Posted on January 31, 2014 in Hounds, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay11 Comments »


I’ve decided to take part in A Lilhoohaa’s Photo Challenge again this year. I joined in quite late last year, but I did enjoy it and it’s always nice to have something around which to build a post, isn’t it?

So for January the prompt is ‘New’. Yes, yes, I said ‘January’.  I’m late again and running to catch up – it’s the story of my life, so sue me.

But that’s enough about me. Here’s the story on the new – and quite startling – jacket you see up there on Jeffie.

You will probably have noticed that Jeffie is black. Well, I say ‘black’ but since he’s only a few weeks off twelve years old, he’s looking rather faded – never mind the greenish tinge this jacket has given to his face. There’s a lot of silver among the ebony these days, bless him. Even so, there’s not enough silver to make him visible at night, or even in the dusk, and it can be a bit hairy when crossing a road with him if he lags behind, because cars can’t see him.

I used to put a flourescent fleece necker on him which helped a lot with the front end, but not at all with the back, and it’s the back bit which lags, of course.

Not only that, but he is wont to weave across in front of you and you can’t see where all of him is in dim light. There has been cursing and wringing of hands. In fact, only the other day, OH tripped over him inside the house because of this habit, but we both have serious doubts that this will have taught him anything other than the fact that if he curls up in bed with Sid and allows bits of Jeffie to touch bits of Sid (which he did for comfort), Absolutely Nothing Will Happen To Him as a result of this proximity.

So. I ordered a lovely flourescent Equafleece dog jumper for him, with a polo neck and little front legs to keep his bony self warm and cosy, as well as visible and safe.

It didn’t fit.

I was annoyed, because since he seemed to be in between sizes, I rang for advice so that I didn’t get the wrong one and have to send it back. They make quite a thing on the site about all returns having to be in a clean, saleable condition with no hairs on them, and well, you can imagine trying to get all the black hairs off of a bright yellow fleece – even if it has only been on your dog for a few minutes! This one would have been plastered, due to the fact that it was so very hard to get on, and so close-fitting that it was also hard to get off. Too hard for comfort – his or mine.

I was philosophical and thought maybe I could make it fit by a bit of judicious snipping. Maybe if I took the legs off it’d be easier to get on him. Maybe if I notched the sides where the elastic is, under the tuck, it’d be easier. So I put it away and waited for the energy to Have a Go.

Meanwhile, I got an email from the company asking for feedback. So I went and gave the feedback, saying that I was very disappointed with the fit and the advice and that previous Equafleece jumpers had fitted so well that I was puzzled as to what was different. We had gone for a ‘slim fit’ since he’s a greyhound, and a very lanky, bony one, at that, and I thought it quite bizarre that it was too ‘slimfit’ for Jeffie.

I got an answer from a lovely lady who said ‘send it back anyway, and we’ll have another go at getting it right’.

So that’s what I did, and this is the result. I decided to go for the ‘tankie’ style this time, which has a lower neck and no legs, and not the ‘slimfit’ version, to give him a bit more room for manoevre. I think part of the problem is – or was – that the flourescent fleece simply isn’t as stretchy, but even though Jeffie is about as ‘slimfit’ as they come, and this is NOT the slimfit version, it is still only just deep enough in the chest, so I’m still thinking that maybe the sizing is a bit off, too. We’ve had several Equafleece jumpers before and not had this problem*.

Jeffie, by the way, wasn’t particularly sad, I just somehow made him seem so when I Photoshopped the greenish alien glow out of his poor old eyes. I forgot I had the flash on, you see, and he’s half-blind and his lenses are cloudy so his pupils are always wide. This gives a wonderful reflective surface for the light from the flash to hit and bounce out from again.

So there you are. My ‘New’ for January is Jeffie’s lovely new tankie. Knocks your eyes out, huh?

* Which, by the way, we still have, because Equafleece jumpers wash and wear so beautifully – and are extremely hard to wear out!

