Thursday, May 25, 2023

Recuperating With The Menagerie

I’ve been on the recovery list for a while.  Back in early April, I needed surgery to my left second toe and my right foot.  I had broken my toe a couple of times over the years and it had curled over, making wearing shoes uncomfortable.  I also had an arthritic spur on the top of my right foot making shoes uncomfortable there as well.  The surgery was quick and easy and I was home again that night with orders from the surgeon to keep my feet elevated until she saw me in ten days time to take out the stitches.  The left toe had a rod inserted into it during surgery with a little white bead sticking out of the end of my toe, just waiting to be knocked on something, so I took my keeping my feet up orders very seriously.  This rod had to stay in for six weeks.

I made a long-term nest for myself on the lounge where I had all life’s essentials to hand – my knitting, needlework project, books, laptop and the television remote.  I wasn’t forbidden from putting my feet on the floor so other essentials such as cups of tea were on a get it myself basis.  I was all set to recuperate in comfort.

Nefertiti was the first to discover my semi-prone form and she was all in favour of it.  She settled herself on my stomach, composed a new purr just for the occasion and closed her eyes to enjoy me lying down for long periods of time.  Despite Nefertiti wanting to keep this a secret, word soon got out amongst the other cats.  Tristan and Ambrosia soon began to crowd Nefertiti out and the jockeying for space on Mum soon began in earnest. 

I’ve mentioned before that with the cats it’s the closest to my face who wins, which usually means last one on is the winner.  With my legs lying out straight (albeit on an unusual incline) and my torso semi-flat, there was considerably more space for the taking, but only the very top of my chest was the desired area for all three cats.  When I came out to the lounge room first thing in the morning the battles would commence for the prime piece of property.  Ambrosia was usually first up and she contented herself with the top of my legs, until Nefertiti arrived and chose my stomach.  Tristan, being 20 years old now and a cat of peace, would wander in soon after that and just look for a peaceful, war free zone.  Unfortunately, Ambrosia and Nefertiti fought the Battle for Closest to the Face every morning.  I would do what I could to shield Tristan with one hand and remove both brawling cats one handed. 

Once the two combatants were exiled to the floor, looking very disgruntled and totally innocent Tristan could settle down.  Nefertiti and Ambrosia would sneak back, duly chastened for the time being and I would get on with my sewing, knitting or reading.  Thankfully, Graeme came in to give me the much needed cup of teas and lunch at appropriated times.  

The problem arose when trips to the bathroom were necessary – and believe me, I put them off as long as possible.  I would begin my exit by putting Nefertiti on the floor.  She was the cat who invariably won the War of the Closest to the Face, so the first one I could reach.  Before Nefertiti was able to jump back up again I had to get Ambrosia off my legs, which was nowhere near as straight forward as you’d think.  Ambrosia instantly took on the consistency of that slime children play with.  If I picked up her middle, she’d sort of ooze out of my hand, if I tried using both hands she’d go limp and roll away from the hands.  It took a while to manage to corral the entire cat and by this time, Nerfertiti was up on my chest again, preparing to forgive and forget and settle back to her snooze.  Eventually, both girls were on the floor and I would gently move my legs away from Tristan who always ended up in a little Tristan sized zone between my legs and the back of the lounge.  Both Nefertiti and Ambrosia sat on the floor giving me their most hurt look.  I’d head bathroom way apologising and I went.

Once back on the lounge the whole process began again, with the exception that Tristan usually stayed in his little Tristan Zone of Peace.  Words would be said on my part and ignored on Nefertiti’s and Ambrosia’s part, and eventually we’d reach the stage where everyone involved could live with the arrangement until I had to get up the next time.

