The Princess Tails

The Musings of Zena, a Tibetan Terrier sharing her life and wisdom with Raffles, a Standard Poodle


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Christmas Thoughts

Hello all,

It has been many months since my last communication and it has been a sad time. With the death of team leader the fun has gone out of the family a little and I haven’t felt like posting. Losing a parent is huge so I’ve cut Mum a lot of slack as she comes to term with her father not being there any more.

Things have been changing everywhere and it has been hard to keep up with it all.

At this time as we remember happier Christmas’ in the past I just wanted to send a Happy Christmas to everyone out there.

Zena Happy Christmas

WHOOPS!!!!

So – okay, I’ve blown that because now it’s Boxing Day here in OZ!

Nevertheless I will show you our Christmas outfits, maybe they’ll come in handy next year.

Raffy delivering gifts

With the death of Prissy Paws a new dog has entered our pack. He is called Jazz and as you can see is a Raffy mini-me. As if one poodle wasn’t enough I now have to cope with a giant 40kg one and a small 5 kg one. He is a toy poodle but I don’t want to play with him so he’s really Raffy’s toy.

Jazz

Jazz

Some things never change and one of them is Raff. He hasn’t got braver, and I don’t think he’s got any bigger (thank goodness). Jazz may not reach is knee caps but he chases him around the garden and the only time I see him look worried is when Raffy gets excited. When Raff gets excited he tends to lose control of his legs and his brakes still haven’t improved.

Jazz’s favourite game is to hide under one of the garden chairs and wait until Raff walks unsuspecting and innocent up the garden. When he gets within metres of the chair a barking fury runs out and Raffy is off down the garden with a tiny cream fluff ball nipping at his heels. Needless to say they both love it and when they are not chasing each other, playing tug or hiding balls under MY bed, they are kissing and licking. Ugh. Get a room.

Raff and mini-me Jazz

Raff and mini-me Jazz

For some reason although Raff loves Jazz and plays with him way more than he plays with me (because I don’t indulge him), he doesn’t really like him sleeping in the same bed, maybe he’s afraid he’ll roll over and squash him, not an impossibility.

So Jazz likes to share my bed. I’m and easy-going Tibby so I let him squeeze into a corner of mine but I do think it’s a bit of a liberty. However, I was well brought up and taught to share so I do. Most of the time however I spend the day pretending neither of them exist as seen below.

All I want for Christmas is peace never mind good will.

All I want for Christmas is peace never mind good will.

I did get a bit annoyed one day shortly after Jazz entered our family. He and Raffy were playing tug. Tug! I ask you. 40 kilos of poodle against a cotton wool ball. The outcome is inevitable isn’t it? Every time I play tug with Raff, unless Mum joins in, one pull from him and I’m in the next room and Raff is strutting down the garden with the toy. Not so with Jazz. He could send him into the next village with a toss of his head but no….. when he plays tug with Jazz he stands there holding the toy and lets Jazz jump around between his front legs pulling and tugging until his energy runs out and then he LETS him have the toy! Is that fair? Mum even has it on film as they coo over how sweet Raff is to Jazz. How about being sweet to the one he lives with – ME. That would go down a little better in this quarter I can tell you.

This season we also have Tuppy staying with us. Poor Tuppy. She is used to a quiet life as an only dog and all of a sudden she has to cope with us. I am no trouble as you can imagine but Jazz is the little-poodle-who-never-sleeps. If he isn’t setting her off by barking at a shadow that passes the house he is jumping over us trying to get someone to play with him. Tuppy and I are dignified ladies of eight years old so we just put our heads down, screw our eyes tightly shut and ignore him.

The new improved svelte Tuppy

The new improved svelte Tuppy

Tuppy has lost a lot of weight since she’s been looked after by Number One Son. She is can actually run now. Her belly no longer scrapes the ground and she doesn’t limp. She could make a fortune with ‘Weight Watchers’ if she’d only followed one of their diets. She should be a celebrity but there is only room for one in the family and that’s me. However (some of you may relate – Mum does) although the body is thinner the mind is still focused and that focus is food. She lives for her meals and the one consolation of being away from Number One Son and his family is that we get way more treats 🙂

Tuppy waiting for the next meal

Tuppy waiting for the next meal

Christmas Day we went to the park and played with our pals whilst our people chatted, drank bubbly and ate cheese and strawberries. Each to his own. BUT Mum had made these fantastic cookies with peanut butter and bacon for us dogs so everyone at the park got a taster and everyone got to take a few home with them as a present.

Peanut Butter and Bacon Poodle Cookies

Peanut Butter and Bacon Poodle Cookies

We still have some left and we all love them so I shall be ordering requesting that she make those again. These however were in poodle shapes. I bet she couldn’t find a Tibetan Terrier shaped cookie cutter or she would have made them all TT’s. That will be another order request, that she find a Tibetan Terrier cookie cutter or maybe cut them by freehand what do you think?

We have a new pack at the park too. With Rosie gone we now have Lola (always want to sing when I say that name for some reason).

Lola 10 months

Lola 10 months

The gang Christmas day

The gang Christmas day – Geordie, a beautiful apricot standard poodle just walking off left, Raffy centre back  dirty and dusty from a roll in the dust, Cassie wearing fetching tinsel in the centre, Lola on the right, me in the foreground and some random strange miniature black poodle who I don’t know!

If I begin writing again I’ll tell you more about her and our other park pals later.

For now I just want to hope that you all had a good Christmas and that 2015 is a brighter year.

Remembering happier Christmas' and of absent friends

Remembering happier Christmas’ and of absent friends

Cheers from Zena, still a Princess


33 Comments

RIP DEVON (aka Prissy Paws) 2004 – 2014

So far I have to say that 2014 has turned out to be a tragic year. First we lost the lovely Rosie at the tender age of 4 years and then a few days ago Devon’s battle came to an end.

Devon belonged to The Help’s parents and used to visit us regularly. He never really liked us (or any other dogs) but he did get used to us and tolerated us. We realised that he was never going to play with us and after our initial greeting used to leave him alone. Strangely he used to enjoy the visits.

