Definition

From slang.ie :

Wagon. A cranky contary female / an ugly female. She\'s some wagon eh?

wagon. wagon - an awful woman. than one is such a wagon!

wagon. a woman thats a bitch. dat ones a right wagon.

Wagon. A cantankerous old woman.. Yer wan's some wagon, I asked her could I feed the seagulls and she lifted me out of it!

wagon. car or other mode of transport. i'll drive my waggon.

Wanderly Wagon. A much loved Irish children's TV program which ran from 1968 to 1982


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Poor Cookie Needs Some Freedom. Yeah, right.



Cookie has been with us for nearly six weeks now, and in all that time we’ve kept her restrained in some way or other, either on a lead, shut in with one or the other of us, or else in the crate that the nice Munster Lost and Found Pets people loaned us.  Of course this is less than ideal - none of our other dogs were ever kept confined in this way, but none of them were one year old strays when they arrived either.  

Cookie and the Dingle Collar
She is now  micro-chipped, but I have yet to send off the paperwork which will register us as her owners.

She has the hunting instincts of both a Jack Russell terrier and a whippet, so that’s fearless, determined, persistent and damn fast.  We've had a couple of close calls at home, when she has darted through the door as someone comes in, and has gone off in search of our cats, but we got her back fairly quickly each time.   So, in addition to keeping her confined, we’ve taken a leaf out of the Provencal hunters’ book, as described in Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence.  These hunters keep bells on their dogs when they are in the woods and mountains, so that they know where their dogs are and can follow them easily, so Cookie wears a collar with a little bell and two ID tags which dingle merrily together as she moves around.

To try and make up for the lack of free-running, she gets several short walks a day, plus one longer one in the evening, usually running alongside George on his bicycle, she really enjoys this in particular.

Anyhow, today being yet another wet, miserable Irish summer’s day, the prospect of a bike ride or a long walk was not so inviting.  When Anne suggested that we bring Cookie down to her newly fenced garden for a sort of play-date with Roxy the Guide Dog pup, we jumped at the chance – we’d be able to shelter from the rain while the dogs ran around and wore each other out.

The Fence, with brick for perspective
Anne’s garden is fenced with sheep wire.  It’s four foot high all the way around, and the wire is tucked under at the bottom so the dogs can’t go under it.  The holes in the mesh are varying sizes, smaller at the bottom so little lambs can’t go through and gradually getting bigger as it gets higher, to a max of 8" by 4".  It’s kept her dogs in no problem so far, even Fionn the roamer.  Cookie is a jumper, but there’s no way she’d clear four foot without having something to give her enough grip to scramble over.  She’s about 15” tall, with long legs, and a really deep ribcage (8 inches)– that comes from the whippet parent.

We arrived as the rain got heavier yet again.  Oh well, we all had coats, and so what if we had two soggy doggies afterwards, at least they’d have had a good run.  We made sure Cookie knew we had dog treats, unclipped the lead and stood back.

It was wonderful.  She ran, she jinked, she sidestepped, she circled, with Roxy lolloping along in her wake. We made jokes about how well she’d do in an Irish rugby jersey.  
George called her over, said “Cookie, Sit” she sat at his feet, accepted her treat and whizzed off again for another glorious burst of freedom. 

We all smiled at each other.  This was great!  Round and round she went – you could see her reveling in her new-found freedom.  She paused to investigate the wire fence – we held our collective breath – and let it out again as Roxy invited her to play and they were off again.  Only this time, when she was running flat out towards the fence, she leaped effortlessly into the air, soared cleanly THROUGH one of the holes about half way up and landed on the other side.  We stared, horrified, convinced she would bolt down the road and disappear.  Fortunately, she stopped and turned back to us, I opened the gate and she trotted happily back in again for another treat.
Phew.  Relief all round.  We reckoned that she hadn’t meant to jump through the fence, it was a mistake, and when she realized she was separated from us she stopped.

We should have quit then.

Off she went again around the garden, with Roxy loping along in her wake.  You could see her tiring.  Yes, we’ve definitely tired them out, we said.  We settled in against the gable end of the house, sheltering from the rain. 
She started sniffing around in the corners, less intent on running now.  Came over when called, took her treat, back to sniffing around near the shrubbery.

We should have quit then.

Really.