In case you are worrying about Venus, she had no interest in joining the other three cats on top of me.  Venus took one look at the scuffling and nasty words being exchanged (the cats’ not mine) and preferred to spend her days with her dog, much to Cleo’s embarrassment.  Venus spent her days catching mice and presenting them as love tokens to Cleo, who did not favour the taste of mice.  Once I was up and around on my feet again, I would watch Cleo roll her eyes at yet another small, dead offering from that strange cat.  If she noticed my presence, Cleo would look at me, clearly appealing that I do something about this, as it was mortifying to be fed mice by a cat.  Marlowe solved the problem each time by ducking in and snatching the mouse, because he had no such prejudices against the taste of mouse.  When Venus came in at night, she’d settle herself on Tristan’s bed on one of the lounge chairs and snooze the night away.


 Tristan enjoying his bed before my foot surgery.

The puppies’ roles in my rehabilitation came after I was back on my feet.  Both puppies behaved as if I’d been out of their lives for years rather than only seeing them occasionally for just ten days.  Cleo thankfully has matured into gentle old age.  She contented herself with standing beside me and placing her head under my hand in case pats were available – they always were.  After the pats were administered, Cleo would either follow me around the yard “helping” with whatever I was doing, or retreat to her sunny spot and go back to sleep.  Cleo has become a low maintenance dog if we forget about her very expensive operation a few months ago (I’ll write about that in the future).

Marlowe would bound about me, showing how happy he was to see me and invite me to a game of tug of war or chasing, neither of which I was prepared to join in with my poor toe.  One a couple of occasion Marlowe’s bouncing energy brought him too close to my foot encased in a surgical sandal and the inevitable would happen and I’d have a 75kg Saint Bernard land on the tender toe.  Marlowe and I would exchange a few words about being more careful, I’d eventually get over the pain and life would go on.

Hedwig, the arbiter of shoe fashion, objected very strongly to the surgical sandal.  It wasn’t surprising; she hates my garden clogs and has left beak marks in them from time to time.  The huge, black plastic sandal was just too much!  Hedwig wanted it out of her aviary and wanted it out now!  Feeding Hedwig and Hermes required me to do a little shuffle dance to keep the irate fashionista off my sandal and away from my toe.  I’m not sure the white bead didn’t offend Hedwig’s sensibilities as well, but I was careful to keep it well away from her beak.  Hermes really wasn’t bothered about the sandal, but doesn’t take Hedwig’s tantrums well.  He would sit on one of the perches and offer her verbal encouragement until I’d refilled their feed containers and left.  Hedwig would then return to Hermes, clearly telling him she’d dealt with my latest fashion disaster.


Hermes and Hedwig

The chooks and ferrets didn’t notice the change in my footwear.  Graeme fed the chooks and collected the eggs until I was on my feet again, and the ferrets and I communed much as we always had.  Charis and Freya don’t care what I wear as long as I distribute treats and cuddles on a regular basis.

On Monday evening, my toe was giving me a lot of trouble.  It had been slightly painful all day (and it wasn’t one of the days Marlowe stepped on it).  When I had finished all my menagerie feeding chores I opened up the sandal and removed the surgical stocking to find my foot was swollen, the toe an angry red and the redness was covering about half my foot.  When Graeme came in from the paddocks, he took me to our local country hospital.  The doctor on call prescribed IV antibiotics and she’d call my surgeon in the morning, but there were no spare beds at the hospital so I had to come back every eight hours for my next IV.  This meant leaving home at 3.30am for one of the injections.

On Tuesday the surgeon was in surgery all day so uncontactable.  I was told to keep coming back for my eight hourly IVs.  Throughout my numerous visits the little hospital he staff were wonderful and were soon treating me like one of their friends.  Finally late Tuesday an appointment was made for me to see the surgeon and everything is now well on the way to healing.  Wednesday afternoon was my last IV and I’m now taking oral antibiotics so no more hospital visits in the early morning.