He would often just sit watching us with his big eyes. I think he thought we were the entertainment!

He had been a champion show dog until his breeders decided to give him up for adoption when he was about four years old. I don’t have a photograph from his show days to show you, but I have seen one and he certainly looked special.

Devon 10 years old

Devon 10 years old

About eight months ago we received the news that Devon had a heart murmur. By the time the vet saw him it was already grade 4 even though all he was showing was a bit of a cough.

We were very sad. The vet thought he had between 3-5 months. In fact he lived another eight months before he showed signs of being uncomfortable. He had a nice quiet life (except when we came to call), and lived a life of privilege. He slept with his people at night (do you hear that Help?), and always enjoyed going out for his sniffs around the beach or nearby reserve. Until the last few weeks of his life his routine didn’t waiver.

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He starred in a few of the Princess Tails Fairy Stories before we knew he was sick. His most commanding performance was as the Wicked Wizard Prissy Paws who ended up being turned into a rabbit.

Bunny Wicked Wizard Prissy Paws

Bunny Wicked Wizard Prissy Paws

He was on medicine of course and yet his heart became weaker and although he had a big spirit in that little body, eventually his heart began to cause him to tire and even the 4.00 pm sniffs became too much for him. Still he was allowed to be quiet and sleep when he wanted to. Some days he showed signs of energy and would grab his favourite toy wanting to play for a time before he would become tired again.

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Finally last week he went off his food and it became obvious that his quality of life was slipping. He went quietly over the bridge. It was almost as if he was so tired that he welcomed the idea of rest.

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Little Devon we are glad you are at peace and hope that you are playing over that bridge with Bella, your lovely Standard Poodle pal, the only dog you’ve ever loved, and you can enjoy feeling young and whole again.

We will miss your sweet nature and your huge eyes and the excited barks you used to give when you arrived to visit – not to mention the sulks when we came to visit you!!

RIP Devon, the house is empty without your quiet but solid little presence and your owners are mourning and missing you more as each day goes by.

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Goodbye Devon from a sad Princess Zena and Raffles


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Romance in the Air?

I know, I know. It’s been ages again. I’m afraid for the moment that is likely to be the pattern. I can’t rely on The Help. She isn’t old, but like me her immune system isn’t good (unlike me inbreeding is not the cause!!!!!).

So for a while posts are likely to be random unless some new medication begins to work in which case she could be like a runaway train.

'We're doing a blog? Really? Finally!'

‘We’re doing a blog? Really? Finally!’

I’m sorry that we’ve been keeping you on the edge of your seats.

We haven’t?

You mean you’ve forgotten? You have a life apart from me? How is that even possible?

Well! I am shocked. I’m not sure I will recover. I had thought that I would be in your thoughts night and day. However. I will rise from the bitter blow. I will move forward and remind you of my dilemma.

In one of my last posts I met Prince, the vertically challenged corgi who I charged at making loud noises which is the way I vet all new dogs and which is really an invitation to play. It is. Honestly. Ask any dog. They never bother. In fact usually they ignore me so they can’t feel threatened. The owners don’t always like it though and The Help gets embarrassed. Anyway, I digress.

Do you remember now? Shall I continue with the story? It seemed appropriate to get everyone up to date especially at this time as the world is gearing up for Valentines day and romance. I am very current am I not? My story is probably being played out in a billion homes all over the world.

To remind you of Prince here is his picture.

Prince

Prince

Prince has been to the park a couple of times since our first introduction. As you know, I was agonising over our future together. Here was I Princess Zena, and here was Prince. Was he my Prince? It never occurred to me that I might not be his Princess, after all I am ….. Gorgeous.

You see? Wonderful. Who could not adore me :-D

You see? Wonderful. Who could not adore me 😀

He certainly wasn’t my idea of my prince, but then how often do we meet our ideal prince? Was I being sizist? Yes, I do know that isn’t a word, but you know what I mean don’t you? If he was a little taller would I feel differently? After all, we all know that the outer package is just that, the wrapping, it’s what’s inside that counts.

By the way talking about wrappings, here’s a quick shot of me at Christmas. Who’s the best present of all?

Spot the dog

Spot the dog!

Anyway, back to the topic on hand. I felt the pressure I can tell you. Something was lacking. I tried hard to generate emotion. I felt I should feel something.

But I didn’t feel IT. I have to be honest. I wasn’t bowled over and like any Princess I wanted to feel excitement, anticipation, joy. Something. Anything. Nevertheless I decided I had to give him a chance. If the universe was bringing me my Prince who was I to turn tail and run.

I thought and thought

I thought and thought

I gave him a chance. I gave him two. And nothing. Zilch. Nada. Rien. The last time I saw him I didn’t even want to rush at him I just felt a dreadful boredom and I could see he felt the same. He lives with another corgi called Pemba so I think they’re happy together and I’m so relieved about that. I understand it too. When I had Zac, I had my Prince. I didn’t need anyone else (except The Help, we still need the opposable thumb thing for opening tins).

Perhaps a girl only has one Prince. And do you know what? I’m okay with that. I had the greatest Prince ever and I couldn’t find another. I don’t want to find another. I’m happy to have the memory of my Prince and cherish the times we had. Now I’m happy to have friends.

Me, the pup and Ollie hanging out at the park (sorry about the blurry pic we didn't want to keep still).

Me, the pup and Ollie hanging out at the park (sorry about the blurry pic we didn’t want to keep still).

It has made me think though. I’ve deigned to play with Raffles a couple of times this week, not too often because I don’t want him to think he’s won me over, it’s only been 18 months. I have wondered about him finding his special somedog (it definitely is not me) but he seems happy having lots of pals. His bestie is Cassie but he has a special friendship with Ollie too.

Ollie & Raff have a bit of a bromance going on :-)

Ollie & Raff have a bit of a bromance going on 🙂 And yes, that is genuine licking, no sticks or anything in the mouth.

