Monday, October 31, 2016

The most magical light show in the world.

It's dark. No one has thought about adjusting the timers on the street lights after the clock change. Dog and owner sit on the village green and watch a trill of shooting stars. At this time of the morning a crescent moon dominates the sky. We wait for twenty minutes as the  sun slowly rises. Some ( Chinese ? ) satellites glint in the first light, scurrying back from the big air base near Bordeaux. The most magical light show in the world. A wonderful day. Bob and his master discuss Harry Reid and the federal Hatch Act. Bob yawns.

A bank of fog at the far end of the valley. Bob gets his second walk across the fields down to the stream. There he inelegantly fishes, or attempts to fish, for minnows in the stream. He raises his paw and then brings it down into the crystal water. He has the concentration but the mind/motor coordination that should go with it is absent.

The Chinese girls with triple doctorates might be finding this years astrophysics course easy going but 'The Font' isn't. There's a webinar with the folks in Pasadena at nine tonight. Sophie listens to a recorded lecture on gravitational time dilation and falls happily asleep. This is what Angus would also do.

Bob is showing no signs of discomfort.

But he's still drooling and holding his head to the side. There's another four days to run on his antibiotics course so no point in dog or owner worrying. I'm beginning to think it's an ear infection but this is based on no evidence whatsoever. I can however run my fingers around his gums and he doesn't object which tells me it's not a mouth or tooth problem. 'The Font' thinks it may be something glandular. Neither of us believe it was a stroke. He's stressed by his sisters illness but apart from this he's mega healthy .... and young.

Chicken and gravy helps to get his antibiotics down without an accompanying theatrical performance. He gets lengthy Mano a Mano's.

Sophie spends a couple of hours in a cage. It's small enough to stop her leaping up and damaging her leg when passing pilgrims whistle or shout out a happy 'Hello'. Amazingly, she lies in the weak autumn sunshine quite happily. It's being alone that Sophie can't stand. Confinement is just fine as long as there's someone close by.

So passes the rhythms of a day with a diva invalid. It can safely be said she has taken over the house. Her brother is a cause of mild concern. None of these changes to our routine important enough to go in  diary but recorded here because it's part of real life and shouldn't go completely unacknowledged. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A quizzical look.

Both PONs are loaded in the back of the 'Loonj'. Sophie's first non vet trip in two months. She is happy to have a change of scenery. She is less keen on being close to her oaf of a brother. 

The power in Sophie's repaired leg quite remarkable. The difficulty is holding her back.

Bob has had a major haircut. He can now see and looks less like an eagle owl.

Nothing wrong with his teeth ( no abscess or inflammation ) or appetite. He does however continue to hold his head down and drool. This gives him a somewhat quizzical look. He refuses to take his antibiotics. He's always been difficult when it comes to medicines. This time he adamantly refuses to go near them. Cheese as a disguise ? Forget it . Prosciutto ? Who are you kidding. 'The Font' has to fall back on the Chicken Biryani trick.

Saturday afternoon. On our way back from the rugby match dog and master stop off to get the papers. It's the day for the crowning of Miss Nut 2016. A band of the oompah oompah variety is playing. The inhabitants of the special needs home are dancing along. Under the market hall canopy a dozen donkeys are being made ready for the procession of the Knights of the Nut to the town hall. It seems the Peugeot garage owner is about to be inducted into the Confraternity of Nuts. This is presumably less to do with an affinity for nuts than for the fact he's a major sponsor of this Nut extravaganza. Dog and owner faced with these bacchanalian scenes head home before Miss Nut 2016 opens the festivities and reads out her Ode to the Cob nut. 

Overnight the clocks change. In most households this would bring with it an extra hours sleep. This does not apply to PON households.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Observing the symptoms.

Scary burger. A new sign goes up in the entrance of the trendy modern cafe. Bob and his master stop to study the picture of a dark purple bun topped with a butternut chip.

Bob is keen to try it. His master less so. The pretty waitress now knows Bobs name. While I read Les Echos he gets chatted to. He also gets hand fed some small pieces of crust from a freshly baked wholemeal loaf.

Sophie's impatience with being house bound grows by the day.

