Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Little Things

It has been an uneventful week and Barry has shown no overt signs of impending greatness or even hinted that it might be on the horizon.  In the past I may have been frustrated by this and anxious about what on earth I would report to you all this week.

However three and a half years with Barry has taught me to enjoy the quiet times just as much as the busy ones.  As wonderful as it is to receive meaty cupcakes, handmade with love on your birthday, you know that not every day can be as magnificent as a birthday, anniversary or other celebratory occasion.

Meaty cupcakes for Barry's last birthday!

So what to do between one wingding and the next?  Be morose and dwell on the tedium of life?  Wish your life away while in a constant state of anticipation of the next big bash?  Both options easily taken but this is where Barry comes in.

Barry wakes up (eventually!) every morning with a twinkle in his eye and a wiggle of his bottom.  The 'walky time' song (please use your imaginations, I refuse to sing it for you) never fails to excite regardless of whether the ensuing walk takes us to a new and exotic land or just to the nature reserve we visit almost every day.

'What's that?  A new toy from the 99p shop?  That is just the most marvellous thing that I have ever seen since the last toy you brought back from that fabulous shop!'

New toys!

'Breakfast?  For me?  Are you serious?  You are so kind!  I can't believe how lucky I am!'

'Move?  Why no, we can't move!  I'll have you know this is the best spot in the house right now!'
Enjoying a sun spot

'Wait just one moment (five minutes) if you please.  I must sniff this lamp post from all angles - it is just divine!'

'What's that you say?  A nap?  Oh, go on then,..'

If napping were a sport Barry would be an Olympian...

Hopefully you get the picture.  Barry loves butt rubs (don't ask), sniffing flowers, tug of war, nasty, smelly old toys, doing tricks, breakfast, walking, sleeping...  Barry enjoys every little thing in life and he reminds me to stop and do the same.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Barry - Wingman Extraordinaire!

I knew the importance of socialising our pooches from a very early age and this seemed particularly important as I had my heart set on Barry going just everywhere that he was allowed with me.  So right from the beginning I accompanied Barry to the recreation ground where he encountered dogs of all shapes, sizes and dispositions and he accompanied me down the high street at rush hour, to the post box and, my favourite of all places to have puppy lessons, to the pub.  In fact he has now visited every pub in Surbiton that has the good sense to allow man's best friend to accompany man to the pub.

It has taken a while but now both Barry and Gertrude have learned the basics of good pub etiquette.  There is the odd indiscretion, most notably the occasion when a fellow diner leant over, having already admired the hounds and made a fuss of both, and made an unexpected enquiry about the magnitude and frequency of Barry's flatulence.  We laughed and chatted for a moment about the unearthly expulsions from Barry's behind before continuing with our meal.  Mere moments later the stench enveloped us and Hubby and I suddenly understood our neighbour's interest in Barry's wind.  We finished our food hastily that evening.

However, bottom burps aside, my dogs really do make the best drinking companions.  From the moment they march through the door they are looking around at all the new people whom they can coerce into petting, patting and generally fawning over them to the time they are regally carried out in our arms because they are far too sleeping to walk themselves home, they have everybody eating out of their hands.  They have water brought to the table whereas we measly humans must go to the bar for refreshments.
Hand delivered
(and probably chilled) water

Gertrude always has the choice of lap or floor (draped with her very own blanket, no less!) and she often chooses the floor, I am certain, because from there she can look up at passers by with big, doleful eyes which communicate the tragedy and struggle of her life, gaining maximum sympathy and attention.
Gertrude's best "puppy-dog eyes"

Barry takes an even more direct approach.  He likes to sit in Hubby's lap, like a child, and stare imploringly at every soul that passes just begging for fuss.  He sees his target, locks his bug eyes on to theirs and follows them with his gaze as they pass by.  99% of the time this tactic is successful.  People feel his watchful eye and look around to discover just what or who is causing them to feel uneasy and under the microscope.  When people spot him they smile and coo.  And that's just the big, rugby player-like lads.  The girls squeal and giggle, the volume directly correlating to their inebriation.  It is just like drinking with a minor celebrity.

A regular discussion across the bar between Hubby and I revolves around who gets to keep "the kids" should we ever part ways.  It is a frivolous and silly conversation, of course, but we both like to put our arguments forward, not least because I think that dogs do actually make the best wingmen.  I am certain that, if needed, Hubby could bag himself a new wife in approximately five minutes of arriving down the pub on a Friday night without me.  People instantly warm to you when you have a dog, not just smile but embark on in depth conversation.  They pull up a chair and sit with you.  A pub singer once even sang to Barry and I.

Apparently dogs act as a character reference, guaranteeing your honesty, chivalry and status as an upstanding member of society.  It seems to me that a dog would be a marvellous accomplice for a psychopath, helping them charm their way into, or out of, anything.  That may well be an awesome talent.  Depending on how you look at it.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Spring has sprung!

Another side effect of dog ownership is a gradual attuning to the seasons.  The number of hours of sunlight in a day becomes an important factor in day to day living to ensure that enough walkies are had before darkness falls.  The accuracy of morning weather forecasts is actually consequential as it could mean the difference between a pleasant walk in light drizzle and an arduous trek in driving sleet.

For this reason I often find myself one of the first of my friends to notice that winter is coming to an end.  I am a typical Brit, constantly talking about the weather but I try not to grumble.  In fact, I like our British weather.  I like the variation and the challenge of dressing in the morning for all four seasons as it is very possible for them all to occur in one trip out of the house.

However, I must admit that January and February are my least favourite months.  They are the furthest away from birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas for me, leaving me little to celebrate.  They are also usually the coldest months in our calendar and as much as I like soft and fluffy knitwear, there are only so many jumpers you can wear at once.

So it was with joy this morning that Barry, Gertrude and I left our house in bright sunshine to take our morning exercise.  Gertrude happily ran outside without her trusty jumper which she has been wearing almost continuously since November!  In January it can take me 15 minutes to coax my little madam from beneath the duvet, let alone into the outdoors.

The trees were still bare but the sky was blue and the sun was shining.  The earth gave a hint of new life, with daffodils and tulips just peeking through.  It was a joy to be outside.

 In the dim and distant past, in my life pre-Barry, the only time I would see the outdoors during the winter was when I travelled from my house to my car and back again.  I just hid away with the curtains drawn and waited for spring.  But in doing so I missed the very beginning of spring, which I have come to realise is the most uplifting part.

I think there is greatness in having my eyes opened to the seasons and my horizons expanded and it is to Barry who I must give thanks for this.