How Bob arrived.

A co-worker of my husband asked, “would you be interested in a 2 year old dog?”

The question caught him out, as he kindly asked what kind of dog. Fast forward to the weekend and we went to see this Norwegian Elkhound. Bob was bought for a lady in her eighties. But he was too big, too strong and heedless.

We arrived at the house in the country and were greeted by Bob, front paws on the top of the gate and hind ones planted firmly on the ground. He took one look at us and smiled. I think he was saying, gotcha!

He was correct. He had us from that goofy smile and ceaseless tail wagging.

He came home with us quietly. We stopped to buy leash, bowls, dog food etc. And then the trouble started. He decided he would be boss and eat everything in sight. Wellington boots, shoes or slippers weren’t good enough they were simply a starter. What he liked was the tough teeth crunching wooden posts, his kennel and finally his coupe de resistance, the electric gate leads.

As everyone knows he obviously survived the electricity but didn’t go back for seconds. The reason being the wires were encased in plastic casing then a metal casing. In fact everything we thought he might eat was encased, or locked away or hidden.

Luckily he mellowed as he settled down though he never lost that heedlessness making teaching him a very big challenge. In the end though I think he has been the teacher.img_0201

Take this idea I had for photos of him and Ellie.

I had everything set up then he decided he wasn’t in the mood for modelling.

On this occasion I didn’t give in.

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It isn’t easy getting the bow in place, getting him to allow it to sit there was the big problem.

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There is that look on his face again, wouldn’t you love to know what he was thinking?

 

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Pictures to make you smile

I had often spotted them doing this but never managed to get a picture until now.

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It is one reason why I worry about what will happen when old age takes him from her and us.

The next picture was pure fluke, the pups were in their kennel and a pipe had been left with them to see what would they make of it. After sitting on it, jumping over it, one pup went missing.

Then we found him…

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Maria’s – A Muddled Fairy Tale – Part 2.

Scrumptious Witch.  My side of the tale.

When those three moaning, tiresome knights, kept knocking on my door asking for favors I could not give, I became a little sick and tired of them.

After all when a  pretty, blonde and intelligent witch is trying to snag a Prince Charming having three dolts hanging around her hut is not exactly saying “come and get me” to every available prince, is it?

They were following me or so it seemed. Everywhere I looked there they were. Even when I nipped out late one evening to find come beetle juice there they were: one hopping on his armor the other moaning about being beaten and the third stemming the flow of blood from another self-inflicted injury during a jousting match.

I pretended to brush my hair while sitting not to far away and listened to them. It was apparent they were useless. They would always be moaning and groaning. Something drastic had to be done.  If I was to push them onto another witch I would need help or a really sneaky spell.

I decided if I solved their problems, I would be rid of them but that might make me famous. And then I would have every ruddy knight on the planet camped outside my door.

If the path to a hut containing treasure (me) is blocked by a mountain of knights it would not be enticing to a handsome Prince.

My solution was simple. It happened in a moment of  blinding revelation. I needed to stash them somewhere safe. And in return for their removal I would give them each a gift.

This last bit took some time. Gifts are not something to be bandied about, and this is what I came up with:

Lazy whose armor was always the grottiest would be transformed into an ultra clean cleaner, seeing dirt where no one else could.

Grouchy’s temper would vanish. His anti social side would morph into a person who loves to entertain.

Sleazy lack of interest in everything would turn around. He would become a person needing an answer.

So the spell was cast. I took my time and put them in a deep sleep, they would only be awakened when the world was in need of knights big and small once again.

Unfortunately for me while I was doing the spell that big-headed oaf, Always-Right-Knight stumbled upon me in full moon light dance and chant mode. He wished to join me so he too joined their party. But I was cautious.  I removed him a distance from the others and decided not to meddle with an already arrogant overbearing idiot.

In my defense we were in need of three good solid supports for the bridge and guess who found them?

Yes. Me.

Hopefully the future world will be an amazing place where knights will be true honest and happy.

Moving On – Sample – First Chapter.

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1. The Race

 

 

 

“Hike on,” Ally shouted, leaning forward against the blast of wind as her team of four Irish sled dogs bounced into top speed pulling her around the steep bend.  Their waving tails declared, to those watching the race, their love for doing this work.

She wondered if they would run well across snow. It would make a welcome change from sludge and muck. Running on snow was a dream. Ally wondered about it for a second while noting the amount of muck on the track. In comparison the countryside around her looked green and beautiful but Ally hadn’t time for artistic appreciation. She was here to win.

