The Tyke

There’s been a lot of broken sleep at Fortress Mamea the past month or so. Broken sleep means there have been some arguments heated discussions over the most trivial things. Broken sleep means conversations suddenly halted as one or the other speaker racks their brain for words like ‘soup’ and ‘confectionery’. Broken sleep means a puppy undergoing toilet training.

Meet The Tyke, aged four months.

The Tyke

After The Dog’s passing, we thought that a reasonable and respectful length of time should elapse before looking for a second dog. We hadn’t counted on The Puppy, though: she took The Dog’s absence very hard, having long sleep-ins, being rather lethargic, and — most worrying — losing her appetite.

We visited the local SPCA a few times. Contenders were shortlisted. Candidates were interviewed via play, cuddling, and licking (by the interviewees, not the interviewers). We put our name down for a couple of finalists, playing the odds. We thought we’d have a month or so as we were on a waiting list, and we needed to show the SPCA inspector that we were of good character and that the property was suitable. After just one week, we  got a call to say we had a new hound to collect.

The Puppy doesn’t have a chance to sleep in now. (Nor does anyone else.) Once she’s been licked and pawed and nibbled awake by The Tyke, they play together, their yipping and (play-)growling a welcome sound to the household. And The Puppy’s appetite has definitely recovered as she soon found that the new arrival was more than happy to finish her food if she didn’t want it.

At times it’s exhausting and frustrating as we get up for the billionth time that day to shape her eventual good behaviour, and the moment she sees us and she wags her tail, whatever reprimand that was on the tip of our tongue instantly transmutes into an If you weren’t so goddamned cute… remonstration.

She has taken up the figurative and symbolic bone left by Ella. And we welcome her.


Ella 2003–2017

Ella. Rated for 250g of Whittakers chocolate.

The Dog — actual handle Ella — was farewelled by the Mamea aiga today.

She was loved, and she loved us. There’s nothing I can write here that I haven’t already written.

May there be plenteous rolled roasts and Whittakers Peanut Butter Chocolate wherever she is now.



I was working in the keep the other morning when I turned in my chair and saw a large grey shape in the doorway and thought, [EXPLETIVES], that is one big [EXPLETIVES] rat!

Then it lopped away at my big girly gasp which roused The Dog and The Puppy, and after some running and hopping and hiding, the interloper was captured alive.

Nice one, Stu.
The interloper, dubbed Stu, in captivity.

We’re not sure how the rabbit got into the fortress. Presuming it gained entry through the cat flap by the dining hall, it made it past our presumably sleeping guard hounds (their performance against their KPIs will be noted accordingly) to reach the keep which is at the opposite end of the building. I suspect The Kitten brought it in for some playtime but the rabbit is unmarked.

Anyhoo, we have a rabbit in Fortress Mamea. And it’s a cutie.


Dog Cuts

Back in the Big Smoke, The Dog and I had a basic three-mile running route that I called, with writerly flair, the fleur-de-lis.

Fleur-de-lis: ‘X’ marks the start and finish point.

(I’ve just remembered I usually referred to it as the cloverleaf route but fleur-de-lis has a certain ring, yes?)

The first iteration of Fortress Mamea being in suburbia, the route followed roads and was all asphalt, so the dog ran on a lead. (We had another couple of routes, five and seven miles respectively, in the Waitakere Ranges where she could run off-lead.) The routes and distances were fixed, and for over a decade we ran those three, five and seven mile distances together.

The current Fortress Mamea is on a piece of land large enough to allow the dog — and The Puppy, now — to run off-lead without worrying about automobiles or newly-relocated townies who think all dogs should be on leads with muzzles. After a few months of getting to know the property, we have a running route that I have dubbed the corazón.

Corazón: I know the heart-shape only really applies to the loop-de-loop on the left there but most of my running time is spent in The Wood.

The corazón runs through two wooded areas (The Wood and The Copse) that are separated by paddocks, meadows, and the fortress itself. The running surface includes long grass (that can obscure uneven terrain), half-hidden tree roots (that can still catch a foot or toe), and loose sticks (that can stick, stab or trip you up). The wooded areas are pretty cool to run through (they make me flash on the opening minutes of Silence of the Lambs) — check it:

The Wood: from within.

At first, The Dog ran the full route with The Puppy and I.

Lately, she has taken to running more efficiently:

Corazon: with dog cuts.

For me, my fitness regime of, in effect, running around in circles, is more of a journey-rather-than-the-destination kind of thing.

For her, it’s a social thing: she still gets to run (mostly) (kind of) with the pack. Since she has twelve years and several thousand kilometres under her collar, I think she’s entitled to conserve her energy for other pursuits.

Photo1281 - Version 2



That’s the number of posts I’ve written, including this one.

On the not-too-distant horizon is this website’s tenth anniversary.

Check out The Dog before this blog began:

The Dog — Pic courtesy Howie B
The Dog, Jan05

— and now:


The Dog, Jan16
The Dog, Jan16

She can run five kilometres again, too, despite a not-quite-obit almost two years ago. We think this is due in large part to the The Puppy‘s arrival early last year, and the all-you-can-sniff opportunities the new property offers.

There’s hope for me yet.


E Day Plus 4

From the correspondence of D F Mamea, Esquire, newly of Northland.

Fowl Aer residents.
Fowl Aer residents.

Dearest Lovely Wife

The Dog and The Puppy didn’t finish their dinner from last night so I only topped up their bowls for breakfast. I’m a little worried about their lack of appetite but they were still reasonably active. The Boy took them for a walk and there were no complaints (from the dogs) (or the boy). Their food supply shall be adjusted, their behaviour and waistlines closely monitored.

