Archive for the ‘My Pet’ Category

Here’s Hades after the castration. The message was that he was not allowed to lick the wound, play with other dogs, should take it easy over the weekend… Total failure on all parts. We tried the collar to stop him licking. Well, it stopped him licking, but also stopped him moving like a normal dog. He was completely flummoxed by the collar. So we only made him wear it for a couple of hours, in which time his misery plunged to such depths the floor could barely take the weight of it. So as much fun as it was to film his new pattern of movement, our soft middles decided to “keep an eye on him” instead. The not playing with other dogs part was the next instruction to be breached. Within hours the two little lunatics were turning the flat into a danger zone in their usual style.

Luckily, it seems to have made little difference to the healing of the tiny wound. All one can now see of the op is the empty sack – and I must admit I am a little puzzled as to why the vet left the sack. As some sort of vengeance? “You shall be carrying an inside-out pocket between your legs for all eternity as a reminder of what you have lost!” Thomas suggested we could get it filled with replacement balls to boost his self confidence should he ever need it. My reaction was, as usual, to remind him that Hades is a dog, not a human, and that balls don’t carry the same symbolic meaning to them.

Thomas did not fill mama’s glass with wine after that comment.

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Pluto was added to the household at the beginning of June. The situation was as follows: Mischa “the Rock” Gundersveen bored Hades to distraction, his younger brother from the second litter had been rehomed unsuccessfully and been returned with the message that he had howled non-stop for 18 hours. Something which was too much for the new owner with her 40 years of experience with dogs. Well, we can’t boast the same, but we took Pluto in on trial and it took the wee chap all of a couple of days to settle in, without the use of howling, and – HERE HE IS!

Hades is no longer bored shitless, Mischa is a lot happier as Hades has all but stopped biting his ears (and he seems to like Pluto), and the little one has completely melted Thomas’ heart – they are just SO CUTE!

However, Hades is going through a period of re-adjustment. Not being entirely sure of his position as one of three dogs, he started attacking anything and anyone who came within three feet of me. This included the staff at restaurants, and as this leads to mama not getting her wine he was castrated last week. Yes, Hades lost his balls to mama’s wine. This is known as PRIORITIES. This one was a no-brainer.

We’re still struggling with Hades’ deafness. I’m hopeful that once his hormone levels level out (pun totally intended) he will calm down enough to be a little more trainable. At the moment we are working on how to walk on the lead, that is, without pulling to the front and left, almost lying flat on the pavement scrabbling with his claws to get THERE where there might be other dogs he can play with – or attack – whichever comes first.

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A while ago we got a puppy. And my intention was to write lots about him. And his relationship with our old dog Mischa. And then I ran out of energy and had to ration my activities to a minimum generally centred around getting out of bed, doing my job, cleaning the kitchen and learning what it is like to have a deaf dog. That last point should of course have been the first.

I’ll just give a brief summary of 2013: better than 2012. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

Since Hades entered out lives, a lot of our time has centred around him. We’ve had to come to terms with what it is to have a puppy with all it entails in teaching him good manners. We’re not there yet, and our greatest excuse for that is that he is deaf. So we rely on having his attention before we can signal what we want from him, and that has to be explained in some way through a lot of repetition. “A lot” is in this case one of those famous understatements. Getting the attention of a puppy is hard enough, as anyone whose ever had one can confirm, when that puppy is also deaf you may wonder how on earth one gets to the point where one can teach him to sit and lie down on command. Or even how to give that command.

I’m glad to say that Hades is intelligent. I’m less glad to say he is also stubborn. I even sometimes wonder if he is actually aware that he has a handicap and is exploiting it a little – sort of in a “lalala! can’t hear you!” kind of way.

His deafness has its funny sides. When he keeps his attention on us while we’re walking somewhere, he has a tendency to walk into whatever is in the way. And we have no way of warning him. I guess to him we are just pulling funny faces and he keeps an eye on us so he can have a quiet giggle at our expense. Good thing he is so small and light he just bounces right off. It mostly happens in the house where he has walked into countless cupboards and walls – outside I keep him on the lead and can stop him before disaster strikes. Thomas is braver than me and lets him off the lead when we’re in the park, and there both trees, benches, other dogs and people have got in his way and been bumped into.