I think the trips to the hospital stopped just in time.  Poor Marlowe had felt that it was his responsibility to wave goodbye to us each time we left for the hospital, and to be at the gate to welcome us back home again when we arrived, even the 3.00am departures and subsequent 5.00am returns.  Cleo was happy to assist Marlowe in the goodbyes and welcome homes at decent hours of the day but she put her paw down at getting up in the middle of the night to join Marlowe’s farewell and welcome committee.  It's a good thing the 1.00pm IV was the last one.  Marlowe waved goodbye from the gate as we left, but when we returned home at 3.00 he was snoozing in the sun.  He opened his eyes, gave a short wag of his tail, and told us to welcome ourselves home, he was over it.  He did muster the energy to follow me to the back door, but quickly returned to his sunny spot in the garden.

I have been ordered to keep my foot elevated until the swelling goes down, which, according to the surgeon, could be a few weeks.  Here we go again.

The Farewell/Welcome Home Committee

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

It's Been A While


It’s been a while since my last post.  Marlowe is now nine months old and has settled in as a beloved part of the menagerie.  We had some fraught times with him in the early months.  

Our doggy medical adventures began with Cleo.  She was losing weight at an alarming rate, had developed a large number of bare, sore and itchy areas on her skin and was basically miserable.  Our vets are wonderful and it's difficult to get an appointment under two weeks away.  While I waited for the appointment day I treated Cleo with various potions to help with the itch, tried various foods to tempt her appetite (tinned puppy food was the only thing she'd eat) and generally spent my days trying to stop her scratching her skin raw.

The vet appointment day finally arrived and Cleo and Marlowe visited the vet.  Marlowe was due for his next booster injection.  The vet blamed Marlowe for Cleo's hot spots and steroid tablets, antibiotics and various other remedies were prescribed.  The medication schedule for the menagerie was both extensive and confusing. Tristan has a daily arthritis medication to add to the extensive range of medicines, but it's still difficult to believe all the medicines were for just two dogs and one old cat.  I ended up writing up a table to help me sort it out.  Here is a photo of what the pet medication hub looked like back then.

The medical adventures continued the next day.

We have two feral, half-grown cats who visit our back porch at night to help themselves to the dog food.  Marlowe has become good friends with Venus, our ex-feral cat, although she still prefers Cleo, who Venus considers to be her dog.   It looks like Marlowe tried to befriend the feral cats.  One Wednesday morning I noticed a large swelling under Marlowe’s chin.  We’d only been to the vets’ the day before as a follow up for Cleo’s hot spots (they weren’t hot spots, but mites, most likely brought into our back yard by some of the rabbits on the farm).  After an ultrasound Jen, the vet, said the abscess on Marlowe’s neck wasn’t ready for lancing and she booked Marlowe in for surgery on the following Monday.  By Thursday night Marlowe was miserable.  He couldn’t swallow and was in so much pain, we decided to take him back to the vets’ on Friday in case the abscess was ready for surgery.

It was a good thing we did because Jen said it would have burst on Saturday night.  Marlowe had the surgery and came home with the cone of shame around his neck and a drain tube in the abscess.  Jen said the abscess had been a lot worse than she expected and went in quite deep – the reason poor Marlowe couldn’t swallow.  Jen said there was still a bit of a lump there but that would disappear over the next few days.  Antibiotic tablets were to be given twice a day. 

 Marlowe after his first abscess surgery

All was well until the following Tuesday when Marlowe was looking down in the dumps that morning.  By lunchtime he couldn’t stand up.  I rang the vets’ saying I was bringing Marlowe straight in.  We couldn’t fit Cleo in the back this time because the car fridge was still in there and there was no time to remove it.  Graeme carried a very sick little Marlowe into the surgery for me, because despite Marlowe still being a little Saint Bernard, he was now too big a Saint Bernard for me to carry.  We were shown into a room immediately and a vet nurse checked Marlowe while we waited for a vet to arrive. 

