Archive for category Pets & Problems

A Bit of Light Relief

Protests against high fuel prices in the form of road blocks permitting, we are holding a fundraising Christmas Fair this weekend for Twilight,  the home for old and disabled dogs I support here in France (you can read about the amazing work Mike and Leanne do here)

I am ‘womanning’ the Twilight stall which will have calendars, Christmas cards, tea-towels, tote bags and aprons for sale along with a few of my hand made dog collars and some key fobs made from the leftover collar materials.

Remember my big crochet dog with the slightly sad face I made with super chunky wool?

Well, I thought I’d offer her up as a prize in a ‘guess the name of the dog’ game at the Christmas Fair.

I think she looks like a female dog so I racked my brains to come up with 30 girly dog names – which proved much harder to think of than male dog names for some reason.  People can choose a name for a euro and the winner can take her home.  With any luck, and just a little bit of friendly cajoling, I might be able to donate 30 euros to the cause which we wouldn’t get if I just put her up for sale.

I haven’t had the most wonderful month.  November has become the anniversary of some recent sad events in my family and I’ve had a couple of other stressful situations to deal with.  So, just for a bit of fun, and because it’s approaching the festive season, I thought I’d ask my readers if they’d like to guess her name and, if anybody gets it right, I’ll send them one of the aprons I’ve been making out of the fun tea-towels Twilight produce or I can leave it as a tea-towel if you prefer.

Here’s a close up of the possible choices

First come first served – once somebody has chosen a name, I’ll cross it off – if I can work out how to do that – otherwise you can just have a look at the previous guesses.

Just leave your guess in the comments and, because I think it’s only fair, the game is only open to those already following me.  So, if you are a follower but don’t usually comment, and you would like a free apron/tea towel – and who wouldn’t? – now’s the time.

The fair is on Saturday 24th so I’ll reveal the answer on Monday 26th.

Go on – have a guess!

 

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Three Became Two

We had to say goodbye to Taz on Friday.

Having survived a spleen removal operation this time last year and being almost totally blind and deaf – he was diagnosed with a tumour in his mouth in August and it became more and more difficult for him to eat which was, really, the only pleasure he had left.  Friday morning, the side of his face was swollen badly and I decided it was time.

He was with us for thirteen years since being dumped out of a car as a puppy, picked up by a boy who’d seen it happen and taken into the vet’s office where I just happened to be, a few hours later, with one of my cats.  Obviously, he came home with me.

We’ve had dogs for a long time now and, to be honest, Taz wasn’t one of the dogs for me.  You might know what I mean – there’s always one or maybe two that really get deep into your heart.  Like some sort of canine stalker, he spent most of his time outdoors ignoring us and being obsessed with the dog next door who he could see in the garden below ours and ran up and down for hours, watching him and barking at him, until he wore a path in that particular part of the garden that has never disappeared.

He had his moments though.

He liked a snuggle with the cats.

Even though he wasn’t a team player, he occasionally turned up for a game.

He suffered our traditional ‘dog hat photos’ at Christmas even though he gave us the stink eye.

He’s now gone to join Phoebe the German Shepherd (who was the dog for me) and Susie the gentle Golden Retriever over the Rainbow Bridge.

We’ll miss his silly face.

 

 

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Flora, Fauna and Fleas

Just to prove the weather’s gone crazy, I took this photo yesterday – from the car so it’s not brilliant, sorry – but these sunflowers are in full bloom and it’s the end of August.  Usually they’ve all finished around the end of July in these parts.  That’s what having rain almost every day in June will do I suppose.

This appeared in the storage box thingy next to the pool.  I want to move the box further up the garden away from scantily clad bodies but nobody has volunteered to help me.  Funny that.  Sorry for the blurry photo but I was in and out of there faster than you can say knife (or wasp) but they don’t actually seem to be interested in doing anything else but looking after their nest so might as well let them be.

