Guests and Visitors

It’s dog sitting time again for my fur grandson Rooney, a golden labradoodle whilst his family are on holiday. His cousin Ralphy the black one is booked in for later in the year, never together, they’d run me ragged.

Roon n Ralph Tittesworth

Rooney and I have had a few encounters with the local wildlife this last couple of days while we’ve sat outside in the sunshine. Rooney has a slender physique, eats everything and anything, human food plus his own food and treats and never gains weight, perhaps more of a poodle build; Ralphy by contrast seems to be more labrador and prone to gaining weight, just like  people, two minutes on the lips, forever on the hips as the saying goes, so his diet is watched carefully by Mum and Dad, only dog food and monitored dog treats, no human food but he does like to lick fallen crumbs.

Well Roon and I sat outside, he with a Bonio biscuit, me with a chocolate muffin. He made short work of the Bonio and sat with his eyes fixed on the chocolate muffin but he was on a hiding to nothing. From under my garden chair a tiny creature crawled and jumped. I thought it was an insect at first but then I noticed the fur and tail – a tiny mouse! Was it a baby? Worse, was it a baby rat?!? I’d seen a huge rat lurking in the snow in the winter when I’d put food out for the birds but no sightings since I’d stopped.

Ratty in the snow

The tiny visitor went right past Rooney, whose eyes never moved from the muffin, then it hopped down the lawn and under the magnolia tree. Both dogs are fascinated by the smells under this tree. What lives there?

Magnolia May 2018

I relayed all of this news to my sister via email and she has this mindset of transferring words to the animals mouths, some may remember reading about her visiting cat in The Black Knight Diaries – the result of our laughing at too many daft cat memes and their language.

“Send me a picture of the tiny visitor,” said she.

Well Tiny Visitor arrived the next day, just missed getting trodden on by Roon and stood frozen whilst I took pictures, which I sent to my sister. Here’s her conversation between Roon and Tiny Visitor.

 

Rooney:    I az been sniffing around the tree to issue a warning. ‘Hear this ye rodents of the local area. This dog allowed all manner of hooman treats so don’t be looking for no crumbs when I’m here. However when the other fella comes do him a favour and remove all temptation from the hopeful bloke!’

Roon 4

Tiny Visitor:   FFS I’ve just moved all my shit in here and she’s now got a great big wolf-like monster staying with big feet who is careless where he puts em! There was I minding my own business when he comes tramping past and I nearly got squished! You can lay off the chocolate muffin crumbs buddy. You stick to your dog biscuits and know your place!

That aside it had been a bit of a nothing day for Rooney. I don’t do much so he sleeps a lot. He’d had a lovely walk on Monday with Ralphy and his mum and dad but now back to life with me, Nana Shuffs. Bedtime came, time for the last wee of the day at dusk.

The boys having fun

I stood on the patio while he was further down the garden sniffing around as dogs do when out from the shrubs pops Ratty, right by my feet! No sightings since the snow! I don’t know who was more shocked it or me. I was just glad I’d closed the back door. It beat a hasty retreat back into the shrubbery then ran out the other side – right in front of Rooney, who immediately shot after it. They raced down the garden, Ratty for his life, Rooney in pursuit of his prey – or the live toy! All thoughts of the last wee had left his mind but I’ll let him have the last word.

Rooney:    Well who’d have thought it! I az ad a boring day sleeping, all she az done is sit writing but she saves the best until bedtime. She puts on LIVE ENTERTAINMENT! How good iz dis? Better than that useless blue ball she’s got me. I can’t even rip that up! I be on the look out for that running creature tomorrow. I catch it before I leave then I feel I iz proper champ! Mum and Dad, I’ve had very little in the way of hooman food since I’ve been here apart form a piece of toast but no morsel of chocolate muffin, Nana Shuffs likes to keep such delicacies to herself. I ain’t had a curry in ages and I can’t wait for one!

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

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The Black Knight Diaries

A few months ago I wrote about my sister’s visiting black cat whom we’ve nick named The Black Knight. Here’s another installment.

The Black Knight isn’t her only visitor but he is far and away the favourite. He is a prince among cats. He doesn’t have that standoffish haughty nature common to some cats. He is friendly and affectionate. I have met him a few times and once he’s got used to my presence and returned from his fast exit at the sight of a stranger in his domain, he’s decided I’m OK, sitting in my vacated chair, but I digress, onto the other visitors.

Alan is a black and white cat. So named after Alan Titchmarsh the TV gardener because he comes and digs in my sister’s garden. Unlike his namesake he is not planting pretty flowers but leaving little deposits, often whilst glaring defiantly at her from his position in the flower bed. The Black Knight has often squared up to him but it hasn’t deterred him from using the flower bed as his latrine.

“Of course,” I once pointed out, “Alan might be a girl with a very pretty name like Jessica or Jemima.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” she answered, but Alan he/she remains.

Then there is Bobby Carrot. Bobby because he kind of bobs when he walks and Carrot because he is tortoiseshell but more orange. I think I have seen him over my side of the modern housing estate where we live occasionally. He is a timid little cat my sister says and Alan bullies him – or her – it could be a her.

There is the resident owl, Hootie who owns the estate, flying from her end to mine and sitting on posts by my sister’s and my neignbour’s houses making his/her presence known.

Although we live on the outskirts of a town we get lots of wildlife, foxes, squirrels, all kinds of birds, I’ve had sparrowhawks in the past and had mixed feelings about them, beautiful birds and lovely to have them in the garden but very sad when they take my little birds.

