Tag Archives: dogs

How my psychic dog proved mutts DO have a sixth sense…

18 Feb

I love both cats and dogs – with a marginal preference for moggies. And that’s because they have cleaner habits than poo-ches, whose noses should be avoided at all costs because you know exactly where they have been.

Anything clean and healthy is not to be sniffed at as far as Fido and his pals are concerned. Far better to savour the pungent pong of canine excreta at any opportunity and then lick the residue lovingly into their owner’s face.

Some dogs, however, are extra special. Like Carrie, who was my best friend for 15 years until I found her frozen body on the back doorstep of our home in Manchester one frosty winter morning. But more of that later.

Carrie was a small sandy mongrel with white markings – probably a whippet cross because she hared across the local park so rapidly that I swear she overtook herself half way across!

She was around two years old when we inherited her from our younger daughter’s best friend, who was moving abroad with her family. We already had a couple of cats and whilst initially Carrie and the moggies treated each other with caution, they quickly became great mates and indeed would often snuggle together in a basket at bedtime.

A few years earlier we had invested a large sum in a pedigree Irish setter puppy and inherited nothing but trouble and stress. Our attempts to house train the beautiful but highly-strung creature were a disaster to the point that visitors had difficulty working out which room was the toilet.

With the the red setter in grave danger of becoming a dead setter at the hands of her furious owners, something clearly had to give. And Beauty of Belhaven duly bounded off with her new owners six weeks later as the entire neighbourhood breathed a huge sigh of relief.

With Carrie it was entirely different. Calm and good natured, she was nothing like as excitable as Beauty. And she never had to ask to go out to do her business – she would squeeze her body though the cat-flap, albeit with some difficulty, and then squeeze back in when she had finished.

When we went out, we’d take her with us virtually everywhere and she adored sitting on the back seat looking out of the rear window. What she saw and how it affected her we had no idea – until one night when she demonstrated a sixth sense that was truly uncanny.

Perhaps once a fortnight my other half and I would have a meal at a casino three or four miles from home – and we’d occasionally take Carrie for the ride. We’d leave her in the car under the supervision of the car-park attendant while we dined and had a quick spin on the roulette table.

Carrie had been to the casino no more than three or four times – and always in the car, her eyes focused on the road behind as we headed towards our destination, and then home a couple of hours later.

One night, we went as a family to a restaurant for a meal, leaving the dog at home with the cats. When we got back, Carrie had disappeared but we weren’t overly concerned. Presumably she’d just gone out for a wee and a wander.

Then the phone rang. ‘‘Hello, this is the Salford Albion Casino,’’ said the voice on the other end.

‘‘Do you have a dog called Carrie?’’ Cue panic – and the thought that something dreadful had happened to the dog. ‘‘Yes, we do,’’ I replied nervously. ‘‘Well, she’s here wandering around. The parking attendant recognised her. We got her name and your number off her name tag.’’

I was flabbergasted. She had obviously gone looking for us, but how on earth had she got there? I mean the casino was several miles away, across at least a couple of main roads including the busy A56. And she could not possibly have followed a scent because she had only been there in the back of a car.

As we drove to the casino to collect Carrie, the only explanation we could come up with was that she had somehow remembered the route, even though she had never been there on foot and therefore could not have picked up a trail. Or could she? Who knows what goes on inside a dog’s brain – and how many extra senses they possess?

It’s 15 years or so since Carrie died that fateful December day. Fifteen years old and suffering from a heart complaint, I guess she had squeezed out through the cat flap during the night to do a wee, and suffered a fatal coronary attack as she tried to get back in.

She went to meet St Bernard at the Furry Gates still carrying the secret of her mysterious trek to the casino that remarkable night. Indeed, to this day I have no explanation how she found her way there.

Carrie gambled with her life during that bizarre trek to the casino on highly-dangerous roads that night. And with her courageous if unnecessary mission to find us, she won even more of our love. RIP, little one.

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Dogs don’t wash with me, so moggies are the cat’s whiskers

10 Jan

More humorous thoughts on the habits of our pets – including a plug for a special wee puss

At the risk of being dog-tagged for life as a mutt-hater, I’m sticking to my view that cats make better pets than their canine cousins. With one exception.

Dogs keep you fitter – and the bigger the better. In fact, if you can afford to buy and feed a Pyrenean mountain dog, he’ll be happy to drag you on a double marathon ‘walkies’ over the nearest mountain range – in record time.

Before I came to Spain, my house in Manchester was at one time like a Home for Lost Pussies. So many waifs and strays came and went that I swear our friendly little dog Carrie thought she was a moggy herself.

