by Sasha Denyer, as told to Barry & Pat Denyer
Winter's chill wind is blowing outside. Not a time for Pyrs to be out frolicking. Much better to lie in the warmth of a family home with my belly full of good food and my pets available to tend to my every need. Ah, bliss!
Greetings, fellow Pyrs, and welcome once again to the column with the British slant. You will, no doubt, recall that in my last offering I was unable to bring you the tale of my trip to the vet's. Well, it was back in November that I got taken along to the local surgery for a minor operation. At my tender age (about 7 years) we had decided that it would be best if I didn't have any more litters and, given my penchant for escapology, being neutered was the best option. While I was 'out cold' the vet did a bit of cosmetic surgery. A couple of my teats had become distended and were shaped like large mushrooms. There was a distinct possibility that I could have caught one on something so the vet kindly removed them for me. The operation went like a dream, no problems at all. I got Pat and Barry to drive me home after my recovery period and on arrival at Third Acre, I made a beeline for the back door. I just had to get out into the garden (yard). I was busting to go!
After I had tended to my ablutions, I was in like a shot. I sat in the middle of the kitchen floor, looking pleadingly at the bowl that was strategically placed on the worksurface. I wanted my dinner! In deference to my delicate state, Barry boiled a couple of large cups of rice and scrambled 6 eggs. The resultant mixture was delicious and just what I needed to get me going. After such a light dinner I was in need of further sustenance so I finished off Sam's dinner as well.
48 hours after my operation we trekked back to the vet's so that he could inspect the operation site. There was no chance of me climbing on the table and, strong though he may be, Barry wasn't going to lift me up. Our vet is nothing if not ingenious. He laid on his back, on the floor, and slid underneath my tummy, shining a torch (flashlight) in the direction of the stitches. No problems there.
Ten days later it was back to the vet's to have the stitches removed. This time the vet made Barry pick up my front end while he (the vet) did the business. Everything looked fine apart from a small swelling where I had a little reaction to the internal stitches, but after a couple of days even that had disappeared.
And so to Christmas - oh, what bliss! Not only did Sam and I both have special Christmas stockings, but someone forgot about my penchant for stealing food. Pat made lots of lovely vol-au-vents (stuffed pastries) and the smell in the kitchen was delicious. I just had to stay around. I was even reluctant to go outside and check the boundaries. Unfortunately, Pat sussed out why I was staying so close to the oven and refused to leave the room unless someone else came to relieve her. Finally, all of the cooking was done and she filled the vol-au-vents: some cases with hard-boiled egg (mashed up with a hint of mayonnaise) and others with prawns in a seafood sauce. I was salivating! I don't normally drool but those smells were driving me crazy. Eventually, Pat put all of the vol-au-vents into sealed plastic containers and stacked them neatly on the worksurface so that they filled a gap between the worktop and the eye-level cupboards. They thought that it was safe to leave the kitchen unguarded. Oh, how wrong they were!
A deft spring on my front paws and I was able to get my elbows on the worksurface. A quick tap with my muzzle and the top container hit the floor. Fortunately it landed on a fairly thick carpet and didn't make a sound. The lid flew open and I had hit the jackpot! Prawn vol-au-vents! Yippee. There were only 30 of them but they made a nice late afternoon snack. I walked into the lounge (living room) carefully licking my lips. There must have been a smudge of seafood sauce on the end of my nose because Pat said "Sasha" (in a very stern voice), and I knew that I was in the dog-house (metaphorically speaking).
Christmas Day itself was wonderful as I was able to help Pat and Barry eat some of the chocolate and that bowl of salted peanuts. By the tone of their voices I don't think that they meant to leave these delicacies out for me.
After Christmas there were some bits and pieces of pastry and bread that had gone stale, so Pat cut it all up into small pieces and put it out on the bird table. Sam and I spent most of the day outside, despite the wind. It seems that Sam had previously developed this wonderful knack of lying perfectly still, under the bird table, waiting for one of our feathered friends to descend and attempt to make off with a piece of bread. I cottoned on to this very quickly. Just as the bird takes off we jump into action, the bird drops the bread and we get a free tit-bit.
The weather in England has been particularly mild this winter although we have had a lot of rain. I'm not too keen on the rain or the puddles that form in the garden. However, I do have to make sure that the boundaries are secure and I have worn the grass away down the south side of the garden. All of the rain had turned this Pyr pathway into a muddy track. The wet, sticky stuff splashed all up my legs and under my tummy. I wanted to show Pat and Barry how nasty it was outside so I went indoors and ran through the kitchen and dining room and headed for the lounge. Their reaction took me by surprise. I thought that they would be pleased to see me. They have now put a big sheet on the floor just inside the back door so that I can wipe my paws before going inside. The sheet looks just like the one that I have in my bed so, from time to time, I sleep on it.
