Beetley, and The Virus

Whatever happens, 2020 will always be remembered as the ‘Year of The Coronavirus’. Life in Beetley was always pretty quiet, but this year it is even quieter.

The population of Beetley, including the hamlet of Old Beetley, is just 1,390. On a busy day, I might see perhaps ten or twelve of those people, and they will mostly be walking dogs. Almost every home here has a pet, and the majority of those are dogs.

On large dog-friendly areas like Beetley Meadows or Hoe Rough, we might be joined by prople from the next village of Gressenhall, or from the nearby market town of Dereham, four miles south. But since returning from a short trip on Tuesday, I have hardly seen anyone.

People here are taking self-isolation quite seriously. Like me, many are only venturing out to walk dogs, or to buy groceries. Even though the schools are not closed until Friday, lots of children have already been kept away from school.

My daily dog walk has become quite strange. Other walkers are keeping a distance, in some cases turning round and walking away from me and Ollie. Over on Hoe Rough today, the sight of us approaching sent one family into an apparent frenzy to avoid walking past us. I felt as if I should have a bell around my neck.

I wonder how long it will be until we have to start painting black crosses on our front doors?

Guest Post: Ollie, Dad’s Dog

I have got to make this quick. Dad’s in the bath, and has left himself logged on.
I put my photo here so you will know it is me.

I need your help. You all have to write to Dad, and tell him stuff for meeeeeeeeeeeeee
(Sorry about that, not easy to use this with paws.)

Don’t let him know though, as he doesn’t know I can use spellcheck.

First, I would like to have two dog sausages at night. One just doesn’t hit the spot. I stand and stare at him, but he doesn’t seem to realise he should give me two.

And those dry pellets he puts in my bowl. How would he like to have to eat those every day, even with some slices of chicken on top?

Tell him to give me just the chicken, and a lot more of it.

Now I admit that I have a lot of toys, but some more new ones would be nice. Why don’t you suggest that he gets me new toys? Don’t mention I asked though.

I am always a good boy, and keep out the way when Dad is eating his dinner. But when he is having some biscuits later on, I reckon he should give me more than one. He says that I have already had my Bonio Biscuit, but that’s not as nice as a tasty digestive is it?

Say something about my walks too. Dad seems to hate the mud, and when it is bad, he only stays out with me for two hours. Why don’t you tell him to make it four or five hours? It’s all right for him to come home and type in the office or watch the TV, but all I can do is go to sleep. I would like to stay out all day, until it is time for my dinner.

Tell him that please.

If I get the chance, I will let you know if it has worked!

Love, Ollie. xx

Winston: Jennie’s Idea

Many of you kindly left very nice comments on the recent blog post, Winston’s Last Walk. His owner Michele contacted me by email to let me know how much she liked the post, and how she was touched by the comments from bloggers all over the world who never even knew Winston.

American blogger Jennie Fitzkee had an idea, and suggested it to me in a comment on the post.

‘You know what might be a wonderful thing? A card shower for Michele. I am already excited! Just tell us bloggers who remembered Winston to send Michele a card, via you. Can you imagine her joy when you deliver a handful of cards? I will send one this weekend, if that is okay.’

If anyone would like to do the same thing as Jennie, and send a card of some kind to Michele care of my address, please feel free to do so.
I have no doubt that she will be incredibly moved by that.

Michele Smith
C/O Pete Johnson
29, Beech Road
Beetley
Norfolk NR20 4EZ
England

My thanks again to everyone for their kindness.
Here is a reminder of that post.
https://beetleypete.com/2020/02/09/winstons-last-walk/

Winston’s Last Walk

Last April, I posted about a birthday party for one of the most-loved local dogs. Winston was 15 years old, and doing well, despite having a few medical problems.
https://beetleypete.com/2019/04/08/winstons-birthday-party/

I recently visited the house of his owner, Michele. She told me that he was having trouble walking, and was close to his time. I went in to see him, and he was bright-eyed and delighted to see me. But it was obvious that he was struggling to stand and walk properly, so we all knew it wouldn’t be long for the grand old dog. Recent medical tests also confirmed kidney failure, so a hard decision was made.

Today, I received a lovely card from Michele, hand-delivered. She told me the sad news that Winston was put to sleep by the Vet yesterday. He was at home, surrounded by the other family pets, and those who loved him the most.

Earlier this week, he had been well enough for his final walk on Beetley Meadows. He got to see many of his canine friends, and no doubt they also said farewell to him, in their own way.

