Welcome everyone Sandra in Spain - FlamencoI’m Sandra Piddock, and I’m a freelance writer, dividing my time between Spain and the UK. I’ll write about anything that interests and/or challenges me, and I like to focus on the lighter side of life whenever possible.. Read more
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Remembering Paddy

Paddy has been a major part of my life since I adopted him in March 2014, at the grand old age of 8 weeks, or thereabouts. On 13th March 2019 – almost 5 years to the day after he brought so much joy into my life – Paddy died in the most traumatic circumstances. In his all-too-short time here on Earth, Paddy touched many lives. He even had his own Facebook page, and sometimes ‘wrote’ guest posts on here too.

When the time is right, I will tell Paddy’s full story, so everyone can know what a hero he was. In the meantime, this page is a memorial to his short but eventful life, and a place where I can share my thoughts and hopefully help others as they process the loss of a much loved pet. Paddy was larger than life, and his spirit lives on in my heart. He will never be forgotten by those who knew and loved him.

All the dogs I’ve loved before …

All the dogs I've loved before
With Paddy, just three days after he came to live with us.

They say dogs are Man’s best friend, but this girl is an unashamed dog lover too. I’ll be honest, this post started out as a personal post about how my rescue dogs actually rescued my sanity during a bad situation. However, as the background information was fuelled by more and more memories, I decided to save that idea for another post and let the flow of happy memories carry me along.

As a child growing up, and as I raised my own family, there were always dogs – all different, but all special in their own ways. There was Pip, the Sealyham Terrier who was frozen in a snow drift in the bad winter of 1962/63 but lived to tell the tail – pun intended!

Pip was followed by Rinty, a German Shepherd pup who stood guard over my father as he recovered from having all his teeth out just a week after Rinty came to live with us. The only problem with that was, nobody else could get near Dad – not even Mum, with tea, sympathy and painkillers.

Then there was Sooty, the sneaky Miniature Poodle who hid round the back of our house until the postman and paper boy had made their deliveries. Many a morning we came downstairs to see the postman sat on the step, waiting for us to let him out. When our usual paper boy went on holiday, he neglected to tell his replacement that, as soon as the Express and Star hit the doormat, he needed to charge down the path and vault the gate, or risk Sooty sinking his teeth into places teeth really should not be allowed!

All the dogs I've loved before
The legend that was George

And who could forget George, the Jack Russell cross whose ‘finest hour’ was spotting a donkey tethered to a fence outside a country pub in Shropshire, peacefully watching the world go by? Unfortunately, what the pub landlord saw going by the window was his donkey, trailing a fence panel as he left the building, closely followed by George in full on terrier mode. Needless to say, we were not allowed inside to quench our thirst, despite the heat of the day.

George was a hard act to follow, but Patch, my second husband’s Border Collie, was another real character. I met him about half way through his impressive 17 year life span, and I was privileged to cradle him in my arms as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Apart from that, my enduring memory of Patch was when, at the age of around 13, we took him for a run on Yelverton Common, on the edge of Dartmoor. It was a glorious day, and a number of families were enjoying picnics. One of the sheep was very interested in the food, and had wandered away from his mates, so Patch immediately went into full ‘One Man and His Dog’ mode. Crouching low, he gently but firmly herded the stray back to the flock. This from a dog who hadn’t been that close to a sheep since he left the farm where he was born at the age of 10 weeks!

I’ve been lucky enough to live with some fabulous canine characters, but little did I know the best was yet to come. Fast forward to 2014, and we were nicely settled in our lovely garden apartment on the Costa Blanca. However, one thing was missing as far as I was concerned – a canine companion.

All the dogs I've loved before
Luna and Me – girls together, loving life

My husband was adamant we were having no more dogs, as it tied us down, and we were both getting older, so there was a chance the dog would be left behind. Granted, he was 80 at the time, but at 62, I was confident I could see at least one more dog through to Rainbow Bridge Time before I joined the big reunion in the Great Dog Park in the Sky. As it turned out, I was right – there would be more than one more dog for me.

Paddy came to us on March 17, 2014. He was a Spanish dog, and he was going to have a Spanish name like Pedro, Pablo or Paco – until I noticed the date as I signed the paperwork. Then there were only two options, Paddy and Guinness. I didn’t even like Guinness, and I wasn’t having the neighbours thinking I was so obsessed with the black stuff I was shouting about it at all hours of the day and night.

My five years with Paddy taught me a lot about companionship, and the unconditional love dogs shower on their human guardians. Through him I learned about strength and courage, through his example. When he was killed defending me in March 2019, it felt like my own life was over too. And then along came Luna …

What can I say about Luna? She’s the first female dog I’ve ever lived with, and she’s also the most traumatised and feisty. She’s given me a lot of grey hairs, but she’s also given me love beyond measure. I’ve learned a lot from her, and hopefully she’s learned that she has found her forever home with me.

A great song from the Bellamy Brothers that says it all about dogs

Over the years, my dogs have taught me a lot about love and life. They’ve given me so much more than they will ever know, and I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. This article is dedicated to all dogs, everywhere, with love and blessings.

Killer Chihuahua bites back!

Oh dear! I did ask Paddy if it was wise to vent about Gizmo in public, but he would insist on writing that rather incendiary guest post. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it here. As you may imagine, Killer Chihuahua is not exactly ecstatic about it, and he’s insisting on the Right to Reply.

Paddy says Gizmo can’t do that, because it’s not his Mummy’s blog. However in the interests of fair play and free speech, I feel I have to let Gizmo tell his side of the story.  I now have two Very Disgruntled Dogs on my hands, so let’s hope that when Gizmo’s got this off his chest, they’ll call a draw and we can all settle down again.

Killer Chihuahua

Me on the cliffs with Paddy. If I’d known what he ws going to write about me, I’d have pushed him over while I had the chance!

