Opening Season

They fly in formation across the clear blue skies scanning the landscape below for a place of sanctuary

Natural instinct has warned them as summer slips into autumn….the slaughter will begin. opening day for the hunters…..end of days for the hunted.

Their wings are tired and the sounds of death echo from the rivers and ponds below.

The hunter hides in wait beneath them camouflaged in war like shades of khaki, secure in his designer maimai, hot coffee to sustain him.

In the sky above his prey wearies, flying much lower now…. soon within range…..landing on the water to rest.

His eager gun dog in trained repose awaits his master’s signal, eyes fixed, one paw raised in expectation.

A young drake skims  upwards off the water…..fear has sent him once more skyward. A single shot breaks the silence echoing out from the river bank.

The Mallard plummets back down in acrobatic spirals. He tries to correct himself but one wing hangs broken and heavy…..useless

On command the hunter’s dog swims purposefully towards the sinking duck and retrieves his master’s kill.

After centuries of servitude the dog is loyal more to man than creature. He returns to the hunter’s fortress…..tail wagging in anticipation of a kind word or a touch of his master’s hand.

He holds the prize for his master gently in his jaws……. feathers warm but eyes now dull in death, heart no longer beating,   iridescent wings dripping blood red at the hunter’s feet……….and the sky is still blue.



Am I Correct?

Am I correct in assuming that at 57 years of age I can actually start a new career as a Corrections Officer? Amazingly it would appear the Department of Corrections thinks I might just be able to. I received an e-mail yesterday congratulating me on making it through to the third stage of my application to become a Frontline Prison Guard or Corrections Officer as they are known here in New Zealand. I was completely shocked as I didn’t expect to make it that far but to be honest just a little bit chuffed with myself as well.

I have been invited to attend a four-hour long assessment next week. To say I’m a tad nervous would be an understatement considering I haven’t attended a job interview in years.  For most of my adult life I have been self-employed but now I am just plain unemployed. Since selling my second-hand shop and shifting towns four months ago I have been without a job or any income what so ever. I have also felt bored, depressed, useless, sad, lost and displaced in varying degrees depending on the day. Yes I always find things to do like caring for my husband and our pets,  gardening, house work, cooking and the like but I want and need to be productive in the outside world again.

My builder husband Steve has kept himself busy renovating the old run down villa we bought which has seen our cash reserves diminish faster than an ice block in the desert. As my renovating skills are less than desirable my contribution to this mammoth undertaking has been providing regular sustenance, encouragement and a constant stream of compliments to keep Steve motivated.  It’s important to me that his efforts are acknowledged and appreciated which they certainly are. He is now advertising for small building jobs to bring in some much-needed dosh. The exterior renovation of the villa is now complete but we still have the inside to tackle ……’s not pretty and it won’t be cheap.

So here I am a week away from a job interview that may well change my life completely or maybe not depending on the outcome. On one level I am quite excited at the prospect of embarking on a new career particularly at this stage of my life but I am equally a little scared too. Correction Officers put their own safety on the line every day which is why a stab proof vest is included with the uniform. How much do these things weigh I wonder…… Seriously though this is not like working at a holiday camp or child care centre.  Still, aside from the obvious risks involved I  like to think I could have a positive affect on the lives of those prisoners I would get to know and talk to on a daily basis.

Anyway…….I still have the four-hour assessment to get through yet which I may fail miserably. It includes a group session with the other applicants, individual role-playing, cultural awareness amongst other things  along with a formal interview. At this point my biggest concern is what the hell do I wear? My daughter suggested I wear belted drill like trousers with a large assortment of keys attached. She thought it would show that despite my gnarly, arthritic fingers I can still operate a lock. I also have other concerns about this assessment like will the fitness test include push ups, climbing ropes or crawling under low obstacles. If so then that will be it…….. I am already screwed.

Thanks for reading and wish me luck:)

Peeping Pitty

On a balmy summer night I was relaxing on the couch watching  Animal Planet  whilst enjoying a pleasant Jasmine scented breeze drifting through our lounge screen door……..Folly our dear old Labrador asleep at my feet. Suddenly I sensed I’m being watched but it’s not my husband Steve as he’s making a coffee in the kitchen.

Out the corner of my eye I see something brownish……. must be Geordie our big ginger cat wanting in.  I then notice another of our cats Taiko staring fixedly at the screen door, back arched, tail stiff, fur puffed up like a Hedgehog on steroids. I look over and there stands the reason for my own and Taiko’s discomfort….. it’s a canine Peeping Tom or more accurately a Peeping Pit Bull just silently standing there watching me  or perhaps he was an Animal Planet fan and it was  the television attracting his interest.

