Remember December

We've had a nostalgic few days, watching clips that Andy's turned up while he trawls the hard drives for footage for the new DVD

He's working on a snow sequence at the moment, and it's difficult to imagine that we were ever so cold, for so long. It's not that I'm obsessed with the weather (particularly) but now that I work from home, and spend so much more time outside than I used to, the weather has more impact on me.

Border Collie Sheepdogs in the snow

At the end of last week we had a couple of good, heavy showers on two consecutive days. This was good news for the grazing and the garden, but meant that I got very wet when I took the dogs out for their morning constitutional. It made me aware that my wet weather gear leaves much to be desired (water resistance, for a start) and my boots leak, and neither had time to dry out between downpours. I couldn't be more pleased - there's nothing I like more than a legitimate excuse to buy boots and jackets. I doubt even Imelda Marcos had a more comprehensive selection of Caterpillar boots than I do. Now, where did I leave that Dubarry catalogue...

With Andy confined to his Mac like a ping-pong ball in a shot glass, it leaves the dogs' training and entertainment to me. My temporary promotion to Primary Caregiver means I'm getting to know them all better, and spending time with Max, the gripper-from-Hell, I've become very fond of him. I already thought him very handsome (I'm a pushover for a smooth coat, plus Max has lovely symmetrical markings), but I hadn't realised what a sweet-natured and affectionate dog he is. (The sheep wouldn't necessarily concur with this.)

Max is a lovely smooth coated black and white collie
What a sweet face! But you can't tell what he's thinking

When all the dogs are let out in the morning, Max comes dancing over to me and jumps up in the most careful way, so as not to get his paws on me until I invite him. He's put on weight, and his coat shines now (down to my TLC I'd like to think - but more likely the Salmon Oil) and I've even been watching him play. It used to seem he thought he had to be "well 'ard" or he'd lose face with the other dogs, but even Max can't look hard when he's juggling with a blue rubber bone.

I also had to gather all my courage and energy to continue Max's training. I was expecting mayhem and possible carnage, but actually Max is proving that he'd really like to do it properly, it's just that sometimes he forgets. Rather than dreading our training sessions, I actually look forward to them because I can see an improvement (however tiny) every time, and I'm pretty sure he's pleased with himself when it goes right (and as relieved as me, I think).

When the time comes for Max to move on to a working home, as he must, I'll be sorry to see him go. (The sheep won't necessarily concur with this, either.)

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