Welcome everyone Sandra in Spain - FlamencoI’m Sandra Piddock, and I’m a freelance writer, dividing my time between Spain and the UK. I’ll write about anything that interests and/or challenges me, and I like to focus on the lighter side of life whenever possible.. Read more
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Educating Paddy

Paddy has been a major part of our lives since we adopted him in March 2014, at the grand old age of 8 weeks, or thereabouts. The title is ironic, since most of the time I have to wonder whether we’re training Paddy, or he’s training us. On balance, I think it’s probably two way traffic, and maybe Paddy is mostly in the driving seat.

Oh dear, what a cat-astrophe!

Tony, two days after the cat-astrophe and still looking bruised and battered.

We were so looking forward to coming to Camping Playa Mazarron at Bolnuevo. It ticks all the boxes – bars and shops within easy walking distance, so Tony can join in with everything, right on the beach, for sunbathing purposes. But the real icing on the cake is the dog friendly beach, right outside the camp site. With the sea, sand and the lovely fresh water stream to go at, and lots of canine company, Paddy’s excessive energy would be contained, and even exhausted, wouldn’t it? Well – maybe.

On arrival day – Sunday, a day ahead of the rally start, but necessary to hear the great live music at The Blues House – I took Paddy for two good long sessions on the Playa Canina. He met some lovely dogs, ran his heart out, and fetched sticks and stones out of the stream and the sea. And he slept the sleep of the totally shattered, never moving from when we got the bed out until Tony and I needed wee wees at about 9.30 on Monday morning. One slight blot on the landscape was that on Sunday evening, Paddy had spotted a tortoiseshell cat on the steps of a neighbouring motor home. Normally, we check with people parked up around us for the cat situation, because as regular readers know, Paddy absolutely detests cats. Chris and Cliff had assured us that they were totally catless, but the pussycat that Paddy thought he saw – and indeed did see – was a local cat that they’d helped look after last year when she had kittens, and she’d come back to thank them, and scrounge a few titbits.

Monday dawned bright and sunny, and I persuaded Tony to accompany me to the Playa Canina. On the way, we spotted one or two of the camp site’s feral cats. Luckily we spotted them a split second before Paddy did, and we managed to remain in a vertical position. It did occasion a few ‘Can’t you control your dog’ moments from Tony, but the trip went really well. Until we got back to base. I had removed Paddy’s lead and harness, and was about to hook him up to the old elasticated tow rope we use as a tether on camp sites when he spotted the grateful tortoiseshell cat at the same time as me. I asked Tony to help me hold him while I clipped the rope to his collar, and he did. Mission accomplished – Paddy is secured, and can’t catch the cat, because the tow rope won’t stretch that far.

We knew that, but with Paddy’s pathological hatred of anything feline within sight, he either hadn’t worked out the logistics, or decided he was going for it anyway. Tony being 83 years young, his reflexes aren’t as sharp as they were, and he failed to see the potential for disaster that I, in a Mystic Meg Moment of clarity, was only too aware of. He should have got out of the way as soon as the tow rope was in place, like I did. Paddy launched himself at the tantalising tortoiseshell, in the process wrapping the elasticated tow rope around Tony’s ankles. As the tow rope whipped his ankles behind him, Tony put out his left arm in a futile attempt to avoid imminent disaster. While the arm hit the gravel ahead of his face, saving the ruination of his film star good looks – or at least that’s what he calls them – there was an inevitable coming together of glasses and gravel. It all resulted in a bit of a bloodbath, not helped by the fact that Tony is on warfarin to keep his atrial fibrilation under control.

Being the caring lot they are, our fellow motorcaravanners converged from all directions. And because most of them are retired, with various life skills and professional qualifications to their names, we had somebody qualified to administer first aid when Tony – predictably – failed to follow sensible advice and head for the nearest hospital. Paul Spear happened to have a handy syringe – don’t ask why – and with the help of some iodine and water, he managed to flush out the half a ton of gravel that had embedded itself in the wounds. His wife Penny – justifiably proud of her husband’s felicitous administrations – suggested we should rename him Florence. This didn’t go down to well, and a domestic was narrowly avoided since Paul’s main consideration was the wellbeing of his patient. I did try to pour oil on the troubled waters of marital harmony by saying he couldn’t be another Florence Nightingale because he didn’t have the legs for the stockings, but apparently it was the wrong thing to say.

With Tony patched up and resting, we thought the drama was over, but what a mistake-a to make-a! Next thing we knew, Paddy – who had been moved out of sight range of the tantalising tortoiseshell – was going ballistic at a black cat that had the temerity to come within half a mile of us. Said black cat was followed by a Dutch couple with a washing up bowl in their hands. It was making noises, which is pretty advanced, even for a washing up bowl from the local Chinese bazaar. It turned out that the cat had decided to give birth to her kittens in the Dutch couple’s motor home, and then gone for a bit of rest and recouperation while the babies were sleeping. The new mother couldn’t have imagined what she had let herself in for by heading into Paddy’s territory, but he let her have it with both barrels, and no way was she passing this way again, even to get back to her babies. However, the Dutch couple were determined to facilitate a reconciliation, hence the tour of the camp site with the washing up bowl. We suggested maybe they needed to take the kittens back to their motor home and let Mama Cat find them.

