Saturday, May 16, 2020

Ballad of the Border Terrier

In celebration of 100 years of the Border Terrier, and in keeping with my role of literary fur, here's my attempt to capture us in poetry.....

Ballad of the Border Terrier by Teddy

This weekend’s a big celebration
For the whole of the Border Terrier Nation,
Unless someone has blundered,
BTs are a hundred,
So breakout the cheese and the bacon!

Don't mind if I do!

Ready to party!

Border Terriers have a proud history,
Bedlington, Dandie, mixture a mystery,
We’re game and we’re feisty,
For a treat we’ll sit nicely,
In a battle of wills, ours is victory!

Are we related?
We may have been bred for some working,
But we’re equally good at task shirking,
If it suits us, we’ll do it,
No treats and you blew it,
In a sun puddle is where we’ll be lurking!

Keep tickling those ears 'Him Indoors'

Us Borders enjoy games with our toys,
Ideally that make lots of noise,
We’ll dead them and chew them,
Destuff and cause bedlam,
Destruction with professional poise!

How did that happen? Incy Wincy......?

Our pupsters are cute beyond measure,
Causing humums to swoon with the pleasure,
Our demeanour is pleasing,
But behind it we’re scheming,
Re-order, pack-order, at leisure!

We don't have any pictures of me as a puppy, atlhough Ladies, I was cute beyond measure, so here's the Boss!
Us Borders might appear tough
But when it comes to our hupeeps we’re mush,
For an appropriate fee, we’ll sit on your knee,
Of affection and food, not enough!

Just holding paws...

We have a rough coat for outdoors,
And shed terrier glitter on floors,
Our fur needs hand stripping,
But don’t mention on Twitter,
Or a half-clad young lady is yours!

She went for the picture of me being groomed....thank Dog!

Border Terrier are known to be mad
But we’re idiosyncratic not bad.
We like a few rules
To break and abuse,
On the sofa or on the big bed!

I did it!

But today is the time for a party,
So let’s rip and be a bit barky.
A scolding, we’ll risk it,
For doggy beer and a biscuit,
We’re rocking this centenary malarkey! 

Ready to party!
Just a quick reminder Pals, we've got a special lockdown offer on both of our books, and for this weekend only, all the profits from book sales go to Border Terrier Welfare with thanks for the great work they do. If you haven't got these BT set texts, click here!
Get buying Pals!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Philosophy of Research

'Her Indoors' has been busy working on an assignment for her PhD and there has been much huffing and puffing over the last couple of weeks. I am, quite frankly, glad it's all over, as she's been spending far too much time staring at a screen and getting irritable with any barking or whining. Apparently it breaks her train of thought. It's obviously a very fragile thing thing that's all I'm saying. Anyway, she's clearly been making heavy weather of it, so I thought I'd show her the way.
          One of the first things is to be clear about is terminology and concepts, so to banish any doubt, I'll start by defining a few:
Paradigm - Easy, that's a model, probably one of those slim, spruced furs that appear at Crufts.
Epistemology -The art of leaving and reading pee-mails.
Ontology - The study of your Mum's sister, in my case, a worthy relative called 'Always Dotty'.
Methodology - Like a method, only much more important as it's got an 'ology' attached.
          Then it's a case of establishing the relationship between them and that's easy too; they're all pups from the same litter so they hang around together, occasionally playing with the same tuggy toy or pinching food, and at other times, only loosely associated. Sorted!
          There's also the matter of some fundamental views on reality and knowledge. Something was mentioned about knowing what a table is and whether or not it still exists when you can't see it. Well, I don't know about you Pals, but these PhD students clearly aren't the full ticket. A table is a wooden thing with legs that has noms on top. If you shut your eyes and open them again the table is still a table but the noms are often gone. I've also noticed that 'Them Indoors' have the wrong idea about reality when watching the TV. They don't seem to get sufficiently agitated when dogs appear and then run off screen. I always check round the back. I don't want some strange fur turning up in my living room thank you very much.
          Then there's the different theoretical and philosophical approaches:
Constructivism - Building something up, like Lego.
Post-structuralism - I'm not sure about the second part, but the first is something you bark at, and, if you've got our postman delivering it, you get a nice biscuit.
Critical realism - This is a training term. It means you've not done very well but that's probably as good as it's going to get.
Feminism - be respectful to the lady furs or else!
          So that's all there is to it. I really can't see what the problem is. Now come on, University of Lancaster, that's my second assignment completed so what more do you want as evidence of my genius; where's my dogtorate?
Get off that computer and play with me.      

Paradigms, clearly, with all that fluffy fur...
Checking for any furs coming into the living room

And when I open my eyes, it'll still be there.....

