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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?”


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!


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.

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