Sunday, 31 July 2011

Job Seeking

Pip's fast-approaching her first birthday, and last week, I decided to put her to work.

Her interest in sheep is a casual one. Sometimes, she goes around the sheep like a pro, while others, she shows little interest. Whenever Sheila's with her, though, she finds the work a little more engaging. Sheila is the perfect working partner for Pip. Sheila knows what she's doing, for a start, and also is braver. Two things Pip lacks, through no fault of her own.

Another thing that Sheila can do that Pip can't, is get through gates.

With Pip, I'm going to try and teach her on the job. I find that Sheila is a very different dog inside the Shepherd's Pie than out, but I will be letting Pip have a go in the Pie as soon as I get some sheep for it.

Hello, I'm waiting for you to open this gate.

And this one.

Fly can't jump through gates either, so she has to wait too.

Out in the fields, though, Pip finds sheep a lot more interesting.

Sheep?

Sheep!

When she's finished, she comes running back.

And the sheep are left to wonder what on Earth is going on.

Now I'd like to introduce you all to Scruffy, a Bearded Collie who lives with Ben and Pip's mum, Rua.

She moves around a lot, so it's hard to get a decent photograph of her. While I was there, I saw Rua too.

She was watching the treats in my hand.

Treats are good.

***


Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Cat Food Crisis ::: Chapter Three


PREVIOUSLY: Ben and Pip's trip to the town proved fruitless, so it's back to the country for the finale...

~~~

By the time Ben and Pip had reached home again, they met Jack, who was as eager as ever to see them. “So, did anything cool happen?”

Ben answered him. “We were tricked. Dane wasn’t responsible for the delicious food that we had yesterday morn-”

“It was Fifi!” Pip butted in, unable to contain her excitement. “We have to stop her! Whatever she’s doing...”

Jack thought for a moment. “I suppose whatever she’s doing, it would be at that dog food factory up the road.”

“Jack, you’re a genius,” Pip shouted. “Let’s go!”

***

The factory was in sight. It was huge and vast in every way. It was very bright and airy with open windows. As Pip and Ben approached the building, they heard a bell. All the humans had disappeared, presumably for lunch. The dogs eyed the humans carefully and then made their move.

Then suddenly they heard barking and seen some small, tough terriers approached the production line. Ben and Pip quickly hid behind two barrels. The atmosphere was tense but they kept quiet. Everything was there to see.

The production lines were being sabotaged before their eyes. They watched as the terriers pulled in a bag of some sort, and another terrier arrived with a scoop. One of the dogs jumped on top of the machine with a scoop, and began putting the cat food flavouring into it.

“The swines,” Pip whispered.

“Do we really have to stop them, Pip? I mean, the food does taste like chicken – and that’s good,” Ben replied.

“We have to stop them! Not every dog likes chicken, you know!”

Pip didn’t realise she was shouting. And Pip didn’t realise that the cream Chihuahua, Miss Snuggly-Squeak Fifi III was watching her.

***

Two terriers sneaked up behind the two brown dogs and clipped a lead onto their collars and took to Fifi’s “Top Secret Lair” also known as one of those toilet rooms.

“No offence, Fifi, but you call this a base? Seriously? It’s terrible and it smells,” commented Pip cheekily.

Ben butted in. “Really Pip? I think it’s very impressive. Loving what you done with the place, Fifi.”

“Actually,” Pip asked, “What are you doing with the place?”

Fifi seemed very eager to explain. “I’ve been here for a week now, working on a plan to create the best dog food in the universe!”

“And how are you doing that?”

“I have some workers who put cat food flavourings into the machines every day during the lunch break. As you may already know.” She smiled. “You may also know that cat food is the most premium food humans can buy, and tastes delicious. I want to wake up every morning and have some cat food.”

“You know, Fifi, I’m starting to look at it that way too,” said Ben.

“But the thing is, you can’t stop me. No dog knows how to work those machines other than myself.”

“And how do you know so much?” asked Pip.

“I’m the factory manager’s dog.”

“You wouldn’t know that much about how the humans operate machines,” said Pip with a snap.

She was starting to get ever so slightly irritated about this scam. It was time to take action. While Fifi had been blabbering away about her master plan, Pip had been thinking hard. If the machines here were like anything back on the farm, they could easily be jammed with something thrown into them. With that idea in her head, she winked at Ben. And he knew exactly what she meant.

Suddenly, once again, Pip and Ben jerked forwards, taking the terriers by surprise.

Villains – they never learn.

***

Pip reached the machine in question just seconds before Ben. Pip ran over to what looked like a toolbox and grabbed a spanner from it in her mouth. The cold metal was a shock to her teeth, but she kept on running, and took a run and jump onto the top of the machine that the terriers were on earlier. She dropped the metal spanner, the machine clunked to a stop, and Ben whooped with happiness.

“You did it, Pip! You did it!”

***

Two hours later, at the local veterinary clinic...

“Well it looks like I’m going to take your temperature now, little dog...”

And the vet did wonder how a little cream Chihuahua ended up on his doorstep...

THE END

