Posted on March 31, 2013 in Hounds, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay10 Comments »


I have neglected my blog these last couple of weeks, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. No ‘conversations’, no Illustration Friday … and worse, I haven’t properly done the rounds of your own blogs either!

Fact is, life got in the way, as it so often can. The sad plight of Mr T (whose head is shaved in these pictures from the surgery, giving him a kind of ‘masked marauder’ look) completely took me over.

Since I am pretty much all Brambleberry has in the way of local publicity and fundraising management*, except S’s good self and a lady who knits the most lovely greyhound dolls, I have felt rather overwhelmed by the task of raising money and monitoring the various sites and pages where his story had been posted. None of them take very long, but I’ve been checking and updating multiple times a day to keep an eye on what’s happening, both with fundraising totals and with what people are saying, because this is a sensitive case.

Many people have shared Mr T’s story on their own Facebook pages and by email and by word of mouth, and allowed me to post on their forums. People have had whip-rounds at work and donated the proceeds. R, of Newborough Dogs Hydrotherapy, very kindly offered the use of his notice board and space for a collection box and has been fundraising for us too. And so many people have donated to his fund that I’m deeply touched by the sheer numbers of compassionate and generous people out there – most of whom will never even see the sweet dog for themselves. Undoubtedly, other people have helped, quietly, without saying anything, perhaps by posting on their blogs or Facebook pages, office notice boards, or in other ways I can’t even think of.


I want to thank each and every one, from the bottom of my heart.

The good news is that Mr T is doing really well. He is now able to join the other Brambleberry house dogs in the lounge during the day, and is wagging his tail and beginning to get excited about watching the others play with toys – though he hasn’t joined in yet. He is eating well, and begging from the kitchen with the others, and taking himself off outside in the yard without the need for a lead, and feeling able to protest when returned to his bedroom at night with his single companion.

Two days ago, when S sat down in her armchair, Mr T climbed up into her lap. I think that was the most wonderful act of trust in mankind, after he had been betrayed so badly. I think if I’d been there, I’d probably have cried.

There are only two small concerns right now. One, he is becoming a ‘velcro’ dog, unwilling to let S leave without wanting to go with her, and he follows her about. This is very sweet, but it might make it a tad difficult to adopt him out again.

The other is that he is just a tiny bit slow sometimes to catch on to things. For instance, when the treats come out, all the dogs charge forward except Mr T. He does follow, eventually, and will push through to the front for his share, but he is slow. This could be hesitancy, nervousness or simply that fact that his head still feels very tender and he doesn’t want to risk getting it bumped, but time will tell. If that’s the only problem that results from this injury, he is a very lucky dog indeed, because his injury was severe and he could so easily have died.

So there you are. This particular crisis looks as if it might be – for the most part – over. And thank heavens for that.



Over this Easter weekend, I was out in the cold for two days rattling a tin in a local shopping centre at our first Meet & Greet of the year. And I can vouch for the fact that, while spring has officially sprung, it was in fact bloody freezing! We were both wearing so many layers – including, in my case a bum bag (fanny pack) under my coat – that we both look rather rotund. However, we collected so much in our two collection ‘tins’ that the last person to donate actually had trouble pushing his fiver inside, and five or six people took leaflets due to a definite interest in adopting a greyhound of their own. Anyway, I do always rather enjoy meeting the public and talking to them about these lovely dogs.

And if only one dog gets a home as a result of this Meet & Greet, it will all have been worth it.

* I say ‘local’ because of course Brambleberry is part of a much larger organisation: the Retired Greyhound Trust. However, while the RGT is happy to help out with publicity wherever it can, and pays for some of the retirees in the kennel and for neutering and spaying etc, its mandate is all about rehoming and there isn’t much left over for major medical expenses. This is where the local branch is expected to do a little fundraising of its own – and it’s right that we should do so.

Posted on March 28, 2013 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay13 Comments »


Well, look at that! The sun is shining – and those catkins say that spring is here! That’s enough to make you happy, for a start, isn’t it?

Now, what can I tell you about this week? Well, how about this: I have at last finished this colourful crocheted afghan made of odds and ends of wool.


Isn’t it fun? Perhaps a tad old-fashioned now, but you see, that’s because I actually started it about three decades ago. Yes. You heard me correctly. This afghan has been thirty years in the making!

I can’t exactly tell you why it took that long, except that it seemed that I could always make it bigger, or I always had a little more yarn to use up, or I just had to finish something else first … but when I began crocheting again for DS No. 2’s expected twins, I just wanted it done, and finished the round I was on and fastened it off, and then sewed in all the ends. And there it is.

At last!

Oh, and another thing that made me happy this week is finding these tasty little treats –


Do you have any idea what those little chocolate covered things are? Well, I’ll tell you; they are chocolate covered sunflower seeds! And wow, are they nice!

The larger chocolate covered things are almonds which are also rather lovely, but a tad disappointing because they were sold as ‘cocoa dusted almonds’ and they’re not. They’re chocolate covered, and then cocoa dusted, which isn’t the same thing at all. I’m not about to take them back though. Would you? I mean, really?

Join in if you’d like – all you do is copy this little badge


and write your own little ‘How to be HAPPY!’ post, telling us about something which warmed your heart or lifted your spirits this week, then link back here.

You see, it’s my belief that the things that make us happy people or unhappy people are not the big events, but the accumulation of little things. You just have to develop the habit of noticing them.

What do you think?

Posted on March 22, 2013 in Hounds, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay22 Comments »


But this return is beyond sad.