Amber was our vet this time and couldn’t find a reason for Marlowe’s collapse.  He was running a high temperature, but the abscess lump didn’t feel that bad to her.  We left Marlowe there for a range of tests and wandered around a park in Wagga to kill time before we could pick our little fellow up.  Amber rang to say she’d like to keep Marlowe in for the night and was getting one of the senior vets to consult with her once Rose, the senior vet, returned to the surgery.  The upshot was that the abscess had re-emerged and was in deep once more. 

We returned home without Marlowe and Cleo, who had up until this time tried to convince us she was not smitten with the puppy, went looking for him at the back of the car.  When Marlowe didn’t emerge she went to find her squeaky toy, whined, and mourned him the way she’d mourned the loss of Aslan.  I told her that she couldn’t convince us she didn’t love Marlowe after all, but Cleo was too busy feeling sad.  She remained attached to her squeaky toy until Marlowe returned from the vets’ later the next day.

Rose performed surgery the next day and put a super dooper drainage system in this time.  It had a little suction bulb attached and I needed to empty it a few times a day until it was removed.  This new drain warranted Marlowe wearing an old tee shirt of mine because the cone of shame didn’t work with this new system.  The tee shirt almost lasted the three days before the drain came out, but by the last day Marlowe, who was feeling a lot better, had reduced it to tatters.  Thankfully, the drain was removed and that was the last we saw of the abscess.  Our vet bill that month was eye watering!  We’d had Cleo to the vets’ twice with her mite problem; Marlowe had his final booster injection and then two surgeries, all adding up to more money than I want to think about.  They are worth it though.

 Marlowe wearing my old tee shirt to protect the high-tech drainage tube.

After recovering from their various ailments, the puppies settled down to a firm friendship together.  Soon it was harvest time on Spring Rock and what a harvest it turned out to be!  We, like everyone else on the east coast of Australia, have had a huge amount of rain this year.  This resulted in our paddocks becoming waterlogged and the springs, from which our farm gets its name, were running in all the paddocks, and for the first time, even on our farm driveway.  This necessitated us having to use firebreaks to get off the property and only then if it hadn’t actually rained within the last few hours. There were many days when we couldn't get to the outside world.

As I mentioned in a post from last year’s harvest, I drive the tractor to unbog the header when it encounters wet patches in the crops.  This year I have been called out multiple times a day to rescue Graeme and the header.  The routine is, I’d try to get things done around the house until Graeme rang to say he was bogged, I then drive the tractor out to wherever the header is and Graeme hitches it and our other tractor up and we tow the header out of the bog.  Earlier in the harvest, I would then stay out in the paddock in the tractor while Graeme continued harvesting.  It really wasn’t worth coming back to the house, because he invariably became bogged a few more times that day.  I started taking a book and a travel mug of tea out with me and read the days away.  Eventually I put together all the bits and pieces for an appliqué block for a quilt I’m working on and took an audiobook out as well and I now stitch the day away.  Harvest still isn’t over.  We are usually finished well before Christmas, but this harvest has been drawn out and horrible.  We’ll get there though.

Back to the menagerie – everyone is happy and healthy; Tristan is now 20 years old.  I realised that he’s lived with us longer than any of our children did.  I told Graeme that this gives Tristan voting rights on decisions to be made in the family, and of course, Tristan being English language (or any language for that matter) challenged, I’ll be his proxy.  Graeme is not in favour of this democratic turn of events, but Tristan and I outvoted him.  Tristan spends most of his day sleeping in wherever he feels is the most in the way spot he can find, and Graeme and I arrange ourselves around wherever Tristan has chosen to nap.

 Tristan enjoying his winter daybed.

Ambrosia, Nefertiti and Venus try to race Tristan to his personal bed on one of the lounge chairs.   I made up a little padded spot for his old bones a while ago and Tristan slept most of winter there, but he prefers different sleeping arrangements for summer so isn’t interested in the winter bed.  The other three cats haven’t realised this and I’m sure they think they have won again when they settle on Tristan’s bed while he chooses to sleep in the very middle of the lounge room floor or on my lounge chair, taking up the whole space so I have to find somewhere else to sit so I don’t wake the old gentleman.

