Parrot Cake


In a departmental store, not far from you, is a manageress I shall call Betty.

Betty loves to bake cakes.

Betty bakes cakes each week and takes one to work with her on Fridays for all the members of staff to enjoy during their tea or lunch break.

The staff members cannot wait until Friday comes so that they can enjoy the very tasty cakes.  It is a special treat for them and brightens up what is often a very dull day or even week!

An employee at the said departmental store, whom I shall call Sally, loved Betty’s cakes very much.

She loved them so much that she asked Betty if she would not mind baking her one to take to her mother on Mothering Sunday.

Betty said that she did not mind baking a special cake for Sally’s mother.  She asked Sally to call round the following Thursday, as that was the day she did most of her baking.

Sally turned up on the Thursday.  Betty asked her to come into the kitchen as she had finished the special Mother’s Day cake and was making another one to take to work the following day.

Sally stepped into the kitchen and to her horror she saw a parrot sitting on the food processing machine enjoying the ride.

As the mixing bowl was going round and round, so was the parrot.

“He loves to sit on the mixing bowl while I make my cakes’, said Betty.  He sits there for hours just whirling around along with the food mixer.

Yes, the parrot was sitting and shitting at the same time.  The parrot poo was going straight into the cake mix below!

Sally took her special cake home with her, however on the Saturday she went and bought a shop made cake from the local supermarket and took that one to her mother.

After that all staff members at the departmental store made excuses to bring their own cakes into work!

This is a true story.  Only the names have been changed to avoid being prosecuted!

copyright Barbara Burgess 2016


Hijack Flight 222

Hijack Flight 222

My story is about a Greyhound.  He was white.  He was owned by a very dear friend of mine who bred racing greyhounds.

My friend lived in a very large farmhouse in a very small village.

She bred what she thought was an amazing dog and sold the puppy to USA.

This happened a very long time ago and during a period when aircraft were being hijacked.

My friend bred many litters and it must have been a bit of a dilemma as to what name to give each puppy.  This particular white, male pup she decided to call Hijack.

She duly had his vaccinations done and his health check and then she crated  him up and took him off to the airport for his trip to America.

On her way home she stopped in the centre of the sleepy, little village and went into the Post Office cum stores and sent a telegram to the new owners of the dog.

The telegram read:

Hijack Flight 222.

Yes, this was in the days when you sent telegrams to people.

It was also in the days of ‘Mr. Plod The Policeman.’

An hour after my friend got home there was a gentle knock on her front door and there was the village Bobby whom she knew very well.

He asked her something on the lines of, ‘what do you know about hijacking an airplane?’  To which my friend burst out laughing and told the rather confused policeman that she had put her dog called Hijack on Flight 222.

‘Ah’ the policeman said, ‘I thought you wouldn’t be into hijacking planes.’  And with that he got back on his bike and road off down the country lane.


Barbara Burgess ©2015

Image courtesy of James Barker at

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The Fly


The Fly

Does anyone remember the film, The Fly, from about 1986?

When you look back at films like, The Day of The Trifids, they seem rather puny alongside today’s horror movies, and yet, in my day, they were very scary indeed!

This story is about Stripey, who I have written a post about before, and a fly.

Stripey was a giant of a Lurcher.  Imagine the biggest Greyhound that you can, all muscle, shiny coat, chunky legs and huge feet.  This was Stripey.  A gorgeous looking animal indeed.

Stripey was scared of many things though.  He probably lived in kennels a great deal for the first 18 months of his life and so was not adjusted to the outside world.

He was frightened of lampshades and things above his head or noises coming from upstairs.  He was also frightened of street signs.

I remember passing a transit van that was advertising a t.v programme and it had a huge picture of a green giant on it.  Stripey would not pass the van.  He barked and barked at it.

We often fed Stripey outside, weather permitting, and flies would come around his food. He spent ages chasing them off.

Our Collie loved to roll in anything from fox poo to horse muck,and she often smelled, and flies would follow her around.  Stripey did not like these flies and he chased them all the time, often forgetting his meal.

Stripey was not inclined to roll in stuff.  He must have been watching our Collie and he did roll in the grass once, copying her.  He also tried to put his shoulder to the ground once, but that was not quite his scene.  He preferred to smell nice.  I used to call our Collie a ‘farm dog’.  She would swim and then roll in leaves and corn and come up looking as if she had been plastered in glue and had all the leaves and wheat stems stuck to her.  Plus the smell that went with it all!

One summer we had all the doors and windows open, and I am not one for killing flies or anything, and so the blue bottles kept buzzing round the house, chased by Stripey.

