Hopalong Hound

At 9 years old, (63 in dog years), the last thing Rufus should be doing is chasing rabbits. Unfortunately, when the rabbit calls, Rufus is honour bound to answer. Thus it was on Betws Mountain last Tuesday night, as we were returning to the car after watching the sun set over the distant Mynydd Preseli. A rabbit popped up out of nowhere, surprising Rufus and I and before I could stop him, he was off chasing it. Rufus kept within a couple of feet of the rabbit until it started turning to throw him off. As I stood trying to call Rufus back, they circled me. At one point the rabbit was heading directly for me and I had an image of Rufus crashing into me and us both going over. But the rabbit swerved again and Rufus followed. This must have gone on for about 30 seconds or more – it felt like minutes. In a straight line, I think Rufus would have caught the rabbit but the turns were too much for him.

Suddenly, I heard him yelping and he pulled up, limping to favour his back right leg. I did a quick check over to see if there was anything obviously wrong. In particular, I was worried about a fracture as I would have to carry him back to the car. But he let me examine his leg and there was no obvious injury. So we slowly made out way back down to the car and judging by the way Rufus was reluctant to leave, pulling on the lead to follow the scent of the long departed rabbit, it wasn’t too bad an injury. I assumed an overnight rest and some TLC would sort it out.

The following morning, he still wasn’t right and I could tell he was in pain as he tried to walk. So a trip to the vet was in order. Rufus struggled down the steps to the car but still wanted to go for a walk along the street. At the vet, he was diagnosed as have torn his cruciate ligament. It’s the bit of us that holds the knee joints together. I had a similar but less serious injury of this ligament which forced me to postpone my Kilimanjaro climb.

Although there was an option to rest it and let it heal naturally, this would take a long time and risk damage to the joint. Rufus is an active dog and keeping him quiet and inactive for the healing time would be difficult. And every time he didn’t rest, it would risk making it worse. So I agreed for him to have an operation on Monday to repair the ligament.

He’s a fit and healthy dog and I’m not too worried about him. I’m more concerned with his ability to let the leg heal. Since he’s been to the vet (and is on pain meds so in no discomfort) he has gone up and down the stairs with little problem, discovering the best way to balance and in the process giving me heart attacks as he wobbles and threatens to take a tumble. He won’t wait for me to go down in front of him. He hops up and down the garden, ensures I know when he’s hungry (which is all the time as I’ve reduced the amount of food he has as he’s not exercising, and I want his weight down so that his one good back leg has an easier time). The one thing I can’t do is take him for a walk, although he dragged me down the steps to the street on Thursday night and we did stroll up and down the pavement for a couple of houses either side of mine.

He follows me out into the garden too. I like to keep an eye on him but he’s getting his confidence back and I don’t really need to be there. This morning, I took some macro photos of the insects on the hedge but Rufus got bored and went back in to rest.

I suspect he will be a difficult patient after the initial post operation period is over. The vet will give me a 6 week recovery programme of exercises for him to do. I haven’t explained this to Rufus yet – I’m waiting for the right moment.

Post script – by Rufus

I could have had the rabbit. Easy. I was toying with it. But Dave yelling at me distracted me. The knee hurts, but hey – wounded in action! When he took me to the vet, they gave me weird drugs and everything went psychedelic for a while. When I came to, I was back home. I love watching Dave’s face when I charge down the stairs. It was hard getting used to the balance at first, but now I know what I’m doing, I even fake a wobble now and again to hear him swear. I think I might enjoy the next few weeks!

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Right to reply

I understand that elsewhere in this blog, Dave has written that I needed to have a rest after his pathetic attempt to climb Fan Hir? I have exercised my right to reply and here is the truth about it all.

We should never have started off on Thursday. The weather forecast clearly said it would rain around midday. We would have been fine if someone had managed to get up early enough, but no, Dave insisted on a lie-in despite my attempts to remind him we had a deadline to meet (I notice he didn’t mention that in his blog entry). By the time he’d faffed around and managed to get himself together, it was too late and we were running out of dry weather time. When he decided to turn around, I was still heading up towards the ridge and he had to call me several times before I came back. I love getting wet, as I demonstrated when we got to the river. In other words, Dave was the one that needed to turn back because he’s afraid of the rain.

Anyway, it turns out that he went off without me yesterday and found a great place for a walk. I should have been with him but he decided to leave me at home. Hmph! Well, I let him know how I felt by ignoring him and not sleeping on the bed. There!

He got the message because this morning, really early, we were up and off back to the place he found. And I have to admit it was quite a place. Of course, I had to be careful not to look too happy because he still has a lesson to learn about taking me with him, but it was hard not to wag my tail at all the new aromas and interesting sights everywhere. Of course, he waffled on a bit, explaining to me something about gunpowder, ruins, tramways and a mill. Yeah, whatever. When I saw the first squirrel (I knew they were around as I’d sniffed their trails out already) I showed him exactly how tired and aching I was by immediately chasing after it. It had a head start or it would have been mine. I chased or stalked several more before we left the tramway and went into the woods.