My old dog Taz seems to be on his last legs – he’s thirteen next month and is now completely blind, almost deaf and seems to be confused about where he is most of the time.  He still enjoys his food though so when he suddenly slowed down his usual scarfing down of dog biscuits I was even more worried so I took him to the vets.  We have a new vet – she is amazing.  She laid down on the floor, on her back, as if she was examining the underside of a car and, without further ado, attacked his icky teeth with what looked like a cross between a pair of pliers and some nutcrackers to remove the tartar caring nothing for the close proximity of randomly snapping jaws.  He has an infection which she’s given him antibiotics for but, unfortunately, she also spotted a tumour in his mouth which she says can’t be operated on.  I wouldn’t put him through it anyway at his age.  She’s given him some tablets which may or may not inhibit the growth of the tumour but we’ll see.

Taz

Open wide

When I told her I think he has some sort of canine dementia, she said she would try oxygenating his brain.  I was filled with trepidation as to how he’d react when given a blow through with oxygen and wondered if she’d administer it through his ears or up his nose.  I was actually a bit disappointed when she just gave us more tablets.  She thought I was very funny for some reason.   I’ll give it a couple of weeks to see how he gets on but I’m in ‘preparation mode’.

With the heat this Summer we have, once again had a problem with fleas.  Despite costing me the price of a foreign holiday to treat three dogs, five cats and a large house with top of the range flea and tick treatment, those little buggers have returned.  Last year the cats were the most badly affected, this year it’s the dogs.  They usually have a topical treatment which is supposed to last a month but, three weeks in, I’ve had to give them tablets too.  I think I’m on top of the problem now but it’s not been without its moments.

I’ve become paranoid about every little black speck I see and, the other day, I tried to drown a tiny piece of black velcro that had fallen off the strap of my sandal onto my foot.  I only realised my mistake when I was studying it floating around in the glass and wondered why it didn’t have any legs.

Then, following advice on the internet, I added some cider vinegar to all the pets’ drinking water and made up a solution in a spray bottle to wet the dogs’ fur with and put some on a cloth to wipe down the cats.  I also sprayed rugs and furniture.  Only after the bottle was empty and I went to refill it did I realise I’d used red wine vinegar by mistake.  I’ve waited a couple of days to tell you this in case I had to report ill effects or drunken capers but, as there was no dancing on the tables or lewd behaviour to report I will assume no harm was done.  Although I can’t speak for what the fleas got up to.

 

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More Fowl Thoughts

Hello again, it’s the last Tialys chicken here with news for you about my search for a new family after my last companion died of old age and left me feeling lonely.

On Monday, Mme Tialys let me out of my hen house and, before I could even have a sip of water or a peck at some food, she tried to pick me up.  Well, I wasn’t having any of that sort of nonsense, so I led her a merry dance round and round my run, hiding in the bamboo and behind some nettles until she gave up and went off to put cream on her nettle stings, change her nice dress she’d put on that morning and leave for a meeting – she was late apparently, serves her right.

The next morning, the same thing happened, only this time she was ready for me.  All exits blocked, cage ready, I was nabbed.

This is me in the back of the car with all my leftover food – it was torture as I hadn’t had breakfast. I’m sitting on a newspaper with a photo of a half naked man on the front – apparently it’s Aidan Turner aka Poldark.  He’s alright I suppose but he’s got no feathers worth a mention so I peed on him.

Half an hour later I was in a new place.

Mme Tialys has some good friends who she says, if ever she comes back as an animal and needs a home with humans, they would be the ones she would want to adopt her.  When they saw my ad on Tinder, they said I could go and live with them and their chickens (and horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, etc.) so Mme. Tialys took me there to see if I approved.

Mme. Karen is holding me in the cage while Monsieur John distracts the others with some noodles.

Let me at those noodles, I’m starving.


I was gratified to see that I am the fattest biggest chicken there so I did start duffing a few of them up just to show I wasn’t going to take kindly to them ganging up on me or anything.  Monsieur John asked Mme Tialys if she had a muzzle for me.  Cheek!