He did manage to kill one.  I wondered where he had gone as he had stopped running about.  I found him hiding under the dining room table.  He was staring at the dead fly in the middle of the hall floor! The tiny fly, dead on the floor, and the huge Stripey hiding under the table scared stiff of it!  I tried to coax him out, saying that it was only a fly, but he would have none of it.  He did not come out until I disposed of the little critter.


Barbara Burgess ©2015

Magic or Miracle?

Magic or Miracle?

Magic or Miracle?  Or maybe Angels at work.

We have a new puppy.

He was 8 months old when we got him.

He lived on a farm.

As he was not inoculated when we first had him he had to stay in our garden for five weeks, in between his inoculations and waiting until he was able to go out.

Border Collies are high active dogs and so we kept him busy with training exercises and I have some little jumps and things to occupy his mind and keep him fit.  We also took him for rides in the car and hubby would sit in the car with the back open while I went shopping, so that our new little puppy could get used to strange noises and even stranger people and other dogs.

When I took him out for the first time he was a bit overwhelmed with all the smells of the surrounding countryside.  Horses.  Although he had lived on a farm with horses.  No doubt the new scents brought back fond memories for him.

Doggy smells, rabbit and so on.

When I left the house my computer was still on and the pages that were open were Facebook and Outlook and a  page where I was waiting for a video to download.

When I got back to the house the page that was open on the screen was ‘Universal Hand and Verbal Signals’ for training Border Collies.

Now, if that is not a miracle then I do not know what is.

Or, as I believe, the Angels were working on my behalf.

Barbara Burgess © 18/03/2015

Drowning Dog

Drowning Dog


Stripey was named Stripey by the rescue kennels from whence he came.

He lived in two homes before we had him.  At least he was found on the streets and then adopted by an elderly gentleman who found him a bit too big and a bit too much to handle.  So apart from his two homes and then twice in the rescue kennels he had moved about quite a bit.

Stripey was a Lurcher and the size of a small donkey.  In fact we often said he thought he was a donkey.

He was about eighteen months old when we first had him.  After he had settled in I let him off the lead in a large field but he did not run or go anywhere.  I think he was not used to being off the lead or running.

Stripey was quite scared of things.  Scared of bollards and street furniture.  Scared of lampshades and light bulbs and scared of other dogs at first.  Whenever he saw another dog he would hide in the bushes and then come out when he thought it was safe once more.  If a dog played with him or chased him then he would hobble about on three legs screaming his head off.  I would run over to him and the dog owner would keep on saying sorry, however I think this was how Stripey used his safety mechanism.  It must have worked once and so he used it all the time.  I would rub his leg and shoulder and within seconds he would be right as rain once more.  He was one great big softy.

We took him to the woods one day and he went in amongst the trees and began to bark.  We went in after him and he had found a baby hedgehog.  He was so excited.  He was barking and wagging his tail, ‘look mum, look what I have found.’

Stripey would not harm a flea, not even a rabbit.  This may be why he was found on the streets, abandoned.  He may have been used for hunting and as he did not have any killer instinct then he may have been turfed out.

He was always after food.  I took him over our local park one day, and this backs onto a school playground.  Somehow he managed to squirm under the school railings and he spent ten minuets devouring all the kids leftovers that were scattered about the playground.  He looked very fat when he came back!  And, luckily he was still able to wriggle through the hole beneath the fence.

We took Stripey on holiday to Kielder Forest with our daughter and son in law and their lovely dog. Stripey was merrily running down the path that led to the lake.  The only thing is that he forgot to stop and had not got a clue what water was.  He carried on running and went straight into the lake and went under.  He completely disappeared.  Luckily I did not see what happened or else I would have been screaming with dread.  The rest of the group did see Stripey submerge and my daughter was about to panic when Stripey’s head popped up followed by the rest of his floating and floundering body.

Luckily he stayed on the surface and that is when I saw him thrashing and splashing his front paws in the air.  Thank goodness too that  he safely made it to the bank and then with great excitement at his adventure he chased his pal, the other dog,  amongst the trees and eventually this exercise dried him out.

Later on we had a small job of getting him used to water again and swimming but in the end he loved it and retrieved well in water.

Once I took him to a lake for a swim and he saw a swan in the middle of the lake and he just kept on swimming after it.  I really thought that was the last I would see of him, however he did turn back and then had a mad five minutes running round the field.

Stripey enjoyed spending time up the allotment with us.  One day I was picking the raspberries and Stripey watched me intently and then he too began to pick them.  The only thing is that he ate the ones he picked!

