Archive for March, 2007

Mum has always said I can be anything I want to be. But she keeps calling me a kleptomaniac. Hmmmm. I call it ‘borrowing for a while’. Mum took me shopping today and at one point she suddenly realised I was carrying this ….

I love winding her up like this. Helping myself from a passing pram is a new one – kid leans out, “Nice doggie…” Doggie helps himself to toy and buggers off. I usually try to take chocolate from the sweet tills in the shops. One day I managed to nab a Cadbury’s Flake and was walking out of the shop, carrying this bar of chocolate, and the look of horror on mum’s face when she realised, it was a classic! The security guard was standing there with tears streaming down his face, he was laughing so hard… hehehe

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I think everyone is some kind of dog – yes, I mean humans as well!
Care to take the test and find out?

Telling people I’m a cocker poo / cockapoo is usually a good ice breaker. I was bred by the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, whose staff have my dog mother (grey poodle) and dog father (black cocker spaniel). All the litters they breed from them have made wonderful Hearing Dogs. My sister Scotch lives in London, my brother Sailor lives in Australia, and I have another sister in England somewhere.

What breed is mum? I asked her to take the test.

– Woof woof! You’re a Retriever!

No bones about it, you’re a popular, fun-loving Golden Retriever. Adored by all and too cool for school, you’re extroverted and enthusiastic. Your magnetic personality makes you the life of any bash. Since you’re a true people-dog, you genuinely love all kinds of social gatherings. Going to parties, dinners, and other shindigs is the best way to add faces to your constantly growing circle of friends. But besides being on the social A-list, you’re a confident, well-rounded pup who’s definitely something to bark about. Reasonably accomplished at anything you set your mind to, your sunny nature and winning ways make you one of everyone’s favourite dogs. Woof!

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I just loved this advert and begged mum to post it here. My favourite toy is a tennis ball. A proper yellow Slazenger, Wilson or Dunlop ball, not a cheap pet shop ball that breaks apart the first time I have a good chew on it. It should be chewable, shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t it?! Robbie’s dad was ranting to mum the other day about him chewing strips off his tennis balls. Mmmmm, I must tell him, that’s what bones are for. I guess I like a tennis ball better because it keeps rolling around and I never get bored with it, a little nudge and it’s off. But a bone just sits there like a brick.

This is one toy I can’t get the hang of, a ball launcher. I got it for christmas from my cousin Maeve. Mum says I have to practise so I can get better with it. It goes so far and fast that I can’t see where it’s gone. (mum – he just sits and looks at me with a puzzled expression….aww!) Scotch is pretty good with it though. Huh. Sisters!

Mum tells me, in the 1980s, the dye in regular tennis balls was reported to increase the risk of cancer in dogs who ingested small amounts of the dye that dissolved in saliva as the dog held the ball, and special tennis balls were made for dogs, using a safe dye. It’s now illegal to sell anything with a carcinogenic dye. If the box has a CE mark then you’re safe. But why don’t they make these pet tennis balls stronger? Is this due to the throw-away society we live in, making these balls as cheaply as possible and therefore buyers have to buy them more often as they have a shorter shelf life?

Mum, I want a GoDogGo! (mum – Whaaaa?)

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Do dogs like to watch TV? Well, I think so. I make mum laugh as she thinks I’m so human sometimes!

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A good night out

A friend Emma is leaving the RNID and we went along to her farewell drinks. It was sooo noisy in the pub that mum took out her hearing aids so she could relax, everyone was signing anyway so she didn’t have a problem. (mum – it was the first time I had taken out my hearing aids in a pub and it worked a treat) Poor old me, I had to put up with the loud music and chatter. But hey, I had to be my usual popular self! So I made sure I said hello to everyone first….

I gave this lady such a fright as she didn’t realise there was a dog next to her, but then I turned on the 100 mega watt charm and won her over in about ten seconds. Then guess what! I got dognapped! (mum – he means ‘kidnapped’) This lady took me off mum later in the evening, she wanted to take me home – no chance!

