Uffa's Diary

Thank you Kay from the bottom of my heart
for being the lion that lead me out of the dark
I love you and miss you every day

Uffa and his Easter egg

About me.
My name is Uffa. I am 5 and i am a Guide Dog. I am a Labradoodle, which apparentlydespite sounding like a noodle dish, is a proper name for a proper breed.  My Mum was a gorgeous blonde labrador and my Dad was her french lover, a strapping black king-sized poodle. I like to think that I get my looks and my way with the ladies from him and my soft, sentimental inner me from Mum. I guess I'm actually half French, half English which is great as my job often takes me to both countries and thanks to Mum and Dad barking to me in both languages when I was little, I can speak the local lingo wherever work takes me.Yes, I am a dog with a job, a puppy with a purpose, a high end high earner whose huge salary of abundant biscuits and cuddles , makes that two years at  training school worth ever wag.

I'm a guide dog for the blind more by mistake than design. Before graduation,  I actually meant to fill out the application form to become a sniffer dog but I never was very good with a pencil, (no thumbs) and I think I ticked the guide dog box by mistake after which I devoured the pencil so there was no turning back.  Before I could bark' illegal fruit import' they had slapped a yellow harness on me and given me a blonde blindy with ridiculous shoes to take care of.  Although sniffing is still my passion and favourite pastime, I love my job and I love the blonde one who I call Missy, and to be honest as she can't see I do still get to sniff quite a lot on the side without getting spotted.  I think Missy often just thinks that I'm moving my head about to check for traffic as opposed to checking out  a bin!  Oh the perks of working with the disabled!

I really love my new family. It is  made up of a strange collection of creatures, some with four legs and some with two, the latter often being the more curious.  I have a new friend called Kay who is  Missy's  'angel'.  Kay used to help Missy like I do now but she is retired and now busies herself solely with the business of bossing me about. I think that Kay was definitely the kind of dog that did her homework at school and knew precisely which box she was ticking on the application form... this bitch was born to guide, and I bet she didn't eat her pencil either.  When Missy first brought me home I don't  think Kay was very happy about it as she was always the one who wore the harness in the family and believe you me, when 60 kilos of Leonberger decides she wants to make sure you know your place, you learn fast.    I hid under the coffee table for  those first few days as apart from the pot plant in the corner of the living room,  it was the only place that Kay couldn't fit.  I didn't mind too much as there were lots of things to sniff and snuffle up under there.  That's the other great thing about working for the blind - they're rubbish cleaners and always leave tasty morsels behind.  Finally,  with a lot of mediating from Missy,  Kay allowed me to come out but only after she had explained the rules of the house in no uncertain terms.  We are great friends now although she remains the warrior queen of the house.  I don't mind though as I know that as soon as I step inside my harness and out of the front door I, Lord Uffa, am  top dog and King of the pavements.

The other four legged members of my family are even bigger than Queen Kay!  They're huge and are called Markus and Gatzby.  Thankfully they don't live with us in the house but live outside in stables.  I think they are a bit dumb sometimes as they speak a funny language that is neither French nor English.   Missy calls it Swedish but it doesn't make much sense to me.  They spend a lot of time running away from things;  stuff that is really not frightening at all like fallen leaves or sometimes even their own shadow. I tried to run after Markus once to tell him that there was really nothing to be scared of but I don't think I helped and Missy got very cross with me.

They seem to like Missy very much and aren't nervous of her and even let her sit up on their backs.  This did make me a little anxious at first as, in my job description I am to take care of my blind charge at all times which is no easy task when she's parked  all the way up there on top of one of them.  I did try voicing my disapproval at first but after being banished to the tack room on one too many occasions and having chewed through any leather worth chewing on, Kay explained that Missy knew what she was doing so I needn't worry and that I just needed to be there for her when she climbed down.  Missy loves horses and I love horse poop!  It's my favourite brand of veggy burger and seems to be a hit with the ladies  when I roll in it,  so when Missy is  all the way up top, I usually sneak off and tuck in to the smorgasbord  that Markus and Gatzby kindly leave lying around for me.  I always come back just before Missy climbs down and try to pretend that I have been sitting waiting for her  all the time like a good guide dog but, one sniff of my beard usually gives the game away.  Then I get my teeth cleaned with chicken toothpaste.   Hooray -  it's a win win situation!