It is also possible to sneak up on him, but that is of course not fair. Good he’s not of a nervous disposition. Mischa does not understand that he is deaf and has a couple of times scared the crap out of him by playfully placing a big, heavy paw on him from behind, with the result that Hades screams like a tortured pig. Mischa, not the daintiest of movers, does not understand Hades’ surprise and looks truly dejected. He still wonders why on earth we took the foundling in and ruined his life.

In addition to being deaf, Hades is also naked. It kind of goes with the breed, though his sister, Paris, is of the powder-puff type with hair all over. Speaking of Paris – we looked after her for a couple of weeks, and that was when I discovered how much easier it is to teach a hearing puppy new tricks. It took me no more than 15 minutes to teach her sit, and 20 to teach her to lie down, and then another ten minutes to reinforce the difference. If your dog can hear but can’t sit or lie down on command I hereby declare you an incompetent dog owner. Case closed.

Back to nudity.

Hades sleeps in our bed. There are two reasons for this. Firstly his deafness. Having him near means he can follow what is going on – he knows when we get up and where we are without us having to turn the light on. It makes him feel safer. Secondly, he can crawl under the covers if he gets cold.

We thought this was a great idea. But as we keep the bedroom relatively cool, he gets cold, demands a space under the covers, gets too hot within a couple of minutes and wants out again. Our nights are punctuated by his constant under-the-covers-over-the-covers-under… I now know I would not make a good mum. Sleep deprivation is hell. His nightly nomadic movements mixed with his toilet training (he still demands to be taken out for a pee-errand in the middle of the night, preceded by sad and pathetic whimpering that cuts through all other noises in the whole world) has completed our joint exhaustion and we’ve both been on the verge of throwing him out the window. (That is of course not true, do not post nasty comments. The thought has only manifest itself in unheard threats.)

Hades is now six months old and largely house-trained, can sit and lie down on command and walks well on the lead. Now we only have to get him to understand that when we get to the park, it is not generally acceptable behaviour to bark and scream as if someone is twisting your head off, followed by loud and persistent HOWLING. I’ve no idea why he does it. None at all.


Hades pictured on 6 January 2014. What a waste of a pair of ears!

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What are the odds, eh? Yeah, yeah, sure. Probably higher than winning the lottery, but still. It just had to be me that turned her blog into a litany of injuries and ailments and an insider’s view of socialised medicine in Austria. My sincere apologies. Wish me well in my upcoming pursuit of a life less painful.

While being so dreadfully incapacitated and spending my days working from home, Orion has turned into a dog even cuddlier than Mischa. And that is saying a lot. Mischa now displays bouts of jealousy when Orion gets attention, while Orion is willing to hang back and wait his turn. Except in the evening when I give up on getting any more work done and lie down on the sofabed in front of the TV. That’s when he replaces playing and eating with cuddles as his main interest and in his gangly, long-legged way plonks himself almost on top of me and buries his head into my armpit.

And yes, it is intensely cosy and I am deeply touched that this nervous, aggressive and overly institutionalised dog so totally trusts me he makes up for the lost years in this way. Mischa comes over and leans against the sofabed, looking at me with his deeply sad eyes. Of course he is welcome to join, but from time to time he finds Orion’s presence so irritating that if he accidentally touches Mischa during a stretch, Mischa bares his teeth and GROWLS. Which is not at all like Mischa-the-world’s-softest-lump. He is turning into a grumpy old man. But mostly the boys get along just fine and Thomas will come home from late shift at work to find me squeezed between the two hairy creatures, sound asleep.

And then all four of us curl up together for a session of cosy cuddles.

A few weeks ago, Mischa and I went to meet Thomas and Orion. When Mischa spotted them in the distance he started running towards them. Thomas crouched to greet him with open arms and Mischa galloped straight past him — to greet Orion with almost overwhelming joy! You should have seen the astonishment on Thomas’ face… So his jealousy is only fur-deep, I think.

I have also cooked in Thomas’ kitchen for the first time. I must say it is rather nice cooking with gas again. I’ve missed the instantness of that. But the result is of course that Thomas can no longer find his things as I don’t always return the pots and pans to their assigned places. And he is of course sceptical of my use of his sharp knives like any male with an interest in cooking and the accompanying gear. I admit his knives are miles better than mine. At least that is one area where men who cook get it right. Perhaps that is generally how men get into cooking — it’s a good excuse for collecting sharp knives? He is now threatening with the application of sticky notes on all cupboards and drawers listing what item each should contain. I guess I will have to memorise it all like a good soldier so I don’t ruin the system and instead can elevate myself to his superior level of kitchen awareness.

