A Walk with The Old Man

The words could be written for Milo. Miss that old fella as much as ever.

Insecurely Confident


Overcast, but warm

The perfect day to share

We have always enjoyed our walks together

He and I


No longer young

He struggles to keep up

But the trail is clear and gently rolling


We used to traverse the woods

Over stumps and deadfalls

Ridges and marshes


These days we simply stroll

Enjoying each other’s company

And the sweet musky scent of the forest


Soaking up the moments we have left

For he is getting no younger

I see it in the gray of his whiskers

And the hitch in his giddy-up


He’s always there for me

And I am always there for him

** One of the best dogs I’ve ever had…. 

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A Christmas Feast / Feat

Anthropomorphism at its best. A delightful Christmas feast:

I’m not so sure Bruno would have been able to sit nicely aand play nicely with the others like these dogs, but we can only hope.

And if you want to know how the amazing trickery was achieved:

All courtesy of

Wet Nose, Warm Heart

I’m a day or two behind but no matter – I’m still hanging in there to this Writing 101 exercise. Still flexing the pen muscles and working to make a habit of this writing lark. Today, we’re onto characters. And what better place than this to speak of the biggest character (figuratively and literally) to make an impact on my life this year. I’ve spoken of this fellow before – here where I first talked about his arrival, and here where his disgust at getting the broken toy was my theme. So clearly this is a well-worn path already, but nevertheless we’re going back to this particular well one more time:



Bruno’s arrival was unexpected, uninvited and largely unplanned. I say largely because an arrival of sorts had been planned, just not his. ‘Bruno’ was intended to be female and of good breeding and provenance, with her arrival timed towards the beginning of the school summer vacation. But Bruno clearly had other plans. He saw a door not quite latched and wedged his furry foot firmly. With canine wiles he found the lap most willing and settled down. This lap belonged to my wife.

An emailed picture and the deed was set, despite all assertions and protestations to the contrary.

“He’s just coming to visit,” was the first step.

“He needs somewhere with more room, just ‘til he’s adopted,” was the second step.

“If you don’t want him, I can take him back to the shelter’” was the third and ultimately final step.

By this point a 7 week old puppy had been in our house for three weeks or so, and my carefully laid plans for a German Shorthaired Pointer – a little girl at that – were iced for the next several years at best. Bruno – the cuckoo in the nest – had arrived. And like any other cuckoo, he rapidly asserted his ownership of everything in the house, much to the disgust of our resident old girl, Kizzie. She was far too well-mannered to deal with a young upstart from the streets, and so she did her best to ignore his presence. But then he proceeded to destroy her toys, steal her people and sleep in her bed. Goldilocks has nothing on Bruno.

He also grew. Rapidly. On walks, two main conversation points heard were, “What is he, exactly?” followed almost inevitably by, “Look at his paws. He’s going to be huge!”

Bruno’s DNA is hard to distinguish. He has the markings of a Doberman and the temperament of a hound. He bays like a bloodhound at anything, he is happiest laying on the deck on a hot, sultry summer’s day (picture any Deep South movie. Can you see the old hound on the verandah? That’s Bruno). He’s clearly got a good nose – it is rivalled in size only by an anteater – and he can sniff out a pair of (clean) socks from any gym bag or pair of shoes. He also has a taste for apples, and on many occasions has helped himself to a healthy snack from the fruit bowl.

At eight months he is tall enough to lift his nose and sniff at kitchen counter height. He now stands a foot taller than Kizzie, who admittedly is a pretty tiny Labrador, but is a Labrador nonetheless. For the longest time, Bruno had no control over his legs; they were far too long and too remote from his pea-sized brain to be under anything other than minimal central control. On several occasions he simply tripped over his own feet and did a spectacular face-plant.

