Morecambe – a good dog

They say that when you buy a dog that loss is always on the horizon. They don’t live as long as us generally and (if all goes according to plan) in the end the day will come when you say good-bye.

This week, we said good-bye to Morecambe. Those of you who have followed our travails over the last few weeks will know that he has struggled with separation anxiety and we weren’t quite sure about the way forward. Especially when someone kindly pushed an anonymous note under our door basically saying “Shut Your Dog Up”. (Are Christian Curses unacceptable? Asking for a friend).

It was a long weekend last weekend. We tried a dog behaviourist, a Doggy Day Care lady (she ended up with a bitten thumb for her trouble) and lots of friends and we had to reluctantly accept that there was no way forward. The vet said that he felt that there was a neurological problem and that his age meant that to put him to sleep was the kindest decision. Well it might be for Morecambe buster but we have been devastated. HOH – who took him to the vets to do the deed – has been particularly traumatised.

People are very kind aren’t they. You watch 15 minutes of Brexit coverage and you could be forgiven for thinking the country is full of self-serving lunatics who don’t care about anyone but themselves. Well I have a house full of flowers and bagful of “so sorry” messages that prove otherwise and I for one am jolly grateful.

At the moment, we still miss him like mad. We miss walks, cuddles on the sofa (if he was in the mood) and saving the last bits of food for him. But we know that we gave him a fantastic life and eventually we won’t feel like this. Eventually.

Just be a bit kinder eh.

I am so sorry if you are bored with all this but I feel a pull to update everybody who is following all this with bated breath. We feel like the stars of a Dickens serialisation at the moment. If you want to read something else I have a couple of book reviews in the pipeline for the next couple of mid-weeks. More edifying hopefully. (Actually thinking about one of the books – no probably not that edifying. Still, at least it’s not about me).

We have re-arranged the appointment for Aged Parent’s scan results for the end of the week. Actually, that was close run thing because on receiving the letter with the new appointment time, AP promptly rang the Doctor’s secretary and cancelled it – saying she didn’t think she would be well enough. I rang her support worker with a VERY wobbly bottom lip and she rang the hospital and re-instated it. AP was told in no uncertain terms that she had to go. She pulled a strop which I then dealt with by telling her that she wouldn’t be moved to a new flat without these results. Cue miraculous recovery. We shall see.

Life with Morecambe took a turn for the worse when someone kindly put an unsigned note in our letterbox which told us in no uncertain terms to sort our noisy dog out. I mean, I have sympathy for their position but couldn’t they have knocked on the door and we would have been able to explain what is going on. Now, I am just giving everyone the evil eye in case THEY were the person. (I’m quite enjoying it really. It’s releasing tension) It’s not just us either HOH saw a note on a car in our underground car park whose driver had parked it badly. They had asked for a bit of grace for a week because their partner was disabled and they were trying out the wheelchair. Someone else had left a nasty note basically saying that wasn’t good enough. Again unsigned. I mean, what is wrong with people? I am aware that the best way to deal with this is to destroy this kind of stuff with excessive kindness. And when I am ready to stop swinging Thor’s Hammer of Death at everyone in the building, that will almost certainly be my next move.

We went to see dog lady trainer and when we eventually found it (Cornwall – would a couple of post 1963 signs actually kill you?) we found she lived in heaven. A country house with a couple of paddocks, donkeys, goats chickens and her own “neurotic” dogs. She was lovely but taking into account Morecambe’s age, she wasn’t sure if her strategies would work and, if they did, they would take several months to kick in. So now we have to find Doggy Day Care as they call it for the couple of days a week when we are both working. At the moment, we cannot find anything that is not in the centre of Dartmoor but we are working on it. On Doggy Lady’s advice we have also approached FOW 1 and 2 to see if they can dog-sit alternately once a fortnight so that we can go out in the evening once a week. They have been really nice and are happy to do it. According to Doggy Lady, this is important as we need to have a life so we don’t start resenting the dog. Am hoping that ship hasn’t already sailed.

The one thing that is really doing our head in is that we can’t really get to church. Our kids can’t sit for Morcs on Sunday morning for various logistical reasons, so we are stuck. As we were going to try a new church down the road, neither of us feel comfortable approaching the vicar for ideas. Have actually found myself thinking – Why would God do that? (Answers on a postcard please)

Anyway – to finish this laugh a minute I thought I could tell you what we had been watching this week. HOH is very exercised by the the return of Spiral which is a French detective drama where everyone looks like they could use a flippin good wash to be honest. I keep getting told off for saying things like “She looks like she smells”. I don’t watch it myself, although HOH assures me that that the body-count is disappointingly low. Yes – I’ve heard that before. Last programme he said that about, an eighty year old lady had a hood over her head in the first ten minutes. We also watched a documentary about Leonard Cohen and a lady called Marianne who was apparently his muse. I didn’t think I could actually whistle a Leonard Cohen tune but it turned out I knew quite a lot. The whole film was a huge advert for not doing drugs – ever. Everyone had been taking loads of stuff that made them act horribly and ignore their children until they also went bonkers. Also everyone in it had terrible teeth and – well I’ll be frank – looked like they smelled. Also, being Leonard Cohen’s muse seemed to involve cooking and cleaning for him while he rolled around the world experimenting sexually with every woman with a pulse while all his friends described him as a feminist.