The Kitten doesn’t like her SPCA food. Only minutes earlier, I heard her sullenly chew a single mouthful of it before leaving the house. Another animal to keep an eye on.

There are still ten ex-Laingholm chickens in the Green Zone, plus the inherited guinea fowl and bantam. They seem settled as they hoovered up their food. I hereby dub their chicken house Fowl Aer.

Dave the Chimney Sweep had a look at the reluctant and smoky wood burner this morning. This needs more than a sweep, mate. He said it needed to be removed completely and overhauled: the baffles were buckled and rotted out, the flue had split, and a couple of other things I didn’t hear because my mind was screaming, It’s winter! The nights are cold in winter! Since being without a burner was not an option, he’s due back first thing tomorrow morning to put in a temporary fix that will keep the fire useable for the next few months.

The Boy and I tried a nearby takeaway (‘nearby’ being fifteen minutes drive from the fortress). There was a fetid tinge to the smell of cooking oil in the air that didn’t bode well. Our fish and chips were edible: The Boy give it a 7, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is terrible and 10 is excellent; I gave the food a 4 for being edible and filling.

The Puppy rests between patrols.
The Puppy rests between patrols.

All warmed by full stomachs, the dogs and I did a perimeter check in the dark. They do like the opportunity to walk and sniff. I’m less apprehensive than the first couple of times I did it. The idea of walking through a forest at night isn’t sound when you think about it. But walking through a forest you’re increasingly familiar with is different — there’s much less likelihood of getting lost or being jumped by ninjas (and if the latter, this being private property, I can walk the perimeter strapped).




E Day Plus 3

From the correspondence of D F Mamea, Esquire, newly of Northland.

The new Fortress Mamea's first egg.
The new Fortress Mamea’s first egg.

Dearest Lovely Wife

I thought a situational report (henceforth sitrep) would be helpful, informative, and an aid to my ailing moment-to-moment memory.

The alarm went off at 0555 and I immediately turned it off. I had purposely set it for 0555 the night before, thinking I-don’t-know-what (yes I do: thinking that farm-type people get up at 0555 or thereabouts [not thinking further that Those People probably go to sleep a lot earlier than the 2330 time I went to bed and set the alarm for the coming morning]). After a few rumbles of paws on the verandah I roused and said hello to The Dog and The Puppy. They were boisterous in their morning greetings — it’s one of the things I love about dogs: every absence, no matter how short or long, is ended by effusive and licky reunions — and I gave them breakfast.

The morning perimeter check commenced soon after, the dogs and I starting with the chicken run (henceforth Green Zone). Yesterday, on the dusk perimeter check, two of the girls — Dumb White Chicken and Not Dottie — had presumably used the decrepit chicken tractor to fly out of the Jerusalem cherry-free Green Zone; Dumb was successfully coaxed back into the safe zone and eventually returned to the chicken house; unfortunately Not Dottie was Not Interested. This morning, the adopted guinea fowl, Giselle, was out of the chicken run completely, and Not Dottie had been joined outside the Green Zone by Dumb White Chicken and Clint. I dragged the chicken tractor into the centre of the Green Zone so that it could no longer provide means of escape.

The nesting boxes have yet to be discovered by the chickens but one egg was on the floor in the hay — at least one of the chickens, it would seem, has settled into their new environs.

As for the rest of the property:
— the horse troughs are all full;
— goddamn there’s a lot of Jerusalem cherry in The Wood awaiting our attentions;
— The Puppy dived and jumped and played in a large puddle of muddy water which strengthens the case for her being part water dog;
— there’s plenty of firewood in The Wood — will need to drag out and place in the woodshed to dry out before cutting with either the skilsaw (currently in Laingholm) or a brand spanking chainsaw (which I shall call “Mother”).

Here ends the first report. Don’t know how regular these will be, but if I can be persistent they should provide some kind of log of things needing doing, and things done (it’s also been a good springboard for my to-do list for the upcoming town trip).

Yours, always



The Puppy

The Northland litter.
The Northland litter at rest.

A few weeks back, The Goddess and I travelled north to select a future successor to The Dog. There was a litter of twelve puppies from which to choose, and we had first dibs — a privilege bestowed upon us by the Horsewoman, purveyor of the cavalry element and co-conspirator with The Goddess of all schemes equine. Securing a successor sounds ruthless on first listen but part of life is death, and life is hard to imagine without the companionship of a dog.

Choosing a puppy was more difficult than expected. Each candidate had to be assessed for colour, aptitude, energy — oh, who the heck am I kidding? They were all cute. They were all cuddly. They could all have come back to Fortress Mamea with us, their mother and owner be damned.

Luckily, The Goddess remembered a checklist drawn up earlier, when we weren’t surrounded by playful, yippy bundles of joy: female, calm, of good character, and with excellent references. The Horsewoman suggested a couple of candidates that fit the criteria, and the rest was pretty much a coin-toss.

Meet The Puppy:

The Puppy, Apr15


Roadside Attractions

Once upon a time, The Dog and I went for a run, and on that run, she found a discarded rolled roast. Because I had no time for the dog to to be distracted by such a feast — we were on a run, after all — I carried that rolled roast all the way home, where she devoured it in a few blinks of an eye. This story has become a little apocryphal in the halls of Fortress Mamea because a). The Goddess was too slow to come and see our dog’s find, and b). cellphone cameras were a bit of a luxury back then.

Ever since, The Dog has dallied at the site of that glorious find, whether running or — of late — walking, hoping to find another rolled roast.

A fortnight into 2015, the universe relented:


A discarded leg of lamb.

There’s a lesson in this for my writing.