Hello everyone – Killer Chihuahua here. I mean Gizmo. I hate that nickname. I’m not a Killer Chihuahua at all – I’m a Chihuahua/Pappillon cross, but Aunty Sandra says Killer Chihuahua/Papillon Cross doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. She’s a very good writer, so I suppose she should know.

The trouble with Paddy the Petrified is he has no respect for his elders, and no backbone. After all, at 5 years and 2 months to his 4 years and 7 months, I have much more life experience to pass on, but he doesn’t take any notice most of the time, because he’s so bouncy I’m sure he’s on elastic. So now and again I have to be a bit forceful, but I don’t nip the backs of his legs like he says I do – it’s more a little tug on the long hairs to remind him who’s the boss around here, And then he goes all Drama Queen with my Mummy and his Mummy to try to get me into trouble.

He comes across as all hard done by, but I bet he didn’t tell you what I have to put up with, did he? Paddy is 35 kilos to my 5, so of course I have to address the discrepancy by being a Little Dog with a Big Attitude. Unfortunately, my attitude is the only big thing about me, and that seems to fascinate Paddy. Or to be more accurate, one little thing seems to fascinate him, which is why I call him Paddy the Pervert. Not to put to fine a point on it, every chance he gets, he’s after my willy! It’s most undignified – whenever Mummy or Aunty Sandra picks me up, his cold, wet nose is there, right where I don’t want it.

The other day, I was walking along, minding my own business, when Paddy shoved his nose under

Making sure Paddy behaves at Aunty Lesley’s. As the older, more experienced dog, I have to keep him in order.

me and lifted me so high, I almost did a cartwheel. When I complained to Aunty Sandra that if I was a human, I’d be able to get compensation for that sort of behaviour, she came out with a very hurtful remark. She said, ‘No you wouldn’t Gizmo – your willy is so small, Paddy could counter sue and ask for a search fee!’ Not difficult to see where he gets his disrespectful behaviour from, is it?

While we’re on the subject of willies, you need to know something else. Being the doggy equivalent of an irritating younger brother, Paddy has taken to copying what I do. So if I elevate my leg against a particular tree or rock, he has to do the same. They say immitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I wasn’t very flattered recently,  when he decided to use the same attractive clump of marsh grass as me. The problem was, instead of waiting for me to finish, he had to do it at the same time. Only he went around the other side and we were nose to tail, which suited him, as it gave him another sneaky chance to check out my willy. When he raised his leg, I got a shower on the top of my head, and it wasn’t even raining!

Mummy and Aunty Sandra laughed their heads off, and then my walk was cut short because I had to go back and have a bath. Paddy’s obssession with my willy is absolutely not healthy – and now it’s getting to the stage where I fear for my dignity about 20 times a day. If anybody has a Dog’s Life, it’s me, not that big, attention-seeking lump!

Not content with that, Paddy the Purloiner is always pinching my dinner. I’m a dainty, well brought-up boy, and I don’t scoff my supper like the Hounds of Hell are after it. I like to savour my food, and graze on it during the day. However, I don’t get the chance these days, because Paddy comes and pinches my dinner, sometimes before he even finishes his own. I tell you, it’s a wonder I haven’t faded to a shadow of my former self.

I tried to get my own back the other day by pinching his dinner, but of course, his bowl is much bigger than mine, and I couldn’t get my head in there unless I balanced my paws on the edge of the bowl. The trouble was, once I bent my head down to nibble on his meaty chunks, the bowl tipped over, and Paddy’s dinner went all over me and Mummy’s kitchen floor – which she’d only mopped that morning. So that was a telling-off and yet another bath, just for trying to get even with that thieving mutt!

The worst thing of all though is the unfairness about going out. My Mummy is always thinking of

Killer Chihuahua

Mummy and me with Paddy and Aunty Sandra. Like I said, we take him everywhere.

nice places to take us for runs, where we can meet and play with other dogs. But sometimes Aunty Sandra takes Paddy off on her own, and she won’t take me as well. It doesn’t matter how much I cry, and I even follow her to the door, and give her the full-on Puppy Eye Treatment, but she still won’t take me. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Paddy the Poser comes back bragging about what a lovely day out he’s had with his Mummy. It’s too much for a lovely boy like me to bear.

So people, just as you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers, don’t believe everything you read online – especially if it’s written by a big black brute who’s scared of his own shadow. Never mind – one day karma will come along and bite him on the bum. Or maybe I will, if I can get Mummy to buy me a little doggy step ladder. That will give him something to whinge about!

It’s a dog’s life!

Once again, Paddy has asked to do a guest post on the blog. Since I’ve taught him how to throw a sentence together, and how to spell, I can hardly refuse – especially since the last time he did a guest post he got more views than all of my posts during the month put together! Ah well, over to Paddy, who wants to get something off his chest. According to him, he hasn’t had the best of weeks. According to me, he’s an ungrateful, attention-seeking pup, but hey, it’s a free country, so over to Paddy:

Relaxing after my traumatic week. Things can only get better.

Hello everyone,  and welcome to my guest post. I felt I had to chip in before Mummy started spreading lies and exaggerating everything on Facebook. To say I haven’t had the best of weeks is an absolute understatement. And most of it is Mummy’s fault – she just doesn’t realise how sensitive a soul I am. 

The big problem is Gizmo. The longer we spend together, the bossier he gets. I mean, I’m scared to even walk past him these days – everything I do seems to be wrong. And Mummy and Aunty Glenys are no help. Instead of telling him to leave me alone, and giving him a flying lesson, they just laugh, and say I’m a wimp! Not only is that very hurtful, it’s totally untrue.

I’m not a wimp, but I am a sensible boy, and I’m not going to do anything that earns me a nip on the back legs from Killer Chihuahua. Okay, I am a bit frightened of him – but only frightened that I may choke on him if I do what he deserves and say ‘No more Mr Nice Guy’ and eat him. I don’t think Mummy and Aunty Glenys would be very happy about that though, so I’ve made a new friend.

