Dog Walking

I appreciate that this is apparently self-evident from the picture. But it’s not just a noun, it’s a proper noun as Dog” the Dog remains unnamed until a new owner takes him on.

I wanted to be that new owner. Dog is a min-murf really, extremely placid, friendly and eater of anything. Indeed closer examination of the picture reveals a fat belly caused by snout-down thievery of his mum’s food bowl earlier that morning.

My argument for two dogs is simple; it’s like kids β€œ two aren’t really more difficult that one, they can amuse one and other, they’ll look after you when you’re old and occasionally do something useful like unloading the dishwasher*

Carol’s position is somewhat contrary to this. She tells me if we add another dog to the household, then- one second later – a wife shall be subtracted from same household. I’m trying to think of this as her starter for a negotiating position.

But it seems as if Dog will remain un-named and unclaimed for a while longer. Unless I can smuggle him under cover of darkness, and pretend we’ve just bought a big kitten. Barking? Yes, they all do that, quite the new thing!

* I didn’t say it was a good argument

Dog flies, I bleed, welcome to the weekend.

I am only writing this because nine nails are bitten to the quick, and the other one is encased in a very large plaster. Cricket you see; a logical part of the mind chastises “it’s only a game, there is nothing you can do to alter the outcome, you should care this much” whereas the other part – that bit that goes aarrgggthh ever time a gloating Aussie scores 400 with the bat stuck to his head or something – just wants England to win back the Ashes.

Other way round, we have to make 550, they have to bowl us out, it’s over in 50 overs with a batting average reading capitulation and humiliation. They bat and the buggers just think “550? Pah, we’ll be done by tomorrow lunch and have the rest of the day off“.

And who says recycling saves the planet? It may well do but it didn’t save my finger which was surgically sliced by an unseen broken glass. Probably lost in all the wine bottles. 10 minutes of bleeding and no sympathy later, it was off to the community hospital in Ross to lie about my last tetanus and be bandaged up yet again.

It’s almost as if I’m clumsy or something. Whatever, blood loss must have been the trigger for an all expenses raid on the local camping shop, from where we left staggering under the weight of “essential” equipment. Yes, next week we’re going to try camping for the first time with the kids. Not to save money as the cost of all this kit could easily have paid for a nice hotel, with a snug little bar.

Instead we’re borrowing a tent, and heading out to the wilds of Cardigan Bay. To spend three or four days marooned under stormy skies with only a moist, smelly dog for company.

Sounds ace doesn’t it? But if the inevitable cricketing tragedy plays out, at least there’ll be radio silence. In the meantime, here are some more levitating dog pictures.

Murphy - August 09 Murphy - August 09

Murphy - August 09 Murphy - August 09

Anybody wants me, I’ll be whimpering under a blanket with only radio 4 and a hip flask for company.


Strange phone call the other day, starting: “Have you got a black Labrador?”. A swift review of my personal inventory showed a worrying absence of stinky mutt. “Not right now I answered” wondering what this dog obsessed stranger wanted, and how he’d got my number.

The answer came quickly; the number was on Murphy’s collar which was co-located with the mutt on the main road between Ledbury and Ross. An arterial trunk that carries much in the way of heavy lorries and dopey tourists – both of which are piloting vehicles that would deliver much squashage to fur and flesh. Especially if it’s wandering about in the middle of the road attempting to lick bumpers.

We retrieved the dog – much chastised – and even though he knew he was being pointlessly bollocked, his little brain would not have picked up that those very bollocks were in line for an expensive operation with a couple of house bricks. Dog Lore says that wandering mutts are generally chasing *ahem* ready ladies, and the best way to nip that in the bud is to nip the poor bugger in the nuts.

If that wasn’t bad enough – which let’s face it if you’re any sort of bloke, it’s way more than enough – the Hound of Smell is on starvation rations. A review of his bi-daily snout experience suggests that now he’s stopped growing*, his bowl should be filled to a mere 3/4 of the previous amount. Still Murph’s having the last laugh with supper augmentation of smelly cow shit.

And while recent visitors have accused us of replacing the lovely puppy with a crudely reshaped horse, this is not the animal that is giving us the most gyp. After nearly three months of bulking up, fighting and failing to lay any eggs. At least one of the useless fluffies spent that time creating some kind of rifling system up it’s bottom as the much-awaited first egg appeared to have been fired from a cannon. Very odd shape.