She was certainly pretty adept at squeezing herself through the cat-flap as a quick means of exit, even if the poor mongrel never quite mastered the art of getting back in unassisted.

Because so much commitment is involved, I’ve not owned a dog since Carrie died aged 15 of a heart condition. However, my love affair with cats purrs along today at my villa near Guardamar, where I feed five ‘regular’ visitors. Two of them regard my lap as home. The others come for food, hang around for perhaps an hour, and then disappear into the night or day as the case may be.

The sad thing about our community of just 41 villas is that only mine has a regular feline presence. This means that when I go away – like my current visit to see my family in the UK – I face a ‘Cat 22’ situation. Do I ask neighbours to feed them and hope the moggies don’t miss me too much? Or do I send them to a cattery when the freedom of the campo is the only life they have ever known?

There was, of course, the option of taking them to England with me. But apart from the expense and inconvenience, not to mention the turmoil for the cats, all of them have a major communication problem. They can only miaow and purr in Spanish.

Cat on the mat: My moggy Molly no habla ingles

Last time I left a willing neighbour to feed them in my absence, the then community president and committee sanctioned a ridiculous resolution ordering residents NOT to feed animals outdoors. As one might expect of non-pet people, they thought that leaving Brekkies out would encourage a plague of rats to scamper into their beds. I wish!

My neighbour, unwilling to go against community rules, promptly stopped feeding the moggies, and by the time I returned, at least one had had enough of waiting for the grub that didn’t arrive. I never saw her again.

The reality is that where there are cats, there are unlikely to be rats. In fact, any roaming rodent that wanders into the vicinity of Tiddles’ mouth is likely to become rat-atouille in an instant.

In my last article on dogs and cats, I gave readers chapter and verse on doggy poo and the filthy creatures who deposit and leave it as the staple diet for the soles of our shoes.

I just wish someone would invent incontinence pants for out-of-control growlers (that’s roughly 93 per cent of all dogs, by my reckoning) and with it redefine the expression ‘’doggy-bag’’.

I must emphasise here that a ‘’catty bag’’ is not the feline equivalent of a doggy bag, but a label one might put on a spiteful female of the human variety. I’m told that efforts were once made to breed a cross between a cat and a dog known as a ‘’catty bitch’’ but the animal was so venomous that scientists abandoned the project.

More seriously, cats are considerably less trouble than dogs. To start with, they never need a bath (just try giving them one and you may well get your head ripped off). They spend half their lives washing their body, legs and tail with their own saliva – and the other half trying to paw it all onto the top of their head – the one place their tongue can’t reach.

While Tiddles always washes herself, all Fido much prefers to wash YOUR face, hands, feet with a giant moist tongue that is as soft as a cat’s is rough.

Keeping Fido himself clean is a major operation. The best bet is probably to plonk him in the bath under a warm shower, though that is a bit of a gamble in itself. He’ll either love it or make a dash for safety, leaving the entire house three inches deep in water on his romp to the open front door – and then to the nearest garden wall for a mega-sniff of his pals’ doggy wee.

Unlike Fido and his mates, cats will also control their motions almost indefinitely. If there is ANY way Tiddles can avoid messing in the house, she will. I had one amazing female cat that, having sussed out the sewage system and knowing she’d fall off the seat if she tried to use the loo, always urinated in the bath. And right over the plughole, too.

That’s what I call a well-drained pet (God, the puns get even worse!)

Every moggy will head instinctively for the great outdoors when nature calls. Tiddles’ biggest failure here is that she tends not to look while she is burying her poo. She prefers to whirl round and round kicking soil, gravel and defecation into the air.

The end product is often a mound of soil topped by a modicum of No.2 – perfect for Fido to stick his nose in next time he comes back from soiling the neighbourhood streets.

Yet overall, and despite my own bias, it seems that animal lovers in general prefer dogs – but only just. A survey of 3,000 people in the UK found that 31% cent of households owned dogs and 26% cats.

All I can say is that if people are happy combining walkies with cleaning up their dogs’ runnies, that is their business. Personally, I’d rather settle down with my cats and watch our favourite film.

It’s called the Mog-nificent Seven.

Cats v Dogs: A tongue-in-poo look at the habits of our pets

30 Dec

A doggy or a moggy? Donna takes a humorous look at the benefits and brickbats of ownership

I love cats more than any other animal. They are to me the most mysterious, fascinating and wonderful creatures on earth. And not only can they read your mind, they can also manipulate it to  their own advantage.