Stripey barked a great deal when we first had him.  Actually he was quiet for the first night and you would not have known he was there.  He lay on the hall floor in the morning as if he had landed in paradise.  He looked so content!

He began to bark at the back door and other things and we managed to train him not to do this. However we tried endless ways of stopping him from barking in the car.  About the only thing to stop him barking was if he sat on the back seat with someone stroking him.  However this was not at all practical as he was such a large dog and it was dangerous.  He would froth and foam at the mouth when in his cage or when he had his harness on.

Later on we bought an old Land Rover and you could wind the back window down a little bit and this seemed to lessen the sound of his barking whilst in the car.

At the end of his walk in the woods, one day, I put him back in the car with his harness on and collar and lead and was about to close the window up when suddenly, and in a flash he escaped and ran over the road chasing a rabbit.  How he got out of his collar, lead and harness in seconds and over the road I shall never know! The car was parked on a sharp bend and another car was coming round the bend.  Luckily I was able to run across the road and get hold of Stripey and keep him safe.

Stripey also appeared to be able to squirm through tiny gaps when the back or front door was held ajar. He was your typical escape artist!  He would not let me rest and have a cup of tea either if he thought it was his dinner time.  He would keep plonking his enormous paw on my lap and when I told him to behave he would prick up his ears and look at me as if to say, ‘oh, she speaks.’  He had such a funny look on his face.

Like many Lurchers Stripey also loved his bed, or any other dog’s bed for that matter, even if the bed were too small for him.  I used to say to him, ‘don’t bother to get up Stripey’, and he would just lay there.

However if food was about then so was Stripey.

Barbara Burgess © 08/03/2015

Hooded Figure in the Fog

Hooded Figure in the Fog


The above dog looks a bit how Jimmy looked.  He was not unlike a brown ‘Dulux’ dog.

After getting over being frightened of dogs, when I was very young,  I then became obsessed with them and just loved to go for walks with one as a companion by my side.  I often brought a stray dog back home and once took about five dogs for a walk, all of them found on the streets near my home.

I went back to live at Eastbourne, Sussex, the place of my birth, when I was about sixteen.  I lived at my Granny’s house and she had no bath or even a bathroom.  Yes, houses did exist, and probably still do, where there was no bathroom.  She did have two toilets though.  One inside and one outside.  She also had an extremely large kitchen and a walk-in pantry.

Often big fat creepy crawlies would come out of the pantry and on a particularly dark night one, which was probably a woodlouse and the size of a large thumb, dropped into my hot milk that I was making for my night-time cocoa.  Granny would not let me scoop it out at first and so I watched it swimming around my hot milk. I cannot remember if I drank the cocoa or not after that!

As my Granny did not have a bath I would then walk to the local bath house after work on a Wednesday and have a bath there. Often, too,  I would walk across the South Downs from Eastbourne to Polegate and do some ironing for my Auntie in exchange for a bath.  This walk, across the top of the Downs took about two hours, but I loved it.

Once I heard a cuckoo calling at the beginning of my walk.  However, I can tell you that by the time the end of my walk came I could have strangled that cuckoo.  Two plus hours of cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo.  Can you imagine it?

I enjoyed taking Jimmy for a walk up on the downs or round the streets for my Auntie as well.  We had lots of fun together.

I loved being outside.

One day it was extremely foggy, to say the least.  You could not really see your hand in front of your face. However I insisted on taking Jimmy for a walk.  I did not put him on a lead and I headed for a little alleyway near the house.

Then, through the fog I saw what looked like a dark figure wearing a cloak and hood.  I immediately turned around, called Jimmy and headed for home.  A bit disappointed that we had only walked a few yards that afternoon.

I have no idea if the strange, hooded figure was a man or maybe it was a ghost that had been sent to make me go back home.  The fog really was the thickest I have ever seen.

That incident reminds me of a true story my mother told me about her friend.  Her friend went on a skiiing holiday with the family although she did not enjoy skiiing very much.  Mum, dad and the two boys went to the top of the mountain.  Dad and the two boys said to get ready and then they were off, skiiing merrily down the slopes.  Mum was left behind quite fearful.  Then a thick mist descended on the mountain and the lady was totally lost and stranded.  She began to move slowly forward and then suddenly saw a very high red brick wall in front of her.  Yes, a very high, red brick wall at the top of a snow and mist covered mountain.  She did not move any further, indeed she could not move any further because of the high, red brick wall.   She waited for what seemed hours and then the fog lifted and before her she saw a great chasm.  She steadily edged backwards and then managed to carefully but slowly ski down the slopes.  Her family were waiting for her at the bottom of the mountain and asked her where she had been and what she had been doing!

