Monday, June 22, 2009

The escape artist Yorkie

Well, with the exception of having taken a rather laissez-faire attitude towards her potty training, Puddin’ seems to be pretty much recuperated from her surgery ordeal. So much so, in fact, that I’ve had to shift gears from nurturing mama to vigilant disciplinarian.

Puddin’ is tiny. Well, by Yorkie standards (3 to 7 lbs) she is on the large side at 6 lbs, but objectively speaking, she’s tiny. We had “dog bars” built into a beautiful wrought iron gate at the top of the stairs so that the Maltese Mafia couldn’t just wander upstairs and wreak havoc. We also had the narrow dog bars built into the iron gates that separate our front courtyard from the street so the MM can’t bolt out through the front arches into the street. Puddin’ is so small, she can get through both sets of dog bars. We have a baby gate on the kitchen door so we can open the door for air but keep certain dogs out of the house and certain dogs inside…she can get through the bars in the baby gate. Right now it is mostly academic because it is winter and we keep the kitchen door shut, but there are those times…

Recently, because she has finally discovered the purpose of her puddle pads and has begun using them faithfully, we gave Puddin’ unfettered run of the house. She quickly learned to go up the stairs to the lounge and, being tiny, she could get through the dog bars. But she has toys, food and water bowls, and a puddle pad up there, and she’s not destructive (except to her stuffed toys), so it wasn’t an issue…at first. It became an issue when she…and we…discovered she couldn’t come down the stairs. Several times a day she would bound up the stairs and play with her rubber chicken or rawhide chewies, only to end up piteously whining at the top of the stairs, afraid to descend into the dark, curved, abyss on the cold, slippery tiles. And every time, one of us would come up the stairs and rescue her…which did nothing to curtail her forays up the stairs and her pitiful demands for assistance to come down. Finally, Hubby took it upon himself to help her come down the stairs on her own…after only two lessons, she was bounding up and down the stairs on her own, relieving us of rescue duty.

Yorkies are very small dogs, but they are fearless. This can work against them, as they have been know to leap out of their owner’s arms, breaking bones and even dying as a result. Puddin’ had made a couple of heart-stopping leaps off the bed so, once she had mastered the stairs to the upper floor of the house, I determined to get her something to let her get up and down off the bed safely. I found a plastic step stool and our local K-Mart clone and voila! Puddin’ was scampering up and down them in a matter of days.

So, on Saturday Hubby and I were kicking back on the bed, watching TV, when I realized I had neither seen nor heard Puddin’ in a while. Just like with little kids, extended absence and silence on the part of a puppy is generally a bad sign. A cursory search of our bedroom and bathroom didn’t turn her up but I noticed that, on his last trip to the loo, Hubby had obviously not fully shut the door. Puddin’s escape route from the master suite was revealed.

Our first thought was that Puddin’ had scampered up the stairs and was frolicking around the lounge, but on his way up he noticed that the kitchen door…the one that leads to the patio…was open. In a panic I ran to the bedroom to get some shoes so I could go outside to look for her while he checked the upstairs. The baby gate at the kitchen door was closed, but she can wriggle through it, and she had never been allowed in the back yard alone. We had dog proofed it a couple of years ago so the Maltese Mafia couldn’t escape, but she’s a lot smaller than they are and we don’t know if she can get out or not.

Additionally, Nash and Candy, the Maltese, haven’t exactly welcomed her with open arms. They haven’t attacked her or anything, but they’ve been rather hostile when she’s trying to gain their attention. Sadly, Puddin’ just loves Nash…she gets all wriggly and giddy when he’s around, but he’s in that grumpy old man stage of life and just doesn’t have any time for or interest in a puppy. That big back garden is the domain of the Maltese Mafia, their own private stomping grounds, and I wasn’t so sure how happy they would be at the sudden and unexpected arrival of a small, hyperactive intruder.

As I scrambled for shoes in a panic, Hubby used his head and looked out the upstairs French doors into the back garden. There, in the middle of the verdant, rain-freshened lawn, stood Nash, nose to the ground, investigating some fascinating smell or another. And right beside him, nose to the ground only inches away, was Puddin’.

Hubby beat me to the back garden but when he stooped to pick her up, Puddin’ had other ideas. Off she ran, scampering around like a mad thing, dancing just out of his reach, joyfully exercising her unprecedented freedom. This time it was my idea to use my head: I called Nash to me and he came running full tilt, ears flapping in the wind like silky white wings…and Puddin’ chasing him just as fast as her little legs would carry her.

As Nash came to a halt at my ankles and Puddin’ tried to jump on him, I scooped her up. Praising Nash for his obedience in coming when he was called, I held Puddin’ away from me as she was soaked…just dripping wet…from the lawn. It was past noon but we had not seen enough sun for the morning dew to have evaporated. She was only two days past her surgery and she was so wet she was shivering, so I took her straight to the bathroom and swathed her in towels.

