Ollie, the Moose, and a Deer

By the time it came to take Ollie for his walk on this Sunday afternoon, it had been raining here for almost 24 hours, non-stop. I was not in the best of moods, having been awakened early by a particularly torrential downpour whilst it was still dark outside.

I also had to wear my new Wellington boots for the first time, as last year’s ones had sprung a leak somewhere, forcing me to invest in a new pair. As we set off, I wasn’t looking forward to a couple of hours walking in heavy rain, trudging through mud and six-inch deep puddles. The new boots were not too uncomfortable, though the left one was rubbing my little toe enough to have me limping after less than an hour.

Ollie was looking around, in the hope of seeing some other dogs for company. But nobody else was risking the lunchtime downpours, and he couldn’t find any doggy pals to run about with.

I decided it was up to me to enrich his playtime, and fell back on the old standby of telling him to search for an animal to hunt. For some unknown reason, I chose to mention a Moose. Now Ollie wouldn’t know what a Moose is, as we don’t have them in Britain. But my secretive tone, and half-whispered “Find the Moose, Ollie. Where’s that moose?” had him off and running immediately.

Nose to the ground, he crisscrossed the whole of Beetley Meadows in search of the non-existent animal. Every so often, he would stand stock still, lift his head, and sniff the air. When he had decided that his search was in vain, he ran back to find me, looking dejected. Trying to keep the momentum going, I took him through the gate into the small woodland area, talking to him as if he was a person. “It’s in here, Ollie! Find the Moose!” In the heavily overgrown woodland, his search was more difficult. Avoiding the nasty clumps of thorny brambles, he soon gave up.

I led him back through the gate onto the Meadows, and turned right. Around 250 yards straight ahead, a small white-tailed deer was busy nibbling some berries from a bush overhanging the path. It hadn’t noticed us as we walked from the gate. Ollie took off at high speed, sensibly making no yelping noises, and with the long wet grass muffling the sound of his galloping paws.

I became concerned that he might actually catch the small animal, which was no larger than my dog. So I picked up speed as best as I could, hampered by the new boots, and muddy ground. Just as I was convinced that Ollie would grab the little deer in his jaws, it turned and spotted him, at the last possible moment. Bounding off as if it had springs for legs, it took the route through the overgrown central area of Beetley Meadows, meaning I could not see Ollie at all as he continued in pursuit.

I carried on in the general direction for a few minutes, until Ollie finally returned to find me. His face was frothy from the chase, and he was panting hard. When I asked him “Did you get it, boy?” he snapped his head around to look, in case it had come back.

He may not have seen a Moose, or caught a deer, but he was happy for having had the chance to try.

What Dogs Do Care About

Not long ago, I published a post titled ‘What Dogs Don’t Care About’.
https://beetleypete.com/2019/07/30/what-dogs-dont-care-about/

I thought it was now time to write about the things they do care about.

Dogs do care…

If you don’t give them their dinner

If you don’t leave them fresh water to drink

If they don’t have any toys to play with

If you make too much fuss of another dog

If you make too much fuss of a cat

If you make too much fuss of a baby

If you read a book or magazine and ignore them

If you don’t take them out for a good walk

If you leave them alone in the house for too long

If you shout at them for being in the way when they don’t know they are in the way

If you leave them with someone else and go on holiday

If you break their routine

If you forget to give them a treat or biscuit at the usual time

If you bring a new dog into the house to live

If you forget they are outside and leave them there for too long

If you tell them off for barking at the postman or delivery courier

If you forget to stroke them and cuddle them

If you shut them in another room when you have company

If one of your visitors doesn’t like dogs

If you have stroked another dog and they can smell it on you

If you eat something nice in front of them and don’t give them even a tiny bit

In many ways, dogs are just like us, especially us as children.
If you ever intend getting a dog, please remember what they care about.

September Stuff


(Not my photo)

Sunny days and chilly nights, Autumn is here in Beetley.

September is one of my favourite months of the year. A late summer if you are lucky; never too hot, or too humid. A breeze that refreshes, instead of feeling like a blast of hot air, and a strangely nice smell from the plant life beginning to die off.

Dark at 7:30 now, until the clocks go back at the end of October. Foggy mornings, awaiting the sunshine to burn it off, and that ‘long-evening’ feel once you are settled for the night.

Owls hooting, as you drift off to sleep. An avian lullaby.

Thinking of heartier meals too. Casseroles, warming food, cooked long and slow. Relished once the sun has gone down.

Ollie has finally stopped shedding hair, and the ‘holes’ in his fur are less noticeable as it grows back. He spends less time in the river cooling off, and more time investigating his territory. I can gauge the seasons by the habits of my furry best friend.

Acorns to collect and clear away, as well as twigs and leaves. Gutters to clear before the rains come, and more jobs to put off until next month. 🙂

The blogging season gets going again, as those holidaying bloggers return to writing, or perhaps don’t bother anymore. New faces, reliable regulars, and farewell to some old friends who have called it a day.

The Christmas cards will be in the shops soon.

Then it is all over bar the shouting.

