Sunday, 15 September 2019

Seeing does not mean believing

Whilst the In-House Trip Hazard (I really thought that was Daisy’s special skill) is an utter joy, as she gains in confidence there is frightening potential as an escapologist, not that I think she particularly wants to leave home, but she is both easily distracted (has the attention span of a newt) and very determined when she wants something.  Last weekend a couple of attempts had to be thwarted at great cost to my stress level.

The scary stuff only happened when we were all working on the drive and I went out onto the road, and Lunatic Lurcher decided to try her damnedest to get to me.  I remember Daisy trying to do exactly the same thing and LP and I rushing to put up netting to stop her.  We did the same for Millie.  Netting did not stop her.

So here's the background - at one corner of the drive, near the compost bins, the soil level is about 60cm higher than the actual drive so there's not much between the ground and the Large Brick Wall which surrounds the front of the garden.  With Millie's proven ability to worm her way through impenetrable shrubs with thick branches we knew this was a risky spot so I put up dense netting to keep her safe.

She jumped over it.

I put up more netting.

She got her teeth into the bottom of it, tore a big hole and wriggled straight through.

So we decided:  "Right, you little monkey, we'll stop your happy games" and bent a large piece of STEEL weld mesh into a right angle, and fixed it in place blocking not only the access through the laurel hedge, but preventing Millie from getting to the wall.  I replaced the netting as well.

That worked until Management said "err, she's behind the laurel trying to work out how to get over the next bit of wall".  So we added another section of weld mesh, and thinking we were SO CLEVER to block every possible exit route, he carried on working on the drive and I carried on pruning the hedges next to the pavement.  These hedges are not accessible from inside the garden, and therefore - neither was I.

Ten minutes later, Millie had joined me on the road-side of the hedge.


So we laid a trap:  Management hid behind a section of wall where he could watch but not be seen, we set up the Bushnell camera and I went outside and called her.

And within a few minutes the little Madam was out again.  And if we had not seen it, and had photos to prove what she'd done, there is no way anyone (including the Homeless Hounds Aunties) would believe she can squeeze through a 20cm steel mesh.  But she can, or rather, she could, until we covered it with chicken wire which is buried in the ground to stop digging.

The photos are not the clearest, sorry, but what she did was put her front legs through, then her head & shoulders and wriggle, turning her chest sideways (because the diagonal of a 20cm square is 28cm, about 11 inches, and that is about the depth of her rig cage), and slither through looking like a foal being born.

It was a lot easier for her to wriggle in here than it was for me, but that is how the chicken wire was added.

Dratted little dear girl - came to see if she could help:

I don't know about "Gone in 60 Seconds" but if you watch the timestamp on the bottom of the GIF, once Millie had worked out how to get through she accomplished her goal in about ten seconds.

I'd love to say that was the end of our problems, that we packed up and went inside for a nice cold beer . . . chance would be a fine thing.

I turned my secateurs to the hedge the other side of the gate, for Management to tell me "she's got all of her front legs up on the wall and is trying to work out how she can haul herself up there".  That meant another significant piece of weld mesh cut and bent into shape.  I shall tell any neighbours who are silly enough to ask that I did it in order to provide support for the adjacent ivy, they won't believe me any more than you do!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Alcatraz? Belmarsh? Guantanamo?

When we had our 'home check' as part of Millie's adoption process, the lady who visited agreed that Bag End was a lovely, dog-safe garden and would provide a great place for a four-paws to play and run around.  We certainly believed that to be the case, otherwise there's no way we would have taken on another dog.

However, that assessment was made by normal measures and standards, on the assumption that we would be adopting a 'normal' dog.  Millie is not 'normal', she is a part-Saluki sighthound and people who know more about this than I do keep confirming that!

The Honourable Lady Millicent is blisteringly fast, as skinny as a racing snake, and potential death on legs to the blackbirds whom she loves to chase out of the hedges (she has not caught one yet, but I already fear for next year's fledglings).  At some point in the future I would not be surprised to find she can climb - I am trying not to worry that lurchers have been known to perform death defying feats of almost cat-like articulation & agility to get to their quarry.

Millie has not escaped, run away, got loose, or left the garden without us.  However, and it is a huge however, we both felt there was the potential for her to get up to goodness-knows-what mischief in a garden the size of Bag End, and we have been busy working to shut down anything we could think of which, at some point in the future, SHE might think of . . .  Our first couple of weeks living with the Honourable Lady may have lulled us into a false sense of security, but as Millie began to trust us and grow in confidence her ability to rummage around in almost inaccessible parts of the garden grew too.