Hedwig and Hermes have only had one visit from a snake this summer.  They are enjoying the peace and quiet of not having to call out snake alarms nearly every day as in past years.  We are enjoying not having to go out to the aviary with the snake deterrer and persuade another brown snake to leave the cage.

Freya and Charis, the ferrets are doing well.  They enjoyed the Christmas decoration time in the house.  I always decorate the top of their cage with baskets of Christmas flowers, pine-cones and other little decorations.  I then set the ferrets free each morning to romp among the decorations for a while.  They made little pathways, had competitions to see who could push the most decorations off the top of the cage and generally created mayhem – mayhem being what ferrets are best at.  When the decorations finally came down Freya and Charis were sad to see their little wonderland disappear, but they manage to find other ways to create havoc so all is not lost.

 Freyer and Charis celebrating Christmas

The inhabitants of the chook yard have been playing musical yards.  The chook yard is divided up into three yards – a large, general yard, a smaller, but still spacious yard where Phoenix used to live and the Silkies’ yard, which again, is quite spacious.  When Phoenix died, I opened the gate between his yard and the main yard giving everyone in the main yard a bigger area to use.  

I have three roosters – Opportunity, a beautiful little Silky rooster who was supposed to live with George and Emu, our two Silky hens, Monster, who was an egg Emu hatched (Monster is a Faverolle, Hamburg cross so a very large rooster) and Henry, our Hamburg rooster.  Henry was purchased as a hen and disagreed with the diagnosis of his gender and Opportunity came here to live because he was crowing to loudly in a back yard in my daughter in law's mother's urban home.   

Opportunity lived with the Silky girls for a few weeks and decided life was too quiet in the Silky yard (which just happens to be exactly how George and Emu like it).  He then jumped over the dividing fence, only to find Henry in residence. The fact that Henry is three times Opportunity’s size didn’t faze our intrepid little fellow.  Opportunity bashed Henry up and told him there was more of that to come if Henry still thought he was top rooster in the yard.  Henry, who is not a brave rooster at all, now keeps himself as far away from Opportunity as he can.  If he finds himself close to Opportunity accidentally, Henry will squawk in panic and run to the end of the chook yard.  I’ve tried putting Henry in with the Silkies – they were against this idea and turfed him out.  I’ve tried putting Henry in Phoenix’s old yard, but Henry hates being in there with all the action going on in the other yard, so Henry stays in the main yard and makes sure he keeps out of Opportunity’s way.

Monster began life with the Silkies when Emu hatched him, and was happy to share their yard.  One day he decided to try the main yard, just to see what the other chooks were enjoying.  He stayed there for a few weeks, being bullied by Opportunity and commiserating with Henry.  I put Monster back with the Silkies a few times when the main yard threatened to become a war zone, but the next morning would find Monster back in the main yard.  Then, one day, for no apparent reason, Monster decided he’d had enough of the exciting life and moved back in with his mum, Emu and Aunty George.  Life in the chook yard has now settled down to peace and quiet.  I wish the same could be said of the puppies.

It's all fun and games here at the moment.  Cleo, who is now an old lady, has come into season.  She is nine years old and should be thinking of a quiet retirement instead of putting romantic ideas into silly, young dog’s heads.  I've Googled to see if it existed, but found there's no such thing as doggy menopause.  Marlowe, who is nine months old and in his difficult teenage doggy years, thinks that coming into season was a very good idea of Cleo's.  He hadn’t realised she could be so interesting, but is definitely happy to take advantage of this new situation.  I, on the other hand, am very much against Marlowe taking advantage of the situation.  I have come up with a system whereby I alternate locking one of the puppies in the laundry and giving the other a couple of hours of freedom. 