Sitting in the park the other day I watched the lad running and playing with Cassie, his bestie. He was having the time of his life. I don’t really run and play like that so much anymore, I like a supervisory role but I’m glad the pup has friends to play with. He has a great time with Ollie, they hug and kiss and then he runs and plays with Daisy and to be honest any friendly dog at the park can have Raffy. Yes. He’s that easy….. going 🙂

I remember playing with Zac, it was cool. I remember playing sniffs in the garden with him and watching tv and seeing who could finish dinner first. Life was more fun with him. But you know what they say, better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

I have had my Prince and I’m not looking to replace him. I have some pals who accept me around and don’t hassle me. They accept me for who I am and don’t ask more from me than I’ll give. That’s a pretty good place to be.

Anyone want to tell the guy he's too big for my favourite bed?

Anyone want to tell the guy he’s too big for my favourite bed?

Love from Zena, the contented Princess


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The Princess Meets Her Prince?

I knew this day would come. You know what I mean. That day when your eyes meet across a crowded park. Your pulses quicken. Your eyes brighten and your tail goes up.

Then, if you’re like me you charge growling and snarling and really make a great impression!

I was mortified. The Help was cross with me and right there in front of everyone she stopped me and made me sit as she told me off. I blushed with embarrassment, though you couldn’t tell under the black fur.

I don’t like The Help being cross with me but I can deal with that. I just do what we all do. I give her the ‘I adore you’ look and pretty soon she’s putty in my paws again.

FYI - This is my 'I adore you' look. Works every time :-)

FYI – This is my ‘I adore you’ look. Works every time 🙂

I wasn’t so much embarrassed about the telling off, or even my behaviour if I’m honest. It is my job to police the park. Those poodles are so into their socializing that they let anyone join us and do anything.

Looking back I don’t see what else I could have done. I wasn’t to know was I?

I wasn’t to know that I had just met my Prince and his first memory of me is of a snarling black ball hurtling towards him! Not the impression you want to make.

Not that I recognised him as my Prince. In fact I am still a little confused. He is not what I imagine my Prince to be at all. I have to admit he is a little vertically challenged, he has very little legs. I always pictured my Prince as being tall, dark and handsome and if not tall at least a little bit like Zac.

However, fate has other ideas. Let me explain how it all happened.

It started off like any other day in the park.

We walked down and met up with the poodle crowd and Roxy. Well, to be honest. Raffy walked down ahead of The Help and I. I had to wait for her to get her tail out of bed. Eventually we joined them.

I'm in the middle of this crowd as we mingle and say polite 'hellos'

I’m in the middle of this crowd as we mingle and say polite ‘hellos’

I was there looking gorgeous which was just as well as it turned out.

Cutest Tibetan at the park

Cutest Tibetan at the park

Raffy was enjoying himself as always.

Doesn't he look happy?

Doesn’t he look happy?

Cassie, Raffy’s bestie was there.

This is Cassie. Hasn't she got the most gorgeous highlights?

This is Cassie. Hasn’t she got the most gorgeous highlights?

Rosie, the boss of the poodle pack was central to the action.

'My ball until I get bored with it' says Rosie

‘My ball until I get bored with it’ says Rosie

Ollie was doing his usual prancing.

Ollie with four paws on the ground for a change.

Ollie with four paws on the ground for a change.

Daisy joined us for the morning play.

Don't you just love Daisy's collar.

Don’t you just love Daisy’s collar?

And Roxie who is another non-poodle member of the group was there as usual.

This is Roxy. A most beautiful, petite Collie.

This is Roxy. A most beautiful, petite Collie.

Games were going on as usual. There was the ‘first to get the ball is the winner’ to begin with.

It's underneath you!!  Oh and I'm in the middle of that scrum.

It’s underneath you!!
Oh and I’m in the middle of that scrum!

Games of chase and bitey-face were in progress and this is when Roxy gets to play her favourite game – grab the tail!

As Raffy and Cassie play chase, Cassie is handicapped by Roxy hanging of her tail!

As Raffy and Cassie play chase, Cassie is handicapped by Roxy hanging off her tail!

For some reason Roxy doesn’t seem to like Raffy’s tail, but Cassie and Daisy are fair game.

Just a normal morning at the dog park. Rosie was a little thirsty so her owner put down her own private water bowl and we all respected that and let Rosie use it.

Next thing I know this short fellow we had never met before rushes up and takes a lick of the bowl.

It was too much for me. Such bad manners. So I did the unmentionable that I actually did mention above. I wouldn’t have hurt him but I guess I sounded fierce. Come to think of it he wasn’t bothered. He didn’t even run away or turn his head, but The Help hauled me over the coals.

The interloper

The interloper

I don’t think the poodles even noticed him.

After I had been chastised I sat down for a moment and then went over to the little guy and we sniffed and made up. Fortunately The Help was just to late with the camera to catch that one, it would have made me blush all over again.

Friends? Maybe.....

Friends? Maybe…..

Then his owner appeared and he had an identical pal called Penda. Imagine my horror , concern when I heard his name was Prince!!

Prince.

OMD. I am a Princess, he is Prince. Does this mean that all my dreams are wrong? Is he my Prince?

Prince

Prince

Getting to know him a little more as I did this morning I do acknowledge that he is an okay fellow. But my Prince??

I have a lot of thinking to do.

Love from a rather confused Princess Zena


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I’M BACK………………… for now

Hi everyone and a huge thanks to those who wrote to me and encouraged me to continue on with my musings, pup rearing tips and tails of triumph 🙂

Taking in the summer air

Still looking good 🙂

Despite his diagnosis of heart murmur and fear he would only live a few months Devon, aka Prissy Paws, is still with us and we go gently with him. He still comes into our house and turns up his nose at us. Sometimes I find him gazing at Raffles with what looks like wonder in his eyes. I imagine he is wondering what he is. He isn’t really afraid. He lines up with us for treats and things and Raffy is the perfect gentleman around him. He doesn’t try and get him to play or step on him or anything!

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Devon.

