Saturday, 14 March 2015

Mistaken identity ?

A friend overheard ....... a conversation that suggested ...... that Bella - Our Bella - had scratched him and should she should wear a muzzle! :O

NO! Our Bella?!  Our Bella who (1) turns away from people when they try and pet her? (2) Who takes a wide berth around any human she meets on walks and then sneakily sniffs them from a safe distance behind? (3) Who is never off the lead outside of the house?

Mistaken Identity me thinks!!

Yes, she still barks at the postman - from the top of the stairs! Yes, she still barks at people coming through the front door who she's seen do every Sunday and Wednesday evening since November 2011! But its more like a 'Hello!' and she's happy to be petted by those she's got to know. If you haven't been to the house before, she won't even come into the lounge to say hello. So no, she would never get near enough to scratch a human she's never met before!! Hopefully the mistake will be discovered!




Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Summer 2014 catch-up


It’s been a while!

And Bella is still our sweet little Shiba doggy!

              She still goes for a nice long walk in the morning, sometimes down to Pin Mill and depending on the tide times, a paddle; and sometimes just around the fields. Sometimes obedient and loving and responsive, sometimes pully and willful and exhausting!

               She still gets her lunch time walks although we haven’t been behind the Red Lion pub for some time, in fact only once after the Bunny Incident!

               I had listened to the stories of how Bella “caught another rabbit today” and how said rabbit was eventually prised from Bella’s strong jaws and ‘discarded’. Remember, that Bella is ALWAYS on the lead. She is NEVER let off the lead outside the house!  I saw first hand how quick she is as she leapt into the weeds alongside the path just a couple of metres in front of me and emerged with a teeny little bunny in her jaws. The poor thing would have been dead the moment she touched it :(  And Bella stood. There was no ways she was going to let her prize go. But it was as if she didn’t know what she was supposed to do. No matter of coaxing her to ‘DROP!’ ‘Drop It!’ made any difference. Bella stood with her jaws tightly locked on to the poor ex-bunny. I tried holding her snout to make her drop it; I tried prising her jaws open; I tried giving her a fright and poking her in the ribs. Even if she did drop it, I thought, how was I going to stop her picking it up again. I only have two hands! Two hands to open the jaws, two elbows to shove her out the way once she’d dropped it and two legs to block her? I have no idea how the problem eventually panned out, but the bunny was dropped and I dragged her away immediately. Needless to say, I dragged her back towards the way we’d come and she was restrained to walk behind me all the way home, leaving a dead little bunny on the footpath – sorry!  Straight to bed for her and stern looks and a pointing finger every time she ventured off that brown sheepskin bed. Yes, she did look sorry for herself and no, I don’t have any photos!

     The back garden has been out of bounds for months. But with the summery weather I did let her come out with me when I was hanging out the washing, or the odd time I managed to sit outside and relax with a glass of something cold! However, before walking out the back door, Bella had to sit and listen to the riot act: “STAY ON THE GRASS!” It worked for a few weeks. We were able to let her come outside with us, after reading the riot act each time, and she wandered around, rolled on the grass, chewed random sticks and seemed very calm and peaceful. Until one day we could do nothing but watch as the 8 foot high laurel hedge quivered as she disappeared underneath it, climbed over the wire fence behind it and into our neighbour’s garden – again! So unfortunately, the lead is back, even in our own back garden. It gives a new meaning to the little boy's request: "Please sir, can I have my ball back!"

     On the positive side, she’s less hyperactive when she sees a cat on the 9.30pm ‘cat walk’ (our nickname as that’s when the cats are all out!) She still does the lunge, the excitement level tops out, but it doesn’t last as long and she comes away easier than before. So I suppose after two-and-a-half years that’s progress!

    And also on the positive side, she takes less time to investigate a ‘stranger’ in her home. Previously she would retreat to her corner and not be coaxed by any means into a room with a non-resident in. Now, after perhaps an hour, that person gets the privilege of a nose touching a foot, until the human moves or speaks! Although once said human has vacated the premises, she thinks it's time to celebrate! Like last night, she 'put up' with our dinner guest, quietly accepting his presence in her kitchen, which doubles as a dining room, and allowing us to sit in the lounge and talk while she sulked in her bed in the kitchen. We'd stolen her time she has with us after supper, she missed an ear rub! So when our guest left, she did her manic run around the house, picking up a critter on the way to throw into the air in celebration, lunged at Daddy (ouch!) staffie-style and looked generally happy! Snob!


