Posts Tagged ‘Pooch’

Pooch’s Pool


Tired Old Tales for Thursdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Pooch is wilting.

This despite the fact that for the first two years of his life he lived in a country where the summer temperatures overshot 40ºc on a regular basis.

Throughout the day he flops like a moribund fish from the sofa to the cool tiled floor under my bed and back again, with his tongue hanging limply round his ankles and a look of mournful dejection on his face.

I would feel more sorry for him if it wasn’t for the fact that he also periodically throws himself into his outside bed to roast his remaining brain cell in full sunlight.

The high point of both our days are our walks down to the river, where Pooch swims around in hot pursuit of water skaters and stones whilst  I sit on a rock watching the dragonflies…

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Living on a Whim part one


Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays – a trip down memory strada…

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I am moving to Italy!

Now, I am extremely well acquainted with the whole moving scenario, but this particular shift in location has a sense of inevitability that was perhaps absent in most of my previous moves. It somehow lacks the frisson of excitement associated with my usual style of launching myself ‘dans la vide’ on little more than a whim and a prayer. Could that be because I have been pondering this for at least the last seven years? Does that mean that this relocation actually constitutes a well-considered plan rather than a thrill-seeking mission? How could I have missed the signs? It’s time to face up to the truth! MUMMY, YOUR LITTLE GIRL IS GROWING UP!

Up until the age of eighteen, I lived, to all intents and purposes, a pretty average life – premature expulsion…

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Life Goes On…


…and it does: post “An English Fandango” and, far more poignantly, post Pooch – as hard as it is to admit the latter.

And although most of the time I am doing just fine, there are moments when the pain and disbelief hit me all over again and I dissolve into a soggy mess of loss and grief.

The question on many people’s lips has of course been ‘Why don’t you just get another dog?’ A question I’m sure I myself have been guilty of asking in the past, but which I now realise is as inappropriate as suggesting a recently widowed woman should just “get another husband.”

Because I don’t want “a dog”, I want my companion. I want Strauss – the creature I knew almost as well as I know myself, and whose life was so intertwined with my own that it is now two months since his death and I am still walking around as tentatively as if I had been deprived of a limb.

But life goes on…

…and it does: the proof is sitting under my desk as I write; occasionally shooting out to woof at an unfamiliar noise, or to beg me yet again to let her into that intriguing storage cupboard under the eaves to check for the marauders she just knows are hiding there.

Millie Dog Comes To Stay

Millie Dog Comes To Stay

Yup. I am dog-sitting, and my charge is no ordinary dog: an intriguing hybrid of Jack Russel and bumble bee; she is tiny and round, investigative of each and every nook and cranny and in a permanently heightened state of busyness.

Having another canine around the place is bittersweet – it certainly helps that she bears absolutely no resemblance to Strauss in either looks or behaviour – but it also means that we are spending a lot of time staring quizzically into each others’ eyes whilst we try to guess at what all these unfamiliar cues, facial expressions, woofs, commands and whines might be attempting to convey.

But when all is said and done, we’ve got a whole two weeks to figure it all out, so I suspect we shall be just fine…

Welcome to SV Land, Millie Dog!

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

The Post I Never Wanted to Have to Write

Strauss (aka Pooch)5 Dec 2000 - 24 Feb 2013

5 Dec 2000 – 24 Feb 2013

The post I’m still not sure I can write.

Because the stark black on white will turn a long-awaited dread into an irrefutable fact: my beloved Pooch is no longer at my side.

Almost exactly twelve years since he was plucked from his hellish beginnings in a Spanish rescue centre, the myocardial tumour that had been slowly expanding inside my wonderful pup’s chest finally saw off the last of the quality of life he had been enjoying ever since.

I can’t say it was unexpected – his health (and consequently my peace of mind) started their downturn well over a year ago, first with the increasing weakness and pain in his back legs, followed by the diagnosis of a heart tumour, and then an even more recent diagnosis of Leishmaniosis (a nasty disease caused by a parasite found on certain species of sand fly).