You may know that I volunteer for Brambleberry Greyhounds RGT, a local adoption kennel finding homes for ex-racing greyhounds.  They have policy of never putting a dog down unless on the advice of a vet, and they have a pretty good success rate, with a few dogs ‘sticking’ at the kennel for various reasons. If they stay long enough, eventually it’s their turn to go live in the house with enough other dogs to populate a small principality, and they have a great life, running out into the acres of kennel property several times a day and sleeping in a heap – or in the armchairs or the sofa or the occasional dog bed, and cadging yorkshire puddings from the kitchen.

Still and all, you’d think that the adopted dogs were the lucky ones, wouldn’t you?  And most are.  Most are adopted by wonderful people who adore their doggy companions and want only the best for them. They diligently train them with patience and love, and walk them regularly and buy them fancy collars and coats, and while they curse their bad behaviour at times, and are very occasionally misguided enough to smack them over the snout with a rolled up newspaper (which for the record doesn’t usually work that well), they would never willingly hurt them.

However.  Occasionally, an adoption goes very badly wrong, and that’s what happened a short while ago.

Instead of being smacked over the snout with a rolled up newspaper, one poor dog got smacked over the head with something hard and heavy enough to fracture his skull and cause multiple brain bleeds.  Never mind the stories you may or may not have heard about racing, this happened in a pet home.

I can only speak from my own experience, but in fact, all of the abuse and the cruelty I have personally witnessed (including during my years working in a mixed farm/small animal veterinary practice) has happened in pet homes. Racing has nothing on what people will do to an animal they ‘love’, but in fact all the trainers I know do genuinely love their dogs and will impoverish themselves to do right by them.

So. I am beyond sad, and heading for the far boundaries of anger.

After Mr T was injured, he was hospitalised at the Dick White Referral Centre, which is a wonderful referral centre for veterinary medicine and he has been very well cared for.  He’s had a 3-D MRI scan, and he’s had brain surgery, spent a while in the ICU, and now he’s been discharged, and he’s safe in Brambleberry’s care with a teddy bear given him by the Dick White staff which he likes to carry around.  Last I heard he was eating custard doughnuts and rolling over for belly rubs.

But Brambleberry has been stuck with a headache: a £3,000 medical bill and 6 months to pay it.  Now, the RGT works with a limited budget concerning medical costs*, so it’s down to us and fundraising.  We’re planning a pub quiz, an online auction, an online dog show and some selling on eBay and I’ve also set up a BT My Donate page, and well, originally I wrote ‘hopefully – with enough publicity – we’ll get a few contributions that way’, but I’m stunned and incredibly pleased that the donations are, in fact, rolling in nicely!

Mr T, however, has been stuck with an even bigger, and very real, headache, and a scar from his eyebrows to the back of his skull. When he first came home, he shook like a leaf if you looked at him funny, and I suspect he’ll carry the mental scars far, far longer than the physical signs of his injury.

Sorry to bring you such a heart-wrenching story and then stick you with a link to a donation page, but there you go.  I need to publicise this as widely as I can, and if just one of you donates a couple of quid, it will be worth it.  At least I didn’t post graphic pictures, huh? There are some on the My Donate page, but they’re really not that gruesome – in fact most are quite cute.

But, honestly, I just don’t understand people.  I really don’t.  How could this happen? And how can we prevent it happening again?

I suspect the answer is ‘we can’t’, because people are strange and you can’t always judge correctly. Which brings me back to the beginning.

It is all so very sad.
* Their mandate being to prepare ex-racing greyhounds for their new lives and placing them in homes as pets, which involves a lot of expenditure on things like neutering, vaccination and worming etc. They also have huge fees to pay for kennelling all the retired dogs still waiting for homes.


Well. This has been a Bad Week.

I will tell you what made it a Bad Week some other time, but in the spirit of this venture, I will first tell you what warmed my heart this week, and put a smile on my face, because of course, it’s taking notice of these little things that help you through the Bad Weeks, isn’t it?

Now, I’m known for being a person who doesn’t like strong perfumes. I do like perfume, but not the heavy, musky sort that doesn’t know when to give up. You know: the sort where someone walks out of one end of a supermarket aisle, and you walk in at the other and choke half to death on the fumes which are still hanging around like a toxic cloud.

I’m very fond of the original Valentino, but one of my all-time favourite everyday scents is lavender. Another thing I like is talcum powder, but it seems to have gone out of fashion for some reason* and it can be hard to find. Oh, you can get baby powder in most supermarkets, but a nice quality, slightly more sophisticated talc for us ladies is harder to track down.

So you can imagine my pleasure when I was in my local supermarket the other day, and not only did I find Yardley’s English Lavender talc and shower gel on the shelf, but it was on special offer, too!

Aaaaaaand … look!


They also had Yardley’s English Rose – and that on offer, too!

Normally rose scented things are a tad too sweet for my taste, but I really like this one, so I bought some of each. And what’s more, I love the shape of the tins, and the colour and design of them and everything.

So for the last few nights I’ve been able to go to bed dusted in a lovely soothing floral talc which wafts pleasantly to my nose every time I turn over.

And that made me happy, despite everything!

How to be HAPPY is about finding the little things in life which lighten your heart, and balance out the wickedness in the world. Do, please, join in, if you’d like. Simply post something of your own which made you happy, and link back here.

* There was a scare a few years back about asbestos in talcum powder and an increased risk of cervical and ovarian – and even lung – cancers. However, talc it is completely unproven and seems to have been based on studies involving forcing animals to inhale it for 6 hours a day, five days a week. Sometimes I really dislike my fellow man.