Cleo is all in favour of being sequestered on whichever side of the laundry door she finds herself - she knows she's too old to consider being a first time mum.  Cleo has reached the age where lying in the sun or shade, depending on the weather, or even better, on the kitchen floor, relaxing her days away and occasionally joining in a game of tug of war with young Marlowe, is her idea of a day well spent. Cleo is looking for a peaceful, old age just whiling away the hours snoozing or eating.  Puppies would mean an end to all the peace, not to mention the dangers of an old age pregnancy.  No, Cleo feels life is good just the way it is.

Marlowe on the other hand is all in favour of teenage fatherhood.  He is full of energy, bigger than Cleo now, and feeling his wild oats – wild oats that he definitely wants to sow.   Marlowe objects strongly to being on the other side of the laundry door to Cleo.  He has stated he doesn’t mind if he’s in the laundry or outside the laundry as long as Cleo is inside or outside with him.  To express his displeasure clearly at having a door between him and his newfound love, Marlowe has nearly destroyed the laundry door, scratching and complaining that just when Cleo got to be very interesting he's no longer allowed to play with her.  Cleo, comfortable on whichever side of the door she finds herself, just rolls her eyes and goes back to sleep. 

Graeme, on the other hand, has no patience for teenage, love-struck puppies who try to tear down the barrier between himself and his true love.  Things are being said.  I'm doing my best to pretend I don't hear those things that are said and just change the dogs over and hope Marlowe learns a bit of self-control.  Thinking back to the human teenage boys I knew way back when, I'm not hopeful about the self-control bit though.

So, as you can imagine, my days have been full.  Is it any wonder it has taken me so long to write another blog post?

 Cleo and Marlowe pre Cleo's season




Monday, September 05, 2022

Introducing Marlowe


Marlowe a week after he arrived at Spring Rock

When I began looking for a Saint Bernard pup back at the end of March I realised I had a problem.  I applied to go on a waiting list with two breeders who had advertised they had litters due soon, but neither breeder got back to me.  I imagine their waiting list was so big I didn’t stand a chance of getting one of their pups.  I contacted Ann, Aslan’s breeder, to ask if she knew of anyone who had a litter of pups due which I might contact.  Ann replied that she had a litter due in April.  She wasn’t advertising this because she had a waiting list of 35 people, but because Ann knew, I’d give one of her pups a very happy forever home she offered to put me way up the list.  I jumped at the offer.  Aslan’s beautiful personality and calm attitude to life wasn’t a fluke – Ann breeds for those qualities and I was confident that any pup bought from Ann would be a great pet.

In early April Ann contacted me to say a littler of six had been born.  There were four girls and two boys.  I was promised a boy and Ann would send progress photos so I could choose which boy I wanted.  As the weeks passed and the puppy photos just got cuter and cuter, I set my heart on the boy with the little spot in the middle of his head.  Ann told me this is called a monk’s cap in Saint Bernards.  I enlisted my youngest granddaughter, Molly’s, help in naming the pup.  We made a list of possible names and together we chose Marlowe.  I had been reading about the Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe recently and thought his surname would make a great dog’s name – Molly agreed.

Marlowe is the puppy at the back with the spot on his head.
When I placed the deposit for Marlowe, I told Ann his name.  Ann started to call the pup Marlowe so he became used to the name.  All there was to do now was waiting for Marlowe to reach eight weeks old.  Ann was bringing him down to me and we were to meet at her friend’s home in Goulburn.  Finally, the day arrived and we drove to Goulburn with all sorts of puppy comforts onboard.  We met Ann at her friend’s place and I immediately made friends with a Chihuahua who also lived there.  She was on my lap and soaking up pats while Marlowe and two of his sisters slept in the back room.  Eventually it was time to put the Chihuahua down and go meet Marlowe.  He was reluctant to leave his sisters so I picked him up and carried him to the lounge room.  After some quick thank you’s and goodbyes (Marlowe was quite a weight to carry so I needed to get to the car) we took our precious bundle and a huge puppy pack, a gift from Ann to help ensure a quick settling in period for Marlowe, to the car.