What was intended to be – in the words of our hosts Geoff and Brenda Balshaw – ‘a relaxing rally, with stuff to do, and also plenty of chances for peace, quiet, and exploration’ was rapidly descending into a

Paddy enjoying the rally – which is more than Tony is doing!

disaster of apocalyptic proportions, so we had to do something to persuade Paddy that informing the whole camp site – all 650 pitches – that there was a cat nearby was not a good idea. He’s not keen on water applied directly to his person, although he’ll happily frolic in the sea, the salt lakes near us and any other water that is fairly predictable. Someone suggested that a spray bottle, filled with water and aimed between the eyes every time he barked at a cat might restore peace and tranquility, so I trotted off to the local Chinese bazaar and bought the instrument of torture. And it’s working. Two days later, at the sight of a cat, he just growls, I pick up the spray bottle, and he cowers. I’m not proud of putting him through that, but needs must. And if any of my readers have a husband they want rid of, I’m happy to rent Paddy out, minus the spray bottle. As long as there are plenty of cats where you live, and there are no first aiders on hand. Rates subject to negotiation.

Paddy is three years old!

Paddy has been a constant source of love and laughter, tears and frustration ever since he erupted into our lives on March 17, 2014.  Because he was abandoned as a puppy by the canal at La Marina – for which read probably thrown in – we don’t really know when he was born. However, for the purposes of the Pet Passport, our lovely vet Madeleine fixed his birthday as 15 January.

I have to say Paddy is the happiest dog I’ve ever come across. He’s also the  bounciest and the most boisterous dog I’ve ever come across, and he has a real sense of occasion. Obviously, he doesn’t know what a birthday is, but he does know when something is different. When we let him into our bedroom for his usual morning cuddle yesterday, we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, and his tail did a very good impression of a helicoptor rotor. It was so good, I thought he was about to take off, so I held him down firmly but gently. Once he’d calmed down, I asked if he wanted his birthday presents – cue bouncing off the walls again. Bit of an over reaction for a string ball and a squeaky bulldog, but hey, the boy has good manners, and he knows how to show appreciation.

The highlight of the day was a carefully guarded secret. My friend Ian has been saying for a while that I should bring Paddy to the new doggy play park in Guardamar. Life has got in the way, but we decided his birthday was an ideal opportunity to introduce Paddy to the delights of the doggy park – and Ricca, Ian’s 15 month old German Shepherd cross. As Gizmo is still here bossing Paddy around, he came along too, with Glenys.  If you’re not sure where it is, it’s along Avenida Cevantes, near the China Town restaurant. Look for the distinctive green and white mosaic tiled walls with holes in them, and walk along until you see the fenced off area.

Paddy had great fun climbing in and out of the holes in the wall on the way, even though they are not part of the doggy park. He’s like a big kid really – has to walk on walls, climb steps, look over gates and fences and investigate holes. By the time we got to the entrance to the dog park, he was very excited and very vocal, and one or two nervous owners gathered up their precious bundles of fur. However, all Paddy wanted to do was play, and thankfully most of those exercising their dogs realised that. He bounded up to Ricca and they introduced themselves, while Gizmo followed at a much more sedate pace, as befits a senior dog of three and a half years of age.

Clearly, it was love at first sight – at least for Ricca, who kept stealing kisses from Paddy. However, she insisted on ‘Ladies First’ when it came to chasing the balls and sticks that Ian kept throwing. If Paddy got a head start, she just refused to play! For over an hour, they had a great time, although they were rather dubious about the tunnel, venturing part way in and then backing out again. Gizmo was less than impressed with the see-saw. He ambled up it quite happily, but jumped off the moment it started sawing instead of seeing! Maybe next time they’ll appreciate the toys and activities the Ayuntamiento of Guardamar has so thoughtfully provided for their enjoyment.

In case your dog is nervous or aggressive, and you’ve decided the dog park isn’t for you, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a section where timid and aggressive dogs can exercise on their own, without entering the main arena. There’s water on tap, and there’s even a pee post so dogs don’t sully the sand. Unfortunately, as even the most intelligent dogs can’t read, it’s not used as much as it could be!

The day’s treats were not over though – when we got home, Aunty June brought down a lamb steak for Paddy’s birthday tea. After such a terrible start to his life, it’s just one big party now for Paddy Piddock!

A week of mixed fortunes for Paddy!

It's been an eventful week for Paddy. Now he's catching up on some rest

It’s been an eventful week for Paddy. Now he’s catching up on some rest

As another week draws to a close – how they fly as you get older, or is it just because I’m enjoying life? – there are, as usual, a couple of Paddy-centric incidents that merit sharing. well, three actually. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of any of them, but I’ll do my best to paint a picture with words for you.

Last Friday, my friend Joan and I were enjoying a trawl of the clothes shops and spending a few Euros. When we got back to Piddock Place, and I’d given Paddy his share of cuddles, Tony said, ‘Paddy has a present for you outside.’ Since Paddy doesn’t have any pocket money, and even if he did, it would be stopped most weeks for misdemeanours of one kind or another, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to my present. My instinct was right, because there, on the terrace table was a black rat. Like Monty Python’s parrot, it was extinct, it had ceased to be, it was an ex rat. It was very dead, and Paddy was the murderer.