Farewell to a great dog

Last week, I posted about a trip to Yarmouth, in 2011. My step-daughters’ dog Baxter was featured, and I remarked that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Many of you expressed commiserations over that, so I thought I would bring you this sad news.

On Monday, he suffered a series of fits, and was taken to the prestigious Animal Hospital in Newmarket. Scans revealed no more could be done for him, and he was sadly put to sleep.
Both my step-daughters were distraught of course, and all of the extended family were greatly upset by the loss of our loyal and faithful family dog.

He had a happy life, and was well-loved.

Goodbye, Baxter. You will never be forgotten.

A Trip To Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth is a traditional seaside resort on the East Coast in Norfolk. Always popular, it is unashamedly ‘down-market’.

(The photos are large files, so please click on them for detail)

But it does have a long seafront, a nice old pier, and a big sandy beach.

In late 2011, before we lived here permanently, and before we got Ollie, we went for a day trip with Julie’s identical twin daughters, and their dog, Baxter.

Julie with one twin.

And with her sister.

Baxter is a Mastiff cross, and enjoyed playing on the beach.

Sadly, he now has cancer, and his prognosis is not good.

We didn’t go on the Carousel, but I love the old style of such rides.

And on the pier, I insisted Julie pose for photos in the reproduction Victorian cutouts.

Baxter is still holding his own, despite the diagnosis. He is a great dog.

Ollie’s skin, and his fur

Poor Ollie has had a bad summer. The late arrival of extremely hot weather has thrown his system out completely.

The unusually hot weather has made him begin to moult with a real severity. His fur is covering the house, and coming out in handfuls every time he is stroked or petted.

We have seen a return of the large bald patches we call his ‘crop circles’, and the poor dog has been a martyr to scratching, and feeling uncomfortable. His only relief seems to come from dozing or sleeping, and he has little energy for play, or his usual antics.

Most daily walks have been spent with him spending too much time standing in the river, and I have become weary of telling him, “Stop scratching!”

So next Monday he has been booked in early with the dog groomer. He will get that fur hand-stripped, have a nice bath, his toenails cut, and his ears cleaned out.

We can only hope that this will cure some of his irritations, and frustrations. It’s the least we can do.

My Pets

Many readers will be aware of Ollie, my dog. He is the star of this blog, and my constant companion, since 2012.

But long before Ollie, I had many other pets. I think of them as typical ‘childhood pets’, though one was owned when I was much older.

When I was around 8 years old, I volunteered to take the class hamster home, and to look after it during the summer holidays. It was a lot smellier than I expected it to be, but I enjoyed watching it spin around in its wheel. Of course, my Mum ended up being the one who cleaned it out. I just enjoyed holding it, feeding it, and watching it scuttle around. But I had forgotten about our usual two-week holiday in Cornwall, so we had to enlist the help of my Mum’s sister to feed it and care for it while we were gone. After school started again, I took it back, but it died the following day. I didn’t know how short-lived they were, and was convinced that I had somehow hastened its demise by neglect.

My next pets were some goldfish in a bowl. It didn’t occur to me that it was rather cruel to keep two good-sized fish in a small bowl, and I soon became very bored with watching them constantly swimming in circles. My only interaction with them was to feed them, and so I overfed them, unintentionally. One day, they were both dead, floating on the top of the water, which was not much more than a cloudy soup of nutrition by that time. My Dad flushed them down the toilet.

Dad decided to get a ‘feature tank’ instead. I chose the tank ornaments, including a large clam shell, a pirates’ treasure chest, and an arch that they could swim through. My Dad bought plants to help aerate the water, and we had six fish of different sizes. But they constantly attacked each other, and took chunks out of each other’s tails and fins. Before long, three of them were found dead, and the rest lasted less than a year.

Everyone had a tortoise in those days. They often had their names painted on the shell, and some owners drilled a small hole in the shell too, to tether the poor thing to a long string, so it didn’t escape. I loved to feed our tortoise, and would also stroke its head when it popped out for food. It didn’t die in our care, but we had to move to a place with no garden, so it was given to a relative. It lived for a very long time after that, but once we moved again, I lost touch with it.

When I was 15, we moved to a house with a big garden. My Mum got a dog, and she also acquired two angora rabbits. They lived in hutches outside, and she would brush them carefully, saving the soft hair that came off. She later used this fur to knit things, and produced some incredibly soft knitwear. My job was to feed them, and clean them out. I adored being able to stroke them, as they were unbelievably soft. But the big male was very aggressive, and managed to injure all three of us at one time or another. They lived less than four years, and we never replaced them.

In 1978, I was 26 years old, and had just moved to Wimbledon. I didn’t want to be tied down with a dog, but thought it would be nice to have a pet. I got a long-haired guinea pig, called a ‘Sheltie’. I named him Oskar, and my uncle built me a pine hutch for him to live in, in the garden. During the winter, he came inside, and stayed in a huge old fish-tank, in the dining room. I looked after him really well, fed him all the best things, and brushed him every day. When we went on holiday, my sister-in-law looked after him. He lived for over five years, until one morning I found him dead in his fish-tank. He is buried in that south-London garden.

But there is no doubt that Ollie has been the best pet I have ever had.