Dog Meat Festival #StopYulinForever

We’re coming up to the Summer Solstice – a time to celebrate life – but in Yulin, China, they choose to celebrate by torturing, killing and eating dogs at the annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival.

I won’t go into the distressing methods they use to torture these poor animals (many of which are stolen pets). Suffice it to say the purveyors and consumers of dog meat believe it tastes better if it contains high levels of adrenaline, so they do whatever it takes to produce these levels. I can’t begin to understand the mentality of people who think it’s worth inflicting extreme suffering just to make something taste nice.

This is not some ancient and sacred Chinese tradition. It was begun only 10 years ago to boost the flagging dog meat industry, and tolerated by the authorities because they thought it would attract tourism!

For many years the Chinese people and the rest of the world have shown their outrage by protesting, sighing petitions and supporting charities that work to rescue the animals and end the dog meat trade. Live animal markets have been implicated in the spread of coronavirus from animals to humans, and the Chinese Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs has stated that dogs should no longer be considered at livestock, which basically means they shouldn’t be eaten. And yet the Yulin Festival is still set to go ahead this year.

Maybe it’s too late to stop this one, but it’s important to keep up the pressure on the authorities to put an end to it for good. Please sign the petition if you’ve got a moment!

Humane Society International petition to end the Yulin Dog Meat Festival

Humane Society International pledge in support of ending the dog and cat meat trade in South East Asia

Keith in front garden (3)

Keith says they should stick to lychees!

 

Posted in Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Reincarnation

In my next life, I’d like to come back as a seagull. Fly, swim, eat fish and chips. Who could ask for more?

Seagull

(Even if you don’t believe in reincarnation, it makes a great premise for a story!)

 

 

Posted in Annabelle's writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

#Lockdown Locks

It’s only a minor consequence of the lockdown, but many of us are feeling the lack of a hairdresser at the moment. My hair has always been unmanageable – more than ever now I can’t have it cut – and its recent behaviour has inspired the following tale…

Cuk7zbDz3PNcVkDAADclcrG1_dreamt

Suzanne’s Hair

Suzanne’s hair had been troubling her lately.

It had never been what you’d call easy hair. It was thick, but the individual strands were fine, flyaway and hard to tame. As a child, she’d screamed with pain when her mother tried to comb out the tangles. As a teen, she’d despaired as it formed unattractive kinks and frizz mere hours after she’d straightened it. It was highly sensitive to any change in temperature, air pressure and humidity. If she went out in the wind, she would come home looking like Worzel Gummidge. She would look in the mirror and scream as loudly as she had as a child:

‘I HATE MY HAIR!!!’

It didn’t improve with age. She tried tying it back for work, but by the time she got to the office strands would be escaping and waving about in the breeze. One time she took the plunge and had it cut short. It looked fine for the rest of that day and she felt like a different person, confident and in control. But when she got up the next morning it was like she’d been visited by some malevolent goblin hairdresser in the night; her newly-shorn locks were sticking out in all directions. Unable to face the world looking like Johnny Rotten, she resorted to wearing a scarf until it grew back.

In time, she learned to live with her recalcitrant hair; after all, there were worse problems in the world. But she never learned to love it. She always had an uneasy feeling people were sniggering at it behind her back. And on very bad days she would still scream hatred at it in her mind, if not out loud.

She would sometimes fantasise that she had a lustrous waterfall of thick, glossy, dead straight hair pouring down her back. ‘But I’ve only got you,’ she would snarl at the mirror, pulling viciously at her unruly locks.

Lately, her hair had developed a new vice: it had started poking her in the eye. Strands would come from the sides and even the back of her head and insert themselves into her eyes, making them red and sore. Sometimes it happened so often, she would end up with a headache. Her eyes would stream and her nose would run and she would start to sneeze. People asked if she had a cold, or hay fever. She took to wearing an unattractive arrangement of hair grips in an attempt to keep it away from her face, but bits would always escape and resume the attack.

The situation got worse as the days went on. Her hair was in her eyes all the time, poking, poking, poking. It was also getting up her nose, in her ears and in her mouth. It seemed to have a mind of its own.

‘It’s like it’s alive!’ she said to herself in exasperation.

What was happening to her? Was she turning into some kind of gorgon? Would she wake up one morning with a head full of vipers? She told herself not to be silly. Things like that just didn’t happen.

She went to the hairdresser and had it cut as short as she could bear, in a twenties bob. But it could still reach her face, and the attacks got increasingly vicious. Worse still, it was growing at an unprecedented rate. Two days later the bob was history as her hair reached her shoulders. A week later it was halfway down her back. What was going on? She could almost see it growing!

A horrible suspicion crept into her mind. Was this her hair’s revenge for all those times she’d said she hated it?

