Monday 27 December 2010

Christmas Saved

Hello Mum and Olive.

Well, its Christmas day as I write and the weather is still very cold and everyone is staying inside the boat. No one wants to open the door unless we have to go out. I slept in late this morning. You might say I was dog tired. All because I had an incredible adventure last night. We were still moored up in the Marina because the canal is still full of ice. Mum and dad had been up late watching television but had by now gone to bed. Even Jasper the cat was curled up in a ball. However, he had been like that for most of the day. I was half asleep, but keeping all my senses alert because I was on the "middle watch". That's life on board a boat when all the crew have to take turns at being on watch.

It was about one o-clock in the morning when I heard a noise outside. It was a very feint "jing-a-ling" sound and I could hear a voice saying "whoa now, steady, steady". I got out of my bed, Jasper instantly jumped into my nice warm spot and I climbed up onto the couch to look out of the porthole. It was a frosty freezing moonlit night, with lots of bright stars to be seen in the sky. On the towpath I could see a big fat man, with a long white beard (much longer than mine) and he was wearing a red suit. I watched as he went from boat to boat in the marina delivering parcels. I thought the home delivery service is working late, they must have a big backlog of parcels to deliver. He came over to our boat and dropped a couple of packages off on the back deck.

Look Mum I'm Flying.

I growled by way of a warning - I heard mum nudge dad and say "go and see what's up with Poppy" Dad came into the saloon and said "what's up girl, do you need to go out" He opened the back hatch and I rushed out from the back deck and onto the towpath. That's when first I saw these six strange looking big dogs tied to the sledge. The fat man was looking at one of the dogs legs. It was at this point that dad came onto the towpath to see where I was. He was very surprised to see the big fat man, but seemed to know who he was.  Dad said "is there a problem" and the big man said "Blitzen has slipped on the ice and hurt himself and I still have thousands of dogs, cats and children to visit." 

Dad asked if there was anything he could do to help. The big man said "Can I borrow your dog Poppy" Dad hummed and hawed for a bit and then agreed but made me put on my nice warm coat. The big dog with the limp was taken out of the reigns and I was connected up in his place. Dad said "Poppy, you have a very important job to do, you must help to pull the sleigh. I want you to follow the leader at the front, he is called Rudolph. Just copy everything he does. I will be waiting here until you come back. That will give Blitzen chance to rest his leg for the journey home." The big man climbed up onto the sleigh and said "OK Poppy, we are depending on you now to save the day." Then he shouted "Go Rudolph" I followed Rudolph pulling as hard as I could. We were flying! I was not scared because I had been flying before when we went to the airport. Rudolph said "Just take your time Poppy, don't pull so hard, you will need all your energy because we have a lot of places to visit before we are done."

We were out all night, starting and stopping in many different places. Just after we had dropped off the last of the parcels. I could see the sun starting to rise. Soon we were flying low and following the canal, I could see our boat come into view with a curling wisp of smoke out of the stove pipe. Dad was stood waiting with Blitzen on the towpath.

We quickly swapped places, Blitzen even gave me a big lick.  The big man told dad that I had saved the day. I could see that dad was very proud. Soon the sleigh was out of sight in the night sky. Me and dad slowly walked back to the boat. When we got on board, dad moved Jasper out of my bed. He was not the happiest cat being forced to move. As dad climbed into bed with mum she asked if I had done anything dad said - "Yes, Poppy has taken care of business." My paws were a bit sore, but I was asleep in moments.

In the morning when I awoke, I found a couple of parcels with my name on at the side of my bed. In one, I found a nice new collar with a red flashing light for when we go out at night. It had a Christmas card attached. It said "Well done Poppy with love from Nick."

I have been wondering all morning who Nick was.

Lots of Love Poppy XX

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Eyesight test

Hi mum and Olive.

I don't know what it is, but dad says he thinks I am having problems with my eyesight. It seems that when he throws the ball, I don't always see where it lands and I some times run past it. He says he wants to take me for a visit to the vet. Now, I would like to avoid that at all costs. A visit to that place and any vestiges of dignity left from the previous visit will be lost forever.

However, the real problem is all the hair that has sprouted in front of my eyes. Its time that I had a trim especially the long hair around my eyes. I tried licking my paws and wiping the hair down. Dad said look, she has obviously gotten an irritated eye. We need to do something about it. He went off to rummage through the medicine box and found some eye drops.  I tried to show him what the problem was by sticking down my hair. However, he thinks I need more eye drops and gives me more medication.