A couple of days before, Tony had seen a rat in the under build, but he couldn’t risk putting poison down. Although we could put it out of Paddy’s reach, if he’d caught a poisoned rat, he too could have been extinct. Clearly it was a very considerate rat, because it only decided to come out to play while I was out. It was so friendly, it climbed on Tony’s foot and was about to run up his trouser leg when Paddy spotted it. Maybe he thought the rat was going to hump Tony and he didn’t fancy the resulting offspring, or perhaps he thought Daddy was about to be done to death and he’d lose the main source of treats. Either way, he grabbed the rat, and ran off with it. First of all he smashed it on the gravel, then he threw it up in the air a few times, catching it expertly as it descended. Happy that the threat to Daddy’s life and health and Paddy’s treats was eliminated, he ran off to play and left Daddy to deal with the fallout.

Of course, I was proud of my brave boy, but I was also worried that he might have got something nasty from the rat. I really shouldn’t have Googled ‘Are rats dangerous to dogs?’ before I called our lovely vet Madeleine, because I couldn’t see him lasting the day. As I prefer my dogs living and running around  rather than gaining posthumous awards for bravery, I asked if I should bring him straight round, but she said as he hadn’t been bitten by the rat or eaten it after the kill, he’d be fine. She did suggest we wormed him though, just in case it had passed any parasites on.

So we breathed easy, and on Sunday I sat watching the Remembrance Sunday service from the Cenotaph. Although I was in my dressing gown still, I stood for the two minutes’ silence and Paddy, bless him, stood alongside me, just as immobile as I was, apart from giving me the occasional sideways look as if to say ‘When does this new game get interesting, Mummy?’

It got interesting just as they played the Last Post and the camera panned across the crowds. Call me psychic, but as the black busby of a Grenadier Guard – or whatever Guard it was – came into view in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, I had a feeling of impending doom. The top corner of the busby looked suspiciously like a cat to me, and if I thought that, so would Paddy. My worst fears were realised as he launched himself at the TV, hackles raised. Disaster was averted by two lucky chances. The coffee table absorbed most of the impact of 32 kilos of flying pooch, and as the TV was anchored to the wall, it stayed vertical. Just. Howver, the rigid bar holding it to the wall got bent a bit.

Fast forward to Tuesday, and once again cat is on the menu. Paddy’s last walk at night is to a small patch of waste ground just down the road

Okay, they don't look much like cats here, but when you're a cat-obssessed dog, and all you can see is the rounded edge in the corner of the TV screen ...

Okay, they don’t look much like cats here, but when you’re a cat-obssessed dog, and all you can see is the rounded edge in the corner of the TV screen …

from us. He loves going there, because it’s part of a disused quarry, and he can do his Wall of Death run around it to get rid of the last of his energy before bed. As a bonus, there are usually a few rabbits to chase, although thankfully his rabbit catching skills are way behind the rat catching success rate. Once he’s finished, he comes back to me and sits on the pavement for me to put his lead back on for the walk home.

He was sitting there as good as gold, when he looked to the right and saw a big white ball half way up the street. No, it wasn’t the Super Moon come to Earth, it was a big fluffy cat, sitting looking at Paddy. Neither of them remained seated for long, and at some point, the cat must have squared up to Paddy. Although there was no sound and no blood, when I called Paddy back he had a mouth full of white fur. I tried to find the cat to give it back once I’d taken Paddy home, but understandably, it was nowhere to be seen.

So, it’s been a pretty eventful week as far as Paddy is concerned. There’s certainly never a dull moment with him around, even if I have gained a few more grey hairs!

Guards image credit: Pixabay

Paddy and Gizmo – the odd couple!

As regular readers will know, we spend a couple of months in England each summer, catching up with those friends and family who don’t manage to make it over to Spain. And this year, we also had the christening of my youngest grandson and my son and daughter-in-law’s renewal of their wedding vows on their tenth anniversary to look forward to. Of course, Paddy goes with us – we couldn’t leave him behind for so long – and I really think he enjoyed this year’s trip more than ever before. That was mainly due to spending quite quite a lot of time with Gizmo, my friend’s three year old Chihuaha/Pappillon cross.

Paddy and Gizmo may be close in age, but that’s about the only similarity between them. Paddy is 32 kilos of raw energy who seems to be perpetually smiling, while Gizmo tips the scales at just 4 kilos and can be a bit grumpy, particularly with other dogs. And while Paddy is happy to go with the flow, Gizmo likes to be in charge and have the last word – especially with Paddy. Even in Paddy’s own home. Make that particularly in Paddy’s own home.

Glenys needed a small operation which affected her mobility for a few days, so I brought her and Gizmo over to the caravan so we could look after her and exercise Gizmo. We had a lot of laughs over those few days, and Paddy and Gizmo formed a bond you wouldn’t have thought possible with two such different dogs.

One thing the boys have in common is their competitiveness, whether it’s for affection or food or water. We got around that one by feeding them at the same time at opposite ends of the caravan.  And it was hilarious watching Gizmo finding ways to have a sneaky cuddle with me without Paddy spotting him. As Glenys said, most unfair really, because Gizmo let Paddy have cuddles with her. Or maybe it was more a case of once Paddy has his head in a friendly lap, nothing’s going to shift him – especially a 4 kilo fluff ball, no matter how grumpy he gets.

The boys enjoyed walks over the cliffs and on the beach, and while Gizmo very sensibly kept clear of Paddy’s flying feet, when we stopped to admire the views and have a drink, the boys would explore together. Sometimes it really seemed as if Paddy was telling Gizmo all about the lovely smells on different parts of the cliffs, and Gizmo cocked his little head to one side, for all the world as if he was listening intently.