Shouts of encouragement mingled with the barking of chasing teams reminded her every competitor wanted to win. Once more she asked her team to accelerate. With their thick double coats gleaming in weak Irish sunlight, they obeyed her shout.

“We are all in this together. I won’t let you down,” she promised.

Despite cold air and dirt being kicked up in her face Ally smiled. Luna was lead dog today. Excited noisy barking behind alerted them, another team was getting closer. Luna turned her head to peep back, her dark eyes gleaming. She didn’t need encouragement from Ally to pull harder.

The last hill loomed ahead, a mere pimple in the distance. The wheels of her rig slid all over the track, Ally knew what to do. She jumped off and ran hard, pushing the rig with all her strength.  The thin wheels of the rig bounced about making it difficult to keep a grip on the bar. It was tough to keep up with the dogs. Far behind she could hear a male voice roaring abuse at his dogs. She flinched, recognising the voice but also remembering how John, her ex husband loved to shout. Ally treated her dogs like most things in her life, with gentleness and persuasion.

“Focus Ally.” she whispered knowing this was not the time to dwell on anything but what she had to do.

It was tough not to think of a portion of her past while she was racing. Sam, her father, had introduced her to this sport when she was a feisty teenager. Moving home, because of his illness, was the best decision of her life. She owed everything to Sam. In contrast, she owed John, nothing. Sam’s death had left her feeling isolated and alone.

The biting wind caused her to shiver and pulled her back to the present. Chewing on her bottom lip, she lifted her head. ‘We need to get up and over this damn hill if we are to win.’  With a roar of encouragement she pushed even harder. Like her dogs, she was prepared to put every last ounce of energy into the race.  Once they gave their best, Ally was happy. Hands firmly on the bar before her, she pushed as though her life depended on it. Her feet slid about on the wet heavy ground, making her feel as though she were carrying two buckets of sludge. Her breath came in gasps leaving her ribs aching as she continued to push.

She reached the top, took a deep breath to help prepare her for the treacherous down slope. Jumping back on, she applied light pressure to the brake with her right foot. Ally encouraged them to hold back. “Slow up, Luna,” she shouted.

Droplets of water splashed her as she brushed against coniferous branches lining the steep path. She ignored the wet patch spreading between her shoulder blades. Ally focused on the track ahead, aware of the mix of human voice and dogs barking behind them as they edged closer to her team. She wondered who was catching them. She smiled, ‘doesn’t matter, we will win.’

Arriving at the bottom of the hill in one piece, she had time to notice grey clouds lifting marginally, the sun attempting once again to shine. Her spirits soared until she glanced behind her.

It was Steve, a rival, who didn’t like being beaten especially by a woman. Behind him she saw a sparkling new rig with a shiny new competitor on board. Though his dogs were big and gaining on her, Ally hoped her experience would gain her the upper hand.

The track was level. The outside of it was hard while the inside track, looked to be in a similar state, but was wet and boggy. Ally knew what to do.  In a minute she would discover if Steve knew the course.

He closed up on her. As his dogs came alongside hers, Ally pulled further right. She was as far to the outside as she could get.

He saw her move and grinned taking the inside track. His grin became a smug leer.

Ally acknowledged his mistake with a small smile of her own. She had just beaten him by her knowledge of the track. Steve didn’t know it yet. He believed she was pulling back, letting the stronger team pull ahead.

She grinned and chuckled. ‘If you think I quit that easily you are a mug Steve. You have a lot to learn.’

His mistake surprised her. She knew he was rough with his dogs, now she added arrogant to the list. Her guess was he had not bothered to walk the track as she had earlier. ‘Well, sometimes the best way to learn is the hard way.’ It was harsh but it was the truth. It reminded her of how awful she had been at making life-changing decisions.

To her surprise the new team were close behind them. They, too, attempted to pull to the inside.   As he drew level with her team, he shouted above the wind and howling dogs. “Thank you, honey. We appreciate being let through.” His deep husky voice carried easily in the wind. She ignored the comment. His sunglasses, she noted were as trendy as his flash clothes.

‘I’m not your honey,’ she thought.  Ally bent her head, rounded her shoulders and dug deep as she encouraged her dogs to give chase.

“Hike on Luna. Hike on.” Luna responded swiftly, as did her team. Ally smiled, thinking to herself, ‘you may be small but you sure can sprint! And he is about to find out how fast we can go.’

In comparison her companion’s dogs were sinking in the soft mud hidden on the inside of the track. It slowed them sufficiently. Ally recognized that the newcomer’s team were fighting each other rather than working together.  Luna sped by her eyes focused on the prize ahead.

