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Invincible canine spirit

Mm, pikelets with jam.

Sorry, got distracted there for a moment.

So recently it’s been all about The Rise of the Asset: gestation, eating, food, mealtimes, and how about some cream with that? WHY, DON’T MIND IF I DO.

I’m sure many of you have wondered what’s happened to The Jedster, that invincible canine spirit who once dominated this blog, striding across the posts like a colossus.

I’ve been literarily neglecting my dog, and I feel bad. After all, Jed has been a part of this family for nearly three years – and we have no idea whether we’ll even LIKE The Asset. After all, how do we know The Asset will be able to lick his own arse or retrieve tennis balls from dense undergrowth? And I can’t imagine The Asset lying under my desk contentedly nibbling my toes.

We’ll see.

This post is an attempt to redress the oversight.

One of our preferred walks used to be a forest track circling Jeep and Meep’s property. It’s a short walk, but afforded something of a workout if we negotiated The Hen’s Beak: a savage one-way 2:1 incline descending almost completely to the Hauraki Valley.

We haven’t walked the track for some time mainly because, at five months pregnant, there’s no way I could negotiate The Hen’s Beak. At least, I could probably make my way down it in the same happy manner as a beach ball; but Andrew would need a system of ropes and pulleys – or a rescue helicopter – to get me back up. The track has also suffered some erosion over the winter.

“How agile are you feeling?” asked Husband eyeing a tree fallen across the path.

The correct response would be: demonstrating all the lithe grace and elegance of a constipated rhino charging across wet sand, but,

“Like a gazelle. Watch!” I said, stepping ponderously over a knee-high twig with some dangerous-looking leaves. “Huh? Huh?”

“Impressive.”

I’d forgotten the track features little in the way of water for Jed. Charging after his tennis ball he covers at least ten times more ground than us, at about twenty times the speed, so he falls into any available creek for a big slurp and wallow. During the winter months, there’s a large puddle at the end of Jeep and Meep’s forest track, but we’ve had over a week of sunshine and presumed it would be dry.

It wasn’t:-

Jed after executing a triple-roll pike turn.

If you’re wondering whether that mud smelled much, OH MY POOR SWOLLEN THROBBING NOSTRILS IT STANK.

Where did you think that sentence was going?

Shame on you.

Cowardy custard

Some recent photos of Jed, along with  incontrovertible proof that the dog is the most photogenic of the two of us.

Jed performs his voice exercises.

 

Jed counts his legs

 

This is me and my dog, taken after a soggy walk with rain and projectile mud. I'm wearing my favourite t-shirt that says 'Starving Writ*splotch*' after I ironed off the 'er' at the end. The muddy paw-prints were left by the culprit on my left. I don't usually look this gnarly, I swear; but Husband is a shocking photographer. ('Not much to work with' my arse.)

 

Photo by Husband.

 

This photo was taken recently. Every morning when I put Jed out, he hops straight onto the table and inscrutably surveys his domain like a Sphinx.

 

Another photo by Husband. Obviously Jed gives him 'more to work with'.

No digesting in the living room

We have taught our dog to communicate when he wants to enter or exit the house.

We had in mind one short, sharp bark; like the strike of a doorknob. Naturally Jed had more important things in mind, such as whether there is a world record for licking your own arse.

The best we could do was teach him to sit by the door and groan. It’s not ‘speaking’; it’s more a cross between a whine, a grunt, and the most annoying sound in the world. Like he’s constipated and is addressing a private motivational speech to his bowel.

Recently, Jed has been waking up at 4am and sitting by the bedroom door, groaning.

The first time it happened, we leapt out of bed and, working like the crack team we are, Husband opened the bedroom door in one fluid motion, while I urgently ushered Jed out. I suppose the horrors of The Great Puppy Plague of 2009 – or if you prefer, the Vanish/Frend Mega Promotional Tour Bonanza – are still close to mind. In fairness, Jed was only six months old at the time. He hasn’t been compelled to use his stomach as an automatic weapon for many months now.

However, we are always aware that Jed swallows possums whole. He’ll issue a hiccup and I’ll swarm all over him and fire him out the door so vigorously that if I miss, there’ll be a dog-shaped hole in the adjacent wall. And Jed’s all, “Dude. Let me get this straight: I’m not allowed run in the living room, or chew bones, or bring tennis balls, and now I’m not allowed DIGEST in the living room? Man, this place gets more like a police state every dog day.”

So. Our bedroom. 4am. Five minutes after Jed’s hasty eviction, he was back at the door, groaning to be let in. An hour later, he gave a repeat performance, and again at 6am.

The following night, Husband and I lay in bed at 4am, having a discussion over the soundtrack of incremental groaning.  To set the scene, it was less like the climax of a romantic comedy, and more like a low-budget, straight-to-video slasher musical.

“There’s nothing wrong with the little fecker,” I said with a pillow over my head. “He just wants to stroll around smelling on stuff and lookin’ for action.”

“He’s probably too hot,” said Husband.

“Well, so am I, but you don’t catch ME groaning by the door.”

“But Niamhie, we’ve taught him to communicate with us when he wants to get out-”

“Yeah, but NOT AT NIGHT.”

“So what; he’s allowed to communicate with us during the day but not at night?”

“Pretty much.”

The following day we had a family meeting, wherein (the minutes show) all parties agreed that Jed would not be let out at 4am in the morning regardless of volume.

That night/morning, I was woken by Andrew crooning to his dog. ‘Aw Floppy, what’s up? What’s up, little man? You too hot? Poor puppy. Let’s check if the windows are open. You want something to eat? How about a steak sandwich? No? Well have you enough water? Let’s have a look then. Aw, you just want your ears pulled, don’t you? Don’t you? There you go.’

I practice a tougher form of love than Andrew, both on my dog and indeed other people. I’m not saying it’s right but, you know. Maybe that’s why I’m more popular.

I’m just saying.

Over breakfast that day, Andrew and I blinked blearily at each other over our respective mueslis.