Dave likes this part of the world as there are lots of waterfalls for him to take photos of. It keeps him happy It’s fine for me too, as where there are waterfalls, there are rivers and stones to be thrown. Sure enough, we found a nice shallow bit of the river upstream of a weir (I know about these things, you know) and I could tell how guilty Dave felt by the way I didn’t have to bark to remind him to throw me stones. We carried on further up the valley on proper footpaths (I’d like to see a tram get over that kind of terrain) and once again I proved I could hack it. Tired, me? I had to keep looking back to see if Dave could keep up.

When we turned back, guess who made the decision? Yup! Mr Fitness decided we should go back to the car and once again, he had to call be back as I was all for going on. I chased several more squirrels, kept taking the lead, caught more stones and I still had the energy left to sneak into the female changing area near the car park (much to Dave’s embarrassment, although I knew there weren’t any people in there – you should have heard him trying to call me back!) Payback is such good fun.

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Staying with Dave

By Rufus

 

I’m staying with Dave. It’s not ideal – he has some odd habits, like going out at 7am and not coming back until 4.30pm. But it’s ok and I think I’m teaching him how to do things properly. Like going out in the garden. It’s an important task. I have to make sure that the garden is free from intruders, and I can only do that by frequent and random visits. I know best where this is concerned, despite what Dave thinks. And if I think I need to patrol at 5am, it’s for a good reason.

Where food is concerned, he seems to be under the impression that what is his, remains his. How naive is that? I let him have a lot of leeway on that matter, but I make sure that I give him one of my ‘everything you do is by my consent’ stares while he is eating. It works every time.

He has learned that the back bedroom is mine and he is only allowed to keep things in there because I am kind and generous. The bed, of course, is out of bounds and I have arranged the pillows in just the right way. They are perfectly set out for comfort.

He likes to play with the large bone chew. His favourite game is to chase me around the house trying to get it. I give him chances to take it from me but he never does. He particularly likes it when I growl – for some reason it makes him smile.

I had to help him out last week. He was trying to tear pieces of paper up and when I went to see what he was up to, he said something about shredding for security purposes. I don’t know why he didn’t think to ask me but I grabbed a piece of paper and showed him exactly how to shred. Once he saw how good I was at it, he let me have loads of paper to work on and I was much quicker than him.

He took me to have a haircut last week. To be fair, I was beginning to look like a hippy and some of the cats were calling me an Afghan Hound. But I’m looking much better now.

But all this looking after Dave I do is quite tiring and I do like to have a snooze now and again. One good thing about Dave’s house is that it has plenty of places where I can bask in the sun.

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Another day of fun

Another day off today – where does all that leave come from and how does the office get by without me? Answers to these are on my other blog – “101 improbable things”.

First stop, the bank to pay in some change I’d collected, and a cheque for £1.08 being the extra interest I’d earned on a now closed account. I was surprised to see that they had already started to demolish the buildings of St David’s shopping centre. I managed to get a few photos of the area so that i can compare them with photos taken after the demolition. I’ve been snapping around Swansea for years so that i can record the changes.

Then it was off to pick up Rufus for our day of fun. The weather forecast was for heavy showers so immediately after I picked him up, we went to the site of the old Felindre steel works, a local favourite of ours. We had half an hour of chasing sticks and stones before the drizzle started. So off we went to my house for food and to wait out the shower.

Eventually, it cleared enough that we decided to head off to Gower. Cefn Bryn is a ridge running along the peninsular at around 200m. If I remember my ‘O’ level Geology course, it’s made of Old Red Sandstone, which means at some point it was under the sea. It was just as wet as we set off. The rain was blowing into my face, covering my glasses water. Rufus was happy – he always is regardless of the weather.

Not long after we left the car, I had my head down against the wind and I heard Rufus yapping. It’s not like him and I thought something was wrong. I looked up to see him chasing a rabbit. The rabbit was making sharp turns to stay clear and Rufus, being a large dog, couldn’t make the turns. But he was keeping up with the bunny. I managed to reach them just as Rufus chased the rabbit into a clump of gorse. The rabbit got away.

We managed about 3km in total before we were fed up with the weather and headed home in the car. I practiced a bit on the guitar while Rufus slept his chase off. Rufus has a chew that he leaves at my house and rather than chewing it, he carries it around, placing it in important places during his stay. He likes to tease me with it too and every time I try to get it off him, he walks away. This time I walked after him, and a very slow game of chase developed.

I had to take some photos of guitars that I’m selling and I had to fix strap locks to one of the bass guitars. Then I could relax and take it easy for a bit.

Tomorrow we head for the hills, so it’s an early night for both of us. In fact, as I type, one of us is already snoring quietly in front of the TV.

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