He’s a very handsome dog – similar to me in fact, and I know we’d get on great, and between us, we could put Gizmo in his place. The problem is, my new friend is very shy. He won’t come out while everyone else is around. In fact, he waits until it’s dark, and Aunty Glenys has turned off the TV and taken Killer Chihuahua to bed. Then he plays hide and seek behind the TV screen or the conservatory window. No matter how much I talk to him, or how fast I wag my


My shy doggie friend. I do hope he comes out to play soon.

tail, he just won’t come out to play.

It’s very frustrating for a friendly boy like me, so I cried a bit and asked Mummy to coax him out to play. She laughed, so I asked Uncle Tristan instead. Then he laughed, and said, ‘It’s your reflection, you daft dog.’ Now, I don’t know what a reflection is, but it isn’t a breed of dog I’ve ever heard of. Obviously, they don’t want me to play with my new friend in case Gizmo gets jealous. I’ll outwit them though – I’ll save a couple of my favourite treats to tempt him out to play.

Really, the only thing that makes life worthwhile these days is when Mummy takes me out in the car, without Gizmo. It’s lovely to see him cry to come with us, and even better when Mummy tells him he can’t come, because she can’t manage two dogs on her own. My Mummy can do anything, so I’m sure she could – she’s just giving me some breathing space from Killer Chihuahua, so we can share some quality time together.

However, on Tuesday, even that got a bit scary. We’d been out all day, and were on our way home, when the car started making funny noises and juddering. Mummy slowed down, and told me not to worry, and we’d soon be home and safe. The words had hardly left her mouth when there was an enormous bang, right behind where I was sitting, looking for dogs and cats to bark at to liven up the drive home.

I thought the world had ended, and I did the only sensible thing and jumped into the front with Mummy, to get away from the bang. That was easier said than done, because I had to work out how to free the restraining strap from the seatbelt, but I was a Desperate Dog, and I managed it. I was shaking like a leaf, but did I get any sympathy? Not a bit of it! Mummy just laughed, and said, ‘Don’t be such a baby, Paddy – it’s just a blow out, that’s all.’

I’ve never been so insulted in my life! Mummy is always telling me off for ‘blowing off,’ but I never make such a loud noise as that – it’s not polite. A blow out must be very similar to a blow off, so in other words, I got the blame for something that frightened me almost to death. I thought my time had come to cross the Rainbow Bridge, and all she could do was laugh!

I’ll never understand humans if I live to be 100. There we were, miles from home, almost dead, and Mummy is on the phone and taking photos. I was so glad to see Aunty Glenys, I just leaped into her car, and didn’t even mind Gizmo barking at me.

Mummy’s car after the blow out. And she expected me to get back in there afterwards!

I was pretty sure I’d never see the car again – I mean, how could it survive such a major disaster? However, I was wrong, and the next day, the car came back.  Being a sensible boy, I wasn’t going anywhere near it – it was a death trap, obviously. You’d have thought Mummy would have understood, but no, she said I had to go in the car with her. No way was that happening, so I headed back to Aunty Glenys’s. I was so traumatised, I’d rather spend the day with Killer Chihuahua than go out in the car with Mummy – that’s how bad it was.

Did she understand and respect my feelings? What do you think? She actually bundled me into the car and said “Paddy stop over reacting!” Can you believe that? It was most undignified. First she grabbed my front paws and put them on the back seat, then lifted my back legs and pretty much threw me into the car. And that smarmy black cat from next door saw everything! I’ll never be able to hold my head up in the street again, because I bet that rotten cat’s told everyone.

Whoever first said ‘It’s a dog’s life’ was not wrong. I’m going to have to rethink my position after this week. If anyone would like to offer a loving home to a very good boy, I may seriously consider it. Mummy needs to examine her recent behaviour and think how she can make amends, otherwise she’s going to be very sorry. Thanks for listening, and please, if you love me, tell Mummy and Aunty Glenys to go easy on me. I may be a big strong boy, but I do have feelings, you know!” Paddy.

Paddy has a ‘Run in’ with a car!

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It’s not often I allow a guest post on my blog, but sometimes other people can tell it better than I can. It’s been a pretty traumatic week at Piddock Place, because Paddy dashed in front of a car on Sunday, and we all thought he’d had it. After a sickening thud on impact, he flew through the air, and landed on his side. It seemed his luck had run out, but after a few seconds, he jumped up and ran into the woods. We all thought it was a last gasp, adrenaline-fuelled effort to get to a place of safety to die, so we were absolutely delighted when, after about 20 minutes, he came running back out of the woods.

Being an intelligent dog, and perhaps realising how lucky he is, Paddy wanted to tell the story in his own words, so here’s his take on the day when he did an impression of James Bond’s Martini, and was shaken, rather than stirred. The pictures in the slideshow were taken just 24 hours after the incident, amazingly. However, it’s over to Paddy for now, and please ignore the bit about the vodka!

When Mummy said how many people had been worried about me when I fought a car and lost, I thought I needed to set the record straight. I love my Mummy, but she exaggerates sometimes, and gets in a bit of a state. I’ve been told people get like that when they’re old, but don’t tell her I said that, or I might be wishing that car had sent me to the Rainbow Bridge. Mummy can get stroppy when she’s angry, especially when she’s been at the vodka, and she’s given the Russian Standard a right hammering just lately.

The true story – from the horse’s mouth – or rather from my mouth in this guest post, is that it was all Mummy’s fault. Instead of taking Gizmo and I to the orange groves for our daily run on Sunday, she said it would be too wet and muddy after the rain, and as she’d just been for a meal with Uncle Jim and Aunty Joan, she didn’t want to get her best boots mucky. So she and Aunty Glenys decided to take us up to the Ermita in Algorfa. That was also muddy, but not as bad as the orange groves, and Gizmo and I were perfectly happy with that. As long as we get a good run off the lead, we’re not too fussy where we go.