“I don’t think you should be ENGAGING with him,” I said.

“Well, I have to. Otherwise, he rams me with his nose.”

That night, there was apparently groaning at 4am, but since I slept through it I only have Andrew’s word for it. Mind you, the groaning did wake me at 06:30. It was only half an hour before I usually get up, so I brought the dog out and swore at him while we watched the sun rise. It was actually quite lovely and in retrospect I would totally recommend swearing at your dog while watching the sun rise.

There is undoubtedly a boredom factor in Jed’s nocturnal activity, but the last week has been blisteringly hot. During another family meeting – I swear, Andrew and I haven’t talked this much since 1998 – I suggested putting Jed in his kennel at night. However, we’ve never fully kennel trained him, and there’s a possibility we (and the rest of Port Underwood) will have to sleep through at least one night of Jed conducting a loud, one-sided conversation about how he doesn’t like being locked up. We considered putting him straight into the kennel if he wakes us up at 4am, but we don’t want to make it a punishment.

Seriously, we WILL kennel train him. Sometime.

Last night, we put Jed’s mat outside the bedroom door, and settled him there an hour before he usually goes to bed. This morning, seems like everyone’s happy.

But one in particular:

Early morning stretch.

Bow wow wave

It’s been all about the swimming lately. Over the last week I have boldly ventured into the bay daily, armed with nothing more than togs, cap, goggles and a natural immunity to salt.

The likelihood of my head imploding from the cold has moved down the list to make way for being mowed down by pleasure boaters. Either that or an angler mistaking me for a barracuda. After six months searching for survivors under toxic amounts of tumbleweed, this place is suddenly heaving. On our last trip to Blenheim, we came across two other vehicles on the road and a guy in a wetsuit. (See? HE to the VING.)

On Friday morning, I drove Husband to the beach to go diving with Sheriff and – after they’d launched – availed of the opportunity to go for a swim. Not that I’m short of opportunities but, you know, I was there.

The target was 80 strokes.

Leaving my dog burying his tennis ball on the beach, I waded into the shallows, adjusted my hat, wedged on goggles, and one deep breath later struck out parallel to the shore.

After 40 strokes, I stopped and pivoted for the return leg and WOAH! there in my face, coming at me with a look of grim intent, paddling like a maniac on fire at such speed I was nearly knocked over by his bow wave*, was Jed.

And if he DIDN’T intend to splash water in my face with his forelegs while simultaneously karate-kicking me in the stomach with the rest of them, I’m not sure what he was about.

* Ok, is there any possible way I can make a joke out of bow wow and wave? OH NOW COME ON!

Chill.

Weeding canine style

Jed loves gardening. It is one of his favourite activities, almost on the same level as trying to smuggle rancid bones into the house.

Now, he’s no longer allowed into the vegetable garden after he nibbled the top off all my beetroot seedlings. Instead he hovers beyond the perimeter of the fence, alert and quivering. He watches intently until I throw a weed over the fence, whereupon he pounces on it and worries it.

The other morning Husband and I decided to reclaim some land in the small area at the bottom of the drive where, if you sit and watch, you can actually SEE the weeds advancing across the flowerbed in a strategic military formation I like to call Operation Choke.

Naturally Jed was at the front line of defence in the thick of the action. I think this is his idea of ‘helping out’. You can’t say our dog doesn’t pull his weight.

In addition to indiscriminate digging, Jed also functions as a Weed Disposal Unit (WDU)™.

As you can see, Jed takes weeds PERSONALLY. Unfortunately, he has trouble differentiating between flowers/herbiage/vegetables and weeds. (That said, I’m not sure Husband can tell the difference either.)

Jed likes to ensure the weed is extremely dead before moving on.

The Towel Game

This one is dedicated to Jed’s groupies (note: signed photos of the canine star can be purchased for a modest sum. NO, he will not send you a lock of his hair – although if you ever visit just try running a hand over the carpet, or alternatively simply check your food especially anything baked).

Every day I take Jed for a walk and despite my best efforts to make a broad detour around mud-holes, Jed seems to either discover or – I don’t know – DIG UP new ones. He always ends up covered in mud, slime and several shades of drool. I get most of it off by using him to trawl the paddling pool out the back of the house.

Before bringing him inside, I rub him down. He particularly loves having his head toweled and sits there grunting obscenely as I scrub his ears.

I’m not sure how the game originated. One day I wrapped the towel around his head and Jed thought staggering around the living room trying to paw it off drunkenly was terrific fun – although probably not as much as Husband and me. And thus – in probably much the same tradition as the creator of Monopoly or Snakes n Ladders conceived of Monopoly and Snakes n Ladders – The Towel Game was born.

The rules are relatively simple. I start with possession of the towel and Jed attempts to confiscate it. He forfeits the game if he hits below the belt, or severs one of my limbs. It’s pretty evenly matched so far.

The only trouble is that whenever I come near him with a towel now, Jed pounces on it and worries it. Makes rubbing him down a challenge.

Engineered with bounce in mind

If there’s one thing Blenheim doesn’t have, it’s cheap, quality tennis balls. Also a Pak N Save, a water park and an indoor skating rink, but that’s a post for another day.

When we lived in Auckland, I used to buy 3-packs of tennis balls for Jed at the $2 shop in Glen Eden, next to Pet Shop Boyz. Generally speaking, the balls operated and, most importantly, proved resilient to Jed’s digestive system.

In Blenheim, we have tried tennis balls from New World, the $2 shop and three different brands from The Warehouse. Unfortunately, all seem to be engineered with bounce in mind rather than withstanding an applied chomping. After about five seconds of Jed’s er, HANDLING, the balls are in several component pieces tenuously hinged together by scrolls of fluff and slobber.

Once in this condition, the balls are of limited use. Well, they won’t roll or bounce, and are often attacked and carried off by eagles.