Posted on January 29, 2014 in Hounds by Jay18 Comments »


Posted on January 28, 2014 in Hounds, Oddities by Jay8 Comments »


We’ve all seen, heard, and read that, haven’t we? ‘New improved’ this, that, and the other.

Personally, my heart usually sinks like a stone in a bucket of water when I read those words because usually it means someone has been messing with the ingredients list again and has quite probably added something I shouldn’t be eating. Like when they ‘improve’ something by reducing the fat content but sneakily making up for it by increasing the sugar, or when they ‘improve’ it by adding yeast extract, or malt extract, or egg white – or the ubiquitous and definitely not environmentally friendly palm oil. Even lowering the salt content has them rushing for the hot spices and garlic, which are so not good for someone with acid reflux.

However, I was intrigued when I read an email from a veterinary supplies company this morning offering me a discount on an ‘improved’ product for maintaining joint health in aging dogs. Flexadin has been around for some time, it’s one of a bewildering variety of glucosamine/chondroitin products, all competing for their market share, and trying to catch they eye of the discerning dog, cat and horse owner who wants to help their .. um .. dog, cat or horse stay mobile and pain-free as they age. I am, of course, one of those owners.


We used to use Cosequin DS, which is a great product, but breathtakingly expensive, and I suspected it was making Jeffie vomit (more often than usual) so I have been trying out alternatives. So far, we’ve tried Magnacare, Mobile Bones, Yumove and SuperFen. This takes ages, because of course, you can’t expect results after a week, they need to be on the stuff for a good long time so that you know for sure if you are seeing any improvement or not. I have to say that so far, it seems that Cosequin DS is the best. Sorry about that, bank balance.

Anyway, when this email came through offering me Flexadin Advanced (with shiny ‘go faster’ lettering) I thought I’d pop over and take a look. And it has this amazing new ‘breakthrough’ ingredient in it: UC-II.

Me being me, I toddled off to do a Google search on this mystery ingredient to see what it actually was, and if it had any merit. And what did I find?

UC-II is nothing more or less than ‘undenatured collagen’.

What a swizz.

OK, so in case you haven’t got this yet, it’s collagen, right, only it hasn’t been modified in some way so that it’s structure is not quite as it was. Does that not strike you as being exactly the same thing as giving your dog the crappy bits from your meat before you cook it?

Collagen is what sticks connective tissue together. It’s what keeps joints mobile beacause it also forms a good part of cartilage, which is what covers the moving, end part of the bone inside the joint capsule so that the bone ends do not grate together and cause pain. Arthritis happens when the cartilage breaks down causing the bone to get knobbly and gritty and well, you can imagine that if you put a handful of grit inside a moving joint it’s not going to be pretty.

Does it not seem to you that if you feed your dogs raw tendon, gristle and appropriate meaty bones they are going to be getting exactly the same thing as UC-II’s ‘undenatured collagen’ – or am I missing something here? I mean, I can see that cooking may denature collagen. Whether it does so in a way that makes in inaccessible to a dog or cat to use to form its own, new, collagen I can’t tell you because I’m not an organic chemist. I can tell you that you wouldn’t get very far feeding a horse raw bits of animal, so just maybe this product would be useful for them (although Mad Cow springs to mind), but why should I buy undenatured collagen to feed my dogs if I can simply give them a chicken carcase or something?


It got me thinking. Could the increase in arthritis over the last century or so be anything to do with the fact that we no longer eat the crappy bits from our meat? If we all still ate as the peasants of the past did, would we still be flexible and straight-backed in our old age, like the elderly men and women in the old family photos I’ve been looking at recently? Could this be why the aristocracy had such a reputation for laying around on chaises longues all day sighing, or sitting with their gouty feet up on footstools?

I don’t really know the answers to any of this, but I must say that I’m disinclined to pay through the nose for this new, improved product. It has me sighing just as much as the ‘new, improved’ low fat, high sugar, packed-with-things-I-can’t-eat garbage on the supermarket shelves.


I’ve been revisiting my family genealogy this last week.