Jimmy used to bark a great deal.  My Uncle would pretend to smack his face whenever he did this and in the end Jimmy would bark and then duck.  People were amused by his actions but I guess it was not a nice thing for a dog.

Barbara Burgess © 07/03/2015

Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at

The Ghost of Peter


The Ghost of Peter

Peter lived next door to us when I was a very young child.  The photo above is not Peter but he did look a lot like this.  He was a black and tan mongrel type of  dog about the size of a smallish Labrador.  He was probably crossed with terrier of some sort as well.

Peter was a wonderful dog.  I am going back many years now and in those days our dogs did not wear collars or have leads.  They would follow their owner about or just wander the streets at will.

The road we lived in was unmade and there were not many cars about either.  The street had only a few houses in it and was surrounded by fields so Peter and the other dogs were fairly safe.

Peter generally followed us kids wherever we went.  He was a kind of companion.  A playmate.  He played with us and we played with him.

One day I saw the boy next door come out of his house and walk up the road followed by Peter.  Then the boy told Peter, ‘go home’.  And he did!  I was truly amazed at this.  Peter went back down the road and stood at the gate and the boy went off to town on the bus.

I was so impressed with Peter that I tried it.  With hind sight I realise now that I was teasing him.  I would walk up the road and say, ‘come on Peter’ and he would wag his tail and coming running after me. Then I would say, ‘go home Peter’, and he would put his head down and his tail between his legs and he would go back and stand by the gate.  I did this a few times and then called him and he was so thrilled to be following me and going off to play.

One night, many years later we heard Peter howling all night long.  We lived in a semi detached house and you could often hear the neighbours.  This sound of Peter howling throughout the night was very disturbing.

Later that morning my mother came and told us that Peter had been put to sleep as he had had a brain hemorrhage.  We were all very upset, Peter’s family and our family and the neighbourhood kids whom he accompanied on our adventures.

Peter’s owner, who I shall call Grace, said that she could not replace Peter and would never have another dog in the house again.

However some months later Grace told my mother that she had decided to get another puppy.  My mother was not sure exactly when the new puppy would arrive because she remembered Grace saying that she could never bring herself to have another dog.

A few weeks after that  my mum was busy in her kitchen when she heard whimpering.  She was quite startled by it and listened a while and it continued.  She thought that Grace must have bought a new puppy after all  and she went running round to the neighbour’s house to see the new little dog.

Often, back then, we did not lock our gates or back doors and neighbours freely went in and out of each others homes.  So my mum opened the back door of Grace’s house and asked, ‘where’s the puppy then?’ Grace just stood and looked at my mum and as she could still hear the whimpering she thought it was some kind of a joke so she began opening doors searching for the new puppy.  She opened  a cupboard at the bottom of the stairs and then the pantry door and still she could hear the crying.  Once again she asked Grace where she had hidden the puppy and Grace just stood there looking at my mum.  My mother  then went upstairs and looked in each of the bedrooms and the bathroom as she could still hear the cry of an animal.

In the end she gave up and said, ‘okay, I give in then.  Where is your new puppy?’

Grace then replied, ‘It’s Peter.  It’s Peter.  He has been crying ever since I decided to go and buy another puppy.’

Apparently Grace had been hearing the ghost or spirit of Peter whimpering ever since she decided to have another puppy in the house.  However it was only on this one day that my mother had heard him.

Grace never did have another dog of her own after that.

Barbara Burgess © 07/03/2015

mage courtesy of James Barker at

Mel – Acrobatic Dog

Mel – Acrobatic Dog

Actually the picture above is not Mel.  She did look like this though.

We got Mel from a working Springer Spaniel breeder and trainer in Lockerbie, Scotland.

I think she was about twelve weeks old when we got her, maybe older, and she was the runt of the litter and a little bit deformed.  Her front legs were a bit bowed and she was rather small and skinny.

However, she was lovely.  I loved her and she was very intelligent.  She wanted to please me all the time and she followed me everywhere, even into the bathroom.

I began training her ‘to the gun’.  However it was not long after that that I decided shooting and beating was not for me.

At the time we lived near Woburn Abbey and there were days when the sound of the pheasant shooting was continuous.  Almost from morning till dusk.  It was not pleasant.

So I decided to continue with Mel’s training and to enter into Gundog Trials and Field Trials.

I found she was a very quick learner indeed.  I only had to show her something once or twice and she would do it and remember it.