We didn't manage to get to the 'Pram Race' at Pagham on Boxing Day. My 'pets' were feeling a little under the weather. They claimed that they all had colds but I think that they over-indulged on Christmas Day. I was fit and raring to go but had to make do with a romp in the back garden and a good bark at those pesky geese that keep landing on the lake just beyond my boundary. Dawn came home for Christmas and it was good fun having her around. She was the one that first started calling me 'Squishy'. It seems that she gives alternative names to all the animals in the house. I have still to work out how I acquired that nickname: maybe it is because I am just so loveable.
Young Dawn brought a couple of friends round on Boxing Day and I made sure that they both got a good Pyr greeting. James had been round before and was well accustomed to the fact that I like to have my back scratched. Tom, however, was new to me. He was 6 ft 6 inches tall, so I did what any self-respecting Pyr would do--I put my front paws on his shoulders and stared him in the eye! When everyone sat down for dinner I made sure that I stayed close to Tom, vainly hoping that he would be ignorant of the house rules about not feeding us dogs from the table. It didn't work.
I Gain A Friend
Just as I was thinking about bringing this article to a close, Pat and Barry have pulled out a surprise. They had recently joined the Pyr Appreciation Society (sorry, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog Club Of Great Britain) and had been sent a copy of the Club's newsletter. In the 'Rescue' section there was a postscript about a 6-month old Pyr puppy called Buster who needed a new home. Pat poured on all of her human feminine charm to try to convince Barry that I needed another playmate, as Sam is getting a little bit slow and is reluctant to join in all of my games. My 'pets' discussed the possibility of giving Buster a new home, as they drove off to get the weekly supply of groceries. They were still talking about it when they got back. How silly. I mean, what was there to talk out? Eventually Pat called Lorna Ireland, who looks after all the Pyrs in Great Britain that need new homes. There was good news and bad news, and they were one and the same thing. Buster had already found a new home. The good, good news was that Lorna had an 11 month-old male Pyr called Max and would Pat and Barry be interested in him?
We set off at the crack of dawn (actually it was 7:40 am) and drove the 158 miles to Lorna Ireland's Rescue centre. Much to Barry's surprise I remembered her but forgot my decorum and put my front paws on her shoulders and gave her a good Pyr welcome. After lots of chat with Lorna and Tony, one of the kennel maids went and fetched Max. Someone forgot about the prefix to his name--he should have been called 'Mad Max.' He went potty and was jumping everywhere and my 'pets' quickly realised that this was not the dog for them. Phew, was I glad. Then Mandy (one of the staff that I remembered well) went away and came back with another Pyr. This was Cotton, a 3 1/2 year-old female. Instinctively, I went to say 'Hello' and was pleasantly surprised to find that she was extremely friendly, although her manners could do with some improvement. It is so undignified to give everyone a Pyr-smile and a wag of the tail. I preserve my dignity by only favouring a select few. Cotton, on the other hand, was willing to say 'Hello' to everyone despite the fact that she had not been formally introduced.
When Barry opened the back of the estate car, we both jumped in and we all headed off for Sussex. After about 75 miles we stopped at a service area so that Cotton and I could parade up and down. We got lots of admiring looks and a number of people came up to speak to us. As we walked around it soon became obvious that Cotton and I were like chalk and cheese. I have a mainly white coat that is sleek and silky. I am slender and elegant. Cotton, on the other hand, is shaped like a dumpling and has a coat that looks more grey than white, with a lot of tan in it. While I move gracefully and with style, Cotton waddles like a duck. If I may use a human comparison here (and I think I can), if I can be compared with super-model Naomi Campbell, then Cotton would be Dawn French (think of TV's Roseanne)!
We arrived home just in time for dinner and all three of us (Sam included) had our evening meal together. No problems at all and we each inspected the other's bowls to make certain that no one had left any. Sam went off for a nap but Cotton and I decided that it was play time! It is a good thing that Pat and Barry have quite a big house with large rooms. Oh what fun we had, chasing around the lounge, dining room and kitchen. Our 'pets' just lifted their feet up off the floor and laughed at our antics (click here for photos).
I must finish in a moment as I am getting a touch of RSI (repetitive stress injury) in my paws but before I go, I must tell you that Cotton has been given a new name. Pat and Barry decided that it would be a lot easier to call her 'Cottee'. Pyrsonally, I think that she should be called 'The Dumpling' and they should stick her on a strict diet. She has already had to suffer one indignity since arriving --Pat and Barry gave her bath. It did nothing to improve her simple looks but at least she smells a bit better!
TTFN (Ta, Ta, For Now). Love and sloppy kisses,
Sasha 'Squishy' Denyer