Santa Claws – The Christmas Tree Mission

The bipeds decided to put up the Christmas decorations at the weekend. Pippin found himself a comfortable spot for a nap as soon as he saw the bipeds getting boxes out. I checked all the boxes to make sure that there was nothing dangerous lurking in them and then I also took a nap.

Mulberry decided that he needed to supervise everything the bipeds did. He often chats and gives a running commentary about what’s going on, but he was so sure that they couldn’t manage without him that he didn’t even take a nap. He helped them choose the purrfect spot for the Christmas tree.

Mulberry, Persian Cat, with Christmas tree stand

That’s the purrfect spot!

The bipeds went through their usual routine of plugging in the Christmas lights and replacing bulbs that weren’t working. They always do this, it takes them a while to remember that they should put the lights on the tree! This year they did this before they’d even put the tree in the stand, so Mulberry was reminding them to get the tree out of its box.

Pippin told Mulberry not to worry – the bipeds always figure it out in the end. The male biped complained that Mulberry was getting underfoot. But Mulberry didn’t care, he just kept on giving instructions.

When the male biped took the tree out of the box and went to put it in the stand, Mulberry was there making sure he got it right. He was telling the biped which way round it went and to be careful not to drop it.

Mulberry, Persian Cat, with Christmas tree stand

Be careful with the tree!

While the bipeds were walking back and forth putting the decorations on the tree, Mulberry was walking between their feet. He kept up a non-stop commentary, telling them where the next bauble should go.

Christmas bauble

There’s a gap to the left!

The male biped said that Mulberry was a menace and kept almost tripping him up. The female biped was draping a string of silver beads on the tree and said that at least Mulberry wasn’t trying to play with the decorations this year. What timing! Mulberry reached up and grabbed the end of the beads and pulled them from her.

The male biped raised one eyebrow and said, “You were saying?”

They both laughed and he scooped Mulberry up into his arms and gave him a cuddle. Everything was finished a few moments later and the bipeds sat down and gave us all a cuddle and some treats, before putting the empty boxes away.

Mulberry, Persian Cat, sleeping

Turn out the light! I’m sleepy

Mulberry is exhausted, but he says he’s very pleased with the Christmas tree that he decorated!

See you next Wednesday!

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Swan or enemy?

I was travelling through the Lake District, North West England, with my bipeds and we decided to take a break and stretch our legs. We stopped by a lake and the male biped said he’d join us soon, but he wanted to rearrange some of the luggage in the car as something was making a noise. I was keen to investigate, so I set off with the female biped.

We made our way down to the shore and strolled along. I found some interesting smells to sniff, but my biped said I should leave it as it was only duck poop – as though I didn’t know what I was sniffing! After about fifteen minutes we began to wonder why the male biped hadn’t caught up with us and we turned back to find out. A strange sight met our eyes!

A swan trying to get food from a person

Crisps aren’t good for you!

The male biped was standing on a rock, keeping his crisps out of reach of a swan! The female biped laughed and took a photograph.

The male biped said, “It isn’t funny! He’s quite aggressive and it hurts when he pecks me!”

When I saw the swan move and peck the biped’s legs, I decided I should go and help. So the female biped decided she needed both hands free to make sure that I didn’t, which meant she couldn’t take any more photographs.

The male biped said, “The swan suddenly appeared and tried to snatch the crisps. I turned and started walking away and then he came at me making a hissing noise, with his wings flapping, so I hopped up here thinking he’d get bored and go away. But that doesn’t seem to be working!”

As he was speaking, another swan came waddling up and joined the first one. Things were getting serious! So I made another attempt to go to his aid, but the female biped told me to wait.

The male biped said, “I think it would be better if you took Clowie back up to the car.”

She said, “Okay, we don’t want a bad situation getting any worse, but what are you going to do?”

The male replied, “I’m thinking about a small distraction and then legging it as fast as I can!”

The female biped asked, “Distraction?”

The male biped waved the packet of crisps and said, “I didn’t want to give him any as he’ll think he can go around mugging people for food, but I can’t think of anything else to do.”

The female said, “He already knows he can mug people for food!”

I wanted to stay to help the male biped, but I walked back up to the road as requested. We saw the male biped make a show of dropping a few crisps on one side of the rock to get the attention of the swans. As soon as they bent over to get the crisps, he hopped down on the other side and started running towards us.

When he reached the steps he paused to look back. He should know that you never look back! Sure enough, the swans had eaten the crisps and were following him. I gave a warning woof and the male biped realised his mistake and ran up the steps, leaving the hissing and flapping swans behind.

