The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


Sleeping with the dog

The dog does not sleep on beds at night. Mr Furlong and I sleep alone. Our arthritis is the reason. In that respect we are tweedledum and tweedledee. And the dog was obviously trained not to sleep on his human’s bed when we got him as a rescue dog three years ago. So he never has.

No, thats a lie!

Once, about two years ago, there was a really frightening thunderstorm with rain hammering at the windows, wind moaning through the chimney and the letterbox hammering open and shut. Bass, the dog, leapt on my bed for comfort.

Recently, I have woken at four in the morning. The dog and I have attended to our ablutions, and then got back into bed – MY bed. He curls up behind my knees on top of the bedding. Trouble is, he has the ability to treble his weight and stick to the duvet which I need to cover my ears.

Bass is a quick learner. I pull on the duvet so he is forced to move, which he does like an immobile rock. He waits motionless until I have got comfortable. Then he snuggles in again. Trouble is, that pulls the duvet off my ears, and the rolling of the stone starts again.

I’m a quick learner too. I have now learned that if I am going to sleep with the dog, I must wear a hoodie, or a Hijab to do so.

It sorts everything out. No pulling, tugging or manoevering is needed. My ears are covered and we sleep the last few hours together in perfect harmony.

I like it!

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An embarrassing situation has arisen in the Furlong home.

The lady over the road takes our dog Bass out daily for a walk. We can see her house from the bay window in our lounge. So can Bass.

Every time she pops out to water her front garden, someone notices. Every time she stands chatting outside her house to her neighbour, someone notices. Every time she gets in her car, someone notices.

Someone in our house has become a curtain twitcher.

The curtain twitcher is especially vigilant at walk time. He can see her coming out about ten o clock in the morning with the girls he walks with. They start to cross the road and someone in this house goes ape shit with excitement.

Curtain twitcher has different types of barks. Ape shit is just wild abandonment. We can forgive ape shit.

But then there’s the “look at me” bark. That’s the embarrassing one. The curtain twitcher often sits at the window and calls “look at me”, ” look at me “. Once, the dog walker came over and took him for an extra walk because she felt sorry for him!

So now we are trying to stop this embarrassing event ever happening again. When the curtain twitcher is yelling “look at me”, we yell


and he stops.

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Easter bunny

For some unknown reason, our neighbour who walks the dogs regularly and without fail in the morning, arrived at our door last night with her adolescent grandson and offered our dog Bass a ‘night walk’.

Well, it was a disaster. They took the dogs to the normal fields where they usually run free.

Bass is very black. Blacker than black. Only paws and a star on the bum are white. It is impossible to see him in the dark.

So the Easter Bunny appeared and Bass disappeared.

Into the night.

Bunnies are the only animal that make Bass lose his mind. All caution, all thought, all discipline evapourate. I should have mentioned that I suppose. But I never thought to say.

So the ‘night walk’ developed into a ‘night mare’ with the responsible neighbour and the athletic grandson searching the fell for a black black dog in the black black dark trying to find it. The fear on the fells is that many small dogs attempt to go underground into the bunny burrows and get stuck. Here, such tragedies happen.

The dog walkers arrived back at our door greatly agitated and somewhat exhausted but they had the felon on his lead. I don’t know how they got him back. I presume Bass’s bunny insanity dissipated. And maybe he came when they called.

But Bass was very excited – fullfilled one might say.

No Easter Bunny has come to our house today. They are staying away!

And maybe the dog walkers will too….


Illicit visits

The Furlongs are looking foreward to a real visit from the family. We’ve had a few illicit ones.

These consist in sitting in our cars in the little parking lot next to the field behind our flat. From there we can talk through our car windows whilst the grandkids run on the field. Well, if the weather is good.

Our last car visit ended up in a tropical downpour and greats splots of rain driving onto us through the open windows. We usually meet a lunchtime and scoff our packed lunches together whilst catching up on the news. I can see my face in the side mirror. It really is depressing. My face at rest is decidely gloomy. I must remember to smile.

I might smile if there was a sunny day and we were all comfortable and warm in our own garden.

We have exceptionally nice neighbours. Yesterday, I delivered a bottle of garden fertiliser we were sharing to our next door neighbour.

A strange thing happened.

We had a moment of forgetfulness. Simultaneously. When the old lady came to the door she reverted to habit as in the past, when we have had pleasant chatting sessions with me sitting on her sofa rather than hanging over the fence. She said “Oh, DO come in!” So I did without a second thought.

It was only when we were well into sharing our thoughts on all sorts of topics that Covid came up and sort of simultaneously, it dawned on us that me sitting on the sofa and her relaxed in her armchair, as of old, was absolutely forbidden. We were breaking the rules. Furthermore, both she and I had moved out of our bubbles. We were being NAUGHTY!

How to escape?

Had the neighbours seen me enter her flat? Should I slither out of the back door and shin over the fence? Should I just leave and hope no one would see? All our neighbours are either shielding or in tight bubbles as we are old – all old.

I felt really guilty. Shocked really at how we both just ‘forgot’.

