Monday 21 June 2010

Poppy my furry faced friend!

I can remember it quite clearly. It was early October and the summer was drawing to an end. Autumn was starting to make the first of many gradual changes to the trees. I was sat at the computer, in the spare bedroom. Gazing somewhat absent minded out of the window. Off in the distance I could see the dark outline of Hoober Stand against the far horizon. Most mornings before going to work, I gaze out of the dining room window as I eat my breakfast. Watching the birds as they return to the Old Moor bird sanctuary. Flocks and skeins of Golden Plover, Canadian Geese and a few Mallards for good measure. All slowly making their way back after spending a night foraging in the local fields.

I have discovered that many things in life just seem to happen in the most unexpected of ways. Today was no different to many other such days. One moment it was an instant idea that popped into my head. The next moment, the fleeting idea had popped out again. This is normal for me when my attention is distracted by something else. I am something of a concentration butterfly! We get many birds to the bird table and feeders in the garden, but on this particular morning an unwelcome visitor arrived in the shape of a plump female Sparrow Hawk. There was a sudden flurry of birds, loud Blackbird alarm calls and one less feathered visitor to feed tomorrow. Now, all my ideas were concentrated around how I could discourage the Sparrow Hawk from visiting theback garden bird table again.

Years ago, I would just have put up my mist net, caught the hawk, ringed its leg. After release I know that the bird would never come that way again. These days I don't do any bird ringing. I have mellowed more and just like fishing, I now have a personal problem with my conscience and the process of trapping - ringing and releasing the birds. So a more cunning plan would be needed to thwart this high speed low level feathered mugger.

I have often thought that my best ideas come when I am not juggling too many other ideas at the same time. However, in this modern age there are far too many distractions for my liking. It's not that I lack the ability to pay attention. It's just that the novelty or attractiveness of something else always seems to come along. A few days later, in another idle moment, the original idea returned once more. However, this time, with no other distractions, I was able to mull it over in my head in much more depth. I would be the first to admit I was quite taken by the whole prospect. I would also admit that I had a warm glow inside throughout the rest of the day. Whenever I started day-dreaming, which I am good at, the thought would return again and again. Now I was beginning to find that mulling over all the pros and cons of ownership to be quite distracting in itself.

Some time later, in a moment of madness, I decided to share my thoughts with Mag's my partner in life. However, I need to offer a word of caution to the wise. If there is one thing I have learned the hard way about the Memsahib. If I want to get my own way, I would need to plan with great care. Especially, if there might be some significant opposition, from "she who must be obeyed". It was after all something of a risky endeavour I was undertaking. I knew I would need to use a bit of guile, along with my Baldrick like cunning plan.

I have found that it's no good with my "loved one" to come straight out with my ideas. She has that inbuilt instinct of all women to distrust all the ideas of the male. A woman always knows best is her watch word. So I knew my cunning plan would have to be done in such a way that "my love" would think she had the original thought. Just how I was going to activate my action plan was not clear and neither was it going to be easy. I knew that I might have to wait a long time for just the right moment.

The right moment, when it arrived, actually came almost unannounced. Surprise, surprise! It was "other half" herself that gave me the opening. It all started when an email from her popped into my mailbox at work. She had forwarded on some pictures from a work colleague with the usual "just have a look at these" quote attached. I knew in an instant that I had to act slowly and not show too much enthusiasm. Otherwise my carefully choreographed plan might not succeed. I replied some time later in the day to her email, "thanks for the photographs, they look very cute" and then I enquired about whom the photographs belonged to.

When eventually the email came back in reply I was metaphorically ready and waiting to pounce. The email said they belonged to Brian and that he only had two left. Brian! I thought, who could this Brian be? After a bit of digging around amongst her friends I discovered who Brian was. I went out of my way to bump into him and as nonchalant as possible I enquired into their availability and as to their price. He said "she who must be obeyed, must have told you about them, I thought she would want one".

Ting!, went the little bell in my head. So she had obviously shown some interest then. A phone call was made and arrangements to visit were quickly put in place. A quick on-line search of the post code and I had the location fixed in my head. The master plan was coming together. That night instead of picking her up outside her building at work and making a quick exit out of Sheffield. I set off in a new direction. She continued to chatter in the usual way, but at the same time I could see she was a bit excited. Brian answered the door and in a welcoming voice said "come in, come in" we went in through the door. Follow me, "through here" said Brian. Standing there like a proud parent, Brian said "here they are". We both looked down into a small cage. One little body was curled into a bundle and fast asleep at the back. Whilst another one came running to the bars and tried to climb out. I picked her up and she licked my face. I passed her to she who must be obeyed and said "you can have whichever one you want, as long as it's this one". It was “fait accompli” on behalf of the puppy. I have never regretted her decision to choose me.

So dear reader, that’s the very moment when "Poppy" a beautiful Wire Haired Fox Terrier puppy, came to join our lives. As I sit here writing. Poppy is waiting for me to get my coat and hat ready for our next walk. Poppy is a very lively dog at any time, always busy rushing around. Playing with her toys and generally annoying all our cats. Now she is 2 years old, her black, white and tan coat is both rough and at the same time sleek. She has recently been for her summer trim. I imagined in my minds eye what she would look like, she looked much better.

The prospect of many more years of long summer walks and washing off the mud in the winter is appealing and daunting at the same time. Our store of logs for the stove has grown steadily bigger as each visit to the countryside usually means we pick up some dead branch with each walk. Poppy you see is such a joy to us all, how ever did we live without her.

As for the Sparrow Hawk, she hung around for a few weeks and then moved on. The birds continue to flock to the garden all the year round. The more exotic birds only come when the weather is hard and food is at a premium. Home made suet fat balls are good for the various Tits and Starlings. The peanuts seem to attract the occasional Jay. The seed feeders have a selection of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch feeding from them. Mealworms seem to attract the Blackbirds and Thrushes. The other bits of food that fall and end up on the lawn are the favourite forage for the Doves, Robins and Dunnock. The Magpies and the odd Rook seem to like the contents of our compost bin where the kitchen scraps end up. So all is well in the garden and seemingly with its inhabitants.

Time for walkies.

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