The drive home was uneventful.  Marlowe travelled well and was happy to share our company on the four and a half hour trip home.  Once home we were greeted by Cleo who, upon seeing the little fluff ball gave us a “how could you?” look and walked away.  This came as a bit of a surprise.  Cleo has always loved puppies and taken them to her heart as soon as she’s had a chance to rub noses.  Not this time.  Cleo clearly felt she was now too old for puppy nonsense and resisted Marlowe’s efforts to win her over.  Thankfully, as time went on, Cleo became fond of Marlowe and was content to doze in the sun with Marlowe curled up beside her.

Like Cleo and Aslan, I’d decided to take weekly photos of Marlowe’s growth.  Unlike Aslan, Marlowe is an energetic, playful puppy (Aslan was always quiet and laid back) who doesn’t sit or stand still for selfies.  Getting Graeme, Marlowe and me in the same place once a week to pictorially record his increasing size proved difficult, and like many second or third children, there aren’t as many photos of Marlowe as there are of Cleo and Aslan as puppies.

 When the time came for Marlowe to have his booster vaccination, we drove him and Cleo to the vets’.  Cleo always enjoys a car ride and we didn’t want her seeing Marlowe off on a jaunt with her left behind.  Sharing the back of the car with Marlowe was a bit fraught for poor Cleo.  Marlowe wasn’t yet sure if he liked car rides or not and constantly demanded Cleo’s attention to reassure him this wasn’t the end of the world.  Cleo put up with Marlowe’s antics and did her best to enjoy the ride despite him.

I had to carry Marlowe into the vets’ because he wasn’t fully vaccinated yet.  Cleo and Graeme waited in the car.  I opened the door to the surgery with my little bundle of fluff in my arms and saw that there were two vet nurses, the receptionist and two clients in the waiting room.  As I walked in all five people said, “Awww,” at the same time.  Marlowe, who was glad he was out of the car and up close and personal to me barely paid attention to everyone.  I sat in a chair with Marlowe on my lap and he noticed the receptionist working away on her computer.  Marlowe became engrossed on her and wouldn’t take his eyes off her.  She must have looked up from time to time because she finally said, “Marlowe, I can’t work with you looking at me like that.”  As soon as he heard his name, Marlowe’s back end started wagging on my lap.  The receptionist came around the counter and asked if she could have a cuddle.  I handed Marlowe over, sure that it was fine with him.  Marlowe loves cuddles and doesn’t care who is giving them to him.  The receptionist then asked if she could take Marlowe out the back to show “those who weren’t lucky enough to see Marlowe when he arrived”.  I said yes and she disappeared for quite a while.  I’m sure Marlowe was holding the inaugural Marlowe Appreciation Club meeting, many of whose members were in the Aslan Appreciation Club. 

When Marlowe was returned, he and the receptionist were best friends.  He sat on my lap until it was our turn to see the vet and wagged his tail every time the receptionist looked up.  They must have bonded while out the back.

Cleo’s patience was tried sorely during Marlowe’s difficult Terrible Two’s months.  He still had his baby teeth and they both annoyed him and were very sharp.  I bought him a range of chew toys, but Marlowe’s favourite chew toy was Cleo.  Cleo ended up having to visit the vet because she’d broken out in bare, itchy patches of skin.  Clay, our vet this time, thought they were hot spots, caused my Marlowe’s teeth breaking Cleo’s skin and then bugs getting into the area.  Clay said unfortunately Marlowe was likely to chew on Cleo until his adult teeth started to come in at around the age of six months.  I was glad Cleo wasn’t proficient in English or she might have left home after that piece of news.  Of course, we stopped Marlowe chewing on Cleo whenever we saw him with her ear or paw in his mouth.  Cleo was no help at all.  She wouldn’t bark or grumble about being a large, hairy chew toy for the pup and would simply put up with it unless Marlowe caused her a significant amount of pain.  I was forever telling Cleo to tell him off, but the most Cleo did was give us an imploring look to detach the puppy please.  Marlowe is now five months old, and has mostly stopped gnawing on Cleo.  We still find him with his teeth attached to Cleo from time to time, but the frequency we find him doing so is getting fewer and fewer.