Spending so much time at his place also means I am a lot more involved with my instant family. This means anything to do with his two teenage sons, the oldest boy’s girlfriend, Thomas’ x-wife and her mother and boyfriend and — well, the extended lot. No, they all don’t hang out here, but as the ex is mother of his children and I am the ‘step-mother-to-be’, we occasionally have to interact, and I get to hear a lot more about them now. Which is sort of interesting and also a little scary.

Yesterday, the ex swung by with some luggage for the youngest. Now, the ex, M, is not in any way a dog-person. Not a problem for Mischa who is a people-dog regardless of how people feel about dogs, but Orion is sensitive to insecurities and gets very nervous himself. And that’s when he starts to bark and growl. He is of course also rather territorial now that he has a territory to be territorial about, so when M turned up he went completely overboard and barked and growled and bared his teeth and was not even remotely pleasant to her. I suppose I should be smug about that. Mischa couldn’t even be bothered to move from where he was lying. He’s a great guard dog, he is. Once Orion calmed down, M proceeded to tell me the uplifting story of her father-in-law’s terrible prolapse experiences and operations and further prolapses and how he will never get another job because of his age and how he had to wait for OVER A YEAR for the first operation and how he has now had the second operation postponed FOUR TIMES! “Hope you feel better soon! Tschuss!” and off she went with a lovely smile. I nearly sent Orion after her.


I was so going to finish this post in a sensible way. But in the meantime I have spent the day reading and replying to e-mails (work related, of course) and — well, then I fell asleep. And slept for I don’t know how long at which point Thomas and his youngest son, P, woke me up to have a late dinner. Now it’s suddenly Sunday and we all need a good night’s sleep. And there is no sense left.

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Boys and their toys

Today, Thomas and I and his boys (who are thirteen and sixteen, respectively) went to a model-fair or whateverthey’recalled. Lots of model railways, little mountains and houses and mini cities with mini people and tracks and wheels and plastic bits and smaller and bigger engines and things that were remote controlled to go either on tracks, freely drift here and there or fly. And of course your usual staple diet of various length sausages, beer and apfelsaft. And lots of men who take this sort of thing seriously.

I am now the happy owner of a small helicopter I am totally unable to control and which I have had bouncing off walls and ceilings, Thomas, Mischa and some friends which dropped by. It’s supposed to be shatter proof. So far it has been. They watched my useless attempt at trying to get the helicopter to stop spinning wildly and eventually Howard commented drily that he could hardly wait for my YouTube clips to come out and I should try to film the wee chopper before I smash it completely to smithereens.

Mischa was clearly fed up with being alone all day (dogs not allowed at these fairs — just as well with all those little bits flying around), so he’s spent a fair amount of time trying to get my attention away from the chopper and over to his pink rubber pig which he eventually decapitated and pulled the stuffing out of. So now he needs a new rubber pig. Why are dogs so like kids in that sense? Oh, I nearly ruined Thomas’ new toy when he lent it to me. It’s a remote controlled car and on my slippery floors it really skids around like mad. Great fun. I had it run into Mischa’s tummy which he was not too pleased about but then I also ran it through the pig-stuffing on the floor and nearly ruined it with stuffing getting stuck around one of the wheel bearings.

And from this you can gather that there has been a certain amount of chaos here since our return home. From time to time I did play with Mischa and the rubber pig. After all, how could I not when he turned up under my desk like this?

"What's fun about a helicopter when you can have me and a rubber pig?"

What's fun about a helicopter when you can have Mischa and a rubber pig?

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Swine flu days

On Friday Louise returned from her well-deserved Malta holiday with a less deserved case of the swine flu. As we were not aware of this we hugged long and hard, she complained of a cold and went to bed.

On Saturday she got a call from one of the guys she’d met there and was told he was in hospital with said flu-strain. “Get checked” he said.

Sunday morning she toddled off to work at the hospital after advice from her boss and got tested. Sunday night it was confirmed; she was indeed H1N1 positive.


Today I am off work in case I start showing symptoms too. None so far though, in spite of having spent a lot of time with Louise since she got back, including emptying a bottle of bubbly together last night while cuddling a very content Mischa between us. (We tend to sit on the floor during these “sessions”.)