Yesterday Bob developed a drool. A dribble from the left side of his mouth. To begin with we thought he'd been covered in cobwebs from the garden. Nothing visibly wrong with his teeth, gums or jaw. The family fellow not bothered by it. 

Mid-morning, after a haircut, he's holding his head at a slight angle. When he eats lunch some of the food ends up on top of his muzzle. A discussion as to whether to go to the vets or ignore it for another day in the hope it clears up. The drool worsens. Off to the vets. Lots of tests. Eyes bright. Coordination fine. He's not been poisoned. It's not a Processionary Caterpillar. It's not the gold finch he swallowed. Possibly an Accident Vasculaire Cérébral - a small stroke - or a glandular infection. The other alternatives so dire they're not worth thinking about. Antibiotics prescribed, an injection given and careful observation prescribed.

Seems Polish Lowland Sheepdog boys don't do protracted stress well.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The eagle owl look alike.

The flight delayed for two hours due to fog. Just time to go to the Japanese shop on Piccadilly for some white Peach Mochis. Angus thinks they taste like soap. However,  'The Font' loves them.

The security apparatchiks at the American Embassy view the white peach Mochis with suspicion. They are swabbed for signs of bio-hazards. While waiting for the results Angus thinks of making light hearted banter about the ludicrousness of a world in which Japanese candy is spectrum analyzed. The presence of two large and unsmiling Marines by the entrance dissuades him.

London at the end of October cloudy but mild.

No sign of Brexit slowing down the economy. This is hardly surprising as it hasn't happened yet.  Hotel occupancy rates high thanks to the 20% fall in the value of Sterling. Throngs of Germans enjoying the half term holidays and the cheap shopping.

Sophie is overjoyed at my return.

There is an emotional reunion. Emotional = noisy.

Bob needs to have more time spent on his grooming. He's beginning to look like one of the Eagle owls that line the branches of the plane trees along the lane. Haircut time tomorrow ?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The first flight.

Angus is off to London to talk to men in dark suits. Rather than drive down to Toulouse at four in the morning for the first flight he opts to go to the airport after dinner and check into the airport hotel. The hotel proves to be rather like an upmarket version of Alcatraz. The windows don't open  and there's no view. The designer clearly had a thing for orange - bed spread, drapes and carpets all accessorized in this 'cheerful' colour.

Sophie is happy to lie in the courtyard savaging a Kong while she luxuriates in the warmth of a blanket.

Big brother chooses today, of all days, to have a stomach upset. This is put down to a dead gold finch that was found in a drainage ditch and proudly carried along on the morning walk . 'The Font' wasn't quick enough to retrieve it between uttering the words 'Bob put that down ' and him swallowing it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Onto the village green.

Bob is told in no uncertain terms that he cannot have Sophie's carrot.

'The Font' drives the family diva to the clinic. The second operation is delayed for three weeks and rescheduled for November 22nd. No problems but after seeing the X-rays the specialist would be happier to have the bone set a little more. '' She's the type who's prone to jumping " he says - perhaps stating the obvious. There is a worry she might put all her weight on the new joint. The surgeon who did the first operation will be attending to her. Two months, it seems, is the more prudent gap between operations. For the first time Sophie cried a little in the waiting room.

In the late afternoon a  'welcome home' walk onto the village green.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

There will be retribution.

From the corner of her eye Sophie can see that her brother has found Furry Fox.  He is proudly rushing round the garden with it in his mouth. She is left speechless with frustration.

When she is fully recovered there will be a day of retribution.

This afternoon she goes to the hospital in Toulouse to have her leg X-rayed. 

Monday, October 24, 2016


Out of the front door for a 'comfort break'.

Then into her pen for a doze. Woollen blanket keeping those shaved limbs warm.

Sophie being an intelligent girl has discovered that a wall or door can provide useful support for all sorts of purposes, drinking water being one of them.

Bob and Angus tidy up the garden. The last of the pool furniture stowed away in the garage.

The family fellow joins me for a trip to the bakers. While I choose a Chocolat Royale he coyly charms the waitress into giving him a crust of bread.

