Ice cream etiquette

Yesterday, the tall person shared his ice cream with Barnaby and me. It was the first time that Barnaby had eaten ice cream.

I explained to him that we have rules concerning ice cream.

Rule 1: Wait patiently and do not panic. The tall person always shares but if you pester him there is always the possibility that he won’t.

Rule 2: Try not to watch the tall person eating his ice cream. It is best to look away or you will start drooling.

Here I am demonstrating the correct observance of Rules 1 and 2. Note that Barnaby is flouting Rule 2.

Rule 3: When the tall person indicates that it is time to share approach the ice cream carefully. Ice cream is notoriously slippery and can easily fall on the ground. A gritty ice cream is not much fun.

Rule 4: Do not rush. Savour the cool, creamy texture.

Rule 5: Try to avoid an ice-cream headache, also known as brain freeze, cold-stimulus headache, or its given scientific name sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (meaning “nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion”). This is a form of brief cranial pain or headache commonly associated with consumption (particularly quick consumption) of cold beverages or foods such as ice cream.

Unfortunately, as you can see from this picture I ignored my own advice and suffered sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Ouch!

Rule 6: Ice cream can be very messy to eat. Always maintain your dignity and avoid looking silly.

Oops! Have I got ice cream on my nose?

From the look on his face I think Barnaby enjoyed his first ice cream.

Follow these simple rules and you too will maximise your ice cream eating experience.

Things that go bump in the night, or day

We live in a noisy world. Our days are filled with sounds of cars and laughter and chatter and music and TV and doors opening and closing and kettles whistling and children calling and a thousand other sounds of everyday life. We learn to live with these and we add our own to this familiar community of sound.

But there are other sounds that don’t belong and these are the ones that we react to. A friend of mine, Scarlett, said to me this evening that she had been frightened by fireworks recently and now she runs and hides whenever a loud noise startles her. I can understand her reaction. None of us like loud noise but it usually mean that something is wrong. Loud often means danger but it can also mean someone needs help so we should never ignore loud sounds.

This evening I heard a loud bang outside so I went to investigate. The tall person came with me and he explained that it was probably a car back firing. I bark whenever I hear an unusual sound and the tall person says ‘show me’ and I take him to where the sound came from and he tells me what the sound is and he says ‘good girl’ and I relax. He has always done this and it reassures me and helps me tell the difference between good and bad sounds.

I hope this helps you Scarlett. Remember, noise can’t hurt you. So, next time you hear a loud sound take a deep breath and go and have a look. It might mean that someone you care about needs your help.



Bassa’s Barking Tips For Dogs

In a recent post I shared my tips about getting the things you want, which I call snaffling. Thank you to everyone who commented and shared their experience on this important aspect of our daily lives.

Today I want to share my tips about barking.

To be honest, I don’t remember the first time I barked. I do remember the first time I did a loud bottom burp but that is another story!

Remember, everything is new when we are puppies and it takes time to match the bark to the event. Don’t worry about this. You will soon learn what type of bark should be used and also that it is not necessary to bark at everything all of the time. Remember, barking for long periods can be tiring – you don’t want a sore throat or be ignored if there is a real emergency or threat!

We all bark and the bigger we are the bigger the bark! It’s one of the most important ways we communicate. I tend to use the following types of bark:

1. Alarm bark – I use this when I hear something that I can’t see and I want to alert the people in the house. A few days ago I heard some loud bangs in the neighbourhood and used my alarm bark to warn the tall person who came out to the yard. He told me that it was the sound of fireworks, which are popular at wedding celebrations here in Georgia. I will try to remember that for next time I hear that noise. Remember, don’t stop your alarm bark until you are sure that your concerns have received attention. Never forget, it is your job to look after your people.

2. Warning bark – this is my favourite because I combine it with a spine chilling growl. It is very scary! Sometime ago, a man came into my yard unannounced and I immediately began growling and barking. I have never seen anyone run away so fast! Remember to show your teeth if you feel that you or your home people could be threatened. Many of us have very large teeth and bad people are scared of them.

3. ‘I am here’ bark – I use this short but quite loud bark to remind people that I am here and I want something. I used this last night to wake up the tall person because I needed to go outside. Because it is loud it is very effective and difficult for people to ignore! I also use it when I want someone to share something with me. This usually means I want to eat what they are eating!  Use this type of bark sparingly. It can startle people and make them jump and you might find yourself removed from the room!

