Managing expectations

Another in the occasional series of management guides by Management Guru Rufus Blue.

Managing expectations is key in any business relationship. In this case, the relationship between master (me) and minion (Dave). This is best illustrated by an example this morning.

We have been having a run of bad weather, with heavy rain and strong, gusty wind. I require a walk every day and Dave is the means by which that walk is facilitated. He has a grasp of weather conditions that I don’t really have time to develop, and that’s fine (I can’t be perfect at everything). So I rely on Dave to pick the right moments to avoid the worst of the weather. But underlying this is the ongoing requirement for the daily walk.

This morning, it was raining. It had been yesterday as well. The aim was to build an acceptance that walking in the rain was okay and so yesterday, using the simple but effective technique known as ‘puppy dog eyes’, I ensured a walk in the drizzle. It set me up for this morning. Although the rain was coming down, Dave was already influenced by yesterday’s decision and was more susceptible to suggestion. Thus, there was no question over whether we were going out. It was a case of when and where.

Dave’s pretty good at finding decent places to go so I have no worries there and leave those decisions to him. Giving your minion some responsibility makes him feel valued, as indeed he is. But I didn’t want the effects of yesterday’s walk fading as time went on, so the puppy dog eyes came out again. Sure enough, and as expected, Dave started to get ready to go out. A triumph of the management of expectation by example and repetition.

We ended up at the Brynllenfrith plantation again. The name sounds grand, but it’s just some trees a little north of the Upper Lliw Reservoir. Nevertheless, it’s a great place to explore and, as usual, we had the place to ourselves. Once we were in amongst the trees, I let Dave off the lead (it’s so touching that he think’s I’m the one on the lead) and while he scrabbled around taking photos of the mushrooms and drops of water on the fir tree pines, I explored, made sure he didn’t get into any difficulties, and took my exercise. When he fell over, I didn’t laugh, even when he tried to make light of it by claiming it was a wet and slippery tree root he’d stepped on.

An added bonus was that we didn’t actually get wet because it held off raining until we got home.

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Rufus and Dave’s Fortnight of Fun part 1:River

I was worried about Dave this morning. I woke him up as usual at 5.30, 5.35, 5.40 and 5.45 am and then again at 6am. He let me out in the garden but went back to bed. It’s not how it should be. He’s meant to be up at 6 and making me breakfast before disappearing off for a few hours to somewhere he calls ‘Work’. (He calls it other things as well but I don’t understand those words). But this morning he went back to bed. I didn’t know what to do so I woke him up again at 6.15, 6.30 and 6.45. He didn’t shout at me and in the end, I gave up and joined him on the bed.

He finally managed to rouse himself at 7.45! Layabout! He didn’t seem concerned that he should have been at ‘Work’. Instead, he seemed quite happy and jabbered on quite a bit. After breakfast, he asked me if I wanted to go out. Silly question, he knows the answer. We set off and very soon I realised we weren’t off to Gower. It took a lot longer to arrive at our destination and when he finally let me out (he tends to fuss a lot after he parks the car), I found we were at the River Tawe. He knows it’s one of my favourite places and since my little operations he hasn’t allowed me anywhere near water. Clearly today would be different (whether he planned it or not).

As soon as he let me off the lead, I was in the water. It felt so good to paddle and cool my paws off. The sun was warm and it was lovely to be out here again. I was happy, and I let him know I was happy by barking in my happiest voice.

Dave had his camera with him so I knew I’d be able to explore the river for myself, and play games with him by standing in front of the camera just as he knelt down by it. Sure enough, every time he went to take a photo I was able to get a reaction from him by popping up on the waterfall or in the water near by. He loves this game almost as much as I like catching stones. I did need to bark sometimes just to remind him why we were here but generally speaking Dave behaved himself and we both had a good time.

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Contract, renegotiated

I have decided to adopt Dave.

I have not taken this decision lightly, and I have done so in consultation with and with the blessing of my previous owner. After several chats with her recently, it is clear that Dave needs someone to look after him and keep him on the straight and narrow, as it were. I feel I am best suited to do this and so I will be moving in permanently.

As a result, the contract that was in place, and which I told you about here has been renegotiated. I say negotiated, I mean it has been changed by me. After all, I know best in these matters and Dave would only get confused and wander around in circles. He’s getting on a bit, you see.

Rules concerning the bed, sofa and food remain the same, i.e. they are mine. But now I have had to add a clause about the bed that Dave uses. It’s a bit big for him on his own, so I will also take ownership of it, with the understanding that for the time being he can use it whenever he wants. (I find that when there is thunder and lightning around, he gets a little nervous, so I join him on the bed to settle him).