His goofiness is part of his charm, for sure. He reminds me of the big goofy kids in school. The nice-but-dims who would go buy the booze for you, then wonder why their heads felt funny after a few shots. His naivety is a huge part of his charm – his fascination with ants; his complete frustration with any bird (he particularly hates crows); his bravado when terrified out of his wits by a new noise or a sudden movement.

It’s the little things that ingratiate a person or a pet into our hearts, that take them from an acquaintance to a friend to a lifelong companion.

Soft old mutt. That’s me by the way. Not him.


Tranquility : Writing 101assignment

Writing 101 continues. Today’s task :

Writing 101: A Room with a View (or Just a View)
We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.

Here goes:

There’s a crispness in the air this morning – the first of the year where a jacket is needed against the early morning chill. I shuck into the fleece, don a cap and whistle. Two black masses hurtle down the hallway to join me on the morning ritual. I open the back door and they are gone, off to catch the latest news from the canine gossip line, to flush through the browning bracken and furrow the damp grass with their noses. What’s a walk without a dog?

We head off along the farm track, passing the meadow where sheep will over-winter in a few weeks’ time. The old brick farmhouse stands sentinel as it has for a hundred years. Its red brick walls seem to have grown from the surrounding fields, and the tall chimneys twist in a spiral of brickwork towards the watery blue of the morning sky. Man and dogs together, we stride forwards. Both dogs cover five times my distance as they zig and zag in and out of the brush. Milo likes to be just out of sight, there but not there. The intrepid explorer seeking out new trails to explore. Kizzie sticks closer, stick in mouth. Suddenly a rabbit breaks cover and dashes across the path and she’s gone, haring across the common and gaining quickly. The rabbit dives for cover in a burrow and Kizzie is lost. She can’t figure out where he went. Though if she caught it, I don’t know what she would do with a stick in her mouth!

Milo, meanwhile, has gone on ahead to where the path dips into a shallow valley to cross the stream. He is dibbling in the stream, lapping the cool water . If I’m quiet, I can sneak up behind him and dig him in his ribs, making him spin around and leap at me, muddy paws flying and mouth agape in a huge grin. From here, we head off under the canopy of the woods. Even though there is a highway not a half mile distant, the woods are peaceful, quiet and serene. I love this place. I love to come here alone – well, with my dogs – but it is my place. Walking through these woods it is possible to make out the long-forgotten roadways that led from the manor to the gatekeepers cottage on the edge of the estate. The manor house is long gone now, but these vestiges hint at a time gone by, a hundred years past when the old farmhouse was new.

Ahead there is an old ornamental pond from when these grounds were part of the formal gardens of that old manor. The kids come by here some days and play at being men, but the ruins and dark waters are too spooky for most to venture after dark. I like this place. I like the crumbling decay that hints at what once was. If I sit awhile, I can see the gardens transform into their once glorious days. I can see the ladies with their parasols strolling the gravel paths with their gentlemen. I see their chaperones keeping modest presence, and there, the gardeners tending the rhododendrons and pulling weeds.

Too soon I am distracted by the sound of a mighty struggle behind me. Having destroyed her stick, Kizzie is now attempting to uproot a sapling, wrenching and tugging the tree from the ground. I call her away and distract her with another stick – there’ s no shortage – then whistle Milo from his explorations of the undergrowth. Time to head home.

This is a lightly enhanced version of my regular dog-walk when we lived in the beautiful Sussex countryside in South East England. Milo was my daily companion until he passed last September. I miss him daily. Kizzie is still with me – she will be 10 soon but still acts like a puppy. We call her our Peter Pan dog. It’s hard to see dogs age, but what would life be without them!


My intent in this piece was to evoke a feeling of peace and tranquility, and to give the reader a hint into the character of the man. Please let me know how I did.

It’s just a stick

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Bestest ever stick

You’ve seen those TV adverts at Christmas – you know, the ones where the toys fly through the air with sound effects, full digital backdrops and every component of the play set ever invented. The toy looks amazing. Your child craves this gift like no other gift ever conceived. You search high and low in every toy store. You succumb to store rage as you attempt to wrestle the last remaining box from the death grip of the granny who got there nano-seconds before you. You get the box home, hide it at the back of the wardrobe and rest easy, knowing your precious little cherub will have the gift of their dreams on Christmas morning.