Steve’s dogs were tired and sliding on the downhill run. He urged them on with a crack of a whip. Then, as she drew level with him, there was another strong crack followed by a moment of stabbing pain. The whip hit Ally’s right hand.  Tears flowed but she kept her hand stuck to the bar.  The roar of protest from the man behind her drifted away in the wind as Ally continued on.

She raced by Steve hoping he wouldn’t take her victory out on his dogs later. Luna stretched out her thin frame as did the others and both men’s teams were left floundering in the soft sticky ground.

Ally passed the finishing line thinking, ‘we did it, Dad. I hope you were watching.’

She wondered what her other competitors would think about her win. They had been quick to dismiss her chances earlier. At the starting line two of them had looked scathingly at her team of two Siberian Huskies and two crossbred dogs.

A particular comment had hit her squarely between the shoulders. “Aren’t your dogs a bit small, love? Maybe you should go home and leave this to the professionals.”

Ally had ignored them. Eyes fixed ahead of her she focused on listening for the starting horn.

It hadn’t helped her popularity when she crossed the finish line in second place in her last race. The prizes today were vouchers for dog supply shops. Keeping four racing dogs and one chunky one didn’t come cheap. In Ally’s world, every cent counted.

She smiled. It would be interesting to hear what those competitors who dismissed her earlier would say about her now.

 

Moving On is available through Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

 

 

Maria’s: Moving On

E-Book Cover

Illustration by:  Constantinos Thersippos Karentzos –  “Field”, a digital sketch of an original artwork, with model Sofia Doulgeraki

Moving On

 

Ally O’Brien s world has been knocked sideways by the death of her father. The breakup of her marriage leaves her feeling disillusioned about love.  For this romantic Irishwoman being a divorcee is not a trophy.

Ally wishes to move on with her life.

Trouble, she believed had arrived into her life via her inheritance.  Her inheritance consisted of her family home which was in need of repair and her father’s five dogs. Four of the dogs were part of his racing team. Ally returns to the sport of dog sledding, on wheels. She rediscovers the joy of competing and occasionally winning.

Tom Lynch is everything Ally should avoid, handsome and charming, with a different woman beside him each day of the week. He is used to winning. A woman who is indifferent to his charm creates a challenge.

Ally is certain of one thing, love is not for her.

However, Ally is everything Tom has been searching for.

 

It is available on Amazon  in paperback and on kindle.

 

Maria’s Stuff: Reality Check – One year on and still missing her.

The 30th of May was an awkward weird day. I woke remembering but trying hard not to visualise my last few minutes with my mum.

After watching her cope with being paralyzed on her left side, and her ensuing struggle to live on a daily basis I have learnt to recognize, and admire the courage of the elderly and anyone who is ill.

On a stranger note I get angered by the daily flippant changes in our Irish healthcare system which are  devoid of commonsense, logic and business sense.

I do have many regrets involving her last year. The main one being my constant questions (in my own mind) about how we failed in our lack of care. We did everything we could at the time, don’t get me wrong but looking back I see the faults, the areas where I should have demanded more on her behalf.

The reality of a situation like that is though you may be doing the best you can for them, I felt, in this case,nothing I did was good enough. I am left wondering and questioning if I could have done better, more..

For now, I focus on remembering the times we laughed, moaned or groaned to each other .

I have also learnt that a life no matter how long or short it is, is often remembered by moments. These snapshots bring back memories of vivid happiness, fun, grief, nothing escapes but they are all moments to be treasured.

For the first time in my life I appreciate and understand her unspoken philosophy of being involved, doing something no matter how trivial or menial. The size of the gesture or involvement doesn’t matter. It is the act of living, being part of life. And all I can add is for such a small woman she managed to do a whole lot of living.

Bob’s diary: An Ode to my love…

O, love of my life

you brighten my day

energize my body,

bring my senses to life,

fill me with delight

I thank you, O dinner

you are daily enjoyed

with heartfelt appreciation.

 

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Bob’s Diary: 10 Things I love to Hear

10 Things a Dog called Bob loves to hear.

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1.      Ahh, no it’s raining. We won’t be able to walk today.

2.     Go get that cat!

3.     It’s dinner time

4.     Ellie needs to go to the vet!

5.     I think I’ll put on a fire.

6.     It’s dinner time.

7.     Let’s go to the beach.

8.     As we walk past the chip shop. How about chips for tea?

9.     We have visitors coming, we can’t go walking.

10.    The turkey is cooked.