I yelled for Steve who promptly dispatched it using his most fearless and dominant tone. It stood its ground, puffing out it’s flews as it eyed my husband suspiciously as if he was the intruder. My husband waved a broom at the dog who eventually turned away and stalked back down the steps. If that was not disconcerting enough it had also taken a large steaming dump on our upstairs balcony. This Pit Bull had become a regular visitor to our property after dark always leaving it’s calling card on our front lawn but it was becoming way too familiar now!

Wearing only my dressing gown and slippers I jumped into my car and followed the Pit Bull down the road.  After a few stops to relieve its bladder along the way it purposely turned down a back section driveway and disappeared out of sight. The residents of the house next door confirmed the dog lived there but added no one was home and the dog was always out roaming.

I called the local Dog Ranger the next morning but was told I needed to take a photo of the dog so they could identify it. No problem……next time it calls around  under the cover of darkness and stands menacingly at our screen door I’ll just startle it with my camera flash and hope for the best. I’m no Pit Bull fan but I don’t entirely blame the dog………. it’s the useless irresponsible owners that need sorting out. It sums up the typically arrogant attitude of many Pit Bull owners who allow these potentially dangerous dogs free range out on our streets………. keep them on your own damned property and if necessary buy them their own TV.

It’s the Pits

Pit Bulls…………………what an emotional and angry hornets nest that subject stirs up. There are people who are Pit Bull advocates and then there are those who are not. The advocates seem to considerably out number the latter on social media whilst Pit Bull victims out number their advocates in the news, hospitals and yes tragically even the morgues.

I have debated Breed Selective Legislation and the threat Pit Bulls pose on various forums but it’s always turned nasty. Pit Bull advocates are a force to reckon with. They don’t like their opinions to be challenged and become decidedly aggressive in the defense of these dogs.Consequently I have come to the conclusion that Pit Bull owners, advocates and rescuers are a whole different kind of dog lover to the rest of us.

Pit Bull advocates have a long list of mantras they chant ad nauseam anytime someone dares to disagree. One of these is ” It’s the owner, not the breed”. I agree to a certain extent as far as many Pit Bull owners are quite frankly dodgy themselves.  They are attracted to these dogs because they share many of the same dysfunctional characteristics and anti-social behaviour. To them the Pit Bull (or one of its many guises)  is often their weapon of choice. I honestly believe some Pit Bull owners get off on owning a dog that poses a threat to  the public and other animals.

There are so many breeds of dog to choose from………a breed or mixed breed to suit everyone and every purpose be it lap dog, watch dog, hunting dog, service dog or just your best mate so why would anyone choose a dog that is inherently programmed to fight and kill. I cannot see the logic or the appeal in owning a dog that is a liability let alone a dog that could one day maim or even kill your own child or someone elses. That is why I say Pit Bull owners are a different kind of dog lover………….or maybe they are not really dog lovers at all.

Perhaps defending, rescuing and owning Pit Bulls is more of an obsession or even an addiction. It must be……….why else would you feel the need to invite an unpredictable potential killer into your home or around your family. Why else would anyone choose a breed of dog that instills perfectly rational fear in their neighbours or normal people out responsibly walking their own dogs? Why else would dog shelters describe these dogs to potential adopters as anything else but what they really are?  If it’s not an obsession or an addiction then it has to be plain selfish arrogance and a massively egotistical power trip.

That’s what I’ve observed about many Pit Bull owners………..their total disregard for anyone who does not share their attraction to these dogs. They think it is acceptable that other people  put up with these dangerous animals roaming  our streets, parks and even our own private properties creating bloodshed and mayhem. Our neighbours are a perfect example of this. They have an unregistered Pit Bull/Mastiff cross which constantly jumps their inadequate fencing and comes over to our gate where it attempts to intimidate us on our own property. To date it has not accessed our property but I am constantly on alert out of concern for our own dog and our cats.

It amuses me when Pit Bull advocates say ” All Dogs Bite”…….yes that’s true  but not all dogs hold on and don’t let go, not all dogs maim and cause grievous bodily harm. They just don’t get it…….it’s not the biting we need to worry about but the ripping, tearing and mauling that usually results in disfigurement and sometimes death. Pit Bull advocates would have us believe it’s how the dog is raised. If that is the case why are so many attacks carried out by family pet Pit Bulls lovingly and responsibly reared from young puppies. It is the breed and in my opinion these dogs have no place on our streets, around our children or our pets.

