As the weather is so mild here in the UK for Halloween we took full advantage of it. As we are going to a village bonfire and fireworks for Guy Fawkes Night, we decided to get our bonfire alight for Halloween and we also got a smaller open fire going to cook up some sausages, burgers and onions for supper. Halloween just like Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Valentines are over commercialised, but as I've said before, you don't have to buy in to that to enjoy these times together.
The bonfire was made up from the branches of the trees we had felled a week or so ago and gave a spectacular show, which can be seen in the photo above and the slideshow below.
Look what I just found outside. I had just come home from milking and just about to open the back door to let the dogs out and there was Mr Toad. Well, I don't actually know whether it is a Mr or Mrs Toad, but I picked him/her up and put in a place less likely to get run over by the dogs. I let the children see him/her first and got a few photos though before his/her release back in to the wilds of our lawn. What a lovely surprise to find, especially on the eve of Halloween.
"The world has held great Heroes,
As history books have showed;
But never a name to go down to fame
Compared with that of Toad!"
- Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Ch. 10
I must admit I had forgot that Lucy was arriving today, until our son, Thomas said to me over breakfast this morning, "Lucy arrives this morning, doesn't she Mum?" Lucy is one of our girls we re-homed some four years ago, she is now eight years old and she comes to stay with us when Sue and Jim go on holiday, or in this case are off to Australia to visit their daughter and their Grandchildren. It was lovely to see them this morning just after 10am and have a lively chat along with a cup of coffee. As usual Sue had brought one of her lovely Victoria sandwich cakes and after a week of trying to eat up Thomas's rather big Army Tank chocolate Birthday cake I made, it was nice to have a change of cake and lunch time has seen Sue's cake somewhat demolished by our children. Lucy is with us now for around four weeks.
After Sue and Jim left this morning the children were chomping at the bit to do their pumpkins. So pumpkins are done and ready for a trial light up later when it becomes dark, ready for Halloween tomorrow.
Received a lovely email earlier from Julie who has Poppy. Poppy is from Reggie's first ever litter of pups and her Mother is Dolly. Poppy was born the 29th October 2011, so it is Poppy's 4th Birthday today.
I'm still following and enjoying your blog so I feel I know what you are up to, and thought I'd email a couple of pictures of Poppy (who is four today!).
As I type this she is as usual snuggled up to me on the sofa. She is doing great and is more loved with every year - I can't believe she is four already. We still get stopped with people commenting on how pretty and good natured she is. Even on the tube where, as you know, people NEVER speak to each other, complete strangers will start
chatting and wanting to say hello to her.
Poppy was assessed a little while ago for a Pets As Therapy dog and for the last year we have been going into a school on the Read2Dogs scheme. She is so good, even with children who haven't been taught either how to behave around dogs or how to stroke a dog, she is very calm and gentle. Hopefully we've given the children these skills too as well as helping them learn to read.
As it was her birthday I tried to give her a perfect doggy day - two really longs walks, yummy treats and lots of attention. Unfortunately she blew it by rolling in the remains of a very smelly rat and was dunked in the bath on our return. She definitely hasn't got the water loving poodle part in her. She really doesn't like water and as yet has not attempted to swim. I've taken her for walks with water loving dogs and she's watched them dive in after balls and sticks but so far she has not been in further than her knees (if dogs had knees that is).
The pictures were both taken today - the one with the cat shows her waiting for our eldest cat to move so she can try and chase her. She gets on with both our cats and the two of them had been sleeping side by side quite happily minutes before this was taken but she can't resist running after them when they go downstairs.
Hope this email finds you and your family well.
Thanks Julie and as always it is lovely to hear from you and that Poppy is such a loved family member. Great to hear how she is helping children as a therapy dog. I just emailed Julie back and told her that dogs do actually have knees on their hindlegs. Just like humans they have a patella, which is the knee cap. The condition called Luxating patella in dogs is the knee cap dislocating. Most mammals have the same bones, just modified to the way they/we use them. If you take a real close look at skeletons, you really start to understand the theory of evolution and how it works over millions of years. Anatomy really is a big interest to me, especially the muscular and ligature structure, which with the skeleton is the most amazing pulley system.
Anyway I won't go on, because Poppy has seven litter siblings that are also four years old today. So a Big Happy 4th Birthday to Poppy and her litter siblings Betsy, Alfie, Edward, Chilli, Luna, Bella and Cyril. I hope you all had a lovely day and that you are all happy and healthy.
