Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It must be love, love, love....

It's a busy time for home-boarding here at Barkingham Palace. I now have the rest of this week free, and then it's dog guests pretty much all the way through October, with half of November potentially booked up too already! Still, that means we must be getting something right.

For the past two weeks and a few days, we've had Caesar and Cleo, a pair of wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers, staying with us. They've stayed with us before, but never for that length of time. It was an absolutely amazing stay.

Because they stayed with us for longer, we got to see more of their personalities this time. They are just two of the most charismatic dogs I've ever known. Cleo has a habit of always sleeping under her blanket, but she forgets that she is under there when she wakes up. Ergo, you just just see a blanket hovering across the floor. Caesar, now he's a one dog laughathon from start to finish. He loves to be the centre of attention and will do almost anything to make sure that he is. Caeasar and I gravitated towards each other from the very start. He is everything that I love in a dog - he's cheeky, he's energetic, and just so full of spirit! He could also sleep for England. I don't think we have ever laughed as much as we have with these two. I did consider keeping them but I think their owners, Max and Becky, were onto my plan pretty early on. Foiled again!

I was supposed to be enjoying my regular walk with (whisper) my favourite dog (end whisper) Teal'c the Rotweiller, yesterday evening, but Jan's Mum was taken into the hospital the night before. I think I have mentioned before, but if not, Jan's Mum has terminal cancer, with only an expected few months to live. However, she's a tough ol' Northern gal, and keeps on defying the odds. God bless her. All being well, she should be out of hospital again today.

Anyway, I naturally cancelled my walk with Teal'c but am trying to squeeze one in before the end of the week when we take another dog in for over two weeks. I have to get my regular Teal'c fix, you know. And secretly, going by the way that poor ol' Sue (Teal'c's owner) gets dragged to my door when she arrives, I think Teal'c likes to get her Maz fix too. :) What can I say - I'm a dedicated Rottie fan through and through...

Then, in between dog stays, we've been trying to decorate and get some bits done around the house. We have to try and make things dog-proof as much as possible so it's always quite a challenge, but I think we have a decent enough balance.

On the issue of my ailing fingers, blood tests have now ruled out rheumatoid arthritis and gout. (Gout was never really an option but it had to be ruled out before the next stage.) The latest theory is that my immune system has gone a little crazy and is attacking my own joints because it doesn't recognise them as belonging to me. Apparently, it's not as uncommon as it sounded to me at first. I also believe this is essentially what arthritis is anyway. So it's a referral to the rheumatology department at the hospital now for further tests. Suffice to say that my fingers are still immensely painful at times, particularly when they get cold. I'm having to use my laptop for much of the time now as resting my fingers over the mouse for prolonged periods seems to make them much worse too. But I'm confident that we'll get to the bottom of it and get rid of the problem as easily as I seemed to encounter it.

Oh yes, and then there is Ellie. Remember her? A Border Collie? :) She has been doing great. It's fair to say that her training has lessened of late, because of other things going on, but that will get restored in due course.

She's being amazing really, considering the number of different dogs that come into her space. She seems to get much more bent out of shape over bitches then dogs. When the two JRTs come, for example, she obsesses over Cleo but barely notices Caesar. It must be a woman thing. :) That said, she always laid down with Cleo, not Caesar.

Our latest game is that I drop the ball surreptitiously as we are walking. Then, at some random point I will call 'Ellie, find it!' and she has to find the ball. She's really very very good at it! I'm going to start doing it with other objects soon I think. I'm very impressed that she never gives in searching. I've also become better at not giving any clues away as to the location of the ball. I try my hardest to stand like a statue. Not easy on these colder morning I can tell you!

So there you have it - a busy but fine time at Barkingham Palace. Until the next time...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Confined to the Barracks

It's not been the best of times lately here at Barkingham Palace. Ellie has been confined to barracks because she's in season and the discomfort in my fingers continues to plague me. We have now ruled out rheumatoid arthritis (which is some relief) and I have now had x-rays done on both hands to see if that reveals the cause. The theory at the moment is that it's some sort of reaction to my recent staph infection and that it could go away by itself in, wait for it, a few months! All I know is that it isn't getting any better at the moment. As a result, my photos and my work are suffering more than I would like and I know people are still waiting for photos from me and I have other projects that I have fallen behind on too. All in all, just not a great time right now.

So, while Ellie has been a little miserable at her lack of activity, I've found some relief in my second favourite dog in the world, Teal'c the Rottweiler. Sue, (Teal'c's - that's a tough name to add apostrophes to - owner) has come over to Barkingham Palace a couple of times in the last few days and I've joined her and Teal'c on nice walks on the local farm fields. It's been quite a relief to have an excuse to get out and walk. (Thanks, Sue - really appreciated!) Walking around on your own, particularly as a man, is no fun and, such is the paranoid way of the world these days, it often meets with some rather suspicious looks.

However, going by Ellie's reaction to Teal'c when she has come in the house, I think that Ellie will be over her season by the end of next week. Hoorah! This season has been, by far, the worst ever in terms of her being grumpy and snappy.

There is good news on the horizon - the Doodles (Ceasar and Cleo) are coming for just over two weeks next Friday. You know how some dogs just grow on you really effortlessly? Ceasar (who I have personally renamed Maxamillion, though I am having a hard job convincing his owners of the merits of such a change) is one such dog.