Ollie’s Eye: An Update

On the 8th, I posted about Ollie being bitten by another dog, and getting a cut under his eye.

Ollie Gets A Nip

This Tuesday, I took Ollie to the Vet about a problem with his ear. I showed the Vet his eye, and he said he would look at that too. With the social distancing still operating, I am not allowed to go in with Ollie, so had to wait in the car.

Ten minutes later, the Vet returned with him, telling me he had a mild infection in his left ear, and he brought out some antibiotics for him to take on a ten-day course. He told me he had looked at the eye, and the antibiotics would take care of any infection. I should not attempt to bathe it or clean it, just let it dry out and scab naturally.

Hopefully, everything should have cleared up by next Friday.

Ollie Gets A Nip

Earlier today, the dog-walk was so miserable and wet, we hadn’t see a soul. Ollie was saturated, I was damp and fed up. Umbrella up, I was trudging alongside the riverbank, head down and avoiding the slight flooding coming over the bank onto the path.

Rounding a corner, I heard a dog barking loudly, and recognised Teddy the Alsatian, who always barks at Ollie because he wants him to play. Teddy’s lady owner also had her other dog, a very elderly black labrador bitch. That dog is not at all friendly, and has to be kept on her lead.

However, Ollie is obsessed with sniffing her, so I decided to put his lead on to stop him going over to her. But before I could do that, he had run behind the owner, and started to sniff the poor dog. She immediately showed her teeth, and Teddy started barking in a protective manner. I shouted at Ollie to come back to me, but the lure of sniffing the Labrador caused him to defy me.

Seconds later, she snapped at Ollie’s face as he attempted yet another ‘intimate’ sniff. The lady owner was very upset, and showed me that Ollie was cut under his eye, about an inch long. It looked a bit like a ‘Boxing injury’, and was bleeding slightly. The owner offered to pay any Vet’s bill, but I reassured her that it was all Ollie’s fault, and I would look at the eye later when I got in out of the torrential rain.

Fortunately, Ollie did not retaliate. He never does.

Home in the dry, we could see the cut under his eye. But it’s not bothering him, and so we left well enough alone. He has to go to the Vet on Tuesday anyway, for something else. I will get it checked then.

Once again, Ollie’s obsession with sniffing other dogs left him with an injury.

He never learns. 🙂

Ollie: An Eventful Walk

For the last few days, Ollie has not had much fun on his walks. Many of his regular doggy pals have been notable by their absence, and the few dogs he did encounter didn’t seem to like him that much, including one tiny terrier who attacked him on sight.

The day before yesterday we got a real soaking in unexpected rain, and yesterday we only saw one other dog, in more than two hours of walking around.

Today was sunny to start, with ‘showers’ supposed to arrive after 3 pm. So I set off a bit earlier, and it proved to be a good plan. Ollie soon met up with a couple of friendly Spaniels he knows, and the new arrival of a small white Staffordshire Bull Terrier proved to be a friendly encounter too.

Over on Hoe Rough, there seemed to be no dog-walkers today. But halfway round the right hand path, Ollie spotted a white-tailed deer crossing the path up ahead, and took off in hunting mode. No chance of catching it of course, but until it went to ground in a dense thicket of shrubs, he had a good chase.

Then he decided to track the animals route, nose to the ground, sniffing like a Bloodhound.

He was excited enough to need a long dip in the river before we started on the return journey to Beetley Meadows. Once back over the bridge, Ollie was delighted to see little Lola, the affectionate Shih Tzu. And she was in the company of Zen, the feisty miniature Chihuahua.

The three of them had a good meet, with strokes and cuddles all round, and lots of sniffing and running in small circles.

By the time we got home, Ollie was ready for his dinner, and he is now sleeping soundly next to me, after his eventful walk.

Old Man Walking

As I set off with Ollie yesterday, I walked past two young mums pushing toddlers on the swings in the small playground. I had seen one of them before, and politely nodded to her as I went by.

The other young woman turned and asked her “Do you know him?”

The first one shook her head, replying “No, but he’s always here whenever I bring Chloe to the swings. I see him walking here all the time. I just think of him as the old man walking”.