Anyway, this rather tasty looking lady dog was making puppy eyes at me from across the road, so I went over to say hello. Mummy shouted ‘Paddy, come here,’ but she’s always spoiling my fun, so I just ignored her. That was a bit of a bad move on my part, because she wasn’t trying to keep me away from the lovely lady dog – she’d seen what I hadn’t, because love is blind. A silver Peugeot was making its way to Algorfa, and it must have been dead set on preserving my virginity, because it swept me off my feet – literally!

My first thought was that I was a goner, and I was waiting for Saint Peter to open the Pearly Gates for me, because despite what Mummy and Daddy say, I’m a very good boy – well most of the time. When I realised I was still breathing, my next thought was Mummy is going to finish what the car started, because I’d been a naughty boy and defied her, so I cleared off into the woods to give her time to realise just how precious I was to her.

I think I overcooked it a bit though, because when I came back, Mummy was all upset, and convinced I’d gone off to die. Honestly, that’s quite an insult to a big strong boy like me. It takes more than a car to take me out, and she should know that. However, I was quite gratified that there was a search party looking for me, so I trotted up to Aunty Glenys and let her put my lead on – just in case Mummy’s relief turned to revenge. You can never tell with humans, can you?

We got safely home, and instead of taking me straight in and making a fuss of me, Mummy just had to go and tell half the neighbourhood what had happened, leaving me in the car like a spare part. To add insult to injury, one of the local cats was parading up and down the street. I bet the nasty piece of work thought I couldn’t chase her after the accident, but as soon as Mummy opened the car door, I proved her wrong.

Unfortunately, Mummy got in the way, and ended up on the tarmac. Honestly, you’d have thought she’d be grateful that I had made such a miraculous recovery, but no, I was in the dog house, yet again. I’ll never work out how humans tick, if I live to be a hundred.

Sunday was a bit of a rough night, because I couldn’t get comfy, but Mummy was so good, she even put her pillow at the bottom of the bed, because I couldn’t manage to get to where she was, and she could tell I really needed cuddles, as I was quite frightened. Don’t let on to anybody though, or it will ruin my street cred. I market myself as a big, strong, indestructible Super Pup, so let’s keep it that way, shall we?

Anyway, all the best stories have a happy ending, and Aunty Glenys thought a nice run on La Mata Beach and a swim in the sea would help heal the grazes and prevent any infections. I have to admit I went a bit over the top, because I really am glad to be alive. I managed to knock Gizmo over a couple of times, and as usual, he laid it on with a trowel and acted like it was him who had almost died. He’s such a diva, but he’s okay really, and he lets me play with his toys, so I’ll put up with him for now.

There is a downside to all this though. Mummy is blaming herself – although Aunty Glenys is saying it’s my fault. That’s rather unjust, because if Mummy hadn’t been so worried about her boots, and that lady dog hadn’t been giving me the come-on, I wouldn’t have had the flying lesson from the car.

So now, Mummy says I have to do exactly what she says, and not pull, or run off, or get excited, or any of the things that make life worth living. As soon as I try to get in front of her, she makes me sit until she says I can go. That’s torture when you can see the sea, but she said if I didn’t behave, I’d go straight back to the car. And she’s shouting like I’m on another planet, although she does say ‘Good boy’ and give me a lovely cuddle when I do what she wants me to.

So, big thanks to everyone for being so nice, and looking after Mummy when she was so worried about me. But please – tell her to go easy on me now. The thing is, she says she couldn’t imagine life without me, and I feel exactly the same. I won’t admit it to her – and please don’t tell her I said so – but I was really sad at the thought that I’d have to leave her. I know I was a silly boy, and I will try even harder to be good. The trouble is, life is so exciting, and then I forget all my training.

Oh dear, what a cat-astrophe!

Tony, two days after the cat-astrophe and still looking bruised and battered.

We were so looking forward to coming to Camping Playa Mazarron at Bolnuevo. It ticks all the boxes – bars and shops within easy walking distance, so Tony can join in with everything, right on the beach, for sunbathing purposes. But the real icing on the cake is the dog friendly beach, right outside the camp site. With the sea, sand and the lovely fresh water stream to go at, and lots of canine company, Paddy’s excessive energy would be contained, and even exhausted, wouldn’t it? Well – maybe.

On arrival day – Sunday, a day ahead of the rally start, but necessary to hear the great live music at The Blues House – I took Paddy for two good long sessions on the Playa Canina. He met some lovely dogs, ran his heart out, and fetched sticks and stones out of the stream and the sea. And he slept the sleep of the totally shattered, never moving from when we got the bed out until Tony and I needed wee wees at about 9.30 on Monday morning. One slight blot on the landscape was that on Sunday evening, Paddy had spotted a tortoiseshell cat on the steps of a neighbouring motor home. Normally, we check with people parked up around us for the cat situation, because as regular readers know, Paddy absolutely detests cats. Chris and Cliff had assured us that they were totally catless, but the pussycat that Paddy thought he saw – and indeed did see – was a local cat that they’d helped look after last year when she had kittens, and she’d come back to thank them, and scrounge a few titbits.

Monday dawned bright and sunny, and I persuaded Tony to accompany me to the Playa Canina. On the way, we spotted one or two of the camp site’s feral cats. Luckily we spotted them a split second before Paddy did, and we managed to remain in a vertical position. It did occasion a few ‘Can’t you control your dog’ moments from Tony, but the trip went really well. Until we got back to base. I had removed Paddy’s lead and harness, and was about to hook him up to the old elasticated tow rope we use as a tether on camp sites when he spotted the grateful tortoiseshell cat at the same time as me. I asked Tony to help me hold him while I clipped the rope to his collar, and he did. Mission accomplished – Paddy is secured, and can’t catch the cat, because the tow rope won’t stretch that far.