In fact many many many months have passed since I was last worry-free: am I doing everything I possibly can for him? Should he have more exercise? Less exercise? More medication? Less medication? How can I gauge exactly how much he is suffering? How much time do I have left with him? How on earth will I ever live without him?

No doubt a great many more months than that have passed since he was last discomfort-free…

And it is that fact that I must cling on to now when the tears fall for the hundredth time and I wail to an empty room “I JUST WANT HIM BACK!”.

For I don’t want the Strauss who cries in pain every time he struggles to  his feet. I don’t want the Strauss who stands at the bottom of every staircase with a look of despair and futility on his face at the thought of climbing to the top. I don’t want the Strauss who no longer comes to greet me because he just doesn’t have the strength to get out of bed. I don’t want the Strauss who no longer trusts his own limbs to keep him upright, or his own breaths to keep him oxygenated –  I want that Strauss to have the pain-free peace he so richly deserves.

Where it all began...

Where it all began…

And as for the other Strauss? The joyous, affectionate, bouncing, playful, expressive, loyal, curious, busy, beautiful bundle of love and life? I have twelve years-worth of memories and love with which to comfort myself on the pain of losing that Strauss, as well as the knowledge that he was finally freed from his suffering in the only place we would both want him to be.

In my arms.

Strauss and Me

Strauss and Me

Goodbye my beautiful boy,  I can’t even begin to imagine how I am ever going to get by without you.

Ticking Along


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

As thrilled as you no doubt all were (cough, cough) to catch up with my news last week, I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be a few out there who are currently tapping their fingers, whilst muttering:

“Yes, yes. That’s all very well, but what about Pooch?”

And quite right too… What about me?

So you will be relieved to hear that Pooch is, well…. as Poochy, as ever.

Perhaps even more so on occasion.

He is also exceedingly relieved to have bid goodbye to the ghastly summer heat, which has been particularly punishing on a boy of nearly twelve, and which has led to the fur on each knobbly little elbow being rubbed into extinction by hours spent lolling dolefully on unforgiving floor tiles.

Too much embarrassing personal information, Mummy!

And it would appear that floor tiles and arthriticky hips are also a ill-advised partnership; all of which meant that by the time the temperatures began to descend to more manageable levels, our dear Pooch was quite reduced to a hobbly, panty, bald-in-patches shadow of his former self.

But despite his previously palpable misery, a couple of cooler weeks was all it took to get Mummy’s Little Soldier back to his irrepressible best.

Just the memory is enough to make me feel faint. Dash and get me another snacklet to perk me up, Mummy, there’s a poppet.

As wonderfully joyful and bouncy as he is, the fact that Pooch will be twelve this December is  never far from my mind. And being that I am one of Life’s worriers-about-every-wee-thing, I have for a while now been prone to panic at the slightest limp, sneeze or shake of his head.

Other than regular exercise, food supplements and eventually medication, I have been assured that there is absolutely nothing further I can do to ease the path of the arthriticky hips.

The squidgy lumps that have sprung up hither and thither are apparently harmless fatty lipoma, and the milky eyes are a result age-related lenticular sclerosis – aka nothing serious.

But there was no getting away from the fact that sooner or later there would be SOMETHING, and after a routine heart scan I was finally given the news I have been dreading since February 2001 when this amazing little creature became part of my life.

Pooch has a myocardial tumour.


Taking cells for a biopsy would be a risky procedure in itself, and even if it was discovered to be cancerous, removing a tumour from a dog’s heart is not an option. Chemotherapy is also known to have little or no effect on this sort of growth.

And anyway, the scans do seem to indicate that the tumour is a benign fibroma.

Pooch is currently showing very few symptoms other than a bit of a cough and slightly raised blood pressure, so hopefully the progression of this hateful mass will be slow.

But progress it eventually will; affecting his heart and lung function, with the obviously fatal consequences.

