Christmas Day in the Doghouse

We had planned a quiet Christmas: Leo was not feeling too good and did not want to go to friends which was just as well as we had an orphan lamb to feed on top of the normal routines.

Jose had come to slaughter some sheep just before Der Tag, so I was fully occupied with butchering and looking forward to the sort of Christmas Day when the feet go up and the gin oges down but one ‘phone call after another announced  that  – as we could not go to them – friends would come to us on the 26th. Not for long, not to tire Leo, but just to say hello and have a chat.

Knadgers! I had mince pies and sausage rolls made but to cater for all eventualities salvaged the sheep offal to make a pan haggis – too late to rescue the stomach, which had been buried with the intestines – then started on the pastry for the Black Bun and whopped together a cloutie dumpling mix while waiting for fish to defrost to make a ceviche.

Too late to set out for San Jose for reasonably priced whisky, as Leo was not well enough to be left for too long, but with beer, wine and fruit drinks that area was covered.

Luckily I had not left Leo as he became very ill – and at one point it looked as though a trip to hospital would be on the cards – but by the time midnight was upon us he had improved so at 12.30 am I fed the lamb and went to bed.

3.30 am.The lamb woke up again and started bleating for milk. I would swear that it has a loudhailer concealed in its blankets…

With the kitchen light on the dogs woke up and wanted to go out. Front door opened for them and milk heated for the lamb.

Lamb fed and returned to its box in the spare bedroom. Lamb displeased. Lamb turned its box over and skittered round the room until the box was packed with the blanket in the exact way desired by lamb. Lamb settled.

An almighty kerfuffle outside shattered the peace of the early morning hours and set off every dog for miles: the night was hideous with barks and howls from Jose’s spaniels up towards the town to Chancho’s pitbulls across the  still unrepaired bridge.

The lamb took up its loudhailer again.

The porch light revealed a view of the agitated hindquarters of five dogs whose forepaws were busy throwing up showers of earth and twigs from the shrubs by the path while the puppies ran round trying to get a better view of proceedings.

Finally The Poodle emerged from the maelstrom bearing a very large dead rat.

Scruff followed with a few baby  rats in  her mouth, neatly arranged with tails hanging down and led her puppies off for a feast by the hen house.

Such is the prestige of The Poodle that the other dogs made no attempt to claim her rat as she strolled with it to the bench by the front door and settled herself to guard her trophy.

They came inside and resumed the sleep of the just.

The lamb decided that it would be more diplomatic to put down its loudhailer.

The local canine chorus ceased.

Tea for me and for Leo  – and off to bed. Again.

Hail shining morn, my backside!

We may be in the tropics and the shortest day may have passed, but it was still not light until after 5.30 am, so we had a leisurely start to the day and after letting out chickens, ducks and sheep took a late breakfast on the balcony.

The Poodle’s balcony.

Digital Camera

Luckily she was still guarding her rat at the other side of the house, so we got away with it.

Peace reigned, the sun rose over the mountain behind the house and the view was a symphony of green and gold. Perfect.

Then we heard the sound of a chainsaw.

It is illegal to fell trees within 50 metres of a watercourse but as we watched a large tree went down by a stream leading to the river in the valley, on the property of a retired money launderer.

No chance of being caught as civil servants do not work on public holidays, which accounts for the frenzied activity in builders’ merchants just before Easter, Christmas and August 15th…ideal time to build a house before anyone can interfere with queries as to planning permission.

We retired to the inner balcony and passed the morning with books, coffee and cake – with intermittent feeding of the lamb in its pen once it was warm enough for it to go outside.

Leo had a nap, we had lunch in peace and Leo returned to bed, feeling tired.I was washing up when it started….a cacophony of snarling and yelping on the porch.

Tea towel – terror of the puppy dogs – at the ready  I shot out there to find The Poodle ensconced on the bench and beside her the puppy she likes best – Napoleon – who was busy eating the rat’s head while his brother and sisters raged below. The Poodle wore a sort of proprietary beam while the busy Napoleon gave every impression of one very happy with his lot, which was to change as the tea towel was deployed, followed by sharp work with brush and dustpan and the carcass thrown to the chickens.