O.K., you’ve showed me where the noodles are kept, you can clear off now Lightweight.

So, I won’t be lonely any more – there are 14 other chickens here including some funny looking Leghorns and it’s obvious that Monsieur John is a complete softie where his chickens are concerned so I’ll soon have him wrapped round my little chicken foot and doing my bidding.  I might even try to squeeze an egg out for him every now and again.

What do you think of my new place?

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Chicken Tinder

Plump, attractive, mature lady with all her own feathers looking for somebody to strut with and possibly share some snails and bugs.  Has own transport and can sometimes squeeze an egg out.  GSOH (good sense of hens) essential.  

I am all that is left of the Tialys flock.

In the old days there were a few of us and we had a handsome cockerel called Darth who looked after us.

I used to chat with him and we sometimes had a laugh together by pretending not to see that a kitten was stalking us.

These black hens were the oldest and had been Tialys chickens since 2006.

Darth died last year aged 11 and only me and Grandma Black Hen were left.  We flew up into a tree earlier last year when the weasels came and decapitated our last two sisters right in front of us.

Last weekend, Grandma Black Hen started to fade and then she died – she was 12 years old and my last friend.

I came rushing out of my coop this morning as usual –

then I remembered I am all alone now.

I heard Mr. & Mrs. Tialys say they don’t want to keep chickens any more so they won’t be getting me any new friends but they are worried I’ll be lonely.

I am too.

 

 

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May All Your Weeds Be Wildflowers

If only!

A post in which I, uncharacteristically, put loads of flower pictures up and don’t say much – although I was just going to call this ‘Tight Lipped Tuesday’ or some such thing and say nothing at all which, of course, I couldn’t quite manage.

Our garden is large and terraced – up at the back there are woods which is where we walk the dogs.  On Saturday, Flo decided to take herself off after a rabbit or something causing much consternation.

I re-traced our steps of the morning walk through the woods and, to keep my mind a little less stressed, took photos of the wildflowers in between shouts and whistles.

As Mr. T. has a full time job he has a bit of trouble keeping on top of the gardening, especially with all the rain we’ve had lately, and we tend to only keep the lower two or three terraces mown and cultivated.  He has a healthy attitude to gardening though as the stuff that hasn’t been attacked with the brushcutter (too steep for a mower higher up) he proclaims is very good for insects so bees, mantis, grasshoppers and all sorts of beasties have a whale of a time up there and it’s probably worth getting a few itchy bits on my legs when I walk through it all in the summer months.

With all the beautiful flowers growing in the wild for free and needing no care and attention an alien landing on Earth might wonder why we spend so much time, money and effort on forcing other things to grow where we want them to and not where they might choose.

If I know the name of any of these, you probably do too so I’ll let the images do the talking (for a change 😉 )

A lot have already ‘gone over’ but I think that’s enough weedy eye candy for one blog post and, by chance, Cathy went wild in Yorkshire today and she has actually named some of the wildflowers for you (or her readers have) so, although this is S.W. France, there are quite a few similarities.

It’s bloomin’ hot out there now so I’ve moved me and my jug of wildflowers into the shade.

Oh yes, and guess who came back after around three hours with something that could have been blood on her paw and neck which wasn’t hers.

We are now missing a cat though – Salem, the black one on top,  although I doubt he chased a rabbit.

I’ll keep you posted about him.

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Is It Woolly Going To Be A Dog?

Having honed my crochet skills on blankets – an ongoing process by the way – I’ve never tried amigurumi.  Difficult enough to say the word, I’d always intended to give this sort of crochet a go and even bought a couple of pattern books but, when the Dog one came out it was a ‘had to have’.

Not that I need more dogs in my life but I thought, if they were quick and easy enough, they might be a good thing to sell in aid of Twilight, the home for old and disabled dogs I support.

It will be a while before I get to the long haired varieties like this.