Having to come to terms with the irrefutable evidence that my beloved dog is not going to live forever, or even as long as I had started to hope given the astounding longevity of some of the local hounds, is ridiculously hard.

But I mustn’t let my sadness impinge on his right to the happiest life possible, so fingers crossed he puts the recent frenzy of hugging down to his ever-increasing cutesy wootsiness, and not my desperation to hold him close for as long as I still can.

This is Status Viatoris, hoping that the cardiologist appointment in six-month’s time indicates a less than speedy decline, in Italy.

Entertaining The Three Musketeers


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage


Much to Pooch’s disgust – a disgust he takes little pains to hide, I might add – our previously sedate morning walks have recently taken on a whole new element of excitement and adventure.


That in itself probably wouldn’t pose a problem for him, if it wasn’t for the fact that the reason for such change has come in the form of two dogs. And not just dogs, but the sort of dogs that Pooch abhors most of all – puppies.



Toy, an 11-month old Brittany spaniel and Diablo, a 5-month old something white and fluffy, belong to two good friends of mine who live in the same carruggio and whose work commitments do not allow for extensive canine trotty-wags during the week.

And as scooping the poop of three incontinent hounds as opposed to just the one really appealed to me, I offered to haul them along with us on our morning perambulation.

Solitary boy doing solitary boy stuff.

Once the initial daily chaos of trying to get them all into their respective harnesses and attached to their leads whilst the tiddlers make repeated attempts to kiss Pooch (who retaliates by trying to bite chunks from their fluffy little noses) and Diablo pees his happiness over everyone’s feet; we cross the road to the safety of the lane on the other side and the three sort-of amigos are then unleashed on an unprepared world.

More sociable boys hanging out.

An utterly hair-raising helter skelter down to the river – punctuated by the production, collection and subsequent disposal of steaming mounds – ensues, with The Musketeers occasionally sparing a millisecond to look behind them and check I’m still puffing along obediently in their mission-driven wake.

Thanks lads.

Slightly more convivial group sniffing.

On arrival at the wet stuff, Diablo jumps straight in for a swim whilst Pooch selects the ideal rock to lavish his un-dividable attention on and Toy nervously cases the joint for scary stuff (which I would then be required to protect him from if he were ever to run it to ground).

Yup! I’m stuck, again.

Having three such very different dogs in tow comes with its own problems as I learnt to my cost a couple of weeks ago on leaving the river, when him of the old cronky legs stumbled over a stone forcing him of the agile legs to soar clean over his head, thus knocking him of the stubby legs off a wall and down a 1.5 metre drop into some brambles.

A rather long silence followed as Pooch, Toy and I peered down at Diablo in his uncomfortable nest; with at least one of us wondering how on earth we were going to retrieve him.

Half dog, half springy mountain goat.

By lying on my stomach on the ledge and reaching down I couldn’t even touch the top of his head, much less haul him up by his harness which had been my plan.

But eventually he started bouncing up against the wall, and timing a lunge to coincide with a bounce, I finally managed to get him by the scruff and yank him to safety.

The boys heading off in search of adventure…

Diablo’s gratitude has since known no bounds, but has also had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing his confidence in my abilities to get him out of sticky situations. So it is that sliding down wet rocks, scrambling down muddy inclines and reaching into prickly undergrowth in order that accident-prone wee pup may continue on his waggy way have become an integral part of my morning escapades.

…and back they come!

Seeing the dogs enjoying themselves so much has definitely made it that bit harder to drag myself home from all the delights the Italian countryside has to offer. What used to be a perfectly respectable 45 minute to an hour’s start to my morning routine, has now morphed into two hours and probably about 6 or 7 kilometres of japes so jolly that all those things I should really be hurrying home to get on with are quite forgotten.


Hopefully not dry-clean only!

