Monday, February 12, 2007

Dawn chorus

I am not a morning person, let's get that straight from the off. I'm much happier in the wee small hours, hammering away at the keyboard or deep in a good book. Anything before eight o'clock is terra incognita mostly.

I can get up early, if I really have to. But I'd far rather not. So this last week has been something of a hardship.

I am dog-sitting right now, in darkest North-East Fife. Mostly this means making sure that the study fire is lit from mid-afternoon until bedtime, and going for long walks. No great hardship at all, really, and it gives me plenty of time to wade through Benfro book three, pull my hair out at database work and eat too much chocolate. There is one small snag, however, and it concerns the sleeping arrangement here at the farm.

My parents have three dogs at the moment. There's Useless the Sheepdog:

Otherwise known as the Tennessee Fainting Sheepdog, on account of his habit of rolling over and playing dead at the slightest sign of trouble. He's meant to be a working sheepdog, but I suspect he's a bit faulty.

Next up in seniority is Gus:

I think I've mentioned before that Gus is very polite. Recently however, he was introduced to a nice young Labrador lady, and has since taken to hanging out round the bike sheds, smoking and drinking. He'll probably start wearing leather and riding a motorbike next.

And finally, the most recent addition to the clan, is Borgie:

Borgie, rather confusingly, is a girl dog. We've only ever had boy dogs before, but when Borgie's mum produced the litter from which we had been promised a pup, there was only one, and it was a she. Borgie is currently in an interesting condition, which means all the boys are a bit excited, and I've run out of Flash for cleaning the floor.

Normally, all three of them sleep out in kennels across the yard from the house. Borgie shares a kennel with Jed, and Gus has a place all to himself. With Borgie's condition being what it is, it seemed unfair to Jed and her both to lock them up together overnight, so she currently sleeps in the house, separated from my own three dogs. Chiswick wouldn't be a problem, since he's had the operation, but an Australian Terrier/Dachshund cross would look bloody silly, and the Patterdale's shown a new lease of life now there are pheromones in the air.

So that leaves one small terrier in a room it's not used to sleeping in, and two dogs alone in their respective kennels. When I put them to bed at night, bribed with a bonio to keep them quiet, all is well. It's only when the sun begins to think about rising that things get troublesome.

Every morning since my arrival, at some time between six and half past, something has set Gus and Jed to barking. I don't know what it is, but it's quite regular. It wouldn't be a problem, as from my bedroom I can scarcely hear their noise, and it takes quite a lot to rouse me from my slumbers. Borgie, on the other hand, can hear them perfectly, and joins in with a high-pitched girlie squeal quite in keeping with her airhead character. And then Mortimer, the Patterdale, adds to the din. His is a bark that cannot be ignored.

There is nothing for it but to haul myself out of bed, pull on some clothes and trudge out to the kennels. By the time all the dogs have had their morning constitutional and been fed, it's still not time for Thought for the Day on the Today programme (good old Rabbi Lionel Blue today). This is not a time of the day I'm used to, or prepared for, dealing with.

On the plus side, I have a lot of the day's business finished and done with by eleven. On the minus side, I am feeling quite grumpy and irritable from interrupted sleep. What is even more unfair is the slight feeling of hangover that hangs over me through the whole day, even though I've not had a drink since Tuesday night.

Or maybe that's why I'm irritable and grumpy.

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Blogger Trace said...

Aw your dogs are gorgeous, James. And you can never eat too much chocolate!

February 12, 2007 3:24 pm  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Get the dogs drunk in the evening, and they'll have too much of a headache to do any barking in the morning. :)

February 12, 2007 6:01 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Sadly the dogs seem to have iron constitutions, and never suffer even though they put away flagons of ale and barrels of whisky. My head, on the other hand, is often sore in the early hours, which just makes their barking all the worse.

And yes, Trace, you can.

February 13, 2007 9:57 am  

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