Thursday, November 19, 2015

Even dogs in the wild

Over the past few days, I've been reading Ian Rankin's latest Rebus novel, "Even dogs in the wild". This is a piece of pure vintage Rankin with the familiar characters of John Rebus, Siobhan Clarke and 'Big Ger' Cafferty along with recent addition Malcolm Fox taking part. Rebus may be retired but he acts as he has always acted; Clarke is always the stabilising force, and Fox allows Rankin some characterisation which doesn't normally appear (no spoilers!). Unfortunately, the older Rebus gets, the less he listens to music - although there is some form of explanation, saying that one of the loudspeakers in Rebus' flat is broken.

I'm not going to write much about the book as I am sure there will be review upon review which will do the job satisfactorily. I do like how the clues which become apparent right at the very end were skillfully sown into the narrative at the beginning; I only picked these up whilst rereading.

I want to write about one possible item which got through the copy editing and had me scratching my head (fortunately, it's not that important a point). The book starts with Fox having to clear his room as a team from Glasgow are coming in. Fox's boss says that there are six members of the team, and at one stage they are even named (Ricky Compston, Alec Bell, Beth Hastie, Bob Selway, Jake Emerson and Peter Hughes). Yet for some reason, there are only five desks in the room. Then there is this exchange:

‘Explains why my boss thought we were welcoming a team of six,’ Fox added.
‘Aye, someone at Gartcosh bolloxed that up – and got Ricky Compston raging at them for their efforts.’

In other words, it seems that Rankin had originally intended to write along the lines that Gartcosh ("now home to the Scottish Crime Squad) informed Edinburgh that six people were coming ... but only five arrived, the inference being that the missing person is a mole. This supposition supports the above quote. But somewhere along the long, six people did actually arrive, so the editing process messed this up.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Going to see a man about a dog

Yesterday, we "went to see a man about a dog", or in other words, went to a dog shelter to see whether there was a dog available for adoption which met our requirements. When we spoke to the supervisor on the phone in order to check whether they had dogs (the previous day we had phoned somewhere else and were told that they had no dogs for adoption), we were told very enthusiastically that they had 120 dogs and that we were very welcome to visit.

The shelter is about 20 minutes' drive from our home, coincidentally where my brother in law and his family live. This is a rural setting and the shelter has plenty of room. When we arrived, we saw many dogs milling around outside, playing or resting, along with about ten people. Most of the people actually work in the shelter; there were only a few outsiders checking adoption. Unfortunately, of those 120 dogs, about 110 are male and we want a female – this creates fewer problems with the other dogs on the kibbutz. First, we checked the dogs which were enclosed in pens (or cells); these were all male. Of course, all the dogs are of mixed breed; it's difficult to imagine how a pedigree dog would end up in such reduced circumstances, and anyway the folk wisdom is that mixed breeds are hardier than pedigrees.

We did find two bitches outside: one was almost all white and one was almost all black.  After some thought – and taking one for a short walk – we decided to adopt the black one ("Cora" – probably someone had been watching Downton Abbey). She's a size or two smaller than Mocha, and about a year and a half old. Although the supervisor tried to tell us the dog's history, it was very hard to hear for all the barking (we had come at feeding time). We think that she was brought up with a family and then something happened. The supervisor was only too willing to allow us to take the dog for a test period, between a week and a month. If everything works out, then we will notify the shelter in order to receive the dog's documentation. We will also have to ensure that the data saved in the dog's chip will be changed. This idea of a test period is very good; it takes a few days for any dog to get accustomed to new surroundings (especially after the somewhat less than salubrious surroundings of a dog shelter) and some prospective adopters have to get used to the idea of having a dog.

Yesterday evening went reasonably well: Cora was very quiet, but of course she needs to get used to us and the house (and especially to the smell of a non-existent dog). We went out for three walks yesterday evening and one this morning, so that she could get used to the regular walking path. She didn't sniff very much, and more importantly, did not excrete. Unfortunately, she did empty her bowels this morning – but inside the house. Hopefully these behaviours will change quickly. I haven't heard one bark although she did cry when she was left on her own this morning (on the balcony, not inside).