So I slithered out of her front door just as all the dogs were arriving home from their morning walk. It seemed as good a distraction as any.

And I came home behind them with my tail between my legs.

So to speak.


Bibbity bobbity birdie boo

Last year, in lockdown, the Furlongs were entertained by Robins nesting in the garden.

I have been wondering where the birds have gone that used to visit our garden. But some nights ago, I woke with an aha thought. They’ve gone because the feeders have become exposed.

We repositioned the Tea houses ( wooden feeders) on top of a greased pole that Einstein, the clever rat, could not scale. We dug out the wretched ornimental grass that shed its leaves all over the garden, that was startled bird cover. And we completely annihilated the dreadful thorny evergreen plant that grew along the fence. The exposed wire fence is waiting for creepers to overwhelm it.

So, we have shot ourselves in the feet.

The problem of the naked, exposed feeders is being rectified. We’ve bought a new garden arch through which we have trailed the variegated ivy that was previously trailing on the ground. And on the other side of the arch is an old clematis that falls over the wall next to the garden stairs every year. It’s full of leaf buds.

And the creepers along the fence are budding too.

There are no Robins nesting around the back of the shed this year.


they are nesting in a shed that our upstairs tenant uses that runs down the side of this building.

I know they are because yesterday, as I walked into the ginnel that runs alongside our side wall, two Robins I recognised, Mum and Dad, were on the ground there.

We startled each other.


And the Dad hopped up to me as he used to last year, and asked for food.

But I had nothing to give him.

Seeing how disappointing I was, they took off, but not before I got a flash of insight as to where their nest might be. Trouble is, I’m a shorty and I think this year, the nest is in a yellow bucket on a shelf in the shed, under the roof, too high up for me to look into.

Today I shall make an offering of our best dried worms.

And wait.

And see.


Things that go bump in the night

The Furlong family have been having a discussion about Bunny, the Shepadoodle that is viral on TikTok. Bunny talks to her owner by pushing an array of specially designed buttons on the floor. Bunny asks questions, makes statement and comments that seem wondrously intelligent.

She/he has been taught all of it through conditioning over many months. That Bunny does all of it all by herself because she is thinking things through seems to me to be a cockadoodle story.

I want to tell you a better one.

I’m deaf. Severely deaf. At night, when I remove my wondrous hearing aids, I cannot hear a thing.

Bass, the dog, sleeps in his bed on the floor at the foot of my bed.

Bass is not a talker. He never barks at us. He only barks at every delivery guy that walks past the house from his seat on the bay window windowsill in our lounge, and every person who rings the doorbell. If Bass wants something from us, we get ‘the stare’.

The silent stare.

Well, its no good silently staring at someone fast asleep in bed

who is now deaf AND blind.

So, he has learned ALL BY HIMSELF, without any conditioning from me, to bump the bed leg with his body.




Oh! She’s up! And now the light is on. And now she’s paying attention!

I think that’s very, VERY clever, yes?

Thank goodness he seldom does it, but he has done it enough times now to know (scientifically) he understands exactly what he is doing.


Truly rare

The Furlongs have owned many birds over the years. They were never caged, but lived free. Most of them were wild birds reared by hand. All of them have stories, but the one I thought about this morning was a Jackdaw I had.

I reared it. I knew nothing about Jackdaws having lived in the UK for only a few years by that time. I did not know how prized they were as caged pets, especially because they talk. I simply found a little fledgling fallen out of a nest, so I took it home and looked after it. Eventually, I discovered it was a Jackdaw.

It became my shadow.

Wherever I went he/she came too. Outdoors, he would take off and return to my shoulder. I knew, from experience, that one day he would go for ever as all my other wild birds had done when the desire to find a mate overcame them. It was to be expected and it was right. It always sadly pleased me.

At the time I had the Jackdaw, I injured my right wrist. It was bandaged for several weeks. On our walks, when the Jackdaw took off for a quickie flight, I would simply raise my right hand and he would swoop down and settle on it should I want him to come back.

As I write this, I think I might have told this story here before.

But anyway, if I entered a building, the Jackdaw simply waited outside calling for me, until I came out again, and would alight on my shoulder or upheld bandaged wrist.

One day I had to attend a meeting in a room upstairs in a building next to the church. The Jackdaw sat in a tree in the churchyard and made a right nuisance of himself at the level of the upstairs meeting room open window. I had to excuse myself. I needed to sort ‘the problem’ out.

In the churchyard was a group of tourists newly alighted from a tourist bus. I raced in, embarrassed by the whoohaa my bird was causing. I raised my right whitely bandaged hand, and the Jackdaw magically appeared from the tree and swooped down to greet me with great love and attention.

The tourist guide and the group looked at me with open astonished mouths. I could just hear them thinking about witches, witchcraft, ravens, and evil.

We had no garden in that residence, being in the very centre of town, but behind us there was a tiny courtyard off a ginnel used as a shortcut through to the street behind. If it was lovely and sunny, I used to pop the Jackdaw in a small cage where he would luxuriate in the warmth while I was busy inside.

One day, when I came to fetch him in, the cage and the Jackdaw had gone.