4. ‘I’m excited’ bark – this is one of my favourites. I use this when I see someone I know and I like. I also use it when I am playing. I don’t have to remind you that wagging your tail as hard as you can is an essential accompaniment to this type of bark. In fact, it’s probably impossible not to wag your tail. Remember to be aware of the surrounding furniture, small children and valuable ornaments – tails have a mind of their own – especially when you are excited!

When I’m sitting on my balcony in the evenings I often hear other dogs barking. I recognise the types of barks and it helps me know what is going on in the neighbourhood. Try this yourself – it’s a great early warning system. There is one type of bark that I do hear in the neighbourhood sometimes and it’s one that makes me a little sad. It’s a lonely bark. I am lucky because I’ve never really felt lonely and never felt the need to use that bark. I hope you are as lucky as me.

Remember, barking is our best way of communicating so use it wisely. It is one of the best ways that we can protect our people. Try not to cry ‘wolf’ – although as a Caucasian Shepherd dog living in Georgia I may have to legitimately have to cry ‘wolf’ one day!

Bassa’s Snaffling Tips for Dogs

In my ‘Begging Tips for Dogs’ I highlighted our role in encouraging the people with live with to share what they have (with us). You will have already discovered that they don’t always like to do this, especially with really interesting or fun stuff. We have all been told to ‘leave it alone’, ‘it’s not yours’, ‘drop it’, ‘give it to me’. I don’t really understand this – they have so much to play with and we have so little. So what can we do? Regrettably, it is a sad fact that equitable distribution of fun things in our homes is unlikely so we have to take matters into our hands (paws).

In this post I am sharing my tips for getting the things you want (snaffling) but bear in mind that however successful you are the aquisition of fun things will almost always be temporary. The people in your home will not allow a permanent transfer of ownership. They will still consider the thing theirs and will take it back when they discover that you have taken it. So make the most of whatever you grab before it is taken away again!

Here are my tips for successful snaffling.

1. Create a ‘shopping list’. You need to organise yourself. Make a mental list of the things you want and update it regularly. This is my current shopping list:

2. Plan ahead. Planning is everything. There are times when an opportunistic snaffle can be successful but they are rare – so you need to plan ahead.

3. Never show immediate interest in the object of your desire or sniff it or stare at it when people are around. If you do, it is likely to be taken away or put out of reach, making it more difficult to get. Make a mental note and add it to your shopping list.

4. Never take ‘no’ for an answer. If you are unfortunate enough to be caught in the act of snaffling don’t give up and don’t take the inevitable telling off to heart. It is all part of the game.

5. Be patient. You can’t always immediately have what you want – it’s a fact of life, so don’t get frustrated.

6. Surveillance. This is crucial. It’s essential that you ‘stake out’ the thing you want. You need to observe it and its surroundings. Does it always stay in the same place or do the people in the house move it often? Is the room where the thing is located regularly used by the people in the house? Are there times when the thing is left alone? Surveillance is best done when you are pretending to sleep. You are less likely to be disturbed and your presence won’t arouse suspicion.

7. Act decisively. When the conditions for a successful snaffle are ideal grab the thing immediately. Don’t sit there looking at it. Seconds count!

8. Keep calm. Once you have what you want don’t go crazy with excitement or you will alert the people in the house and they will take away your prize!

9. Leave the ‘crime scene’ as soon as possible. Once you have got the thing you want walk away slowly. If you run you will arouse suspicion. Take the thing to a quiet place away from the people in the house. Remember, your time with the thing will be limited so enjoy it while you can!

Enjoy your snaffling. I do! It can be hard work but it’s worth it!

Update to Bassa’s Gardening Tips For Dogs

You may have already read my tips on how to achieve the garden of your dreams but there was one thing I forgot to mention – some of the plants you had worked so hard to remove come back! I’m not sure how they do this but would urge you to be extremely vigilant. I completely removed this grape vine several months ago and now look at it!

Never mind, it’s gone now.

Remember, never turn your back on a plant!

Bassa’s Bottom Burping Tips For Dogs

Admit it, we all do bottom burps! I do and I am not embarrassed at all. I always think it is hypocritical when the people in our home blame us and jump up and down waving a newspaper to try and dissipate the offending odour. It’s their fault. They choose what to feed us! So, never be ashamed. Always remember that the blame for your bottom burps lies squarely with the people in your home.

People’s reaction to bottom burps has always surprised me. Our noses are thousands of times more sensitive than theirs and we do don’t jump around holding our noses and choking. To be honest, I think it is attention seeking behaviour!