As well as sniffing, my other passion is chasing pigeons and as well as horses.   Missy's other passion is howling, which I think is called singing in Missy speak.  I apparently am not allowed to participate in this singing although I do feel I have a rather lovely voice and am rather good at harmonies.  I liken myself to Barry White but sadly nobody else seems to.

Between Missy, horses, howling and general puppy foolery I have a pretty busy fun filled life and thought like Adrian Mole, another fellow furry writer,  I would write a diary and share some of it with you so slip off your harnesses, put up your paws and enjoy my scribbling.


15 December 2012 - Christmas Shopping!

Today I took Missy christmas shopping.  There seems to be a lot of red clad, very elderly white bearded men out and about on most street corners which I've had to steer Missy around.  No easy task as most of them seem to be very fat?       Missy says that everyone feels very full of christmas cheer but I think the red bearded ones are more full of christmas beer as all they seem to say is 'Ho ho ho', much like Missy does after a few glasses of wine?  There are sparkley lights everywhere and so many people with large bags of presents some of which smellt as if they had some tastey treats in them.  As I walked Missy around the christmas market I managed to snuffle what I thought was a poop but that was far to crunchy and turned out to be a roasted cheasnut as Missy informed me as she pulled it disaproovingly out of my mouth before I had chance to swallow it.

We saw  some fellow workers of stage and screen when we were out and about.  There were some cats advertising a cat circus!  I was so happy to see them and went over to say hi and have a chat and compair notes about our time in the circus, but they didn't seem to happy to see me... Missy said not to be upset as some actors and performers simply don't know how to interact with the public and can be a bit snooty, 'meow meow meow'.  Such a shame as I so wanted to talk to them about my time in the circus this year, perhaps the elephant will be more approachable?

1 December 2012 - Cramming for exams

Missy has been putting me through my paces as I have my annual exam coming up... I have been out and about striding the streets of Nimes, trying my best not to be distracted by the pretty girls and tastey morcels that frequent  the pavements near where we live.  Missy has asked me to find the bank, the shop, the crossings and also the station.  I was doing so well until the station as I missheard and took her to find Jason... oops?  I also found the wrong shop as I had hoped that Missy had meant the tastey butchers, but sadly it turned out that she wanted the supermarket.  I have been extra straight when I sit at the curb and have tried very hard to remember that the cars come from the other way.  It's not so easy here in france as when I sit at the stripey crossing and wait to take Missy safely across the road, we have to wait for a long while as the french drivers don't seem to recognise the zebra crossings and always seem to speed up instead of stop.  Missy says it's because the french are a very artistic nation who  see the stripes on the road as a prety pattern to be driven over as opposed to stopped at?    Missy is so pleased with me and  has given me lots of goodies for being so proffessional. I just hope that Nicola my trainer in London will be as happy and give me as many cuddles and biscults!

Missy and I have also been working on my house obedience... I have to do lots of sit stays and down stays which I like the most as I get to have a little nap whilst Missy finds somewhere to hide before asking me to come.  she thinks I can't see her but I always nap with one eye open so know where she is but I alwyas act surprised and look around the room a bit before finding her as I think  she likes the game so I don't want to disappoint her.   Annoyingly this morning Missy asked me to sit, as usual before I had my breakfasst but then her phone rang and she started talking for ages, which happens a lot but this time she forgot to tell me to 'go get it',  so I had to sit looking longingly down and my breaky for what seemed like an eternaty until she finally hung up and rmembered me... Women!

5 November 2012 - Best in show


Missy was very excited today as she said that Barack has won the election in America? When I looked a bit puzzled she explained that he had been running for President... I know he runs after the postman  but I don't think any President has ever been to his house?  Missy says I should be very happy for him and for the people in America as he has brought them lots of hope, still I'm not quite sure how he managed to carry all that hope all the way to America from his farm here in France?  Missy also says that the campaign trail looks like it has really taken it out of him and that his hair has gone grey. Last time I saw him his coat looked handsome and glossy and not a grey in sight? And when we  went running up the trail together searching for horse poop, I thought Barack was very fast and fit and didn't seem  tired at all, after all he's just a pup of only three years old.  Perhaps it was carrying all that hope all that way to America that has made him so tired?  