Raffy is a pup no longer. He is now 17 months old and weighs in at 37 kilos. No kidding!! 37 kilos and he may still be bulking up a bit!! I tell you he is a giant. In fact he is literally a giant. In the States there is apparently a category of Standard Poodle called Giant Standards and he fits. That is so typical of my family. Not content with getting a bigger dog they have to get a huge one. Well they needn’t expect me to play with him however gentle he may be. 37 kilos against 12 is just not fair.

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Raffles all grown up

We spend most mornings at the dog park. Though of course I don’t go out if it’s wet. I have discovered that there is a plot for the Standard Poodles to take over the village. I warn you all now, it may even be a worldwide threat. Be alert.

When we got Raffles we knew of two other Standards at the park. Then we met Ollie and Rosie. Then Cassie became his bestie. Then Ringo appeared. Then Daisy came on the scene. Geordie and Leo made occasional visits and now there is Paris and Jack as well as Jacques and Coco Chanel. I tell you…… it is a conspiracy.

I occasionally run with the others but on the whole my business is to check the incomers. I particularly object to some of the labradors that dash into our group of pals expecting to grab all the attention and I usually have to tell them off until they improve my manners. The Help stops me doing this but I believe it is an important job. The poodles are just playing and would accept anybody, I am more discerning!

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Paris in front, Rosie the red and Ollie the black walking behind.

Paris is one of the smaller Standards and steals everyone’s heart (except mine). They are all taken in by the mooning looks and cuddles. I know she is just manipulating them and whilst all the other poodles run around she hangs about for hugs. Ollie does the same too but he doesn’t make big eyes at everyone like Paris and I quite like him.

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Supervising the play from a distance.

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Joining in the stick chewing game with Raffy and Cassie

Very, very occasionally I try to play with Raffy but it isn’t easy. Tug of war is no fun at all, one pull and I have to let go. I have been pulled across the floor by him once but I decided it wasn’t that much fun.

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Looking cool in his summer coat

Going out into the garden has become fraught with danger for me. Raffy is always hoping that I will feel like a game of chase. I do occasionally but I have to keep him guessing by not encouraging it too often. When we do I move too fast for The Help to get a photo and it usually ends like this below – a race to the door and my favourite hiding place, under the desk!

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Finally. Made it safely indoors!

The Help wanted to get a photo of us both together so you could see the difference in size, but I was in a very scratchy mood and I usually walk away from the camera. After all, I am a star and I’m not just going to give away my image 😉

Raffles loves the camera and when it comes out he begins to pose.

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Spot the differences!!!

Whilst our games usually end with me running for cover, we have other ways of making life fun too. Like who gets onto the red sofa first. Usually we share it, but sometimes one of us hogs it and the other one has to lie in the bed on the floor.

The laugh on his face says it all - he got the sofa first.

The laugh on his face says it all – he got the sofa first.

And despite his size. This often happens at night:

Doesn't he look stupid

Doesn’t he look stupid

So there we are. A very quick catch up to bring you up to date. I hope I will be back shortly and with luck I’ll be able to keep The Help posting from now on.

With love from Zena, the happy Princess


32 Comments

The Princess Looks Back – Part Four

Me - looking back!

Me – looking back!

I hope that some of you are still with me.

Until I started this I had no idea how sad some of the stories would be when written down in black and white and how they might bring tears. I apologize to everyone if I’ve made you sad. Please keep reading.

I will start today by saying a huge thank you to Angel and Chaos over at House Full of Dogs for giving me the super sweet blogging award. I do already have this award but it is lovely to be thought of and you can never have enough pupcakes!

super-sweet-award1-1Don’t you just want to scoff them all?

I then want to thank Little Binky and Granny over at Angel’s Whisper for allowing all their readers to share their Inner Peace Award. Who doesn’t want and need inner peace? I certainly want it. What with pupcakes and inner peace I am a very happy Tibetan right now 🙂

Inner Peace Award

Inner Peace Award

I would like to do as Little Binky did and invite any of my followers to help themselves to this award. Especially those who have stuck through my ‘Looking Back’ series and have found them traumatic. You probably need some inner peace about now!

My last post left The Help and her family in New Zealand. I think she was born with a restless gene though because it wasn’t too long before they were moving again. This time to Switzerland. It was only for two years though so once again she was determined not to get any furpups.

As so often happens with The Help and her family, those two years passed and they began to put down roots. They bought a house over the border into France and as buying a house is a pretty big commitment the signatures hadn’t dried before she was already wanting to add another commitment – a dog.

Of course she told The Boss it was for the sake of number one and number two son. Ha! He wasn’t fooled.

She looked in the local papers and nearly bought a collie. Then they met with a breeder of Sheltie’s and learned that they could be very timid and had been a little over bred in that area so they decided that perhaps that wasn’t the right dog for two active boys.

The Boss didn’t want a big dog like a Newfoundland, Pyrenean or a Bernese Sheepdog which The Help loved so she had to look at smaller models.

They had a lot of children in and out of the house so whatever dog they had needed to be safe and friendly.

Really they were spoilt for choice. There are so many great dogs out there. Mixed breeds and what is termed pure breeds.

There were a few limitations though which made her look very carefully into the type of dog she got. As she was busy driving kids around The Help knew that she couldn’t take a dog for long walks as she had in the past so it had to be a dog which was happy with the large garden they had and the occasional trip out. It had to be friendly and safe with the unpredictable behaviour of children.

Although many of these things depend on training and safe exposure there is little doubt that there were certain breed traits which The Help didn’t feel suitable around children. So many things to think about.

Reading through a book she had come across a Tibetan Terrier and immediately fallen in love with the cuddly looks – well, we are gorgeous! She read about the kind temperament, how good we are with children and how playful we are. All of these things seemed positive, but she didn’t know where to get one.

One day she read about a dog show in a local town. That would be a good place to meet and maybe buy a dog she thought. They even mentioned Tibetan Terriers so she would get to see them.

So they turned up at the show and found the Tibetan Terrier class. These cuddly dogs were gliding around the ring and a strange couple over in the corner had a huge white rug in front of them which they were brushing. The family talked to a few owners and chatted to some of the dogs waiting around and discovered that they were friendly and all the owners were effusive about us.