We knew that, but with Paddy’s pathological hatred of anything feline within sight, he either hadn’t worked out the logistics, or decided he was going for it anyway. Tony being 83 years young, his reflexes aren’t as sharp as they were, and he failed to see the potential for disaster that I, in a Mystic Meg Moment of clarity, was only too aware of. He should have got out of the way as soon as the tow rope was in place, like I did. Paddy launched himself at the tantalising tortoiseshell, in the process wrapping the elasticated tow rope around Tony’s ankles. As the tow rope whipped his ankles behind him, Tony put out his left arm in a futile attempt to avoid imminent disaster. While the arm hit the gravel ahead of his face, saving the ruination of his film star good looks – or at least that’s what he calls them – there was an inevitable coming together of glasses and gravel. It all resulted in a bit of a bloodbath, not helped by the fact that Tony is on warfarin to keep his atrial fibrilation under control.

Being the caring lot they are, our fellow motorcaravanners converged from all directions. And because most of them are retired, with various life skills and professional qualifications to their names, we had somebody qualified to administer first aid when Tony – predictably – failed to follow sensible advice and head for the nearest hospital. Paul Spear happened to have a handy syringe – don’t ask why – and with the help of some iodine and water, he managed to flush out the half a ton of gravel that had embedded itself in the wounds. His wife Penny – justifiably proud of her husband’s felicitous administrations – suggested we should rename him Florence. This didn’t go down to well, and a domestic was narrowly avoided since Paul’s main consideration was the wellbeing of his patient. I did try to pour oil on the troubled waters of marital harmony by saying he couldn’t be another Florence Nightingale because he didn’t have the legs for the stockings, but apparently it was the wrong thing to say.

With Tony patched up and resting, we thought the drama was over, but what a mistake-a to make-a! Next thing we knew, Paddy – who had been moved out of sight range of the tantalising tortoiseshell – was going ballistic at a black cat that had the temerity to come within half a mile of us. Said black cat was followed by a Dutch couple with a washing up bowl in their hands. It was making noises, which is pretty advanced, even for a washing up bowl from the local Chinese bazaar. It turned out that the cat had decided to give birth to her kittens in the Dutch couple’s motor home, and then gone for a bit of rest and recouperation while the babies were sleeping. The new mother couldn’t have imagined what she had let herself in for by heading into Paddy’s territory, but he let her have it with both barrels, and no way was she passing this way again, even to get back to her babies. However, the Dutch couple were determined to facilitate a reconciliation, hence the tour of the camp site with the washing up bowl. We suggested maybe they needed to take the kittens back to their motor home and let Mama Cat find them.

What was intended to be – in the words of our hosts Geoff and Brenda Balshaw – ‘a relaxing rally, with stuff to do, and also plenty of chances for peace, quiet, and exploration’ was rapidly descending into a

Paddy enjoying the rally – which is more than Tony is doing!

disaster of apocalyptic proportions, so we had to do something to persuade Paddy that informing the whole camp site – all 650 pitches – that there was a cat nearby was not a good idea. He’s not keen on water applied directly to his person, although he’ll happily frolic in the sea, the salt lakes near us and any other water that is fairly predictable. Someone suggested that a spray bottle, filled with water and aimed between the eyes every time he barked at a cat might restore peace and tranquility, so I trotted off to the local Chinese bazaar and bought the instrument of torture. And it’s working. Two days later, at the sight of a cat, he just growls, I pick up the spray bottle, and he cowers. I’m not proud of putting him through that, but needs must. And if any of my readers have a husband they want rid of, I’m happy to rent Paddy out, minus the spray bottle. As long as there are plenty of cats where you live, and there are no first aiders on hand. Rates subject to negotiation.

Paddy is three years old!

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Paddy has been a constant source of love and laughter, tears and frustration ever since he erupted into our lives on March 17, 2014.  Because he was abandoned as a puppy by the canal at La Marina – for which read probably thrown in – we don’t really know when he was born. However, for the purposes of the Pet Passport, our lovely vet Madeleine fixed his birthday as 15 January. Paddy is three years old!

I have to say Paddy is the happiest dog I’ve ever come across. He’s also the  bounciest and the most boisterous dog I’ve ever come across, and he has a real sense of occasion. Obviously, he doesn’t know what a birthday is, but he does know when something is different. When we let him into our bedroom for his usual morning cuddle yesterday, we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, and his tail did a very good impression of a helicoptor rotor. It was so good, I thought he was about to take off, so I held him down firmly but gently. Once he’d calmed down, I asked if he wanted his birthday presents – cue bouncing off the walls again. Bit of an over reaction for a string ball and a squeaky bulldog, but hey, the boy has good manners, and he knows how to show appreciation.

The highlight of the day was a carefully guarded secret. My friend Ian has been saying for a while that I should bring Paddy to the new doggy play park in Guardamar. Life has got in the way, but we decided his birthday was an ideal opportunity to introduce Paddy to the delights of the doggy park – and Ricca, Ian’s 15 month old German Shepherd cross. As Gizmo is still here bossing Paddy around, he came along too, with Glenys.  If you’re not sure where it is, it’s along Avenida Cevantes, near the China Town restaurant. Look for the distinctive green and white mosaic tiled walls with holes in them, and walk along until you see the fenced off area.

Paddy had great fun climbing in and out of the holes in the wall on the way, even though they are not part of the doggy park. He’s like a big kid really – has to walk on walls, climb steps, look over gates and fences and investigate holes. By the time we got to the entrance to the dog park, he was very excited and very vocal, and one or two nervous owners gathered up their precious bundles of fur. However, all Paddy wanted to do was play, and thankfully most of those exercising their dogs realised that. He bounded up to Ricca and they introduced themselves, while Gizmo followed at a much more sedate pace, as befits a senior dog of three and a half years of age.

Clearly, it was love at first sight – at least for Ricca, who kept stealing kisses from Paddy. However, she insisted on ‘Ladies First’ when it came to chasing the balls and sticks that Ian kept throwing. If Paddy got a head start, she just refused to play! For over an hour, they had a great time, although they were rather dubious about the tunnel, venturing part way in and then backing out again. Gizmo was less than impressed with the see-saw. He ambled up it quite happily, but jumped off the moment it started sawing instead of seeing! Maybe next time they’ll appreciate the toys and activities the Ayuntamiento of Guardamar has so thoughtfully provided for their enjoyment.