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Here’s a conversation my sister had with The Black Knight one lovely sunny summer day. As she pegged out her washing he came running along the fence miaowing.

“Oh I’m glad you’ve come,” she said, “I want you to do some modeling for me.”

“Modeling?” queried B.K.

“Yes. For a blog.”

“Model for a blog? But I’ve come for chicken.”

“I’ll find you a treat.”

“Oh go on then.”

“Make yourself comfy.”

“I’ll sit on the bench.”

 

“Dis my best side.”

lying in the garden

“Enough now, get the chicken.”

******

Many of my novels have animal characters in them. After the Solstice (Willow’s Dip Book 2) has Chula, a beautiful Siamese cat who is a law unto herself.

Free Flight (Willow’s Dip Book 3) is set in a bird sanctuary and has many bird characters including an avian romance between a pair of snowy owls, Casper and Claudia, not to mention a ghost dog called Boris and an African grey parrot called Bramer who has a very colourful vocabulary.

The Author, The Gardener and The Woman What Does has two gorgeous rough collies, Bella and Donna and Song of the Phoenix has a Jack Russell terrier called Tim who is rather partial to toffees.

My two memoirs Shadow Across the Sun and Better or Dead have all of the pets I’ve had, loved and lost.

Animals enrich our lives and although I can’t have a pet now for health reasons I have two fur grandsons, a black and a golden labradoodle who I’m dog hotel to when their families are away. It just gives me a little animal contact.

For more information on my animal friends both real and imaginary visit my website

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

 

 

A Very Special Visitor

As my recent posts have been about animals I have known I couldn’t leave out a special little fur person: my sister’s visitor, a very beautiful, sleek black cat. We call him The Black Knight although that is not his real name, but it suits him. He has a charmed  life of his own choosing. He is like The Tramp in Disney’s Lady and The Tramp, he has different homes he visits for different treats. It all began several years ago when his owners moved house.

He didn’t want to go. No sooner had they moved than he found his way back to his own old home, calling on his old human friends who had treats for him; chicken at my sister’s house, and no matter how many times his owners came back for him he still returned. He knew where he wanted to live.

His owners asked my sister if she’d like to keep him but she said she wouldn’t because if he didn’t show up she’d worry. As it is he visits his other homes for his treats – someone must feed him because he looks well nourished, fine glossy coat and is in good condition but no-one knows where he goes in between visits. I’d love someone to put a tracking collar on him to see but that would infringe on his freedom – he’s streetwise, he wears no collar. I worry about him in the bad weather, if he’s found shelter whilst he’s out ‘catting’ (he’s neutered so he’s a respectable gentleman and doesn’t harass the lady felines of the neighbourhood) and I’m always relieved when my sister says he’s called. She’s now added tuna sticks to his treats but chicken is his favourite.

She says he comes running along the fence miaowing when she’s in the garden, torn between keeping his balance and rushing lest she goes in and shuts the door without seeing him. He likes it best on warm days when the back door is open and he can go in and out at will, have a snooze on the dining room chair under the table if it takes his fancy.

He’s a tough cookie. She’s seen him stalking his patch when she herself can’t sleep and is peering out of the window at the nocturnal activities of the close; he can hold his own, but then he has a vulnerable side. A side that likes to hear a human voice, have a bit of affection, a pair of legs to rub around, and a favourite place to sit next to his old mate Scooby Doo the door stop.

He really is a beauty, inside and out. As my sister says, a lovely soul inside a pusscat, a phrase I stole for my last post, but don’t take my word for it have a look for yourself. Here he is. The Black Knight.

 

 

Animal Friendships

Two very special animals helped my sister and I through one of the most difficult periods of our lives. One was a black miniature poodle called Candy, the other a tortoiseshell cat called Tiger.

We were raw from the death of our mother, me at 13, my sister at 8 so my cousin gave us one of her dogs – she bred poodles. Candy had the sweetest temperament and put up with any amount of mauling when we kept picking her up and fussing her but in the first few weeks my heart went out to her as she flew to the window with the sound of every car, looking to see if they’d come back for her.

Some years passed and the edge left the rawness of our grief but the void left by our mother was still there and we all missed her dreadfully. Dad lost all interest in everything. Our bungalow and its once beautiful garden looked as bereft as we felt, the lawns and borders were overgrown, an ideal place for a little stray cat, not much more than a kitten herself, to make a nest to have her babies. Two large dogs lived across the road and those kittens wouldn’t stand a chance if they got hold of them.

“Can we take her in Dad? Pleeeease?”

“No! I can’t abide cats, they go after the birds.”

“Just until she’s had her kittens?”

He sighed. He was beaten. He didn’t care about anything anymore. “Just until it’s had its kittens, then it’s going.”

We called her Tiger because of her colouring. She and Candy although not getting off to the best of starts became best friends. To read the full story of their friendship, how Candy mothered the kittens and also our family story my memoir Shadow Across the Sun is available from Amazon as an ebook and also paperback with the old cover. For the new cover in paperback go to feedaread.com. The price is about the same when you take P&P into account.

The two beautiful souls wrapped up in that little cat and dog, not forgetting those of the kittens saw my sister and I through very dark days. Here are a few pictures of them. I apologize for the quality, they date from the 1970s.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Across-Sun-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B007V42ON4/ref=sr_1_8?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1500369383&sr=1-8&keywords=sherrie+lowe

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Shadow-Across-the-Sun-9781781760499.aspx