Disconsolately Napoleon went to sit by their run, watching as they tore into the treat. I made a mental note to avoid being kissed by Napoleon…

The afternoon passed peaceably after that until tea time when with an eldritch screech The Poodle took off for the fields like a dose of salts, followed by the adult dogs.

I think the screech frightened the puppies because they all decided to tuck up on Leo’s foot, so I was able to close the front door on them and go down to investigate.

The screeching and barking grew in volume….Jose’s spaniel and Chancho’s pitbulls took up the theme…

A I can’t limbo dance under the wire I had to go round by the gate so by the time I reached the field the scene was  set.

The dogs were encircling the trunk of a tall guarumo tree.


Experience had taught them not to approach it too closely as the tree has a symbiotic relationship with some of the nastiest stinging ants I have yet met, but they were certainly on guard around it, for perched precariously on the upper branches were a number of vultures…

Every flap of a wing produced a screech from The Poodle and a chorus of barks from the rest – evidently the pack, not  taking into account the wonders of flight, thought that they had the vultures treed for the duration and were intent on making the most of it.

At that point Julio turned up, bringing a home made tonic for Leo – and to help me close up the sheep for the night. He was, he said, escaping from his house which was hideous with the din of over excited children…..

We counted the sheep and lambs…none missing. So why had the vultures arrived?

Julio looked around.

‘There’s your answer. Jose didn’t bury the guts properly when he did the slaughtering.’

It took some persuasion and the use of leads, but together we managed to return the dogs to the house where they threw themselves on their beds with an air of those who have done their duty.

We chatted over a beer or two, then Julio went on his way and we had supper, followed by an early night. apart from getting up to feed the lamb at 10.00 pm

Later I was awakened by a furious scrabbling  from the puppy box and in the darkness a small fat body plopped onto the bed and snuggled up to my ear, taking a comforting nibble of same

Not wanting to waken Leo I switched on the mobile ‘phone on the bedside table and in its dim light found that my affectionate visitor was – you’ve guessed it – Napoleon.

By that time too shattered to care if I picked up the Black Death  I turned off the ‘phone and went to sleep until the lamb woke me on the morning of Boxing Day at 2.00 am….


43 thoughts on “Christmas Day in the Doghouse”

  1. I’m glad Leo didn’t land in the hospital, thank goodness. And I hope he’s doing better upon receipt of this. The rest of the post is like a well crafted sit com with animal actors included and I can’t stop smiling, even though the chaos probably was not all that enjoyable on your end. Alas the puppies at Leo’s feet is such a sweet image. Where’s your camera! Like you have the time to go and fetch it, and take a zillion photos to appease us with baby lamb, puppy, and doggy balcony cuteness. Take care you two, get some rest, and hope that the New Year upon us brings good health and peaceful days. 🙂

    1. He has picked up, thank goodness and luckily managed to sleep through most of the chaos…when he is exhausted he goes out like a light.
      You are so right about the camera…for one thing I’d have to find it first!
      I hope all is well at your end – take it one step at a time!

  2. Total drama. I hope Leo is on the mend, but I know it is not easy for him.
    I have just spent 4 days in bed, coughing from deep down in my boots and chest pains. My history of pneumonia tells me bed and sleep is my only chance. N and FIL (oddly also Leonard) went to Xmas lunch without me and now both have heavy colds!!!!! Be back in France for New Year and the quicker the better. Hate this cold damp house of FIL’s while we have a warm dry house waiting for us.
    Take care both of you. Diane

    1. Yes, get back to your warm house as soon as you can…and take care of yourself. Those things have a habit of turning nasty.
      It can’t do FIL much good having a damp house…but at a guess you’ll never get him to make changes.
      Leo has picked up again…he has these crises which can turn one way or the other and luckily he turned the corner on this one.

  3. I realise when I read your blog why I am veg these days. My aversion to sweet kisses from Snowy is when he has being licking Tosca’s arse. Which is most days.

    Here in Gib (a boring story why we aren’t in Spain for navidad) the place was full of Spaniards coming across the border on Boxing Day to work onthe black because no govt employeesaround. Plus ça change.

    1. Oh and we are both sick too. Minorly sick though. Well, I hope so. I’m sure more gin not less is the right idea. At least it sends one to sleep. Well, unless there are lambs to feed up and slaughter.

