Morning Music

 Buster is a silent cat.
Buster the Black Cat

I love the music of an early spring morning - first my own personal amateur orchestra of common-garden birds, squeaking as they practice their trills and tiddley-poms. Higher up in the trees the bell-birds chime their distinctive triadic signatures back and forth. Bird number two! You missed out a note!

And the daft pheasant, comic percussion, honking and rattling his party hooter as he dashes through the grass in the ram paddock below. Such silly birds, making such silly noises...

With black Buster dancing alongside me on the wet grass, I farewell the bird-band and come inside. More music! Tiddles the tabby, dramatic soprano : 'Me! Feed me first!'. Tiddles is such a diva! Histeria, on the cats' feeding station, a pianissimo echo : 'Me?'. Tiger the tortoiseshell by the door, catty contralto : 'Toilet!'. Absolutely, Tiger! Out you go! Tiger (AKA the phantom pantry piddler) is not to be trusted first thing in the morning.

 A lovable follower dog.
Rosie the Labrador

In come the dogs...

In come the dogs. Rusty is a humphing, muted double bass, Winnie, a squeaky beginner clarinet :'Frisbeeeeeee!' Oh joy. Another day in paradise, and I mean it sincerely. There's nowhere else I'd rather be.

Aha! But the next couple of weeks will be a canine challenge. I am dog-sitting two huge black Labradors, Rosie and Bear. Since having Escher to stay I have beem overflowing with dog-confidence. Piece of cake! But the big brown dog stayed here with me for a whole year, and it took all that time to convert him into a trustworthy gardening dog. Hmm...

So I have four dogs. A four piece pack. Four busily wagging dog-tails, four by four furry dog-legs. Four big dogs. A big house, yes, but a tiddly little car. And already I have some tiny thoughts to report.

  1. Labradors are smellier than border collies. Oops.
  2. Extra cats? Hardly notice. Extra dogs? Aargh!

Dogs are cosmically solid and bulky, stuck on the ground, satisfied with the mundane - kennel, car, walk, dog park, dinner. Whereas cats are searching, swirling, free spirits, and their touch, spirit-wise, is so much lighter. They don't get excited by nouns or stopped in their tracks by verbs. Cats choose for themselves, and imagine their own. Nobody ever has to wag the bedtime finger at a cat.

 Bear is a big labrador cross.
Bear Dog in the Water

Right. So I have been successfully gardening with the four piece dog pack for a couple of hours. It's been OK, apart from Rusty behaving badly at times (snarl, snap, niggle, his ball, his garden). His garden? Really? I've been weeding the driest of the house borders - it's full of Lychnis and little else. We also took a load of mulch and spread it on the little access paths in the Allotment Garden. I took the opportunity to dig out some bossy Alkanet (not the roots, they never ever come out).

 Rusty, Rosie, Bear and Winnie.
Four Piece Dog Pack

Then Rusty lost his ball and started barging in on the others, so we came inside. We are having a spot of segregated snoozing (just giving Rusty his own space) before I go to madrigals.

Sunday 16th October

The trouble with today was that I had to sing in a music concert early afternoon, and rather stupidly I decided not to get my fingernails dirty. In other words, no gardening of any substance! The four dogs and I managed to fit sensibly into my tiny car, and off we went to the dog park.

 Still walking around the garden
Keep Up!

When we got home we walked around and took photographs of the garden. I am still introducing Rosie and Bear to different areas which they can sniff and explore. This morning we met the pond and Minimus the cottage cat, who was rather peeved. The black dogs wouldn't jump and swim. But they'll learn.

In contrast to Minimus the house cats are amazingly friendly with the new dogs. Smooch, purr, sniff noses, I'll roll over and show you my tummy... Rosie and Bear are kind and gentle in return.

Monday 17th October

It's horribly windy today. We've already blown around the dog park for an hour, and again the loading in and out of the car worked well. It's a bit like getting toddlers and babies into car seats. It matters who goes first and last. Winnie is being so good about sharing her house, car and garden. Rusty is still a little niggly, but we are working out way through that. Dog psychology 101.