Because she wasn't getting tired, she was getting bored.

In the blink of an eye, she was on the other side of the fence again – and this time it was no mistake.  She’d caught the scent of a cat, and she was in full Jack Russell/Whippet hunting mode.  Imagine a normal Jack Russell on speed, pronking through the undergrowth like a gazelle, and you get the idea.

Horrified, we ran through the gate, calling her name and rattling the box of treats.  She ignored us.  Seriously, what normal dog would fall for a box of Bonios when it’s on the trail of a delicious, juicy CAT?
Bouncing through the shrubbery.  Up to the stables.  Back through the shrubbery and into the raised bed – sorry Anne's veggies, hope you’re not too trampled.  Out again and running towards the paddock.  Jinking, side-stepping, running in big loops out into the open and back into the bushes, grinning as dogs do – tongue lolling, ears flat back against her head.  She did not want to be caught and she used every evasion in her arsenal to elude us – she could show Brian O’Driscoll a trick or two!  
But God bless those French hunters, thanks to that dingle-collar, we could hear where she was at all times and try to anticipate her next move.  The one thing Peter Mayle omitted to mention, however, was how those hunters catch a dog when it’s on the trail of something yummy!

I ran through the paddock while George tried to flush Cookie out of the shrubbery towards me.  She looped around me into the paddock, straight across it and into the hedge which runs parallel to the road.
Crapcrapcrap, I thought, she's gonna run down the road and end up in Kinsale!
I ran like the clappers onto the road, so I could at least see which direction she disappeared in.  Cars passed, they must have thought I was nuts tearing along the road in the pouring rain.  
Dingle noises faded back into the paddock again.  Crisis averted, I ran back into the garden and into the field, praying that she hadn’t run through the paddock and into the forty acre cornfield that backs onto Anne’s field.

She was back in the shrubbery, leaping about like a Springbok, trying to get the cat scent again.  Back up towards the stables.  Through a weak spot in the chicken wire surrounding the onion patch.  George, close on her heels, stepped over the wire.  She was cornered!  There was only one weak spot in the chicken wire, which was now behind George, and she couldn’t get enough of a run at the wire to clear it in one go.

Realising the game was up, she rolled over, tail wagging frantically, licking George’s hand as he picked her up.  “I have her” was the best news I’ve heard for a long time!

We reckon the whole incident lasted fifteen minutes at most, but it’s probably shortened our lives by at least five years!  From now on, Cookie and Roxy will have their playtime in the big stable:


video
The microchip paperwork is now in the post.  As for little Cookie, who is currently trawling for goodies on the kitchen floor, it’ll be a long, long time before she’s let off the lead, microchip or no microchip. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Step One of Taking-the-Horses-to-France (Martine)

Although Anne and I are really good friends and see each other several times a week, Flurry and GiGi had only ever met once, briefly.  It's really important that they know each other well, as they will be sharing a paddock in La Florentine, the horse farm where they will be staying.  Olivier, who owns the farm, is a well-seasoned horseman, and knows better than to add two temporary visitors to his herd!  So, this week, GiGi came to stay with Flurry and Paddy (who looks after my friend and co-conspirator for the last fifteen years, Denis).
All went well, and within a couple of days all three were totally settled.

Left to Right, Paddy, Flurry and GiGi enjoying the evening sunshine



Next step was to box Flurry and GiGi together.  I have to say, I think that every time a horse goes into a box, it underlines their utter trust in us.  It goes against every instinct a horse possesses to allow himself to be confined in a small, narrow space, with no escape route, and then be rattled and bumped around our winding country roads, yet the vast majority of horses willingly walk up those shaky ramps and into the blind alley that is a horsebox.  We're lucky in that Flurry and GiGi are pretty easy to load, but GiGi had some sort of a panic attack in my trailer last year so we weren't too sure how she would be.  Also, it's ages - well over a year - since either of them travelled with another horse, so we were a little concerned that either one of them could feel extra claustrophobic.
We needn't have worried, they loaded really easily and although GiGi stamped around a bit, they both arrived at the other end of the journey (Anne's house) cool & unflustered.  We had a lovely hack, including a gentle canter through a stubble field, loaded them up again and brought them home.
Step one complete!  Horses are buddies & will travel happy together!
Quite content in the horsebox