It's Sunday July 22nd and life is currently all about bedding in the new pup and kittens with me, the “curmudgeonly Aunt dog” as I now seem to be called. We are getting there. Tomorrow is the big moment of truth day, when I get let off the lead to go kill small animals or not as takes my fancy. Not today. No, not a Monday. Mum will tell you... "Animals DIE on Mondays". It's a family superstition at this stage, with almost talismanic status. It was a bizarre day weather-wise, always cloudy and always just ever so slightly spitting in the wind but with a hooley of a breeze blowing through all day which was bizarrely warm like a Chinook or a Foehn or something. Mum and Dad are invited round to neighbour Una to pick her black currants. We are welcome to 'jam' them, she says, as she's done enough jam from the bushes and still has plenty growing. We likes Una!
Light but persistent rain all day nearly had Dad giving up on plan A and mooping indoors, but decided that, blow it! He was not to be beaten. He will go do Plan A, he decides, get wet and grubby and THEN come back for shower and gorgeous home made soup - the remnant of the "most delicious lamb shanks in the history of the world" a few days back. I can vouch for the shanks having inherited most of the bones to either chew or bury where the pesky pup cannot find them.
Plan A was for Dad to nip round neighbour Una's (she of the blackcurrants) and chainsaw up for her a pile of old timber beams from her former hay barn. Sounds familiar? She is widow and no longer has chain-saw hefting bloke around so Dad is happy to oblige. He got wet but not a bother. You get so warm hefting the said saw (he says) that it's too sweaty inside his coat and hoodie, so he was working in ordinary cotton shirt and hoping his sweaty bod would dry the rain as soon as it landed. Sorry. Hope you're not all still eating your breakfast! Must have been minging!
Dad got an unexpected and warming buzz from realizing afterwards that he had been was sitting on a weather-worn chair, up at a battle-scarred table in a genuine Irish lady's farmhouse kitchen, being fed scones and jam and "a cup o' tay in yer hand", chatting about the weather and stuff. Not "brought there" by Mum but there, welcome and being hosted on my his own account because he’d just done her a neighbourly favour. He was feeling all 'accepted' and welcome.
In 'train the dog not to kill small animals' we reach the planned final day of training and it does seem to be working. Although 'curmudgeonly Aunt' dog (me) is technically on the lead, in practise the lead is slack and I can go right up to the kittens and pup, lean over them, chase them about and (to a small extent) "play" with them as if I was off the lead. I have made no attempt to bite or damage kittens and seems, Dad says, indeed, to be playing mother-and-daughter games with them. At one point Mum and Dad think I may even have been 'protecting' one kit from the other as they were play-fighting. Rolo was in the small dog-bed and I squeezed in beside her facing out and batting off Blue. Bizarre (as well as exciting and optimism-inducing for tomorrow/today). Wish us luck. My only remaining vice and cause for concern (I am told) is the jealousy thing which comes out in snarling, growling and occasional snaps at pup when he approaches if I am on Dad’s lap. This is saved for the pup and does not apply to kittens. Luckily he (pup) speaks the same language and backs off. Wisdom in one so young! Mum and Dad tell everyone “We never did cure Deefer when it came to new-dog Coco” (or indeed, former matriarch dog Megan and patriarch dog Haggis) where I would try it on and generally get told to get lost.