Last night I watched the last in five of a series about art on BBC 2 which was narrated by Simon Schama. So enjoyable was it that I'm writing about it now. The series was based on the book 'The Face of Britain' by Simon Schama. The subject is portraiture and was an enthusiastic romp by Schama showing the ego, satire and power portrayed through art history.
Don't take this series at face value, you won't need a degree in art to enjoy it, Simon Schama draws you in and makes looking at art and understanding it an inclusive experience. Although on occasion you might need to reach for the dictionary with some of the words he uses to explain the portraits. If you enjoy art and history, want to learn a bit more about Britain and being British, and love watching a person that is consumed with passion on telling you about it, this series is a must to watch.
In this article Face value: Simon Schama on the power of portraits, which is an edited extract from the book, Schama talks about how to begin telling the story of Britain through its portraits. The BBC series can be found at bbc.co.uk/faceofbritain and an exhibition runs at the National Portrait Gallery, London WC2, from 16 September to 4 January.
The underlying truth that comes through at the end of it is though, that a portrait (a snap shot of a moment) should most often, not be taken at face value.
It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.'
-- David Whyte
from Fire in the Earth
I have just been changing duvets on the children's beds, and piled the dirty ones up ready to be cleaned. Toby and Henry decided that it looked the ideal place to snuggle down and go to sleep.
'Dogs...do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing of value they have to bequeath except their love and their faith'
- Eugene O'Neil
I received this update from Hayley yesterday, who has Bella, who is from the pure Cavalier litter we bred this year in June, with her Mum being Primrose and her Dad being Toby.
Just thought I'd drop you an email to let you know how Bella's getting on.
She is great!! Not going to lie it's been pretty hard all adjusting into a new routine with three young children and she seemed to have her crazy moment when it was the "morning school getting ready" time!! Ha ha ! But she has calmed down a lot lately and just goes with the flow now!
She did have to have her anal glands emptying, she was scooting quite a bit and then started to cry out unexpectedly so we took a trip to the vet (which she doesn't like) and had them emptied, fingers crossed this helps now for a while.
She loves her daily walk but I am having a problem with pulling on the lead a bit, we let her off when we are in a safe place (beach or woods etc) but when I take her other places which involves crossing few roads I do keep her on the lead and she does seem to pull like a crazy dog!! Will have to look up about this! Any advice? If she sees a runner or other people/ dogs she just pulls like a mad woman!
All in all she is a gentle loving dog my children all adore, we love her and think this breed is just remarkable, like you say it's just the health issues! She's so funny and will follow my youngest around when he has something to eat in his hand hoping he'll drop it!! And she'll Hoover up anything we drop!!! We have noticed a bit of separation anxiety at night again lately and she does seem to cry a lot so we have given in and let her sleep upstairs with us! I wasn't totally against it, I just didn't want a toilet accident upstairs on anyone's bed or anything, we'll see how it goes!!
I hope you're all keeping well and I saw the photo of Isobel! Let's hope she stays healthy and lasts a while yet!! I've added some photos.
Hayley and family X'
Thanks Hayley for the update on Bella. It might be best to look in to some puppy/dog training classes which will help with any issues such as pulling when being lead. Good luck with the sleeping upstairs.
And here are a couple photos of Bella's Mum, Primrose and Dad, Toby taken last night.
Obesity we are told after climate change is becoming one of the biggest threats to humanity. I'm not sure either of these two things are really as much of a threat to the survival of the human race as thought in fact they may be our savior in the long run. Now I'm going to be even more controversial, because having given birth to six children I'm going to sound like a big fat hypocrite, but here goes. The biggest threat to humanity is humanity, we simply are over populating and that is the crux of the matter. The seemingly speeding up of Global warming is the symptom of human over population.
Yep, I'm a hypocrite. I have six children, never in my wildest dreams had I ever put any thought into having children let alone six until I meet David. Yes, it is all David's fault, he switched on a very strong desire to reproduce together, which until I met him must of been laying dormant. But like being obese does not mean you cannot express an opinion about over eating, because I have six children does not mean I cannot express an opinion about over population. Just as the obese person has a high drive to seek food and eat, I had a high drive to seek David and procreate. I could try and exonerate here with telling you how wonderful I am as a mother and how each of my children will be such wonderful human beings etc etc, but the fact would remain I still have six children. What was I thinking. The problem is that I probably was not thinking.
