Donate a Book to a Worthwhile Cause #MARCHingBookstoKids #PBPiO

pbpio-badge11We are delighted to be donating a book to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa Storybook Project. This March, a signed copy of ‘The Slapstyx’ will be winging its way across the pond for parents (and grandparents) in prison to read to their children.

Want to join in?  You don’t need to have written a book – all children’s books are welcome as long as they’re in good condition.

Visit author Michelle Eastman’s page for details – and while you’re there, you might like to check out her tales of the Dust Fairies. We suspect they could be distant relatives of the Slapstyx dirt-goblins!

 

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Top Ten Dog Training Mistakes – Guest post by Blogger Kevin Davies…

At last! Some commonsense dog training tips!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

dog-training

For all the wonders of owning a dog, they do come complete with quite a few nasty habits. From trying to eat the cat to urinating on the carpet, an untrained dog can be quite a handful indeed.

The good news is that just about any dog can be trained. The only problem is that it’s not something that can be done overnight. It’s something that takes time, effort, and above all, quite a bit of patience.

Should you be considering undertaking the challenge of turning a wild hound into a loving pet, an excellent place to start is learning what not to do. Here are ten mistakes that can make training a dog far more difficult than it needs to be.

Being Inconsistent

Consistency is key if you want to properly train your dog. It’s important to decide early on where your dog is and isn’t allowed to…

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Attitude of Grumpitude

It’s a strange fact of life that we dogs start out much younger than our human companions, but end up much older – and often wiser.

As a pup I was taught certain things that seemed illogical to me. One of these was going to the bathroom outside. This made no sense because the bathroom was inside the house – humans didn’t go outside to use it, so why did I have to? But I wanted Annabelle to be pleased with me, so I learned fast, and for most of my life I’ve always done my ‘business’ outside.

Millie papped pooping

Now, however, I’ve reached a stage in life where this isn’t always possible. I can’t always last the night without ’emptying’, and if Annabelle isn’t awake to let me out I have to do it in the actual bathroom. I get it as close to the toilet as I can, but I’m the wrong shape to sit on the pan so it has to go on the floor.

sit-on-this

How am I meant to sit on that?

Annabelle doesn’t get cross with me – not obviously, anyway – but I can sense she’s not happy when she has to clean up a puddle of wee first thing in the morning. I can hear her muttering about the bathroom smelling like a manky fish and chip shop. She has even got me medicine to try and stop it happening, but it doesn’t always work.

propalin-2

I can’t help feeling her attitude is unreasonable. Show me a human who can go all night without getting up to use the bathroom! As long as I’ve known Annabelle she’s had to get up at least once a night, and she’s nowhere near as old as me. But does she take medicine to stop it happening? I don’t think so!

Annabelle’s current bad attitude isn’t limited to my toilet habits. I’ve sensed a cloud of gloom around her for some time now, and she always seems to be grizzling about something or other.

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I’m hoping things will improve when she’s writing again. Annabelle is never really happy unless she’s working on a story, and she’s had to leave the first draft of her new book to ‘rest’ much longer than planned while she deals with some boring money problem.

whats-this-mess

I know life isn’t always easy for her, but it’s the same for everyone and complaining doesn’t help. She’d want to be grateful for the good things in her life – an attitude of grumpitude only attracts more stuff to grumble about.

We dogs might need training as pups, but the older we get, the more it seems it’s the humans who need training. We could teach them a lot about living in the moment and focussing on life’s goodies – lessons that make more sense than the one about going to the bathroom outside.

Millie happy with ball

NB – this isn’t an advertisement and I haven’t been paid to promote Propalin

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Say Bye-Bye To The Black Fairy

black-fairy

black-fairy-on-tree-2

black-fairy-on-tree

She’s flying back to Fairyland today, having completed her yearly stint on our tree.

When do YOU take down your decorations?

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The Hangover

We went to a party at Snip and Freda’s last night and we’re in no fit state to make resolutions…

hungover-millie

…in fact, right now we just wish 2017 would go away…

hungover-pearl

Don’t be sick on the SAD lamp, Pearl!

…but we’d like to wish the rest of you a very happy New Year!!

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Millie’s Christmas Message – Join The Hillcrest Supper Club!

millie-and-xmas-tree

When I was a pup I used to love playing with paper; it was very satisfying to tear it up and chew it into small soggy pieces. Sometimes I would even chew banknotes! Fortunately for Annabelle, I’ve grown out of it now.

Humans never seem to grow out of paper. Annabelle in particular lives in permanent paper chaos, and it gets worse at Christmas, with the postman delivering wads of it every day – Christmas cards, whole books of paper telling you about stuff you must buy, and sheets of it asking for money.

Many of these are from charities. ‘I can’t afford to give to them all!’ Annabelle complains. ‘I’d like to give to some of them, but I can’t make up my mind.’ So she keeps all the paper until she has made up her mind.