Missy says that we should be glad to have someone of mixed race in the White house , for as well as being the best man for the job, Barack might help the world become more colourblind?   How Confusing!  Firstly I thought Barack was a pure bred Alsatian, but perhaps he is a mongrel, maybe like me, his Mum was a Labrador too?  Secondly I thought he lived in a brick house, not a white house? and thirdly why would Barack want more people to be colourblind!  Surely that's just more work for dogs like me?  Or perhaps he is trying to create more employment?

November 1st 2012 - Ouch, that hurt!

Something horrid happened today. Missy asked me to take her to the shop to buy some milk, unfortunately the one we normally go to was closed, as was the lovely sausage filled market.  I thought I would be helpful and take Missy to a nearby little store that I had seen one day when we were out strolling around town. When we got to the shop 'Europhone', on the corner of Rue Nationale and Rue des Lombards, the person in the shop refused to let me in or help Missy to find the milk. I sat quietly by Missy's side as she explained politely to the man that I was a professional working dog and that I was allowed by law to go everywhere.  I felt very proud when Missy said this and sat up very straight, trying not to look distracted by the tasty morsel of bread that someone had dropped on the shop doorstep. I thought I looked very official and responsible but the mean man said that we were still not allowed to come in.  Missy asked to talk to the manager, then asked me to 'upsit' and take her to the cash desk.  

I could tell that Missy was getting cross although she didn't show it to the man or other customers, but I could feel her trembling hand through the handle of my harness. I guided her straight up to the counter, resisting a drive by sniffing of the bottom shelf of tasty packages. I sat again by Missy's side and like her, held my head high, sneaking the chance for a quick sniff of the top shelf.  Missy said that she wanted to buy her milk and that like everyone else, she had the right to shop. The mean man disappeared with a horribly angry look on his face before coming back with a big man, who  looked about as happy as Missy does when I pass wind in a restaurant. By now there were a few people queuing up behind us, but Missy didn't move and asked me to stay too, so I sat looking very professional indeed.

The big man came straight up to Missy and shouted at her to leave, he had a funny French accent that sounded more like some of Missy's Arab friends. Missy didn't move a muscle but I felt her hand tighten on my harness. She said that by law she was allowed to enter the shop with her guide dog and that she simply wanted to buy a litre of milk. The man then came very very close to Missy and shouted in her face that she was to “get out of his shop with that dirty dog”.  I looked about me wondering where this dirty dog was as I hadn't  noticed any other comrades in the store? He surely couldn't be referring to moi?  Missy had taken me to the dog salon only a few days ago where they had boofed and coiffed me in true French style. I had been bathed, clipped and to my horror sprayed with perfume! How I would love to be dirty, but sadly part of my job description is to be clean and presentable at all times, which Missy makes sure I am. I was quite affronted by his accusation and the way he was talking to Missy, so I shuffled closer to her and leant my head against her leg to let her know I was there if she needed me.  

Missy stayed very calm and repeated that he was breaking the law by denying us access. The next thing I know, the big man who was raising his fist to Missy, kicked me hard.  I was so shocked. It hurt a lot but I didn't move as I remembered what My Mum had told me when I was a pup. I should turn the other cheek if someone ever hit me. Even though I wanted to growl and tell him to go away, I remembered my guide dog training handbook page 46, paragraph 3, 'Guide dogs should adhere to the code of silence at all times'. So I said nothing, thinking how proud both my Mum and trainer Nicola would be of me.  It was hard as my leg was sore and I wanted to lick it better, but I stayed as still as a statue and like Missy kept my head held high. Missy said that she was going to call the police and the big man said that he would tell them that I had attacked him...? I thought I had misunderstood his words, as I had not moved an inch or even growled, even though I wanted to.  Nobody in the shop came to help Missy which made me more cross than the big man kicking me.  Calmly Missy asked me to guide her to the door, which I did with as much dignity as I could, trying not to limp and resisting my new urge to pee on the bad man's Satsumas.