Another cuddle with more friends…

And yet another cuddle …

Then…wow my favourite uncle Tony appeared… yay yay yay! Mum, when’s my next holiday with Tony and Maria? (mum – errrmmm, soon!)

Cats can make over 100 individual vocal sounds, whereas dogs can only make ten. I only bark in my sleep and it’s a very quiet woof. When mum said that Hearing Dogs are trained not to bark, he tried to teach me how to *woof* …

and hehehe it didn’t work …

(mum – right, Smudge has had enough now! Awwww, bless!)

And so have we! hehehe

It’s time to go home now!

The next morning, mum had a nasty hangover and we *still* had to go to Painsburys. I fell asleep on top of the shopping bags on the car seat, mum was so surprised as I’ve never done that before. Sign of a good night out! (mum – pass the aspirin please!)

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St Paddy’s Day has rolled around again. Mum being Irish, our celebrations are staggered (ahem) across the weekend, starting off with a boozy lunch in Berkshire with friends then drinks nearer home. On the way to our lunch (mum – it was at an Italian restaurant and was lovely – even though they refused to let Smudge in at first) I made two new friends on the train, one of whom had worked in east Africa and told us a story of there being so many stray dogs with rabies there, infecting the population, biting the children, and the government wasn’t doing anything about this. She came across a dog that had been run over and took it to a local vet, who was so excited as he didn’t get much work, and performed surgery with instruments out of the stone age. Different world, eh? He did an excellent job though.

Claire is a vet in Didcot, I knew straightaway that she loved dogs and made a beeline for her! She was eating this scrumptious chocolate cake and sadly I didn’t get any….. mum ratted on me and told her I’d been sick this morning, but I forgave her when Claire said I should have something like rice and chicken when I got home. (I got rice and tuna! My favourite! My favourite!)

We had lunch with Anne and Lynda, who mum used to work with – haven’t seen them for 4 years and they talked non-stop for hours! It was really great to see them again. There’s nothing quite like old friends is there.

I was really jealous of their puddings – check out Anne’s gigantic piece of cake!

I’m quite partial to the Guinness myself and hoped to lick up a few drops but mum had her beady eyes on me. Mum will be sticking to her favourite, Baileys. Here’s a recipe for an Irish Car Bomb –

30ml whiskey in a big tumbler (no ice)
top up with coke, up to 3cm from the top of the glass
drop a shot of Baileys into the tumbler and
*chug it all down!*

Mum is a dab hand at Irish coffee, everyone always wants another one! Here’s how to make a decent one –

In a warmed glass, pour a good glug of Irish whiskey, which has a mellow taste which is different from Scotch. Add a teaspoon of brown raw cane sugar and dissolve. Fill the glass with hot strong coffee (Bewleys is good). Pour whipped cream over the back of a spoon onto the top of the coffee. Don’t stir the cream into the coffee, but drink it through the cream. Mmmmm.

The real reason I like going into pubs is for all the attention and fuss I get. Some people even start giving mum donations towards Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, she’s always telling people how great I am. Of course, It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday and I haven’t forgotten… more kisses for mum!

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Favourite hero

Would you like to vote for your favourite hero hound on Hearing Dog’s website.

(Mum says – of course, it goes without saying, Smudge is my favourite hero.
For all time 🙂
One evening I fell asleep on the sofa. I awoke to Smudge scratching me, smoke was pouring out of the oven and my dinner was black. I didn’t even have smoke alarms installed at that time. Clever boy!)

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Hearing Dog Molly won this year’s Friends for Life award. Well done!