However, the other day, we found an application for these sadly mangled tennis balls. Because – depending on the state of the ball – if there is but one or two holes, IT SINKS.

Always keen to challenge and test the limits of our dog – i.e. amuse ourselves – we chucked it in a pond to see if Jed would retrieve it.

And we were SO IMPRESSED with our dog’s freediving. He’s slightly too buoyant around the arse to handle depths greater than three feet; when his body is submerged, his hind legs float over his head and he twirls around like an asynchronised swimmer.

On his recent visit MarkJ did what I’ve been threatening to do for WEEKS and took some wonderful pics:-

The release.

 

Dive, dive, dive!

 

Catching the tail end of the action.

 

Full immersion.

 

We were pleased he came up for air every now and then.

 

Husband bravely rescues a foundering ball. He didn't take to the water with the same level of enthusiasm as his dog. Andrew looks like he has a six-pack here; either he's seriously clenching, or MarkJ is VERY talented photographer. Take your pick.

Good internet coverage if there are no waves

Husband and I have been to the beach most days recently, taking advantage of a run of gorgeous weather. We stroll along, me throwing the ball for Jed, Andrew checking internet coverage on his mobile phone.
Here are some photos from the other day:

The first thing we do is throw Jed in the creek, in a vain attempt to get him to drink that rather than seawater. At this stage, he is usually too excited about the prospect of charging monotonously after a tennis ball to consider preparatory hydration.

Runaway tennis ball sighted.

Splash study.

This is what you call full stretch.

My men, varying degrees of wetness.

AND there are videos

Jed demonstrates limited interest in kayaking:

Dog vs. Kayak: Jed 0, Kayak 1

Jed gets onboard:

Jed practices his eskimo rolls

Last Friday it was so balmy out on the deck that we were inspired to borrow Sheriff and The Bunqueen’s kayaks. I strained my back and have been flattened ever since – but that’s another story.

Jed is conflicted about this form of activity. He protests vociferously if we leave him on shore. However, he’s rightly suspicious of plastic flotsam as a mode of transport. He will embark with sufficient encouragement, then tramples around the square foot of kayak trying to find a comfortable square inch.

He prefers sitting between my knees rather than Husband’s – perhaps because Andrew previously capsized him. (To date, Jed refuses to acknowledge his hand – or paw, if you prefer – in the incident.) He sits for ten minutes on average, shivering and twitching, before commencing a kind of yodelling cover-version of The Swan Song while prancing around waving his arse in my face.

Luckily Andrew took some shots. Unfortunately, his phone’s camera isn’t half as impressive as his level application.

"Where to, Sir?"

The view straight ahead: a great load of brown, curly ballast.

Jed awaits his opportunity to jump ship.

Part III: The crumpet saga

To those of you who regularly read Deadlyjelly, or know me – even just a little bit – it will come as no surprise that there is a part III to The Crumpet Saga.

Because I refuse to accept defeat. Not only that, but I don’t recognise defeat; and furthermore I won’t acknowledge it OR give it a lift if if I see it hitchhiking in the rain.

Naturally I was going to give the crumpet recipe another go.

On my first attempt, when I threw out the remainder of the batter, I’d noticed flour clotted in the corners of the bread maker. That explained it! – the reason the batter was slightly runny resulting in crumpety tragedy.

So two days ago, I tried again.

This time, I was rigorous about button pressing and incorporating recalcitrant flour with a spatula and letting the batter sit for precisely 20 minutes.

Now, Jed is not a greedy dog, and generally avoids the kitchen due to the dangers of getting his tail trodden on or catching a pot of boiling noodles with his head. Unless, of course, he smells cheese; in which case he sits on my heels with infinite patience until it falls into his gaping maw.

Before I even poured the first crumpet into the frying pan, Jed was camped out on the kitchen floor with knife and fork.

I could probably use my dog as a barometer for culinary success. Evidently there is no substitute for canine intuition. This batch of crumpets was almost worse than the first. I experiemented with intensity of heat and length of cooking time, but the result was catastrophic crumpet carnage. Jed ate two batches, before I threw out the rest of the batter.

At least the dog enjoyed them . . .

. . . he barfed them up later.

URGENT REQUEST

In response to an urgent request from MarkJ for a photo of Jed:-

Jed pretending to watch the sun rise (he's actually asleep with his eyes open, a classic move that he has pretty much perfected)

 

Don’t say I’m not good to you.

Canine cunning

On Saturday I planted some bulbs.

Half an hour later, I found that Jed had dug up every single last cotton-picking one of them. He had also gnawed a few. I’m seriously thinking about giving the little bugger away. Do let me know if you can think of any bad homes. 

Most of Jed’s brain is given over to determining the digestible qualities of potential foodsources and figuring out how to get on the sofa without being smacked. However, there must be a portion of his brain – cold, manipulative, devastatingly calculating, chilling in its canine cunning, small perhaps yet brilliant in its powers of deduction and reasoning capacity – that, when he sees me planting bulbs, thinks . . .

“TREASURE!!!”

Jed and the wombat

I used up most of my weekly quotient of words yesterday on Angelina Jolie. However, a picture allegedly speaks a thousand words, so here are 4000 of them.

These photos are of Jed, Wombat – one of the few toys he hasn’t gnawed the face off – and bits of Husband. They were taken in the living room on a beautiful morning recently when Andrew and Jed were in playful mood after breakfast.

Jed and Wombat

 

Pats

 

Wombat gets the upper hand

 

The wombat-rustler strikes again

How to walk on water in one easy step

Due to where we live, we have found international espionage too impractical a hobby. In search of alternative excitements, we borrowed The Sheriff and Bunqueen’s kayaks the other day to pootle around the bay.

It was one of those glorious winters’ days, sharp and clear, sunlight glinting on the water. From the comfort of our living room, dressed in three layers of dry clothes,  it seemed like a mint idea.

Not so much standing on the shore being frisked by a brisk breeze.