This was all said less than twenty feet fom me. I presume they thought my craggy face and sparse silver hair also affected my hearing.

As I went through the gate of Hoe Rough, I was smiling. Their exchange had made me think of the film ‘Dead Man Walking’. In the film, a prisoner on death row is preceded by a prison guard as he moves around. The guard calls out “Dead man walking! Dead man walking here!” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112818/

Perhaps I should employ someone to walk ahead of me?

He could call out “Old man walking! Old man walking here!” 🙂

Ollie: Back From The Vet

I have just returned from taking Ollie to the Vet this morning.

After getting his booster vaccinations, and a full check-up, the Vet pronounced that there is nothing wrong with him whatsoever. His weight, temperature, and heart are all good, and he has no signs and symptoms of any infection or discernible illness.

My concern about Ollie not eating as much and drinking more water was put down to Ollie’s age, and the fact he has slowed down considerably. Less rigorous exercise means that he is not as hungry, and because it has been unusually cold and we have had the heating on might well make him more thirsty in the house.

It seems I was over-reacting, but I am glad that Ollie has been checked over, and is fine.

Thanks to everyone for your concern about him. That is always appreciated.

New Arrivals: Rusty

Last December, I mentioned Rusty, a puppy that had arrived on the dog-walking scene. Full of youthful exuberance, he is always excited to see Ollie, and beside himself with the desire to play. Unfortunately, Ollie considers himself above such childish behaviour now, so Rusty has to make do with pretending to play, while Ollie stands still and gives him an occasional warning growl.

Rusty is older now of course, though not that much bigger. He enjoyed himself in the snow when it was here.

He recently had his first trip to the groomer, and his super-soft fur is looking in top condition.

I am hoping that Ollie will soon decide that Rusty is in his gang, and one of his new best friends. But I’m not holding my breath. 🙂

Nine Years Ago Today

On the 23rd of March, 2012, I moved away from London for good, and arrived in Norfolk.

My wife Julie was already here. Having had to start a job locally, she had moved up on the 31st of December, 2011.

That week in March is one I will never forget. I had my retirement party on the 12th, my mum died on the 14th, and I was 60 years old on the 16th.

For the first months I lived here, I felt as if I was on holiday. Julie was still working full-time then, so I was alone during the day, in a totally unfamiliar place. The quiet of Beetley really got to me then. In a good way, making me relish the move away from the noise and bustle of Central London. But there was still a part of me that wondered if I would ever feel at home in this Norfolk village. I felt out of place even walking up to the post-box.

Getting Ollie saved the day. Having a dog to walk meant that I encountered many other people. Very soon, there was a regular group of walkers, all enjoying the antics of our dogs playing together.

However, I still found it hard to shake the feeling of being rather ‘lost’. So I became a volunteer at the local school, teaching cycling road safety. Then I took on a second voluntary job, working for the Fire and Rescue Service as a home safety officer; fitting smoke alarms, and giving talks and presentations to various groups around the county.

During this time, my friend Antony suggested I start writing a blog, which I began in the summer of 2012.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Hailstones And Brambles

There are some days when you wished you could have stayed at home, instead of having to walk your dog. Today was one of those days.

I left the house with Ollie in bright sunshine, but seeing some dark clouds in the distance, I took my umbrella. Despite the sun, the wind was still gusting, and very cold too. Fifteen minutes after arriving on Beetley Meadows, I saw a lightly-dressed dog-walker running for the exit. Opening my umbrella just in time, I was suddenly battered by pea-sized hailstones, as the temperature dropped dramatically.

Moments later, it was as dark as night, with the coulds I had spotted earlier appearing to be low enough to touch the treetops. As the hailstorm increased in intensity, I clung desperately to my umbrella to keep the worst of it from hitting my face. Then I headed for a woodland area, to try to reduce the impact of the wind-driven icy projectiles.

By the time I got into the trees for some relief, the patch pockets of my coat were full of hailstones, and I had to stand and scoop them out before they melted. By contrast, Ollie was casually walking around and sniffing, as if having his back covered in hundreds of icy white balls was completely normal.