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As I was starting to resemble a sheep, mum took me to my favourite groomer for a short back and sides. (It’s Robbie’s fave too). I’m quite happy to go there which is a relief for mum, as I bolted out of the last dog groomer’s premises I visited, Dirty Paws in Greenwich. Well, would you blame me, they left me in their dryer for too long. My previous lovely groomer had relocated, and it’s a job and a half for mum to do it herself. (mum interrupts – Have you ever tried to clip a dog? It’s pure murder. Even if there’s two of you doing it. And when we tried to do his ugly bits, Smudge wasn’t having any of it.) So I ended up being sort of half-groomed. Not exactly the height of fashion, is it?

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, who trained me, recommended a pair of clippers from Groomers, as they use these on their dogs. They are excellent clippers, fast, light enough for mum to hold for a while and fairly quiet.

I’ve been sulking hugely since my visit to the groomers. I met up with a bunch of friends today including Auntie Ollie, who always has some yummy chocolate in her bag for me. Nowadays I don’t even bother to say hello to Ollie, I just dive straight into her bag. Pardon me. Today, I felt so out of sorts, I didn’t bother to say hello to any of my friends (mum – so unlike him!) but I did manage to perk up at the sight of Auntie Ollie.

(mum – It’s funny how he throws a 3-week long sulk every time I spend £50 on him. A friend has just told me, like the old blanket in the basket, dogs don’t like change. Aaaaah. It all makes sense now!)

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We recently went for a 7 mile walk (well it felt like 20!) around the Lower Lea Valley as this was the last chance to see parts of east London that will disappear forever during the regeneration of this area in preparation for the London Olympics.

Our group met at West Ham and we walked in a loop around the development area. We wandered up Pudding Mill Lane into a wasteland site with views of Canary Wharf, destined to be the Olympic Park. The Lower Lea Valley has been designated a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation by the Greater London Authority’s Ecology Unit. It has European status as a migration route for birds. In spite of such importance to wildlife, the developers characterize the Lower Lea valley as a derelict area, and construction will mean the loss of some of the Valley’s nature reserves.

A £15 million lock and flood-control structure is being developed on the River Lea, which will be essential to the success of London’s Olympic 2012 site. It will be called the Prescott Lock. Prescott Lock will prevent sewage flowing into the River Lea, creating a barrier between the brackish water flooding in from the Thames and the fresh water flowing down the Lea Valley. A permanent head of water will be created on which barges can carry construction materials up the Thames to the new Olympic park and Stratford City, and bring London’s waste and recyclables down to Tilbury. There will be another, more important and down-to-earth function, in preventing the raw sewage which flows out of the East End’s pungent storm drains and into the River Lea just below there from reaching the manicured lawns of the Olympic park. Evidence of the sewage pushed back up the River Lea at high tide is seen in the fig trees which line the river banks – fig seeds survive and thrive after passing through humans. The scheme will restore navigation to the river for the first time in 40 years and be part of the foundations of the new city that will rise in the east along the river, the Thames Gateway. This is the most important waterway restoration project in the country, affecting transport, tourism, wildlife, heritage, regeneration and development.

The Three Mills include the house mill, the largest tidal mill in the country, built in 1776, and refreshments can be had at The House Mill Cafe. We walked along the River Lea and one of our group unfortunately slipped on the bank and broke her teeth, so an ambulance had to be called. I followed soon after, luckily one of the walkers was quick enough to pull me out of the river – not such a great adventure as it was so smelly! We stopped and had lunch at the Big Brother house, next to a nasty-smelling lock. It was unreal to see so much undeveloped land around us and the modern towers of Canary Wharf in the background.

We had an enjoyable river walk along Limehouse Cut into Stratford. There were so many properties up for sale – don’t think anyone wants to live here! We went past the Northern Outfall Sewer east of Stratford. This carries the entire sewage of north London to the Abbey Mills pumping station, which raises it by 40 feet (13 metres) so that it can be pumped further south to the treatment plant at Beckton. The Northern Outfall Sewer was a massive undertaking and is still impressive today. You can read about Bazagette’s work in The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Metropolis. Several sections of the Northern Outfall Sewer now form the Greenway, a route used by pedestrians and cyclists.

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