proper car has arrived

Mrs Stellegasie and Harpo have a driver since last week. And the proper set of wheels to go with it: my Skoda Superb finally arrived. It was worth waiting. Silent, luxurious, comfortable. Umbrella included. A very Thunderbirds like parking system. And roomy. Very roomy. When sitting behind me Mrs Stellegasie can actually stretch her legs - and though she might not be very tall, she is by no means a dwarf. No beard, for example.

Back to the car: it is scaringly large, for someone who is used to a normal EU sized hatchback. That's not a downside though: the bigger and more expensive your car seems on the highway, the more courtesy you meet.

It definitely also excels in the engine compartment. It's still using VW's good old pump injection 1.9 diesel - but after some Czech magic I got the rather incredible mileage of 5.5L/100 km over the first 800 km I did in the car. Most of that in the daily traffic jam to/from the office.

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We caught the tooth fairy

The tooth fairy visited us again, and this time we caught her! One of Harpo's front teeth was loose yesterday evening. So, after some careful towel tugging, we found this in the living room:

Excuses for the dirty hands and - for Mrs Stellegasie - the scratched wedding ring. It wasn't me, dear.



Harpo is making progress.
Basic obedience is coming along nicely, everywhere except on puppy school. He is extremely well behaved - Mrs Stellegasie took him to the office all day today, and most collegues only noticed he was there at lunch break!

He also experienced the pleasures of raw meat this week: we gave him some minced porc, and some chicken. I hope to replace his dry dog kibble by a raw-meat only diet; according to labrador people it should make him look better, smell better, and reduce the amount coming out of the other end.

As practice he has been chewing away at a raw bone with some meat attached for the past two hours. He has never been this quiet. And our living room never smelled this bad. I do very much like meat in all kinds, shapes and sizes with exception of organs - but there are limits to what even I can endure.
Nevertheless, once this bone is done with we'll try the dried sheep stomach, and the bull's tendons. Lots of practice for those sharp little teeth :)


The tooth fairy came!

And she did this...

As a side thought - anyone an idea why this damn template doesn't work properly with pictures?


Harpo back ok!

Harpo is ok again; he is his usual active self, and produces nice little hard heaps.

Today we did the second puppyclass at dog school. Things marginally went better although he still managed to break away from an apport and run through the group of "advanced" dogs...

No hard feelings though - it made for an interesting run. Ever tried running on wet grass while shouting and whistling, and trying to catch a wet puppy?

You get the image. Luckily Mrs Stellegasie didn't take a camera...


Harpo is sick

When we came home yesterday Harpo had left a little present in his bench. No problem, can happen, just some cleaning needed.

At 3 AM this morning though he started whining. When I came down it turned out to be a nocturnal diarrhea. No fun at all; Mrs and Mr Stellegasie wearing plastic gloves while trying to wash a slippery 15kg puppy.
Of course the colour of his fur does not help when checking if he is clean or not...

Mrs Stellegasie visited the veterinarian with him this morning; it turns out he does have some problems in his belly (at least it is painfull for him when you touch it). For now we are on a special kind of easily digestible food, and he has to take some strong anti-infection tablets.
If nothing changes over the weekend more investigation is needed, caca-analysis and x-rays most likely.

No good.


yet another new car

As I have not yet received my new leasecar I am driving rentals for the moment. Had a Seat Leon for a few good months. Nice car, good looks, very good handling and performance - too good for legal road use. Unfortunately, I had to return the Seat at the end of it's rental period.
Then I received a Peugeot 308. No need to discuss it here - it was the very worst car I have ever driven, both when considering driving characteristics and when considering construction quality. I returned after doing 3000 km in it. Note: the very first 3000 km of that car! Electrical and mechanical problems had me freak out in pure rage for the first time since long.
Now they gave me an almost new Opel Astra GTC. Again, nice and sporty looks. But no comfort at all on the inside (it is the base model, after all); hardly any space (not possible for normal sized humans to use the back seat); and since it is a three-door model Harpo does not really get in without twisted paws. Engine off course a diesel (gasoline?), 90 BHP from a tiny 1.3l. If you have enough patience to last through the turbo lag and you shift fast enough it even is fun to drive.
Am I too spoiled after driving a fine Volkswagen for a few good years? Why is it that other cars in the same price range are such crap? At least another week before I get my final car, the one I chose myself...

at home he does listen

Yesterday Harpo and I attended our first puppy class, at the Gouden Jachthoorn retriever school. Conveniently located in Zichem next to the Ernest Claes house; the birth place and former home of one of Belgium's great (so they say) writers. This is in fact one of the only dog training schools in Belgium which only accepts retrievers (Labrador, Golden Retriever, Flatcoated Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Curly Coated Retriever and Chesapeake Bay Retriever). No obedience training or silly agility here - this is the real stuff, hardcore hunting preparation :)

In any case, school was fun even though objectively things did not go as well as I thought they would. As the trainer mentioned the most heard phrase at puppyclass is "at home he does listen"...

But I can't blame Harpo. It was in fact me and Mrs Stellegasie who made some mistakes in training up till now. We did our home work, read about everything there is to read about labradors and dog training, joined a labradorforum, picked a good breeder who gives advice - but nothing beats hands-on, one to one training from a good instructor.
As an excuse we can say Harpo has never so many dogs at the same time, and after all he was by far the youngest puppy in puppy class. Nevertheless we now have practical homework - very good for me, I never was a hero in theoretics. Harpo of course doesn't mind. The only theory he is interested in is Discovery channel and repeat broadcasts of TopGear. Good boy!