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Staying at home

With the Corona virus pandemic raging, we are all being advised to stay at home which, as a dog with separation anxiety, is fine by me. 'Her Indoors' is muttering darkly about what this will do to my on-going conditioning that being on my own is okay, but we dogs live in the moment, so that's for tomorrow.
          There are many advantages to being at home. The garden was looking very scruffy after a wet autumn and winter gave limited capacity for tidying up, so all this extra time is being usefully spent getting things  back up to scratch. I've been supervising of course. Unfortunately, I've been kept away from 'Him Indoors' painting the outside of the home office and shed which is a pity; I could have done something artistic in black paw prints. I've also been given a stern telling off for digging in the borders - just trying to help - and instructing a certain fluffy woofy Leonburger next door in the art of social distancing, which is a shame as I'm so good at it the government ought to be employing me.
          I've also been enjoying the benefits of collaborative media for home working. One of 'Her Indoors' friends, Danielle, after several years of careful training, always says hello to me during FaceTime sessions and asks 'Her Indoors' to give me a biscuit. Then there's the fun of keeping out of shot, but suddenly barking at some unknown threat, making everyone jump. 'Her Indoors' was having a meeting with her academic tutor in the week, so  I was banished to the house, only to discover that the lady she was meeting with had a parrot in her office. There's clearly potential for some significant contributions there. Perhaps we should get one.... We did have a huge bumble bee who decided to turn up to 'Her Indoors' virtual creative writing course, buzzing loudly and angrily at the window. In the end, 'Her Indoors' had to excuse herself and use a cup and a piece of card to catch and release them outside. By comparison, I'm no trouble.
          Then there's the domestic stuff. There's been no end of cooking and cleaning going on which I've been helping with. 'Junior Him' had temporarily stored his flat contents in the conservatory as his lease on his flat had expired and he is looking to buy somewhere, but that has all been put on hold. 'Them Indoors' wanted their conservatory back so they boxed up all his stuff and stacked it in 'Junior Him's bedroom. I helped by thoroughly investigating all the box contents and running off with the roll of packing tape and refusing to give it up. It looked like one of those ring toys so it was clearly intended for me.
          'Him Indoors' has always been good in sneaking me the odd snack and now he's at home a bit more, I'm benefiting. Unfortunately, 'Her Indoors' was changing my bed and found a small piece of crisp at the bottom. This was distressing on two counts: one, that I'd missed a bit, and  two, that 'Him Indoors' had been found out and told off. I hope this doesn't impact on our happy arrangement.
          Fortunately, we're still allowed out for walks and we are very luck to live in the country where long perambulations without bumping into another soul are perfectly possible. 'Her Indoors', rather worryingly, has taken to talking to the alpacas in the fields next to the lane and advising them on social distancing. They seem to be taking note but, to be honest, if she wants to have one-sided conversations with cute furries, she's got me.
          Still, it's concerning times. 'Her Indoors' discovered today that a person within her professional circle has just come out of hospital having suffered from Covid 19 pneumonia, the first time it has happened to someone she knows, and we suspect, not the last. So, my pals, it is up to us dogs, to keep our people at home and keep them entertained. I've been doing my best with toy spinning and tennis ball skills. After all, we furs live pretty much in the moment and are good at all the things people are now supposed to be doing so we have a duty to lead the way. What would they do without us....

Time for a screen break 'Her Indoors'

                                                   Teddy does ballet!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Beating the Bug - Ten Teddy Tips!