She has now figured out that kitchen door is the key to unparalleled freedom and, instead of scurrying up the stairs at every opportunity, she now bolts for the kitchen door in hopes that someone has carelessly left it open enough for her to skinny through the bars on the baby gate and make her escape. She’s a busy little thing, and keeping up with her is quite the challenge!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yorkie pictures

Puddin' is a good example of her breed, considering that she is not quite 6 months old. She's cute, spunky, intelligent, and cheeky...a true terrier. I've taken regular pictures of her in the months I've had her, and share some of them with you now:

Friday, June 19, 2009

My poor little puppy!

Puddin’ is teething and, poor little thing, the baby teeth aren’t coming out as the big teeth are coming in. This makes her mouth doubly tender, and she spends time pawing at the sides of her muzzle, obviously in discomfort.

So, I took her to the vet for her rabies shot on Tuesday and expressed my concern over her teeth. Before I left, we had an appointment to have them removed. She’s almost 6 months old, up to 2.8kg now (6 lbs) and, while small dogs are at higher risk for anaesthesia, she’s about as big as she is going to get so there is no reason to put it off any longer.

I took her in yesterday morning and she was not a happy camper. She was hungry and thirsty, as she had been NPO for nearly 12 hours. It was dark and uncommonly cold…only 8°C (48°F) when we went out to the car…she never goes for a ride in the car in the dark! I think she knew something was up.

Traffic was lighter than usual so we arrived at the vet about ten minutes before they opened. Puddin’ climbed in my lap, shivering in spite of the fact that the heater was on in the car and she was wrapped in her favourite blanket, one I had crocheted while awaiting her initial arrival. Once the door opened, she didn’t leap into the receptionist’s arms with her usual ears-back joyful wriggle…we had been there only two days earlier and she had received a particularly painful shot, and she definitely did not seem pleased to be back.

I sent her back to the cages with her blanket, hoping that having that familiar item would comfort her and went home to worry. I would not be able to collect her until after 4:30, as they keep the smaller animals that have undergone general anaesthesia for the entire day and monitor them. I knew it was in her best interests to stay, but I fretted over her absence…even the maid missed her.

Finally, it was time to bring her home. Hubby drove us there, thinking it would be better to bring her home comforted in arms. We knew she would be in some discomfort and probably groggy, but when I first saw her, my heart squeezed. Poor little thing looked like she had been through a war!

I was taking care of the bill when they brought her out looking limp and dazed. Hubby took her, wrapped in her blanket, and she just wilted against his chest, no greeting…no indication that she was glad to see us or relieved to be going home. When he handed her to me, she gave up this pathetic little moan and flopped her head against me. I was assailed by guilt.

We only live about a kilometre from the vet, but it was a long ride home. She lay miserably on my lap, her head against my tummy, emitting a low moan each time we turned a corner or hit a bump, each one eliciting a slash of guilt. This poor baby was in pain, she was miserable and not a little bit confused, and it was my fault! Never mind that the teeth had to come out, that it was in her best interests for her future health that they be removed, I was the one who subjected her to the procedure and its resultant torment. Bad dog mama!

It was a long night. They had removed five teeth, including her two upper canines, and she was drooling blood and moaning in her sleep. She would drink chicken broth from a syringe, but aside from one trip to the puddle pad, she remained in a groggy, pained state and showed no interest in anything. She was chilled, her ears and foot pads cool to the touch, so I put a onesie on her, followed by her flannel nightgown and tucked her into my bed with the heated mattress pad turned to its lowest setting. She snoozed for an hour, but her ears stayed cold until I covered them with her crocheted blanket. By 8 pm she was warmed up and no longer huddled into a tight little ball, but her discomfort was evident. And each little groan just sent another dagger of guilt through me.

By morning she had recovered enough to nibble at a bowl of boiled chicken and rice, but she remained subdued and disinterested in her toys or chewies. Several naps later she began perking up, using her stairs to come up onto the bed rather than standing on the floor and moaning piteously for me to pick her up. It is now evening and except for the fact that she won’t eat her kibble, she seems pretty much back to normal: trying to rip the stuffing out of Fred, her stuffed dog, playing “blankie monster” with my hand beneath the bedclothes, and making brief attempts to gnaw on her rawhide and ostrich sinew chewies.

Me? I’m exhausted. Between my limited sleep last night and the regular pangs of guilt that assailed me each time the little beastie winced, I’m worn out. It will be an early night for me and, with any luck, we’ll both be back to normal by tomorrow morning.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

South Pole and Breakfast with Prince Harry…well, sort of…

We’ve been out sampling restaurants again.