The strange couple continued to brush the rug and The Help kept looking at them wondering what on earth they were doing. Towards the end of the competition someone went over to them and the lo and behold the rug got up and pranced into the ring! That did it. He was gorgeous and with that laid back personality who could resist getting one.

Whilst at the show they saw an advertisement for a 5month old Tibetan puppy being sold by a breeder about a two hour drive away. Not too bad a distance. The Help would have liked a younger puppy but there were no others nearby.

So a week later, the appointment was made and the family drove for hours to look at the puppy. The Help kept telling number one and number two son that they may not return with the puppy so they found the trip very tedious!

When they arrived at the house it was chaos. It seemed like dogs were everywhere. As well as breeding Tibetan Terriers these ladies also bred Briards, very large cattle herding dogs. Eventually they put the big dogs away and The Help and family were left with about a dozen Tibetan Terriers tearing around a small yard. It was like being in a cake shop for The Help – she would have taken every one but her eyes kept getting drawn to the only white one that was in the group.

She turned to her mother who was with them and expressed the wish that they’d take the white one away because it was the only one she had eyes for, she hadn’t taken any notice of the black and white pups running around.

The breeders eventually cut the white one out of the group and The Help thought that would be good because she could focus on the others. They put the white one on the table and told them that this was the puppy which was for sale. Apparently she was actually golden in colour and much prized. They had specifically bred their bitch with a dog from the UK in order to get a golden but her teeth had come through overshot and therefore she was useless to them. They were very disappointed. The Help not so much.

The first Tibetan for the family

The first Tibetan for the family

So of course the trip home was made with a squirming puppy who vomited into the gear box and got cuddled by The Help – so much for getting a puppy for her sons!

Toffee was a quiet Tibetan. She didn’t care for other dogs which was surprising as she had spent so much of her early life well socialized with the other pups, but she loved The Help. She loved all the family and would go out and play with the boys but The Help was her focus. One thing about us Tibetans is that we do tend to have a favourite in the family.

The Help apologises for the quality of the photos but she hadn’t mastered digital at that time and the photos have been on a few more travels since then.

Toffee loved her family

Toffee loved her family

She was definitely a family dog and was very stand offish with strangers and visitors. She had a great bark and frightened people coming to the door but then she would step aside and expect The Help to protect her. That’s what we do – we alert our people to intruders but then it’s up to them to look after us 🙂

Toffee with her wide grin

Toffee with her wide grin

She was bigger than I am, but I know that Zac and I were small for our breed. I often wonder if she would have liked me if we’d ever met. As she wasn’t too keen on other dogs probably not, but you never know, perhaps she only liked other Tibetans.

Toffee hanging out with the family

Toffee hanging out with the family

When The Help first got her she wouldn’t eat very much. Within days though she realized that wasn’t a good idea and from then on the battle was to stop her eating! Every hair cut revealed whether she needed a diet or not. I’m glad to say I have only had that problem since the pup has been around and I’ve occasionally got some of his food.

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Like most of us she enjoyed her sleep! In fact she was a little too quiet at times and The Help actually took her to the vet at one point to see if she was okay. Everything came back clear so it was just that she was a passive dog.

Like me she did not like water. What is it with us Tibetans? She also hated snow which I haven’t ever seen. The Help told me that one day when the first snows came she decided to go walking in the forest behind their house. She drove up to the snowline and got out. Toffee was in the car and looking to stay there. She got her out and Toffee looked at her with scorn. Walk? In this? The Help set off, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and there was a little snow on the ground. Toffee trudged after her trailing a few metres behind. When The Help looked back Toffee stopped and shook her paws to get the snow off. After 20 minutes of walking with a dog in abject misery The Help gave up.

As soon as she turned around, Toffee turned and high tailed it back to the car and sat waiting eagerly to go home!

She was not an active dog. Many a time she went out for a walk with the family only to return in the arms of one of them as she refused to walk any further. Take it from me we Tibetans can be stubborn when we want to be 🙂

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She went everywhere with the family and unlike myself never had a thought to go exploring. She hardly needed a lead and although the garden wasn’t fenced she wasn’t interested in leaving it. On their walks she would respond to The Help’s voice and if there was a cat or anything that caught her attention a quick word from The Help would make her ignore it. I could do that, I’m sure I could – if I wanted too.

Anyway, one of her favourite things was to go to the airport. The Boss was always travelling then and Toffee would go to the airport to pick him up. They would tie a bow around her neck and everyone would smile at her and for once she would wag her tail and was friendly. When she saw who it was she was coming to meet they would let the lead go and she would run to them – it was all very Heathcliff and Cathy if you get the picture.

When number two son left to go to University Toffee was almost twelve. She developed Cushings Disease as an elderly dog. Until that point you would never have known she was getting older. At first she responded to treatment but then didn’t. She became very weary and when the time came to put her down she was ready. You could see in her eyes that she just wanted to sleep.

For such a quiet girl she left a big space but it was time for The Help to move on again so she was in no hurry to try and fill the void. Toffee had been a great pal. She saw number one and number two son grow up and was a constant companion to The Help. She did her job and more and she did it beautifully. She is remembered as a lovely girl and all the memories are happy ones. So please, no tissues with this one!

Toffee was their first Tibetan and it is a tribute to her that they went on and got two more when next they settled long enough to be responsible.

Toffee, the golden Tibetan

Toffee, the golden Tibetan

Golden in colour and golden in nature., she was one of the good ones.

With love from Zena, the proud Tibetan


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The Princess Looks Back – Part 3

Me - looking back!

Me – looking back!

The next furpals to enter The Help’s lives were definitely not planned!

With number one son about 18 months old they left the grey Northern Hemisphere skies and travelled to New Zealand to live. It was supposed to be for three years. Fresh from the pain of leaving Pashtu behind The Help was not looking to get any pets even though that decision would leave a big whole in her life.

What’s that saying about best laid plans…….?