Swan on water

Swans look much nicer in the water!
Attribution: By Mihael Grmek (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The usual reason for a swan to be aggressive is in defence of a nest, but the bipeds said that they weren’t planning to stay and explain to these swans that they shouldn’t be mugging people for food!

See you next Wednesday!

Crawling for beginners

Pippin, the cat, still keeps telling me that he isn’t speaking to me after the tale I told recently. I pointed out to him that every time he tells me that, he is in fact speaking to me – he wasn’t amused! He said that I should be doing some crawling if I want to get back into his good books.

I know he meant it in the sense of being extra nice to him and not literally, but it reminded me that I have found it very useful at times to be able to crawl. I’ve already told you about being able to crawl through the dog gates at the side of some stiles.

I’ve been meaning to explain how I learnt to crawl. I said it was quite easy, but when I thought about explaining it I realised that it was only easy once I had the idea that my biped wanted me to shuffle forwards without getting up. It was then a case of doing a tiny bit more each time for the treat, but getting started was a little harder.

My biped asked a trainer for tips on how to teach me to crawl when I was still a puppy. The advice was for her to sit on the floor with her knees raised while I was in the down position.

Stick figure seated on floor

Like this, but both knees raised

She was told to hold a treat under her knees just out of my reach. There were only two problems with this! I was already too large to wriggle under her knees without knocking her over. And it was still tricky to be on the floor with me because I didn’t yet have the good manners that I have now! My biped tried a couple of times, but it was a failure and she decided to wait a while.

We had lots of short training sessions and I learnt lots of new tricks. One of my favourites was taking a treat when told! We also fitted in all the things I found boring, such as the “down” position.

Sphinx of Hetepheres

A sphinx demonstrating the classic “down” position
Attribution: By Jon Bodsworth [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

She would often bend over me and touch my shoulders or my back. If I kept still I would get extra treats, but if I tried to turn it into a game by grabbing her sleeve she would take her arm away and ask me to do something else.

A few months later she did start getting on the floor with me again when I was in the “down” position. She would offer me a treat but it would be just out of reach!

Cartoon dog and bone

Down with a treat just out of reach

My first reaction was to get up to get it, but that wasn’t what she wanted – I didn’t get the treat. She would put her hand on me when she saw me about to get up. We had a number of sessions where I was trying to understand. It can be quite frustrating as a dog when you want that treat and can’t figure out what to do to get it! My biped must have been watching my body language quite carefully because as soon as I started to get frustrated she would ask me to do some easy and fun things – guaranteed treats!

The day I decided to shuffle forwards a fraction to get the treat, I hit the jackpot! After I’d eaten the treat I was given a few more. She told me how clever I was and we had a game of football – that’s my favourite game!

From then on I was keen to shuffle forwards. She gradually expected me to move a little bit farther and added the word “crawl”. It wasn’t long before I could crawl a few feet. She would stand close to me when I was crawling to encourage me. Some dogs may find it intimidating to have someone standing over them and may need to practise together to feel relaxed before trying to learn to crawl.

It isn’t difficult to crawl – the hard part is understanding what the bipeds want, but that is so often the case!

See you next Wednesday!

Pippin, tabby cat, showing his tummy

When is a cat not a cat?

I told you last week how we discovered that there was a mouse inside the kitchen door and that the male biped had a cunning plan. Here is what happened next.

Pippin has a bit of a reputation as a fearless hunter and the male biped said he’d encourage the mouse to come out so that Pippin could catch it. He sent Mulberry and me out onto the terrace, as he said we’d get in the way! It was easy for me to look through the glass in the terrace door, but Mulberry had to stand up on his hind legs to watch.

The biped taped some cardboard over the grille on the kitchen side of the door and then closed the door. He unscrewed the grille on the other side – we still couldn’t see the mouse as the door was hollow.

The female biped said she didn’t want to watch and went to the other end of the room, while Mulberry and I pressed our noses against the glass hoping to see everything. The male biped encouraged Pippin to sit a few feet away from the door. He then put a peanut on the floor fairly close to Pippin. A moment later the mouse appeared in the hole in the door and Pippin moved forwards, which scared the mouse back into the door – not surprising really!

Peanuts

Mouse treats!

The male biped moved the peanut a little farther away from the door and told Pippin he’d have more time to catch the mouse. We didn’t have to wait long before the mouse appeared again. It ran right under Pippin’s nose, picked up the peanut and ran back towards the door. Pippin pounced, but he was too late and the mouse disappeared into the door. The male biped said that he thought it was a field mouse or a wood mouse, but not a house mouse.

Wood mouse

Wood Mouse
from Wikipedia

I decided that, as it was in the door, it was more likely to be a dormouse looking for somewhere to sleep away the winter.