Not that charity is a bad thing. If it wasn’t for charity, Pearl and I might not be around today. Greyhound Rescue Wales saved Pearl from a life on the streets and me from a man who only wanted dogs who could make him a lot of money. I’m not very good at making money – only at chewing it – so he didn’t want me. Who knows what would have happened to us if we hadn’t been rescued?

Many dogs need rescuing at Christmas. Some are evicted from their homes because their humans can’t afford to feed them once they’ve spent all their money on Christmas tat. Other humans give dogs to their friends as presents. Can you believe that? I can’t imagine humans wanting to be given as presents, like they’re a toy or something – so why do they think it’s okay to do it to a dog? Often their friends don’t even want a dog that much, and the dog ends up being thrown out with the Christmas rubbish on Boxing Day. Humans are terrible for getting bored with their presents when Christmas is over. So the charities have to take care of the dogs till they find humans who do want them.

Greyhound Rescue Wales has a sanctuary in a place called Hillcrest, where around 14 dogs are waiting to adopt a loving human. That doesn’t sound like many, but we sighthounds are big dogs and get through a lot of food, so GRW have started the Hillcrest Supper Club. Anyone can join this club for as little as £1 a month, and if 500 humans joined it would cover food and treats for all the residents.

Pearl and I get plenty of treats from family and friends at Christmas, but the dogs at Hillcrest have to rely on charity – so if you’d like to give us a present, we’d like nothing better than for you to join the Supper Club. You’d really be helping out the dogs at Hillcrest and the lovely humans who care for them.

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A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR READERS

 

 

 

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The Cult of the Almighty Sofa

???????????????????????????????It came to pass that one cold midwinter night three smart suits did travel the world in search of new and lucrative business. And lo! A star rose in the west and guided them to a small shop where a man was selling furniture, and in the display window he had placed a large and comfy sofa. And the three suits did bow down and worship, for they had found what they were looking for.

So they went thenceforth and founded their church in a large glass-fronted edifice and they did name it Divine Family Sofas and did fill it with furniture. And they declared that at midwinter each year every household in the land should purchase a new sofa if they wished to stand high in the regard of their neighbours and their mother-in-law. And each year from September onwards they should spend each evening in the loving arms of their sofa and worship the Almighty Screen that did bring the Divine Message preached by suits all over the planet:

HURRY, HURRY, HURRY! BUY, BUY, BUY! GRAB IT NOW!

And verily this message did drive them out into the streets and into the Kingdom of Cyberspace to spend all their hard-earned cash on the overpriced tat that did appear to them on the Divine Screen, for they had been told they must do this by the time of the Festival of the Holy Sofa if they were to look well in the eyes of their loved ones. This was painful to the people and did fill them with exhaustion and stress so that by the time of the Festival they were driven to assuage their anxiety with an excessive consumption of alcohol and food.

And it came to pass that a holy man came among them and asked them ‘Why is it that you behave thus? This should be a time of great blessing, a time to rest from your labours and gather energy for the coming year, instead of which you are depleting yourselves with stress and overindulgence and beginning the New Year with almighty hangovers, raging indigestion and mounting debt!’ But the people heard him not.

And behold, the suits did descend from their ivory towers and cast the holy man into the wilderness where he couldn’t bother anyone. Then they went back home to count their money.

Sofas are awesome!

Sofas are awesome!

(NB – You don’t have to hurry, grab or buy any of the books on this page… but ‘The Slapstyx’ or ‘Gateway to Magic’ might make a good gift for a young reader!)

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How To Make Your Own Christmas Song

Want to survive the holidays without getting into debt? Forget those ‘hamper’ catalogues you have to pay into all year – a successful Christmas record will pay for your Christmas shopping every year for the rest of your life. And it’s so easy to do!

Here is what you’ll need:

  • A half-decent singing voice
  • Your local primary school choir
  • Jingly bells
  • Chimes
  • A Phil Specter wall of sound
  • A burst of Wizzard-style sax
  • A handful of cheesy seasonal lyrics
  • The keys C major, A minor, F major and G major (in that order)

Mix the ingredients well in a small studio, post on YouTube the day after Easter and marinate for 6 months.

Good luck!christmas-world-clipart-santa-claus-photos

Image from Photobucket

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The Gateway Opens #kidlit #dreamdeeply

gateway-to-magic-opensThe button opened like a great big eye. Inside was a spinning kaleidoscope of forest foliage, which spread out rapidly in a circle. Everything around it – trees, fungus, beer cans, Tracy, the stone itself – rose up and formed a swirling tornado-like tube. Steven stopped being Steven and joined the whirling tangle of leaves and brambles as it became a complicated geometric pattern in shades of green, yellow and orange light, like living stained glass.

Steven could never remember exactly what happened next because he lost consciousness, and when he first woke up his mind was a total jumble. The only other time he’d woken up feeling like this was after he’d had his tonsils out; but now he was lying on dirty old leaves instead of a clean hospital trolley.

As his head cleared, he remembered pressing the dreaded red button. His heart lurched and he sat up with a gasp.