Losing a pet like Winston is no different to the loss of a family member, or loved one. Despite all our sadness, it is nice to imagine him chasing a ball somewhere, full of the vigour of youth once again. He will be remembering what a wonderful life he had lived here in Beetley, and how much he was loved not just by Michlele and her family, but by everyone who ever encountered him.

Rest in peace, Winston old friend.

R I P, Big Rocky

I wrote recently about how some of Ollie’s canine pals are becoming unwell. Big Rocky (I call him that because there’s a small Rocky too) the Newfoundland cross has been unwell lately, and hardly able to walk. His loving owners, Steve and Gill, bought him a cart so that they could at least wheel him down to the river for a swim, and to see some familiar faces.

Today, I was informed that they had to have him put to sleep at home.
Naturally, they are heartbroken, and all of us dog-walkers are very upset too.

Rocky had a great life, with two of the best people who could ever own a dog. He was loved and cared for, given all medical treatment when necessary, and never wanted for exercise until he could no longer manage it.

Steve and Gill have lost a much-loved companion, and Ollie has lost one of his oldest friends.

Ollie’s Poorly Friends

As any dog-walker will tell you, regular haunts mean meeting lots of other dogs, and their owners. At one time, Ollie enjoyed the company of the same afternoon gang. We could have up to eight dogs in a very happy pack, and they would play together as we chatted walking around Beetley Meadows, or Hoe Rough.

Sadly, some of those dogs have since died, or owners have moved away. Each year, the old canine faces become fewer, and new ones arrive to replace them. But the boisterous new arrivals rarely interest Ollie, and he still scans the paths and fields for a sight of some of his ‘best mates’.

Just lately, we have been hearing some bad news about some of Ollie’s oldest friends and companions. Winston is fifteen now, and has recently suffered a stroke. He can still come out, but only for around ten minutes a day. Big Rocky the Newfoundland has suffered a complete collapse of his back legs. His owners bought a special cart to wheel him around in, as once in the river, he can still swim to his heart’s content. But he can no longer walk without assistance, and wears a harness with handles so that he can be lifted in and out of his cart.

Yesterday, I heard some sad news about Spike, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. He was born in February 2012, the same time as Ollie. For many years, they were firm friends, and used to enjoy the rough and tumble of dominant play. But for some time now, I haven’t seen him around. I spoke to his owner yesterday who informed me that he has a complete deterioration of his spine, and can hardly walk. If he stands still, he falls over. The prognosis is not good, and they are just ‘keeping him comfortable’.

Earlier this year, Buster the Lhasa Apso died unexpectedly from kidney failure. Paddy, the Collie who lives next door, is over fifteen years old. His back legs have crossed-over, and although he can still manage to walk, it is upsetting to see him struggling.

Some of the old gang are still the same. Toby the Jack Russell, as mad for his ball as ever. Poppy the Lakeland Terrier, still lively at ten years old. And a few of the new arrivals are slowly being accepted by Ollie too. Marley the black Labradoodle, and his terrier partner, Duke. Buddy and Walter, the frantic yellow Labradors, and Flossie the young Whippet, who trembles with delight every time she sees him.

Ollie is one of the ‘old guys’ now. Respected, sometimes avoided, but still in charge of his walking grounds.

At least as far as he is concerned.

Ollie: An update

Well, as expected, Ollie does not have ringworm.

After some ‘moral blackmail’ from the Vet, I paid over £30 to have him tested, even though I was 100% convinced he didn’t have that.

28 days later, she rings me to confirm what I already knew. ‘Ker-ching!’

However, his fur is not growing back as quickly as I had hoped. His ‘crop-circles’ are still evident, though minus the sores he had before.

The Vet suggested it might be his age. He will be eight in February, quite old for his breed. She suggested I wait for another eight weeks, and if the regrowth is no better, bring him back.

I always care for Ollie, as you know. But I am reluctant to line the Vet’s pockets to be told it will get better in time.

So for those of you that worry about him, and I know there are many, he is doing fine. He eats his dinner, doesn’t scratch any more, and is happy to play with any dog he encounters over on his long walks.

And now I have the ‘all-clear’, he can go to the groomer in December, and have a nice wash and brush up, ready for Christmas.

Thanks to everyone who cares about Ollie, and asks after him.

He sends a curly tail wag to you all.

(This is an old photo. Ollie in the sea, just one year old)