You know how it goes: when you’re researching your family history, you have intense flurries of activity followed by periods where you can’t seem to make any progress and you lay it aside for awhile. Then maybe a year later, something nudges you to pick it up again and off you go once more, delving into the family history sites and the family photographs etc and spending a fortune.

At first it doesn’t seem as if you’re getting anywhere at all, with those ‘brick walls’ still there in front of you, blocking any further progress. But then you stumble across a fragment of information – for instance, today, I found the marriage of one my great-great-great-great grandfathers in some newly published Bishop’s Transcripts. It was a wonderful moment, I can tell you! But then I thought I’d better just check that it was him for sure, and continued trawling through the Transcripts, just in case there was another bride and groom called Richard and Sophia in that tiny Norfolk village back at the dawn of the 19th century.

And lo! I did find another pair of them. But it turned out that it really was the same couple, which was bizarre because the marriage was two days later in a different church in a different village in remote 19th century Norfolk.


I told OH.

‘Hey, guess what?’ I called out. ‘I found Richard and Sophia’s marriage, only there’s two of them!’.

Not unnaturally, he was intrigued.

‘What do you mean, there’s two of them?’ he said. ‘Two couples called Richard and Sophia?’

‘No, no,’ I said. ‘It’s the same couple, with the same surnames and everything, only there are two marriages listed for them . I suppose it’s a transcription error’.

OH: ‘It might not be. Maybe they got married twice!’

Me: ‘That would be ridiculous … oh, wait! Look – here’s Sophia’s birth. AND her Christening! But … this is very odd’.

OH: ‘?’

Me: ‘Sophia was born in Stafford, but she was listed as living in Norfolk and that’s where she was Christened! That’s MILES away!’

OH: ‘I bet they weren’t married. Her mother was thrown out when she had the baby. They sent her far, far away where she couldn’t bring shame on the family’.

Me: ‘Well, no, because Sophia was with both of her parents when she got married to Richard’.

OH: ‘OK, they threw her out and he went with her!’

Me: ‘Hmm. Maybe. But then she went and married Richard twice, in different churches, two days apart!’

OH: ‘That is odd’.

Me: ‘Perhaps they were of different religious persuasions, and they had one ceremony for his family and one in a different place for hers?’

OH: ‘No, I’ll tell you what happened. They had the wedding all planned in the first church, and vicar booked it in and wrote it all down, then the church burned down and they had to reschedule’.

Me: ‘Or … maybe Richard found out that her parents weren’t married after the first ceremony and told them to get married quickly, so that he could marry her again when she wasn’t a bastard?’

OH: ‘ … only the vicar wouldn’t perform the marriage twice so they had to go and find a different one!’


*Much hysterical laughter*

Me: ‘Oh look! I hadn’t noticed before, but her parents were called Joseph and Mary! How funny!’

OH: ‘Well, there you go. That explains everything. I can just see it now: the vicar standing there saying ‘Oh, yeah, riiight!. Um, no, I’m sorry, I don’t believe this. I’ll need to see a utility bill or a bank statement before we can go ahead’ So they tootled along to the next parish!’

Once I thought researching the family history was a serious business, but it really isn’t.

I have publicans and shopkeepers, farmers and butchers and door-to-door salesmen and policemen, and career soldiers and domestic servants who dallied with grooms. Freemasons, illegitimacy, and wives who threw their husbands out while finding time to cause a public scandal by volunteering to go into the lion’s cage when the circus came to town. And others whose fathers ended up in the poorhouse while they lived quite comfortably. And I have a doozy of a letter from a son to his mother disowning both his parents in no uncertain terms and ending – if I remember correctly – with him recommending them both to rot. It’s all very entertaining.

I used to think I came from a fairly normal family, but there you go.

If you haven’t yet had a go at tracing your roots, I recommend it. Do it now while your parents or grandparents are still alive. You’ll get some great stories … unless of course, they too have something to hide.

Well, doesn’t every family have its skeletons?