And then there was the matter of Management watching her squeeze through a space that was physically too small for her to fit through - yes, we measured it.  In Millie's defence, she only did it to get to me, who was the "wrong" side of the fence and she wanted to see what I was up to, but it still scared the crap out of us, so much so it gets a post of its own (that will be tomorrow).

But the stuff we had already considered included an area I felt she might be interested in excavating - which has been covered in chicken wire the way you'd edge the bottom of a chicken run to stop a fox digging through .

Additional gates have appeared inside the garden so that we can limit where she is at any time, and existing gates have sprouted an extra metre of height . . .

(In Millie's defence, I set up this picture with a bit of her favourite treat on the horizontal rail)

We made adjustments earlier in the year to the trellis divider alongside the Vegetable Patch, but that has gained a height extension as well.

But the biggest change has been another massive delivery from the local builders' merchant and Management getting busy with the angle grinder.

It never occurred to Daisy to go into this large bed:

but Millie sees it as her own adventure playground and we've added considerably to the height of the fence (which is how I got badly damaged by the hawthorn).  You can hardly see what we've done, the hedges were already thick and high but I now feel a little more relaxed when I cannot see exactly where she is.

I may have already mentioned how fast and slender skinny Millie is 🀣  and her ability to get into places that you and I would not even call places . . . we tried not to laugh when she got herself between the greenhouse water tanks and the fruit cage, realised she couldn't turn round and was stuck.  Actually, that's not true - we did laugh, a lot.  It helps that despite having legs like Bambi and looking all skinny and fragile Millie appears to be robustly tough.  She eventually wriggled free on her own and was completely unscathed by the incident.

Not content with doing so much work outselves, we have also finally accepted the inevitable and will be getting someone to do a lot of additional work for us . . .

We are getting quotes to replace a significant quantity of Bag End's fencing - the sections which we inherited with the house that have been heading towards their Use By Date for many years.  Best guess, seeing as one of the quotes is from the chap who originally installed the fence is that it is 30 years old, so does not really "owe" anyone anything.  One of those jobs we have always known we'd have to face at some point and always had a good reason to put off.  The quotes are going to be horrendous.  πŸ˜±☹️😭

Friday, 13 September 2019

Lady of the Lake

Wednesday 11th
There are lots of reasons why this did not happen sooner, some of which are related to the weather.  However the main reason it has taken six weeks for Lady Millicent to venture into the Lake District "proper" is that I was not prepared to go somewhere potentially full of people and dogs until I knew what her reaction was likely to be to the many triggers that she'd meet, and that I could manage them.  It was definitely worth waiting because we had a lovely little walk this afternoon, with the emphasis on little.

For those who know the area, we managed to travel from the National Trust car park near Scale Hill to the first beach on Crummock Water, over the weir and half way along the path which leads to Park Beck.  Not very far.  But it took nearly two hours!

Honestly, I thought Daisy was Sniffer Dog Extraordinaire but Millie takes it to a whole new forensic level.  She concluded there was 753 million things to check out and she was not going to miss a single one.  Not many photos because I needed one hand for the lead and one hand for a stick (knee ligaments having a very bad week), but if I had taken more pictures most of them would have been of Millie's head stuck in a bush, or a rotted log, or aiming for a pile of dog poo . . .

But she seemed to enjoy herself, even having a little paddle and going after a small stick (once she had watched a couple of other dogs to see how it was done).

Predictably, which is why I have not done this before, she was badly spooked by every man we met, very unsure to begin with of all the women, and not at all sure what to do about the dogs we encountered.  The good news is she now trusts me enough not to have a total freak out, just a minor one.

The bad news is that despite my thinking "oh, so much mental stimulation, she'll be knackered this evening" the only thing she wanted to do for the first hour when we got home was play.

The other "bad news" are some of the micro conversations with the total strangers you meet when dog walking.  One seemingly intelligent couple asking me "can we walk all the way around the lake, how far is it" and being very surprised when I said "yes of course you can, but it's about 8 miles so probably too late to start today" - it was nearly 4.00pm.  The lady then asked me "and which lake is this?"   That's why I couldn't be part of Mountain RescueπŸ€ͺ

But it was lovely to be back at this beautiful spot, and as the National Trust now charge (I think) £4.00 for two hours parking, we should get our money's worth from the membership fee.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Dear National Trust

email sent earlier today, hopefully they have a sense of humour, and a spare handbook

Dear NT,

Handbook help please

We have recently been soft-hearted/daft enough to rescue/rehome a gentle young lurcher, who - as you can see - is a delight when asleep . . . and I have renewed my lapsed membership so we can take advantage of wonderful walks in Cumbria and further afield.

Unfortunately, Millie is not always a delight when awake and clearly does not yet appreciate the benefits of NT membership, this morning showing a complete disregard for the recently received handbook.  