Photo from Book

So I thought I’d start with a beginner pattern – a little labrador

Photo from Book

Searching through my yarn stash, it became clear that I had no ‘neutral colours’  i.e. black, grey, white, cream in the required thickness.  However, I did have some oatmeal coloured yarn in ‘Chunky’ which meant, if I wanted to make a start straight away, I’d have to do the large sized dog – there are three sizes to choose from for each dog – it’s just the size of the crochet hook and the thickness of the yarn that changes.   So that’s what I’m doing – not a little labrador but a large labrador.

Any resemblance to a big butternut squash is purely coincidental.

For scale see the vintage wig stand behind which is, more or less, about the size of an actual human head.

I wouldn’t mind but the dog’s head is a slightly smaller butternut squash which I will attempt to balance atop the body once I’ve got the legs on for stability.  I’ll let you know how that goes :/

The Twilight Easter Fair fundraiser is next Saturday where we are raising money to make life more comfortable for the for old and disabled dogs who have been abandoned or who have been separated from their owners for one reason or another.    I don’t think I’ll be churning these out quickly enough to be able to put them up for sale by then – certainly not at this size – but I’ll have to buy in some neutral colours in double knitting  yarn in order to make some smaller ones which – looking into the future – might be ready for the Christmas Fair and, by that time, I might have progressed to the shaggier versions.

Meanwhile, I have another nine Twilight tea towels to turn into aprons before next Saturday so I’d better leave ears, legs and tail until after then.

The weather here continues to be complete pants and the real dogs are bored.

Flo couldn’t even be bothered to choose which woolly doggy she wants me to crochet for her to play with.

 

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Be More Squirrel (Edited to Contain Warning)

You may remember that last year my dogs ate the plums from our trees from the unripe to rotting stage and would do so all day long if allowed to.  The evenings were not pleasant.

Mr. T. decided that he would cut all twelve trees down as they are very old and the plums are not particularly nice anyway – well,  at least we didn’t think so.  The fig trees are also a doggy favourite but I couldn’t quite part with them so they are staying for the moment.

In future, all fruit trees will be planted on the other side of the fence that cordons off a part of the garden that the dogs haven’t got access to (apart from when they dig holes and get under the fence).

All three dogs have now discovered acorns so our walks are slowed down considerably by them snuffling around eating all the acorns they can find but, luckily, these do not seem to produce the gaseous emissions that plums do so I’m not overly worried about it although I must check they’re not toxic to dogs or anything.  (Update:  Yes, they are – please see note at the bottom of the post).  I truly believe my dogs will eat anything – the more disgusting the better.

I have also become a bit more squirrel this month and have reverted to my old habit of hoarding fabric.  I made a pair of trousers at long last and, flushed with success, placed an order for dressmaking fabric in the mistaken belief that I need more clothes or that Mlle. Tialys the Younger will be persuaded into dresses any time soon.  The trouble is, dresses are my favourite clothing item to make but I live in jeans and  so does Mlle. T.   What am I to do?  I think perhaps a solution might be to make more ‘tops’.  That way I can indulge myself with nice fabric and make pretty things but put jeans on underneath.  Of course, that might mean I’ll have to buy more patterns as most of mine are for dresses.

I have a clear cutting table at the moment while I await Mr. T’s return from the U.K. with my latest haul so I will make a second pair of trousers while I remember how to do it.

Meanwhile, I am making progress with the Eastern Jewels crochet blanket and have joined the first two rows together – only two more to go!  The more I do, the more I love it, the less I feel I will be able to part with it.

I took some time off from the crochet to knit up a couple of cotton dishcloths in my bid to cut down wasteful buying of kitchen towels, etc. but I’ve only managed two so far.  I’m going to try crochet ones next as they will probably be quicker.

Love the little ‘French tea-towel’ effect one.  You can find the patterns for both here and here.

  I’ve also been making waxed wraps in an attempt to cut down on single use plastic such as cling film but they are in use around cheese and the tops of bowls.  When I make some new ones – using beeswax this time instead of pure soy wax – I’ll show you some pics.