I thought it would be best if I go and have a sleep, just leave it a bit and see what happens later. I was shaken from my beauty sleep by dad calling me. I managed to get up but as I was still half  asleep, I staggered a bit as I went to see what he wanted. Dad said "The old girl is not well". I looked at mum and she looked just fine to me.  Then he said "She is very sleepy and is not good on her feet". I checked mum out again, she still looked OK to me. Then dad said "Come on Pops time to go out". At that I perked up, a walk along the tow path and a game of fetch the ball seemed like a good idea. However, I was placed in the car and driven straight to the vets.

I was lifted up onto the table and my dignity fell to the floor. The thermometer was stuck where the sun never shines and a careful examination of my eyes, ears and teeth took place. Followed by a listen to my heart and my breathing. The vet pulled out the thermometer looked at it and said "I can't find anything wrong with her I suggest you keep and eye on her for a few days. Poppy might be ready for having her face hair trimmed, as that might be causing her to rub her eyes". At last, someone has noticed my eyesight plight. A few days later, I went off to the dog groomers for some much needed care and attention. Nails clipped, hair washed, shampoo and blow dried. Followed by a very attractive "breed standard" clip to my coat.

Later whilst walking on the excercise field we met up with Tilly the Pointer and we had a game of chase me - chase you. Dad said to Tilly's owner, "I have had her to the vet, she has been off it. I think it was one of those 24 hour bug things. However, she is much better and brighter now". So he must have taken Mum to the vets as well. I hope she did not mind the thermometer being inserted. Then dad said "Pops is much better at finding the ball now". Yes, a good trim of the hair always helps.

Right, time for a quick nap in my bed.

Oh no! That smelly old flea infested, ratbag of a cat has ensconced himself in my bed again.

Love Poppy XX

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Catastrophe Averted

Hi Mom and Olive.

Not much to report about this week. Its been a bit quiet and mum and dad (who is still recovering from Man Flu) are taking things a bit easy as well.  As the weather has been very cold but without any snow we are now moored up miles from nowhere. I have had a bit more freedom to wonder around on the tow path. We don't get many people coming past the boat when it is very cold weather. So I am able to easily keep a weather eye on my watchdog duties.

In the hedgerow at the side of the boat, there is a discarded cardboard box. Jasper the cat has this thing about hiding in dark corners.  I have noticed Jasper going in and out of the box a few times as he tries to hide. Jasper has also taken to stalking in a forlorn effort to catch birds. I have been having a great time barking at the birds to warn them off as Jasper stalks in the nearby bushes. Jasper is quite patient, but has not been able to catch anything so far. I don't think he could catch a cold if he was wet through for a week.

Dad came back from the village this morning to report that there had been a number of missing cats in the district. He said that the mystery was the main topic of talk in the local post office. I could not help but think it would be a good idea if a certain black cat were to go missing. However, with my luck it would be me who went missing instead of him.

Later on I saw a couple of strangers who looked a bit shifty to me walking along the tow path. I hurried back on board the boat. As they passed I did my best impression of a fierce dog, but I was trembling inside really. The strangers hurried past without looking. Dad came a few moments later to see why I was growling. When he saw the strangers in the distance he said "good girl" and gave me a pat. A bit later, I noticed that Jasper was still stalking the birds. This time when he jumped back into the box it rolled over and he was trapped inside. I laughed so much I nearly fell into the water. The cat is a complete idiot and a waste of good space on the boat.

Later dad decided to move the boat a bit further along the canal. Just so that we could fill up the fresh water tank at the water point. The fresh water tank it seems was running a bit low. Its also a good place to moor up if the canal is at risk of freezing over. Whilst we were filling up at the water point mum remarked that she had not seen Jasper for a while. Mum and dad searched the boat from top to bottom. I don't know why they did all that searching.  Because all that Jasper ever did was sleep in my bed. They only needed to look in my bed to see he was not on board.

After a long conversation, dad decided to walk back along the canal to where we had been moored up previously. He took me with him and I had lots of fun sniffing and snuffling along in the hedgerow. We saw the two strangers hurrying along the tow path again. When they saw us they went in a different direction. Soon we arrived at where we had been moored up before and dad started to call for Jasper. It was at this time that I saw the box in the hedgerow bottom rocking from side to side. Because it startled me, I started to bark a danger warning to dad not to come any closer.

When dad arrived he pulled the box out of the hedgerow and opened it up. He was surprised to find Jasper inside. To be honest I had forgotten all about him getting trapped in the box. Well dad was so pleased that I had found Jasper he kept saying "Well done Poppy you are a star" I'm not entirely sure what it was that I did, but I welcomed the praise anyway. Dad carried Jasper back to the boat and then we had a walk to the post office where dad was able to tell the story of how I had discovered Jasper fastened up in a box.