She rushed out to the chemist and bought an arsenal of expensive hair products. Shampoos, conditioners, serums, waxes, mousses and sprays filled her bathroom shelves. She lavished loving care on her wild, rapidly-growing locks, pampering them with product and assuring her hair that she LOVED it, that it was BEAUTIFUL, but still it wouldn’t stop growing – or poking. Her eyes were constantly red and she developed a nasty rash on her face. She was also starting to hack up hairballs because she’d inadvertently swallowed so much of it in the night.

She began to feel frightened. Clearly her hair hadn’t believed her when she said she loved it. It knew deep down that she hated it more than ever.

She couldn’t go on like this; her hair was making her ill. She’d taken so much time off work, her boss was threatening to fire her. It was time for drastic action.

She was too embarrassed to go back to the hairdressers, so she got her best friend Jane to come round and shave her head. She looked awful afterwards, but it was a blessed relief to be free of that evil mop. People were used to seeing her in a scarf now and had stopped bothering to ask, in hushed tones, how the chemo was going.

The hair grew back, of course. This time it grew back so fast it was down to her feet in a week. She called Jane and asked her to come round with her clippers.

‘I can’t tonight, I’m going out,’ Jane said. ‘Will first thing in the morning do?’

It would have to. Suzanne went to bed and swallowed the sleeping pill she’d taken to using so her hair wouldn’t keep her awake.

When she woke up in the morning she thought she was having a nightmare, because the whole room was full of hair. She struggled out of bed and immediately tripped over a great skein of it that had stretched across the floor. And it was still growing, darkening the bedroom and obscuring her vision.

She crawled through the tangles to the door and pushed it open. The hair was growing out onto the landing and down the stairs, filling the house and wriggling out through the gaps around the window frames. It twisted itself into python-like ropes and wrapped itself round her body so she couldn’t move; then it reached for her neck…

Suzanne screamed for the last time.

When Jane came round with the clippers, Suzanne’s house couldn’t even be seen. It was completely encased in a vast nest of wild, frizzy, flyaway hair, which was still growing, advancing up the street at supernatural speed.

As it came for her, Jane dropped the clippers and ran for her life.

© Annabelle Franklin 2020

NB – My children’s novel Gateway to Magic is FREE to download for the rest of May!

Posted in Annabelle's writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Lurcher

Keith sunbathing

Hi, Keith here! I love my foster home – with its wide open spaces and rabbit-infested thickets, it’s the perfect place for a dog to spend the lockdown. There’s a big beach, and a massive golf course with no golfers on it because no one’s allowed to play golf at the moment. I expect the golfers hate that, but I love it because there’s plenty of space to run about while keeping a safe distance from others.

The  only downside is the electric fences around the greens. I was unlucky enough to brush up against one of those the other day. I didn’t know what had happened at the time. I thought I’d been bitten by some vicious monster – it wasn’t a normal bite, but a burning, tingling bite, full of evil magic. I ran for my life to get away from this demonic entity, and the humans didn’t have a hope of catching me.

silhouette of dinosaur on night sky

Photo by ~ Steinkirch on Pexels.com

I went on running until I was exhausted. I’d managed to outrun the Monster of the Golf Course, but now I was completely lost, miles from home in unfamiliar territory. I tried backtracking the way I’d come, but I’d employed so many dodges and detours to throw off the pursuit, I kept losing the scent and going round in circles. People I’d never seen before were calling my name, which scared me even more. They seemed like nice people, but I didn’t know them, so I kept my distance. For hours I wandered hopelessly through the woods and fields, feeling scared and lonely and wishing I was home in my nice warm bed.

Keith in bed (4)

By the time it got dark, I was hungry as well as scared. I thought I’d better head for the nearest village and see if I could find something to eat. I tried the Co-Op, but it was shut. Then I found some food that someone had dropped in the entrance to the school. While I was eating it, a man appeared with a special lamp for tracking down animals in the dark. I was going to run away again, then I heard a familiar voice calling my name. It looked like Snip and Frieda’s human, Jan, waving a bag of treats, but I wasn’t sure so I stayed where I was. Then I saw Snip’s other human, Alain, and I knew my Greyhound Rescue friends had come to get me. I ran up to him and he put me in the car and brought me home. It was wonderful to see Annabelle again and know I was safe.

Keith and me

I’ve found out why all those strangers were calling my name. I’m famous! Annabelle had posted about me all over Facebook. She’d been taking calls from people who’d spotted me and passing on the sightings to other people who were searching. We couldn’t get over how many people went out of their way to look for me, and I feel a bit bad about giving them the runaround. In fact I feel a bit silly about the whole thing, now Annabelle has explained that electric fences aren’t demons and they can’t chase you.

Apparently, I ran about five miles! No wonder I’m still cream-crackered.