My fabric arrived from Laughing Hedgehog – don’t you just love the name – a company I hadn’t used before but they had the French General fabric I was looking for to back my Shabby Union Jack.

I was very lucky because I had ordered 1.5m which was being very optimistic but this was apparently the end of bolt so she kindly put all 1.8 m in for me which turned out to be just right.  I used the plain grey/brown for binding and, as you can see, decided to put a sleeve in just in case it ended up as a wall hanging rather than a throw.

Here it is as a throw

and here is the long, plain corridor – leading to the loo and Mlle. T. the Younger’s chamber of horrors  bedroom – where it might end up on the wall.

I think it needs a bit of something don’t you?

I’ll let you know where it ends up.

 

EDIT;

I did eventually Google the risks and found this amongst lots of other warnings –

Exposure to acorns in dogs is common in the autumn and winter months. The toxic ingredient is thought to be tannic acid, which can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Signs include vomiting, diarrhoea (with or without blood), abdominal pain, inappetance and lethargy. Ingested acorns can also cause an intestinal blockage.

So, best not let your dog be more squirrel after all.

 

 

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A Doggy Diversion

Last Saturday I was supposed to be helping out at a fund raiser for  Twilight the retirement home for old and disabled dogs here in France which I think I’ve told you about before.  It’s run by a British couple who take in dogs who would otherwise be spending the rest of their lives on a concrete floor at the back of a refuge somewhere being ignored by prospective owners – and that would be the lucky ones!  You can read about their work here.

Anyway, I wasn’t able to help set up on the Friday afternoon so arrived early on Saturday morning but our esteemed team leader and champion cake maker Deb was in a state because she had just found a dog on the side of the road which she thought might have been hit by a car as his eye looked swollen and red and he was holding his head on one side.  She wanted him taken to a vet to be scanned for a microchip and his state of health assessed but she couldn’t leave the venue and her husband doesn’t speak French so I went with him and the dog to find a vet open on a Saturday morning which happened to be the one right near my house that I’d left just half an hour before.

Here’s the little chap – a French bulldog who has definitely seen better days.

The waiting room was packed so I told Deb’s husband to leave me there and I’d call him when we’d been seen.

All the other patients seemed to be tiny little yorkshire terrier puppies and pristine white kittens waiting for their first vaccinations and there I was with this little fleabag straight from a horror film.

I sat up one end of the waiting room hoping that his gaseous offerings would not offend too many people.  They did.  A window was opened.  Many fleas were visible on his body where his constant scratching had caused him to suffer from eczema and lose his hair in patches.  I could sense people moving away from us and clutching their pets closer torn between sympathy and disgust.

I took him out to see if he wanted to do his ‘business’ in the vet’s garden and, when we went back inside and sat in the same seat, I noticed the floor was wet and could smell something that reminded me of flea spray.  The nurse had taken the opportunity in our absence to spray all around where we’d been sitting in case we infected all the others.  The shame! I felt like a pariah and he wasn’t even mine.  I did make it clear to the assembled pet owners when we first arrived that we had found him that morning but as he kept putting his little paws up on my knees and gazing at me adoringly, I’m not sure they believed me.

The good news is he was microchipped and, even more miraculously, we managed to get hold of his owner who met us back at the venue and I was prepared to give her what for but it turned out she seemed to be guilty of casual neglect – mostly due to lack of funds – rather than cruelty.  We would have preferred her to have signed the little chap over to us so we could then get him properly treated – that eye will probably need to be removed – but she promised me she’d go and at least discuss treatment with the vet.  I don’t think there’s any equivalent of the  P.D.S.A. or Blue Cross organisations where people with financial problems can take their animals for cheaper veterinary treatment although I might be wrong.

Anyway, I finally got back to the venue at midday and they obviously managed without me because we raised a nice amount for Twilight which was brilliant considering we were only really selling cakes, bric-a-brac, second hand books and clothes and holding a raffle.

