The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

All animals are equal but…

Photo: The Contessa asleep

Photo: The Contessa asleep

Having fallen sleep on the laptop I woke at 4.30 am and crept up to bed. The hottie was still warm and the Min Pins welcoming. Danny was deeply asleep.

My alarm wakes me at 8.15 am but I’d opened an eye at seven. The Contessa was feeling sprightly and wanted to play. She drumed on my chest demanding attention (at 56 dog years she should be quietnening down). She was joined by Inca who raced frenetically around the bed (we call this race-tracking). Danny was talking to India in his home office next door and Dr Quito and I just wanted to doze.

Dr Q is a rock. He sleeps beside me, head on the pillow. Sometimes he leaves the heat of the duvet to lie on top and cool down. Our duvet is goose down and can get a bit hot on warmer nights. Meanwhile the Min Pin ladies bicker at the foot of the bed. One-upmanship dictates that the Min Pin who has gone down to the garden for a pee will carefully poise herself to jump on the somnolent Min Pin that has been keeping the bed warm. Our nights are accompanied by intermittent growls and shrieks that are as regular as commercial breaks on the telly. We have learnt to roar without really waking up.

Danny is all for fairness. All dogs are equal. If you bring one dog to bed all dogs must be welcomed.
“But Dr Q is disabled. He doesn’t have a great quality of life. He needs the warmth and comfort.”
“It’s all or nothing. Dr Q doesn’t twig that he’s disabled. If he falls over he pulls himself up and carries on. OK, he needs to be carried upstairs and downstairs. But the other Min Pins don’t realise that it’s because of his weak legs. They think that he’s a Prince with special privileges.”

D is right. It should be all or nothing. Unlike George Orwell’s Animal Farm,
“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”  A sentence that has stayed with me since I read it aged fifteen at school. It shocked me then and still rattles me 40 years later as human relationships haven’t changed much since Orwell wrote this brilliant novel.


  Leave a reply

10 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Steve

    We were quite strict with our dogs until last winter. The slept in the kitchen and we slept aloft.

    Last winter we decided to use minimal heating, it was freezing upstairs. They were invited to join us as living hotties that stay warm and constant throughout the night. We were warm. They were warm. My relationship has always been a bit strained with The Contessa and gradually we began to communicate.

    There’s no going back in the foreseeable future. After a late run the older Min Pins like to go to bed at nine. Inca and I join them when we’ve finished writing the blog.

    Hi Michelle

    Years ago, before the reign of Danny, I kept cats and one Min Pin, Fly. The cats were allowed to sleep upstairs. Fly slept in the sitting room guarding the house. The cats wouldn’t let him come upstairs but at 5.30 am he was allowed to join us in bed. The cats did take up a lot of space. And also endured many stormy seas when I had a restless night!

    Hi Michelle in NZ

    Zebby cat sounds like a real character and great companion. It might be worth thinking about a king sized bed. We have two and they are bliss.

    Hi Mandi

    Oh I do feel for you. I had two cats back in the 1980’s and adored them but as kittens they were a handful. I do hope that Fred bonds with your ninja kitten soon. Dr Q was delighted when we brought Inca home. He played with her and comforted her. Three years later The Contessa sometimes hunts with Inca but the relationship is a bit fiery. Min Pins are never well behaved. They are a breed of dog that has the independence of a cat. Interesting and often stretching to live with!

    Hello Amanda

    Happy birthday (belated).

    I’d love to be able to communicate with the dogs. Sometimes I think that I do.

    Yes I think that the Animal Farm message is still relevant today. Obviously we can’t all be equal as we have different talents etc. But there is no need to bully the people that don’t happen to be shining at the moment.

    Hi Belinda

    The secret moments with your pet are so valuable. I’m sure that they know what’s at stake and will never tell!

    Staffs are delicate (like Old English Bulldogs). They look strong but neither breed is and they are both very prone to a host of ailments. Perhaps this is down to too much interbreeding. I just don’t know but have talked to many Staff and OEB owners and heard their tales of woe.

    The Contessa is a ‘perfect’ Min Pin with all the confirmation but has endless ailments. Dr Quito and Inca came from the same breeder in the Midlands. She loves her dogs. They are well balanced but not show dogs. The have the Min Pin independent streak but they are tough and resilient.

    Hello Veronica

    Half a dead rat in your slipper would have been an interesting start to your day.

    Tormenting other smaller animals is what has put Danny off cats. The Min Pins kill too but this is fast, expert hunting. The chase is over within seconds. Horrid but quick.

    I like cats, would love a cat here. I come from a family who has always mixed cats and dogs. When I’m decorating in a place where cats live I feel especially blessed.

    Hello Sarah G

    Circé is a name to stop traffic. It’s brilliant.

    Really pleased that she didn’t want similar when she returned to England. Years ago I used to sleep occasionally with a lab. By the end of the night I was sleeping in the tuck over at the side of the mattress – I was a bit slimmer in those days.

    Hi Kate(uk)

    What clever kittens I’m impressed and might try banging a picture when I want attention!

