Sunday, 27 April 2014

Caesar's Smelly Face

There's nothing quite like going back to work after a 2 week holiday.  Especially a 2 week holiday where you spent time with friends, had parties, long walks with the dogs, nice days out and so on... If I'm honest, despite the fact that, for the most part, I do love my job, it's an anticlimax.

'So you're just going to leave, is that it?'

This is only magnified by 'the eyes'.  That look when you try to leave the house.  The ' we're not going to hang out together today?' look.  The 'how could you do this to me?' look.  I lose great chunks of time when I'm at home just sitting and cuddling Caesar.  He's always warm and snuggly and he can cheer me up even when it's raining outside.  So it's really hard on that first Monday morning, at 7:15 to shut that door and walk away.

Of course, I like to think we've been through the worst with Caesar.  And we did have it pretty bad too!  We've coped with the breaking into the kitchen and eating his bodyweight in chocolate and boxes, we've had the emergency vet visit after he ate over 1kg of dog food after breaking the kitchen door, I've come home to find rooms in a state of disrepair, furniture permanently damaged, clothing ripped (my new coat did look better when it had pockets.  But, for the most part, we come home now to find the house relatively unharmed.  At worst, Caesar will pull a coat off the hook, nosey through a handbag or make a pile of my shoes on the bed but these things I can handle because I just need to think back to this...
...and I remember how lucky I am that this is over.

So when I stepped through the door on Tuesday and found the hall more or less how I'd left it, I wasn't surprised.  We don't need to worry now.  Caesar was there, as always, wagging and howling and bustling around clumsily; his way of saying 'how was your day?'

I patted him and then went into the lounge and flung myself on the sofa.  "I'm shattered!" I announced before smelling Caesar's face.  He smelt surprisingly though he was wearing perfume.  "Has he had a bath?"  Damien shook his head and then bustled off to make a cup of tea.  I shrugged my shoulders and sat Caesar on my knee for a cuddle, he settled down immediately.

If I hadn't been exhausted on Tuesday night, I might have been astute enough to notice that our bedroom also smelt rather fragrant that night.  But I was too exhausted to think much and the unusual smell barely crossed my mind.  If I had been wide awake when I stumbled up to bed that night, I might also have noticed the traveling bag that was lying upturned on the floor of the bedroom but I wasn't.  I popped my audio book on, gathered the duvet around me and snuggled down with Caesar for a nice sleep.  I can't remember my head hitting the pillow.

The rest of the week went in much the same way.  Teaching is tiring at the best of times but after a break, it can really take it's toll!  My head was sore and my throat ached most nights and I lost several hours sitting and thinking in the lounge with Caesar cuddled up on my knees.  

I became human again on Saturday morning after a migraine induced early night on Friday.  Caesar, of course, turned in when I did and by 7 o'clock the next morning, we were both wide awake.  Fumbling about in the half-light I looked for something to wear and then some make up.  "Ah!  My travel bag - perhaps there's make up left in there from my visit to Sheffield," I thought and picked the bag up from the floor and looked inside.  There was only one thing in the bag....

No wonder his face smelt so good!

I'm just pleased he wasn't very very sick....

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Sweet Progress

Over the past month, I've had little time to write and for this I do sincerely apologise.  The truth is that I have little to write about.  Caesar has been remarkably well behaved and sometimes I forget to celebrate that enough.  Sometimes I need to remind myself of just how bad things could be 26 months ago when I brought home a jumpy, mouthy, noisy staffy who would just about scare anyone let alone the people who had signed a form committing themselves to owning him.

He's curled up by me on the sofa right now and I feel as if he's always been there.  I don't have to worry about what he's doing because he's usually with me.  He knows where he stands when it comes to my lunch and dinner, even, occasionally, when it's left unattended.  And, by unattended, I mean more that 1m away from me - if it's in a room alone, it's anyone's!

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough I've experienced recently happened a few weekends ago on the same beach which we walked Caesar on in his early days.  The beach where, after being yelled at by a man with two handsome golden retrievers, we avoided for a good few months.  I cringe when I recall the noise that Caesar was making that day; the screeching, the wriggling, the howling as the two yellow dogs sniffed and nudged him.  "Get your dog under control," the man yelled at me from far down the beach.  I remember holding back tears as I tried to yell back an explanation.  For some reason I felt apologetic.  Apologetic for trying to walk this monster dog.

Naughty or misguided?

Back in the early days, Caesar couldn't walk within a few metres of a dog without causing a ruckus that was likely to make even the bravest of people think twice about walking past him.  People would cross the road to avoid us and I would return from most walks feeling exhausted and tearful.  Walking was not a pleasure; it was a trial.  Soon, my parents began to decline beach and forest walks and, largely, I walked alone.

"She wants me to bring Caesar," I chortled as I told Damien about the sponsored walk.  "Caesar!" I repeated, for dramatic effect.  Chris, our dog trainer, has enormous faith in Caesar and has done for a great deal longer than I have.  On our first training session, she pointed out that he was intelligent and willing to learn.  I pointed out that he was noisy and kept looking like he was going to bite people.

I lured myself to the beach that Sunday morning by convincing myself that, should Caesar maul any dogs, I would return later, alone, and do the sponsored walk with Caesar.  I had kept myself awake that night wondering what the outcome of the walk would be.  Wondering if I could trust Caesar.  I deliberated over putting his Flexi lead in the bag and then decided that it might be useful to have if we did the walk alone or held back from the other dogs.

Did I hear you say 'beach'?

Standing by the graveyard wall, looking down onto the beach, I did wonder whether it would be worth setting off alone.  However, Caesar seemed surprisingly quiet and I felt a little reassured by his almost-silence.  By the time we'd walked onto the sand it had become clear that, to some extent, the walk was not going to be easy.  Twenty off-lead dogs darted around on the sand; chasing, playing, barking and having a whale of a time.  Caesar attempted to do the same on the end of his 1m lead.  It didn't quite work.

However, after around half an hour, it began to dawn on the ginger mongrel that he wasn't going to be let off his lead.  And, after this realisation set in, he began to relax into the walk.  I won't say he walked noiselessly but he did calm down considerably and by half way through, he was running around on his Flexi lead.  I have had to become a pro at Flexi lead management as Caesar can run quite fast so needs a quick hand to stop him ploughing into people.  He didn't get close enough to many dogs but he did have a little play with a lurcher who outran him by miles as they sprinted along the beach.

Fun on the beach

The walk back went much the same and, as we wandered, I looked at Caesar sprinting back and forth and felt a little tug in my heart.  A sort of proud mother moment.  I get them every so often.  A moment where I looked down at him and wondered where that awful, naughty dog that I adopted had gone.  I think I'll keep this photo forever; the moment when I realised how far we'd come...

Caesar and I (far left) on the Sport Relief Sponsored walk