Missy called the police and told them what had happened and gave them the name of the shop.  She said that she didn't want to press charges, she simply wanted them to educate the shop owner of the French/European laws regarding guide dogs, so that the next blind person who innocently decides to buy milk there won't suffer the same abuse.  

When we got home, Missy cuddled me lots and checked over my leg. She was so upset, more because the big man had hurt me than because he had shouted at her.  She explained that in some far away countries, dogs, all dogs, including clever ones like me, are considered dirty and are not allowed  to mix with people. Not even professional dogs that have been trained to help people are  respected or,  an exception to their cultural rules.  She said that sometimes these people from far away countries, come to live with us here in countries where Guide dogs are respected and welcomed under the law. However, these far away people sometimes simply don't know, or understand the tremendous value of what dogs like me do.  Missy said that  a bit like my having to learn that the traffic came from a different direction when I moved to France, the far away people also have to learn how some things work differently from their home countries when they move to a new place.  She also said that  these far away people often bring lovely things from their countries with them, things that make our culture much more colourful and tasty. I wagged my tail, remembering my first taste of hummus.  Missy gave me a big hug and said that  women and disabled people also got a tough time in some of these far away places and that I wasn't to feel that I had been singled out, it was just the way things were, for now, but that they would one day change.

Missy didn't get to have milk in her tea this evening, which for an English girl is a big sacrifice, but the police said that they would go and talk to the owner of the shop 'Europhone', to make sure that they understood the French law and the value of my job.  Missy says that this news is better than a milky cup of tea, so we can go to bed feeling that we have won a little battle for the little people and pups yeh!

October 26th 2012 - A bicycle made for two....

for bookings contact Nella Pryce at Nella Pryce scotsman@wanadoo.fr

This weekend Missy and I went to stay in an old circus wagon that our lovely friends  Berty , Bobby and BooBoo have in their garden.  Missy played with the horses whilst Berty, Bobby , Boo boo and I dug up bones and ran about the woods. I didn't have to work at all as Missy had a helping hand to get about, so I really got to hang up my harness and kick back like a regular pup. Missy's friend bought her a  funny looking bike with two seats and two sets of handle bars from the market. Missy was delighted but I can't really see how I am going to be able to reach the pedals and steer at the same time?

October 12 2012 - Horsey business

Missy took me to a horse show on thursday to see her friend's horse jumping.  I didn't quite understand what Missy meant by Jumping as I thought  that  perhaps the horses would be jumping on the spot, like Missy does when she gets a present or I do when I get a biscuit?  I realised when we got there that actually the horses would be jumping over stuff which I think is much more interesting than  just watching them jump up and down.  I really liked to watch them, it was much more fun than that funny balley thingy'  does on Gatzby. In the Jumping show, the horses got to run around and fly over big stripey fences. Sometimes the horses were very nice and stopped in front of the fences to let there riders have the fun of flying over the by themselves.  It looked like a blast, although some of the riders that jumped on their own didn't seem to be smiling when they got up.

October 5th 2012 - Poop scoop!

Missy has started to take me to the stables again as she says that her neck feels much better yeh!  I have missed my daily snuffle about the boxes and although I have managed to find some tasty alternatives over the passed months, I have really missed my horsey poop. Gatzby the big red horse was very pleased to see me but I haven't seen Markus the brown one for ages.  Missy says that he has gone to a better place but I have never heard of this 'Better Place ' before , so think it must be quite far. Although I miss his poop as it was my fave, there is a big fig tree near to Gatzby's house and I  have learned that if I wait for long enough under the tree and stare up at the  figs, they eventually fall off so that I can eat them from the ground.  I think I ate too many one day as my tummy ached and I kept needing to wake Missy up in the middle of the night  t as I needed to go out to get busy...  She has now forbidden me to sit by the tree but when she is sitting all the way up on Gatzby's back, she is too far away to see what I am doing so I still manage to sneak off now and again for a nibble. I think Missy's eyes have got worse recently as she seems to tread on me in the house a lot more than before?  She bought me a bigger bell for my collar, I think so that she can hear where I am more easily, but when I'm asleep it doesn't tinkle which is when she generally steps on me.  I don't mind although it is quite painful if she is wearing those silly spikey shoes.  I've worked out where best to snooze to avoid her treading on me but it's not so comfortable under the table.