To his relief, he still appeared to be in the clearing. His watch had stopped at 6.45, but he guessed it must be pretty late; all signs of sunlight had vanished and it was even darker than before. Tracy had gone, and someone had cleared away all the old beer cans and other trash – including the stone.

‘The park keeper must have been here,’ thought Steven. ‘Why didn’t he wake me up? I’ve been asleep for ages.’

He got up, brushing dead leaves off his clothes and trying to make sense of what had happened. ‘I suppose I must have had a look through that Gateway,’ he said shakily. ‘Tracy did say we could just look…’

Where was Tracy? She must have gone home without him. Typical – leaving him to sleep on and get into trouble for being late.

Why had he gone to sleep, anyway? He looked around the clearing and shivered.

‘Time I was out of here,’ he muttered. ‘Looks like I’ve had a lucky escape.’

He began to pick his way back along the bramble path, eager to get home and back to normality. He hoped Mum wouldn’t confiscate his GameBox to punish him for being late. He was looking forward to a game of McDivott before bed…

It seemed to be taking him ages to get out of the copse. He stopped and looked around, but all he could see were endless trees in all directions.

‘I must have come the wrong way,’ he thought. ‘I didn’t think the wood was this big…’

Then he realised the trees themselves had got bigger. Huge, in fact, with great big thick trunks and tall twisty branches that stretched up into the twilit sky. Neatly-cut grass covered the ground, dotted with small bright flowers of every colour. Weirdest of all, everything was glowing slightly, from the smooth green lawn under his feet to the small patches of deep blue he could see through the foliage overhead.

‘How did all this get here?’ he asked himself. ‘And why is everything glowing, now the sun’s gone down?’

Things didn’t just glow on their own. At least, not in the normal world…

‘Oh no,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘Oh no. It can’t be…’

Now he really was scared. He dashed about madly, first one way, then another, trying to find a way out of this weird wood. He went on running until he was out of breath, then sat down on the grass and shut his eyes tight.

‘Please, please, make it go away,’ he wailed.

‘Make what go away?’ said a cheerful voice nearby.

‘All this,’ said Steven, shutting his eyes tighter still. ‘F-Fairyland, or whatever it is. It’s not supposed to exist!’

‘Sorry about that,’ said the voice. ‘But I’m afraid it very much does exist, which means I can’t really make it go away. I suppose what you actually want me to do is make you go away.’

‘Can you do that?’ said Steven.

‘I can try.’

‘Oh, yes, please! Just do it, now.’

‘All right, then. Open your eyes.’

Steven opened his eyes. Before him on the gently glowing grass stood the most hideous creature he’d ever seen in his life.

It was a spider – but a ridiculously big one, about twice the size of Steven himself. Yellow and black tiger stripes covered its great fat body and long hairy legs. It had ten horrid red eyes waving about on stalks, and a cavernous mouth lined with giant yellow fangs that dripped with noxious green gunge.

Faced with a horror of this enormity, there was only one thing to do. Steven turned and ran for his life.

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What is it about Freda?

Some time ago I posted about a gorgeous Greyhound called George, who was a talented singer. When Pearl saw his video she fell in love, and he’s been her idol ever since.

He's so ripped!

He’s so ripped!

Recently George came to stay with Snip and Freda, and we were invited to join them on a walk. Before we left, Pearl spent hours in front of the mirror perfecting her bedroom eyes and practising her elegant stance. I told her not to get her hopes up – after all, George has a lot of fans – but she wouldn’t listen. She was out to get the man of her dreams.

She did look stunning when we set off, and at first things seemed to go well. Even I thought George might be falling for her charms…five-pointy-dogs-closer

 

…but it soon became obvious he wasn’t interested.

He's just not that into you

He’s just not that into you

Sadly, George only had eyes for Freda’s witchy little face. Pearl was devvo. ‘What’s she got that I haven’t?’ she demanded.

‘She’s got George,’ I said. That didn’t go down well at all.

mills-and-pearl

‘Maybe it’s what you’re wearing,’ I said, trying to be constructive. ‘What d’you expect if you go around in a collar that says “I need space”?’

‘I was playing hard to get,’ she explained.

‘When did that ever work?’

‘It’s working for Freda!’

It was, too. Whenever George approached Freda she ran away, which just made him chase her all the more.

george-chasing-freda

Pearl has been miserable ever since and won’t shut up about her disastrous love life. She feels she’s reached middle age and missed the boat, and she can’t bear the thought of George preferring a younger woman. I ‘ve tried to be sympathetic, but it’s starting to get old – she needs to quit with the drama and get over it.

Now she knows how I feel when she muscles in on my love life and then points out that I’m past it.

Labyrinth of LURVE

Labyrinth of LURVE

beth-and-george2You may have noticed an improvement in the quality of photos in this post. They were taken by George’s human Bethan Hellings, a member of Snip’s family and talented designer responsible for the artwork on the front of Annabelle’s children’s books.

 

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