In case your dog is nervous or aggressive, and you’ve decided the dog park isn’t for you, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a section where timid and aggressive dogs can exercise on their own, without entering the main arena. There’s water on tap, and there’s even a pee post so dogs don’t sully the sand. Unfortunately, as even the most intelligent dogs can’t read, it’s not used as much as it could be!

The day’s treats were not over though – when we got home, Aunty June brought down a lamb steak for Paddy’s birthday tea. After such a terrible start to his life, it’s just one big party now for Paddy Piddock!

Paddy is three years old

A week of mixed fortunes for Paddy!

It's been an eventful week for Paddy. Now he's catching up on some rest

It’s been an eventful week for Paddy. Now he’s catching up on some rest

As another week draws to a close – how they fly as you get older, or is it just because I’m enjoying life? – there are, as usual, a couple of Paddy-centric incidents that merit sharing. well, three actually. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of any of them, but I’ll do my best to paint a picture with words for you.

Last Friday, my friend Joan and I were enjoying a trawl of the clothes shops and spending a few Euros. When we got back to Piddock Place, and I’d given Paddy his share of cuddles, Tony said, ‘Paddy has a present for you outside.’ Since Paddy doesn’t have any pocket money, and even if he did, it would be stopped most weeks for misdemeanours of one kind or another, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to my present. My instinct was right, because there, on the terrace table was a black rat. Like Monty Python’s parrot, it was extinct, it had ceased to be, it was an ex rat. It was very dead, and Paddy was the murderer.

A couple of days before, Tony had seen a rat in the under build, but he couldn’t risk putting poison down. Although we could put it out of Paddy’s reach, if he’d caught a poisoned rat, he too could have been extinct. Clearly it was a very considerate rat, because it only decided to come out to play while I was out. It was so friendly, it climbed on Tony’s foot and was about to run up his trouser leg when Paddy spotted it. Maybe he thought the rat was going to hump Tony and he didn’t fancy the resulting offspring, or perhaps he thought Daddy was about to be done to death and he’d lose the main source of treats. Either way, he grabbed the rat, and ran off with it. First of all he smashed it on the gravel, then he threw it up in the air a few times, catching it expertly as it descended. Happy that the threat to Daddy’s life and health and Paddy’s treats was eliminated, he ran off to play and left Daddy to deal with the fallout.

Of course, I was proud of my brave boy, but I was also worried that he might have got something nasty from the rat. I really shouldn’t have Googled ‘Are rats dangerous to dogs?’ before I called our lovely vet Madeleine, because I couldn’t see him lasting the day. As I prefer my dogs living and running around  rather than gaining posthumous awards for bravery, I asked if I should bring him straight round, but she said as he hadn’t been bitten by the rat or eaten it after the kill, he’d be fine. She did suggest we wormed him though, just in case it had passed any parasites on.

So we breathed easy, and on Sunday I sat watching the Remembrance Sunday service from the Cenotaph. Although I was in my dressing gown still, I stood for the two minutes’ silence and Paddy, bless him, stood alongside me, just as immobile as I was, apart from giving me the occasional sideways look as if to say ‘When does this new game get interesting, Mummy?’

It got interesting just as they played the Last Post and the camera panned across the crowds. Call me psychic, but as the black busby of a Grenadier Guard – or whatever Guard it was – came into view in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, I had a feeling of impending doom. The top corner of the busby looked suspiciously like a cat to me, and if I thought that, so would Paddy. My worst fears were realised as he launched himself at the TV, hackles raised. Disaster was averted by two lucky chances. The coffee table absorbed most of the impact of 32 kilos of flying pooch, and as the TV was anchored to the wall, it stayed vertical. Just. Howver, the rigid bar holding it to the wall got bent a bit.

Fast forward to Tuesday, and once again cat is on the menu. Paddy’s last walk at night is to a small patch of waste ground just down the road

Okay, they don't look much like cats here, but when you're a cat-obssessed dog, and all you can see is the rounded edge in the corner of the TV screen ...

Okay, they don’t look much like cats here, but when you’re a cat-obssessed dog, and all you can see is the rounded edge in the corner of the TV screen …

from us. He loves going there, because it’s part of a disused quarry, and he can do his Wall of Death run around it to get rid of the last of his energy before bed. As a bonus, there are usually a few rabbits to chase, although thankfully his rabbit catching skills are way behind the rat catching success rate. Once he’s finished, he comes back to me and sits on the pavement for me to put his lead back on for the walk home.

He was sitting there as good as gold, when he looked to the right and saw a big white ball half way up the street. No, it wasn’t the Super Moon come to Earth, it was a big fluffy cat, sitting looking at Paddy. Neither of them remained seated for long, and at some point, the cat must have squared up to Paddy. Although there was no sound and no blood, when I called Paddy back he had a mouth full of white fur. I tried to find the cat to give it back once I’d taken Paddy home, but understandably, it was nowhere to be seen.

So, it’s been a pretty eventful week as far as Paddy is concerned. There’s certainly never a dull moment with him around, even if I have gained a few more grey hairs!

Guards image credit: Pixabay

Paddy and Gizmo – the odd couple!

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As regular readers will know, we spend a couple of months in England each summer, catching up with those friends and family who don’t manage to make it over to Spain. And this year, we also had the christening of my youngest grandson and my son and daughter-in-law’s renewal of their wedding vows on their tenth anniversary to look forward to. Of course, Paddy goes with us – we couldn’t leave him behind for so long – and I really think he enjoyed this year’s trip more than ever before. That was mainly due to spending quite quite a lot of time with Gizmo, my friend’s three year old Chihuaha/Pappillon cross.

Paddy and Gizmo may be close in age, but that’s about the only similarity between them. Paddy is 32 kilos of raw energy who seems to be perpetually smiling, while Gizmo tips the scales at just 4 kilos and can be a bit grumpy, particularly with other dogs. And while Paddy is happy to go with the flow, Gizmo likes to be in charge and have the last word – especially with Paddy. Even in Paddy’s own home. Make that particularly in Paddy’s own home.