~~~

WRITTEN BY RUTH & JAMES ::: EDITED BY JAMES & RUTH ::: ILLUSTRATED BY RUTH

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Cat Food Crisis ::: Chapter Two

PREVIOUSLY: Click here for chapter one... Jack, Ben and Pip's dinners are not what they should be - cat food! But who could be behind this dastardly deed?

~~~


It was the strangest thing, the town. Full of strange sounds, smells and those big, shiny things that humans used for legs. No place for a country dog. Let alone two.

But Ben and Pip had no choice. If the Great Dane was going to be anywhere, it was here.

They jumped off the pick-up that they had hitched a ride in, and had a look around.

Fifi had been very precise with her instructions. Dane was last spotted at the community centre, heading east to the joke shop on Medley Road. Fifi described him as tall (at least that was obvious), big and black with a white chest and paws. Every dog knew of the Great Dane. He was a bit of a trouble-maker, using his size and strength to make humans to do what he wanted.

“Sounds like a nice guy,” Pip said, as she looked at a car whoosh past. “I can’t see him. We’ll have to ask around.”

She looked to Ben, who had found a discarded shoe and was now chewing on it. He looked up. “Tastes like chicken.”

“Everything tastes like chicken to you. Can we concentrate?”

He was chewing on the shoe again, this time talking as he chewed. “If we want to know what’s going on, we’ll have to blend in. Come and chew this shoe with me.”

Pip sighed. “I don’t see how chewing on a shoe is going to help.”

“That’s what town dogs do. They chew on stuff in the street, I’m sure of it. Unless you know better?”

Pip had to admit; she knew nothing about being in a town, so she bent down and chewed on the shoe with Ben.

***

The Great Dane had watched Ben and Pip arrive. He knew at once that they must have been from the country. Who on earth eats shoes?

***

As the shoe tore into two pieces, a small, white Bichon Frise trotted up. Ben and Pip had never seen such a fashionable-looking dog before. “Hello, I’m Sue.”

Pip spoke up before Ben had a chance. “Hi. I’m Pip, and this is Ben. We’re looking for someone. I don’t suppose you know a dog called the Great Dane?”

“Dane? Oh yeah, I know ‘im. He’s famous around here.” Sue looked puzzled. “What’s the shoe for?”

Ben and Pip looked at each other sheepishly. “Oh, you know, just trying to blend in,” said Ben. “It’s what you town dogs do, isn’t it?”

“No.”

Sue then went on to give the two brown dogs directions to the joke shop, and they went on their way.

***

The joke shop was open at that time of day, just about to close for the evening. Ben and Pip looked at each other as the shop keeper shut the door and locked it. They were stuck for the night. Ben and Pip decided that it would be better if they spilt up. Ben went upstairs to the store, and Pip the shop floor itself.

***

Ben had never been so scared of a shop before. His normal visits to shops were to the pet shop for a new bone or packet of dog food. Chicken, of course. The whole room was dark, with only a few beams of moonlight shining through a window. There was an old cactus plant on the window sill, and a spider’s web in the corner. There were shelves here too, only these ones were full of items in boxes. Ben sniffed around, his Sprollie senses tingling. And that’s when the Great Dane came out of the shadows.

***

Pip had finished searching through the toy section of the shop, and was now walking towards the area with the masks. Tony Blair, John Cleese and even the Queen were on the wall. Pip didn’t like it here. It smelled like Ben’s KONG. And that wasn’t a good thing. Who knows where that thing has been? It was dark, and Pip’s eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. Suddenly, all of the lights in the shop came on. She ducked for cover underneath a pile of comedy masks, this time with the face of Prince Charles. Pip watched as Sue walked into the room and started looking for something.

Pip really hoped it wasn’t her.

***

The Great Dane looked at Ben. The lights came on just fast enough for him not to run away, and from behind him, a small terrier clipped a lead onto Ben’s collar.

“I want to know what you’re doing on my patch,” said Dane. He smirked a little. “You do realise I will pay handsomely for any information you wish to give.”

Ben was defiant. “I’m here to ask you about the delicious tastes in our dog food. A friend of mine said that it tasted like Kitty Nibbles, chicken flavour.”

The smirk on Dane’s face disappeared. “What are you on about?”

“You know full well what I’m on about. I want to have to wake up every morning and have Kitty Nibbles for breakfast!”

“I have no idea what you’re on about.”

“No! He doesn’t!” Ben looked around to see Pip being lead in by Sue. “We’ve been tricked!”

“By who?” Ben asked. Boy, he would love a KONG now.

“Sue. It has to be. She wanted us here so she could catch us.” Pip turned to Sue. “Who do you work for?”

“Miss Snuggly-Squeak Fifi III.”

“That dog!” shouted Dane, “She must have sent you two to catch me. I swear, I haven’t done anything. You need to find Fifi again. She’s even worse than me.”

Ben decided now was as good a time as any to make their escape. “Pip, do you remember all of those times I’ve played tug-or-war with you and Jack?”

“Yes...”

“And do you notice how the villains always put us on short leads?”

“Uh-huh...”

“Then lets
Let’s go catch that dog!”

And with that, Pip and Ben jerked forward, taking their small captors by surprise, so they lost their grip on the leads. The two brown dogs ran as fast as they could out the back door. All of those times playing chaises on the lawn were coming to the fore, and they ran faster than they ever did before. They knew that Dane wouldn’t come after them, just after Fifi.

For one night only, Ben and Pip were the dog catchers.

To be continued...