While we paddled, Jed either stood uncertainly on the shore loudly complaining, or balanced precariously between my legs awaiting an opportunity to jump ship. He tipped Andrew in, although I don’t think Andrew actually touched the water; I’ve never seen another human being move that fast. After his performance, I’m pretty sure walking on water would be possible if you just maintained a certain speed.

This is what happens when you just press it

I’ve been meaning to post these videos of The Barfster for a while. I’m not sure when they were taken. The first could have been any time beyond six months ago. My father’s unwitting debut as home video director would either have been last December, or January of this year.

When we lived up Opanuku Road, we often walked the Ferndown Track due to its accessibility.

This first video is of Jed in one of his watering holes: a big puddle in the first creek along the track. There was always water in various states ranging from flowing to stinking viscosity, depending on the time of year.

Jed’s ritual has remained the same since he was a puppy:-

1/ Engage all fours for maximum impact with water
2/ Plunge around in order to identify ideal flop spot
3/ Sideways roll
4/ Stretch out back legs
5/ Carefully spit out ball & secure under front paws
6/ Blow bubbles

My father’s video shows Jed in his all-time-favourite mud-hole (rated according to various criteria, including but not limited to: mud quantity, depth, grunge, olfactory persistence, long term stinkeability) further up the track, and demonstrates the denouement:-

7/ Retrieve ball from under front paws
8/ Make like swamp monster
9/ Shake mud all over everything within the vicinity ≤10m

I carried the bag

We’ve had a couple of spectacular crispy days here, so I gradually reintroduced Andrew to exercise by hauling him up Mt Robertson on his second day home. Mt Robertson is about 1030m high, and a four and a half hour round trip from Port Underwood Road at perspiring pace. That includes a half-hour stop for a packed lunch.

Andrew: <mumble, mumble> the bag?

Me: Well, it’s a bit late since I’ve already carried it all the way up-

Andrew: No, I said, will I DO UP the bag?

Me: Oh. I thought you said, will I TAKE the bag?

Andrew: No.

Me: Right.

Jed takes a bath. Note the ice on the right.

 

Sometimes being brown is a bonus - for instance, it camouflages the mud. If you can't make it out, Jed is absolutely filthy here.

 

At the top I distracted Andrew by asking him what altitude it was. Then I ran around naked.

 

When I say, 'Smile', this is what happens - which is why it doesn't happen a lot.

The dapper dog about town

Marlborough is colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra doing push ups in the snow. It’s so cold, local lawyers have their hands in their own pockets. The other day we met a brass monkey looking for a welder.

Ok, well, maybe not THAT cold.

A tit bit nipply is all.

Undaunted by the chill, Jed and I still enjoy our daily walks. I wear about ten layers with gloves, a scarf and beanie. The temperature doesn’t deter Jed from leaping into every mud hole in his path.

When we get home, I throw Jed into his paddling pool and give him a cursory wash – or at least loosen the larger chunks of mud. Then I towel him down, remove my boots, collect his foodbowl, fill it; then shower while Jed dines.

We had a late walk yesterday and when we got home it was dark and cold. Jed was shivering by the time he’d finished eating. He was completely uninspired when I turned the hairdryer on him, so I turned up the heater and within half an hour Jed had reverted to balmy bliss. 

Today we found the perfect solution:-

This is what the dapper dog about town will be wearing this season.

When Jed was a puppy, Her Goatiness made this woolly waistcoat for him for duck-shooting season. It was so temperate in Auckland he never had occasion to wear it, but I think we will be seeing a lot more of this:-

Not many dogs can pull off this look.

Jed works it.

Pathetic

Two days after getting home, I decided to bike into Hakana Bay.

I disregarded the fact that I had done no exercise for the previous month, apart from climbing into bed. It’s a 10km round-trip to Hakana Bay with 800ft straight up or straight down, depending on whether you’re pedalling furiously or frantically braking respectively; I also considered this largely irrelevant.

Apart from a brutal uphill sprint at the start, the rest of the leg to Hakana Bay is more a trade-off between setting your brake pads on fire, or doing a starfish off the top of a cliff. Despite these tense negotiations, arriving at Hakana Bay I felt PUMPED.

Shame I couldn’t say the same about the back tyre.

After a brief stop to inflate and let Jed roll around in mud, we struck out for home. About 200ft up the road, I thought my lungs were going to explode. 400ft on, I understood what dying must feel like.

I dismounted the bike, pumped up the back tyre again, and started pushing. I was averaging a rate of about 2km per day when, at the hairpin bend overlooking the valley, we came across three loggers.

I stopped whimpering and paused for a chat because, you know, I’m friendly. Also because I wasn’t sure whether walking another step was biologically feasible. Also the back tyre was flat again.

Jed tried to intimidate the loggers by barking; the strategy had limited success because they thought he was a giant poodle. He should stick to farting. In a bid to win him over, one of the loggers threw Jed a biscuit.

Watching my dog pounce on the biscuit, I realized I was starving. Ravenous enough to claw that biscuit out of my dog’s jaws and wolf it down myself, except that Jed swallowed too fast.

“Can I have one too?” I asked with barely contained drool.

The Irish amongst you will appreciate how hungry I must have been. In Ireland, asking for a biscuit is a cultural taboo on the same level as pointing at strangers, or necrophilia.

Obviously taken aback, the logger said, “Aw yeh.” He proffered the pack. “Take a handful.”

I momentarily considered snatching the entire packet and making a run for it except that I could barely walk, never mind RUN. Also, there were three of them, and just me and a giant poodle.

In the end, I thought taking any more than two would be rude.

Farting as expression of affection

My dog was so delighted to see me again, he couldn’t stop farting. I was – literally – overwhelmed. Jed’s been quite content without us for a month, but he’s stuck fairly close since my return. 

Jed tries out stunt snout

Jed and pig's ear

We’re driving home from Oamaru to Blenheim on Sunday, stopping in Christchurch enroute to pick up a breadmachine. With any luck, Husband should be back in the country by 1 July, and is threatening to ride his motorbike home from Auckland, but only if it isn’t raining.