Now we have got the hypocrite thing out the way, lets look at why I put the premise that climate change and obesity may be the savior of humanity. Most people talk about saving the world, but humans really don't need to worry about little old earth, because whatever happens to us, earth will be rolling on doing its thing way after we have disappeared. The problem we have now is that our population expansion is coming to a point that we cannot sustain ourselves. Not that earth is going to cease to exist, we are going to cease to exist. Things are going to have to give.
Climate change is a multi billion money spinner now. The climate has been changing since this old rock formed and the doomsters have been predicting the end of the world since humans have been able to strike the fear of God into humanity and as I say above we do not need to fear the end of the world, just maybe the end of a world that can sustain humans. If the climate changes as the doomsters prophecies predict, this will mean that a reduction in human population is inevitable, as the land mass gets swallowed up by the sea reclaiming it and weather conditions become harder to grow food. See it ain't all bad.
As for obesity, if it gets a move on, we may not have to worry much about climate change. Obesity like climate change is also becoming a multi billion money spinner and has been caused by many factors, one being our success in sourcing food along with a less manual world which we are not evolved to. Most humans still have the drives of an old world, where food was scarce. We have a high drive to seek out sugar, salt and fat, and the food industries are only to happy to help us all fulfill those primal drives and more. I'm not a fat shamer, I just think it is a shame that the human race is becoming so fat. Being fat does not gross me out and if being fat had no side effects it would not be an issue. I think there is nothing more lovely than being cuddled or cuddling someone with a bit of extra insulation, but I watch and see how over time it can have catastrophic effects on the health and well being of these people, my Mum included.
One effect of being obese is reduced fertility. Now this is my theory on obesity. If left unchecked it will be a culler of the human population, as each generation we see is becoming over weight earlier in life, It is already causing fertility problems and as time goes by this will increase. Left to its own devises obesity may naturally breed itself out of the human population and in doing so would also give a reduction in population that make it sustainable. That's if you believe it is just down to a genetic predisposition.
I think it is partly genetic, but it also is down to educating and supporting people, and will power as so many things often are.. Who the fuck thought putting chocolate in cereal was a positive move for children and although you don't have to buy chocolate cereal for your children, the food companies don't have to put chocolate in the cereal in the first place. You know some people think that food companies care about their customers and if told on the side of a bottle of Cherryade that it counts as one of your five aday (What a con that is by food companies) it actually is, because that bottle of Cherryade was on a lorry that happened to pass a cherry orchard. So when you are filling little Jack or Emma with those fatty and sugary highly processed food and drinks, sit back and just think in the long run you might just be saving the human race.
See I don't believe in Gods, I believe in chance and if we don't buck are ideas up there is a big chance sooner rather than later we ain't going to be here as a species any more. A lot of humans really struggle with the idea that this is all chance. We are so wrapped up in our own self importance that we have to believe our existence has to be more than just chance. Some are even so vain to think that there is a creator and they are made in its image, how absurd is that, because weighing up all probability you have just read this waffle by chance, not because some creator put things in motion that lead you to this point.
Ysobel is our oldest dog and she is fast approaching nine years old. The photo I caught of her last night resting on the sofa. Cavaliers live an average of between eight to nine years old. Ysobel has a very slight sound on her heart and she is still very fit, bouncy little dog, but she is getting those grey flecks and is starting to look like an old dog around her face. We are for a Cavalier moving in to what I think of as the bonus years. It is very sad that compared to our lives, dogs lives seem so short and with Cavaliers we have bred a majority of them with even shorter lives on average for dogs and to often much of that life is one suffering with ailments that make their lives so tragically short.
A couple days ago I noticed the Cavalier Campaign petition for the Kennel Club to stop registering Cavalier puppies unless their parents are MRI scanned and heart tested at
https://www.change.org/p/the-kennel-club-stop-registerin-g-cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-puppies-unless-their-parents-are-mri-scanned-and-heart-tested had passed the twenty thousand mark. Please sign this petition if you have already not, so Cavaliers are not bred to have such short lives and to suffer so in those few years.
In 1981 the legendary actor, James 'Jimmy' Stewart went on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and shared his hobby, poetry. The poem he reads for the audience and first makes them laugh, but by the end of it there is a totally different reaction and Johnny Carson can be seen wiping tears from his eyes. The poem was about a dog named Beau and was titled 'I'll never forget a dog named Beau' The dog sadly was not a fictional dog, it was about his Labrador Retriever who had passed away.
