Dog person? Cat person?

Feed us both!
Feed us both!

Most people are one or the other or both. Well, I’m going to beg to you a little on behalf of them all! Back at Christmas 2007 I set up a standing order to the Newcastle Dog & Cat Shelter as a present for my then-squeeze, Louise. I was travelling, she was in NZ and there wasn’t a way or sorting out a regular prezzie. She also used to donate pet food on a regular basis when she lived there so it seemed like a good present.

Well, it didn’t exactly hold our relationship together but it did help benefit a lot of animals so I had no problem maintaining the donations until today. Unfortunately with no income, little money left in my savings and no feedback from SAAS as regards my student loan and fees I can’t afford to be dropping cash out each month regardless of how worthy the cause is.

So here’s a simple request. If you have a few quid spare and like animals then please go to their website and make a donation. You can go through Gift Aid and ensure they get the extra cash from the greedy government, too. Or if you pass through Benton in Newcastle once in a while, please consider stopping off to say hello and donating some pet food.

Thanks, folks!

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R.I.P. Ed :(

Pussy in a tight hole
R.I.P. little fella

Before I left the UK to go travelling in 2006 I had two lovely cats. Both were adopted from other places – KK from random chav neighbours who moved house and abandoned her, Ed from a friend who had to move house and couldn’t take him with her.

Anni, being sweet and lovely, volunteered to take them both in for me while I was away. This was when I was only going to be out of the country for 6 months… and not the three-and-a-bit years it ended up being. Oops. So off I drove to deepest, darkest Cardiff to deliver them to their new carer.

That was the hardest moment before leaving the UK for me. Anni will tell you – I cried. Just before I left and I saw my cats for almost the last time Anni cuddled me and I cried. I am a soppy git, but I love my animals.

When I came back to the UK after 18 months for a short visit, I saw both of them. By that time, Ed was doing a good impression of a Manx having had to have his tail removed. We never did find out what caused the problem, but first the tip and then the whole thing had to be surgically snipped as he was suffering a lot of pain.

Anni got a new job and couldn’t look after the pussies any more. Fortunately, she found good homes for both.

Up till now, that was the story. There is, however, a very sad new chapter. And the final one for Ed.

Today his new owners found him outside, stone dead, with not a mark on him. They took him to the vet who reckons he was clipped by a car and died instantly. So thankfully he didn’t suffer.

He was a lovely cat. Never any trouble, very playful and I always missed him. I’m so sad I won’t get to see him again.

R.I.P. Ed 🙁

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A bit of Sunday waffle

More snuggled dogs. With added scary eyes
The canines in question

I’m dog-sitting for the folks this weekend, so had a quiet night in yesterday evening. Until Poppy started barking incessantly for no apparent reason around midnight. They’re smart enough – I swear they can tell the time.

Before she left my mum told me, “Feed them around four o’clock.” No worries. At five past four, they’d emerged from wherever they were playing and were in my room, trying to jump on my lap. That’s pretty good timekeeping.

Think that’s coincidence? At 8pm – when my parents normally retire to the front room to veg in front of the telly, the dogs again became active. Scratching at the door of the lounge to get in. Clever pups.

This morning I took them for a walk, which was a challenge. They’ve got a kind of “combi-leash” – one auto-retracting handgrip which feeds down to a ring to which each dog then has their own bit of lead. It looks great and efficient, but it’s… entertaining getting them to walk properly.

Taffy always walks against the wall if you have him on his own leash – he’s male and wants to mark his territory. He’s also the “tugger”, wanting to walk you. He’s not bad at it either, given his size (they’re Schitzus, in case you didn’t know). The thing is, Poppy seems to insist on walking on his right if they’re leashed together. As we were walking on the right hand side of the road, this meant she was between him and the wall. Something Taffy didn’t realy pay much attention to each time he lifted his leg.


Mind, she gets her revenge. Tripods are sturdy and balanced as their legs are spaced evenly around the radius of the base. However, a rectangular table with a leg missing can tip quite easily. Much like a dog on three legs when its attached friend pulls on the lead.

As for keeping one of them still while the other squats for a number two… You try emptying your bowels while someone yanks on a chain around your neck.

While we’re on that subject, I think I’ll suggest to my mother to get thicker plastic bags for picking up the poop. It’s icky enough to do, but when you can feel how warm it is through the thin layer of polycarbons… Urgh.

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Birdy news

en: Pura, a 1-year-old Kakapo (Strigops habrop...
Cute Kakapo

Great news, this. As of March 11th, there are over 100 Kakapo parrots in the wild. This is hugely important and utterly wonderful. Fourteen years ago there were around 50 of the daft little creatures – down from the hundred or so that were on Stewart Island when we first discovered them… and then accidentally came close to wiping them out by introducing the likes of rats to their home territory.

For those who don’t know, the Kakapo are flightless parrots. They originally inhabited one island off the south coast of New Zealand (although conservationists moved them temporarily in an effort to give them safety while their original home was cleared of imported predators) and were on the verge of extinction until work began to help boost their numbers.

They’re also one of the stars of – in my opinion – Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine‘s fine book/radio series Last Chance To See. Much as I’m a HHG fan, this ranks as my favourite of Adams’ works, but it can be a bugger to find in bookshops. I’ve seen it stacked in sci-fi with his other titles, in the holiday books with Lonely Planet, under natural history, in the modern science section…

If you can find it, get a copy. Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine are currently working on the sequel which will begin life – I believe – as a TV series on BBC shortly.

For some photos and the story of my trip to Stewart Island a couple of years ago, check out this post on the Travel Blog.

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Let’s get some happy on here

OK, a couple of posts to (hopefully) raise a smile – just as the avalance warning AWOOGAHs outside nigh on the stroke of midnight.

First off, a massive dose of “aaaaaaw, cute!” with this link to a live video feed of some puppies in a basket. I defy you not to keep it open in a spare tab and keep flicking back to it during the day. Awesome.

Secondly, you have to check out Ten Masked Men. A bunch of lunatics in masks who have so far released four cover albums of popular beat combo covers done in a death metal stylee. Best of all, they’re English which automatically makes them better even than Deicide. If slightly less mad than Glen Benton.

Any band which can describe themselves as follows on their myspace page has to have a sense of humour. I’ll leave you with that and a top notch video.

A crack death metal unit was sent to the underground by a musical court for a crime they probably did commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security recording studio to the London Underground (fuckin tubes!). Today, still wanted by the musical government, they survive as soldiers of metal tributes. If you know a crap song, and no-one else has covered it, and you can find them, maybe you can hire, Ten Masked Men.

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