Wuss.

Chillin'

Mad dog

“We have to leave the house at 8:00am,” I said in my Serious Voice so that Husband would know I was serious.

“Absolutely,” agreed Andrew.

“When I say 8:00am, I don’t secretly mean 8:30am. We have to reach Blenheim by 9:00 at the latest. And we are notoriously flaky.”

“True. But 8:00 should get us there in PLENTY of time.”

But despite getting up at argh o’clock on Saturday morning to prepare snacks, coffee to go, clean out the fridge, sort the rubbish, put out the compost, feed the dog, pack the car and straighten my hair, we still tore out of the driveway shortly after 8:15.

“Ok, 45 minutes to Blenheim – that’s manageable,” I said as we ripped up the road.

“Where did you put your wheelie bag?” asked Husband, as if I were smuggling it up my anus.

“What do you mean, where did I- I didn’t put it- you- I told you it was in the bedroom-”

“I thought you put it in the car!” roared Husband, doing a handbrake turn.

“Of course I didn’t put it in the car – baggage handling is YOUR job! Aw- we’re so late- I SAID we had to be-”

“Well, I was ready at 8:00!”

“Well, so was I!”

“Well, you didn’t look like it!”

“Well, neither did you!”

Husband pulled up outside our gate in a hail of gravel, exiting the car before it came to a stop. He hurdled the gate and sprinted down the drive.

I didn’t know Husband had those kind of moves.

It was pretty sexy.

On the road again, “Well done for remembering the bag, I suppose,” I muttered.

“Sorry I was a bit sharp back there,” muttered back Husband.

As we skidded around a bend, my wheelie bag tumbled off the box upon which it was – ‘wedged’ is not the right word for it, implying as it does a measure of stability – we’ll go for ‘precariously balanced’ in the boot. Jed’s response to this stimulus was to leap out of its way, but he rather over compensated and SHOT STRAIGHT OUT THE BACK WINDOW OF THE CAR.

Terrorists of the weed community

Despite his best intentions, my dog struggles to make himself useful in the garden.

His favourite spots from which to supervise operations are normally sprawled on top of the beleaguered radishes, or a bed of baby lettuce. He obeys an internal imperative to sniff everything I handle, be it gloves, compost, seeds, uprooted weeds, or freshly picked vegetables. While I appreciate the company, progress is hindered by a twitching dog nose grafted onto my trowel.

This morning, while weeding and planting cuttings, I thought of a productive application for Jed’s particular talents. After months of sun, the ground is dry and compacted, and any plants that have taken root are the terrorists of the weed community. Vigorously as I applied it, my trowel was making little headway.

Pointing at the offending spot, I instructed Jed: “DIGDIGDIG! DIGDIGDIGDIGDIG!”

The only problem was stopping him. Jed had broken through the crust and dented the upper mantle before I managed to haul him off the hole, front paws still cycling away.

Of course, when I came out of the house half an hour later, there was Jed busily digging up the flowers.

Mad dog

How to boil an egg: it’s all in the timing

Last week, my parents set off on a road trip.

Even to minor excursions – going to the shops, picking up mail – Dad brings the same measure of care and precision as he might to, say, invading a small country. There are maps to be consulted, schedules to be drawn, checklists to be ticked, bags to be packed, socks to be pulled up.

Undoubtedly, Dad is thorough and organised – but he likes to keep his options open. When Dad is ready to go, he’ll stand around roaring, “I THOUGHT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE LEAVING AT <INSERT CURRENT TIME MINUS X MINUTES TO THE NEAREST HOUR>!” even though nobody can remember seeing that particular bulletpoint in the circulated itinerary.

Now, while Dad sits in the car beeping and occasionally bawling, “VERA!” up the stairs, Mum pootles around achieving very little in comparison to the impressive acreage she covers. She’ll tootle downstairs with a bag of apricots, a whisk and a bottle of suntan lotion, wedge them into a non-existent gap in Dad’s painstakingly packed car, then womble off again to hunt down picnic blankets or savour a cup of tea while she envisions Dad going mad with the impatience.

I seriously thought her life might be in jeopardy when, after Dad had been downstairs fine-tuning the luggage for twenty minutes, she decided to boil an egg. (You think I’m making this up, don’t you? Bear this in mind: I did not spring from a vacuum.)

“Why didn’t you boil it yesterday?” asked Dad reasonably and admirably mildly.

“You know how to boil an egg as well as I do,” responded Mum defensively and undeniably perversely.

I don’t know whether Dad has mellowed, or merely appreciates that attempting to increase the tempo of Mum’s internal beat would be an exercise on the same scale as bailing out a boat with a fork. He might feasibly have dissuaded her from boiling her egg, whereupon she would have undertaken some emergency darning or decided to make an omelette.

Husband and I follow a similar pattern when leaving the house. I have never been innovative enough to boil an egg, but I find that sitting on the loo is an extremely defensible position. Andrew has been known to rev the car in the garage, but thankfully these days he does a spot of motorbike maintenance instead.

Leaving for Onemana last Friday, the roles were reversed when Andrew first spent half an hour wrapping up a PABX, and then decided to check the oil differential on the Toyota Surf. Evidence suggests Andrew didn’t spring from a vacuum either.

We finally arrived in Onemana at four o’clock.

06:13 hrs in Onemana

Me and Jed, still asleep

Dad in his pyjamas at sunrise. If I DID spring from a vacuum, you can assume this is photographic evidence of it

Husband, action shot. What are you asking me for? No idea.

(L-R) Mum and Dad. Not sure what's going on here but it's undoubtedly smutty.

That's my mum.

This is me dad.

Dad shows off the famous Shaw toes.

Andrew, Jed and tennis ball.

Out for a walk at Wentworth Falls, Whangamata.

07:00hrs: the road home, just outside Onemana.