Come the big day, you’re all gathered round the 8 feet pine in the corner. Carols play cheerily on the radio and snow falls softly outside. The gentle banter of happy families echoes throughout the house (work with me here, this is not real life, okay?!). It comes to little cherub’s turn to select a gift, and s/he of course, goes for the biggest box imaginable. They tear open the paper and the screams of delight cause the crystal in your glass of Buck’s Fizz to vibrate. Everything goes downhill from there.

Fast forward two hours. You are surrounded by the product of the package designer from Hell. Every single stupid component is fixed to the cardboard surround with enough wire ties and shrink wrap to withstand lunar re-entry. Cherub has long since got bored and has wandered off to gorge on Christmas chocolate to ensure violent vomiting immediately everyone site down for dinner. You’ve stabbed yourself several times with the knife you are using as a screwdriver, the edge of a wire tie has poked under your fingernail and the plastic moulding has sliced through your fingertip. You are currently dripping blood everywhere as you extract and assemble the miracle toy. Your sprit flags still further at the sight of three sheets of sticker to be affixed to the various components.

Finally, all is done. You step back and  examine the fruits of your labour. Is that it? Is this sad assembly of plastic figures, buildings and vehicles the toy that was advertised so eloquently? Little cherub comes in, picks up the plane and flies it round in a desultory manner. S/he delivers their review, “S’not like on TV. It doesn’t do anything.” With that, they are off and playing with the packaging.

Bruno - six months old. Yes, that's right!

Bruno – six months old. Yes, that’s right!

I thought this scenario was done when our kids grew up, but then we got Bruno. He is a 7 month old freakish large mutt with a capital M. He could easily pass for a fawn, and if he were a teenage boy he would be the one sent in to buy the beers. At 7 months he could pass for 5 years old at least. Bruno is always fascinated by anything and everything Kizzie has. Kizzie is our 9 year old Labrador and she has trained us to exactly the humans she wants. Kizzie knows which toys she likes and she revels in her playtimes. Bruno watches these playtimes and is, of course, enthralled by the excitement sand pleasure on Kizzie’s face, so he has to have what she has. So he steals the toy from her mouth. He then walks round the room, wondering why it doesn’t work for him.

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Kizzie with a new favourite toy

We were on a walk today. Kizzie had grabbed the best ever stick and was happily carrying it round, waiting for throw time. Bruno was stalking her jealously. He watched as she played with this magical flying toy that leaped and bounced and gave such huge pleasure to Kizzie. So we gave Bruno a stick to carry. He held it for a second and spat it out, as if to say, “She gets the magical flying wonder toy, and I get a stick? Really?” He then stalked her some more and eventually stole her stick. He held it for a minute, then dropped it and looked at us, “Dad, it’s broken. The batteries must be dead.” He looked in amazement as the stick suddenly transformed again for Kizzie.

It’s a sad life for Bruno. He doesn’t understand how Kizzie can get so much fun from a toy, when for him, it’s just a stick.


W is for Wolf

WThe shrill ringing of the telephone woke Rebekkah. She had been dozing in front of the fire with her big grey wolf of a dog. Last night had been her first evening out since getting home for the Christmas break, and she had made up for lost time. She was in her final year studying Kineseology and this was her first trip home since September.

She glanced at the clock – 3pm already – then reached for the phone. “Hello, Rebekkah Redmoor, who’s calling?”

“Good afternoon Ms Redmoor. This is Able Alarms calling. We have an alert from Mrs Forsyth. We called her home but got no reply. This number is listed as our emergency contact.” The caller was polite and efficient.

“Yeah, that’s my Grannie. What d’you want me to do?” (more…)