A book titled “Why We Love the Dogs We Do: How to Find the Dog That Matches Your Personality” published in 2000, explains what happened to Beau, Stewart’s beloved dog. “While shooting a movie in Arizona, Stewart received a phone call from Dr. Keagy, his veterinarian, who informed him that Beau was terminally ill, and that Gloria sought his permission to perform euthanasia. Stewart declined to give a reply over the phone, and told Keagy to ‘keep him alive and I'll be there.’ Stewart requested several days' leave, which allowed him to spend some time with Beau before granting the doctor permission to euthanize the sick dog. Following the procedure, Stewart sat in his car for ten minutes to clear his eyes of tears. Stewart later remembered: ‘After [Beau] died there were a lot of nights when I was certain that I could feel him get into bed beside me and I would reach out and pat his head. The feeling was so real that I wrote a poem about it and how much it hurt to realize that he wasn’t going to be there any more.’”
Here is that poem and the man himself reading it in 1981 on 'The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" I would have those tissues to hand now, if I was you.
'I'll Never Forget A Dog Named Beau
He never came to me when I would call
Unless I had a tennis ball,
Or he felt like it,
But mostly he didn't come at all.
When he was young
He never learned to heel
Or sit or stay,
He did things his way.
Discipline was not his bag
But when you were with him things sure didn't drag.
He'd dig up a rosebush just to spite me,
And when I'd grab him, he'd turn and bite me.
He bit lots of folks from day to day,
The delivery boy was his favorite prey.
The gas man wouldn't read our meter,
He said we owned a real man-eater.
He set the house on fire
But the story's long to tell.
Suffice it to say that he survived
And the house survived as well.
On the evening walks, and Gloria took him,
He was always first out the door.
The Old One and I brought up the rear
Because our bones were sore.
He would charge up the street with Mom hanging on,
What a beautiful pair they were!
And if it was still light and the tourists were out,
They created a bit of a stir.
But every once in a while, he would stop in his tracks
And with a frown on his face look around.
It was just to make sure that the Old One was there
And would follow him where he was bound.
We are early-to-bedders at our house -- I guess I'm the first to retire.
And as I'd leave the room he'd look at me
And get up from his place by the fire.
He knew where the tennis balls were upstairs,
And I'd give him one for a while.
He would push it under the bed with his nose
And I'd fish it out with a smile.
And before very long He'd tire of the ball
And be asleep in his corner In no time at all.
And there were nights when I'd feel him Climb upon our bed
And lie between us,
And I'd pat his head.
And there were nights when I'd feel this stare
And I'd wake up and he'd be sitting there
And I reach out my hand and stroke his hair.
And sometimes I'd feel him sigh and I think I know the reason why.
He would wake up at night
And he would have this fear
Of the dark, of life, of lots of things,
And he'd be glad to have me near.
And now he's dead.
And there are nights when I think I feel him
Climb upon our bed and lie between us,
And I pat his head.
And there are nights when I think I feel that stare
And I reach out my hand to stroke his hair,
But he's not there.
Oh, how I wish that wasn't so,
I'll always love a dog named Beau.'
by James 'Jimmy' Stewart'
I took these couple photos of Bumble with her Mother, Smudge. Bumble is from our first Cavalier cross Brittany litter, with her Dad being Henry. She is now six months old and very sweet natured. The one on the left is the better of the two photos I feel, but I love the funny expression Bumble has on her face in the photo on the right like some sort of nemesis dog. You could imagine her smoothing her Mother and saying 'I've been expecting you, Mr Bond.'
A beautiful nearly full moon to finish off a lovely Sunday. Thomas finished off his model King Tiger (Although he has told me he has to do a few more bits to the paintwork) and it was lined up alongside some of the models made by his brothers to show how big the King Tiger was. The vehicles are all to the same scale.
Then it was time to have supper and get out the Birthday cake which was made yesterday evening with some very excited siblings. After making the cake the kitchen looked like it had been hit by a snow storm of icing sugar.
Thomas looked very happy with his cake and as usual Henry was fascinated by the candles. A busy Sunday and a busy week ahead as the children are home from school for the week as it is half-term.
After the half-term I will start to get things rolling with annual health tests with the dogs and also looking at what we will be doing with the dogs in 2016. Sorry I wrote I would publish details of litters for 2016 shortly on the 'Litters' page, as this may of caused confusion. In Devon we go about business at a different pace it seems than elsewhere. I should of said, "I will publish details for 2016 when I get to it."