I had pre-ordered one of Deb’s gorgeous ginger cakes which are always just the right sort of stickiness but I wasn’t keen on the label.

I’m more of a strawberry blonde.

So, a day of high and lows and I hope the little dog gets the treatment he needs for his eye and his skin and flea infestation.

Still, it could be worse, he could be a magpie.

 

75 euros if anybody wants me to go back to the junk shop and get it for them.

 

UPDATE:

The little dog has now been taken to the vet by his owner, his eye has been treated and he is no longer constantly scratching.  Perhaps we made the owner sit up and take notice and, in that case, I consider my two hours in the waiting room with a flea ridden, red eyed, farty dog time well spent.  Let’s hope she doesn’t allow him to get in that state again.

 

 

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Touching Swiftly on a Hatbox

In keeping with my pledge to add to my Liberty Hatbox wall hanging project at the end of each month I’m afraid I have failed miserably as I still  can’t decide on the final block.

 So, I made another one.


I won’t bore you rigid with the choices I face again but I’m still not sure and now I think I’ve made it worse by having three to choose from instead of two.  Kate, on the other hand, is making great progress and has started hand quilting (yes hand quilting) her full size quilt and putting me to shame.  See and admire here.

So that’s the hatbox pledge dealt with which would make for a very short post indeed .

Your hopes, however,  are dashed!

Did I mention Liberty of London fabric?  I think I told you they had a sale and I think I told you I indulged.  I’m not sure I realised there were actual skyscrapers on this fabric when I ordered it but, now I know, I like it even more.   The simple shell top on this New Look pattern that had come free with a magazine seemed just the thing….

and so it was.

I’ve decided I have a back problem in that nearly everything I make gapes a little at the back of the neck.  I think I have narrow shoulders in comparison to my bust so, next time, I’m going to cut a wedge out of the centre top of the back bodice and see if that fixes it – a tip I found on By Hand, London.  Unless anybody has any better ideas.

Also, I bought this astrology themed tana lawn in the Liberty sale to make a shirt for Mr. Tialys who had a hand in choosing the fabric.

I’ve never made a man’s shirt before but thought it was time I gave it a go as my wardrobe is full, one daughter makes her own clothes, the other doesn’t much care about clothes so that leaves the husband (or the pets and don’t think I might not go there!).

I chose the Negroni by Colette as it’s a nice, casual style but with some interesting features, it has good reviews and there is a very detailed sew along (from about six years ago!) on the Male Pattern Boldness blog so what could go wrong?  Actually, so far, very little.  I’m working on a muslin using fabric that was more expensive than the tana lawn due to the fact that there was 60% off in the Liberty sale but I  always hope my muslins (when I actually bother to make one) will be wearable otherwise I get upset if all the work comes to nought – apart from ensuring you’re making the right size of course which is the main purpose of them after all.

Anyway – how’s this for a flat felled seam?

An inside view of course – the fabric is dark on the outside and I certainly wasn’t confident enough to use contrasting thread so you wouldn’t be able to make it out.  This is the first time I’ve tackled a real flat felled seam, although I did mock ones on Tilly and the Buttons’ Rosa dress,  and I’m pleased with the way this one turned out.  I say ‘this one’ because the other one didn’t turn out quite as neat but I’m not going to show you that now am I?

Did somebody mention a sale by the way?

Fifty six 50g balls of cotton double knitting yarn in all the shades in the range and no,  I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, thank you for asking.

Mr. Tialys is still creating awesome leather things in his ‘spare’ time which is strange because I didn’t think he had any of that or that’s what he tells me if I ask him to do anything in the house or garden 😉


This is a laptop bag he designed himself and is in the kind of leather that already looks as if it’s been ‘lived in’ which is the kind I like.

I decided to have a clear out in the cupboard in the conservatory and threw some stuff in a box ready to go to the charity shop.

I know I sometimes get fed up with having so many animals but I haven’t quite resorted to this yet.

What is it with cats and cardboard boxes anyway?

 

 

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