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Things That Go Bump In The Night! or Bellas That Go THUMP In The Night!


9.30pm Wednesday night – routine ‘wee’ walk done; wee not done! Too many smells and shadows being blown around by the gentle night-time wind.

10pm Wednesday night – out of routine wee walk done, by Daddy when he came home! Wee done - Whew!  
(Just because it was Mummy doing the 9.30 instead of Daddy! Hmph!)

10.30pm Wednesday night – say goodnight to already-sleeping Bella in her bed, switch kitchen light off, close kitchen door.

11.30pm Wednesday night – just as I’m powering down computer – “THUMP!” 

Desperate puppy-like scratching at kitchen door! 
Tiny, panicky, whiney squeaks accompany another “THUMP!” against kitchen door!

What the heck was that?! 

Why is Bella so frantic? 

Who’s there? 

What’s scared her? 

No barking.









Go downstairs. Carefully open door, expecting …. Dunno! What would you expect?!

Bella. 

Curled up in bed. 

Blinking as if she’s been rudely awakened at an unearthly hour after she’s been sleeping for hours already!
 



WHAT?!!

Say goodnight - again. 

Switch kitchen light off. 

Close kitchen door.  

 Go upstairs, last few bedtime routine stuff – 

THUMP!” 

Leaning over the banister it sounds like our Bella is running and scrabbling around the kitchen, like she does in the lounge in her excitable, happy state.

Go downstairs. 

Open kitchen door. 

Bella curled up in bed!! 

Do we perhaps have a sleep-runner?!

Gentle, loving Daddy tenderly strokes the sleepy puppy's head and talks in soft tones to reassure her.

Goodnight Bella.

Switch off light.

Close kitchen door.

Go upstairs.

Climb into bed.



12.30am - "bleep! bleep"  Whatsapp message  ..... 

No, not Bella!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

You want to know about my walks?!

I


  
The forest is cool! Sometimes there's squirrels :)

But the open fields are good too. Lots of muddy puddles. Can see for miles. Can dream ... for miles!




Pin Mill is fun! Sometimes we can walk along this stony pathway until the river, but sometimes it's just not there! Strange! Different smells down at Pin Mill. Seagulls are a bit noisy though, and cheeky.




Hide and seek anyone?!



 Smells like Rocky's been here!
 and here!





 And sometimes I just enjoy ..... looking!



And dreaming!




Monday, 21 October 2013

Experiences & Escapes - a catch up


So let’s catch up on Bella’s latest experiences and escapes!

1. The Wild Life

      It was the 7am, misty morning walk. Bella was just glad to be out, it wasn’t raining and she was romping around like a Springbok in long grass, weeds and an open field – at the end of the flexi-lead of course. Daddy was enjoying watching her enjoying the joys of being a puppy – OK so maybe a teenager now she’s 2½ years old. But he gradually became aware that the lead in his hand was fairly slack and Bella was still wandering slowly away from him. And then the 5m of nylon, with clip still attached finally snapped back to the big red handle in his hand! It was about the time Bella also realised that there was no pull on her neck and that she was in fact, free! But being well trained, of course, she looked back at Daddy and comforted in his jacketed silhouette, she continued grazing – yep, she grazes, just like the one in this video!! 


 
      As she raised her head to appreciate the rising sun, the hills dipping down to Pin Mill harbour, the moored yachts bobbing on the river and the wide open spaces, a muntjac deer (http://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/species/muntjac-deer ) thought it was safe to dart across the field. 

(Photo from Daily Mail News item)
                                      

BIG MISTAKE! 

     Bella’s  hunting instinct immediately kicked in and she was off – no restrictive nylon to rein her in! Despite Bella’s speed and the fact that the Muntjac is known as a ‘pest’ in our part of the country, the little creature managed to dart away and escape Bella’s best efforts to be the farmer’s friend.

