Sunday, 1 December 2013

You want to know about my walks?!


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 ( ) thought it was safe to dart across the field. 

(Photo from Daily Mail News item)


     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:  )

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!!


    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!)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The early morning walk to Pin Mill

     Daddy’s gone away for a few days! Bella pined a little, wondered where he was, and worried when he wasn’t the one clipping on the flexi lead at 7am!

    But despite crawling out of bed at 6.30am the morning walks down to Pin Mill have been a pleasure.

     Just because it was very, very slightly cooler this morning, just because there was more cloud cover than before, does not mean the weather was going to give up on the summer 'heat-wave'!  With the sun glinting on the Orwell River, classic barges with red sails furled, yacht masts, little dinghys ready to be rowed out to the moorings - who could ask for more!

          With a look of determination, Bella headed through the muddy flats to ....

    .....  the cooling (cleansing!) waters of the Grindle alongside the Orwell.  Earlier in the week she had a totally manic moment and still on the lead, she suddenly dashed from the Grindle on to the roadway and back into the water! Fortunately she's aware of her turning circle and I was in no danger at any point of being pulled into the water or flat on my face with a dislocated shoulder! But it was lovely to see her so excited and having fun!

    I was a little worried about the wade in the water since at high tide she wouldn't be able to see the edge of "the hard" - the concrete area stretching out into the river. So that little activity was curtailed.

     She seems to think it's great fun running through the little stream and scrambling up the bank on the other side to Pin Mill Common. Mum would probably get quite muddy doing the same and the 'proper' way on to the Common is via the teeny bridge further on. This is a favourite lunch time stop to just sit. And watch. And sit. And enjoy! There's something magical about water. Whether it's sitting on the rocks listening to waves crashing at St James beach, Cape Town, or watching gallons of water cascade hundreds of metres down a Howick rock face. Or just the quiet lapping of water on a shoreline and crisp white sails bobbing gently ...... Even Bella enjoys it!

        Ever the polite, well-behaved, kind, conscientious Shiba-Inu x Staffie, Bella also ensures she's aware of all warnings and notices!

     The walk back home is a little slower and far more controlled. A satisfying morning!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Look how far she's come!

     Bella and I left home in sunshine and pretty white clouds lounging on the blue Spring skies!!!  It was cool enough to wear a light jumper, but not cold enough for jacket.  For a change of scenery we have started walking the fields behind the ex Red Lion pub (currently being refurbished as a restaurant).  By the time we got home just half an hour later, we were both rather wet although Bella had shaken most of her annoying raindrops off!

     It’s a pleasant and pretty walk, (even more so at a Winter sunset when the sky turns red and orange and white streaks constantly change the heavenly picture.) Up the narrow 100m path between the pub and private gardens, Bella has become the picture of obedience! If I put my hands behind my back holding the lead short, she knows to stay behind me or is quite happy to walk by my side.

     Once the farmlands open up she’s off – not uncontrollably these days! In the past she targeted the hundreds of rabbit holes in the hedge, but either the rabbits have migrated or the 6ft nettles and weeds have formed a very welcome, natural, security barrier – from the rabbits point of view.

    If you were walking anywhere near me, you’d hear just four one word commands repeated along the pathways – Wait, Come, No, and Off.  Just like some English words have a different meaning in different countries (no, I know they shouldn’t, but believe me it happens!), Wait, doesn’t exactly mean I want Bella to stop and wait for me! I discovered that if I called Wait just before she was loping to the end of the 5m flexi-lead, she would slow down a little and my arm wouldn’t be jerked like a robot into a Hitler salute! It must be said however, that sometimes she does just wait! :)

     I’m happy to let her take some time sniffing around a little but when I say Come, I no longer have to jerk or pull an inflexible lump of dog at the end of the flexi-lead, she just comes! And if she’s obsessing just a little too much over one piece of grass, or starting to think there’s something beyond the hedge, a simple gentle No brings her trotting on. When she gets a little carried away and starts hopping and skipping off the path and into the new green crops, it really, honestly is just Off which brings her back on the path!  Persistence and patience have gently won the day - and of course she just loves us and trusts us so loves to do what we ask her to do!

     Two little pheasants hiding perilously just metres away, couldn’t keep still while we passed so took off noisily making both Bella and me jump, but even then Bella didn’t try and lunge after them!

     Is this the same dog as a year ago?! Yep! Isn’t she good!!

     The bedtime wee walk is usually highly charged with tinkling bells and darting daring nocturnal kitties. Yum, yum, thinks Bella! Tonight her prey spat back. She wasn’t expecting that! After a reassuring ear rub and gentle soothing words, Daddy whispered that he was going upstairs and it was time for bed. Without a to-do she trotted off to her own comfy bed.

Aww! What a good dog!!!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Dog-Cat? "I just like a nice homely fire!"

     So now we're pretty certain our Bella is a Shiba-Inu x. And everyone in the village thinks she's very 'pretty'! They also think she's very good - actually she's still quite shy, which can easily be mistaken for angelic perfection!  What people don't know is that in the safety of her own home, behind closed doors, on a cold, snowy, windy day, she's actually ......

WHO ME?!?!
a CAT!!!!

      She loves the snow - runs around like an excited 4-year old human. If she could she'd build a snowdog, but is satisfied with muzzle-shovelling the snow and rescuing any buried rabbits or field mice - well 'rescue' might be a bit of a euphemism!

      Her 'passion' for the neighbourhood cats is a little worrying though, and having seen a few little rabbits and a field mouse go between the jaws, she is kept in close check in the great outdoors.  Her ears freeze-frame and the excitement level in her eyes rises like the mercury in a thermometer - uhm, sorry wrong climatic season! - when she hears those little cat's bells which presumably are meant to warn the next ones down the predatorial chain.

     To Catch a Cat, it sometimes seems, is her ultimate goal in life.

So why when she's doped up with warmth and love and comfort, does her demeanour switch to that of the domestic Cat?!

     Let's not forget her agility in getting out of her own garden, climbing and scrambling that is, not digging under or jumping over, the fence to Mr Wally's pristine garden!

     As with many pets, she has 'The Eyes'. Those begging, pleading eyes, as she glances towards the empty, cold, fire-grate! But when the flames are hopping like little fairies around the logs and coal, look how close she is!

     Maybe that's it! She's a secret Fairy Flames lover! (something akin to a 'Daytime TV' watcher or 'TV Soap' addict!)

That's enough photos now, leave me be!


(Despite what the photos look like, the coals were glowing beautifully!)

     So with paws warming on the hearth, fairy flames hypnotising her eyes, Bella's nose drops contentedly to the warm slate.  The most comfortable end to an exciting white-snowy day!

I know you're still taking pictures - Goawayyyy  zzzzzz......
and I'm not a cat .. zzzzzz