I am all for the amended dangerous dog legislation our New Zealand government is proposing. The Pit Bull advocates and dog rescue groups including the SPCA are up in arms referring to these new laws as racist, cruel and heartless. The shelters are inundated  with unwanted and abandoned dogs……most of them Pit Bull mix breeds yet they take issue with a law that if passed will prevent the irresponsible ownership, breeding and selling of dog breeds already classified as dangerous. Shelters will no longer be able to adopt out Pit Bull type breeds but there will always be plenty of other dogs looking for homes…….dogs that don’t suddenly snap one day and literally bite off the hand that feeds them.

As it stands now many Pit Bull and Pit Bull mix dogs lead miserable lives at the hands of those who profess to love them.This new legislation will stop irresponsible owners acquiring  these dogs in the first place. It will enforce the more stringent obligations required of anyone who already owns a classified breed………. such obligations often ignored like  secure, escape proof fencing, muzzles worn in public along with  gate signs and collar tags identifying the dog as dangerous to the public and mandatory desexing. You know………with such strict but necessary requirements like that you have to wonder where is the joy in owning a Pit Bull and for what legitimate reason would anyone even want to.


Puppy Piddle

Mollie our five month old pup just piddled on our fireside rug despite having just come inside and having free access to the garden. That combined with relieving her bowel on the toilet floor last night I think we may have encountered a slight set back in her toilet training.

On the whole Mollie has been quite receptive to training and is quick to learn so I am surprised she has seemingly gone backwards with her toileting. I’ve also noticed she is spending more time than I consider appropriate licking her never region. It dawned on me that she may be coming into her first season which would explain the not so accidental accidents and her obsession with her tail end.

I have raised my fair share of puppies over the years and have always practiced the “after eating”, “after sleeping” and “after playing” method of toilet training. It’s usually successful and produces results albeit time-consuming considering puppies eat, sleep and play constantly. I’m not a fan of using toilet training pads unless you live in a high-rise apartment. I am all for crate training. Having a suitable dog crate to confine a puppy is a God send. Not only are they safe when you can’t be watching them but it teaches them a routine which like children dogs also thrive on.  A crate also makes toilet training so much easier…….not even dogs like to soil their own nest.

Eventually they will seek out their crate as their own quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of a busy household. In Mollie’s case there is only my husband Steve, myself and three cats to contend with but even so she often goes into her crate for a wee nap or to chew on a treat. Inside her crate she has her cosy bed, her favourite stuffed toy and her blanket. It’s her own little private domain in our living room. Of course not everyone wants a large metal cage in a corner of their lounge but there’s usually somewhere out-of-the-way to put one in most homes.

Anyway over the next few weeks I will be watching out for any unexpected wee parcels or puddles lurking about the place. I will need to be particularly observant and nimble especially in the dark. I amazed myself at how deftly I side-stepped last night’s steaming pile of poop as I entered the little room……..nothing worse than a slipper sole dunked in dung.


Late in Life Puppy

My husband Steve and I have a 5 month old puppy. Mollie is a New Zealand Heading Dog crossed with an English Pointer. She is quite unique with her “Flying Nun” ears and the silhouette of a cat on her forehead……perhaps this is why our three cats have issues with her presence. Clearly they are confused………is she a dog, is she a cat, is she a cat on a dog……is she Batman?

I have always owned pedigree dogs up until Mollie. For many years I bred, showed and loved Labrador Retrievers ……. you might even say I was  a purebred snob. Anyway after the sad loss of our very last Labrador  earlier this year we had decided not to get another dog. This decision lasted all of 4 weeks. . ……. and then along came 8 week old  Mollie full throttle into our lives and slowly but surely into our hearts. Don’t get me wrong……she’s a great little pup and we love her but it has been challenging.

It’s been some years since we last had a puppy around. Our dear old Lab Otis died at 15. I’d forgotten just how full on they are. It’s like having an unplanned baby late in life after your other kids have all flown the coup. Suddenly you’re back into numerous feeds a day, broken sleep and endless bowel motions without a diaper to contain them. Sometimes late at night when I give  Mollie her last feed of the day, tuck her into her crate then pick up the last of her numerous toys I feel completely knackered………. exactly how I feel after having one of the grandchildren for a weekend.