When we all went to Larry and June’s place for Sunday lunch, Gizmo made it clear that he was top dog, since it was Paddy’s first visit, but Gizmo had been going there since he was a tiny puppy. Gizmo clearly sees Larry and June as part of his pack, and so does Paddy, as they have stayed with us and looked after Paddy when we’ve had the odd weekend away. So when Paddy went into the garden to catch up with Tony and Larry and beg a slurp of beer, Gizmo saw his chance. If you think a small dog can’t possibly stop a big dog from coming through a large patio door, think again, because Gizmo managed it just fine! Cue more hilarity as Paddy tried to find his way in, and then jumped over the sofa to get out of Gizmo’s way to the safe haven of his Mummy’s arms.

It’s pretty clear from the body language that this is just a game which both dogs enjoy though, so I have no real worries that Gizmo will end up killing Paddy by getting stuck in his throat and choking him on the way down. Let’s face it, if Paddy wanted to, he could easily have Gizmo for breakfast, but the boys seem to share a special bond. This became even stronger late one night when I took the boys for their final constitutional. The routine was that I’d walk Paddy around the block and Gizmo would follow, then turn around and go back to Glenys when he was ready.

This particular night, I got back and there was no sign of Gizmo. Glenys and I were just on the way out to look for him when we spotted him flying up the hill, ears out and tail stretched back, hotly pursued by a Springer Spaniel. Before either of us had chance to react, Paddy summed up the situation and launched himself from the caravan step with a leap that would have guaranteed Greg Rutherford the gold medal in the long jump at the Rio Olympics. He landed between Gizmo and his pursuer, who sensibly decided to turn tail and flee back to his own home. All this was accomplished without a single bark or growl, but clearly each dog knew what was going to happen, and who was top dog on this occasion.

If this was a fairy tale, I’d now be telling you that Gizmo and Paddy curled up together on the mat and lived happily ever after. It isn’t, and they didn’t, but it marked a sea change in their relationship, and rather than being independent of each other when they’re together, they behave more like brothers, or even a couple, with the odd skirmish to enforce the ground rules and let each other know when they’re not happy. They’re certainly an odd couple, but it’s both heartwarming and amusing to see them together. Gizmo is coming to Spain with Glenys, June and Larry  for three months soon, so no doubt there will be more mad and melting moments to look forward to with the boys. Watch this Space!

Paddy and the dreaded ‘C’ word

The first feline not to run when Paddy chased it!

The first feline not to run when Paddy chased it!

According to various statistics, dogs can recognise and understand at least 100 words and phrases, while dogs of above average intelligence have a potential vocabulary of around 200 – 400 words. There’s even a Border Collie called Chaser in North Carolina who has been taught over 1,000 words, so she must be the canine equivalent of Shakespeare.

Paddy clearly knows lots of words and phrases. If I say ‘Does Paddy want to play?’ he’ll go and pick up his rope toy so that I can throw it up and down the tiled area outside our apartment and he can do around 50 kilometers an hour, chasing it and shaking it. I only say ‘walk’ when I’m actually ready to put the leash on, or there’s a flurry of activity and stuff gets knocked over as he bounces around the furniture. If I say to Tony ‘I’m going to take him out now,’ – even without mentioning his name, Paddy runs over to where his harness and leash are kept and sits looking at me expectantly.

However, there is one word that is guaranteed to turn my loveable boy into a lean, mean, killing machine, and he finds it particularly offensive. So do we – so much so that this particular word is banned in our house. It has 4 letters and begins with a ‘C,’ and we all hate to hear it. That word is ‘Cats.’ Wash your mind out if you thought it was something else – my clever boy is too well mannered to know rude words.

The puddy tat up the tree and safe for the moment!

The puddy tat up the tree and safe for the moment!

Ever since the first time I took him for a walk as a tiny puppy, and he saw a black cat at the top of our street, he’s taken a dislike to them. And more than two years down the line, he still looks up the street every time we go out to see if that particular pussy cat has the temerity to come within 100 yards of his presence. If he sees cats on the TV, he rushes around the back to try and catch them. And if he’s out walking and spots a cat before me, I’m almost guaranteed to end up on the deck. I’ve been pulled into hedges, bushes and walls, and I’ve got the scars to prove it. It’s not just me either – our friend Larry got pulled through two bushes and a hedge when he was walking Paddy around a camp site in Devon. When Paddy spots a cat, he develops the speed of a racing car and the strength of 10 men.

At least three times, he’s chased cats up trees, and can’t be persuaded to come away and let puss make good her escape. Whether it’s the palm trees in our garden or on  camp sites, or the fir trees around La Ermita in Algorfa, Paddy can be relied on to jump almost as high as the cat has climbed in pursuit of this most hated of species. Luckily for the cats, he hasn’t yet managed to catch one.

I boasted that Paddy is pretty clever because he knows so many words, but the other day he demonstrated that maybe he’s not quite the sharpest tool in the shed after all. We were heading back home from an enjoyable walk in the orange groves, followed by a well-earned glass of wine at Bar La Vista, when I spotted a friend and went over to speak to them. Paddy went rigid, his hackles stood on end, and he launched a volley of vicious barking and lunged forward. If I hadn’t bought him a Walk Easy harness a few days previously, which gave me more control over him, I’d have ended up in the fountain as he went in hot pursuit of the black cat which was arching its back at him and fearlessly standing its ground.