I’ve noticed Dave has put on a few pounds recently and so I have introduced a clause in the contract that states that he must exercise, under my supervision, at least five times a week. It’s for his own good. Poor weather is not an excuse, although to hear him moan and groan you’d thing the rain was going to melt him. I have a number of excellent routes for him to train on and it is only coincidence that they allow me to explore my world and leave my mark on lamp posts, trees, bins, walls, bushes… ahem.

The standard of food must improve. I like a variety of meals and have recently enjoyed Mediterranean Chicken and Italian beef stew. I see no reason why this standard of cuisine should cease.

For the time being, that is it but the contract is quite fluid and over the coming weeks I expect to put a few more clauses in, for his own good of course.

Rufus

Rufus and Me

Me and Dave on Cefn Bryn

 

 

 

 

The things humans do

By Rufus. Typed by Dave because I told him to.

I’m staying with Dave at the moment because my skills as an escape artist proved too great in my temporary home. To be fair, I never signed any agreements not to try and escape. Life with Dave isn’t too bad as I have him trained to a very high standard and I reluctantly admit that the service level and living standards are quite good in his house.

But he has some quirks. I may have mentioned before that he likes taking photos and I think it’s becoming a bit of an obsession with him, Every time I look, he has a camera in his hand. He has several cameras – why do you need more than one?  These days he tends to point them at very very small things in the garden. Yesterday I caught him trying to photograph a fly! As a reward, he turned the camera on me and started taking my portrait. I was trying to get my best side (right, if you must know) into shot but he kept moving. So I flopped down in the garden. Well, it was really warm out there and I hoped he’d get the message and leave me alone.

He’s off this week so we get to see a lot of each other. That’s fine, I like Dave. This morning I was looking forward to a nice lie-in (until about 5am) but there was thunder outside. I don’t like thunder. Don’t judge me, we all have our little phobias. Dave doesn’t like spiders. So It was nice to have Dave to cuddle up to until the thunder had stopped. And his bed is nice and comfy, so rather than disturb him when everything was quiet, I stayed there. It was so comfy that I over slept until 7am!

Later this morning, he was out digging holes in the garden. Now I’m not one to boast, but I am the king of holes. I can scratch a pit in the hardest of ground in minutes. But he didn’t want my help and instead proceeded to dig a deep hole and then plant a stick in it! Admittedly it was a big stick, but even so! Sticks are meant to be thrown, not buried. He spent ages putting big stones in the hole to prop up the stick, and then he filled the hole in and did a little dance on it!  He said something about birds and hung a very nice smelling fat ball on it.

I’ve got to stop now as I’ve asked Dave to finish off the bathroom. While I dislike taking showers, when I have to, I would rather do so in a completed bathroom rather than the half finished building site. There, that’s told him.

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Moel Feity

We had a lie in this morning. Rufus didn’t shove his nose in my face until 6.30. I let him out in the garden and he ran around like a possessed hound after some scent from the night before. I was half tempted to go back to bed, but it was such a gorgeous morning that it seemed a shame to waste it.

Breakfast over, we set out for the hills. Moel Feity has featured here many times before. Today, under a cloudless blue sky, we set off up the slope towards the summit. I was hoping to visit the WW2 crash site of the US PB4Y that I’ve been to a few times. I wanted to see that it had survived the winter storms.

There was a cold wind blowing but the effort of climbing the hill warmed me up. Rufus was slow to start with, working the cobwebs out from his limbs. We’ve been a bit sedentary recently and he hasn’t been well. But once he’d warmed up, he was off and there was no stopping him. Every pool, every puddle and even some that hadn’t seen water for a week were investigated and paddled in.

It didn’t take us long to get to the top, but once again I’d missed the crash site. It’s marked by a low white stone and a few scraps of wreckage and it’s hard to see in the undulating terrain. I wasn’t too worried; we’d run across it on the way back. Instead, I kept going north over the flatter top of the hill until I could see the green belt of farmland beyond the hills. Rufus managed to find a large pool and I managed to find the only stone for miles around that was suitable for Rufus to chase into the water. Seconds later, he was investigating the depth and found it was up to his tummy.

We set off back down the hill and very quickly came across the memorial stone. I tidied up a couple of the rocks on the cairn and set the cross I’d left back up again. The first time I came up this hill, I came across a second cairn, made from more bits of wreckage. I came across it again today, about 50 yards down the hill. There is a lot of small pieces of aluminium, including quite a bit that seems to have melted. I picked up a bit that had been moved uphill, and this appeared to have signs of charring on it. I tidied this pile up as well and then we carried on down the hillside towards the river.