      However, by this time Bella had criss-crossed a number of fields, barged through nettle hedges (with Daddy trying to follow but taking the long road around), and eventually, amazingly, returned to the man with the lead, although ran a few metres past and sat waiting for him to catch up and quietly re-attach the lead for the walk home! 

      
2.  Trespassers Will Be ….

      Bella’s trespassing into the School playing field and the next door neighbour’s garden has already been documented (Rise & Fall of Bella Houdini), and Bella will always be under supervision when put in a situation that may give way to those temptations again. However, beware any creature – especially a cat – who trespasses into ‘Her’ garden! 





     It was a lovely late summer day. I was happy to have Bella out in the garden while I snipped at trailing wisteria and deadheaded various sad looking flowers. She lay down in the sun and appeared to be enjoying the pure delight of a beautiful summer’s day. But when a little black & white kitty decided to try and make a run for it across the lawn, it obviously hadn't read the memo about Bella’s capabilities or instincts.  Bella was up and plunging through the unkempt corner of the garden after said Kitty in less than the blink of an eye. There was snapping of twigs, a noisy disturbance of leaves and paws and some hissing and meowing – but no barking – and of course me calling Bella to come back, which of course she was not going to do.

     I went as far as I could under low branches and bushes and eventually grabbed Bella’s collar and dragged her very unceremonially across the garden and back inside. While she pouted, considered her fate, and licked her wounds – yes the cat gave her a good couple of left hooks, but nothing serious, just minor scratches – I went back to search both our garden and the neighbour’s garden for an injured, or worse, kitty. Fortunately, there was no kitty to be found, so we hope it escaped with simply another life crossed off its score sheet. But for Bella her parole has been cancelled and she is not allowed in the garden with me, not even when I hang up the washing. I don’t want to be knocking on my neighbour’s doors asking whose cat I have wrapped up in a blanket!




3. Knowing the hand …..

     I promise, we do feed our dog!  We do give her treats! And sometimes I even let her lick the gravy or leftovers off a plate or pot! Despite these loving gestures, she has quickly latched on to the fact that Uncle Mike always has a biscuit in his pocket for her – and on nearly every walk she makes a bee-line for his flat, especially if his patio door is open! And she also knows that Aunty Sandra always has treats in her bag when she visits! 

  Being the obedient indoor dog she is, she will come away from the beg when called – reluctantly of course, and she’ll even lie down when commanded – in slow, slow motion, all of which endear her to the visitors' hearts and she still gets just a teeny bit spoilt! All that stuff about Shiba Inus being reserved and not friendly?  There’s always exceptions to the rule!!!



So that's a catch up on what's been happening in Bella's life. Of course there's the silent experiences we'll never know about, like the holiday at Copdock Kennels for the weekend we spent with Megs, or what she really does when she sees those cheeky cats, through the window, lounging in Her Garden! The cheek of it!

(A pretty good description of Shibas:
http://shibashake.com/dog/shiba-inu-personality-good-bad-traits  )


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Harvested Changes

     There have been days when it's been too hot to go on the usual long lunch time doggy walk across the fields, through the forest and splashing through forgotten puddles. 

     There have been days when it's been too wet at lunch time to do the same walk!

    And there have been days when it's been impossible to do the scenic lunch time walk due to work commitments.

     But on Bank Holiday Monday 26 August 2013, Bella & I headed out behind the Red Lion - her favourite walk (I think!) and we enjoyed the big wide open spaces - a bit more big and wide open than she was used to!



Gone were the 6ft nettles and weeds from the pathway - Yay!

Gone were the purple potato plants, dug up weeks ago.

Gone was the wheat which used to sway in the sunshine light!

      All that was left was dark, bare soil furrows and stubby, sharp sticks.  Even the bushes along the footpath between the fields was gone (I'm sure they were!)

      The Landscape looked alien......



.... with a tall, square orange spaceship sitting just off the footpath!

    I'm almost sure Bella thought she was in a different world! She constantly ran on to the fields and had to be called back; she constantly sniffed at any vegetation higher than twelve inches, perhaps with familiarity?!
The light breeze caught a fence post vainly trying to stand in the centre of the last of the weedy 12 inchers, and Bella's excitement level zipped to the top of the scale ..... and just as quickly down again when what she thought was live just couldn't be found!