That was the only egg. We haven’t seen so much as a yoke since. One key reason behind this is the bloke selling to us was clearly a Grade-A liar. Because two of the chickens have started crowing and performing technical rape of the other three. I have a feeling they may be boy chickens.

I might send Murphy in there to go check them out. Still if he can’t shag it, he’ll probably eat it.

While I have been writing this the England cricket team are attempting to lose the ashes by chucking wickets away with the kind of gay abandon that has any avid fan chewing the keyboard in frustration. Never has the phrase “Snatching defeat from the jaws of Victory” been so apposite.

* Thankfully. He treads on your foot, you go to hospital for a new one.

Happy Murfday

I remembered the dog’s birthday, but somehow managed to book a weekend of misery – where the Holy Trinity of riding horror: wind, rain and mud shall converge on a sodden field full of hollow eyed idiots – when Verbal hits double figures. A masterly oversight that would normally offer a perfect excuse to stay warm and dry inside, but your sponsorship means that is not allowed to happen.

I hope you’re happy πŸ˜‰

Anyway the dog is now a year old and in the eight months he’s been a member of the Leigh-pack, he’s grown into a much loved, if slightly destructive family pet. The wear and tear on shoes and bins has come as a bit of a surprise, as has the worrying prospect that he still has some way to grow. Unfortuantly this is unlikely to be in the much shrunken areas of his stubby ears amd stumpy legs. As all the growth genes have been seemingly directed to his head, nose and stomach.

And yes he smells a bit, his attention span can be measured in nanoseconds, he’s not terribly obedient and his drool can be a bit embarrassing. We’re still talking about the dog here, ok? Last night he demonstrated all these qualities on being asked to “come” from some major sniffage action he’d undertaken a hundred yards or so away.

His response was unusually immediate and, as ever, enthusiastic. I watched in dog training pleasure as he arced round a clump of trees and turned onto an intersect trajectory. What should happen now is the well trained dog will slow, sit in front of you and be rewarded with a treat.

I have to mitigate what follows with the rider that he tried. He really did, engaging full reverse 4 paw thrust about twenty yards out in the expectation of stopping some two seconds later. What actually happened was those big, fat paws merely aqua-planed on the wet grass, and – if anything – 35 kilograms of rock hard dog began to accelerate.

The last thing I remember was seeing a look of some shock on Murf’s fizog before the world flipped ninety degrees and I found myself lying winded, face down in the long, damp grass. I thought I’d stay there for a while to mentally prepare myself for the CLIC this weekend*. Lord Smelly of Dog had other ideas and I received the “slobber of life” which is a medical triumph in terms of immediacy of response.

Within a second I was back up with a “Geroff, yuk, ugh, horrible animal“. I was wet everywhere, especially where slob-o-dog had gone straight for tongues, my good knee now hurts like the bad one and my elbow is making a strange clicking sound. It’s probably some kind of water diviner which could be useful for tomorrow. In case I cannot work out where the h20 is by following the stair-rods of horizontal rain.

Anyway, wish me luck. Or just point and laugh. I don’t care, I couldn’t be more miserable. The only thing that has cheered me up is the reinstatement of the “TOOL WALL” after a year abandoned in various lofts. Tune in over the weekend – not for some twatter/mobile phone picture update – but for some OCD type images of the half finished workshop.

I am going outside. I may be some wet.

* I made this observations last year. And it was fantastically sunny over the whole weekend. I’m thinking of it as my lucky joke. Let’s hope it works eh? One the one side “my lucky joke“, on the other a million weather computers predicting conditions ideal for submarine exercises. H’mm.

Barbara Woodhouse

Now there was a women who took no shit at all when it came to training dogs. I remember watching, back in the eighties, with an uncomfortable feeling those supine hounds had been beaten with a big slipper before the cameras rolled.

Our dog would just eat that slipper. Last night he was reintroduced to both Puppy Training and half of his twelve siblings. I wonder if you are as unsurprised as I to hear that this combination augured ill for a set of technical exercises where the pack leader was expected to maintain absolute control over her dog.