Keith akimbo

Posted in Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Press the button if you dare! #kidlit #freebook

Life’s no joke now we’ve all been grounded, particularly for kids who need distracting from all the bad news! If you have an avid young reader who’s running out of entertainment, you might like to check out my book Gateway to Magic – it’s FREE in the Smashwords Authors Give Back sale, which has just been extended to May 31.

GatewayToMagicFrontCoverCompThe hero of Gateway to Magic is 11 year old Steven Topcliff, a sensitive and imaginative boy who’s learned to hide these qualities in order to ‘fit in’.  An only child, he lives in a well-ordered home with a loving family.  His Mum is a bit of a worrier, and her anxious nature has rubbed off on him.

Steven spends most of his time in his bedroom, glued to his games console.  He doesn’t want to think about the coming autumn, when he has to start comprehensive school – he’s heard rumours about rampant bullying and ridiculous amounts of homework.  The gaming world is a world he can control, where he can be a powerful hero.

Steven doesn’t believe in fairies or magic – that stuff is strictly for girls – so he’s horrified when he finds himself in Fairyland.  He’s even more horrified when he discovers there are no video games.  He has to learn to fit in all over again, in a place that’s far more dangerous than any school.  If he wants to get back to his own world, he’ll have to wake up that rusty imagination and use it for all he’s worth.

Likes:

  • A video game called McDivott (it’s his favourite)
  • Cartoons
  • Chicken nuggets and chips

Dislikes:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Fungus (he’s allergic to it)
  • His cousin Tracy

Reviews:

This story threw me back to Enid Blyton, but the snappy, witty dialogue gives a wink to adults reading it aloud. If I was still teaching, my young students and I would be settling down to this imaginative story in the classroom. Fiction is compellingly woven as fact (yes, I believe!) and Annabelle knows what makes children laugh. I particularly liked the bit about being the age you want to be, the Forest of Pointy Fingers and the ShapeWatchers Program. – Susan Lattwein, Amazon

Bought this because it’s about a boy who’s spending increasing amounts of time playing computer games and is drawn away by events into a world that’s even more exciting.
I was afraid that my grandson might find it preachy or pompous and told him not to worry if he didn’t get on with it. He took it on holiday with him, along with half-a-dozen other books and this is the one that he mentioned whilst on holiday and again when home. He really enjoyed it and so I give it a well-deserved 5* – you can’t beat a recommendation from the target audience! – MacTrish, Amazon

Gateway to Magic by Annabelle Franklin was a cute, quick read with some valuable lessons within. I shared this book with my little ones, who absolutely loved it. From their point of view it was ‘awesome’. The author did a wonderful job of painting the scenes, making things very easy to visualise, most especially the Forest of Pointy Fingers! I love it when authors bring a story to life by word-painting, and Franklin doesn’t disappoint! Franklin’s Gateway to Magic is perfectly tailored to its target audience, as my brood can well attest. They all loved it, and we’ll be reading it again for sure! – J. Aislynn d’Merrickson, Readers’ Favorite

Get your free copy HERE!

 

 

Posted in Annabelle's writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Guest Post from Keith the Lurcher

Keith in bed (4)Hi, I’m Keith! I’m a four-year-old Lurcher and I’m staying with Annabelle while Greyhound Rescue Wales sorts me out a forever home. Annabelle has asked me to tell you a bit about myself, so here goes…

I’m a mixture of Greyhound and Staffy with a dash of Collie, which makes me very handsome and intelligent. You might not be able to see from the photos, but my eyes are a mixture of brown and blue – Annabelle says they remind her of marbles or rock pools.

I love to be with people and I’m very well behaved in the house as long as I’ve got company. Once I’ve been for a walk I’m happy to sleep in my bed or next to you on the couch. I’m learning to sit or go to my bed when I’m told, and I know I must ask to go out if I need the toilet.

Keith on couch

I like my foster home, but I’ve got to be honest – Annabelle does have a couple of issues. For a start, she hasn’t got a dog, and I do like to live with other dogs. I lived with a Chihuahua for a while, and we were great friends. I like children too, and Annabelle doesn’t have any.

Then there’s her attitude to this nasty bug that’s going round. I’m not sure she’s taking it seriously, so I’ve been trying to help her with self isolation and social distancing. If she’s out of the house without me for more than twenty minutes, I’ve been leaving her a pee-mail in the kitchen to let her know she’s late. And when we go out together, I’ve been barking at other dogs to make sure they stay two metres away from us.

Annabelle has assured me the bug doesn’t affect dogs. She also says it’s not up to me to keep her safe, it’s up to her to keep me safe, and my only job is to enjoy life. I’m still trying to get my head around this, but we’re working on it.