          ..... In Memory Of .......
                     Green Fields, Hidden Treasures (i.e. field mice), and the Farmer's Calendar!

          Don't get me wrong! It's still SUMMER! We're having beautiful sunny days, but the Farmers' Seasons remind us of what's to come!


    

      Oh come on! Does Bella really know the difference!!!  Who knows! But she certainly knows where to cross the road to get to the path behind the Red Lion! And sometimes Mummy doesn't (says Bella!)


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Cat Encounters of the Bella Kind!




      
       A couple of weeks ago while on the last walk of the day, but at the time when all the neighbourhood cats come out to play, Bella lost control, lunged after an unsuspecting kitty, snapped her "extrastrong, long dog lead specifically designed for large and heavy dog breeds, and chased poor Kitty into a corner. Fortunately Kitty fought back just a little as evidenced by the teeny drop of blood under Bella’s left eye, a hefty left hook me thinks! After roughly shoving the recalcitrant hyped up dog into the house, we both went in search of Kitty hoping we wouldn’t find a lifeless form somewhere behind the dustbins. Fortunately, said Kitty was spotted running madly across the small patch of grass to the next safe base under a car and there was no way that Kitty was going to come for a pet even when cooed to so sweetly! So another life down for Kitty, another Cat Encounter for Bella and another strong lead broken! Another 'cat-walk' encounter!


        For the next 10 days or so, she was taken out for her morning walk with the slip lead hooked on to the normal nylon lead to give her some wandering freedom. Her lunch time walk, with me, was just the slip lead! Easy to control and she responded beautifully with no problems.


       Today hubby and a friend fixed the flexi lead. Yay, because a good strong one can cost quite a fortune! So lunch time off we went, behind the Red Lion, between the wheat fields, on to the main road, through the churchgraveyard and up the little path where ........ a regal looking black cat was waiting!

      Thankfully the repaired flexi lead held. And so did I. Bella does not bark. She believes in quiet confrontation! So while she was straining at the end of the lead, the black cat simply sat in the pathway while deciding what to do, probably confused that there was no uncouth barking common to other 'lower class' canines he'd encountered. But on seeing that Bella was restrained and couldn’t quite get to him, and that she obediently returned to mama when called (Yes, she really did!), Black Cat held his ground in the middle of the narrow footpath. 


       To give her her due, Bella did sit quietly at my feet while we waited, in vain, for the Black Cat to vacate his territory. After a few minutes I considered our two options: One – turn around and go home another way leaving the Black Cat in peace to savour his victory; or Two – walk on, and claim the public footpath open to all, not just Black Cats!

     Bravely, we chose Option Two and with Bella held very closely to my heels and on the very shortest lead, we walked toward the Black Cat In The Middle Of The Path!  Black Cat quickly gave up his position and retreated through the hedge to safety!

     Confident that not many of the neighbourhood cats did lunch time strolls, we headed home cheerfully. Until the driveway where the resident Cat was sunning itself next to a car’s back wheel. But Bella, still on the short lead didn’t have half a chance of lunging at this one and while I held her close, she still managed to pirouette ungraciously on the gravel driveway. Fortunately this cat quickly recognised Bella as the predator and disappeared over the garden fence. Once again, Bella was ordered to sit, which she did and she even lay down on the pavement when told!


      How do you tell a dog she’s been good in obeying a command given to discipline her!? Once again it was a quiet encounter, and just as she did not not bark or whimper, so I also calmly and assertively controlled her and we walked home as if nothing had happened. Cesar Millan would surely have been proud of me!!

Whew!

    Cat Encounters Are Emotionally Draining. But it was certainly good to see Bella respond positively.

    However, she is still serving a suspended sentence for Disturbing the Peace of the Village by Causing a Resident Cat to Dislodge Noisy Dustbins; Harrassing and Bullying said Cat with the Potential of doing Grievous Feline Harm; and Continual Aggressive Behaviour Towards the Feline Population! (Handed down by us - no real legal stuff going on here!)

     But she's so very good at home!! And everyone lives to stress another day!



 (Photo Credits: Both cat pictures from Google Images. Rest are the real Bella!)