Hibernating dormouse

A sleeping dormouse
Attribution: By Krzysztof Dreszer (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Mulberry said he thought it was RebelMouse – he thinks he’s hilarious!

The female biped said, “Whatever type of mouse it is, it has no reason to come out for a while now!”

The male biped agreed that the mouse would probably take a while to eat the peanut, but he put another peanut on the floor and told Pippin to keep his eyes open. The mouse really liked those peanuts – it soon appeared and scurried right under Pippin’s nose, picked up the peanut and went back into the door. Pippin opened his eyes wide and watched it every step of the way but stayed as still as a statue.

The male biped said he’d try again. The same thing happened!

The female biped said that we had the best fed mouse in the neighbourhood and that she thought she had remembered where the mousetraps were packed. The male biped asked if he could get them and she said it would be easier for her as she knew what the box looked like. She soon came back with four mousetraps.

They were the type that is a little box with a door that drops down when the mouse enters. The mouse is unharmed and can be released outside. She put a peanut in each one and arranged them in an arc on the floor below the hole in the door.

The male biped said, “That’ll scare the mouse and make it stay in the door!”

She replied, “Maybe. That’s what I thought about the cat sitting by the door, but that was before I knew that the cat was the mouse’s pet!”

Pippin, tabby cat, showing his tummy

Pippin – the mouse’s pet, allegedly!

The male biped said, “Ouch! Cover your ears Pippin!” But then he asked, “Are you a cat or a mouse? Squeak up!”

While they were busy teasing each other, the mouse came out of the door. It went across and into a trap and the little door on the trap flipped closed.

The bipeds heard that and they both smiled. Pippin just sat there. The female biped said that she’d take the mouse outside and release it, while the male biped put the door back together.

I asked Pippin if the pressure of having an audience was too much for him. He said he could have caught the mouse easily, but there was a slight communication problem. He says he thought the biped wanted to catch it! He says he gave a demonstration of the required moves and sat there giving quiet encouragement.

Pippin is still not very pleased with me about telling this tale, especially the part that answers the question in the title. When is a cat not a cat? When he is the mouse’s pet!

See you next Wednesday!

When is a door not a door?

I’m going to answer that question and tell you about a rather strange door.

This incident happened soon after we’d moved into an old, stone house. There was an open fire in the kitchen which smoked badly if the kitchen door was closed. After they’d had to open all the windows to let the smoke out a couple of times, my bipeds decided to leave the door ajar when the fire was lit.

That’s the first answer to the question in the title – when it’s ajar (sounds like a jar)! There’s a better answer later!

It looked as though someone had tried to solve the problem of the smoking fire by making a hole in the door to allow air to flow through. They had covered the hole in the door with a metal grille on each side. It didn’t stop the fire smoking when the door was closed, but it did make the door very ugly!

Pippin the tabby cat sitting on the terrace

Pippin

One morning the cats were showing a lot of interest in this hole in the door. Pippin was sitting on one side of the door with his nose pressed against the grille and Mulberry was on the other side of the door in the same position. Even when the female biped mentioned breakfast, they didn’t move a muscle. She got down on her knees and peered at the door, but she couldn’t see anything. The cats stayed where they were.

Mulberry, Persian cat

Mulberry

The male biped appeared and asked what the cats were doing. The female biped told him they wouldn’t move but that she couldn’t see anything. He got down on his knees and peered into the grille, but he couldn’t see anything either. The cats still didn’t budge. The bipeds decided to have their breakfast.

They had almost finished when the male biped exclaimed, “There’s a mouse!”

A mouse

A mouse!

He then explained that he’d seen a mouse briefly appear and poke its nose through the grille to see if it was safe to come out. The mouse had decided it was safer to stay inside the door.

If only the bipeds had used their noses, they would have known there was a mouse there much sooner!

Here’s the second answer to the question: When is a door not a door? When it’s a mouse’s house!

The female biped was not enthusiastic about the idea of a mouse on the loose in the kitchen, but the bipeds hadn’t finished unpacking and couldn’t remember where they’d packed the mousetraps. It was a Sunday so the local shops wouldn’t be open to buy new ones. The male biped said he had an idea.

Pippin doesn’t think I should tell you the rest of the tale, he says he may never speak to me again if I do. That was a worrying reaction so I had a chat with Mulberry and asked him what he thought. He said that he (Mulberry) was concerned when I told the tale of his scary encounter with a chair, but everyone was sympathetic to his plight and he needn’t have worried at all. He said he was sure that Pippin would enjoy being the focus of attention.

So I’ll tell you about the male biped’s cunning plan and the part that Pippin played in it another time!

See you next Wednesday!