Dear Irish Terrier Friends,
We were sad to receive a letter from Debz of Purple Paws Pet Care saying that, for health reasons, she was having to give up her work with her mobile doggy spa. Libs and Mary Bell loved her and there was huge jubilation when she arrived at the gate in her great white wagon. They would stand to attention on the spot where she parked and wait for the big moment when the slide door opened and the descent of the articulated steps. They would leap straight in , eager to check that everything was in order — or was it a hunt for the biscuit tin?
Debz was a great pro– not a brush or comb out of place and towels stacked with mathematical precision, matching corners and no wrinkling. I remember how calmly she dealt with Mary Bell (when still a baby)_objected to her first plunge into the warm tub. Her shrieks rent the air and we all, especially poor anxious Libs, went running to the rescue. Debz said calmly: ‘Come on, little girl…We’ll get the soap off with a sponge’. And the next time, there was not even a squeak.
Dear Debz, thank you for the fun we had and every best wish. We have found a local pet parlour, just reopened and after a few bosh shots at finding the place (behind the car wash on the Pennington Road??) we managed to arrive on the right day and at the right time.
They are transformed from hairy Highland heifers into alluring sleek colleens. They, it would seem, were very well behaved and highly amusing. As we were leaving, they sat down and held up a paw to say thank you and received another biscuit — so good scores all round. The girls did say that no-one had ever thanked them before.
Talking of allure, they seem to have abandoned their crush on Rusty the golden retriever. They still tug towards the gate and Maryb does her little shrill squeaks and Rusty appears, waving his feathery tail. But what a cad, he comes really to stand up at the gate and have his ears tickled by me and if I get too close there’s a lick on the cheek — and that’s unpardonable. No wonder their ardour has cooled, not that anyone is remotely upset: ‘We’re off to have our lunch’ they say.
Lockdown in Lymington is a doddle. Of course the summer helps and I do love the garden. Mary Bell is a pest with her confounded tennis ball. She hovers around me, putting it down, wagging her tail, then running away when I stoop to pick it up. The minute I return to gardening business, the spade or secateurs, she rushes back and the daft game begins again. I feel her problem — she loves to chase and chew. She is, after all, a terrier. But to give up the ball — I mean, open her mouth and drop it , seems foolish and unnatural. It requires preparation and self-discipline, hence all the to ing and fro ing, darting backward and forwards and the occasional final surrender to the love of the chase when the ball falls from her mouth at last.
Libs has never been a ball player. She likes to hunt and spend hours, bright eyed and still as a statue, waiting for a wood mouse, real or imagined, to appear. I think the mice gather at night around the flowerpots and Miss Libs has caught two this summer, already and left them on the hall carpet. They’re pretty little creatures, with dark brown coats and pink noses. Having grown up with boys who kept pet mice in their pockets, I’m rather fond of them and Libs gets a ticking off — after all, they have a right to live in their garden. I shout very loudly : ‘find someone to tackle your own size, you great elephant’ and she does look apologetic.
You know that I have a great passion for pigeons. Now, don’t write and tell me their shortcomings. I’ve heard it all and know the answers. Besides, it may provoke for the umpteenth time my sermon on pigeons, which ends with ‘You do realise they have won more Dickin Medals than any other creature.
Now this is what I want to tell you. We had a curious ‘visitation’ from a large gold ‘speckled magenta -grey pigeon with a long neck and bright yellow rings about his eyes — some sort of feral pigeon, I think. It was a burning hot day and I had opened the frong door to let the air through — and there he was. He walked straight past me and into the house, found the dog bowl and had a long drink of water (incidentally, pigeons are unique in the bird world and can drink without throwing back their heads to swallow) He ate some wet bread, feeding from my hand. He suddenly did a jump jet levitation up onto the top of a cupboard and settled down, puffed out his feathers, and closed his eyes. He must have slept for an hour. Our pigeon spent the day with us. The girls were afraid to even look at him and we wandered round the garden as a foursome, dead heading the roses. I was beginning to worry about where to let him sleep, but by six o’clock, when it was cooler, and I got out the hose, he suddenly disappeared. I do hope he found his way home. He was obviously house trained and knew all about good manners — what a cool character.
I keep asking everyone if they know of a tame pigeon who came to call. I was bereft, but I think the girls said to each other: ‘thank heavens for that’.! We trundle on and life seems pleasant enough. I do feel for people properly lockdown and wish the days of freedom will soon return.
I have just heard that Vera Lynn has died. She was an extraordinary and wonderful woman. We met her at the Imperial War Museum and she walked round holding onto Jamie’s hand. She had a warmth and kindness which was palpable. Jamie said: ‘She probably thinks I’m a veteran’. It was lovely that she heard the Queen’s speech and surely we’ll all meet again.
With kindest wishes for a safe and happy summer
and special love to the dogs
P.S Summer greetings from Belgium and this is Bertie and Rosa