There has been a lot of talking about the Corona virus to the point that even 'Her Indoors' has realised that this is not about a nice man bringing bottles of pop to the door and every bubble passing its fizzical, but something more serious and threatening altogether. She's even remembering to refer to the virus as Covid 19 and not Corvid 19 which is a relief. What have crows ever done to her?
          However, in the face of a national and international crisis, us dogs, as usual, are having to step up to the mark, so I just thought I'd share some advice on useful things we furs can do.
  1. Provide distraction. 'Her Indoors' spent some time on the phone to her parents, so I waited until she was thoroughly engrossed with discussing on-line supermarket shopping, and then I went for it big time in the toy deading department. Duckie has a nasty hole and leaked stuffing all over the carpet, although with radical surgery he might survive, and penguin is now missing both wings and a leg. He's finding getting around a problem! '
  2. Assist in the hand-washing department. They are supposed to be washing them regularly and for at least two minutes. That's slightly longer than it takes me to consume my tea, just as a useful rule of paw, so I suggest you sit outside the bathroom or cloakroom door and give them the stink eye if they don't keep scrubbing for the allotted time.
  3. Assist in social isolation when out on walks. I can be quite reactive around other furs, and I'm not very good with children, so there's very little chance of anyone getting within two meters of 'Her Indoors' anyway. If you are naturally of a more sociable disposition then you'll have to work at this one, but see what you can do.
  4. Help stop panic buying of loo rolls and paracetamol by getting them to focus on stock-piling dog noms instead. Fortunately my brand of preference, Lily's Kitchen, can be bought on-line so I'll be okay. I suppose I could share with 'Them Indoors' if things get desperate, but only as a last resort.
  5. Make them book holidays in remote, dog-friendly self-catering accommodation. They will be virus free and you will be on holiday with them. Sorted!
  6. Volunteer your services as a food distribution agent. I like the idea of little panniers or even a trolley that I could tow to people who haven't got enough food. There would be a small percentage surcharge of course...
  7. Provide them with company whilst they're self-isolating. As we dogs don't get the virus, we can take our rightful position at the centre of their universe, or even better, the centre of their sofa and big bed.
  8. Keep in contact with the outside world via dog social media. It contains a lot more sense than their own accounts will ever do and they can't catch anything that way, although to be honest, 'Her Indoors' keyboard could do with a wipe of something anti-bacterial if you ask me.
  9. Model keeping calm and carrying on (sleeping) through the entire thing. A good example is everything.
  10. Demonstrate mindfulness and the fine art of living in the moment, taking pleasure in simple things like rubbing your itchy back all over the best cream carpet, toy spinning, and, if you are very lucky, sun-puddling in a bit of spring sunshine.
In addition to the above, we will of course be fulfilling our usual function of bringing joy to their lives and making them smile, which in very uncertain times is a big bonus. So, my friends, be kind, be careful, be there for one another and stay safe.
Stockpiling, who's stockpiling....?
Model how to relax.....
Provide some distraction            
Find a use for any excess toilet roll

Friday, February 28, 2020

My Second 'Gotcha' Day

Today is my second 'gotcha' day. Two years ago, 'Her Indoors' got a phone call to say my owner, Sandra, had been rushed into hospital and I was alone and in need of looking after. She agreed to have me to stay, but there was deep snow and 'Her Indoors' couldn't get off the drive in her Mini, so a friend of Sandra's drove me over in her four-wheel drive and 'Her Indoors' collected me from the village hall car park. And what a sad and disorientated dog I was.
          Two years on and I'm a different fur. Much has happened in that time and both me and 'Them Indoors' have learnt a few things:

I have learnt
  • That change doesn't always mean bad, just different.
  • That you don't have to just love one, special person, you can have a whole family of special people and particular friends, affectionately referred to as 'team Teddy', who are there for you and will help look after you.
  • That men, particularly 'Him Indoors' and 'Junior Him', are nothing to be scared of and are actually great.
  • To eat my food like another dog (namely the Boss!) is going to steal it given half a chance!
  • That other, unknown furs, can be tolerated, at a distance, sometimes, without the need  for me to dangle off the end of the lead giving it some with the vocals.
  • It's not okay to bark at horses, men, children, bicycles.....
  • How to be an office dog and literary fur. It involves a lot of sleeping....
  • That having my photo taken, particularly for my magazine column, involves treats, and that the appearance of the camera is to be welcomed.
  • That motorhomes are the best. Just me and 'Them Indoors' in a very small room. Perfect!
  • That a suspended dog seat, in a Mini convertible, with the roof down on a sunny day, is the ideal way to travel.
  • It's okay to be a bit naughty sometimes.
  • That I have particular talents in toy spinning and sleeping.
  • To never give up on my claim for the big bed. I was allowed on it before I came to 'Them Indoors', so their ban is obviously completely unreasonable and will be overturned if I persist.
  • That it is occasionally, very occasionally, safe to let 'Her Indoors' out of my sight for a minute or two, without getting distressed.
  • That big, fluffy woofy Leonburgers next door need constant vigilence and stern talking to.
  • That dog social media is the best!
'Them Indoor' have learnt
  • That rehoming a dog takes lots of patience, love, understanding and hard work.
  • That we will repay the above in bucket-loads.
  • You can teach an older dog new tricks.
  • That every dog, even those of the same breed, is very different. They each have their own distinct personality and writerly voice.
  • That sad, unhappy dogs, still need firm boundaries.
  • That some Border Terriers are so furry they need professional grooming.
  • Not all dogs are scared of fireworks.
  • That there is space in the human heart to love two dogs at once, without detriment to the first dog.
  • That dogs, living together, learn to love it each other too and will grieve when one is lost.
  • One dog cannot replace another, but having a second dog, does help.
  • That dogs cannot have too much stroking, fussing, and loving.
  • That each dog has his own particular talents, like walking on their back legs and toy spinning.
  • To never be afraid to ask for help or advice.
  • To acknowledge that some dogs will never be entirely happy when left on their own.
  • That dogs can be incredibly persistent!
So me and 'Them Indoors' were clearly meant to find each other and my 'gotcha day', although sad in some respects, is also a celebration of surviving difficult times and making a new life with new people. Here's to many more happy years!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