The masked raider

Curly coat retriever

On Friday as we drove through Swanson in the process of calling it a day, Husband suddenly exclaimed, “Look! A dead duck!”

He sounded so excited, I almost expected him to continue, “Oh, WOW! I feel so HAPPY! This is BETTER THAN SEX!”

Of course, the appropriate response to a dead duck alert – not that I’ve come across many – is along the lines of, ‘yeah, it looks dead all right,’ or ‘well, that’s what you get when you play chicken with cement trucks. I hope you’ve learned something from this.’

Instead, no doubt carried away momentarily by Husband’s enthusiasm, I shouted, “Quick! Stop the car! Do a U-turn!”

Narrowly avoiding the kerb and a stray recycle bin, he did just that.

“Er, I was just joking, you know,” I said, as he pulled up next to the dead duck and, hopping out, picked it up by the legs. “Woah- hey, I don’t want that thing anywhere near me. What are you doing-”

“It’s for Jed,” said Andrew, tucking the carrion into his footwell. “He can retrieve it.”

Indeed, Jed instantly picked up the scent – well, it wasn’t subtle – in fact, you could say it was pretty gamey – and went berserk in the back of the car. He attempted to bodysurf into the front and when that was not effective, contented himself with a spot of yodelling. If you haven’t heard Jed in full cry, check out his vocal contortions in the videos on this post.

I never thought I would end up the type of person who would be an accessory to picking up dead animals on the side of the road and stuffing them in a footwell. I don’t know; I just expected . . . MORE out of my life, you know?

Yesterday, we took Jed out to get acquainted with his dead duck. I was present in an official capacity to record the momentous occasion. Andrew was the duck handler.

Curly coat retriever and duck

To check check relative deadness of duck: hold upside down and shake. If it quacks, try again.

Curly coat retriever

Husband and Jed keep a close eye on duck, in case it makes a break for it.

Curly coat retriever retrieving pre-dead duck

Jed poses with duck for the camera.

Curly coat retriever

He's not usually cross eyed.

Curly coat retriever

The masked raider: who needs vision?

Screwed

In the litany of injury, Jed’s cracked dew claw went nearly unnoticed.

A couple of weeks ago, Jed and I were walking the Pipeline Track off Mountain Road. Jed skidded after his tennis ball and somersaulted into a rock, finishing up with a yelp. He appeared to limp a couple of paces, so I checked his foot.

There was no damage to the pad; when I palpated his paw, he just licked my face; so I investigated between his toes where he likes to store burrs even though they irritate the sensitive skin. There was no evidence of injury. Whatever the problem was, it didn’t stop Jed firing himself down the track after his ball, or impede his lifelong mission to nibble every blade of grass ON THE PLANET.

Afterwards, I was towelling mud off him and he flinched when I rubbed his foreleg. Looking closer, I saw his dew claw had splintered. Apart from slurping at it every now and then, it didn’t seem to bother him much, so I wasn’t concerned. Husband suggested taping up the claw; perhaps we should have done. But I just figured it would, um, grow out.

On New Year’s Day, we were woken by a high-pitched whine. Jed was obviously distressed; he paced around the bedroom, flung himself on the floor, rose again immediately, whined at the door. It was so long after the dew claw incident it never occurred to us that was the problem – until I noticed it sticking out at right angles. Although the claw was still attached, it was sheared right back to the bone; he must have caught it on something (maybe his teeth).

This is the dog who, after leaping off a six foot high sandbank and landing on his head, barely broke stride in his mission to retrieve his tennis ball. However, this time Jed was in a great deal of pain. He couldn’t get comfortable. A couple of times he attempted to lick his dew claw, but it was too tender. He yelped every time an air molecule brushed up against it. We tried to make him sit to assess the damage, but he retreated under the dining room table and refused to come out.

I have no problem with pain and can take it in my stride – so long as it’s not mine. My POINT is, I don’t get precious about my dog barfing, cutting himself, or peeing blood; but I felt sick at the sight of the gruesome angle of Jed’s claw and his obvious distress.

Husband was all for lopping the claw with our cheap, crappy, largely broken pair of dog clippers. In his defence, this is the same man who punched a hole through his lower lip with his tooth and wanted to put a couple of stitches in. Himself. I had to flush the sewing kit down the loo to deter him. If Andrew’s arm fell off, he would no doubt attempt to staple it back on if the hospital was more than 5 minutes drive away. Also assuming he could find the stapler – or fish it out of the U-bend.

All I’m saying is: Husband would not visit any sadism on his dog that he wouldn’t turn on himself and call masochism.

While The Butcher of Waitakere was distracted trying to locate the dog clippers, I called various local vet clinics. I wasn’t expecting much joy, since the entire country was closed from 1-5 January. However, one of the automatic voicemail systems supplied the telephone number of an out of hours clinic at 348 Rosebank Road (09-8207273).

“Well, a broken dew claw is not really considered an emergency,” said the nurse on the phone. “But it is incredibly painful for the animal. The emergency consultation fee is $125.”

“Hey, this website says the vet just rips it out with a pair of pliers,” said Andrew. “I have a pair of pliers downst-”

“No!” I said, grittily.

Of course Husband was just as concerned about his dog as I. In fact, the Swanson clinic was open the following morning, but Andrew opted to bring Jed to the out of hours clinic. But I have a feeling The Butcher of Waitakere is going to stick – at least if I have anything to do with it.

The vet advised putting Jed under general anaesthetic. He said a local involved an injection right by the claw which would be too painful – although I think he was referring to the possibility of Jed chomping on him.

“Did the vet give you an estimate?” asked the nurse. I was so anxious about our puppy I barely even heard the DONG! When I replied in the negative, she scrawled ‘No estimate provided’ across the consent form; evidently, I wouldn’t have noticed even had she beaten me savagely with the warning bell’s clapper.

When we returned to collect him two hours later, despite being groggy, Jed dragged me into the waiting room. I knew he was ok when we thought we might have to ask the vet to surgically remove Jed’s nose from a border collie’s butt.

