Four Legs Good
This could be my favourite, most optimistic bit of the year. The long weekends are over, Guy Fawkes is history (despite some niggling explosions to the contrary), and the washing is dry. There's a spring in my sandalled step.
So I thought we'd have a "spring" edition of Furry Friday; the pun was standing right there with its thumb out, in need of a lift home, and I couldn't just pass it by.
Cover-dog Ron captures the optimism of the season.
Lola is the amazing hovering Westie.
The first bangs started about 8.35, when the sky was gunmetal grey. The noise peaked at 9pm and in the 10 minutes that followed, then waned quickly. A single crack at 9.35 was the last sound I timed.
|Deaf Merrick slept through all 60 minutes of Guy Fawkes.|
Fireworks season is brief but intense; am I the only one who found the fireworks this year to be louder than usual? Maybe, as new technologies make cars and lawnmowers quieter, they perversely give fireworks more thump.
Or maybe, this year, more families than usual gathered in the little park over the road to have some fun with lights, noises and smells. (Scarily, over the other side of the park is a petrol station.)
Our pets were indoors. Merrick is an elderly cat who's nearly deaf, so he slept through it all. Phoebe, who hoots in fright if she hears a car backfiring, gave out a couple of barks. Connor didn't whine, but sought comfort and cover between my feet or my partner's, alternating between one protecting dad and the other. We distracted them with treats and games.
When I use my excitement-voice with Connor, he reacts by licking the air. He can't help it - Dachshunds are famous for being a "licky" breed and his sense of taste is crucial. As he encounters the world around him, his tongue leads the way, slightly ahead of his more prudent nose.
This means that his tongue goes places where angels fear to tread; of this we need say no more.
Let's simply pay tribute to the pink miracle that is a pet's tongue - and to the fact that pets are a lot less shy about showing them off than humans are.
This is Nico, tasting spring, and finding it piquant with a touch of grassiness.
The Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 - the fright, the loss, the upheaval - changed people's lives and shifted their thinking. But the quakes also changed the lives and personalities of pets.
This shouldn't be a surprise, even if it's not the first cost of the quakes that we think of. Our pets are sensitive creatures, and they know when the earth is throwing them about, they're terrified by things toppling and crumbling, they're baffled at the way familiar places suddenly fill with stink and sinkholes. And they know when the people around them are fearful and stressed.
When the fear and stress continue for months, and the shakes persist, some people and some pets adjust, but others are more deeply and permanently changed.
I've been reading a new book called Quake Dogs that tells the stories of dogs that went through the quakes and their aftermath. Some of the dogs, such as Urban Search and Rescue veteran Stig, had a working role in the rubble, combing and climbing piles of debris in search of survivors and bodies. Others were pets separated from their owners and homes; others were lucky enough to stay close to their human companions and homes.
One thing that cries out from nearly every story is how much damage the quakes caused in the nerves and emotions of the dogs - just as in the nerves and emotions of people. The dogs don't speak of that damage, of course, but it comes across in their changed post-quake behaviour.
Let me offer some advice on interior design (not many people know this, but I do have the diploma). In general, avoid white carpet. Shun white-upholstered furniture. Forswear white in your soft furnishings. And the reason: white doesn't last; white only looks good for a while. Soon it'll show every mote of dust and memorialise every fingerprint.
But though the world soon turns white objects grey and dowdy, a white cat defies the pattern. A white cat not only remains unsullied for year after year, but it makes everything around it look untidy. A white animal can't help but pull your gaze to its dazzle.
I present a lineup of pets in the colour white, and its ambitious siblings off-white, cream, and blonde. Some pets are blondes of the peroxide kind, whereas others sport a touch of honey and others a tincture of strawberry. But their owners all think of them as blonde.
Looking as though blondes have less fun is today's cover-cat, Vodka. Heart = melted.
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