Okay we’ve survived one of the worst stages of puppyhood……the constant chewing and biting. For the first few weeks my hands  and lower legs looked like they’d been forcibly dragged across a bed of nails. It doesn’t help that middle-aged skin is thinner and bleeds like a stuck pig.  Toilet training was easier than expected although she still has the odd accident generally coinciding with inclement weather. Our Mollie isn’t keen on going outside if it’s raining.  I can only wonder how she’d get on if she was a working farm dog in keeping with her breeding. “Sorry Boss…….can’t round up those sheep today…’s too wet” As it happens I came upon one of her accidents tonight on the toilet floor. God love her at least she chose the right room.

All Shook Up

From south to north and in between New Zealand is shaking tonight. Since midnight we have experienced numerous earthquakes across the land. The first one was a biggy…… was scary. We are well used to earth quakes in New Zealand but this  was one of the stronger quakes I’ve felt in my 57 years. I was at my computer while my husband snored contentedly across the hallway….. next thing I knew the house was rocking and rolling, lights swinging, china rattling as our 110 year old villa creaked and moaned in protest.

I managed to post “Earthquake !!” on Facebook (as you do) before my husband ran out from our bedroom naked from the waist down panicking because he couldn’t find his pants. Our cats were howling and lurching themselves at the French doors whilst our five month old pup Mollie stared in confusion at the floor wondering why it was rolling beneath her. Even our Budgies were flitting nervously up and down their cage. It seemed to go on and on for the longest time as we debated whether to stand under a doorway, crawl under a table or head outside to our wide open lawn. In the end we did nothing but stand and stare at each other aimlessly like a couple of senile possums caught in the headlights.

Amazingly nothing inside was broken although any potential exterior damage cannot be investigated until daylight. I figure after over a century of surviving storms and quakes our old house should be just fine…….they built them to last back in the 19th century.  Once the shaking finally subsided my husband Steve casually went back to bed albeit slightly off balance ( now with his pants on) whilst I sat up comforting the animals, drinking coffee, smoking a sneaky ciggy and reading all the various accounts from friends on Facebook. It turns out there were quakes happening in quick succession just about everywhere and they still are as I write. It is now 2.20 am and the last registered quake was at 2.17 am…..only 3 minutes ago.

Some of these earth quakes are rated moderate, some strong and the odd one severe. A potential Tsunami warning has gone out for the East Coast of the South Island. What the hell is going on? Are we all doomed in the land of the Long White Cloud….Aotearoa…….God’s Own?  Surely not…….for God’s sake  the All Blacks just thumped Italy 65-10, our economy is looking pretty damned good ( for now), summer is nearly here and I’ve just started blogging.

Needless to say there will be a lot of people not sleeping tonight…… except for Steve……I can hear him snoring again already.

Kids for Lunch

Well not literally…..I doubt they would be that tasty and it would be a mission getting them all in the oven. I decided it was high time we had a family get together so have our three adult children, their spouses/partners and our five grandchildren coming for Sunday lunch tomorrow. Rain is predicted so that should be fun.

I was thinking of making something really original and impressive mainly because we are meeting the daughter’s new boyfriend for the first time. I wanted to make a good impression but then I thought… bugger it……it is he who needs to impress me so I’m just banging a couple of chooks in the oven. The roasted fowl will be accompanied by baked spuds, my specialty kumara bake and some coleslaw…..simple but hopefully enjoyable.

Apparently my eldest son and daughter-in-law have to fit family socialising and lunch around  their toddler’s nap time. They will need to leave for the 40 minute drive home at precisely 1.30 pm to coincide with her nap so she will sleep  in the car on the way home. I’m thinking that could be tricky and I will have to use precision planning to allow for such a tight time line. Perhaps they could just call in and then leave with a packed lunch to eat on the drive home.

The grandchildren are aged six years and under and all get on well together. The problem is we also have a boistrous  5 month old puppy Mollie who just loves visitors……especially little visitors that run and squeal. It will be mayhem and there will be tears. Mollie has sharp claws and can pierce skin like a needle through jelly. She also likes to chew on shoes, toys and flailing limbs. To add to the mix we have Bruno our neighbour’s massive old German Shepherd/Huntaway x Bruno for the day who also finds Mollie irritating and will no doubt express his irritation at regular intervals. Our cats will be isolated in a locked bedroom for their own emotional well being. They don’t like kids and they’re not too fussed on Mollie or Bruno either.

All these distractions going on will probably be welcomed by our daughter’s new boyfriend. It’s always a little nerve wracking meeting a new partner’s family so anything that takes the attention  away from him will no doubt be appreciated.  Ah well best I get those chooks prepped and stuffed for the morning. God I hope he’s not a Vegan.