Glenys needed a small operation which affected her mobility for a few days, so I brought her and Gizmo over to the caravan so we could look after her and exercise Gizmo. We had a lot of laughs over those few days, and Paddy and Gizmo formed a bond you wouldn’t have thought possible with two such different dogs.

One thing the boys have in common is their competitiveness, whether it’s for affection or food or water. We got around that one by feeding them at the same time at opposite ends of the caravan.  And it was hilarious watching Gizmo finding ways to have a sneaky cuddle with me without Paddy spotting him. As Glenys said, most unfair really, because Gizmo let Paddy have cuddles with her. Or maybe it was more a case of once Paddy has his head in a friendly lap, nothing’s going to shift him – especially a 4 kilo fluff ball, no matter how grumpy he gets.

The boys enjoyed walks over the cliffs and on the beach, and while Gizmo very sensibly kept clear of Paddy’s flying feet, when we stopped to admire the views and have a drink, the boys would explore together. Sometimes it really seemed as if Paddy was telling Gizmo all about the lovely smells on different parts of the cliffs, and Gizmo cocked his little head to one side, for all the world as if he was listening intently.

When we all went to Larry and June’s place for Sunday lunch, Gizmo made it clear that he was top dog, since it was Paddy’s first visit, but Gizmo had been going there since he was a tiny puppy. Gizmo clearly sees Larry and June as part of his pack, and so does Paddy, as they have stayed with us and looked after Paddy when we’ve had the odd weekend away. So when Paddy went into the garden to catch up with Tony and Larry and beg a slurp of beer, Gizmo saw his chance. If you think a small dog can’t possibly stop a big dog from coming through a large patio door, think again, because Gizmo managed it just fine! Cue more hilarity as Paddy tried to find his way in, and then jumped over the sofa to get out of Gizmo’s way to the safe haven of his Mummy’s arms.

It’s pretty clear from the body language that this is just a game which both dogs enjoy though, so I have no real worries that Gizmo will end up killing Paddy by getting stuck in his throat and choking him on the way down. Let’s face it, if Paddy wanted to, he could easily have Gizmo for breakfast, but the boys seem to share a special bond. This became even stronger late one night when I took the boys for their final constitutional. The routine was that I’d walk Paddy around the block and Gizmo would follow, then turn around and go back to Glenys when he was ready.

This particular night, I got back and there was no sign of Gizmo. Glenys and I were just on the way out to look for him when we spotted him flying up the hill, ears out and tail stretched back, hotly pursued by a Springer Spaniel. Before either of us had chance to react, Paddy summed up the situation and launched himself from the caravan step with a leap that would have guaranteed Greg Rutherford the gold medal in the long jump at the Rio Olympics. He landed between Gizmo and his pursuer, who sensibly decided to turn tail and flee back to his own home. All this was accomplished without a single bark or growl, but clearly each dog knew what was going to happen, and who was top dog on this occasion.

If this was a fairy tale, I’d now be telling you that Gizmo and Paddy curled up together on the mat and lived happily ever after. It isn’t, and they didn’t, but it marked a sea change in their relationship, and rather than being independent of each other when they’re together, they behave more like brothers, or even a couple, with the odd skirmish to enforce the ground rules and let each other know when they’re not happy. They’re certainly an odd couple, but it’s both heartwarming and amusing to see them together. Gizmo is coming to Spain with Glenys, June and Larry  for three months soon, so no doubt there will be more mad and melting moments to look forward to with the boys. Watch this Space!

Paddy and the dreaded ‘C’ word

The first feline not to run when Paddy chased it!

The first feline not to run when Paddy chased it!

According to various statistics, dogs can recognise and understand at least 100 words and phrases, while dogs of above average intelligence have a potential vocabulary of around 200 – 400 words. There’s even a Border Collie called Chaser in North Carolina who has been taught over 1,000 words, so she must be the canine equivalent of Shakespeare.

Paddy clearly knows lots of words and phrases. If I say ‘Does Paddy want to play?’ he’ll go and pick up his rope toy so that I can throw it up and down the tiled area outside our apartment and he can do around 50 kilometers an hour, chasing it and shaking it. I only say ‘walk’ when I’m actually ready to put the leash on, or there’s a flurry of activity and stuff gets knocked over as he bounces around the furniture. If I say to Tony ‘I’m going to take him out now,’ – even without mentioning his name, Paddy runs over to where his harness and leash are kept and sits looking at me expectantly.

However, there is one word that is guaranteed to turn my loveable boy into a lean, mean, killing machine, and he finds it particularly offensive. So do we – so much so that this particular word is banned in our house. It has 4 letters and begins with a ‘C,’ and we all hate to hear it. That word is ‘Cats.’ Wash your mind out if you thought it was something else – my clever boy is too well mannered to know rude words.

The puddy tat up the tree and safe for the moment!

The puddy tat up the tree and safe for the moment!

Ever since the first time I took him for a walk as a tiny puppy, and he saw a black cat at the top of our street, he’s taken a dislike to them. And more than two years down the line, he still looks up the street every time we go out to see if that particular pussy cat has the temerity to come within 100 yards of his presence. If he sees cats on the TV, he rushes around the back to try and catch them. And if he’s out walking and spots a cat before me, I’m almost guaranteed to end up on the deck. I’ve been pulled into hedges, bushes and walls, and I’ve got the scars to prove it. It’s not just me either – our friend Larry got pulled through two bushes and a hedge when he was walking Paddy around a camp site in Devon. When Paddy spots a cat, he develops the speed of a racing car and the strength of 10 men.

At least three times, he’s chased cats up trees, and can’t be persuaded to come away and let puss make good her escape. Whether it’s the palm trees in our garden or on  camp sites, or the fir trees around La Ermita in Algorfa, Paddy can be relied on to jump almost as high as the cat has climbed in pursuit of this most hated of species. Luckily for the cats, he hasn’t yet managed to catch one.