I’m working from home, though. Coding and putting our review together and such. And writing. And tweeting which seems to have become my latest obsession. Quite fun for now but I’m sort of hoping I get over it… Mischa is roasting down in the Hof with a bowl of water and a “bone” — one of these slightly synthetic looking knots — next too him. He seems happy now too. If hot. I just don’t get why a part husky wants to spend hours roasting in the sun.

The part husky strikes again. Roasting in the heat. At least he is in the shade here.

The part husky strikes again. Roasting in the heat. At least he is in the shade here.

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Summer is upon me

I’m going on holiday today. Per motorbike. Yes, I have a new bike. A little Kawasaki Ninja 250R. I’ve called her Nina — what else? We’re taking our motorbikes overnight on the train from Vienna to Hamburg, then riding to Copenhagen where we will stay with my cousin and then we go on to Norway. I’m really excited as it makes the travel itself part of the holiday, and it all starts on the train: the most civilised way of travelling!

Over many years of flying here and there I have come to loathe flights. I used to love them, used to love being at the airport early, get the seat of my choice and then wander around the tax free trying all the perfumes until my eyes watered and people took flight before me to avoid the tear gas, sometimes trying various versions of whiskey or gin or whatever they were promoting that day, then going to the technical equipment bit — Dixons or something — and buying something completely useless I could load down my hand luggage with.

When going to Norway I would naturally add some tax free alcohol to the load that was already in my suitcase. That’s just a given. Norway is insanely expensive when it comes to alcohol. As if that stops anyone from drinking. The making of moonshine is something Norwegians are taught in the womb. It’s how we survive the cold. And dark. And the depressions that go with being Norwegian. And yes, everything you’ve heard about Norwegians and alcohol is true.

One Christmas my dad invited Kevin to a morning of manliness with his friends. The guys were going to head into the forest and chop their own Christmas trees. As dad had talked about Kevin, his exotic son-in-law (in the sense that he is not Norwegian), the guys were curious and thought it was was a great opportunity for a bonding session between men. They had not counted on Kevin’s reaction which was “I am not going without Ine”. And that was that. Not up for negotiation. So I was an honorary male among testosterone ridden males with axes.

They had also not counted on Kevin refusing to kill a tree, so I was the one who headed into the freezing forest to find and kill our prey. Which I did with gusto and in record time. And then we all assembled by the cars where it was time for some man-talk and a coffee.

With my history of migraines I turned the coffee down. The bringer of the coffee, however, would have none of it, stating that there was not a lot of coffee in the coffee. And when the “coffee” turned my face a shade of red not before seen in the real world the lads roared with laughter, coffee bringer — the local sheriff — included. It was indeed an illegal substance of little colour but impressive potency. With the sheriff’s blessing, our prey in the trailer and alcohol schlosching around our veins, I got behind the wheel and drove me and Kevin back to the warm house where I spent the rest of the day sobering up.

Not sure I would recommend this experience.

Last night I took Mischa over to his previous home. I had agreed this with Livia who is presently on a hiking holiday, but she had only passed the information on to her mum in her imagination so the agreement came as a bit of a surprise to her. Karin is already taking care of all the kids (4), the other dog Knickers and the cat. Sorry; keep forgetting the cat’s name. I only see the cat in short glimpses when I’m there, between her hesitantly emerging from the shed until she disappears around a corner with Knickers in hot pursuit.

When I got ready to leave, Mischa trailed me with the expectation that he would come too. I cuddled him and said no, he would be staying to have his own holiday with his old family, but the look of loss and bewilderment he sent me was heartbreaking, and the last thing I heard was Karin reassuring him that I would come back for him — “Sie kommt wieder! Dass verspreche ich!”

Today I’m scratching my head trying to squeeze my usual holiday luggage into two small saddelbags and a top-bag. I intend to keep up with my jogging regime, so running shoes and sweatpants etc. have to fit in as well in addition to the thousands of shoes I always have to have, a nice dress, a summer dress, underwear to last, extra — ok, you’ve been there done that yourself so I’ll shut up now. I’ll just reveal that I’m not taking my hairdryer — and that’s a first. Since I will be spending a considerable amount of time with my head in a crash helmet it hardly matters if I blow dry my hair first. It’s gonna look shit regardless. Sorry, mum! This time I will agree without hesitation when you tell me you don’t like my hair. But just wait until 1 March 2011! My hair will be sorted out then.

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