Birthday Boy! Eight Years Old!

On the 12th of February, 2012, Ollie was born late at night, in the house next door.

Three months later, he came to live with us, and has been my constant companion ever since. Hardly a moment of any day goes by when he is not close enough to me to touch, and the only time he is ever on his own is when he settles down on his bed at night.

He has mellowed my moods, given me reason to exercise and explore, and through him, I have met most of the people I know in Beetley.

Despite all his numerous surgical procedures and other medical problems, he has stuck with me loyally, and remained my best friend for those eight years.

Happy Birthday for yesterday, to the best dog anyone could ever hope to own.

Three today!

Every year, I like to post a tribute to our dog, Ollie. This one is similar to the others, but if you are new to this blog, you may not have seen them before.

Today is Ollie’s birthday. He is three years old, or twenty-one if you agree that one year for a dog is equivalent to seven years in a human life. Not that he knows it’s his birthday of course, he is fast asleep as usual, on his cosy bed in the kitchen. Julie had to go into Norwich for a meeting today, so Ollie will probably get a present or two tomorrow. Perhaps a new fluffy toy, and a special treat.

The three years have passed quickly, since he was a wrinkly pup with needle-sharp teeth. He has grown into a muscly young dog, yet retained the sweet nature and friendly disposition, that makes him so endearing. His three short years have not been without problems for him. Eye operations, tail operations, skin problems, and ear infections, have all plagued his youth. He has endured it all without complaint though, and remains as a source of great joy and comfort to us, an integral part of family life here in Beetley.

He has made many friends, and grown up with other dogs of the same age. He never chewed or destroyed, and would never think of stealing food, or begging for treats unduly. He rarely jumps up, and only barks when he hears something out of the ordinary. He can be left for hours without complaint, or alternatively travel long distances in the car, happy to be included. I know we are naturally biased, but he really is an excellent dog, and a joy to own.

Because of Ollie, I get out for exercise every day, in all weathers. I have met new people, and been to places that I might otherwise never have discovered. He asks for little; save for our company, one meal a day, and his excursions around the area. He is happy to see anyone, and is always sure to welcome guests and callers. Just seeing him wag his curly tail can lighten your mood, and make your day. He gives me his undying loyalty, constant attention, and a sense of caring for him. There is nothing selfish about him, all he wants is to be loved.

Happy Birthday Ollie. Thanks for being a great dog, and a true friend.

Following your Followers

Today was the hottest day of the year so far in Norfolk. After taking Ollie for his usual walk, I was feeling pretty drained, and not really in the mood to spend much more time outside. There was little escape from the sun, and no breeze to speak of. I am not complaining though. After spending two years complaining about the rain, I am pleased to be able to enjoy some dry days.

I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in the small room grandly called ‘the office’. With the sun towards the back of the house, and sitting on my usual backless stool, I was able to keep reasonably cool. My mission was to check out the blogs of my followers. I have mentioned before, that I am informed by WordPress that I have 350 blog followers, and another 50 or so who follow by e mail, or via Twitter. I sat at my desk, and called up the list on the stats page. Seventeen pages of gravatars and website addresses to work through. I decided to make a cup of coffee.

I could exclude those that I follow, as I know what they are up to. I was also aware of a few that I knew to be defunct, for various reasons. That still left me with over 320 to plough through. I felt guilty, as in many cases, I had not commented for ages, or read any recent posts. I was quickly able to whittle down the numbers. Blog after blog had been deleted by the ‘owner’. Many had not been posted on since early 2013, or even late 2012. Some had posts declaring that they were ‘taking a break’, or ‘closed for the holidays’. In some cases, those holidays were last year’s. Numbers were further reduced by being able to ignore any ‘followers’ still active, who were continuing to sell stuff, or promote religions. A fair number of the blogs were still posting near-identical posts about pets, cooking, or photography. Nothing wrong with that, not in my book. Some of the budding authors had come on sufficiently to be advertising their published works, or putting up links to where they could be found. I excluded these from the ‘sellers’. They are just blogging writers who have achieved their goal. Well done to all of you in that category.