In the 1880's some reforming bishop ( of the type that always has to be doing something ) had many of the regions 13th century churches demolished and replaced with identikit buildings more in keeping with the times. Octagonal towers, five rows of windows, two tiers of bells. Cheap to build and unremarkable to look at. Last night at quarter to seven I was out in the side courtyard with Sophie, a side of the house we rarely visit at this time of the day.  As the sun set the church tower glowed a most amazing bright red. The orange bricks suddenly transfused with light. Even the most mediocre of structures can look like a cathedral with natures help. The old steeples moment of glory lasted for all of five minutes before fading away. It seems the air is full of light refracting dust from the Sahara that's being blown our way. This morning the cars covered in sand. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sounding sirens.

After breakfast ( devoured with gusto) the invalid is slowly walked from the kitchen into the garden. Draped in a warm woollen blanket she can monitor the comings and goings along the lane.

Big brother seems quite happy to spend his morning guarding her.

The display of pumpkins at the greengrocers becomes ever more festive. Grey ones join the more usual yellow and orange.

Persimons arrive. The French word for Persimon is 'Kaki'. One of those rare instances when the English is so much more attractive than the French.

Bob continues to be on a four walk a day routine. This good for him and his owners. The stress related itching has died away.

For the last five days the police have been on strike. They block the streets in the centre of Toulouse and sound the sirens on their patrol cars at midnight. The French seem to take a Police strike in their stride. What the local residents think about a hundred police cars sounding their sirens goes unreported on the morning news.

Having ignored her wound for the last three and a half weeks Sophie has now decided to start nibbling at it.

The chickens belonging to the man with anger management issues get out again. They scatter across the village green clucking merrily away. The angry man waves his arms and shouts. The chickens seem remarkably oblivious to his hyperactivity. Bob watches from his vantage point on the stump seat by the front gate.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

C'est tout grace.

Some mornings the sky is just so blue.....

.... and the air so clear

..... and the wind so soft. You just have to marvel at the purpose behind this perfect symmetry . The Very Old Farmer used to say that mornings like this were 'C'est tout grace'. It's all grace. A phrase which combines a countrymans practicality, philosophy and piety in equal measure. The essence of France profonde.

Then, as if there's any doubt that this is the best day ever, the PON boy runs through the fields, fishes inelegantly for minnows in the stream and finds malodorous excitement at every point of the compass. He is having a legs tangled joy overload.

His sister is busy destuffing a toy hog. The squeaker was the first thing to go. Removed and discarded in thirty seconds.

And that in short is the wonder and constant laughter of a dog owners life on a quiet Saturday morning.

Friday, October 21, 2016

She'd have prefered an hour.

Sophie isn't the only one to have the occasional 'bad hair' day.

A cloudy morning but the rising sun manages to light up the window in the upstairs hallway. For two or three minutes the inside of the house bathed in a bright red then orange light. Such a simple thing but something to be enjoyed.

Bob is getting four walks a day. Two in the morning. One after lunch and another in the afternoon. On our first walk of the morning we live the Enid Blyton lifestyle and stop to watch the horses, the cows and the donkeys. Satisfied that all is well with his universe Bob turns for home.

Some mornings he christens every third plane tree along the lane. Today it's every second one.

After breakfast the family fellow heads off with me to the hardware store. We stop en route at the modern cafe in the shopping centre. Wednesdays debate being analyzed on television. The pretty waitress brings Bob a bowl of water and a crust from a wholemeal loaf. She chats away to Bob. Bob bestows a long lick on the girls hand. Nothing like a crust from a wholemeal loaf to win a boys heart. We laugh. 

When we return home Sophie lets it be known that she would have liked to join us.

Can't help but notice that for much of the day the divas been unusually quiet. The inactivity getting her down. She's been laid up since September 15th. The new Adaptil collars arrive in the post. Hopefully, that will cheer her up. Late at night I take her for a walk in the main garden. The harness with two handles means I can keep her rump and leg supported. We walk for five minutes. She'd have preferred an hour.

The X-rays confirmed for Tuesday. We book her in for surgery on the other leg on November 2nd. The surgeon who did the first operation isn't available until December. We decide it's better to go with another surgeon rather than wait. The usual discussion about why one surgeon is available so much earlier than the other then ensues.