I let go of the leash, and let Paddy teach this insolent feline a lesson it would never forget. Cruelty to animals? Not really – the black cat in

Paddy waiting for the cat to descend the pine tree at La Ermita

Paddy waiting for the cat to descend the pine tree at La Ermita

question was painted on the wall of the Black Cat Ink Tattoo Studio! Okay, it looks mighty realistic, but only a cat-fixated pup like Paddy could have possibly thought it might be a real cat. He raced over, tried to take a bite out of the feckless feline who didn’t run at his approach, and only succeeded in scraping his teeth on the wall. Bewildered, he ran around the side of the building to see where pussy had gone to hide. It took my friend and I 10 minutes to convince him that this cat wasn’t going to come back and persuade him that it was time to go home. In the words of the cartoon song, Paddy tawt he taw a puddy tat, and he wasn’t leaving until he was sure the cat had left the building.

So, as you can see, there’s a ‘C’ word that’s totally unacceptable at Piddock Place – particularly to Paddy. Someone suggested that we should bring a kitten into the household, so that Paddy could get used to being around cats. It sounds good in theory, but I’d be too worried that Puss would be Paddy’s main course. You see, he really doesn’t like cats, and I’m pretty sure he could eat a whole one if he put his mind to it!

Paddy is training me these days!

The fixed stare - the first part of Paddy's 4 Point Plan to persuade Mummy it's time for walkies!

The fixed stare – the first part of Paddy’s 4 Point Plan to persuade Mummy it’s time for walkies!

Ever since Paddy has hit two years old, there seems to be a perceptible change in him. He still behaves like a lunatic on elastic when somebody he loves comes visiting. As he loves everybody – even the gardeners – that involves a lot of bouncing around. Other than that though, he’s pretty well trained. He’s an intelligent boy, thanks to the Collie in him, and he does love to please me.

Just lately though, it appears that he is trying to train me! I’ve noticed it in lots of subtle ways. It starts when we get up in the morning and he needs his first trip into the garden. He’s decided he’d rather do that without an audience, thank you very much, so if I go down into the garden with him, he jumps on the wall and starts barking his head off, even if there’s nothing to bark at. However, if I leave him to his own devices, he does the necessary, has a look around the garden and a good sniff to see what he’s missed overnight, then comes back to me.

He usually has one of his dentistix after he’s been out, but again, he’s decided he doesn’t want that every morning. The new routine is, he sits to wait for his treat, and if he doesn’t fancy the dentistix, he just sniffs at it and looks back at the drawer where his treats are kept. Then I have to offer him another substantial treat in the form of some sort of chew stick. Apparently gravy bones are not substantial enough for first thing in the morning. He also tells Tony when he’s ready for another treat – usually about two hours after the dentistick.

Paddy’s first walk of the day is a moveable feast – it happens when I get dressed. Sometimes that’s early, but more often it’s nearer midday, depending on how much writing I need to get done, and how warm or cold it is. If it’s warm, the early morning walk consists of sitting staring at lizards and butterflies in the bushes and hoping they will play with him. Being sensible lizards and butterflies and realising the sheer stupidity of trying to play with an excitable 33 kilo puppy, they don’t, so when we get back I usually throw Paddy’s rope toy up and down the walkway outside, so he can let off steam.

If it’s a cooler day, and the lizards and butterflies are tucked away somewhere warm. I don’t bother with the rope toy, but last week Paddy decided that it should form a part of our morning outing, regardless of the presence of lizards and butterflies. So, he picks it up in his mouth as we leave the house, drops it by the pedestrian gate to wait for our return, then when we get back, he looks at me, looks at the rope toy, then looks in the direction he wants me to throw it. It’s always away from our garden. If I try to throw it the other way, he just leaves it, and I have to go and get it. I have asked him why I always have to throw his toy in the same direction, but so far he hasn’t come up with a convincing explanation.

The evening walk is also a moveable feast – I don’t believe in being a slave to routine, either on my own behalf or for Paddy. However, he’s now decided that the walk should be within a certain time frame – somewhere between 8.00 and 9.00 pm, so he can settle on the sofa with me for a nice long evening of cuddles. There is a new 4 Point Plan in place. First I get the stare. If I ignore that, he’ll settle down for a few minutes, then he’ll go over to his lead, look at it, look at me, and whine. If I ignore that, he’ll give it about 10 minutes more, and then he’ll come and sit next to me and rest his head on the laptop. Last week I was finishing off a press release before I took him out – or at least I was hoping to. Even though I knew the editor well, I couldn’t see him printing this:

The Motorbike Challenge will see the Bull Boys bike around the perimeter of Spain, avoiding motorways and stopping off at schools and other institutions on the way. They’re hoping that all of Spain will join in to raise moneysadfrgtttttttteyyyik6l8o;7p-‘.ty.,mrenwbqVAsdfregtrh5yu7678iiiip0-[=]'[p;loikujyhtgrfedws!!

When I told Paddy that if he didn’t let me finish what I was doing, he wouldn’t be going out at all, he pulled out the big guns. He draped himself across my shoulders – all 33 kilos of him! Game over – Mummy 0 Paddy 1. I gave up, got the lead and we went walking. The training seems to be going well – Paddy will make a decent Puppy Mummy out of me yet!