But having always subscribed to the theory that over and above cuddles and treats, regularly walking your dog is the way to ensure its contentment and obedience (a dirty wet dog is almost always the happiest sort and a well-exercised dog is quite simply putty in one’s hands), it becomes surprisingly easy to put less pleasurable obligations clean out of my mind.

(Now that little confession is bound to go down a storm with the ever-responsible Mothership 😉 )

But even springy mountain goats sometimes lose their nerve and need a helping hand.

Nevertheless, little stubby legs of not-quite half a year and achy delicate legs of nearly twelve, cannot stomp on indefinitely; so eventually I turn my troops around to make their tired, damp but exceedingly cheerful way back towards the village.

On the home straight.

After a relaxing cappuccino at the bar, the knackered trio are more than happy to be reunited with their beds; leaving me to get on with the more onerous obligations of the day whilst basking in the glow of satisfaction resulting  from a job well done.

Exhaustion reigns.

This is Status Viatoris, who cannot actually think of a better start to her day than herding the Tre unruly Moschetierri round the surrounding countryside, in Italy.

Living With Celebrity


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Whilst I have absolutely no doubts that Pooch is far and away the bestest dog in the whole wide world, it is always nice to be given the opportunity to inform others of that fact; so it was with much delight that I accepted an invitation to write all about him on the blospot blog Coffee With A Canine.

(Click here to connect directly to Pooch’s article).

The author of Coffee With a Canine, Marshal Zeringue, kindly consented to satisfy some of my curiosity with regards to the origins of his blog in the form of the following interview:

What prompted you to set this very original blog in motion?

I started Coffee with a Canine when two things occurred to me: (1) many more of my closest friends had dogs than did not, and (2) so many of the authors I ran across while running the Campaign for the American Reader blogs featured their dogs in their official biographies.  I thought others might be interested in learning more about these dogs and dog-lovers.  The coffee angle may have something to do with my New Orleans roots: conversation seems to require food or drink.

What is your criteria for chosing the people/pets you blog about?

A willingness to share about one’s dog.

Who are the canines that share your life?

I don’t have a dog now and haven’t had one for a long time, but I do enjoy the company of my many friends’ many dogs.

How do you feel about cats?

I like cats well enough…but I’m also allergic, so I keep my distance.

Whilst answering Marshal’s questions about the life Pooch and I share together, I was reminded that this was not actually the first time Pooch had featured on a blog other than Status Viatoris.

In fact way back in May 2010, the delightful Shauna – Fido & Wino (and now bambino makes three…) – asked me to participate in her pet project; R.O.A.R Squad – Rescue Owners Are Rockin’.

How could I refuse?

Well of course I couldn’t, and the result of that interview can be found by clicking here (it was only my desire to protect Pooch from intrusive media attention that prevented me from sharing it with you before now… or I might just have forgotten; I can’t actually remember).

So there we have it; Step Two in the campaign to have Pooch’s name uttered worldwide with the same gusty reverence as that of Lassie, Kommisar Rex, Laika or Scooby Doo.

It can only be a matter of time…

Are you finding it hard to cope with yet another day like this?

Try whiling away the time Pooch-style… (also helps one relax enough to cope with the pressures of celebrity).

This is Status Viatoris, proud mamma to Pooch the wonder dog and utterly totally mind-bogglingly sick of the rain, in Italy.

Rural Rover


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Now I was going to do this anyway, but after the heartbreaking “Where’s Pooch?” in my last reader comments, I have got a more urgent wriggle on – not giving Pooch’s fans what they want would almost certainly be my blogging downfall… 😉

Dearest Pooch has been having a simply spiffing holiday at his Granny’s, although I suspect he will sleep for around a week on our return to Italy.

I sometimes think I own parent two completely different hounds depending on our geographical location:

When at home in Italy, Pooch stays in bed long after I have risen; rarely contemplating pushing back the duvet until I actually have the front door open and his harness dangling from my fingers. He very much enjoys his two or three daily walks, and loves chewing the fat (often literally) in the local bars and shops. But time not spent either walking or socialising, is primarily occupied by long and thoughtful contemplation of the inside of his eyelids.