September 26th 2012 - Mes amis

I have also met some fellow work colleagues here in France.  I met Denvor in the street one day when out and about with Missy.  Denvor was taking his charge to the market also. I recognised that he was also a Guide dog by his harness.  It's not quite as flashy as mine, it's more french chic perhaps and his blind friend hasn't put a sign on his that says 'Please don't feed me I'm working'.  I've been trying to scratch that sign off for ages but Missy always sticks it back on again... Denver is really nice and very yellow in colour. He looks much more like my friends at guide dog school back in UK. Although he doesn't speak any English and I can only talk about tomatoes and Camembert, I think we will become really good friends as we have lots in common especially our love for sniffing.  We sometimes get to go to the park together and play like normal dogs whilst Missy and Sofie sit and drink coffee.  It's great fun to let our fur down and have a good game of 'Wag' your it.  I brought my ball with me one  time but Denver wanted to play a really  boring game with it.  he called it 'Boules'... I just didn't see the point in it? Throwing a ball and then not catching it and bringing it back?

June 2012 - En France

Sorry not to have put paw to paper for a long while but Missy and I have had a very busy time.  Missy had a terrible car crash but thank 'Dog' is ok. I thankfully wasn't in the car at the time as I was in the vet, where Missy was coming to pick me up from, when the accident happened. It seems that we all  were bandaged and in hospital that day.  Annabel, who is Missy's friend but also my doctor, took me to the hospital to visit Missy, what a pair we made, as I had a bandage on my left front leg from where Annabel had taken out the thorn, and Missy had bandages everywhere from where the Lorry had hit  her. Missy promises me that she wasn't driving at the time but I wouldn't put it passed her as she drove a steam roller last summer and nearly made a postage stamp of lovely old Kay, who by the way I  still miss even though she was rather bossy.

Missy and I have moved to France, 'Mais oui'!  I love it here and think that I am getting the lingo now, luckily biscuit seems to be the same word only with a weird accent. I feel quite at home here, my Dad being a poodle and all making me half French. I think the ladies like me  as I get lots of attention when I hit the trottoires. I have to say I do think the French ladies are better dressed than the English ones. I saw a beautiful little lady with a diamond collar just yesterday and her fur was all fluffy as if she'd been in a beauty salon all day, mind you she did smell oddly of Chanel and in my humble British opinion, I do think  the smell of 'pooch’ is more appealing, to my nose anyway.  

The French people who  look after the shops and restaurants where Missy and I sometimes go are much nicer to me than the Swedish people who did the same jobs in the shops in Sweden.  They actually let me take Missy in to the shop and welcome us in to come and eat at the tables in the restaurant as opposed to making us wait outside in the rain and snow until they pass Missy's food through the door to her. I used to get so cold sitting outside those places, looking in through the window at the warm people eating their dinner, I am glad that we don't have to do that anymore and feel that my Job is respected here as is Missy, she doesn't need to feel ashamed that her eyes don't work and what’s great is that everyone here wears sunglasses as it's so hot, so Missy fits right in. This summer it was really hot, I think Missy said it was 45 but she could have been talking about her sister?  Whatever it was it was hot on my bottom. so much so that I really found it hard to sit at curbs and tops of stairs as the pavement burned my bum when I sat on it.  I worked out a way of letting Missy know where to step without having to melt my ...s  I learned to curtsey!  I had seen people in the television doing this when Kate and William got married, when I watched it with Missy I thought that perhaps they were all trying to tell them where the curbs were but Missy explained that it was a greeting a bit like a play bow or a wag of a tail, only less playful and more respectful.  It worked, I would dip down as if I were about to sit when I came to a curb, and then lift up before my bottom touched the flaming flagstones. This summer as it's been so hot, I have also learned to swim. I have swum before, but more by accident than design as I fell in the lake once in Hyde park whilst trying to say hi to some geese. Now I can swim on purpose. I've been in the river chasing stones and in the sea chasing waves, which by the way are very hard to keep hold of.  I can even go underwater without  swallowing lots of wet stuff.  Missy is a good swimmer but even so I do like to  keep one eye open when she is in the pool but she has some friends that I really do worry for when waterborne. She has one in particular who needs a permanent life guard, I thought at first perhaps he couldn't see as he is more clumsy than any blind person I've ever met but apparently his eyes work fine, so it must be something else that is broken?  I try to take him away from the pool side but I think he thinks my taking his arm in my mouth is a game. He splashes about and looks like he is going to sink, much like I did when I fell in the lake. I've tried shouting at him to get him out of the water but Missy gets cross when I do that. she tried to reassure me by telling me it was his artistic flair that made him swim that way but I don't think he wears those silly trousers in the water?