As you know, there are several types of bottom burp. The main types being the loud bottom burp and the silent bottom burp. Apparently, humans find the silent one the most deadly! Unlike the loud variety the silent one seems to hang in the air for quite some time. It is my favourite. I can clear a room of humans in a few seconds with that one!

In my experience, the loud bottom burp does not create the same reaction in humans. They usually laugh or gently scold me. I remember the first time I did one. I was curled up on the floor with my nose near my bottom when suddenly there was a loud noise and a very interesting gust of air. It was my bottom! I was surprised but quite proud that I had acquired a new skill.

So, my main tips are:

1. Never be ashamed or embarrassed by your bottom burps. We all do it!

2. Bottom burping is not your fault. Humans chose what to feed us so they are to blame.

3. Bottom burping can be funny and often makes humans laugh so it can be an entertaining party trick but use it sparingly or you will get a reputation or a new nickname that you may not like!

4. Try to avoid the very potent silent bottom burp when the people in your home are eating – in my experience it puts them off their food (though that could mean some left-overs for you!).

5. It sounds obvious but do go outside if you feel the need for multiple or prolonged bottom burps. Share them with the world!

And finally, enjoy your bottom burps. It’s only natural!

Yes it was me!

Bassa’s Begging Tips For Dogs

I hope you enjoyed my gardening tips for dogs and are now creating the garden of your dreams. In this post I want to share some tips about begging. I know what you are thinking – Bassa is only 8 months old what can she know? Well, 8 months is about 240 days and that seems like a lifetime of experience to me.

I want to start by re-defining begging. There is no such thing as begging. I call it sharing. However, we all know that the people in our homes do not always want to share what they have so we have to regularly remind them of the importance of sharing. It is our moral duty. If we don’t encourage sharing then the people in our homes, especially the small ones, might eat too much and become too big to play with us. So, sharing is a win-win situation but must be handled very carefully if you want to be successful.

The most important thing to remember is to always maintain your dignity. We are proud animals. We should never humble ourselves for a scrap of food (however tasty). These are my top 6 tips for becoming a successful sharer:

1. Try not to be in the kitchen when food is being cooked. The delicious smells will torment you and your dribbling will bother the cooking person. Keep your distance.

2. When the people in the house sit down to eat do not immediately jump at them in a frenzied attempt to get at the food. Maintain a respectable distance and sit quietly. This is tough but your dignified composure will impress them and encourage them to share. Try not to dribble! (I’m still trying to master that)

3. Try to maintain an air of indifference for as long as you can. This will frustrate the people who are eating and make them re-double their efforts to tempt you with some tasty treat.

4. Take food gently – it’s counter productive to eat someone’s hand. You are likely to be immediately expelled.

5. Savour the food. I know we all like to gulp it down quickly so we can make room for more but it’s better to fully experience the flavours and textures – we also won’t look like pigs!

6. Remember to say thank you. This is important. Don’t run off as soon as the food has gone. Stay and keep the people company. Entertain them. Make them laugh. By doing this you will find that you will become a regular and sought after dinner guest.

Good luck in all of your sharing efforts. Let me know how you get on.

Bassa’s Gardening Tips For Dogs

I had a chat with one of my friends, Annie, yesterday. She lives with Lynlee in America. We talked about our gardens, which was nice, so I thought I would share some of my gardening tips with you.

Firstly, remove (by digging and chewing) any bushes, small trees and flowers. They take up valuable space, get in the way when you are running around, and really serve no purpose at all. Remember to leave at least one tree for shade or you won’t be able to lie down and snooze on hot, sunny days.

This first stage will take some time because the people you live with will try to stop you so I suggest short sessions when they are inside the house. Don’t try and do everything at once – it is hot work – so pace yourself.

Once you have cleared the garden take some time to think about your needs. A bathroom area is obviously a necessity. Remember, you won’t want to go far when it is raining or cold.

We all like to bury things so an area for digging holes is a good idea. A word of warning about holes – people don’t like them and will quickly fill them in. To avoid frustration, don’t become attached to a particular hole or leave anything in it (e.g. a bone) for too long – remember, all holes are temporary.

Finally, make sure you have enough space to play – if there are too many bushes, small trees and flowers don’t hesitate to remove them!

Once you have done all of the hard work, sit back and enjoy your garden. It’s worth the effort!

Before and after pictures of part of my garden (other parts are under de-construction)