Dad now tells anyone who will listen, how I had searched and found my best friend Jasper the cat, and that he had been kidnapped and incarcerated in a box by the strangers. 

It also hit the headlines in the Yorkshire Clarion newspaper. Well, needless to say when we got back I was going to go and have a cat nap in my bed. However, there is a cat napping in there already!

Love Poppy XX

Monday 20 December 2010

Dad is not well.

Less than one week to Christmas and dad is down with "Man Flu". He is doing all the usual things, drinking plenty of fluids and taking his medication. However, he is a little bit less attentive to me than normal. I might have to go and share his bed - just to keep him company.

Mum is going to visit daughter Steph in Birmingham and at the same time help to re-decorate her new home. Mum will be gone from boxing day until new years eve. Leaving me abandoned in charge of the cat and dad. With dad's luck, there is a good to fair chance that Santa will miss a visit to our boat.
So for those children of all ages who are awaiting Santa's visit, click on the link NORAD Santa Tracker 2010

You can even watch a replay on YouTube of last years NORAD Santa Tracker 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Love Poppy XX

Sunday 19 December 2010

Pigs and Gorillas

Hi mum and Olive.

I love pigs and gorillas! Well I sort of love them a little bit. Its a long story, so where shall I start....

Well, it all started one evening this week when dad came home with a paper bag and a big smile on his face. Dad put the bag into the cupboard before I could get my usual quick sniff at it. But, there was a very faint but interesting aroma which held my attention for a while. Later everyone settled down for their meal and I went into the galley (galley is the name for the kitchen on a boat) hoping to get a tidbit or two.

On the floor was this strange little fat thing, with a strong smell of whatever was in the paper bag about it. I have never seen anything like it in my short but interesting life. It was round, had short stumpy legs and a flat nose. I was a bit wary of what it was, you never can be sure if it is a dangerous bad tempered biting thing. Dad picked it up and suddenly it made the most amazing noise. It was a bit like the sound of those squeaky toys that we get to nibble the squeak out of. But it was a much deeper snorting sound. I tried to get the best position to get a view, but I only got the odd a tantalising glimpse. I'm not sure where it went, but it disappeared from sight. I wanted to find it again and even though I scented the air, the smell had all but disappeared.

Later, whilst I was in the saloon (saloon is the name of living space on a boat) enjoying a quiet nap in my bed. I heard the noise. I rushed to the galley and in the middle of the floor by dad's feet was it. That pig thing from before. I skittered to a halt, and slowly and warily I inched forward. Stretching my nose forward and just like a coiled spring, I was ready to jump clear in an instant. My nose was about six inches away and every muscle was quivering - when suddenly it snorted and leaped forward off dad's foot and attacked. Well I made an instant strategic withdrawal, down the boat heading for the saloon with my tail between my legs. Its not that I was scared, I seem to be able to run faster with my tail in this position.

On arrival in the saloon I was confronted by a huge monster (a gorilla named Jacko) sat in my bed. This monster had staring eyes, a big mouth and was much bigger than me. So pushing my tail even closer to my belly, I made another withdrawal back to the galley. There was a strange "woo wooo" sound coming from somewhere (it could have been me) that accompanied my withdrawal. By the time I arrived back in the galley the pig had gone and I was able to stand guard just behind some legs. The family were laughing and pointing at me. They obviously did not know about the huge monster in the saloon.

Everyone started to move into the saloon area. However, I waited until last to bring up a rearguard in case the pig returned. On arriving at the saloon everyone was talking about Jacko. Who had somehow made his way from my bed and onto the sofa. I needed to check him out and so I did a slow stealthy approach. It turned out that the monster was just a huge stuffed toy. Later, dad went into the galley and I heard the pig monster calling again. I sauntered down to the galley door. When I looked in I saw the pig monster sat on dads knee. After a while I plucked up the courage to go and have a closer look at the pig monster. It turned out to be a plastic toy after all. I love plastic toys! So I decided it needed ratting and instant surgery to remove the squeak. However, it escaped and I think it is now in hiding in the cupboard again. I intend to get it fully ratted at the first opportunity.

Its been a very busy and exciting day - so I shall sign off now and go and have a much needed sleep in my bed.

Oh no! That damn cats in my bed again, I hate that cat. Its time to annoy someone into ejecting the cat. Mind you Jacko's plush and comfortable lap will make a good substitute for now. There is only so much excitement you can have in one day!

Yip yap

Love Poppy XX

Friday 17 December 2010

Ice and Snow.

Hi mum and Olive.