Where we live in town is great. There is a market just up the road where Missy often goes in the morning. I love it as there is cheese and sausages everywhere it's sniff heaven and if I'm lucky taste heaven too. I know how to ask for a kilo of tomatoes in French now and also how to ask for Camembert but I am a little too short and can't see over the counter so nobody ever seems to take my order. There is one stall that sells all sorts of strange things including snails. I'm not sure if even I would eat those...

It's not like London here, as I often have to steer Missy around the strangest of oncoming  traffic.  Once I turned a corner and had to swerve into a doorway as there were a large gang of quite angrily confused bulls charging towards us, followed by a  group of men on white horses.  I have never seen that in Oxford street. Another time  I was taking Missy round to a friend's house and as usual had sat at a curb and was checking left and right for traffic, only to discover an entire Roman battalion coming up the road towards us. There were hundreds of Romans and even Christians and lions and  horses who left behind nice poop snacks for me to snuffle. Although the guide dog hand book doesn't tell me how to react if faced with an oncoming army, I figured the best thing to do was to sit it out until they had passed whilst maximising the opportunity to chow down on some horse poop.

Missy and I did a theatre show this summer also.  I was the star of the show but Missy did quite well also in spite of her really silly foot wear.  I think the audience liked me very much as they kept clapping and liked it when I showed them my chewy bone at the end.  Missy sang a lot during the show and I was told not to sing along which was very hard as I do love it when she sings, nevertheless like a true star  I took my stage directions and swallowed them as well as swallowing a few other props that were left lying about. Missy swung like a monkey at the end of the show but I’m not quite sure why?  I think that maybe she was trying to impress my audience! but I soon had them eating out of my paw again with my chewy bone routine.

January 2012 - A close call

Uffa has been extremely busy lately and apologises for not having the time to write. However, he plans to spend a few days chewing over some ideas with Kay, his senior counterpart, and once they have dug over some old ground and come up with a few tasty ideas, he will be more than happy to share them with his fellow guide dogs.

Meantime, he would like to wish the other dogs out there a very happy time over the next few days and asks that they please resist from chasing the Easter Bunny. He knows that there were one or two unfortunate incidents over the Christmas period to do with a slightly obese gentlemen in a red coat trying to get down the chimney, but he put a stop to that, but not before Kay benefited from the visit.

Something very sad happened in the first week of August 2011.   For a while now, Kay couldn't stand up easily by herself and she couldn't walk very far.  She slept a lot of the time and Missy used to have to get up two or three times every night to see that she was comfortable and to help her when she needed to go out.  One day, Missy brushed Kay until her coat was shining, and she gave her lots of treats and talked to her for ages.  Then the vet came along and everybody was crying but I went upstairs with Boss John who was the only other man around.  When I came back downstairs, Kay was gone and for a long time everyone seemed very sad.  I put my head on Missy's lap and tried to tell her that I understood, and that from now on I am going to try my very hardest to be as good as Kay was.  I know I will never be the same because she was a very special dog, but I promise that I will do my best.

In Memory of Kay
She brought her mistress into the light

This is something that Missy wrote about Kay.

Kay was my confession, my allowance without concession, my admission without regret.  Her unconventionality embodied and externalized my own perception of my blindness.  Kay expressed and made tangible an honesty that I had hitherto been unable to articulate alone.  She challenged preconceived conceptions whilst, at the same time, commanding acceptance.  Through her, I was, at last, able to de-compartmentalise my life, both psychologically and geographically.  She unharnessed my freedom, allowing me to move forward both physically and emotionally with defiant confidence as opposed to compliance.