Within the first few months they found a house they liked and bought it. The family they bought the house from had two boys and a dog and a cat. They were leaving for Australia. In one of the last visits that The Help and The Boss made to the house they discovered that this couple were putting the cat and the dog down because they did not want to take them! They were horrified.

The dog was a young Sheltie called Mandy and the cat a grey tabbie called Charlie or ‘Garlie’ as he was always known due to the inability of a baby to pronounce his name properly.

You know what happened next don’t you?

Yes, you’re right.

They bought the house and took the dog and the cat along with it.

Mandy learning to trust us

Mandy learning to trust us

For some reason most of the photographs at that time seem to have been of number one son and then number two son who was born shortly after they moved to New Zealand. this means that we were not able to find any photographs of Charlie and only a few of Mandy. The Help tells me that they have many more in a different form, photographic slides, but I think she’s just telling me that so I won’t judge her!

I freely admit that Mandy was a handsome dog. She reminds me a little of Roxie, a Collie from our park. She was large for a Sheltie apparently but I’m afraid to say she had not been treated very well and was very timid.

So The Help and The Boss began to work with her and Charlie to try and tame them.

Their new house had a lot of chapel ceilings and beams. Charlie lived his life in the kitchen high up on the beams. This didn’t seem particularly hygienic or friendly so The Help gradually discouraged Charlie from jumping on the fridge and then onto the beams.

Actually she just piled some saucepans on there so that when he tried it they fell and made an awful noise. Not very subtle was it?

It did mean that eventually Charlie joined in with family life a little and in the winter months when it was cold he would sit on The Help’s lap. They never really felt that he loved them, but they did understand that they were tolerated as without them Charlie wouldn’t get regular meals and a warm house!

Mandy learning to overcome her fear

Mandy learning to overcome her fear

Mandy was a harder project. She was used to kicks and abuse and wouldn’t come near the house at first. With a lot of patience and well placed treats The Help finally got her to come inside and to learn that she was not going to be beaten.

She was a gentle dog and loved children although she did have an issue with the postman and would nip at his heels to ‘herd’ him away from her house. The Help had to apologise a few times and when she realised what was happening she kept Mandy in at the time the postman was due to call!

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They had had Mandy for a few years and she had just about left her fearful ways behind her when all of a sudden she disappeared. She had jumped the fence and escaped. The Help was shocked and couldn’t understand what had happened.

They contacted the local police, vets and lost dogs home. She had on an identity tab but they lived not too far from farmland and The Help was worried. She knew farmers would simply shoot a stray dog and not stop to check the tags.

A couple of days after Mandy’s disappearance she was told about rumours of a farmer having shot a dog in a nearby valley. She had a friend who had recently lost her son through a brain tumour and together they drove into the valley to see if by any chance this dog was Mandy and if they could find her.

They drove around for a while and were just returning home when the friend spotted Mandy in a nearby field.

The Help got out of the car and began calling. Mandy was running and didn’t seem to hear. She drove the car trying to keep the dog in sight and eventually Mandy got onto the road. Again she stopped and called but the dog just ran past her with a glazed look on her eyes.

The Help jumped into the car again and overtook the dog by about 200 metres. She parked the car and opened up the back of the hatch. She stood next to the car on the open road and began calling Mandy’s name and talking to her. Perceiving the road block ahead the dog slowed and then something got through to her. She began trotting towards the car and jumped in, wagging her tail and happy to be safe.

The Help and her friend were in tears.

They took her straight to the vet. She had been shot with buckshot and that was easy to fix.

Something however was not right. She began to revert to her nervous ways and The Help saw her walk into a wall on a few occasions. Sometimes she would seem to overbalance and they began to get a little concerned that she might snap at them when she was in a ‘glazed’ state. They were worried about her around two young children.

They went back to the vet. He thought perhaps it was hormonal and gave her an injection.

Her strange behaviour continued and The Help was concerned. Then one night she fitted. The Boss knew what was wrong. He believed she had a brain tumour. They had both watched their friend and neighbour’s son die recently and the symptoms were almost the same.

The next day she was back at the vet who was very unimpressed by The Boss’ diagnosis and their concern that the dog was sick. He thought they were simply trying to get rid of an unwelcome pet. He kept her overnight. That night she had a massive fit and The Help was woken by the vet calling to say she needed to be put down.

It was thought that the physical trauma and beatings of her past may have caused a bleed into the brain but we will never know for sure. She was a young dog, but I’m pleased to say that her last two years were spent in comfort, safety and a family’s laughter.

I promise you not all of The Help’s stories are sad ones, though I’m beginning to be amazed that she kept on including us in her family as I retrace some of her furkid history.

After Mandy they were not going to get another dog, but once again they got sucked in by a sob story! A work colleague was going overseas and needed to find someone to look after his dog whilst he was away. Of course they said they would and that is how they found themselves with a Cairn Terrier.

Angus was obsessed with balls and used to collect them from all around the neighbourhood. The Boss would line them up on the wall at the bottom of the garden for the kids to reclaim their balls!

Angus with number two son

Angus with number two son

After a couple of years Angus returned to his owners and shortly after that it was time for The Boss and The Help to be on the move again.

Love from Zena, the looking-back princess


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The Princess Looks Back

I thought I’d talk a little bit about history. The Help’s history. Ancient history in fact 🙂 BD (before digital) so all the photos are rather blurry.

I mentioned some time ago that it might be interesting to find out a little bit about the furkids that shaped her. She has told me that she always loved animals. Almost any kind of animal but particularly dogs, cats and horses.

Growing up her family seem to have had quite a few dogs. Kips, Patch, Cindy, Boozy, Heath & Wilson (bulldog brothers named after the politicians of the day!), so as soon as she left home and was by herself one of the first things she wanted was a dog. As a child she had lived with a German Shepherd, mixed breeds, spaniels, boxers, and bulldogs and she didn’t have a particular breed in mind. She just wanted a dog, a companion.

She was living in England in the middle of the countryside without neighbours and surrounded by fields. It would be good to have a dog for security as well as company.

The Internet was a mere twinkle in a Scientists eye so she had to rely on phoning the RSPCA and watching the advertisements in the paper until she found a dog she felt she could rescue and offer a good home to.