$420.

That was the total of the itemised bill including five different types of drug: sedatives, anaesthetic and painkillers.

But even though I feel totally suckered, whenever I see Jed bounding after a tennis ball I can’t help feeling it was worth it.

I know, I know.

I AM a sucker.

Canine hypochondria

Jed is generally pretty hardy – not that he has much choice. He is used to being slung down the stairs, getting his ears slammed in the car door and being dropped on his head.

We might redress our rugged approach to dog rearing if Jed himself didn’t regularly head butt trees, slide along gravel on his face, and pass clothes pegs and entire Meccano sets out his rectum.

Recently, Jed has been testing the outer limits of his existence – along with the tensile strength of our nerves. About three days before Christmas, we accompanied our neighbours Big Al and Action Man, their daughter, Luscious, and their dog, Smurfy, to Bethell’s Beach. Jed loves the sea, to the extent that he will insist on swallowing gallons of the stuff. His digestive system is evidently an industrial machine, capable of processing a vast range of objects (see above). However, it appears to simply collect seawater, compress it, then fire it explosively out his arse.

After two hours tearing up and down the beach, Jed had an impressive case of projectile diarrhoea. This being pretty standard, we took him back to the creek and encouraged him to drink more freshwater.

Halfway home, he boked all over the car. We were thankful he wasn’t standing between us in the two front seats. On the other hand, we wouldn’t have minded had he adopted his favourite position with his head out the back window.

We pulled over to bail out the boot, which was awash with water, driftwood, seaweed, sand and small crustaceans

Thankfully Jed suffered no further ill effects from the drink, but the following day he was out biking with Husband and grazed the pad on his paw. Andrew called from the beginning of the Sharpe Track, and I embarked on an emergency rescue mission – i.e. I drove down the road and picked them up. Jed’s paw was fine after we sprayed some antibiotic on it.

But all this was just prelude to the real Eddie the Eagle stuntage. On Christmas Day, in order to embrace the traditions of our adoptive land, we decided to follow the rest of the country to the beach.

Jed usually mounts the Hilux Surf via the back door. Since the back seats have been up since my parents arrived, Jed now leaps into his diminished boot space via the tailgate. We give him a good run-up to the car, putting him in a sit/stay a few metres away, then cheering him into the boot.

Perhaps he got carried away by the crowd fervour, because this time he took off from about two metres away.

His front paws hit the target, but he wrapped his hind quarters around the tailgate, giving himself an atomic wedgie. The men gave a collective wince. As Jed’s front paws slid off the tailgate, the look of bewilderment in his eyes clearly said, “I had no concept life could be this cruel”.

We didn’t realise he had hurt himself until we arrived at the beach, when we found he had weed blood all over the boot.

You will be glad to hear that he was just badly bruised; bloody wee is apparently a common response to a bang in the balls (I wouldn’t know; I read it somewhere). Jed’s little dickie is now back to normal.

I wish I could say the same about our car boot, but despite detaching the carpeting and water-blasting, Vanishing and extensively airing it, it still gives off an aroma that is less than fresh.

Then on New Year’s Day, we had to bring Jed to the out of hours vet clinic for an emergency operation.

Chicken Killer

Before I can Move On to what’s been happening in Casa Deadly of the Noble House of Jelly and the list of imaginative not to mention elaborate excuses as to why I haven’t posted in – ooh – is it REALLY two weeks? – there is something I must address.

While in South Island, Jed killed a chicken.

I don’t think he meant to kill it, but unfortunately this was the result of his choppers in the chicken’s neck. Had the chicken squared up and issued an aggressive cluck, Jed would no doubt have yelped back to the farmhouse and hidden up the leg of my jeans.

Unfortunately, the suicidal chicken made a run for it with Jed in hot pursuit, predatory instinct on full alert code red.

The first I knew of it was my sister in law, Florrie, appearing in the living room door, somberly bearing what appeared to be a dead chicken. Look, I’m not an expert at determining whether animals are dead or alive. If it moves, it’s alive. If it’s plucked or in cutlet-sized pieces, it’s dead.

Although the chicken still featured feathers, it was largely immobile apart from its head flopping around and blood spurting from three canine-sized puncture wounds in its neck.

Florrie reported that she found Jed standing over the chicken with its neck in his jaws. That may be the case, but I’m almost certain Lottie – Florrie’s pooch and Jed’s sister – was the real brains of the operation. Jed was merely the hired hand, the blunt instrument in Lottie’s diabolical plot.

However, the unspeakable horror was only winding up to its devastating crescendo. Because – and this is not a word of a lie – although I truly wish it were – Florrie proceeded to administer mouth to beak resuscitation. I have rarely witnessed anything so chilling. It looked like she was trying to inflate the chicken rather than revive it.

The chicken revived only long enough to give a loud croak.

“Um, Florrie,” I said, standing well back in case the chicken’s chest exploded, “I think the chicken’s toast.”

In the meantime

Here’s what else you missed (warning: don’t get too excited).

  • The weekend after Husband’s departure, I was invited to lunch with The Grandparents.

    Such a grand occasion warranted picking the dog hair out of my good jumper, and a shower. I thought it would be nice if, for a change, I didn’t look like I’d just tumbled off a fucking tractor (even if it sounded like I did).

    I really pushed out the boat by blow-drying and straightening my hair and treating it to some high-tech formula hair shiner for super soft and shiny hair.

    It was a beautiful day, and I had the window down as I drove to Mt Wellington, pouting and tossing my super soft, shiny hair around. I may be skidding towards middle age, but I looked downright foxy; I felt sexy, carefree – although not irresponsible (after all, I am nearly middle aged). Therefore I wound up the window when my vision was impaired by wind-borne hair.

    I only noticed I had trapped half my hair in the window when I nearly scalped myself checking for cars over my left shoulder.

    That’s NOT a good look, especially at 100kph on the SH1.