So to end on the joy that is Great British Bake Off. I didn’t watch the first season when it moved to Channel 4 but I watch it now because everyone is just so lovely. (I take no notice of the judges. I’m not entirely convinced that Paul Hollywood can bake at all. Have you ever seen him make anything? Without Mary Berry that is.) I just love the contestants. I love how much they support each other and smile and laugh and hug. I love the way they hold hands when the judgement is coming. And Henry makes me laugh. I even laughed at a Noel Fielding joke this week which is a first. They are just kind to each other. Not that difficult.

We progress – Inch by Inch

Well that week didn’t start so well but bucked up a bit so, to stop you going away and finding something more cheery to devote your time to like oh I don’t know, a nice documentary on the fall of Moscow, I promise there will be more balance this week. Eventually.

Morecambe is now the proud owner of a pheromone plug-in and collar and also the unwitting consumer of calming drugs (recommended by the vet – don’t write in) and, although we have seen a little bit of an improvement we still feel a visit to a behaviourist may be in order so we are trekking across Cornwall in a couple of weeks to see someone who can hopefully help us. I have filled in a 642 page questionnaire which has already made us feel that all Morecambe’s problems are our fault but we are going anyway. We are only slightly disconcerted by the map to behaviourist’s lair which Google seems to show has any number of “unnamed roads” – but we are going anyway. Also, the last time we did anything like this a woman did a sort of semi splits move in her conservatory, made Morcs walk under her leg – proving he was “teachable” – asked us to send a daily email of his behaviour and then charged us £200 – but we are going anyway. Finally, although money isn’t everything, I would just like to point out that the dog only cost us £150 to buy and his treatment will cost considerably more – BUT WE ARE GOING ANYWAY. We shall see.

Not everything went according to plan with Aged Parent last week. I rang up on the morning of her brain scan results appointment to finalise the details. (Do not wait outside! Do not call a taxi if I am seventeen seconds late! Try to look for your purse slightly before we are actually getting in the car – that sort of thing). At this point, AP informs me that the appointment has been cancelled. Obviously, I don’t take this statement on face value but, on further investigation, it seems that the appointment has indeed been cancelled as the consultant is unwell. At this point, as I am having an attack of the vapours, HOH phones the hospital to enquire if it may have been prudent to let us know before I have taken the day off work. They reply that they have let AP know. We check with her and she agrees that she did know but is also insistent that she told us when we visited the day before. We didn’t visit the day before – I have an alibi. Now, I bow to no-one in my admiration of the NHS, as I think you know HOH is a proud member of their workforce. However, when you are cancelling a visit of a patient with severe confusion for an appointment to see if she has dementia, wouldn’t it make sense to contact a next of kin with a cancellation? I’m asking for a friend. Pah!

Anyhoo, reasons to be cheerful. The kindness of people. The lady from the Crisis Team who assured me that they were not going to leave us alone in this, the people I work with who don’t bat an eyelid when I take my umpteenth call of the day from AP about just how upset she is and also my kids – FOW2 who has come over to babysit Morecambe when we couldn’t change our shifts and FOW1 and his fiance who took us for a calming walk around what is going to be their wedding venue next year (see above), including a stop at your actual country pub. Had to take Morecambe but he only picked one fight and I would say that wasn’t entirely his fault. If people bring big black dogs into an enclosed space with him, they need to be braced for the consequences. By the way, they’re not getting married on a boat or a beach or anything. This is not Don’t Tell The Bride. It’s just the estate where the meal will be.

Finlly, I was listening to a sermon podcast this week walking to work. It was by Tim Keller who is a big noise in New York I believe. He quoted this from Hebrews 12

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

Then he asked – so what is the Joy set before him”? Is it being with God? No – he already had that. Is it being recognised as God? No he already was. So what is the “Joy”? And Tim Keller said “It’s you! You are the Joy set before him, it’s for relationship with you.”

And there, just by Aldi, I felt a little dig in my ribs from the Divine and I couldn’t quite believe it but I tried to anyway. Then I pretended that I had something in my eye and carried on to work. And please feel free to think this about yourself as well. I don’t suppose for a moment it’s just about me. I don’t really feel like anyone’s Joy at the moment but am thinking that if he says so – that would be very nice indeed.

Don’t Get Cocky Kid

In the words of the great Han Solo, I got too cocky. I am back I said. I was not back at all for I had not factored in the revenge of the Aged Parent and the Jack Russell – neither of whom are dealing with life well at the moment.