I boasted that Paddy is pretty clever because he knows so many words, but the other day he demonstrated that maybe he’s not quite the sharpest tool in the shed after all. We were heading back home from an enjoyable walk in the orange groves, followed by a well-earned glass of wine at Bar La Vista, when I spotted a friend and went over to speak to them. Paddy went rigid, his hackles stood on end, and he launched a volley of vicious barking and lunged forward. If I hadn’t bought him a Walk Easy harness a few days previously, which gave me more control over him, I’d have ended up in the fountain as he went in hot pursuit of the black cat which was arching its back at him and fearlessly standing its ground.

I let go of the leash, and let Paddy teach this insolent feline a lesson it would never forget. Cruelty to animals? Not really – the black cat in

Paddy waiting for the cat to descend the pine tree at La Ermita

Paddy waiting for the cat to descend the pine tree at La Ermita

question was painted on the wall of the Black Cat Ink Tattoo Studio! Okay, it looks mighty realistic, but only a cat-fixated pup like Paddy could have possibly thought it might be a real cat. He raced over, tried to take a bite out of the feckless feline who didn’t run at his approach, and only succeeded in scraping his teeth on the wall. Bewildered, he ran around the side of the building to see where pussy had gone to hide. It took my friend and I 10 minutes to convince him that this cat wasn’t going to come back and persuade him that it was time to go home. In the words of the cartoon song, Paddy tawt he taw a puddy tat, and he wasn’t leaving until he was sure the cat had left the building.

So, as you can see, there’s a ‘C’ word that’s totally unacceptable at Piddock Place – particularly to Paddy. Someone suggested that we should bring a kitten into the household, so that Paddy could get used to being around cats. It sounds good in theory, but I’d be too worried that Puss would be Paddy’s main course. You see, he really doesn’t like cats, and I’m pretty sure he could eat a whole one if he put his mind to it!

Paddy is training me these days!

The fixed stare - the first part of Paddy's 4 Point Plan to persuade Mummy it's time for walkies!

The fixed stare – the first part of Paddy’s 4 Point Plan to persuade Mummy it’s time for walkies!

Ever since Paddy has hit two years old, there seems to be a perceptible change in him. He still behaves like a lunatic on elastic when somebody he loves comes visiting. As he loves everybody – even the gardeners – that involves a lot of bouncing around. Other than that though, he’s pretty well trained. He’s an intelligent boy, thanks to the Collie in him, and he does love to please me.

Just lately though, it appears that he is trying to train me! I’ve noticed it in lots of subtle ways. It starts when we get up in the morning and he needs his first trip into the garden. He’s decided he’d rather do that without an audience, thank you very much, so if I go down into the garden with him, he jumps on the wall and starts barking his head off, even if there’s nothing to bark at. However, if I leave him to his own devices, he does the necessary, has a look around the garden and a good sniff to see what he’s missed overnight, then comes back to me.

He usually has one of his dentistix after he’s been out, but again, he’s decided he doesn’t want that every morning. The new routine is, he sits to wait for his treat, and if he doesn’t fancy the dentistix, he just sniffs at it and looks back at the drawer where his treats are kept. Then I have to offer him another substantial treat in the form of some sort of chew stick. Apparently gravy bones are not substantial enough for first thing in the morning. He also tells Tony when he’s ready for another treat – usually about two hours after the dentistick.

Paddy’s first walk of the day is a moveable feast – it happens when I get dressed. Sometimes that’s early, but more often it’s nearer midday, depending on how much writing I need to get done, and how warm or cold it is. If it’s warm, the early morning walk consists of sitting staring at lizards and butterflies in the bushes and hoping they will play with him. Being sensible lizards and butterflies and realising the sheer stupidity of trying to play with an excitable 33 kilo puppy, they don’t, so when we get back I usually throw Paddy’s rope toy up and down the walkway outside, so he can let off steam.

If it’s a cooler day, and the lizards and butterflies are tucked away somewhere warm. I don’t bother with the rope toy, but last week Paddy decided that it should form a part of our morning outing, regardless of the presence of lizards and butterflies. So, he picks it up in his mouth as we leave the house, drops it by the pedestrian gate to wait for our return, then when we get back, he looks at me, looks at the rope toy, then looks in the direction he wants me to throw it. It’s always away from our garden. If I try to throw it the other way, he just leaves it, and I have to go and get it. I have asked him why I always have to throw his toy in the same direction, but so far he hasn’t come up with a convincing explanation.

The evening walk is also a moveable feast – I don’t believe in being a slave to routine, either on my own behalf or for Paddy. However, he’s now decided that the walk should be within a certain time frame – somewhere between 8.00 and 9.00 pm, so he can settle on the sofa with me for a nice long evening of cuddles. There is a new 4 Point Plan in place. First I get the stare. If I ignore that, he’ll settle down for a few minutes, then he’ll go over to his lead, look at it, look at me, and whine. If I ignore that, he’ll give it about 10 minutes more, and then he’ll come and sit next to me and rest his head on the laptop. Last week I was finishing off a press release before I took him out – or at least I was hoping to. Even though I knew the editor well, I couldn’t see him printing this:

The Motorbike Challenge will see the Bull Boys bike around the perimeter of Spain, avoiding motorways and stopping off at schools and other institutions on the way. They’re hoping that all of Spain will join in to raise moneysadfrgtttttttteyyyik6l8o;7p-‘.ty.,mrenwbqVAsdfregtrh5yu7678iiiip0-[=]'[p;loikujyhtgrfedws!!

When I told Paddy that if he didn’t let me finish what I was doing, he wouldn’t be going out at all, he pulled out the big guns. He draped himself across my shoulders – all 33 kilos of him! Game over – Mummy 0 Paddy 1. I gave up, got the lead and we went walking. The training seems to be going well – Paddy will make a decent Puppy Mummy out of me yet!