I’m really sorry - but please can I have a replacement which I promise to take much better care of and keep out of her way!

Many thanks in advance

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Where ~HAS~ the last week gone???

Whooooosh . . .

That is not just the noise made by a 40mph lurcher streaking past you, it's the noise the last week or so has made as it sped by.

Life with our stinking cute Lightening-Fast, Long-Legged, Loony Lurcher is . . .

Well, it is delightful and (mostly).  That's when Millie is playing nicely, or resting and being a cuddly little cutie.  That is also pretty much the only time recently when I have managed any half-decent new photographs.  The Honourable is very keen to be in the middle of everything and anything we are doing, especially fixing really secure Pad Eyes to the campervan to ensure her safety when travelling - leave the door of any vehicle open and she's in 😊

Millie can be utterly, wonderfully adorable at times, such as the bedtime cuddle she is allowed whilst I'm reading.  Yeah, this is a selfie of my bare shoulder  {{yuk}}, but the point is Someone's head and paw snuggling closer, and closer, and closer (and yeah, I am a big meanie and when it is time to put the light out she gets lifted into her own bed).

Curled up in a fleece is the easiest time to photograph Millie.  It amazes me that in her first week when I tried to lay a blanket over her she bolted in fear - now she snuggles deeper and deeper having learnt very quickly how good it is to be warm and wrapped in soft fabic.

Walks are going well, although the bloody weather is a pain, and every time I think "low tide, let's go to the beach" the weather has other ideas, such as this morning:

We have let her off the lead - CAREFULLY - on the Green behind the house and that has gone well, but we're very, very mindful that as part-Saluki and full sighthound, if Millie were to take off we have no chance of getting hold of her.  I'd love to get photos of her at a full out sprint, and that will come eventually.

I've been down to the river a few times and she has none of Daisy's fear of water and bridges, which is lovely.

She can also be an absolute bloody pest.  None of the "pest potential" is because she's a bad dog.  It is because she's a youngster who is still settling in with us and needs to grow up, mature a bit, and learn a few things.  It's easy to forget that when Ollie came to us over 20 years ago he was a nightmare at times and took the best part of two years to settle down.  Hopefully we are a lot more knowledgable and experienced now and it will not take Millie anything like as long (and she's not got some of Ollie's psychological issues).

She is fascinated by cotton wool balls.  They are now in a large container which she cannot open.

She is also fascinated by anything that she absolutely knows she ought not pick up, and the "Sneaky Side Eye" look you get tells us Lady Millicent knows exactly that she Should.Not.Be.Doing.This!  There are no photographs of last Saturday night . . . (the ladies from Homeless Hounds already know this story, I feared they would want to take her away from us for lack of care).

The scene is us finishing supper quite early and I was looking forward to crashing out in front of the telly for a couple of hours before bed.  Millie had other ideas:   Management went off to do the washing up, I took Madam into the garden for a post-supper potty.

Whilst I cleared up a ‘present’, she charged into the house, quite usual. Came out with something in her mouth that should not be there, not unusual {sigh}. She started to chew whatever it was, as usual, and I chased her down and eventually she dropped the trophy - which turned out to be packaging from Management’s hearing aid batteries. I took it inside and said “how did she get hold of this” and was told “oh sh*t . . .”   😱

Turns out he had left a packet in his trouser pocket, which went through the wash, which he found late one night whilst ironing, so he put the packet on a coffee table and promptly forgot about it . . . You will be impressed with my restraint that I didn’t brain him on the spot. Because we spent the next 45 minutes crawling on our hands and knees around a large lawn. We found 4 of the expected 6 batteries - he'd told me it had been a full packet.

Eventually he thought “actually, there might only have been 4 in it”. Long conversation with On Call vet at local surgery. Agreed that as Millie was unlikely to have bitten a battery, if indeed she had swallowed one at all, we’d practise “conservative management”. Which means Management got the job of checking bags of poo for the next 24-48 hours. The Honourable Lady was perfectly fine and suffered no ill effects. I, on the other hand, was a little stressed. Is it too much to ask for just a quiet life . . .

Not content with batteries, yesterday morning she was in M's care whilst I went to yoga.  He unwisely turned his back for a few minutes.   The casualty was the tube and moulding of one of his hearing aids.  Thankfully he has spares and is soon to have new ones anyway.

So there you have it - typical life with Millie.  It's full-on and finding time to do 'ordinary' things (like blog, and answer emails, and comment on other blogs)  is a tad difficult . . . 😊   😎

(I notice, without surprise, that the publish time of this post is 3.23pm.  I started writing it around 10.00am)