That’s the voice of 40 years of cat ownership speaking. Oh, and I didn’t own any of my moggies – they owned me.

From Fluffy to Thatcher, from Geoffrey to Henry and from Lucky to Sooty, I was THEIR pet, not the reverse. If it didn’t suit them to live in my home, they’d have been off like a flash to appoint some other purr soul as honorary daily food-and-milk supplier.

ALL IN THE NAME: My cat Geoffrey (Geoffrey Boycat to give him his full name) is a fine cricketer!

Some of us are cat people, some dog people and some, like me,  care for both. Only we usually have a preference and in my household, moggies have always held the edge.

To start with, they allow their owner more independence. If you’re not around for a few days, it doesn’t really matter as long as someone is there to feed them. Leave a dog on  its own for two days and you’re not only in serious trouble with the animal authorities, the poor mutt will also have moped itself into a candidate for the canine nuthouse.

Then there is the cleanliness issue. Dogs love to pepper their noses with  the ghastliest of savouries left for them by their fellow barkers. The browner and smellier the better for Fido and his pals, and the worse for those of us whose shoes squelch the stink into our  rugs and carpets when we get home.

From my experience, there’s nothing more frustrating  than trying to house-train a  puppy. It will pee and poo to order providing you let it out a minimum of 250 times a day. But pop out yourself for five minutes and you open the door on your return to a mound of doggy dung and a floor awash with a ship-load of urine.

The yelps when Little Poo  is left momentarily on its own are bad enough. But they are nothing to the yelps of human anger that boom into the stratosphere when Mr and Mrs Owner discover what poochie was up to while they were out of the room.

Yet to a dog lover, those Close Encounters of the T*rd Kind are all acceptable in exchange for the pure, uncomplicated love you are guaranteed in return for just being there. Who cares that Fido spends all day rolling in mud, urine, vomit and the faeces of every animal on earth? It only takes a couple of hours to clean him up – and then those luscious licks and doggy hugs make it all worthwhile.

Unless, like me, you’re already so browned off by those pooper bloopers that you’ve vowed never to have a dog again.

Cats are a complete contrast. House-trained before they’ve ever seen a house, all a kitten needs is a litter tray and it will wee and poo  into it ad infinitum. Mind you, removing the hail of stones that hurtle around the house in mini-puss’s attempts to  bury the residue with its lethal back feet can take twice as long as clearing up after any untrained puppy.

Moggies also need no  teaching when it comes to cleaning themselves. And thereby hangs another tale – plus body, head and legs.  Before you  know it, puss has licked herself  bald and is coughing up a two-ton hair ball. You rush her to the vet thinking she’s on her last legs but fear not…they all do it.

Unless, like my Molly, the furry one suffers from feline asthma and vomits up nothing but wheeze.

If your cat is a Tom, then you have another problem or three. First and worst is his territory spraying, and the pungent, difficult-to-remove smell it creates. Then there’s his sexual appetite, which he’ll inevitably impose on all the local moggettes – accompanied by a cat’s chorus loud enough to drown out a 30-piece orchestra.

The solution to that one is simple. Have Tiger Tom snipped in the bud when he’s a few months old and the spraying and s****ing will be a thing of the past.

If you have a dog, you will of course need to take it for walks. Unless you are a lazy bitch like one or two of my friends – and end up with a mutt that’s even fatter than its owner. In such instances, at least fatso and her pet won’t need a pooper scooper to clean up the dog mess, though not that many people seem to bother if the pavements in my locality at El Raso are anything to go by.

People not clearing up the mess left by their dogs in public places is a big problem everywhere. But here’s a question for you: If you saw a threatening-looking yob’s pit-bull pooing outside your home and he didn’t clean up the mess (the yob, not the pitbull), what would you do?

If your answer is ‘nothing’, score a brownie point for honesty.

Cat-walking is strictly for models, of course. But at the end of the day, you’ll shack up with the pet that suits YOU, whether it be a dog, cat, rabbit, kangaroo or a 15-foot crocodile. My 11-year-old grandson would happily have the lot – particularly if the croc came with a guarantee to eat his sister.

As for me, I’ll stick with my two moggies back home in in Guardamar. Even if I am at my wits end hoping they are OK while I spend Christmas and the New Year here with my family in Manchester. Don’t worry, while I am away some good friends are feeding them both – along with three or four strays who have adopted me (and particularly my daily food offerings) over recent months.

They all used to be straggly. Now they are verging on obese. But I’d happily take them all with me everywhere I go if only they could speak English.

PS. Question: What do you call a brown Spanish cat? Answer – a chocolate gato.