Free to a good home: dog and husband

Tony and Paddy - don't let their calm disposition fool you. These two are trouble!

Tony and Paddy – don’t let their calm disposition fool you. These two are trouble!

‘There are two men in my life, to one I am a mother, to the other I’m a wife.’ Those of a certain age might recognise those words from the popular 1970s commercial for Shredded Wheat – you know, the Brillo Pad lookalike cereal that is supposed to be good for you but tastes disgusting. Well, the two men in my life are now going free to a good home – or even a bad one, as long as I never again have to go through the embarrassment they caused me yesterday.

The day started off very well – the last day of our motor home rally wrapped up with lunch at our favourite Chinese restaurant in Punta Prima. After getting home and unpacking the motor home and doing the washing, I had about half an hour before I needed to leave for Algorfa to help with a charity market. I asked Tony if he wanted to come with me, but after watching me unpack the van and do the washing, the poor lamb was exhausted, so I set off on my own.

Everything was going well, and everyone was enjoying themselves and emptying their pockets in a good cause, when a friend said those words no wife or Puppy Mummy wants to hear: ‘Sandra, the Police are taking Paddy and Tony off to the slammer.’ So, off I headed, wondering what the devil was happening. The charity Zumbathon had just kicked off, so I had a nasty suspicion that maybe Tony had got a little bit over excited at the sight of so many scantily clad young ladies bouncing around to music, but that wouldn’t explain why Paddy was also under arrest. He’s not even interested in lady dogs, having been relieved of some of the most important bits of his anatomy almost a year before.

I sprinted across the Plaza de Espana, hoping my friend was mistaken, but no, there were Tony and Paddy, flanked by two of Algorfa’s finest Policia Local. And despite the festive atmosphere in the square, none of them was smiling – not even Paddy, who is the happiest dog I’ve ever known.

I caught up with them just as they arrived at the side door to the Ayuntamiento, and I made myself known to the officers in question. Then I asked Tony what the devil was going on. Apparently, he’d decided to walk Paddy down to the village to surprise me. Well, he did that alright – although shocked or stunned would have probably better described my state of mind than surprised.

Anyway, when Paddy saw all the people in the square, and heard the music, he speeded up. Unfortunately, Tony didn’t. His two speeds are Slow and Stop – there is no position in the Piddock gearbox for Excited Puppy. It could have been worse, of course. Tony didn’t land on the deck, but he did crash into a wall on the end of the lead. When the irresistible force of an 81 year old doing three times his normal speed meets an immovable object like a wall, the effects can be unfortunate. Tony was All Shook Up, and not in an Elvis Presley kind of way. So, he did what he thought was the sensible thing, and sat down on the grass in the square to get his breath back.

The helpful Spanish people who witnessed this thought he’d fallen down, and pulled him straight back to his feet, which made him even more shook up, then a couple of English people shoved a chair under him and asked if he had any pains anywhere. Tony said no, which was probably the wrong thing to say, because the Police naturally assumed that if he wasn’t ill, but he was wobbly on his feet, he must be under the affluence of ilcahol while in charge of a minor – that’s Paddy, the source of all the trouble.

Paddy being a friendly soul – some would say too friendly –  welcomed the policemen in the traditional way by bounding up to them as if he was on elastic. However, when the policemen laid hands on Tony to help him to his feet, Paddy went into protective mode, and that’s when I caught up with them.

So, we went into the Ayuntamiento, and provided our names, address, phone number and car registration. Then I had to explain what had happened in my best Spanish. I did emphasise that Tony wasn’t drunk – not even drunk on the beauty of the Zumba ladies – but it was clear the officers of the law didn’t believe me. They asked if I had been drinking. I could truthfully say I hadn’t, but I knew that as soon as this nightmare was over, I would be hitting the cava or vodka big time. In fact, it would probably be both. Anything to forget all about what was unfolding before me.

I was instructed to fetch the car, at which time the Police would decant my hooligan dog and husband into the car so that I could take them home – and leave them there. Apparently, I was still welcome in the square, but Tony and Paddy definitely weren’t. So, like I said – anybody want a dog and a husband? I’d prefer them to remain together, but I’m happy to separate, as long as they are re-homed as far away from me as possible!

Paddy goes AWOL!

Last weekend was a special one for Paddy. Although he’s travelled half way across Europe in the motor home, he’s never actually been to a rally with us, and spent a weekend camping. This was rectified when we recently went to the Western Motor Home Show at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern. For the geographically challenged, that’s in Worcestershire, and it’s a very beautiful place. More of that in Travels in the Trigano later, but this one is all about Paddy.

We know he’s good travelling in the motor home, but he’s always been in his cage before, so it was an experiment taking him without it. It’s not a problem finding room for it when you’re on the move, but we were going to be parked up and living in the motor home for 4 days, so we left the cage behind, and he was good as gold. We have a restraint that plugs into the seat belt housing, and it was long enough for him to sit on the floor or climb onto the rear seat for a better view of proceedings. Being the inquisitive little darling he is, he spent most of the journey on the seat.

When we arrived at Malvern, we found we were parked alongside a sturdy fence, which was ideal for tethering Paddy while we sorted out the motor home and got it ready for habitation. He could see everything, and a few people came to say hello to him – some bearing treats, which went down very well. It may have been Paddy’s first rally, but he took to it like the proverbial duck to water, whether we were in our own motor home or visiting others, and everyone said what a good boy he was. And there was a wood just across the road, where I could let him run free to get rid of all his excess energy.

