Archive for February, 2012


February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

A 'pack moment' at home (Joules is looking towards the neighbours)

‘Dogsick’ describes the way I feel when we drop the dogs off at the kennels.

There are always other dogs barking, and quantities of cats sneaking along under the hedges. At first our dogs are so distracted that they don’t cotton on to their imminent abandonment, but when they do, they have very individual reactions.

This time Joules gazed imploringly at me with huge brown eyes and tried to climb up my legs. Taylor stood across the gate that barred the way back to the car and tried to leave when I did. Kepler, on the other hand, took it upon himself to defend everyone from the dogs in the next-door enclosure. He was so busy barking that he didn’t see me go.

They’ll be fine when they settle in, but I’ll be counting the minutes till I can pick them up again.


February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

We’ve had 2 days of glorious, hot sunshine and now the weather has closed in again, with wind, rain and mist.


Just before the rain started, I prowled round the garden and found these lovely sun-like flowers – the first coltsfoot.

I always thought the name came from the fact that the flowers, when closed and hanging down, resemble the shaggy hoof of a young horse, but it seems I’m wrong: it’s to do with the shape of the leaves.

There’s no sign of the leaves at the moment; they come on after, when the flowers are over. Which gives rise to the other name which I rather like: ‘Son-before-the-father,’ referring to the unusual order of events.

Getting ready

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

At least, we’re supposed to be getting ready, seeing as Clive leaves in the middle of Monday night to go to Germany for lymphedema treatment.

We’ve been filling some boxes at random with what my father used to call ‘hard tack’, and I’ve washed a couple of last items so that they’ll dry in time, but I’ve yet to haul out Clive’s big suitcase and start the serious business of packing clothes.

In fact what we mostly did today was sit outside in the glorious hot sunshine, talking, drinking coffee, and eating lunch.

Clive is bursting with literary plans for nasty characters and unpleasant happenings. His first collection of short stories, Hobson’s Choice, has just appeared in Kindle Edition.

Tiny scorpion

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

I moved a tub of chlorine on the rim of the indoor pool today and a tiny little scorpion fell into the water.

A tiny scorpion

I fished it out on my finger where it lay still. Drowned, maybe?

I called to Clive who grabbed my camera but by the time he was poised it was no longer a still shot: the scorpion was on the move.

It crawled along the side of my hand and was heading for my wrist when I decided enough was enough and flicked it onto an outside windowsill.

Scorpions are visually appealing but they’re definitely better outside than inside.

It also looks as though we may have 2 species of scorpion. This one has completely different proportions to the ones we normally find.

Sarcoptic mange

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

We took Joules to Terni today for his next check-up after the chemotherapy. All was well in that department, but another problem surfaced.

Sore on Joules' elbow

He’s been scratching himself to death and has a huge crusty sore on each elbow. 2 other vets have variously suggested psychological or dietary problems, but the Terni vet discovered that he has sarcoptic mange (‘rogna’ in Italian).

This is a disease caused by microscopic mites (Italian: ‘acari’) which burrow into the skin and cause an allergic reaction. They had to take 5 skin scrapings from Joules before they discovered them, but this was not an indication of a mild infestation – apparently the less they are seen, the more embedded they are.

It’s possible that Joules’ chemotherapy lowered his resistance and made him more susceptible.

Taylor had been scratching, too, and to a lesser extent Kepler, so we’d taken them along as well. The vet assumed they had the same disease, seeing as it’s contagious, and so he treated all 3 of them and gave me detailed instructions on how to continue.

Now we have to think what we’re going to do about the dogs’ bedding.