A local said “What did you expect? Everyone has envied you with such a precious thing, someone knicked it!”

I still feel sad that a free animal, must have ended its life as a caged creature.

But the most, most precious gift my Jackdaw gave me, was that I heard him sing. In his private moments, he sang! He sang in the most melodious, liquid, melifulous, glorious sounds one could ever imagine. Heavenly music. Jackdaws are songbirds. Hearing a Jackdaw sing is a profound, rare thing. Not many people will have heard it.

I have been blessed.


Sad story, happy ending

Our neighbour’s very old dog died. Well, worse, they had to have her put to sleep in their home. She was very old and developed dementia. Did you know dogs suffer from dementia?


Our neighbour looked gaunt with grief. I was really worried about her. Losing a pet can be traumatic for some people and our neighbour took it very badly. Also, when you actually get the vet to kill a creature you love, it’s even more dreadful.

Our neighbour was used to walking two dogs. Now, daily, she was walking out with only one. So she offered to walk our dog too. Everyday she went out with one creamy white pretty girl dog and one handsome black and tan boy dog. She began to look less devasted with grief as the days progressed.


In another town near here, someone unknown died in their home with their little dog mourning beside them. They remained undiscovered for quite some time. No one knows how long. It must have been a long time because the dog was in a frightful condition when it was finally rescued. It needed urgent loving care.

This little dog has come to live with our neighbour to nurse. They have adopted her.

They have called the little grieving dog ‘Maisie.’

Maisie was just quivering skin and bones when I first saw her. Maisie was a wreck, no question. But Maisie is filling out. Every day she is coming alive and beginning to look like a happy dog. She is an intriguing little thing. I like her. She’s going to be a ‘character’ dog. I suspect she’s got all sorts of genes in her. But she looks like a kind of small Jack Russell with long spindly legs.

Bass is good with all dogs. He just likes dogs. He likes everyone, humans too actually! So now he now goes out daily with two creamy white girl dogs dressed in little red jackets. They make a really good looking dog team for walking with. Now that Maisie has settled in, our neighbour even lets them off their leads in safe places. They all come back when called.

It’s wonderful what love can do.


Bed Dog

Our dog’s loyal servants, US, have been well trained in all aspects of his life.

We make ‘nests’ for him when his baleful eyes tell us he screwed up the one he was making .

We turn on the outside light at night and open the door despite bright moonlight and a perfectly good dog flap so that he can see when his stare tell us he wishes to do his business but we must open the door and turn on the light first.

During the day, the dog flap works well, but it doesn’t work when its dark, evidently.

Our life is timed by his commands. Noon is lunch. Three o’clock is supper. Ten o’clock is bed.

A short sharp yap is ‘look at me!” An excited barking from the couch in the bay window means “look at them,” and the hysterical yip yaps, squeaks and loud barking happens if someone is at the door.

Mr Furlong has a routine. When the doorbell rings, he ushers the dog into the forbidden front room where it leaps on the chair in the window with great joy. Mr Furlong then closes the door and Bass is trapped in the room, allowing us to deal with the people at the door. From the front bedroom window, the dog can observe, comment and warn us of the dreadful danger of any visitors.

So we are well trained and have succumbed to every whim of our master.

Except one.

It’s the race for my bed.

I love dogs ON the bed but not IN the bed.

Bass burrows. He nests in just about everything he can find. I have to make certain my duvet is dog burrowing proof.

Mr Furlong is more relaxed. Sometimes after the visitors at the front door have left, we ask “Where is Bass?” Having been let into the forbidden front bedroom, he is making sure to have a cosy kip deep inside the happy dark, under Mr Furlong’s duvet.

Mr Furlong is a pushover.

But not me.

Under MY duvet?


Well almost never. We are still working at it Bass and I. He’s finding me very hard to train.


The convergence of laziness

Yes, I am physically lazy.

Always have been.

I hate excercise.

My main focus at school was to avoid sport. It was fortunate that during my very first tennis lesson, the server slammed the ball into my eye so I could feign terror of tennis to the gym teacher, so she let me off tennis. Someone bombed me in a swimming lesson and the teacher rescued me from the bottom of the pool. I feigned pool terror. The teacher let me off swimming.

My motto has been – never run if you can walk, never walk if you can sit, and never sit if you can lie down. It has worked all my life so far.

But now there is a convergence occurring that needs attention.

The neighbour walks the dog, so I don’t anymore. He gets much better walks from her – goes miles, in fact.

The weather is crummy, rain, ice, snow – always something to do with water. They don’t have lakes all over the place here for nothing. So I’m not walking to see my sister twice a week. I drive.

I never go out otherwise.

Gardening is out. Everything is dead. The ground is iced solid.

Swimming on Thursdays has been cancelled because of Covid-19.

And the final situation is that we now have a robot vacumn cleaner. He’s wonderful! I never have to do a thing except empty his tummy when he has finished his duties. If I change his tummy for a water tank, he even mops the kitchen and bathroom floors.

Whats there to do?

I know!


Mr Furlong is a kitchen creature. He produces great food.

Food plus laziness equals fat.

It’s simple Math.