He was such a good boy that when we called in to see a friend in Wellington on the way back – that’s Wellington, Somerset, by the way, not New Zealand – I had no qualms staying overnight. It meant I could have a few drinks instead of watching the others make inroads into wine, beer, gin and tonic and Calvados while I sipped sparkling water. As regular readers will know, I do like my drink -preferably in industrial quantities in the company of friends.

Our friend John, with whom we were staying, has a beautiful, sprawling house out in the country, with lots of land, so he suggested we let Paddy run free. The problem was, the property backed on to a busy road, and there was no gate there, so I was a bit concerned about that. I did a few ‘dummy runs,’ where I took Paddy to parts of the grounds, let him off the lead for a few minutes, and called him back whenever he ventured in the direction of the road. He’s quick on the uptake, and he soon realised that if he went near the road, the lead went back on, so within a short while, he was running free in the grounds and having a wonderful time.

By midnight, we’d demolished three bottles of wine, a bottle of gin, a bottle of Calvados and quite a few beers between the five of us, so we thought it was politic to head to bed while we could still stand. Larry and June and Tony and I had decided to sleep in our motor homes to save John any trouble, and as we headed for them, Paddy spotted a rabbit and took off into the undergrowth. I wasn’t too concerned, because I thought he’d come back when the rabbit made its escape – which they always do. Paddy may be quick off the mark, but the rabbits are invariably even quicker, thank goodness.

After 10 minutes, he still wasn’t back, so we got into bed and slept the sleep of the suitably sloshed. When Tony’s bladder gave him a wake up call at 6.30 am, there was still no sign of Paddy. Now I was really worried. I had visions of him lying flattened in the road, caught in an illegal trap, or kidnapped and on his way out of the country. You see, although our boy is very adventurous, he doesn’t like to be too far from his Mummy, and we were in a strange place he’d never been to before. If he hadn’t come back, it meant he couldn’t, for one reason or another.

I lay there wondering what I could do – I could hardly go looking for him at that time, as I’d disturb Larry and June. Tony – that master of Stating the Bloody Obvious – said ‘He’s probably lying dead by the side of the road.’ That thought had crossed my mind more than once, but I figured if that was the case, I’d rather find him and know, one way or the other. If I didn’t find him, I could ring the Police and the local dog warden, put adverts in the local press, post on Facebook, and hope my boy showed up before we went back to Spain. He’s micro chipped, but to the Spanish address, so I needed to get it ‘out there’ as much as possible if I was to have any hope of seeing Paddy again.

By now, it had turned 7, and I figured I could go looking. Even if I did disturb Larry and June, being dog lovers, they would understand, and help with the search. I quickly got dressed, but before I could set off on my oddysey, there was a knock at the door of the van. It was Larry, and Tony’s first words were, ‘Sandra’s lost our dog.’ Talk about Mr Supportive! When Paddy is being naughty, he’s my dog, but now it looked like we’d never see him again, he’s our dog all of a sudden, and I’m the villain of the piece!

Larry’s next words were music to my ears. ‘He’s in our van – I knew Sandra would be frantic, so I came over as soon as I heard you moving about.’ It turned out that Paddy had returned at 3.00 am and, unable to rouse Tony or myself, he’d headed to Larry and June’s van. Larry had also had a wake up call from his bladder, heard barking, and opened the van door. Paddy rushed in and promptly settled down for the rest of the night in Larry’s bed.

Smart boy, but a while later, when Larry went to have a shower in the house, Paddy stood at the top of the steps and barred his way with much barking and growling. Talk about ungrateful! All the excitement – and the fresh air – took its toll though;  when we got back to Bigbury, Paddy spent the rest of Tuesday in a state of collapse on the caravan bench seat.

Pick on someone your own size, Gizmo!

Let the games begin! I must apologise for the picture quality, but it all happened pretty qucik!

Let the games begin! I must apologise for the picture quality, but it all happened pretty quick!

Paddy loves people, and he loves other dogs – well, most of them, anyway – so when I told him his Aunty Glenys was coming to see him and bringing her Chihuahua/ Papillon cross Gizmo, he was over the moon. I wasn’t so sure, because Gizmo weighs just over 3 kilos, while Paddy tips the scales at 33 kilos, and counting. And he’s not very dainty at all, so I had visions of scraping up flattened Gizmo from the carpet. However, Glenys said she wasn’t worried about Gizmo, she was more worried about Paddy, and it turns out she was right.

From the get-go, Paddy had the advantage. He’s bigger, and he barks louder, but Glenys and I being the soppy female dog lovers we are wanted to share the love, so when Paddy tried to eat Gizmo before he even came through the door, we decided to take them both down to the dog exercise field to sort themselves out. And sort themselves out they did – or rather, Gizmo sorted Paddy out. Paddy may have got into the field first, because he knows where he’s going, but Gizmo told him in no uncertain terms that he was in his spot. In fact anywhere Paddy happened to be turned out to be Gizmo’s spot. Wherever Paddy laid his hat, or more accurately parked his bum or legs, Gizmo bit them.

Gizmo might be small, but he has about 12 months on Paddy, and my boy being good mannered, and having respect

for his elders, let him dictate the pace in the field. And that’s where he

Mummy, keep that mad dog away from me! Tell him to pick on somebody his own size!