Looking back it was done so carelessly. She was young – very young – she tells me 🙂

She saw and ad in the local paper and phoned the then owner and made a time to go and see the dog on offer. A young de-sexed Irish Red Setter.

She was very excited driving to the house. She turned up in her little car and parked outside a large stone manor house. A middle-aged man came out of the house and whistled for the dog who ran willingly over from some far corner of a huge and manicured garden. Jason (the dog’s name) was definitely about to come down in the world!

The Help was immediately smitten. Jason seemed friendly and The Help is a pushover so she wasn’t going to drive away without him. She couldn’t get a good reason for the re-homing from the owners and she was too young to push. All she knew was that here was a dog who was unwanted. He had a lovely soft expression in his eyes and a desire to please. She might not be able to give him a manor house and rolling lawns, but she could give him a loving home where he belonged and so straight away she said she would have him. She sensed the relief of those around her.

No-one asked anything about her. They didn’t ask what sort of a home she was going to provide or if she was at home during the day. She just took him. No one ever followed up to find out how he was. They were rid of a burden and The Help found her companion.

Jason enjoying company and cuddles

Jason enjoying company and cuddles

Happily for Jason, he had a great home. He was an Irish Red Setter who had clearly never really been looked after. He had a dry and staring coat which no amount of oil and conditioners could improve but he was loving and good natured and The Help never did understand why he was being passed around.

He slept in her bedroom and for the first week he woke her every morning at 5.00am by pulling the duvet off her bed! Clever as that might have been, she trained him NOT to do that as soon as she could!

He loved roaming the fields which surrounded the house and they went on long walks. He wasn’t much of a guard dog but he was company. At that time The Help used to ride a lot and Jason loved running with her. Oddly enough she had a chestnut horse so they matched but she assures me that had nothing to do with her getting him. I wonder……

The roads she rode along were mainly quiet which was a good thing because occasionally Jason would suddenly decide to lie down in the middle of the road for a quick rest. When I think about how crazy she is about me and the roads I wonder that she took him out like that. She would never let me off leash near a road. Maybe I’m just special 🙂

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One thing which was a problem was the car. He used to behave as if he was being taken to the slaughterhouse every time he got into a vehicle and was only happy when he was sitting on the front seat passenger or the driver! As you can imagine this was a problem. At that time harnesses for dogs in cars were not as common as today and as The Help only had a small mini a partition wasn’t practical. However, they didn’t crash!

This did settle down a little as he got older and nothing awful happened to him. I don’t like the car either and having heard this story I am beginning to wonder if the problem doesn’t lie with The Help and not me after all. I’ll give more thought to that.

Shortly after Jason came to live with The Help she realised that she had other pets in the house who had not been invited. Mice.

Now The Help doesn’t mind mice. She thinks they’re cute, but she does prefer that they are not running over her food and living in the oven!

So she had the bright idea of getting a cat. A local farmer had some kittens and said she could have one so she got Dee. She asked the farmer when the kitten might catch chase mice and was told not for many months, but she hoped that the smell of a cat in the house would deter them.

At about this time she met The Boss who was quite amused by her menagerie and loved animals himself which was a good thing because otherwise the relationship wouldn’t have worked.

On the first night of having Dee, The Help was woken up by terrible screams. Thinking the kitten had been somehow injured she grabbed a torch and went running out into the dark. Being the country there were no street lights or other illumination. She could find nothing and the screams had stopped. Heart pounding she went back to bed planning on finding the kitten if she could in the morning. She didn’t sleep. She was sure the poor thing was hurt.

As she opened the front door that morning she tripped over the remains of a rabbit! That’s right, a rabbit. This small kitten who was not yet meant to chase mice had torn a rabbit to pieces. The Help was a little disconcerted and very upset about the rabbit but she couldn’t believe at first that the kitten had done this. Perhaps a weasel or stoat had killed the rabbit and the kitten had just brought home some of the spoils.

This answer satisfied her that day but the same thing happened the next night and from then on various pieces of torn up bunnies could be found dotted around the garden. Meanwhile Dee seemed to have made a deal with the mice that they could stay in the kitchen with her blessing!

Dee, Killer Cat

Dee, Killer Cat

The Help had bought a litter tray and all the usual things that one gets for a cat and was a little surprised when Dee refused to use the litter tray at all. Everything she had read about cats had described them as fastidious clean creatures who would not soil there own area. Dee seemed determined to break all stereotypes.

She preferred the carpet to any other means of toileting and no amount of scolding, treats or bribes could get her to go outside or use the tray. It was as if the outdoors was her place and the indoors just a giant bathroom to her!

A red flag was raised when Dee developed another ‘cute’ trait.

The lounge and kitchen were separated by a few steps with a guard rail. Dee quickly discovered that if she sat on the top rail by the top step anyone walking through from the lounge was a target. She would hurl herself at them and then claw all the way down their body. The Boss suffered badly from this game of Dee’s and it became a war of stealth for The Help and The Boss to make it into the kitchen without bleeding claw marks on their arms or legs.

Dee was not interested in cuddles and would fight if The Help picked her up. It began to dawn on The Help that something was wrong (doh!). Was the cat crazy? Could you have a feral kitten? She didn’t know, but as she patched up more wounds and swept the remains of another poor rabbit from the doorstep she began to feel that Dee was not really working out.

Not being equipped to deal with a problem kitten she was fortunate in living in the country. Farmers were always wanting or willing to have another cat to keep down the rats or vermin in their barns and the cats had a great time. It seemed that it would be an ideal life for Dee. The life she had been born into really. It was with relief that she took Dee around to a local farm and The Help could once more walk around her home unmolested!

The Boss & Jason

The Boss & Jason

This still left the problem of the mice in the house so once again The Help thought about getting a kitten but this time she wouldn’t go to the local farmers, she would go to the RSPCA. They always had kittens needing a home.