Now I'm off to watch a film with the children and probably be woken by their laughter at David and me because we have fallen asleep.whilst watching it with them.
Smudge and her Mother, Millie along with Dolly came with us to the river and the photo is of them back in the car after the walk.
Thomas's amphibious remote control car did turn out to be amphibious, but not to good in a strong current.
When we came in for lunch today my Mum's Cleo decided to join us. Cleo had one litter of pups back in 2012, five Cavapoo pups called Ted, Meg, Hamish, Milo and Murphy. Hope you are all happy and well.
Because we have our son, Thomas's Birthday supper later, lunch was just a sandwich, but what a sandwich. My husband handed me this whilst doing my blog and although I could say, it was made with love. I think it might be more appropriate to say it was made with half a loaf of bread. That is one mother of a BLT sandwich. 'I may be gone for sometime.'
The clocks went back last night. Yes, here in the UK we still do that nuts thing called British Summer Time.
Unlike when the clocks change in the Spring and we lose an hours sleep. Last night we gained an hours sleep, but by the end of what will feel like an inordinately long day, that extra hour in bed will be of little benefit.
It has been a glorious Sunday morning here in North Devon. It is one of our children's Birthdays today and after doing breakfast and Thomas opening his presents, we left him intently constructing a Tiger Tank whilst we went outside to take advantage of the fair weather.
I was brushing up, clearing logs in to the store and general tidying up about the place with the rest of the children, whilst husband, David was chainsawing some rather stubborn oak, that is so hard and seasoned that it does not like being split with an axe.
As I passed him with the wheelbarrow, I noticed he had adopted a rather novel manner whilst sawing the wood and jokingly shouted to him, "Is this the old man chainsawing technique?"
If you are of a nervous disposition or a health and safety geek you are best not to look at the photo below.
From the battlefields of the First World War dogs have emerged as one of our best tools for search and rescue of vulnerable missing persons.
In New York City, around 100 search and rescue dogs were brought in for the arduous task of searching for bodies in the aftermath of 9/11
'During the aftermath of 9/11, Search and Rescue dogs found so few living people, that it caused them great stress because they believed they had failed. Handlers and Rescue workers had to regularly hide in the rubble in order to give the rescue dogs a successful find, and keep their spirits up.' – Source
Not many people know it, but dogs were also brought in to help with the emotional aftermath of 9/11, 'In the aftermath of 9/11, not all deployed dogs were search and rescue animals. Some were trained Animal-Assisted Therapy dogs who provided emotional support to rescue workers and to families of victims who perished on 9/11. Trained therapy dogs walked the floor in New York City’s Family Assistance Center, where people suddenly bereft of loved ones sought help. Therapy dogs also accompanied victims’ relatives on special ferry rides down the Hudson River to the site of the tragedy – the safest and most private way to travel to Ground Zero. Some people held the dogs and released pent-up grief. Other people overcome by sadness were calmed by the dogs.'
Today dogs are still used in armies all around the world. They played a crucial role in WW1. Proving themselves to be just as dependable as soldiers. Their jobs were many in combat, sniffing out enemies, carrying supplies, finding the wounded, delivering messages and companionship. Around a million dogs died during the First World War.
And in World War II dogs were still playing a crucial role in warfare. During World War II in Australia, there was a dog whose hearing was so acute that it was able to warn Air Force personnel of incoming Japanese planes 20 minutes before they arrived, and before they showed up on radar. “Gunner” was able to differentiate the sounds of allied and enemy aircraft. - Source
The video below and thought to be over sixty years old, shows paratroop dogs training for an arctic rescues in Canada and the second clip shows a dog called 'Chips' carrying medical supplies.
It does make your heart jump when you see the first one thrown out of the plane and the landings are a bit hit and miss, but the dogs seem pretty much unscathed and ready to get on with business once all fours are back on ground. Dogs are such forgiving animals.
Dogs are today still very much part of the front line and the amazing image below shows a US Military dog jumping out of a helicopter. The U.S. Air Force dogs have been airborne for decades now. The earliest flying dogs though were Soviet Force Military dogs in the 1930s.
Dogs are nowadays usually jumped in tandem with their trainers, but when they can be properly fitted with flotation vests and have the aptitude for it, they can make short jumps into water on their own.
“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you,but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
― Samuel Butler
Me (Jane) with Puddin' and Teagol, waiting patiently to flush a patch of kale, December 2019
Hello, I am Jane!