A few weeks ago we attended the Good Food and Wine show at the Convention Centre and found a restaurant’s booth that was selling delectable canapés. We decided to make a lunch of them and were so impressed with the food that we determined to actually visit the restaurant to see what they could do on a larger scale. Imagine our surprise and delight to learn that this restaurant, Southpole, is located in our neck of the woods!

Tuesday was a public holiday in South Africa and Hubby had the day off, so we spent the day just leisurely cruising the malls (where I found some great German kitchen gadgets) and having a solid German lunch at Cape Town’s only microbrewery, the Paulaner Brewery at the Clock Tower at the V&A Waterfront. Hubby, kind soul that he is, often gives me the day off from kitchen duty on weekends and holidays, and Tuesday was no exception. We decided to have dinner at Southpole, as we had been meaning to try it ever since we discovered their canapés. It was quiet that night, so we got a booking easily, and headed off with high expectations.

They did not disappoint. From cheerful service to superb menu choices, I have to give the place five stars…if there were six stars, I give them that. Quite simply, this is the best restaurant in Cape Town. Although the cuisine is different, in quality of both food and service, it easily rivals Reuben’s in Franschhoek, which has been named the best restaurant in South Africa at least once.

We liked it so much, we went back the very next night. Both nights, I had a filet mignon and both times it was superb. The meat was fine-grained and generously cut (it was the biggest 250 gram piece of meat I have ever seen!), and perfectly prepared…I like my beef rare and this was exactly that, without being cold or mushy in the middle. Hubby ordered the R95 set menu and he pronounced his chicken liver starter (pretty much his standard starter in any restaurant that offers chicken livers) to be the best he had ever eaten. Last night we had the chef’s special, a “surf and turf” that consisted of scallops (almost impossible to find in South Africa!), calamari and another one of those fabulous fillets. I don’t like calamari, so the chef kindly substituted an extra scallop for me. I ordered the prawn cocktail for my starter and, frankly, I am ordinarily appalled at the way prawns are served in this country…with the heads on and those beady little black eyes and waving antennae staring up at me…just grosses me out!. The chef kindly shelled the little critters for me so that my plate arrived with the beautiful curls of prawn tails nestled atop a small mound of salsa-type vegetables, beneath which was a tasty, tangy sauce.

For dessert I ordered the lemon meringue ice cream, fully expecting a scoop of yellow ice cream in a fancy dish with a creative bit of garnish. Boy, was I in for a surprise! The dish that arrived was indescribable, but it was creamy, ice creamy, and it tasted exactly like a lemon meringue pie. There was a thin slice of meringue on top and the experience of eating it literally beggars description. Suffice it to say, I hope this is a regular menu item, as I can see myself eating it again. We have, in fact, found a new favourite restaurant, and a worthy successor to Dale’s Place (back when Dale was running it, of course).

OK, you sceptics who think that no place on the Dark Continent can possibly compare with the French Laundry or Atelier…you have to understand that food, in Cape Town, can be a near-religious experience and it is done very, very well here. We have a Wine Country that easily holds its own against Napa and Sonoma, and the rich and royal of Europe holiday here, their expectations of what they put in their mouths being higher than most of us mere mortals ever hope to experience.

Speaking of the rich and royal…I had breakfast with England’s Prince Harry on Sunday…well, sort of…I think…

Maybe I should explain…Sunday was another one of those events at the Convention Centre and this time it was a book fair. On Sundays Hubby and I like to do things early and get home before the churches disgorge the faithful who then clog up the roads, restaurants, and entertainment venues. So we decided to breakfast at the hotel across the street from the Convention Centre, which used to be the Arabella Sheraton and has now changed hands and acquired a lengthy and pretentious name: The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays. The morning buffet at the Thirty7 restaurant hasn’t changed, however, and Hubby happily immersed himself in a full English breakfast and then some, while I luxuriated in waffles with berry compote and salmon rosettes with capers and cream cheese.

One table away, up against one of the tiled posts, attractive, fresh-from-the-shower young maidens of a marriageable age began to accumulate, their wet hair testimony to their haste at arriving at the breakfast table. None of them looked familiar and I paid little attention until two young men arrived, one a rather scruffy fellow badly in need of having his unruly mop of dark locks shorn, the other a squeaky clean young man in a white T-shirt with a longish ginger brush cut. I went back to my breakfast, thinking he looked vaguely familiar, but that tiled pillar prevented me from seeing more than a partial profile.

Then he got up to go get some food and stepped fully into my view. I swear to you, if he was not Prince Harry, there is a double of the man hanging out in Cape Town, breakfasting at 5-star restaurants, surrounded by nubile, eligible young maidens!

And being observed by old women who might be wondering what it would be like to be young and beautiful again when a prince is in town…and seated at the next table…

Photos courtesy of Southpole