The Dog Days

I didn't take my camera with me when we went to the cinema yesterday morning, and as it turned out we continued straight on to Melbourne Museum, so for the first day since I arrived here I took no pictures. Well, that's not quite true. When we got back we found Mel had come round accompanied by Wombat, another neighbour's dog and the only dog Billie seems to feel friendship for. Here are both dogs being hopeful as cheese is cut on the counter.

He's her toyboy, being around three years old compared to her sixteen. He's also a lot bigger as he's a bull mastiff. Like other bull mastiffs I've met, he's a gentle giant, fond of leaning against you and soliciting affection.

We broke open the sloe gin Vicki bought in Richmond, and the cocktails were delicious. As lovely as the ones we had in the bar on Sunday. Maybe lovelier. We stopped at two, which was wise.

It's a good thing I'm leaving soon as I could get a taste for these. Although Melbourne's tall buildings are impressive, it's the vernacular architecture I like; the streets of low rise houses with tin roofs; lots of bungalows (strange that in the UK the word bungalow is almost a term of abuse, perhaps if they looked more like these they'd have a better press) with flowers and shrubs in the gardens.

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Westie Boy and the Wee Man

One of the youngest members of the family has been with us today. Three years old, and a big fan of television, but eventually we prised him away and I had the perfect excuse to read The Gruffalo’s Child.
The weather is cold with a bitter wind, so outside play is not an option. Even Westie Boy prefers to stay indoors.
I woke to Cousin’s voice saying “Good boy!” repeatedly and realised the first training session of the day was underway.
We’re sticking to ‘sit’, and extending the time before we give the click and treat.
He is focusing more on us and it seems to both tire and calm him.
Now we need to see if it works on the wee man…


Clicker One

Training began today. We had the treats, the clicker, and, most importantly, the dog.
Over breakfast, we rehearsed our roles. The leaflet said we should “start in a quiet area with no distractions”, which would have been fine if the cats had only played their part.
Since I was last here in the summer, the Wee Cat has produced a not-so-wee kitten. It looks very much like an illustration from the book Owl Babies. It lives outside, and is Westie Boy’s playmate. The lesson was about to start when Not-So-Wee Kitten jumped onto the window sill and scratched at the glass. Westie Boy immediately started to dance on his hind legs (lesson ninety-three).
We had already had a delay due to the excitement engendered by the Big Cat climbing through the bathroom window and getting settled in her daytime sleep spot behind the towels where she soaks up the heat from the adjacent hot press.
Finally, we got to work.
Lesson one is about associating the sound with treats. This was easy enough, and our boy quickly got the hang of it. We left off and played with his toy, asking him to sit clickerlessly before the toy was thrown. Sometimes he sat. Sometimes he tried to grab the toy.
So this evening, we skipped the next lesson and moved straight to the sit command with clicker.
Fantastic. What a little star. Even better, we left off the treats and used the biscuits he has in his dish. He even achieved a short sit and wait.
Since I can’t manage camera, biscuits and clicker, I don’t have any photos.
But here he is last night, worn out by the day’s exertions.


Good Boy

My dog training has been more successful than my attempts to help Cousin fix the Internet problems. I sat at the kitchen table to give her moral support. She installed her new hub, and we thought we’d cracked it when her laptop and my iPad picked up strong signals and we could access the web.

I celebrated by making butternut soup.

Then the signal failed, and we got complicated messages asking for codes we did not know. The lights on the hub turned from blue (good) to amber (bad).

I returned to teaching Westie Boy to sit and bring his toy back to me. He’s doing well. Tomorrow, we’re going to try with the Clicker, but first I need to read the instructions.