~~~

WRITTEN BY RUTH ::: EDITED BY JAMES ::: ILLUSTRATED BY RUTH

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Cat Food Crisis ::: Chapter One

Stay tuned over the weekend for the rest of this short story, based on our Ben and Pip's superhero persona's!

~~~


“Go eat your food Jack, there’s a good boy,” said the voice which towered over Jack with a patronising tone from above. Today was a good time of the day for Jack. Well normally anyway but today WOULD be different. Jack paused, and stared at the food. Something peculiar was going on. Something didn’t seem right, somehow. As the owner receded back into its house, this Sprollie knew that something was different about the food. It smelt weird for a start. Jack eyed the food with disbelief.

“Cat food”, he muttered to himself. The breeze of the outdoors ruffled his fur as he stood outside his kennel gazing at the sky up above. He then glanced back down at the food and ate some. It was terrible, he thought and certainly not the usual stuff.

“Smells like Kitty Nibbles. Hmm. I wonder if Super Little Pip and Super Ben-Job will think the same...”

Something WAS going on, and he thought he knew. It was KITTY NIBBLES! Perhaps... this would remain quite a mystery to ponder.

Meanwhile, in the not so distant kitchen, Ben and Pip stood. And then, moments later the “Dog Food” came down in the dishes. It came from the same usual tin but this food was very different. Pip stared at the food suspiciously before eating while Ben, being Ben gobbled all his grub down without hesitation.

“There’s something funny about that food. It tastes different somehow,” said Pip slowly.

“Really? Tastes good to me, just like chicken. Chicken is goooood,” said Ben eagerly.

“I don’t like it. Tastes like....”

“Chicken?”

Those Sprollie senses were tingling.

“Not quite what I presumed Ben. There’s something iffy about this. It seems like quite a sudden change. I mean, it looks and tastes extremely different to the normal food we eat.”

“Maybe, the humans made a mistake,” remarked Ben quite thoughtfully.

“It’s bizarre how different the foo-,”

“KONG! MUST HAVE KONG!!”

Pip was interrupted by Ben, who excitedly had found the Kong. Not any Kong, but The Kong. His craziness and excitement could never be contained.

Jack walked into the human’s house casually, to find Ben in hyper mode playing with Kong on his own excitedly, while Pip sat on the rug nearby in deep thought. Pip thought this was a fitting opportunity to continue her sentence.

“It’s bizarre how different the food is today. I mean what was going on out there. Was it meat or steak flavoured or something?”

“STEAK?! WHERE?” said Jack and Ben at the same time. The thought of it sent drool on the old, beige (and now wet) rug.

After he stopped briefly salivating, Jack observed the still half-empty dog food bowl of Pip and remarked indifferently -

“It’s a bit like that, em, what’s it called...” He pondered for a moment. “Kitty Nibbles! Yes, that’s it!” He burst out suddenly with pride.

“You know what I mean don’t you Little Pip?”

Pip glanced and beamed; “And how would you know?”

“I.... tried it once when I was extremely hungry!”

Ben listened carefully. This story could be worth remembering.

“OK... I think we smell an investigation coming on-” said Pip.

Ben butted in - “With gadgets? Exploring?”

“That would be quite fun,” said Pip calmly. “You never know what will happen....”

All three dogs then decided to go for a relaxing stroll on this great sunny day. The sun shone brightly over the evergreen grass of Greenhill and reflected on the dogs’ coats.

Then they saw something approach them. It was a small dog. A cream Chihuahua. She looked mysterious somewhat but friendly.

“Greetings. You want to know who’s done this terrible deed?? They call him Great Dane.  He is tall, dark and the cause of this terrible crisis. All you have to do is track him down in the town, with him last being spotted heading to the joke shop on Medley Road.”

“Wow,” said Jack energetically. “Goodbye Super Ben-Job and Super Little Pip!”

“So, Ben,” said Pip. “Fancy a road trip?”

To be continued...