Then it stopped, and the sun came out.

Waiting a while to make sure no more threatening clouds could be seen, I took Ollie over to Hoe Rough. Despite the thick mud over there, it became quite a pleasant walk in the sunshine, with the temperature warming up considerably from earlier.

We had been out for just about an hour when Ollie headed into a deep muddy pool. It looked to be about eight feet long by four feet wide, and had formed in a natural depression in the gound. Seeing it didn’t reach his underbelly, I followed him in, and carried on walking. But unbeknownst to me, the murky water concealed the thick tendrils of some nearby brambles. I was over two-thirds of the way through when both my heavy boots slid under the bramble creeper, stopping me in my tracks.

More than that, the sudden decelleration pitched me forward. Dropping my umbrella, I spread out both arms, in the hope of stopping myself falling face-first into the quagmire. My right hand found some firm support, in the form of a grassy hillock, but my left hand disappeared into a clump of brambles and assorted spiky plants, offering only sharp pains, and no support. As a result, I ended up kneeling in the slop, my thick dog-walking trousers saturated at the knees.

Ollie looked at me as if I was playing some kind of game that didn’t interest him, and trotted off to pee up a nearby fallen tree branch. Before I could try to stand, I had to get the thorns and spikes out of my left palm and fingers, as they were incredibly painful. I used my teeth, carefully extracting each one. I counted eleven, before I eventually stood up.

That was enough for me. Hailstones and brambles had ruined my walk, and soured my mood. I strode off in the direction of home, and when I put Ollie’s lead on, he gave me a ‘hard done by’ look that we were leaving after just over an hour.

But I didn’t care, as I had genuinely had enough.

Ollie And The Okapi

Today has been a dismal day indeed. Rain had started during the night, and by morning was being driven by strong, gusty winds.

As it got close to the time to take Ollie for his walk, I really wasn’t in the mood for dressing up in a long parka and rubber boots. But Ollie has to go out, so I just had to do it. I took my umbrella too, as the rain was coming down at an angle, straight into my face.

Ten minutes on Beetley Meadows saw me struggling to hold on to my umbrella, having to use both hands to stop it being blown from my grasp. So I folded it, and carried it instead.

Twelve hours of rain had refreshed the mud, which was slick and greasy underfoot. For a large part of the regular walk, it was all I could do to keep upright. There was nobody else around. No solo walkers, and no dog-walkers either. Those fair-weather locals had sensibly decided to stay inside, warm and dry.

After three difficult circuits, Ollie was looking decidedly fed up. I knew it was up to me to think of something to make his lonely walk more enjoyable, as he had no other dogs to greet and sniff. So I headed into the woodland area, deciding to invent a ‘hunt’ for him.

I attracted his attention with my usual whispered cry of “What’s that? What’s in there?” Indicating a thick area of almost impenetrable undergrowth. He looked round at me, excited, waiting for the word to go.

Of all the creatures in the animal kingdom that I could have suggested he go and hunt, the memory banks in my brain came up with “Find the Okapi”, and off he went.

That left me standing there wondering why I had thought of a strange animal related to the Giraffe, that lives in The Congo, and I had only ever seen in a zoo.

Luckily, Ollie doesn’t know what an Okapi is, or where it is usually found in the wild. So for a few minutes, it gave him the necessary distraction.

On the way back later, he spotted a saturated squirrel rummaging in some leaves, and chased it up a nearby tree.

In the absence of an Okapi, that was good enough.

Two Sure Signs Of Spring

The sun is out, and it is already 12C. But I saw two other signs that confirm Spring has undeniably sprung.

Ollie is moulting. When I let him out this morning, the kitchen floor looked like that of a barber’s shop, after the barber had just completed a haircut.

Then as I waited for the kettle to boil, I saw a colourful fluttering around the bird box that is fixed to the oak tree in the back garden.

The Blue Tits are back, and taking nest materials into the wooden box through the small hole at the front.

This is an old photo that I took a couple of years ago, but it’s the same nest box.

I wonder if it could be the same pair of birds?

I hope so.