      1. I’m sorry that you are both down with a lurgy….after yesterday and visits today I feel I could do with gin on a drip, but luckily Leo has picked up and the animals have been having a quiet day…

        So doing the illegal on a public holiday is an old Spanish custom….

        Not being a vegetarian I just try to make sure that my birds and animals have proper care through their lives and are popped off as humanely as possible. I’m not hypocritical enough to ignore the fact that death is terrible for them as for us though.

  4. So pleased to hear that Leo is feeling better and managed to sleep through the chaos. 🙂 I would write more, but am feeling suddenly somewhat squeamish with all the slaughter and vultures and innards, so will sign off wishing you a silent night.

  5. I’m hoping the turn of the old year for the new will be much more restful for you.Five minutes with your feet up relaxing must sound like a dream. I hope Leo is feeling better.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  6. Sometimes I give thanks that you retired to the warm tropical paradise.
    The easy way of life, the slow tempo, the days when boredom kills….

    As you have nothing else to do you may as well write that book so they can make the film. I canny wait!

    1. I tell you what….I’ll send the bumf over to you and you write it as my ghost writer!
      Joking apart, I’ve tried so many times and just have no peace to settle my mind to it. every few minutes it is something…

  7. Oh my god. I thought it was chaotic with my lot but compared to yours, it is all peace and light here! Retirement is supposed to be relaxing, even boring, isn’t it?
    Hope Leo is ok xxx

    1. He has picked up…talking to the visitors helped too.
      You know what it is like with animals…normally all is well and then one day, out of the blue, they all play up at once…

  8. Leo aside, thank you for the entertainment! J and I continue our traditional non-christmas of 40 years despite the invasive avalanche of messages from every Turkish business we have ever dealt with. Just give us Peace on Earth for Christ’s sake!
    Meanwhile, for Leo here’s a link to bit of festive stuff, Altai style.

  9. Goodness, I’m exhausted just reading that! I’m glad to hear Leo is feeling better and I hope now that you can get some rest too and not go down with Napoleon’s Black Death…

  10. What was that about a quiet life in retirement? Very glad Leo turned the corner in the right direction and I hope you had a good time with your friends after all the excitement. A very happy New Year to you both.

    1. Wasn’t work peaceful….
      It takes some close watching to see how Leo’s bad turns will pan out as if he goes downhill he does it fast, but luckily this one passed over eventually.
      We did enjoy the visits…we had missed a lot of visits between Leo being ill in February and my absences later in the year so it was nice to catch up with the extended families of friends.
      A happy New Year to you and your family…I expect that you will be back on your travels now that the house is sold.

  11. And did the assorted friends arrive during all of this, to be fed mince pies etc? I’m sorry to hear about Leo’s less than optimal health for Christmas. I hope you are both bearing up. The view from the poodle’s balcony is terrific.

    1. They did indeed. I had made haggis because I know that a couple of the chaps really like it and as it turned out making a pan haggis was a good idea as being easier to portion.
      Leo is tired, but resting…and enjoying the view from the balcony in thr company of one disgruntled poodle.

  12. What a pity Brian Rix is not still alive! Somehow I feel you should have invited him…

    I am glad Leo is feeling better and hope the rest of the holiday period is a bit more peaceful for you.

    1. A Whitehall farce with dogs….that would make a Christmas special!
      Thank you, Leo is feeling better, though tired, and – fingers crossed, so far things have been quiet…

  13. There is never a good time for these things to happen and they always happen when it is least convenient. It’s Sod’s Law.

    Pleased to hear that Leo has picked up. At least you have the sun and it’s warmth. Here it would have been grey skies, wind and rain which can be depressing in itself. Never mind the misbehaving animals.

    1. What did we get for Christmas? Sod’s Law!
      And we do indeed have sunshine…but now accompanied by the Trade Winds which seem to be compensating for the lack of sailing ships in the ocean by trying to lift roofs from houses…

          1. We once had an Abyssinian cat called Boost the Impaler on account of his perceived killer instincts. He was dilluded – clearly madame poodle is not and I hereby gift her the title since he is long dead and no longer in need of it!

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