By far the majority are still going strong. They are blogging with the same enthusiasm as when they first came to my attention, and their blogs have gone from strength to strength. They almost all have a great deal more followers than I do, so congratulations are in order. We had started on this journey around the same time, and most of us are still here, to tell our tales. Most of their blogs are great to look at. Colourful, strewn with photos, and full of guest posts, or tales of travel. I did notice that many have changed theme. It seems that black is the ‘new black’, usually with red or white type. Others have eschewed wordpress completely, and are blogging on different platforms, or have taken the .com route, to their own website. I wish them luck, all of them. Some of the sites are simple ‘re-bloggers’, where the site owner writes very little themselves, instead re-blogging articles from many other bloggers. I mean no criticism of this. I have benefited from this practice personally, and I believe that it is a great way to spread the word, and to get ideas and information to those who might not otherwise discover¬† it.

As and when I got the opportunity, I touched base with many of them once more. I liked a post here, commented on one there. Congratulated when appropriate, and encouraged if I considered it necessary. Some have already got back to me, no doubt surprised at my sudden and unexpected appearance. After a long afternoon into the early evening, I finally completed the list. It made me feel good, assuaged my guilt, and revitalised my community spirit, as far as the blogging community has one. I must be sure to do this more often. As I often say, we are all in this together,


Dogged Devotion

Next week, my dog, Ollie, has to go to the Vet, and have part of his tail amputated. Those who have read all my posts will know the history of this, and be aware of the reason for this impending surgery. But this post is not really about that, I digress.

Anyone who has a dog, or has ever had one, will be able to understand some, if not all, of this post. There is something emotionally overwhelming about the affection and devotion that a dog shows to its owner. I use the popular term owner, but in reality, a better word would be companion. I may own a dog, but I am also his companion, his provider, and his mentor. His love, and loyalty to me are like nothing else I could ever experience. No human emotion could even come close, because we have opinions, thoughts and fears, doubts and worries. The love of children does not carry the same selflessness, and even the love of a mother for her children, perhaps the strongest, most unselfish there is, does not match that of a dog for its owner.

As far as he is concerned, I can do no wrong. If I leave him, he does not meet my return with recrimination, or complaint, rather with an excited spinning, frantic tail-wagging, and a genuine desire to see me back. If I spend all day with him, he is content to lie under my legs, doze on his bed, or chew a toy, as long as I am nearby, or at least in sight. If I forget to feed him, he waits patiently, and if I forget to let him in from the garden, he waits patiently. Every time I move, or adjust my sitting position, he is instantly awake and alert, ready for anything we might be about to do. If I open the back of the car, he jumps in, ready and willing to accompany me anywhere, without so much as a moment of hesitation.

His only request, is the occasional acknowledgement of his presence; a pat, a stroke, or the crust from my toast. He greets callers and guests with hospitality; as I have let them in, he presumes that they must be alright. He doesn’t destroy anything, take something he is not allowed to have, or interfere in any business that is not his to bother with. If I move from one room to another, he is instantly by my side, and wants no more than to go everywhere I go, and to see whatever I see. I have no doubt that he would die to defend me, or mourn my loss for the rest of his life. If I allow someone to take him off on his lead, he goes uncomplainingly. If I say it is alright, then he trusts me implicitly.

After almost two years together, I am still uneasy about that trust. When I lead him in to see a Vet, he trusts me that he will come to no harm, and not be hurt in any way. If I took him into a forest, tied him to a tree, and left him all day, he would just wait for me to come back; trusting completely in his belief that I will return. It doesn’t even occur to him that I would harm him, scold him unduly, or ever leave him for good. No matter how long he has known me, that devotion and trust remains undiminished; if anything, it is reinforced by time.

It is something tremendous, and I don’t know if I will ever get used to it.