  • One day, I reversed down the drive forgetting I’d left my mobile phone on the spare wheel on the back of the car.

    I treat the spare wheel much like a hall table; in repose, it is normally strewn with keys, wallet, phone, sunglasses and garage opener. In many ways, the spare wheel is the perfect receptacle: it’s curved, often clean, stainproof, waterproof, and – most significantly – right there.

    Halfway down the road, I remembered my mobile on the back wheel – except, when I stopped to check, it wasn’t. On the back wheel. Any more.

    So I drove back to the house, and there it was lying by the gate.
    At least I didn’t drive over it. No no, I made that mistake once before.

    I am currently rethinking my storage policy for valuables.

  • Another day, there was a pounding on the door. These days, the only things that pound on our door are the meter reader and falling branches. However, in this instance, it was our neighbour, Hairy Dave.

    “Hai-ey, Dave!” I exclaimed. No doubt, the day is not far off where I will address him as Hairy Dave to his face and he will wreak a horrible and unusual revenge with his beard. “Are you- are you here for a cup of tea? Or- what?”

    In fact, Hairy Dave was present to perform a community service by informing me he had sighted my dog 2km down the road – instead of pootling around our fenced yard.

    Well, I am ashamed to admit I rudely left Hairy Dave on the doorstep; and furthermore, nearly reversed over him as I backed down the drive at high speed.

    I took it slower going down the road, expecting to see Jed’s mangled little body – oh god! – around every bend. Ok, that’s artistic licence; I only got around the one bend, when I encountered The Jedster charging up the center of the road: covered in mud and a big, happy head on him.

    Jed obviously forgot the subsequent discussion we had, since he embarked on another expedition yesterday afternoon.

  • I bought Jed a set of panniers. Apparently, making your dog carry things around gives him a sense of purpose, a feeling of belonging in this world.

    Also, it means I don’t have to carry my own waterproofs.

    091029 Jed and panniers1

    So far, I’ve only stored waterproof items in his panniers, since his extra baggage doesn’t stop him plunging into every stream, drain, pool, puddle or quagmire in the vicinity.

    Jed loves his panniers and gets all excited when I bring them out – probably because he knows it signals a walk – although he squirms when I take too long doing up the straps.

  • Last Sunday, I attended Jessica’s tenth birthday party. There were a LOT of kids. They moved really fast. It was a bit scary.

    I had no idea what to buy a 10 year old for a birthday present, so polled Husband. He said, “Well, think about what YOU’D buy a 14 year old, and get that”. How flattering that Husband considers me only four years behind The Times.

    I considered buying Jessica a crop top with ‘Bouncy’ written across the chest – which, according to the magazines, is the sort of thing every hip kid is wearing in the playground – however, I didn’t want her mother banning me from the house.

    In the end, I turned up with nothing, which I understand is a HUGE faux pax at a 10 year old’s birthday party, possibly even worse than the crop top.

That’s about it, really.

Stunt Double Ball

I was halfway down the road with dog and walking boots in the car, when I realized we had forgotten something. By ‘we’, I don’t usually hold Jed accountable for household items. However, in this instance I am referring to Ball, which is primarily Jed’s responsibility.

Ball’s habitual residence is clamped in Jed’s jaws. Where Jed goes, Ball precedes him by the skin of his teeth – except when Jed is applying his gob to Other Business – in order of priority and often chronology: eating, licking his balls, nibbling his butt, and slurping on Husband’s face.

Since I was going to Westcity Henderson before taking Jed for a walk, I procured a stunt-double: a tennis ball for $1.67.

Stunt-Double Ball is now Jed’s favourite new toy.

His favourite application of his favourite new toy – apart from immersing it in mud, but really you could say that about anything – is nudging it with his nose, then pouncing on it before it escapes beneath the sofa.

Unfortunately, he needs some more practice at this; equally unfortunately, the gap beneath the sofa is about half a millimeter taller than the diameter of a tennis ball, which in a near perfect confluence of misfortunes, is not conducive to retrieval of Stunt-Double Ball. Not that Jed doesn’t try; and I can’t tell you how entertaining it is when he jams his head under the sofa, tail sweeping wildly, and scrabbles away on the floor with all paws.

So amongst my numerous duties around the house, I am also apparently in charge of extracting Stunt-Double Ball. Otherwise, Jed mopes and/or sulks.

Me: Hey, Puppy DUPPY! Where’s Stunt-Double Ball?

Jed: <Casting doleful eyes towards the sofa. Launches vicious yet heartbreakingly futile attack on sofa>

Me: Is it under there, HMM? Have you lost your Stunt-Double Ball under the sofa? Let’s have a look, shall we? <stretching flat out on the floor>

Me: Oh, there it is. THERE it is. Right – at – the – back. How did you manage that Fluppy Puppy? <getting to feet> I’m going to need some sort of . . . long . . . thing to handle this.

Me: <walking to kitchen> Now, Jedster, pay attention. HERE is where my species is superior to yours. Not to be mean – and I’m not talking about opposable thumbs – although I suppose that’s ANOTHER area wherein my species is superior to yours. But specifically, I am referring to-

Me: <brandishes fly-swat at dog> TOOLS!

Jed: <trots expectantly after me as I return to the sofa>

Me: <adopting prostrate position on floor again> You see? I take my fly-swat – or Ultimate Extraction Device – and . . .

Jed: <jumps on my head>

Me: <muffled> Ok, you’ve made your point.

AWW!

090317 Porn star dog

So, you know how Jed recently blew away the competition to take the World’s Best Dog title? Well, here is your opportunity to own some of his genes. From the same breeder and parentage as The Esteemed Jedster:

Red curly coat retriever puppies

AREN’T THEY JUST THE CUTEST ITTY BITTY LITTLE FLUFFY THINGS YOU’VE EVER SEEN?! I’m working on Husband to get a playmate for Jed. I particularly like the little fella third from left, who reminds me of my late paternal grandmother – although I might have to find another angle to convince him

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