The other day we went for a walk with two lovely dogs called Snip and Frieda. I barked at them at first, but we soon made friends and all I wanted to do was play with them. We went on the beach and Annabelle let me off the lead for the first time. I had great fun running with Snip the Lurcher and chasing Frieda the Greyhound, who is gorgeous. They told me off if I got too bouncy or sniffed Frieda’s bum, and I backed off straight away. I’m not looking for a fight!

Snip and Frieda at Earlswood (4)

My new mates!

I’m really grateful to Greyhound Rescue Wales for finding me this foster home and sorting me out a forever home, but they couldn’t do it without the help of kind humans. If you’d like to support them, you can find out here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Life without the Storyhounds

When you’ve had dogs for a long time, it’s hard to accept their absence. As well as missing their individual personalities, you miss that canine presence in the home. There’s something magical about the presence of a dog. Mine used to sleep a lot, and I used to imagine they were visiting the astral plane hunting down ideas for my stories.

I also have the more practical problem of what to do with my blog now my Storyhounds have crossed the Bridge, as they used to ‘write’ most of my posts. That’s the trouble with a dog blog – what do you do when the dogs have gone?

This blog may have to evolve, but it’s not going away, so please stick with it if you can! I’d welcome your suggestions – what sort of posts would you like to see here?

Posted in Annabelle, Annabelle's writing, Millie, Pearl | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Tribute to Pearl

Pearl first came to me as a short-term foster from Greyhound Rescue Wales in March 2010. An ex-racing Greyhound, she’d originally been in the care of the RSPCA in Lincolnshire. At just over  a year old, she was young for her racing career to have ended. Her ears were highly sensitive, and it’s my guess she was too unnerved by the noise at the track to be any good as a racer.

When she first arrived she was terrified to go outside, spending most of her time hiding in the back room, snapping and snarling whenever the lead was produced. I don’t mind admitting she scared me at times! However, the gentle expression in her eyes belied the outbursts of fear-aggression, and I knew she had the potential to be a sweet-natured girl.

Over the next few weeks, with the help of many treats and my Lurcher Millie, I coaxed her to come out for walks until she was used to it.

That was when GRW tried to home her. I really hoped it would work out, as I wasn’t sure I could take on such a reactive dog long term. But three weeks later she was back. I’m not sure what went wrong, but I’m guessing she freaked out when she found herself in a strange new area and turned back into the Great White Monster when it was time for “walkies”. So the kind people at GRW decided she could stay here for good if I was willing to take her on as a lifetime foster.

I decided then I would commit to giving Pearl a safe and loving home with me and Millie, and she became a Greyhound Rescue sponsor dog, helping to raise money for the charity. I’ve never regretted my decision. During the time she spent with me she changed from a traumatised and desperately defensive dog to a loving and affectionate companion who loved life and jumped for joy at the sight of the lead. I hardly had to do anything; once she knew she was safe, she blossomed of her own accord.

Now she’s gone I can’t believe I was ever unsure about taking her on. She was a very special girl and I would do anything to have her back, healthy and happy.

Photos: header, top and bottom Debra Allen

 

Posted in Pearl | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Sad News About Pearl

I’m so sorry to have to tell you that Pearl crossed the Bridge on Saturday.

She took a turn for the worse last week as more of her joints flared up. The vets diagnosed polyarthritis and prescribed steroids, but her body couldn’t cope with them. She became very ill and went into collapse. Since she was unable to take the medication needed to keep her out of severe pain, the kindest thing to do was put her to sleep.

She is very much missed by all of us who loved her.

Pearl in bluebells

PEARL 2009-2020

 

Posted in Pearl | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments

Read Your Dog a Story! #WorldReadAloudDay

Hi, Pearl here! I’ve been unwell for the last couple of weeks, with some sort of acute arthritis which made my front feet swell up. It was really painful for a while, and I’ve had to take nasty medicine. The upside of this is I get chicken and turkey and ham to disguise the taste. It’s wonderful to have turkey back in my life after being deprived of it since Christmas.

The downside – apart from the pain – is not being able to go for walks. I’ve been very bored, and Annabelle has been reading me her work in progress to keep me entertained. This is good for her as well as me, because reading aloud helps her spot mistakes in her stories – and if she misses one, I can put her right.

ANNABELLE, THAT SENTENCE WAS RUBBISH!

We dogs love to be read to. Some schools have schemes where kids can improve their reading skills by reading to a visiting dog. I would love to do that, but unfortunately I’m scared of children. I don’t mind if one or two come up and stroke me, as long as they’re quiet and gentle; but a whole class of them would terrify me.

Today is World Read Aloud Day, so why not try reading to your dog?  I know not all dogs are literate like me, but we all love the sound of our humans’ voices!

Posted in Annabelle's writing, Pearl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments