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Cup of Tea, Anyone?

This morning I was talking to one of the mums at school about our pets and the things – good or bad – that they love best. It turned out that one of her cats is addicted to catching pigeons and ripping them to pieces (not a nice picture, I know), whilst the other is addicted to having its fur brushed for hours on end. Her hamster is mad on tomatoes and their dog is always partial to a bit of chocolate (which is toxic to dogs, so I’m not encouraging that at all). We then went on talking about other people’s pets, as she remembered that her mother’s parrot has a passion for classical music and I remembered that one of my in-laws’ dogs would do anything for chips.

As for George, there are a number of things that he is addicted to. Stealing socks, chewing tissues, roasting in the sun and stealing Brianna’s teddies are some of them. But top of his addiction list must be drinking tea.

It’s no secret that the British love their cup of tea. Morning, lunch and evening, all day long, the kettle and tea-pot are under a lot of stress and get a lot of use. It’s a documented fact that the National Grid faces the peak of electricity consumption during the commercial breaks half-way through the nation’s most loved soaps or football finals. Apparently, that’s when everybody rushes to put the kettle on and mash a cuppa before the programme returns five minutes later.

We’re no exception from the normal British family. We like tea and drink a lot of it. Our visitors like tea and drink a lot of it. There are always mugs around the house, containing different quantities of tea at any one time. That’s how we found out that George is partial to a bit of tea himself.

As soon as he was big enough to reach the coffee table, our little whippet has tried to sneak his nose into our tea cups. And our visitors’ cups. Every day. Whenever he got the chance. He’s proved to be extremely good at this from an early age. One moment of distraction, and you could return to an empty cup and a very content-looking dog. He’s so keen on the taste, that he’d sit next to you and lick his lips – in the most off-putting fashion – whilst you’re trying to enjoy your drink.

Eventually, something had to be done about this, since it’s not always funny to find a whippet nose in your cup and I was starting to get worried about his sugar intake. So we called a family council and decided to give George a little bit of tea, rather than have him steal ours. Brianna offered to donate her plastic Princess cup to this noble cause, and George became a full rights member of the tea club.

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Most days, especially on weekend mornings when we can have family chats in bed, I make 4 cups of tea: two big, full ones for the adults, half a medium cup for Brianna, and less-than-a-quarter-full cup for George, with no sugar in it. You should see the delight on his face. I don’t know what he enjoys the most, the tea itself, or being part of the morning ritual. If the tea is the right temperature, he’ll slurp it in one go, without even breathing in between gulps. Then he’ll lick the cup clean and lie down on my legs. If the tea’s too hot, he’ll lie down on my legs first, waiting for it to cool down. Then he’ll slurp it in one go.

I find George’s love for tea strange and sweet at the same time. And I’m just wondering how many of you are experiencing similar behaviours from their pets? Do your furries have any unusual preferences or addictions?

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A World of Whippet Paraphernalia

This morning, whilst I was drinking my tea out of my whippet cup (pictured below), I realised that we don’t have many whippety things around our home. You know, ornaments, vases, lamps…things that would tell the world we’re into whippets. Statements of our dedication to the breed and love for our dog.

I know a woman – let’s call her Sue – who has built her whole life around whippets. Her house is a “whippet shrine”, as she likes to call it. You know that whippets rule around there before you even get to the house. There’s an oversized whippet statue guarding the end of the drive, plus a number of other garden ornaments scattered between the flowers, in front of the house. The door is, again, guarded by two identical marble whippets (which must have cost a fortune). The first glimpse of the interior decorations can struck you like lightning. Everything is whippety…I mean, everything. Whippet paintings on the wall, whippet ornaments in the glass cabinets and pretty much everywhere else, whippet blanket and cushions on the sofa, whippet rug on the floor, whippet vase on the table, whippet lamp in the corner of the room, plus a big box full of  whippet toys. And, of course, real whippets. 8 of them, to be precise. She’s even personalised her car registration plate to include some sort of abbreviation of the word ‘whippet’!

I’ve only got the whippet cup and a small photo of George on a bookcase shelf. Whilst I’d like to acquire a couple of whippet ornaments for my display cabinet and maybe have a portrait of George painted by a real artist, I’m not planning to go much further than that. However much I love George and like his breed, there is a limit beyond which my love and interest could border on madness. Too much is too much. Although Sue is a lovely person and I appreciate her dedication, I won’t be visiting her house again. I found her obsession with whippet paraphernalia very off-putting. Some of those objects were real gems that I would have liked to have in my own home (like the sculpted floor lamp in the corner of her living room), but the overall effect was just too overwhelming.

So here’s my only piece of whippet paraphernalia. So far. My precious whippet cup. Isn’t it beautiful?

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https://mylittledog.wordpress.com/

Do you have any dog, cat or other pet-related decorative objects on display around your home? Are you a collector of such treasures? Do you know anyone like Sue?

And yes, before you say it, I’ve used to word “whippet” a lot in this post. 23 times, if my maths is correct. Hopefully, by doing so, I’ve managed to render the feeling of suffocation I got when faced with Sue’s obsession.

*****

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Mystery Creature Revealed

OK, voting is now closed, folks. All votes have been counted and verified by an independent (not) judge. I can now reveal who George’s mystery friend is and, more importantly, who won the ‘Guess Who’ competition.

Taadadada…Meet Ishoo, everybody.

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Ishoo is my mother-in-law’s Yorkshire Terrier and George’s youngest buddy. He is 1 now, but was only about 5-6 months old in that photo. He’s still a tiny boy, but has a lot of character and we are convinced that he’s a whippet at heart, since the behavioural similarities between him and George are amazing. Which might be why they’re best mates and George prefers him over dogs his own size.

Here is the original photo…

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…and another one just because they’re both so cute:

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Now we’ve come to the exciting part…The Awards Ceremony! And the winner is … complicated.

No one guessed that George was playing with ‘Ishoo the Yorkshire Terrier’, but a few of you have identified or guessed some key elements. Therefore, in joint first place, we’ve got Kristine and Carrie, who both guessed George was playing with another dog. Ladies, please let me know if you’d like your fur babies to make a guest appearance on our blog at some point in the near future.

Because I’m a softy, I’ve got a few more awards to hand out. First, our worthy runner-up is Kas, who guessed George is playing with another animal, smaller than him, but then got distracted and failed to identify it as being a dog. Her silly answers would have won her the comedy prize, if there was one. Which there isn’t, of course, since this is a serious blog.

We’ve also got two special prizes. The prize for originality goes to Sara, who guessed that George was playing with a toad!!, and the prize for logic goes to Melissa who deducted that George is playing with someone smaller than him, whom he’s not very familiar with. I find this impressive, given the fact that Melissa is not a doggy person. Indeed, this was the first ‘unsupervised’ play session George and Ishoo shared outside in the garden, so they were both testing the water.

I have really enjoyed everybody’s answers, so I’d like to thank you all for playing along. The funny thing is that I came close to choosing a similar photo in which George was playing with Brianna, which would have made pretty much everyone else a winner. Such is life.

I hope you’ve enjoyed out little game. It’s back to more serious stuff next week. Have a nice weekend!

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Let’s Play…Guess Who!

I’ve been tempted to jump on the Wordless Wednesday train for a while now, as I think it’s a really neat idea. I love looking at beautiful photos of dogs, cats, flowers or anything else, and the absence of words can be quite refreshing at times. There’s only one problem that stands in my way: I love to talk and can’t shut up. But I’m working on it, and one day I might be able to post something completely wordless. I’ve come close to it a few times, but I’m not quite there yet.

Anyway, as this week’s attempt to fewer words, here’s a photo of George – in what looks to me like a somewhat uncomfortable bow position – asking for a game.

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If you want to play, you could try to guess who is the mystery living creature that George wants to play with? Human or animal? Dog, cat or something else? Breed? Name? (I know, now I’m pushing it). I’m afraid you don’t win anything, apart from public recognition for being good at guessing. Although a guest appearance on our blog is a possibility. Clue: it’s not me, I was talking the picture.

And no, that’s not our revamped garden, we were visiting.

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The Grass on Top of the Grass

As you can probably remember from our previous gardening post, for the past few weeks we’ve been working hard to give our back garden a facelift for the new season. We like to use it a lot in the summer, for barbecues, sun-bathing, games and family fun, and thought it deserved a bit of attention.

At the time of the previous post, we had just made the garden private by doubling up the fence and had begun to extend the grass area – with precious help from George, of course.

Yesterday, after hours of hard labour and many muscle aches, the turfing process finally came to an end. The last patch of grass went down ceremoniously, completing our garden jigsaw puzzle.  There was only one small piece of turf left that had nowhere to go, so we temporarily laid it on top of the existing grass until we decided what do to with it.

It only took our comfort-loving whippet – who’s always on the lookout for soft, preferably warm places to lie in – 10 seconds to decide that the ‘new rug’ was placed there for his personal use. He gave it a quick sniff, tested its texture with one paw, then rushed to claim it for himself, before anyone else got the same idea.

Here’s Mr. Spoilt-Boy lying on his grass on top of the grass.

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Isn’t it weird that the leftover patch happens to be whippet-size?

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I’ve Got a Dog, Talk to Me!

Yesterday we nipped to the shops for a few bits and bobs. Since we were struggling to fit this unexpected, yet necessary trip in our busy schedule, we decided to take George with us. After all, a dog does need the occasional road walk to wear his nails down, so a visit to our local supermarket instead of the regular afternoon stroll through the marsh sounded like a good idea.

When we reached our destination, I sent my husband in to fight his way through the wave of early afternoon shoppers and sat on a wall to wait for him. Finally, a few minutes peace and quiet whilst George investigates the nearby bushes. Or so I thought.

During the 20 minutes wait, four people stopped to talk to me. One was an old man who had a little Jack Russel and wanted to make friends. Two were elderly couples who used to have dogs and knew a thing or two about whippets. The last one was a young woman with a little girl who wanted to make a fuss of George.

Maybe they couldn’t resist his sweet face?

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I can’t deny that I’ve quite enjoyed talking to these people. They were all nice in their own way. But I can’t keep wondering…Would they have stopped to talk to me if I was alone? I don’t think so.

We grow up hearing that we should not talk to strangers in the street. People we don’t know can be dangerous. You never know what criminal thoughts lie hidden inside an innocent-looking 85-year-old lady. You can never tell. A young(ish) person – like myself – perched on a brick wall around the back of a supermarket is surely up to no good and to be avoided. But…Hold on!…She’s got a dog! Oh, she’s all right then, let’s stop for a chat!

So what is it about having a dog that draws people towards you? Wandering the streets with a dog by your side seems to somehow label you a model citizen, making it OK for you to hang around in the strangest of places. It kind of makes you safe to interact and talk to.

It’s the same with kids. As a decent person, you would never contemplate approaching a child other than your own in a park or in the street. This kind of misdirected friendliness would attract at least a few condemning looks from passers-by and could land you in a lot of trouble. But if you’ve got a child with you, then you’re suddenly a trustworthy person and everybody relaxes around you. If you’re the join-in-the-fun type, you could even end up with a bunch of little people clinging onto your trousers and jumping on your back. Oh, isn’t he/she good with children!, you’ll hear the sit-on-the-bench-and-watch-type (grand)parents whisper to each other approvingly.

I’ve heard of a number of men who have ‘borrowed’ their friends’ children to pick up women. Successfully. Films have been made about this. Films have also been made about men using dogs to pick up women. Successfully. (Think of 101 Dalmatians).

No wonder the strategy works. In today’s world, children and dogs seem to qualify you as being safe. It’s like having a safety certificate tattooed on your head. Or like an invite to an intimate, friendly chat. Or both. To me, sitting on that wall with George felt like I was wearing a big sign that said “I’ve got a dog, talk to me!”.

So here are my questions for you. Do you find yourselves the centre of attention when out and about with your dogs? Do you suddenly become Mr. or Mrs. Popularity when you’re attached to the end of a lead? Do strangers ever approach you to tell you how beautiful your dog is and half an hour later they’re still telling you their life story?

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What Is It About Boxers…?

https://mylittledog.wordpress.com/I’ve always had a soft spot for boxers. So much so, that they appeared on the shortlist of breeds we were considering when we decided to get a dog 3 years ago. Boxers are athletic, loving and playful dogs who make good family pets and my love of them started way back in my childhood with a boxer called Rolf, who was all of the above.

I did not have any pets as a child, Rolf belonged to a neighbour who lived on the ground floor of our apartment block. But, since the neighbour loved children and had no problems sharing his dog, Rolf belonged to the neighbourhood kids as well. He was often part of our games and there was nothing he loved more than the cuddles and attention he received from us. Rolf loved children and children loved Rolf. I still bear the image of this sweet-natured childhood companion in my mind, and haven’t yet met a bad boxer to ruin it.

George, however, feels completely differently about boxers. The mere sight of one is enough for him to go ballistic and start to bark, growl and show his teeth. The hair on his back will rise sky-high giving him a pretty menacing, beastly look. And all these before we even gets close to the poor dog.

In fact, George has never seen a boxer up close, mainly because of his silly behaviour. He has no bad history whatsoever as far as these dogs are concerned. He’s never been attacked or even growled at by one.

Then why is it that my soft, friendly dog behaves in this manner around boxers?

I asked the advice of an experienced dog owner and behaviorist and here’s what I found out.

First of all, this happens whilst both George and the other dog are on the lead. The theory is that, since finding himself at the end of a lead annihilates George’s only reliable defence mechanism – his speed – he feels exposed and vulnerable, and shows aggression in an attempt to scare away those dogs that he feels threatened by. Of, course, he’s clever enough to only act this tough when the other dog is also on the lead and can’t go for him. He’s never behaved this way when meeting other dogs off-lead.

This theory makes sense and I’m ready to accept it. But my dilemma remains: why is he so much worse when the other dog is a boxer?

Well, it seems that it’s quite common for boxers to be picked on by other dogs. Apparently, it has to do with their unusual face. Again, the theory says that other breeds do not perceive a boxer’s face as being normal. So, boxers are not dogs to other dogs, but rather weird, unknown creatures. Depending on the other dog’s nature, a boxer’s face will therefore inspire fear (as it happens with George) or an irresistible urge to investigate and conquer. In both cases, the reaction will be aggressive. Whilst dogs like George will try to keep the boxer at bay by looking vicious, dogs from the latter category will most likely attack and try to assert their domination over the ‘alien’.

This theory kind of makes sense too, but my knowledge of canine psychology is very limited and therefore I’d like to hear other opinions before I make up my mind. So I thought I’d ask our blogging friends. What do you think of the theory described above? What is your experience with boxers? Do your dogs behave differently around them?

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