Admittedly, she couldn’t do my make-up, which left me blushing on occasions from too much blusher on my face.  However, she did socially facilitate people’s understanding of these occasional odd discrepancies, discrepancies that had previously been perceived as oddities and thus shied away from.

For me, truly growing up came with the genuine freedom and independence of both thought and movement that Kay afforded me.  She had been my choice, my resolution of reality, and my consolidation of self.  Kay became an extension of my character, not a label of my lameness, giving positive voice to the silent secret of my sight.


Paw and Hoof Pals Mailbox

Uffa has a very busy schedule, but every so often he reads his mail and puts paw to paper, so feel free to write to Uffa if you are a guide dog with a learning disability (usually found in the owner, not the dog).  Maybe you are a Labrador who thinks he's a poodle, a pooch with a heart problem - and this might involve the rather cute little spaniel in the next garden.  Uffa loves to travel and enjoys hearing about dogs in far off countries.  He has his own passport and can usually talk Verity into a new adventure, so who knows, he might even drop in one day.

My friend Pippin in England has been rather unwell, so Kay and I sent her a get-well card.  Pippin is extremely high born although she does confess to being from the wrong side of the dog basket blanket, but anyone can tell that she is a real lady.  She may only be a slightly small Jack Russell but it just goes to show that size isn't everything - but don't tell Kay that!

West Sussex - England

Dear Uffa and Kay
I am dictating this to my secretary because my nails are too long for the keys and I will not let my mother cut them, not never, not no how.

Your good wishes are most gratefully received and I am happy to tell you that we are very much better. We believe my cook may have slipped some medicament into my luncheon the other day and although I was suspicious, hunger drove me to consuming it.

Thank you again so much for your thoughtfulness in writing.
With affectionate regards,
Lady Pippin

You may care to know that The Honourable Pippin Windsor Paravacini De La Mare Boothby Ferrari is not ALL that common type, a mere Jack Russell Terrier but has a robust dash of LANCASHIRE HEELER in her blood, from whom we are not entirely sure but we think her mother the noble and recently deceased at a great age (18), Dragon (of Wales of course) of whom she is the spitting image was, like Dragon's mother Clover before her, seduced by a passing aristocratic cad on a visit to the Brecon Beacons with HRH (you know who - old Big Ears himself), in this case one of that Plantagenet lot from Lancashire.  At least they were land-owners with cattle, 
which is what Heelers are used for and are closely related to that most Royal of all canines, the Corgi.

Melbourne Australia.  May 2011

Dear Uffa,
Hi there, or should I say Bonjour.  I am an Aussie, but really a bit of a mixture at heart.  I live with a family who have two kids.  They are my best friends and I love them so much, just how I can imagine you are to Verity.  Amazing how attached we get and we would do anything for them.  I have just had a lovely walk down in the field where I go every day.  So good here and I never have to go on the lead because my owner is a bit of a soft touch and she knows I love to run and chase rabbits and sometimes the odd Kangaroo.

I must say, I have so much respect for you and think you are really clever.  You have such an important job to do and I can imagine that you are on top of your game every day.  It looks like you have a wonderful owner too.  I must say, my dog friend, we are the lucky ones when you hear of some of the stories out there.  Well, it is great to be in touch and keep putting up photos, I think you are awesome and you and Verity make a perfect partnership.
Take care and keep up the excellent work.  You are an inspiration.
Hamish, Ham Dog, Mush (I get called lots of different things).

PS.   Give Kate a big cuddle, I miss her, she really gets us.  Only time I have ever been let on the big bed was when she came to stay - man, it was great. Tell her to come and visit me sometime.

(Insert photo of Katie and Hamish)

Hi there Hamish,   Great to hear from you man.  Kangaroos -  Are you for real?  You mean you get to see the real thing just up the road from where you live.  I get black bulls and white horses bashing around the village in summer but of course no chance to go chasing them  -  not in the training manual you understand!  I get to go and visit Verity's horse Markus now and then but everyone yells at me because I've discovered those rather tasty nuts that he leaves lying around.
Listen - if you ever get on a trip to France, you be sure and let me know and I'll roll out the red carpet and slap a prawn on the barbie.

