Autumn days; best or worst?

Autumn days are the best and worst. Winter’s not so bad because you know the weather’s going to be inclement. Certainty helps with your expectations. If you are sure there’s no way you’ll see sunshine that day, even the sharpest sliver of yellow light across the reddening land exceeds your expectations and gives your heart a lift.

A brisk autumn morning in Cumbria

Autumn, on the other hand is full of surprises. A squitchy mud bath, ankle deep next to a frozen puddle. A nice day turns to rain within 30 minutes. Pheasants crash upwards squawking about the dog. Chased by the dog, in fact. She is so puppyish that as soon as she thinks she has the bird almost in her paws, she smells for it, instead of using her eyes. Pheasants 24763 Puppy 0. Too much eye, my mum says. Same for insects.

Jack Frost's web

The dog was the best ever investment in my own quality of life. The walks we take can be greens, or browns and light green and reds. They fill me with a kind of wakeful energy. The blue and mauve hills in the background may be either shrouded in haze or clear as if they are just a few feet away. Rain is a regular contributor to the atmosphere.

The trees have lost most of their leaves by now, so there’s leaf litter underfoot, and when the ground isn’t frost-hard, it’s squitchy. The only sensible things for your feet are Wellington boots and they’re lethal on ice, so it’s still 6 of  one, half dozen of the other.

Dog days

The dog hilariously skidded across ice on the path the other day in a seconds-long stunt. She bounded onto it, her rear end flew out sideways, and she recovered instantaneously by turning the fall into a leap, but she tried to hit the ground at a run and skidded across the ice into a minor heap. Immediately scrabbled off the treacherous area, and hurtled headlong into the thicket. Not noted for thinking, my puppy.

ice in a cut

Still, on the way back, she got across the bridge by walking on the grassy strip right next to the wall. Learns some things quick, my girl.

My girl, Floss

I have a dog. Introducing … Miss Flossie Murdock. I never had one before, so I’m taking her pretty seriously. She’s been very hyped up for the past week (and a bit), and I assumed she’d had a hard life. I think she has – for such a young dog – but her wily ways have become clearer to me over the last few days, so I’ve been giving her a good think.

She’s a terrible drama queen. I thought I was the Queen Mother of them all, but she does a fine job. She works herself up into a panic, and either freaks out (leaping round the place, or totally digging her feet in), or sits with huge eyes, looking tiny and shaking. She hasn’t done that last bit for a few days, but I don’t doubt but that it will reappear at some point.Floss on her first day

Half the problem is that she won’t listen. She can’t listen when she’s in that state, and when she’s feeling happy, she doesn’t listen out of arrogance. She is very stubborn. One thing she has learned really well is when we’re on the edge of a country road, she has to ‘sit’ and be calm. Rush hour* meant the road was busy today, and we had to do it more than a dozen times. She would throw herself onto the undergrowth if there wasn’t enough ‘edge’ to sit on. It was amazing how calm she was.

She loves, loves, loves to run, so I have twigged that walks need to have a running component. This was a huge success today, though I’m not sure my body was prepared for it. She’s also got a great sense of timing, and can turn on a sixpence. If I can get her to concentrate long enough to obey basic safety commands, then she might have a lot of fun doing agility type games with me. I need a ramp in the garden.

She acts every day like she hates the kitchen. I guess she thinks it’s her pen. So when I make her come in, she doesn’t want to. She then spends the rest of the day either watching me and moving from one ‘safe place’ in the kitchen to another (from behind the chair/under the table, to the top step by the back door), or lying on her bed crashed out. And at night, while I’m downstairs, she doesn’t even stir when I drop something on the floor. Until I go upstairs. Then she gets busy.

So far, victims of Floss’ Quality Time include the kitchen table, her own brush, my diary, the handle of her extendable lead, the garden bench (which was rotting anyway), a seat belt, and the rubber strings that link my car boot door with the boot shelf. Some of it was boredom, and some of it was punishing me.

Floss looking at the hills

She’s a lot of fun so far. Fun is now my survival technique. She’s a grumpy little sod unless she’s having fun. The best thing ever is a waggy tail first thing in the morning. It’s the only one I see, and she only does it out of guilt, I’m sure. She’s coming on in leaps and bounds, just a bit carried away with herself. I spend a lot of time ignoring her, so that she doesn’t feel she’s under scrutiny all the time.

We’re getting used to each other, and that’s what counts.