Taking a small box in the car she drove to the local shelter. She was taken into the cat house and told that there were dozens of kittens to choose from. Third cage in and a huge ginger cat threw himself at the bars miaowing and clutching onto her hands. She talked to him for a while wasting precious minutes. She knew there were boarders in there as well and this fellow was obviously there whilst his family was on holiday. He was sleek, beautiful and obviously loved. He was gorgeous.

Eventually she tore herself away and looked at some of the kittens, she could hear the cat shouting after her and went back several times to talk to him. No kitten particularly grabbed her fancy and she realised she was looking to see if there was a ginger one because of the boarder.

The lady came back in to see which she had chosen. The Help had to confess that she hadn’t managed to choose a kitten yet and had been distracted by the ginger tom.

‘Oh, he’s looking for a home too.’ she was told.

Apparently he was not as loved as she had thought. He was the product of a broken home, the husband had taken the dog, the wife the kids and no-one had room for the cat any more. They didn’t even know his name or age in the RSPCA. He had just been dropped in. I suppose it could have been worse. It was good for The Help.

Needless to say the little box The Help had taken with her wasn’t much use on the homeward journey. The big ginger tom ran around the car and then settled in the front seat purring. He had come home and he knew it!

Handsome and proud of it!

Handsome and proud of it!

The first thing The Help had to do was find a name for him. For some reason all the usual cat names of the time did not sound dignified enough for this proud guy. Eventually she chose Chaucer being a fellow red-head!

So Chaucer joined the happy home and he and Jason and the horse got on famously. Sometimes The Help would go out into the garden and see Chaucer swinging from the horse’s tail who didn’t seem to mind at all 🙂

Receiving due homage!

Receiving due homage!

Cat and Dog enjoying the garden and each other.

Cat and Dog enjoying the garden and each other.

Chaucer loved going for walks too and sometimes had to be shut in the house for his own safety!

In the evenings when The Help would return from work she would hear the vocal cat screaming as he came racing to greet her bounding through the long grass of the neighbouring fields. He would be visible on the up-jump and then disappear again. It is a memory she always carries with her.

The first time The Boss met Chaucer, the cat bounded onto his lap, put his paws on his shoulders, pressed his nose against The Boss’ nose and purred. For a moment The Boss was rigid waiting for the cat to turn on him (Dee’s influence lived on), but as the minutes passed and Chaucer’s purrs increased The Boss realised that he had been accepted. That was one of the cat’s favourite positions.

A couple of years after meeting The Boss and getting married a new chapter began. The Help and The Boss got a job overseas for a year. Chaucer was to stay with The Help’s parents and Jason with The Boss’ best friend who had always wanted a dog, loved Jason and loved hiking.

When the year was up and they returned Jason, who was getting older, was so happy and settled they didn’t have the heart to wrench him away again. He lived on for many years hiking the local hills with his new master, loved and happy and The Help never did understand why he had ended up in that newspaper ‘Free To A Good Home’ but she is pleased he did and that she was able to write a happy ending to what could have been a tragedy.

Chaucer came back to live with them after that year away. They picked him up from a local kennel after the twelve month separation. The Help was driving the car and he immediately sat on The Boss’s lap, pressed noses and purred so loudly the car felt like it was vibrating. He hadn’t forgotten them.

He stayed with them as their first son was born and until he grew old. Always a handsome and dignified cat who loved laps, cuddles and who had chosen The Help as his new home on that day in the RSPCA shelter.

Love from Zena, the Chronicler Princess


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The Naked Princess

Well. Not really.

But it feels a bit like it.

Yesterday I was this cute, shaggy and okay I acknowledge it, slightly knotted Tibetan.

Portrait of a shaggy dog

Portrait of a shaggy dog

Then I went to the spa. They bathed me, cut me and combed me and I think they went a little too far!

I feel so naked!

I feel so naked!

And not only do I have to deal with the sudden loss of my long hair (on the one hand it’s easier to run around, on the other I feel strange) but on my return I had to cope with the ministrations of Raffles who was very concerned about where I had been and why I looked different on my return.

'So then I had a bath and they got out the big dryer......'

‘So then I had a bath and they got out the big dryer……’

To my embarrassment the cut revealed that I have been enjoying a few too many puppy treats lately and for the first time in my life I have a little more belly than I should. I am mortified.

Then, to add insult to injury it was a little cold this morning and The Help thought that maybe the short cut might be too much of a shock for me so I had to go out looking like this.

Oh the shame!

Oh the shame! If looks could kill…….

At least it’s purple – the royal colour. See my skinny little legs. I did hear The Help say to keep the leg hair longer. Sigh. It’s always the same when you go to get a haircut. They get carried away and you spend the next few months growing it again. The Help complains about her hair being cut too. It must be a family thing 🙂

For those of you who saw the pictures of our garden yesterday and were so kind about it, we thought we’d show you pictures of what it was like before the big trees came down and they made a big lawn for us to run on.

This was the garden until last year

This was the back garden when Zac & I moved here

The garden until last year

The garden until last year

The Boss worked hard and had it looking pretty. We had a little patch of grass and then we went through the arch and behind that shed you can just see three really big trees. They began to lean rather badly and threaten neighbours. That’s when The Help and The Boss decided that they couldn’t leave them up any more.

Before

Before

That before picture looks great. Zac and I loved exploring the different parts of the garden but nothing would grow down where the shed is because of those big trees. The other problem was that the garden took a lot of water. Not good in a country like Australia where there is so little rain.

The in-between stage.

The in-between stage.

The Boss spent ages moving the plants, then he got someone in to take the trees down and move the sheds and then he had to put down turf. And all this time I couldn’t use the garden.

It was cute before but I guess it was worth it because this is what we have now and as you have all mentioned, it is a great garden for us to run around in – when I feel like running!

A Pergola stands where the big trees used to be so we can sit in the shade and watch the pup playing on the lawn.

A Pergola stands where the big trees used to be so we can sit in the shade and watch the pup playing on the lawn.

What a difference? Do you prefer the before or after? We’re hoping this one won’t use as much water as well as giving us space to run.

Have a good day.

Love from Zena, the plump Princess 😦