Mummy, keep that mad dog away from me! Tell him to pick on somebody his own size!

made the fatal error, because when we got back, Gizmo played his advantage. Every time Paddy went near him, it wasn’t so much happy clappy as snappy snarly. My gentle giant tried to find refuge on the bench seats in the caravan, which he erroneously assumed were beyond the reach of the Mighty Midget. What a mistake-a to make-a, because Gizmo, fuelled with – well not testosterone, because, like Paddy, he’d been done, but he was definitely fuelled with something – just leaped up there after him. This was a dog on a wire.

Paddy looked desperately to his Mummy for protection, reassurance, and love. And what did he get? Hysterical laughter, because watching 3 kilos pull the strings of 33 kilos was the funniest thing I’ve seen in years. I did try to be a responsible Puppy Mummy, and told Gizmo to pick on somebody his own size, but I don’t think Paddy appreciated it. Most of the afternoon passed in the same vein, and Paddy tried to show his rebellious spirit by drinking Gizmo’s water, which just earned him another nip on the ankles and necessitated another leap onto the bench seat.

Has he gone yet?

Has he gone yet?

Eventually, both dogs were exhausted and flaked out – Paddy on the bench seat and Gizmo on the floor. And they even managed to eat supper without incident. Maybe there is a blossoming friendship after all. Or maybe not. We shall soon know, anyway.

We’re going to have a rerun on Thursday, when we head off in the motor homes for a rally at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, Worcestershire. Paddy and Gizmo will spend 5 days together. I haven’t told Paddy yet – I’m keeping it as a surprise. Or shock, as the case may be.

Wet, Wet, Wet!

Okay, I know we shouldn’t moan about the weather – after all, it’s Spain, and it’s supposed to be hot, but 40 degrees? That’s 104 in English money, or fahrenheit, or whatever you want to call it. That’s just too hot for early July, and poor Paddy has had more trouble coping with it than we have. After all, he’s got a thick black fur coat, and he can’t take it off. So, like a good Puppy Mummy, I’ve been trying to come up with walkies that won’t frazzle the pair of us within minutes.

I really thought I’d come up with a solution, too. On the road out of Algorfa towards Benejuzar is La Ermita. That’s a palace and a church, with an adjacent pine forest, albeit a small one. Anyway, it’s good enough for Paddy, because he can run in the shade, and there are plenty of trees to elevate legs against, and unlimited smells to investigate. What more could a dog want?

Well, today, he wanted to play with the rabbit in the orange grove across the road. He wanted to play with him so much that he zoomed across the road, zig-zagging his way between the cars coming in both directions at at least 120 kilometres an hour. Thank goodness they were on a go slow, or I might have been scraping Paddy off the tarmac with a dustpan and brush.

Like all members of the male species, Paddy knows where his bread is buttered, so I stood by the car, confidently expecting him to join me at any minute. After about 10 minutes, the confidence evaporated in the heat, and I fired up the ‘Paddy, come!’ mantra, gaining in annoyance and intensity as the minutes ticked by. After another 10 minutes, I thought I’d better go and look for the little bugger.

I headed across the road, into the orange grove, calling ‘Paddy, come’ with increasing intensity. A Spanish guy in a car headed along the drive at the same time as me, and when I caught up with him, as he opened the gates to drive through, I asked in my best Spanish if he’d seen a dog. And no, you’re not getting the actual words here – do what I had to do and look it up.

Anyway, his reply was, ‘Is that your dog in the water?’ Again, in Spanish, and again, I’m not telling. I mean, how many times do you need that phrase? Unless your dog is called Paddy, because yes, dear reader, that was my dog in the water. We’re not talking swimming pools or salt lakes here – nothing so picturesque. Paddy had managed to get himself into a steep, concrete sided drainage ditch. And he’d obviously been trying to get himself out ever since, because he was frightened, panicky and exhausted. Pretty much like me, really.

So, my Spanish guy is suggesting I turn one of the sluice wheels to lift the panel so Paddy can climb through. He still has to negotiate the concrete, but there’s not so much of it. Good plan, if somebody had kept the sluice wheels oiled, but they hadn’t. Like Goldilocks, I tried everything going, and the first two were absolutely no use, but the third sluice wheel actually moved. It had obviously been oiled recently. Very recently, because the stuff was all over my hands. Still, it worked, and I managed to raise the panel enough for Paddy to get through it to dry land and the welcoming arms of his Mummy – who was waiting to kill the little sod.

Like Romeo and Juliet, fate kept us apart, or rather the mud in the bottom of the ditch did, because every time Paddy tried to mount the great escape, he slid right back into the water. What next then? Well,  I thought if maybe I got on my hands and knees, in the mud, and rocked the ‘Paddy, come’ thing one more time, maybe he’d be so overwhelmed that he’d get that extra spring in his paw and get the flipping heck out of the ditch. Well, flipping heck wasn’t entirely my original thought, but you get the picture, I’m sure. Obviously, the sight of me, dehydrated, on my knees in mud, did something for the poor boy, because finally, he managed to scramble out. He smelled like something that could be used in chemical warfare, but at least he was here, with me, and very wet, wet, wet.

So now we need another walking route. Any ideas gratefully received. Better still – anybody want to adopt a dog? New condition, low mileage, good fuel economy, one careful but very stressed out owner.

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