I taught her to sit and stay.  Then to sit whilst I threw a ‘dummy’ and then to fetch the dummy.  She could also hunt for the dummy and retrieve it whilst a second dummy was thrown to distract her.  Mel was also good at quartering.

Mel would sit to the sound of a gun.  Sit whenever she saw anything move, such as a rabbit or pheasant or a thrown dummy.

So I entered into my first, and her first Gundog Rally.

The gun I used was a starting pistol.  I have never used a shotgun although I had a licence for one.   I decided shot guns were not for me after someone told me that the rebound from them can break your shoulder.  So I bought a starting pistol instead.

At the Field Trial we did the quartering bit and she was not that bad.  I felt she moved too far to each side and too far ahead at times and I often gave her directions when she was not even looking at me.  So that was my mistake.  The judge was watching me!  Two dogs were sent out together each time for each of these exercises.

Then it was time for her to fetch a hidden dummy.  She retrieved the hidden dummy well.

For the next exercise she had to retrieve the dummy I threw, at the same time as a shotgun  going off and at the same time as another dummy was thrown for distraction.

Mel sat by my side and the shotgun was fired.  Well Mel, startled by the shotgun report,  went straight up in the air in the sit position and landed straight back down again, still in the sit position!  She did not move from her spot until I told her to ‘dead’.  ‘Dead’ was my word for ‘fetch’.  She had to fetch a ‘dead’ thing or dead pheasant, had we been on a real shoot.  There are times when a dog is expected to retrieve a wounded, but still live pheasant and so I would have trained her to fetch a ‘live’. later on.

Anyhow Mel withstood the sound of shotgun fire and went out to fetch the hidden ‘dead’ and she was bringing it back to me when the second dummy was thrown to distract her.  Mel dropped the dummy she was carrying and went over to pick up the second dummy.  I must have made a noise as I saw her do this, and she stopped in her tracks and looked at me.  She then looked at the second dummy and went back for the first dummy and brought it to me.

That was the end of the exercises and we all waited around for the judge’s opinion and the prize giving. There were about 18 dogs and handlers and Mel and I came 16th.  We were extremely pleased with that for our first and only Gundog Trial.

At the end of the day the judge proceeded to tell us about our mistakes.  He told the crowd that you should use the word ‘fetch’ and not the word’ dead’..  In fact he laughed and joked about  the use of this word.   I had trained Mel to go for a ‘dead’ and so dead it was.  In fact her breeder also used the word ‘dead’ instead of fetch.

The judge continued with his summing up and during the course of his speech he also commented that you could teach a dog any trick using any word whatsoever, so long as you consistently used the same word.  He also said you could use the words ‘Father Christmas’ instead of heal or leave.

In the end I  felt he was contradicting himself.

Nearly everyone came over to me and asked me how I had stopped Mel from picking up the second dummy and going back for the first.  I had not spoken to her  or told her off.  I do feel that I moved or sighed or something when she did it. She then looked at me and I frowned and looked back at the first dummy.  Luckily she understood what I wanted and then ignored the second dummy and went back for the one she had dropped and brought it to me.  The other contestants were totally amazed.

I was very proud of Mel that day and thought the judge did not know what he was talking about with his comments.  But that’s my opinion.

On the way home and halfway through our journey I stopped in a lay-by for a rest from driving and lo and behold there was my mother and stepfather also in the lay-by.  What a surprise that was!  Neither of us knew what the other was doing that day!

©Barbara Burgess

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at


Somebody’s Dog

Somebody’s Dog

This poem was written in about 1952 by my Great Uncle Joseph E. Shadbolt

Somebody’s Dog

‘Only a dog,’ said the ‘cop’ on the street.
Only a dog that lay at his feet.
But one of God’s creatures
As such it was born.
Now victim of someone who just honked his horn.
Only a dog.  Maybe a joy
Torn from the heart of a dog-loving boy.
Someone will feel the pain and regret
A dog lover knows at the loss of a pet.
Someone will miss the heart-warming hail
Voiced without words by a dog’s wagging tail.
In somebody’s life a dog plays its part.
A place of its own in somebody’s heart.
So Mr. Driver, wherever you are
Please be more careful when driving your car.
Just for a dog’s and for somebody’s sake
When tooting your horn bear down on the break.
And Mr. Policeman, whatever your name
For a common expression, you’re not to blame
But don’t let a stock-word your good nature befog
Please don’t say ‘only’ say ‘somebody’s dog’.

Author:  Joseph E. Shadbolt of Eastbourne in Sussex and then of America.  (around 1952)

Nationalization records