Murphy spectacularly failed to sit, lie down, wait and heel. He did however hone his signature move of tearing off up after his brothers with Carol gamely hanging onto the lead. Sadly she was no longer standing at the time, rather ploughing a lonely full length furrow as the not-really-a-pup showed no obvious lessening of velocity even tugged down by a human anchor.

When commanded to “COME” he gave it the full “who me? you’re kidding right?” before disappearing in a twenty four legged Labrador scrum with an excitable whelp. The other dogs weren’t much better, but apparently Murf was a) extra specially bad and b) a bit of a ring leader in whipping up naughtiness in his brothers and sisters.

Carol returned with a look like thunder which she soon drowned in a very large glass of wine. The dog – obviously – just looked very pleased with himself. I’m not sure whether to try and train him properly or just attach a carriage and use him as a canine taxi.

Next week, my attendance has been mandated. Which consideirng my legendary low boredom threshold is unlikely to improve discipline. Still it’ll be nice for someone else to be in trouble for arsing about for a change.

And, on the upside, he’s not tried to eat any of the “Fat Four” chickens. On the downside, he doesn’t like raw egg, and they are starting to pile up a bit. So how many fried egg sandwiches can a honed athlete such as myself be expected to eat?

The artist formally known as ‘catflap’

Would now like the world to know, they are now to be referred to as “Dog Flap

When Murphy was little*, a favourite trick was to follow you outside by somehow squirming through the cat flap. This was particularly traumatic for the cat, especially if it was trying to come back in at the same time.

Yesterday, the dog was clearly feeling some “separation anxiety” as Carol had a few other things on here mind, and four mad chickens in her hand. Ironically one of the other ‘things’ was a spotty Random who is the last member of the family to get Chicken Pox.

Murphy decided that since he can no longer fit through the cat flap, he shall merely extend it by shoving his every increasing girth hard against it, until the door broke. Apparently, on escaping, he was delighted with himself and couldn’t wait to run over to Carol wagging his tail and giving it the full “You see I’m not totally stupid” expression.

Dog was marched back to doghouse, and locked in his cage. When I finally got home he exchanged his expression for “I was just sticking my snozzle out, and it broke. Honestly“.

Any more of that and he’ll be getting a kennel outside πŸ˜‰

* It’s all relative. He was never exactly small, but now he is a Labrafantasorous.

The dog ate my footwear

A contemporary reworking of the classic excuse offered up by lazy school children who couldn’t at least be a little more imaginative. A bloke I was at school with would regularly regale the terrifyingly northern Mr. Baxter with tales of alien invasion, a small boys’ single handed saving of the planet and the unfortunate collateral damage of his “Algebra 20 Hard Questions” being discombobulated by a frazzling death ray.

He still received the standard punishment of detention and a meeting with Baxter’s much feared “metal slipper“, but fair play to the fella for trying. It was only last night I remembered my oft slippered pal, during some ‘excuse brainstorming‘ for why my next day London meeting would be conducted in suit trousers, formal shirt and flip flops.

The dog has previous, redesigning Random’s week old trainers into fetching open toed sandals with custom chew motifs. His recent freedom from overnighting in his cage allows access to all sorts of interesting things that can be slobbered, chewed and then eaten. This includes a book – appropriately entitled – “Natural Disasters” which he took some delight in shredding.

Already, I wasn’t in the best of moods after my first bike commute of the year. Exactly half of it had been fantastic, cold and dark but immensely satisfying and reminding me why cars are just so rubbish. As are trains, especially the ones run by London Midland that can apparently teleport between platforms.

Because otherwise, why would I be chasing trains all over Birmingham New Street with my bike on my shoulder and innumerable flights of stairs blocking my progress. Some thirty minutes after this jolly game had started, I had ended up parking the bike in the correct carriage, divested myself of outer garments and courier bags, plugged in traveling tunes and opened the paper.

At which point the driver gleefully informed us that this train was giving up at Worcester, and poor saps heading West of that better get over to platform 7 sharpish. My frantic reassemblage of commuting collateral begat an elbows out charge up two punishing stair sets and a plunge down the far side. Excellent training if I ever considered Cyclocross racing,* but not an absolutely ideal way to spend most of an evening.