My Christmas Address to the Nation

Well another Christmas is upon us and it's time for me to step up to the mark, as the Boss's appointed successor, and deliver my festive reflections, as he did every year. And I've decided, perhaps surprisingly for a Border Terrier, to explore the concept of goodness.
          Now this is not something that Rolo would have featured in his blog. He was a dog whose natural inclination was towards naughtiness. If ever there was a choice to be made between the right and wrong thing to do, he always went for the latter. However, it's not that he was bad, just mischievous, unless of course you were a rabbit, or a pigeon, or a grass snake, then it was a different story. But put him with Juniors and he had a store of patience beyond that of many dogs, me included.
         And in spite of the Boss's best efforts, I am naturally a good fur. I don't mean this in a goody-two-shoes, obedience champion, kind of way. I just mean that I'm a people focused dog who wants companionship and fussing. I stick so close to 'Her Indoors' that after watching 'His Dark Materials' on the TV, she now refers to me as her daemon. I can be naughty, like having a little chew on her Christmas present from 'Him Indoors' left under the tree, but I don't like a raised voice in my direction and I need lots of loving, so I tend to stick with what makes 'Them Indoors' happy.
          Goodness is understated and under-reported. You only have to check out Twitter and the BT Posse to see lots of examples of people and dogs watching out for each other and helping with little acts of kindness and concern. They may not make the news but they make for a better everyday life. And there are lots of little acts of kindness if you look for them. 'Her Indoors' bought a potted Christmas tree from a local supermarket and when she bent down to pick it up, found it was considerably heavier than she thought it was going to be. She later discovered there was half a watering can of stagnant water swilling around in the bottom of the pot, but she was saved from putting her back out by a man who sprang to her assistance and insisted on putting it on her trolley for her. I personally, would have weed on it, and added to the general fluid weight, but there we go, we all have a different approach.
          'Her Indoors' also does writing for wellbeing at two local hospices and one of the reasons that she really enjoys it is the goodness she finds there. About a quarter of the human resource for hospices nationally, are volunteers, so there are lots of people doing fine work: chaplaincy, counselling, complementary therapies, gardening, working in the cafe, driving, flower arranging and just sitting and chatting to folk, all for free. There are 'Pets as Therapy' dogs doing their bit too. They may charge the odd gravy bone, and one of them may be a spaniel, but they do fine work making people feel just that little bit better. Also, those who are ill are often very compassionate to each other and provide mutual support. The paid staff are lovely people too, doing a great job for patients and their families.
          So this Christmas, let's celebrate the goodness that goes on, out of sight and unheralded. It's easy to think, when you look at the TV or in animal shelters, that the world has gone to pot, but it hasn't. There's a lot of goodness out there. Right, having got that off my chest, I'm back under the Christmas tree. 'Her Indoors' had a second parcel from 'Him Indoors' that looks equally tempting..! Happy Christmas everyone.

Goodness in doggy form!

Except for the odd little mishap.....

Nope, nothing to do with me.....

Monday, December 23, 2019

Clever Teddy?

There has been some debate in the 'Them Indoors' household as to how bright I am. 'Him Indoors' reckons I'm a genius just because I like him, whereas 'Her Indoors' reckons I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. As she's comparing me to the Boss, Rolo, who was undoubtedly one of the smartest dogs you could ever hope to meet, an intelligence he deployed with an admirable focus, in finding his way around all the petty rules and regulations 'Them indoors' like to impose, that's hardly a fair comparison. Anyway, to demonstrate my intellectual capacity, I thought I'd have a go at an academic essay. 'Her Indoors', with admirable timing, has her first assignment of her PhD, due in early January, so she's been huffing and puffing at her computer. I think she' making heavy weather of it personally. Take a look at mine and then come on, University of Lancaster, hand over my dogtorate!


Is it acceptable for a dog to be made to wear a Christmas jumper? Discuss, with reference to relevant literature.

In modern Instagram times, it is increasingly popular to dress dogs in Christmas jumpers. Whilst there are varying views on this, unquestionably, it should be the dog’s that are paramount, however, we will be considering a range of others before growling with hackles raised, undermining their research techniques, and blowing them out of the water.