Just a quick note to say the narrow boat is not moving at the moment, because the canal is full of ice.  I had a look at the towpath from the back deck. Snow was falling and it looked to be quite deep so I decided to retrace my steps back to my bed in front of the stove. When I got back to my bed the cat had moved in. This cat is becoming a full time problem. he seems to be unaware of the normal hierarchy where dogs always come out above cats. There may not be enough room to swing a cat on a narrow boat. However, I do have in mind a cat to test the swing theory with.

Photograph above is from the narrowboat "No Problem" blog.

Seemingly I am now in need a good winter coat. This has come about since dad took me to the grooming parlour. Where I had my very sung and warm coat thinned out. Started out with a bath in nice soapy water. Then a shampoo with some evil smelling stuff. Which was a waste of time as they then washed it all out  afterwards. I don't mind the good strong smelly stuff as it saves me having to find something equally smelly to roll in later. I could roll on the cat - that monster is very smelly, especially after he has been eating fish flavoured cat food.

Mum, said something about going to Dogs "R" Us and getting me fitted out with the new coat. Not exactly the trendy place I had in mind. What's wrong with Armani de Dogs. When you are a style icon, nothing less will do.

The family seem to be quite relaxed about the lack of boat movement and are all busy trying to read or watch the television. So its time for me to go and find a lap to sit on. The family find it quite irritating when I want to sit on a lap. Especially when all that they want to do is read or watch television. If there is one thing I know about, it is the best way of irritating people. I have discovered that if I irritate them enough they will move the cat out of my bed. Its a war of counter irritation, but someone has it to do.

Love to all

Poppy XX

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Christmas Puppy Warning.

Poppy and her family would like to give you a bit of advice. Dogs Are For Life Not Just For Christmas.

If you know anyone who is thinking of buying a puppy for Christmas. Please please ask them first of all, to read the information on Puppy Love Campaign.

Christmas is coming, don't be one of next years statistics who's pup died before New Year. Do not fall into the trap of buying a farmed puppy. There are thousands of homeless dogs and puppies in rescues across the land, please look to these dogs first and make Christmas a true time of giving. If you must buy a pup seek out an ethical breeder who does all health test on your chosen breed, see all relevant paperwork before you buy and make sure the pups are raised in a house with love, not outdoors in kennels.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year

Love from Poppy XX

Flying Fun.

Hello everyone.

We had an interesting day out last Monday. As it was a nice day weather wise, rather than the usual walk along the tow path ,we went for a walk round the local airfield. There were lots of smelly and noisy flying things arriving and leaving which dad seemed to be very interested in.

Dad took me to look at one of the flying monsters and he was very interested in looking at all the knobs and switches and flashing beeping things. We were invited inside by one of dads friends, I just sat in the seat near the window. Suddenly the door was shut and this loud rumbling noise started. After a while I could tell we were moving, suddenly we were bouncing around and the rumbling noise got much louder. Then everything stopped bouncing and went smooth. I must admit that I started to feel a bit more relaxed. I looked out of the window and it seemed to be much further to the ground than it had been before. But I'm not very good at judging heights and distances. Especially when jumping from the boat to the bank. I have ended up in the water a few times already.     
Dad could see I was a bit nervous and so he started to give me a few chocolate buttons. I always enjoy a few tidbits when we go out for a walk. It seems to make dad feel much happier and I don't mind. Soon there was fluffy white things floating past the windows and then the sun was very bright. Dad gave me another chocolate button which I managed to drop as we suddenly changed direction. It rolled across the floor and went down a crack in the floor. Dad passed me another chocolate button and so I tried to make it last. I'm not very good at making them last.

Now dad and the other man were in deep conversation about something called electrickery. As dad was ignoring my plea for another button, I decided to find the one I had dropped. I soon sniffed out the crack where it was and tried to dig it out. Suddenly the driver got out of his seat and opened the little door. I think he wanted the button, but I grabbed the button before he could get it. I jumped back up on my seat and a bit later we returned back to the airfield.

Everyone was making a fuss of me. Dad said I was a very cleaver girl - but I already know that. Soon everyone wanted to stroke and pet me. Dad gave me loads of chocolate buttons on the way back to the boat. Everyone in the marina now calls me "Wonder Dog". A couple of people have been round to see dad from "The Barking Times" they even took my picture. Dad now shows everyone the cutting from the paper.

Dad now tells anyone who will listen "Poppy is now being hailed as a wonder dog. She has become something of a heroine to all the pilots at the airfield. I never knew that she understood anything about aircraft, but she does like to play at fly-ball".

So It seems that I'm in everyone's good books - I think I could pee on the carpet and get away without being scolded.

Lots of love Poppy XX


Hello all.

Well my first few days of living in my new billet have passed quite quickly. I will have a fair few stories to recount when ever I meet up with family members. I do miss all of my brothers and sisters and especially cuddling up together in a big warm heap. I have been allocated a soft warm bed located near to the boat stove. There is some competition between me and the cat about ownership of the bed. The cat seems to be winning at the moment as he spends most of the time half asleep. I am hanging about, waiting to take over the bed at a moments notice.

I have only one little accident to report, this occured when I was not able to make it on to the towpath grass in time. It was such a small piddling puddle of pee. However it seemed to bring out massive amounts of admonishment, finger waving and disaproval of all the humans on board. Then no doubt by way of further punishment, it was arranged for me to have a visit to the vet.

Now this vet person is someone who has little in the way of tact and started to give me a full physical checkout. He started by looking into my mouth, into my eyes and ears. Then my dignity was  affronted by where he looked next. Is there to be no self dignity left for me and I can't begin to tell you where he stuck the thermometer.

I'm back on board, the cat is still hogging my bed and he keeps making obnoxious smells. The outcome of this just seems to draw sniggers, pointing and further finger wagging at me.

This does not bode well for the future.

Yip Yip

Love Poppy XX

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Arrival at the boat.

Hi Mom.

On arrival at my new lodgings I was greeted by a cat - I kid you not, it was an old and ancient black cat - called "Jasper". He seems to think that he owns the place, the way he struts around. Now I don't want to seem all picky. Seeing as I have had several pseudonym or nom de plume myself - but what sort of a name is Jasper for a cat!  So it looks to me like, for the time being, I will have to share my new billet, with a scrawny old cat.

Well I decided the best way was to assert myself and my position from the start. So I made up my mind to give him the standard doggies introduction. By tastefully and with much decorum smelling at his rear. The monster took exception at the greeting and insisted on giving me a boxing lesson in return. Cats need to know their place in the hierarchy and pecking order of life on board a boat. This cat seems to have delusions of grandeur about his place in the boat hierarchy. I can feel that there will be some interesting times ahead.

Not an auspicious start, I admit, but I will get around to sorting the cat out out later. Now is time to relax and enjoy my new lovely warm bed and to spend some time with the juicy bone I have been awarded for being "cute". I am very good at doing cute, the two humans on board it seems are called "mummy and daddy". They are quite easy to please. However, I will need to start their training quite soon.

Oh no, I must go, the cat has had the temerity to get into my warm and comfortable bed and is now licking at my new bone. I think it's going to be one of those days.

I will write again soon.

Love to all

XX Poppy

Canal Dog Blog

Hello, my name is "Lola" or it was, for a short while. However, since I was a twelve week old puppy I have travelled under the pseudonym of "Poppy" though my posh name on my birth certificate is "Sharrowvale Ace of Hearts". I am a feisty female who is (without the slightest difficulty) living up to the name bitch! People often look at me and say "its a Wire Haired Fox Terrier". The first few times this happened I looked round to see what they were talking about. However, for anyone who is unsure. I can guarantee that I am a fully paid up member of the terrier clan. I have no idea what a "Wire Haired Fox" looks like. I have seen and chased a few of those "Red Foxes" along the tow path. But I have yet to meed a Wire Haired Fox.

I live for part of the year (winter) on land and for the rest of the year (spring, summer and autumn) I live on a traditional English narrow-boat. My family and me enjoy our time cruising the rivers and canals of England. If you would like to know a little bit more about Narrow-boat history click this link.

I was born at a very early age into an instant family of sextuplets plus my mum Vera. I was visited and seemingly passed over by several prospective (but obviously tasteless) adoptive parents. However, I decided that it was time for some positive thinking. So I decided to play the "sticky lick" card. When the next batch of prospect parents arrived. As soon as I was picked up, I went for the fastest face lick ever! Needless to say, I was an instant success. The point being proved when my new dad who had picked me up. After he had been given an instant sticky lick said "You can choose any puppy you like, as long as it's this one" we were instant friends.

I had to tough it out for a while longer as we were not ready for going to our new homes. Something to do with "weaning". I like to think I was house trained quite quickly and to be honest I weaned very little at that time. However I knew that mum Vera had by this time decided it was time for us all to depart. Soon the day arrived and I was whisked off to pastures new. The journey was spent cuddled up in a blanket on my new mums lap.

Before I left, I promised to visit mum and one of my sisters called Olive who was staying behind whenever possible. However, I have since decided that the best way to keep in touch is to write a blog of my life ashore and afloat. Whilst this blog is intended only for my family to read and for them to keep up to date with my travels. You're all welcome to come and have a look whenever your of the mind.

Yip yip!

Love Poppy XX