously spending her time trying to
get to the source……but there was none, but
there must have been a scent left behind of an ex used
cooking oil and it was that they were all after, hence
the sniffing and digging around in the ashes. I likened
it to sniffing out truffles………
us having Spins for years they have some way or another
always surprised us and taught us something new about
the power nature has given them. This was no exception
took a week for the black to fade to grey (Fade to grey
– great song) and then to slowly return the Spins
to their natural colours – and by the way? Black
does not suit them!!
it was safe to do so and the Spins returned to their natural
state we celebrated and took them down to the beach for
a charge around and a change to their routine. They love
it as I have recorded many times…….
threw tennis balls, sticks and anything worthy of run
and some of the time threw them into the sea for me to
go and get as the dogs wouldn’t!!! When will I learn?
Dearest One had brought with her a training dummy and
we used that for Duncan to fetch – until Mia got
it and it was game over – or was it?
was not going to be denied and there then ensued a ‘Tug
of war’ with her to get it back. I lost
does not give in and what she finds or takes she keeps
– and moreover does not give it up at any cost or
treat. It is only when we get back to the car that she
finally hands over the item and climbs in the car and
settles down until we get back home.
so for these set of notes I’ve learned the skills
of the Sorcerer – no not the sorcerer, the Dog Groomer
and admired the artistry and the patience that goes to
making our pets look good.
learned about the power of nature and its amazing natural
talents handed down to the dogs and their ability to scent
the minutest of smells under the most extraordinary circumstances.
You have to admire that no matter the outcome.
saw the effect of grooming on the Spins as well as they
spent ages afterwards flinging themselves all over the
place clearly feeling good about it all – cue for
a song? ‘I feel good…..’
I admired the strength and tenacity yet again of a fully
grown Spin who wanted to keep her toy!!! Finders keepers…..
that’s it for now, take care out there and dispose
of your cooking oil in a better manner than I did!!!
is with deep sadness that I would like to say a few words
about our Beloved Old English Springer Max, who at the
age of 17 passed away recently. We were both there during
his last moments and it was so sad to see him move on
to pastures new. He was a reliable and wonderful old friend
and we miss him, as does his buddy Rico the Viz, who we
know also felt the loss as they had been together for
16 years. Partners in crime to the end…….
had a terrific life with us and we know he enjoyed every
second of it, we have many tales to tell, but they are
not for now. They of course remain our personal treasured
memories of a true friend.
our English Springer – gone but not forgotten