What on earth does that mean?
Stay in touch and say Hi to those great kids.  Verity's friend Kate is always talking about them and she says that she is their Gran.

How come grandmothers are wading around in rivers with horses and racing around the countryside.  Aren't they supposed to sit around and knit!
Cheers mate - stay in touch - Uffa.


For Attention - Mr Uffa Smith.    My name is Tiger and I am a CAT.  I wouldn't normally take the time to write to a dog but I thought you ought to know that not only am I am very aware of the fact that you have visited my house on one or two occasions while I have been out, but that you have had the audacity to eat a couple of nuts out of my bowl.  This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated and if I happen to catch you I am afraid that I shall be forced to report you to the Guide Dog Association and probably give you a thick ear into the bargain.  Cats Rule and Dogs Drool - don't forget.

Uffa has just received a delightful poem from a most beautiful blonde bombshell of a horse called Caline who lives in the south of France.

 It's also addressed to his good friend Markus the horse.  She lives next door to Gatzby the horse who is very proud and handsome.

Hello Uffa, I've heard much about you  from Verity and so I feel as if I already know you well;
I am Caline, a Palomino - and to my delight, your mistress has named me "the blond bombshell.
Your friend Gatzby is my neighbor here, but alas he won't look at me;
I am jealous since he makes no secret about the other girls - those he likes to see.
But I am a patient blonde and I know that in good time I'll really figure out how to ring his bell!
Dear Uffa,
You'd want  to know quickly yesterday's results I reckoned,
As we started out I said to Jan that I was sure that success beckoned.
But I hardly thought that we would come in second,
And we missed first by nary a second.
So, surely congratulations for this you will second.
Your friend Caline

We've had a very sad week as Missy's dear friend and my carrot sharing, poop supplier Markus has left us.  Missy says he has gone to run with the herd upstairs, so I am a bit scared to go upstairs right now in case he and all his pals are up there.  Kay has explained to me that Markus isn't really upstairs but that he is free to gallop around on the clouds and he isn't in any pain any more.  Kay says that we must be very kind to Missy because we can see that she is very sad and misses him a lot.

Markus and Missy

Lille Gubben - A Poem For Mon Beau

Where will you run now my old friend,
Now that you've slipped life's halter and are young again?
Will you gallop through those sweet fields of green,
Beneath Sweden's lark song of spring?
Or dance in the cool of a Provencal dawn,
Beneath the swallows on a golden carpet of corn?
Will the sparkle of winter leave diamonds on your whiskers
Or the heart on your forehead still make the place I last kissed you.
Where will you run now my old friend,
now that you've slipped life's halter and are young again?

When at last I do come and wait by the tree, 
will you raise up your head, whinny and gallop to me.

I'll throw my arms round your neck and you'll snuffle my hair
and I'll know I'm in heaven as you will be there.
You'll place me so gently up on your back,
to that most favourite place that I've ever sat,
We'll gallop together, so far and so wide,
You won't be tired and I won't be blind.

We'll stand aloft on a high rocky crop 
and you'll show me your herd, all the foals that you've got.

I'll sing to them then and you'll wicker with pride,
but till that day my old friend,
my soul mate,
my wise one
sleep tight.


Dear Uffa and Missy,
Great to track you down and see that you have really done well for yourself. I send hearty congratulations from your first training home. Life is still great here especially those wonderful walks in the New Forest where you may remember you first got the taste for pony veggie burgers!  I enclose a photo of my current family who still have some way to go with their training. On the right is Tyson, a star pupil who is doing rather well. He is nearly a year old and does what he is told. However being a golden pure bred Labrador retriever he is rather greedy. The little one in the middle is the latest arrival and has much to learn. A little girl who is only 6 weeks old and with very sharp teeth. Her name is Ruby and she is the first Labradoodle here since you. I have told her all about you and what I expect from her. Luckily she still sleeps for a lot of the day and your Missy singing "Lullaby" gets her to sleep most nights. I shall let you know how she gets on and send you a few pictures as she grows.
Love from your younger half brother
PS Our mother Polly is very proud of us.
To contact Verity, email her on:   cmfagalde@yahoo.co.uk

No comments:

Post a Comment