Aged Parent is telling anyone with a pulse that her only daughter has moved away and left her. Chance would be a fine thing. (This is something that I may be thinking but am hardly ever saying out loud). As I think I mentioned last time, AP seen some deterioration in her mental and physical state. At the moment, the Social Services crisis team are working with her and us to see what is the best way forward. One of the main problems is still that if she feels a little unsure about things, she responds by pulling the emergency cord. This almost automatically calls an ambulance which eventually results in an overstretched ambulance service coming to tell her that there is nothing much wrong with her. We are getting a reputation here and at this rate she will be the subject of a Christopher Eccleston narrated documentary about NHS time-wasters. So far she has seen a Social Worker, an Occupational Health Therapist and a Physiotherapist. She is doing that thing that old people do where they are really charming to people’s face “Yes dear. Of course dear. I completely agree.” Then, as soon as they leave the room – “Well I didn’t like her at all. Who DOES she think she is?”

I also have fallen victim to this. AP and I had a calm and productive conversation around the idea that her current living situation may not be ideal and the time may be coming when we need to think about a different way forward. She listened calmly and asked good questions. I naively thought that we had progress until I heard her telling her friend – “They’re having me put away you know.” Arrrgh.

On top of all this Morecambe (that’s him above – not giving a monkeys) has decided that no-one can leave the house without him. This means that he howls and barks when he is left alone. You wonder how long he can keep it up and the answer seems to be – “Longer then you can possibly imagine Sweetheart.” Obviously, this is a worry living in an apartment where you can hear the people next door put a cup down. (This is an exaggeration. It just feels like it). So we entered into the exciting world of technology and bought one of those cameras that you can switch on in your living room and keep track of what your pet is doing. I am a bit suspicious of this kind of thing. You never know who is watching as far as I am concerned. Why shadowy forces would need to watch me painting my toenails and hoovering up chocolate cookies I don’t know but you can’t be too careful. They’d probably rather come across someone dancing in a bikini in front of members of the Cabinet or something but that’s their problem not mine.

Anyway, this camera took a life-time to set up and it kept talking to me, which I wasn’t keen on. But I sorted it and went to Lidl with my phone in my pocket to keep an eye on how the dog was doing. Unfortunately, almost at the exact moment I was leaving the house, he was trapping himself in the bedroom which meant that he felt that he was completely justified in barking for the twenty minutes that I was out of the house. At this point I realised that I wasn’t sure how to turn the camera connection off on my phone so I raced round Lidl with my pocket barking hysterically. I am too old for all this carry on. We are probably going to try and get some professional help. A behavourist or something. Do they do them for old people?

Have a great week

Hello

Blimey – I’ve missed this. The writing that is. Don’t worry – you don’t have to say the same to make me feel better. It feels better just typing stuff – drivel included.

For those of you taking part in a fasting 24-hour group session to advocate for my safe return – thank-you. What? I am sort of back – later than expected – not because of the Internet issues but because life has been overwhelmingly hectic. In fact, Virgin came through admirably well in the end. We did ring them up and ask to cancel our contract because they couldn’t connect us and also because it was all getting a bit expensive when compared to other new deals we had been offered. They then offered to come out and set it up the day after we moved in and also knock £35 a month off our contract. Funny that.

The actual moving day couldn’t have gone any smoother. The company, who I had found on Facebook in a fit of last-minute hysteria turned out to be fantastic. (Well I say “Company” it was two lads who looked like they had escaped from “The Detectorists” but they were models of efficiency). And really nice. The keys were available right on time – which was a shock considering how many horrifying stories I had heard in the run-up to the move.

The night before we moved, we cleaned the house from top to bottom – cleaning until just after midnight. I don’t think I have ever been so exhausted in my life. We dropped onto a mattress (we had got rid of the bed by then), convinced we faced a day of one catastrophe after another. At the end of the next day, HOH was pointing out to me – ever so gently – as I was a fragile little flower by the end of the day – how good God had been. So, if you prayed, (1) thank you and (2) God worked.

HOH and I are not exactly urbane people about town and we have found a lot of this overwhelming but we are here, in a sea of Ikea boxes, on the other side, ready to get going. There are several challenges on the horizon. Morecambe is completely floored by everything and is spending every waking hour with his paws wrapped around HOH’s left leg being dragged around the apartment.

Also, Aged Parent has chosen this time to deteriorate significantly and may need moving to a facility with more care. We are working on it – the old Social Services and me. I spent seven and a half hours on Friday night in Casualty with a parent who was not up to it. In the end, we were told that there was nothing particularly wrong physically and she was sent home. At least she got to build up a significant friendship with an old soldier in the next cot. He was a bit drunk but they seemed to get on fine.

So, what I want to do now is get back to reading blogs as well, so hopefully will catch up with that as well. Right, off to watch Avengers now and give serious consideration to ironing work clothes on a mini ironing board that I never thought was a good idea (and I would like that minuted HOH) In case you are interested – the photo above is the view from our balcony. Ooooh get you!

Have a great week.