The Sorcerer.......................................................The Dearest One
The Apprentice...................................................Me!!
Others..................................................................Two and four legged varieties

I’ve 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 hill.

Some 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.

In 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……..

And we had loads of fun…………


Oh 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!!

You 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.

However, 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”

‘Uh oh’ I thought to myself

“OK no problem” I stupidly replied

I suppose looking back I should have said “And what is the dog, and what do I hold, and WHY”??

But 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.

The start of my very short lived apprenticeship in dog grooming!!!

The dog was a coochy coo variety and the owner a nice lady from a local village. But the dog was not keen on being groomed!!

I was called in to assist!! Eeek

“Boy, come here – NOW”!!!

3 farmers from over the valley also heard her and turned up as well

Anyway, 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……….

I 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.

“Put that down and come here boy” demanded the Sorcerer

I 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:

“This 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 me”!!!

“Doesn’t bite YOU”? I said with all the alarm of a 999 call out

“I’ve got its head and you’re bothered about it biting YOU” “I’m fetching my chain saw”

“Don’t be childish and hold its head” the sorcerer commanded

And so it came to pass that I held its head

I think I detected bowel issues at this point

“How do you do this when I’m not here” I asked with a nervous twitch setting in as well

“That doesn’t matter it’s much easier for me if you hold it”

I 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…….

There 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……

I 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)

“Hold its head up”

I 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

My 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”.

I 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.

The 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.

I escaped again and asked The Sorcerer how much longer I was needed for?

This was getting hairy!!!

“As long it takes” said the black robed one

“Well how long is that”?? I bravely asked

“I won’t be long” she said – another useless answer

I was fed up, the dog was fed up and the only person enjoying this was the sadistic one.

After a while the Sorcerer stopped and stepped back to admire her work………

“A 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”

I was dismissed to the kitchen to get the Sorcerer her bucket of tea!!

I 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??

As luck would have it I was in the way!!

Some 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.

Shortly 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 there proudly.

I 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.

“Oh sweetie pie don’t you look just gorgeous” said the owner

I thanked her and said I looked better without my work clothes but appreciated the compliment.

She just looked at me with disdain

Then she picked up her dog (and it didn’t try to bite her) and with Thanks left to return another day.

I 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.

As for the apprentice??

Well he got out unscathed, But!!

I 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.

I bought her dinner that night!!

I later resigned as The Groomers Apprentice ?

In a moment of “Well he’s got to be done”, Claude was next on the table………

A few days later it was the turn of the Spins. I couldn’t wait for the next bit??

“Boy, oi you with the dirty clothes and all garden labourer looking” “Yes you boy, come here”

I looked around to see who she was talking to…….

Oh God – it was me

“I’m 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”

I 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!!

If he bit me I would lose a limb and he is a very strong dog…….passive but strong.

As 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!!

The scissors landed in the wall just to my right!!

But 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.

When 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!!!

Three of the Spins feinted, two ran off outside and it took two days for JJ to recover from laughing……….

As for Unica she hopped skipped and jumped around for hours afterwards obviously feeling terrific at her new look – could be a trend setter.

Or she was just preparing to go back to Italy!!


“You look like you’ve nothing to do and its academic anyway”? said the Subtle One

And 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!!

“I 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”

That was the instruction and that was my next task – and you’re probably getting ahead of me here, but I’ll tell you anyway.

Now 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………..

I 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’

And 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…………

The fire grew and the heat intense enough for me to disappear and satisfy myself over a cup of tea of a job well done.

The oil incinerated and not a trace to be had anywhere.

I went into the house and proclaimed to The Dearest One my sheer genius……..

The next day I went out again and checked around where the fire had been and indeed it was reduced to nothing. Smug I was

During 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.

On the other hand, Duncan likes to take the bigger cuttings and generally spread them all over the place taking this as a game!!!

JJ 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.

For 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.

But 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!!!

Bloody Dog

Kallie 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

I 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.

Over the next few days they came back to the house one by one and all looking like Kallie. BLACK

We 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?

Next to the fire where Kallie was buried in the middle of the new setting I had been building from the previous few days work.

Oh my God…………the oil

But 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………

Despite 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

It 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!!


When 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…….

I 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?

The 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?

I was not going to be denied and there then ensued a ‘Tug of war’ with her to get it back. I lost

Mia 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.

And 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.

I 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.

I 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…..’

And I admired the strength and tenacity yet again of a fully grown Spin who wanted to keep her toy!!! Finders keepers…..

Well that’s it for now, take care out there and dispose of your cooking oil in a better manner than I did!!!


It 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…….

Max 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.

Max our English Springer – gone but not forgotten



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