Rufus, with his gift of sensing water from great distances, was already way ahead of me and waiting at the river bank. When I stopped to take some photos of the waterfalls, I was reminded of my obligation to throw stones by the traditional bark and whine. Many stones later, we climbed into the car and it turned out to be my turn to drive again. Rufus flopped out ont he back seat and didn’t wake until we pulled up outside the house.

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Contract

An agreement in law between Me (Rufus) and you (Dave), setting out the terms and conditions by which you must abide when playing host to Me.

Rufus on his bed

1. A bed must be provided, with clean bedding. I am not required to use it, but it must be available at all times.

Rufus in the garden

2. Access to the garden must be provided on call, 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. Weather conditions will not prevent access. Interruption of a good film is not a sufficient excuse to prevent access. Neither is reading a good book, enjoying a cup of coffee or using the computer. Being asleep may, depending on the hour, be used to delay the garden visit, but in any case by no more than 30 minutes.

Rufus looking at me

3. Food must be provided on tap. Your food is my food but my food is most definitely not your food.

4. If I am lying on your lap, you may not disturb me. You do not need to get up. There are no circumstances that require you to disturb me except for paragraph 2, above.

Rufus in the shower

5. I do not at any time require a shower. If I smell like a farmyard, it is because I want to smell like a farmyard.

Rufus on the sofa

Rufus and me on the sofa

6. The sofa is mine. You may have paid for it, but it is mine. I allow you to use it at my discretion. You do not need more that 30cm width and any more is a luxury.

The Silence of the Spaniel

I was watching progressive rock on the TV. Rufus had decided not to join me and had hinted at a visit to the garden but he’d only just come back in so I didn’t relent. There was silence, apart from Mike Oldfield on the box.

Silence is never, ever golden.

I don’t know what made me peek into the hallway but this is what I was confronted with:

Rufus ripping cardboard

 

Looking a little further into the kitchen revealed the true nature of silence:

Rufus and cardboard

He seemed  quite proud of his achievement and to be honest, he’d done a good job of shredding several items of packaging:

Rufus and torn cardboard

And the moral of the story? Prog rock is bad for your kitchen!

 

Rufus and Dave’s lads week (by Rufus) day 5 – rain

Hi, Rufus here. It’s my turn to write the blog as Dave is taking photos of the rain in the garden.

After yesterday’s marathon walking session, in which I had to repeatedly slow down to allow Dave to catch up, (he’s so unfit), I found myself a little fatigued this morning. Nevertheless, I made the effort to check on Dave to see that he was sleeping well. He wasn’t but I didn’t make a fuss. I got him up at 6am so that he could work the locks on the doors to allow me to patrol the garden. I spotted a cat in there the other day and chased it off. But it’s important to make sure the darn thing doesn’t come back because it will scare the birds away and might even catch one.

Dave was so tired he went straight back to bed so I did the same – just to make him feel better. But I made sure he didn’t lounge in bed all day and got him up at 7.30am. Yesterday, he’d muttered something about rain coming in today but it wasn’t so bad this morning. The sun came out a couple of times and it was warm. So we spent some time in the garden. I checked out the gaps in the hedges; Dave kept digging little holes in the patch of earth he calls ‘the spud patch’ (as in ‘mind the spuds, Rufus’). Of course I don’t mind them.

There was no sign of rain so I persuaded him to get out of the house. We ended up at a place called Fairwood Common – we’ve been there a lot. We walked over the common, across the road and right up to the fence of the airfield. When they’re flying from there, he’s always taking photos of the planes and the people who jump out of them. There were no planes today, so we explored the ruins of old buildings scattered around the common. We even walked up to a large white post he called a ‘trig point’. It was quite boring but he does tend to walk up to a lot of them and he always gives them a pat. It’s not as if they’re done anything to deserve a pat, though.

It was good to see that he wasn’t too tired to walk after yesterday and we spent ages just tramping around.

When we got home, it was time for lunch. Dave is always considerate and makes sure I get my food first. But his food always smells better than mine so I always wait for him to finish, just in case I get a couple of bites from him. He’s nothing if not generous.

Then it was time for my afternoon siesta. Dave makes a good pillow and since he was watching some film on TV, I was able to get really comfy and have a good long snooze.

Tonight, I think I shall dine on fish.

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