~~~

WRITTEN BY JAMES ::: EDITED BY RUTH ::: ILLUSTRATED BY RUTH

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Where the Water Meets the Land

A few days ago, I took some photos of the views from the highest field.

The neighbour's cows, with the ocean behind them.

The view in the opposite direction (notice the annoying spot in the sky?).


The view a little to the left-hand side.

A little more to the left.

Opposite way again (with annoying spot again).

And finally, a little more to the left.

But Ben and Pip weren't going to get out of it that easily...

It's a shame it was so cloudy.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Castlewellan Show 2011

Pip and myself went to the Castlewellan Show on Saturday. It was Pip's first major outing (I don't call the odd trip to town/the beach major). On the way in, she was terrified of the traffic on the busy main road, so I had to carry her a bit of the way. She kept trying to jump onto the wall beside the footpath, but she couldn't quite jump that high. I suppose she would have felt safer if she was up high.

For most of the day, her tail was between her legs. She has always been a very nervous dog - a new cardboard box in the yard could be very scary, or even someone opening a window. But as the day wore on, I noticed Pip's confidence grow and grow...

For the thrid year running, the Castlewellan Show's day was wet. In 2009, the ground was so saturated that people wore wellies. Last year, there were some heavy showers. And this year was no different.

Pip wasn't impressed.

The rain was already pouring down by the time we had payed our entrane fee, and Pip experianced her first horse sighting. She looked at the horse as it trotted around the practise area, but didn't bark - that was a plus!

The horses in their trailers didn't scare her that much either.


There were donkeys there, too.

Pip was really interested in the miniture horses being judged.

This Alpaca (I think) didn't like Pip.

With all of the animals seen, we went along to the dog agaility. Pip was realy confident with herself now, but then she heard the sound of a dog going through a tunnel, and was scared again. While we watched, Pip lay down and watched. Eventually, after a lot of hugs, she became used to the noise and began to enjoy herself.

This Bearded Collie was very good!

And so was Pip. Time to go home.

The traffic on the way back to the Land Rover scared her again, so she lept onto the wall. I took a photo...

...and lifted her down. Only for her to jump up again! So she walked along the wall while I stayed on the footpath, like a child walking along a wall at the beach.

And I'm not even going to get started on how Pip almost destroyed a PDSA stall...

Friday, 15 July 2011

That Poor Hedgehog - Part II


Yes, Ben is still chewing on his KONG.


And Pip still has the hedgehog.

She looks proud of herself.

I think I'm meant to pick this up...

Ben's watching you!

Ben's got the hedgehog again.

Basically, my dogs are a bunch of thieves - I mean look at this! Ben trying to steal Sheila's toy.


But they are very cute thieves!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

That Poor Hedgehog - Part I


He looks a bit shocked.

I had another go at a garden party, this time with my old camera, a Nikon Coolpix S570. This week has been very dry and sunny, so perfect conditions for taking photos of the dogs.

Ben was happy with his KONG.

Pip was happy with a squeaky hedgehog.

And Sheila with the orange ball.

But of course, toys never end up with the same dog they began with. And here's how...

Sheila wants Ben's KONG, but he's not having any of it.

Ben says, I'll just watch this hedge while she tries to take my KONG.

Ben: I want your hedgehog...

Did I ever tell you he was annoying?

I think he should have a bath. That'll teach him!

And don't get me started on his little brown shadow.

Sheila has somehow stolen Ben's KONG.

Ah, the "old sitting down so he can't pull you" trick. Very good, Sheila!

As always, Pip is watching you!

Ben happy with his KONG.

This is one of those odd moments when Pip throws herself into the action.

Ben on a break.

Hello, Ben!

As I said before, it's not raining. That wetness on Sheila's face is Ben slobbers - eww!

I'm not surprised really, with a tongue that long...

Still, it's not pretty.

Ben's methods of taking things off Sheila are subtle.

He's always waiting and watching...

That poor hedgehog...

To be continued...