When in Blighty, however, I am unfailing woken at HALF PAST SIX by a scarily energised creature who is already bouncing off the walls in his eagerness to get the day started. The following 14 hours at least are spent racing round the garden barking at air traffic, policing the local squirrels, helping the Mothership with her mowing and weeding and pruning, going on walks, staring with great concentration at the wildlife (but not chasing it, good boy) and generally being busy. There is rarely a nap to be had from one end of the day to the other, and I have absolutely no idea how his little body copes with the shock of it all.

In his own words “Staying at Granny’s house is fandabbydozy”.

Many people have also commented on this visit home about how much more vocal he has become.

Always a chatty dog – morning greetings are especially tuneful – he now yaks on pretty much constantly with a surprisingly wide range of squeaks, squawks, yawns, moans, huffles and gruffles.

Now I wonder, could that be the influence of noisily talkative Italians shining through??

Go on rain, piss off – I’ve got important stuff to do out there…

Well someone has to clean up all those puddles, so it might as well be me.

She’ll be so busy admiring my pose, she won’t notice my willy’s hanging out until she uploads the picture. Snigger.

Oh! A nairoplane! I wonder if the pilot’s noticed my willy’s hanging out…

I even scan for planes when crossing slippery wooden bridges, now THAT’S dedication.

If I stare hard enough, one may jump out at my feet. Mummy? Why don’t you get the chips and mushy peas on just in case…

If I had managed to whip round and flash my willy, this would definitely have been the perfect photo.

But getting it caressed by dandelions and cowslips is not ‘arf bad either…

Hum hum whistle, one man went to mow, went to mow a meadow, one man and his dog; Pooch,went to mow a meadow… hum hum whistle this is the life.

Pooch would like to dedicate this blog to two of his peers who, very sadly, are no longer with us.

Kai and Jess, we feel extremely privileged to have known two such lovable Labradors. You are very sorely missed, both by your families who have been left with a very particular doggy-shaped hole in their lives after sharing so many wonderful years together, and by us.

You won’t be forgotten.

Huge hugs, pats, wags and licks,

SV and Pooch xxx

Potty about Pooch


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

A rather superior hound…

It took me quite a long time to stop wondering if I had done the wrong thing by acquiring Pooch.

Far from being a fluffy, cuddly and winsome puppy; he was instead angular, nervy and full of worms.


And despite having been exceptionally quick to house train, aged about six months he regressed to the doggy equivalent of the terrible twos,  and proceeded to destroy my living space, my belongings and my sanity for the following… well… at the time it felt like forever.

He successfully employed teeth and claws to systematically ruin two three-piece suites, two double mattresses, pillows, shoes, credit cards, phone chargers, television remote controls and so the list goes on.

When he wasn’t mercilessly ripping things into oblivion, he was peeing all over them.

Having ignored him, given him more exercise, cried, shouted at him, ignored him some more, smacked him, cried again – all to no avail – I finally had to resort to muzzling the little blighter every time I left the house. He still somehow managed to chew the ears off my beloved toy lamb, but eventually the nightmare ended; and almost as suddenly and inexplicably as it had begun.

Such a very good boy… now.

It was about that time that the real falling in love part started; and now, almost exactly eleven years later, I frighten even myself with the intensity of my feelings for this amazing little animal.

Happiness and cuddles doggified.

Since working from home, Pooch and I have found ourselves joined at the hip practically 24/7, and although he is perfectly happy to be left at home on the rare occasions I do have to go out alone, I am pretty sure that we are both much happier when we are muddling along together.

I know I am.

This is just the visible umbilical cord…

Last night, due to the unbelievable amounts of chaos currently being wrought by the builders, I decided to pull out the sofa bed and kip downstairs.

