…You’re sure of a big surprise! Well, maybe a little surprise. But then, it is only a little shop. Although a very nice one.
Although I suppose if you’re reading this I’ve just ruined any element of surprise. But hey, go anyway.
The four brand new bears in these pictures are awaiting new owners down at the Handmade Nottingham shop, along with a few more of my small creations.
After having got my sew-jo back it’s been lovely to create something new.
There’s hippy chick bruin bear, with her love beads, headband and furry waistcoat, and her consort with his embroidered bolero, scarf and bobble hat.
Then there’s party frock bruin girl – her frock is made out of a bit of sleeve from a real, genuine 1970s party frock.
I cut off the top (it was sized for someone much tinier than I) and recycled the bottom half into this skirt:
Last, but by no means least, there’s jumper-wearing bruin; a bear who is not quite sure that pink is his colour but is too polite to say so.
Well, the aforementioned jumper is made from cashmere (rescued from my cardi that the dratted moths lurking in our house had feasted upon.)
I’ve got a few other projects to finish off and then I’m intending to get creating anew in earnest, and to stop slacking so inexcusably.
I may even get around to restocking my Etsy shop, which I’ve been promising to do since Christmas, but which, as usual, has been sadly neglected due to my lackadaisical ways of late (cue tumbleweed rolling across the Etsy shop floor.)
It’s time to make enough bears (and other creatures) for a picnic…
We all cried. We still feel sad. Both for her, and for ourselves. We wanted a dog, but after our experience with Lupin… it is not to be.
There will not be another dog. I think that ship, the one with our dog on it, has sailed.
It’s been just over a week now, since we took her back.
During that week I discovered that three of the seven pups in her litter have been returned to the rescue, because of similarly difficult-to-live-with traits. So Lupin is currently living with one of her brothers, which is a nice thought in a way, but sad for both dogs in reality.
I also discovered that the rescue are already advertising her for adoption, describing her as “good with other dogs and children over twelve”. Lad is thirteen. When we took Lupin back, I gave them two sides of A4 listing all of her problems. Right at the top was the problem of her ongoing aggression towards lad.
So I called to tell them, again, that she wasn’t good with children over twelve. Or men. Or strangers generally. But it seems that their one-day assessment of Lupin’s character trumps our nearly-six-months of living with her. They say they have seen no evidence of aggression. So that’s that.
The thought that another family may go through the same painful experience as us upsets me greatly, as does the thought of Lupin facing a third rejection, but having handed her back it seems there is nothing more I can do about it. And so I have had to breathe deeply and let go.
A week later, and I am still hoovering up dog hair and wondering what to do with the packets of dog treats in the cupboard.
I should be getting on with work, I have lots to do, but I seem to be stuck.
Inspiration is always sparse at this time of year, but it’s worse than that. I feel a bit panicky when I try to start work. Some of the work I have done has not, to my eye at least, been my best.
Our new neighbours are knocking through their kitchen at the moment and it is very noisy. The builders have managed to dislodge the plaster on our adjoining kitchen wall – chunks and dust come cascading down. But that’s no excuse.
I clean the house as displacement activity. I try to drag up some creativity from somewhere, but it appears to have gone into hibernation for the duration.
It’s not because of the dog, I think. It’s just the winter, dragging on. It seems, like me, to be stuck. It afflicts me every year, this dark period after Christmas. I need to get stuck in, but instead I get stuck in a time warp.
I must say, it was a surprise, to have so many people react to my previous post about our dog, Lupin.
I wrote that post at a very low ebb, my patience stretched beyond breaking point, my optimism non-existent. I dreaded my partner’s return to work after Christmas and the thought of being alone with the dog again, battling through the days. I felt then, in my mind’s eye, that finding a new home for her was the best option. I talked to lad about it, explained, in tears, how we couldn’t go on like this.
But then, Lupin mellowed a little. And on we went.
She started to snap and snarl in the house less often and to do more tail wagging. She let us pet her, and started to at least growl in warning before trying to bite. Out of the house, I worked hard with her (using this system, if anyone is interested.)
However, there is nowhere near us she can safely run free (i.e. where there is no risk of her encountering pedestrians) and we’ve had to exercise her accordingly. Which is hard on her, because she needs to run. Not being able to do so off-lead makes her behaviour worse. It’s hard on us too, because she yanks our arms and pulls us over in the mud and clearly pines for the freedom we cannot allow her.
There are still plenty of bad days. Men in jogging gear or hi-vis jackets are not our friends. The men from the garage two doors down are viewed with great suspicion, as are smaller dogs, whom Lupin frequently tries to attack. My treats aren’t always enough.
After I spilled a few tears following someone’s kind words at the park, there are, I discovered, more people than you’d think out there who understand the difficulties that can and do sometimes accompany dog ownership. Some of these people have been wonderfully supportive.
But generally, things have continued, and not significantly improved. Lupin is still destructive. She chewed up my beloved Ercol furniture last weekend, which came out of the blue and had me in tears – she had never destroyed furniture before.
She still spends a significant part of every evening leaping to her feet to bark aggressively at things we cannot hear.
And she still doesn’t much like lad. The growling and snarling at him, specifically, continues, despite her being friends with him in-between times. It seems to matter not a jot how many treats he gives or how much training we do. Something about him triggers her aggression, suddenly, unexpectedly. He has, not surprisingly, withdrawn from her. Who can blame him?
I have tried to make sense of it all. Beyond the anger, beyond the sadness and disappointment at how things have turned out, I have tried to think what would be best, for us and for her.
I really have tried my best.
Every day I try to put aside my stress at what could happen. I walk, I train, I feed, I fuss. I try to be calm and to transmit this calm to Lupin. Yet, despite all these efforts, things aren’t really improving. Perhaps I should have made an immediate decision when she first showed aggression towards us, before she came to trust us a little. I still do not trust her. I still cannot leave her. I still, often, do not like her. But I do feel desperately sorry for her.
All of this has taken it’s toll on family life. We cannot all go out together. We have not been in agreement about the best way forward. We struggle to communicate and to align our feelings, our heads, and our hearts. We clash when we attempt to discuss things. Anger, love, resentment. Sorrow, fear and guilt. It is a potent and toxic mixture.
So, this is where we are now.
I contacted the rescue and suggested we foster Lupin whilst they seek a more suitable home – somewhere quiet, without children, where she has a safe space to run off-lead. I explained her, and our, issues in detail. But (and I understand why) this is not a course of action they will support.
So the only alternative we are left with is for them to take her back. She will be assessed (and then hopefully fostered) by a behaviourist, to establish “the level of her aggression and how much of a risk she is to the general public.” That phrase is chilling. Every part of me finds this upsetting beyond measure. Sad beyond belief. I feel so dreadfully guilty and ashamed that however hard I try, I can’t make everything all right.
A dog should be for life. Lupin has relied on us, on me, and I have failed her.