  2. kate (uk)

    When we got our cats before last, two kittens, George and Mouse, we decided to break with tradition. These new cats would sleep downstairs from day one. They might be tiny and cute, but their bed was downstairs. So, come bedtime, the basket and the kittens were shut downstairs. These were two very small kittens, small enough to go out into the garden in my coat pockets. A few minutes after lights out a strange,loud knocking noise came from the sitting room.It got louder and more insistent.Clearly, we were not going to get to sleep if this carried on. I went downstairs, opened the door and turned on the light. Beside me, on top of a low bookcase was Mouse, standing on his hind legs, paw stretched up to catch the corner of a picture frame and ready to drop it back onto the wall making a loud bang. George was on the back of a nearby armchair egging him on. They had looks that could only be described as surprised guilt on their faces.
    We weakened and brought their basket upstairs into the bedroom. They snuggled down happily inside it and we snuggled into bed. Lights out again.
    Silence.
    Moments later two tiny furry bodies were wriggling into the bed between us.
    You can guess the rest.

  3. Sarah G

    We’ve had a ‘no going to bed with the humans’ rule since Circé, our 18-month Lab, was a pup. So far it’s not gone the way of the ‘no sitting on the sofa with the humans rule’ (ie way out of the window by the time she was big enough to jump that high!). We relented when we stayed with some friends whose guest room doubles as a den in their basement, next to the utility room. The plan was that Circé would sleep on her bed in the utility room and the humans would have the futon in the guest room…. except that someone left the door open during the cleaning teeth / getting water process and a futon does look very similar to a rather large and luxurious labrador bed so you can guess what happened. For the three nights of our stay she slept curled up at the bottom of the futon until about 6am when she got bored and decided it was time for a spot of face-licking.
    I was worried that when we came home she’d expect the same treatment but she’s gone back to the usual house rules (ie the cane sofa-chair thing next to the kitchen door where she’s snoring away as I write this) without any fuss. No doubt she thinks things works differently when she’s staying with those particular friends (as it’s not always that way when we’re away from home). (Oh. I thought she was fast asleep but Jonathan’s just opened the half-full dishwasher and she never missed out on an opportunity to do a bit of pre-washing!)

  4. Veronica

    I like snuggling in bed with a cat or two, but there are limits, and our cat Minou has exceeded them enough times that he’s now generally banned from the bedroom at night (except when hubby is away!). Of course he likes the usual leaping on the bed at 2 a.m. (sometimes dripping wet or covered in prickly burrs), and loudly and persistently demanding breakfast at 5 a.m. But his excesses also include playing with dead or live birds and mice on the floor, and stuffing half a dead rat into my slipper (luckily I woke up and spotted him doing it!).

  5. Belinda

    When single my cat slept with me, but with the addition of Mat to the household the cat learnt to sleep on a spare lounge chair in the corner of my bedroom.

    In the past 10 years we have changed cat & have had a few English Staffordshire Terrier dogs (not much luck with dogs health)none of which are/were allowed on the bed as Im all for equality… except that Mayhem (cat) sneaks onto the bed every morning for a quick cuddle with me as my night owl partner is fast asleep.

    Shhhhh… dont dob me in.. 😉

  6. So sweet, if only we could talk dog and explain things.

    That last paragraph almost made me wince today. I’ve seen some shocking evidence of inequality on the human front in the last few weeks.

  7. After the recent death of our youngest cat we saw a massive change in our remaining 13 yr old fred.
    We have toyed with getting a new addition and on monday it arrived in the shape of a 4 inch high black hissy fit of a female kitten.
    Fred is all for watching and maybe making friends…. the hissy fit DEFINATELY ISN’T!!!
    So at the moment MY nights are spent between 2 rooms, first part of the night settling Fred in our spare room where he feels safe from black freaked out ninja kittens with attitude, and the second post wee part of the night in my normal bed with husband and aforesaid feline from hell.
    I have been woken with claws up my back, bitten ears, hair pulled out by the roots, and pounced on eye balls for the last 4 mornings …. I’m hoping this phase is short as I feel like a mother of a new born, run ragged and sleep deprived.
    I’d swap for well behaved min pins at the moment!

  8. Michelle in NZ

    At least the Minpins keep to their accepted places. Zebbycat’s choice of sleeping spot varies based on the season and pure whimsy. It is hard to miss a nearly 7 kilo (15 pound) cat marching across me in the middle of the night.

    Now it is getting cooler he likes to snuggle up under the quilt, head on my shoulder.We start onh our own respective sides of the bed, but like Michelle Sheets’ cats, Zeb just takes over. One human, one cat and a queen sized bed – you’d think there would be heaps of space.

    I laughed at the thought of your girls battling for the warm spot.

  9. michelle sheets

    We try to be a “all animals are equal” household too, but someone keeps forgetting to tell the cats!
    Our Lab and Chesapeak will come up onto the bed with my husband and I for some snuggle time, but before we go to sleep everyone gets down. The problem starts then, because the cats obiviously aren’t dogs, are they? They don’t have to get down, do they? It is funny how little space a cat can take up at the begining of the night, but by the end of it they might as well be as big as a dog when they are dead asleep, and sprawling across your legs.

  10. Hmmm! Although i do believe that “all Animals are equal”, Some (SWMBO and I!) ARE more equal than others!
    Our bed is for “us”, Thier bed is for “them”! – downstairs in the sitting room.
    Any new arrival gets to go through a very thorough “Turner and Hooch” induction routine, in which they are informed “this is NOT your place”. It covers most areas, bedrooms, toilets, kitchen, lounge etc.
    All animals are equal – they know the rules! 😉 and they know they get spoilt if they keep to them, (sometimes they try to s t r e t c h them slightly, because they know somebody has a soft-spot when they look “sheepish and cutesy” and still spoils them! – Bah! (not me!))

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,174,934 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments


Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder


HG