Marlowe loves to accompany me on my rounds to tend to the outside members of the menagerie.  As you might expect, this can sometimes be a bit fraught.  When I now clean out the fishpond pump I have to keep a careful eye on exactly where Marlowe is.  Even with my ever-vigilant checks, Marlowe has managed to fall into the fishpond twice!  The fishpond is not that big, and Marlowe managed to fill most of the available space.  What the fish think of these four hairy legs, attached to huge puppy feet, I don’t know, but I’m sure they are against such invasions.  Marlowe panicked the first time he took an unplanned dip in the pond, which made getting him out that much worse.  We both ended up soaked and Marlowe vowed to give the pond a wide birth after that.  Of course when the next time came to clean the pump Marlowe had forgotten the trauma of falling in and once again ended up in the pond.  This time it was only his front feet, but they proved almost as wet and difficult to extract as the entire puppy did.  Cleo, who also likes to accompany me on my rounds, just rolled her eyes and reminded me that this puppy was all my idea.

I gave Cleo and Marlowe a treat each in different parts of the kitchen.  Marlowe picked up his treat and placed it between Cleo's front legs.  They then both settled down to enjoying their own treats.

The galahs have declared war on Marlowe.  When I enter their aviary I do my best to exclude Marlowe, but the gate is a bit tricky to completely close from the inside.  Marlowe takes full advantage of this.  The first time he ventured into their cage he was just an interested tourist, checking out the new sights.  Hedwig and Hermes suspected he was up to no good and immediately went on the offensive, spreading their wings and screeching at the top of their voices.  Marlowe, who was surprised to see this bad tempered display tried to explain that he was just looking while I dragged him out by the collar.  Since then he’s only managed to get a foot or two into the aviary but the galahs are ready for him and voice their opinion on this ever-enlarging dog invading their home.

I allowed Marlowe to come into the chook pen with me from the first day he arrived home.  I hoped that by being familiar with the inhabitants of the chook yard Marlowe would be less inclined to dispatch any chook that managed to escape while he was out and about.  The first couple of weeks went well.  Marlowe acknowledged the chooks’ presence and was content to wander around the yard, introducing himself.  Unfortunately, he discovered a wonderful game and has now been banned from entering the yard.  Marlowe discovered that he could sneak up on an unsuspecting hen, grab her tail in his mouth and then just hold on.  As soon as the hen realised she was caught she’d start clucking madly, flapping her wings and trying to break free.  Marlowe didn’t think there was a better game in the world that this.  The hen had a very different opinion.  I went to the chook’s rescue, told Marlowe  a firm NO! and resumed my feeding and egg collecting.  Marlowe wondered if the same reaction was to be found by grabbing another hen by the tail.  Joy oh joy it was!  As I said earlier, Marlowe is now banned from entering the chook pen.  He still accompanies me to the chook yard, but has resigned himself to remaining outside and just remembering the fun of grabbing a chook’s tail.

Marlowe is now five months old.  All the above took place during the first two months after he arrived home with us.  He is now a beloved member of my menagerie.  Marlowe is a bit of a scamp and is always full of beans and mischief.  Cleo, who is an elderly lady these days, has come to love him, and they spend their days together lying in the sun or snuggled together out of the rain on their beds.  One of the vets who was a big Aslan fan, told Marlowe he had big shoes to fill.  I told her there would never be another Aslan, but also I’m sure there will never be another Marlowe – he is making his own place in the world and is confident that he will be loved by all.  I think he’s right.