Before we consider this important question, we need to first establish the exact meaning of key terminology. A Christmas jumper is a knitted dog coat that responds in a similar way to knitted swimming trunks when wet. It features a festive yet secular scene, often but not always, adorned by pom-poms highlighting salient features for jocular effect. Whilst it might be appropriate at this point to define ‘dog’, referencing perhaps the vernacular alternative term ‘fur’, but if you don’t actually know that a dog is a furry four-legged creature with a loud noise at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other, then you really need to book yourself into elementary education classes, ideally at a pre-school level, and jog on. This paper is addressed at intelligent individuals.

Against Christmas Jumpers
We shall be considering a range of sources, arguably the most redoubtable being a ‘Pet Owners’ Guide to the Border Terrier’ by Betty Judge. Whilst this is clearly a book focusing on Border Terriers rather than the more generalised ‘dog’, this bias is perfectly acceptable by any right-thinking person. Judge (1999 – she brought out an up-dated version in 2015, but ‘Her Indoors’ is too tight to buy it), doesn’t talk specifically about Christmas jumpers in her book but this does not stop an opinion being formulated, based on the clues in the text. She appears a no-nonsense old-school type who would be unlikely to approve, although she notes the tolerant Border Terrier nature with children ‘even allowing themselves to be dressed up and made to look silly’. I think that says it all Betty.

And the RSPCA, that champion of animal rights and welfare, agrees, or at least they did in December 2015. Not only are Christmas jumpers undignified, they may be cruel. The flapping around in anatomical regions where canines are unused to having flapping, may cause alarm and as dogs communicate with people and with each other, by using their ears, tails, body positions and eyes, anything that covers those hinders this vital process. However, the likelihood of the RSPCA finding a jumper that engulfs all of those body parts, unless of course it was made by ‘Her Indoors’ when having trouble with a knitting pattern, is very remote and provides a significant flaw in their argument. Jumpers are just that; jumpers. They cover the chest and back but have holes for the head and legs plus freedom in the wagging and evacuation departments.

On the Other Paw
So having established that the RSPCA don’t know what a jumper looks like, other research, more conversant with modern canine attire, must be referenced such as the definitive text on dog-human relationships, authored by the respected international authority, Rolo Stockton, ‘Sit, Stay, Roll Over’. He states that, for the older dog, a nice comfy coat can be a good thing, but he warns against fashion conscious owners making their dog look ‘a complete t*t’. Christmas jumpers might well come into that category and the attitude advocated by Stockton (2017) of ‘what’s in it for me?’ needs to be consistently applied if the correct decision it to be made. Even the RSPCA acknowledges that for short-haired or no-haired breeds, young, sick or elderly dogs, a little festive woolly might actually be beneficial.

To get a wider selection of canine views, we will consider a recent survey, conducted via Twitter. A random self-selecting sample of 128 respondents, out of a potential 1453 followers, were given a choice of three possible responses to the concept of Christmas jumpers for dogs. Results were evenly divided between ‘a warm extra layer’ 31%, ‘a bit of fun’ 35% , and ‘make a fur look a t*t’ 34%. The results reflect the dichotomy of views expressed by Stockton (2017) and the RSPCA, but, on the other paw, consideration needs to be given to the fact that these are tweeting dogs, so they’re a bun short of a picnic in the first instance. Some of the individual feedback suggests a more positive view. @BonnieBooBT suggests that not only does she like a jumper, but it pleases her humum, which adds an extra validity. @kthreadgold113 suggests that he sleeps better in a jumper and @bodie4paws intimates that a jumper is like a blanket so they are quite happy. However, there are some dissenting views. @b_terrierists suggest that a Christmas jumper is ‘like being trapped by a scary monster’, and @baggins_tilbo agrees that ‘I don’t like it. I try everything to get it off me’.

 This varying range of views needs to be taken into account in any final conclusion, but the evidence suggests that there is a slight edge in favour of Christmas jumpers as an acceptable demonstration of festive cheer. Further research would assist in reaching a definitive conclusion, but it is suggested that furs take to their beddie before exerting their mental capacities any further.


Judge B, Pet Owners Guide to the Border Terrier, Ringpress Books Ltd. 1999

RSPCA, Somewhere on the internet *waves paw vaguely*

Stockton H, Sit, Stay, Roll Over, Quill and Apple Publishing, 2017

BonnieBoo et al. (not sure who Al is, but he’s very productive) 2019. Does anyone read this far anyway to be honest…

And here's my academic poster.........

Ballad of the Border Terrier

In celebration of 100 years of the Border Terrier, and in keeping with my role of literary fur, here's my attempt to capture us in poetr...