Pooch, having already retired to dig himself a little nest upstairs, did not fully appreciate this state of affairs; and at about 4 o’clock this morning I was woken by the wails of the most pitiful of sobbing puppy dogs, who, having decided to decamp to Mummy’s bed as is his habit halfway through the night, had discovered that his worse nightmare had come true – she had finally run off, and without so much as a goodbye…

His joy at hearing my whistle sent him barrelling down the stairs and under the duvet with such ferocious determination that I am lucky to still boast the use of my legs.

Deep relaxation born of relief.

Pooch, I can’t believe we have been together for eleven whole years; my longest relationship yet!  And as cheesy as it may sound…

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

You make me happy, when skies are grey.

You’ll never know, Pooch, how much I love you,

So please don’t take (at least not for years and years yet)

my sunshine, away…!”


This is Status Viatoris, who secretly suspects that the devotion she feels towards her darling little dog, may  well be reciprocated, in Italy.


Time Management Can Be Tricky…


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

…when you don’t have a boss to tap his watch and glare at you sternly.

Being my own boss, I am rather more inclined to throw myself an indulgent smile and comfortingly murmur, “Take your time. There’s no rush; life is to be enjoyed don’t you know.”

And although I usually manage to rise promptly from my slumbers at seven o’clock – any earlier feels like a crime against all that is right and natural – it tends to be also the exact moment at which my interest in timekeeping fades.

A bit of yoga, the consumption of breakfast whilst perusing the news, getting washed and dressed; all these minor activities somehow unfailingly preclude me from leaving the house until after 9h.

Bugger me if I know where the time goes. (Turn of phrase. Please don’t.)

There follows an approximately three-kilometre walk around the village, which takes in the region of 35 to 40 minutes.

Or at least that is how long it would take if it wasn’t for the profusion of friendly faces with whom to exchange news and views along the way.

(At the moment we are all about the weather, here in My Little Italian Village. Those who claim an obsession with discussing meteorology to be a purely British trait, are grossly misinformed).

Pooch and I pop into a bar on our way home for a quick cappuccino and a catch-up on local gossip.

But then someone we know might pole up, and it would be only natural to offer them a caffè. If the nattering goes on long enough, they will eventually return the favour.

And before long it is dangerously past 11h, I am at least three cappuccini down, and I still haven’t written a single word.

Thus we continue the journey home, where I feed Pooch, before settling down in front of the computer; quite brimming over with purpose and good intention.

At 13h, a  rumbling crescendo starts to indicate that it may well be time for a soupçon of lunch.

At 15h, a crescendo of grumbling starts to indicate that the previously supine heap on the sofa reckons it may well be time for another walk.

So off we set.

We might be two-thirds of the way round, when a small puppy pops out of a property to bounce up and down in front of Pooch’s unimpressed nose. So intent is it on capturing Pooch’s resolutely averted attention, that it continues to bounce merrily alongside us as we carry on our way.

So we have no choice but to return to the property and inform the owner of his puppy’s fruitlessly misplaced affections, at which, this rugged man of the land promptly invites me in for a drink; no refusals brooked.

A  convoluted putting-to-rights of the world ensues – people need to get back to basics, people are too materialistic, people no longer feel a connection to the natural world, hunters are evil shysters whose crap smells atrocious… can’t quite remember how we got onto that particular subject.

Anyway, before long it is dangerously close to 18h, I am half a large bottle of home-made wine down, and still nowhere close to reaching my writing deadline.

So we hot foot it zigzaggly home, where I feed Pooch (again), before settling down in front of the computer; quite brimming over with purpose, good intention and fermented grape juice; and proceed to tap away with cross-eyed, panicky concentration until pumpkin hour or deadline are reached.

I may one day get the hang of managing my time more efficiently, but in the meantime I shall take note of my boss’s wise maxim:

Life is to be enjoyed, don’t you know 😉

This is Status Viatoris, who would certainly perish if she was ever obliged to return to the level of timekeeping required  by the average employee 😮 , in Italy.

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