Especially since the overcrowding on this final train morphed me into a bikey sardine, trapped between two overstuffed carriages. The next hour was gainfully spent shuttling the bike between suitcases, tired looking passengers and train doors as I’d hurriedly parked it in the main thoroughfare. I feel my smile of acknowledgment, when being politely asked to shift IT AGAIN, may have become somewhat forced after a while.

So when Murphy greeted me with his standard arse cantilevering tailwag and slobbery hello, I sternly rejected his advances with a steely accusing finger and an admonishment of “YOU. SHOE EATER. YES YOU. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO SAY FOR YOURSELF?”. His confused expression suggested the evidence of mouthy shoelace had been planted, and it was all a stitch up. Honest Guv.

Two seconds later, having conveniently forgotten his telling off, he dropped to the floor and began licking his willy in a “Bet you wish you could do this” happy manner.** This is the default position of the Murf assuming there isn’t any footwear to be chewily mangled. It’s hard to be angry with a pet which clearly takes so much pleasure in basting his testicles in slobber. I mean there is an animal which clearly knows how to have a good time, and no amount of telling off is going to change that.

I have avoided potential disciplinary being cited due to inappropriate footwear by ballasting myself down with the spare pair from the office. Climbing the last gruesome hill before home , I couldn’t help thinking if that dog continues to suffer “separation anxiety”, he’ll more likely be suffering “sharp rap on the nose with the remains of my shoe“.

Not that there is much left. He’s going to be pooing leather patches for days.

* Which I won’t. As I’ll die of heart failure or embarrassment.

** Not really. Fond of the dog as I am, there are limits to my affection.

I’ve killed the dog.

Okay I haven’t but how the hell can that be comfortable? I tried lying like that – cementing the owner imitating pet myth – but quickly ran out of flexibility, dignity and limbs. We’ve been leaving the cage open over night and, aside from the daily loss of at least one wicker bin, he has so far failed to eat the furniture, cat or anything structural.

I feel he may be merely luring us into a false sense of security. One day we’ll sleepily fall downstairs* only to gasp aghast “Where is the ground floor? All I can see if one fat, sickly looking dog!

Talking of fat, I’m merely filling until time and wine converge to bring forth the much awaited** missive on plumbing. It has a poem and everything. No, I know you can hardly wait either. But tonight, I abandoned this much stared at tube to go and ride my bike. Yes that’s right, riding it, not fixing it, hanging pointless bling off it, or staring at it with frankly worrying thoughts.

It’s thawed. Hard trails have disappeared under muck. Tyre trails snaked more sideways than straight on. Trees viscously reached out of the dark to deliver a barky headbutt. Nothing much was frozen, except for feet and noses. We lured in a newcomer with talk of an easy ride and almost no hills; and now he’s bruised and broken, but vowing to come back for more.

Top night all round really πŸ™‚

* now Carol has removed the carpet which makes a “Headlong Plunge Fakie Bloodied Skull Finish” the descending move of choice.

** This might be classed as a phrase quite close to marketing. Which is the Dictionary Of The Hedgehog is the entry next to Painful Death.

See that..?

Murphy 6 months (4), originally uploaded by Alex Leigh.

… It is a labraphant. A new breed of animal created by fusing the body of a dog with the size of an elephant. I could not help but notice he is now the second largest hound in the morning dog walking pack.

A pack which includes a number of different size animals, but none of which you’d really need to bend down to pat. He is going to be an absolute monster at a year old. If you can stretch the definition of a monster to something that wishes only to please, sleep and eat.

Murphy 6 months

Murf is revelling in his growing fitness. We’re trying hard not to overexercise him, but the bugger just wants to run and run. And then sleep for the rest of the day. Unless there is any food on offer.

Murphy 6 months (2)

He’s a good dog though. We saw one of his brothers over the weekend and what a fat old bruiser he has turned out to be! Our hound is a bit of an young softy really; not very brave and still not a swimmer even after a) we threw in the Airdale terrier* he was chasing around the pond and b) after I accidentally booted him at the deep end.

Got his own back tho. The smell of damp dog is probably illegal in Surrey.

* with the owners permission. Not sure we checked with the dog tho. Can’t say it looked that happy πŸ˜‰