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w/e 2023-09-24

Mid-week was unusually dramatic, starting with the doorbell ringing one afternoon.

Two women were trying to usher a hairy white and grey dog towards our front door. Was it ours? They’d been walking on the road and found it. They weren’t from around here so I said to leave it with us. It was very keen to come inside the open door.

A photo of a white dog with long hair, a few grey patches, and a long tongue hanging from its smiley mouth

I didn’t recognise the dog, it had no tag with a phone number or even a name, and it refused to answer questions about its home. Hmm.

I messaged a couple of neighbours – people who know many people – with a photo asking if they recognised it. Neither did.

We fetched the nameless dog a bowl of water but that was all we could offer in terms of canine hospitality. I sat in the porch with the dog, not wanting to allow its muddy paws further into the house, and not wanting to allow it outside to run off again.

I Facebook Messaged the local animal rescue centre for ideas. I posted a photo to a general Facebook group for nearby villages. I joined a Facebook group for lost and found pets in Herefordshire and, once approved, I posted a photo to that. I reflected on how Mark Meta’s Facebook and WhatsApp are now the main societal communications infrastructure in the UK and how bad that is.

I sat and I waited, stroking the friendly dog to stop it whining. It knew how to “sit” but didn’t want to do so for long. I kept refreshing Facebook whenever the outskirts of our WiFi and the weak phone signal allowed. Reactions appeared, round yellow faces clutching red hearts. Names of people were tagged in comments. Someone thought it might belong to a family at a nearby holiday rental and would go and check.

I waited some more, wondering what we’d do if no owner materialised before the end of the afternoon.

Wanting to do something I found some rope in the garage, tied it to the dog’s collar and – to the dog’s apparent excitement – the two of us headed off on a brief tour of some neighbours to see if anyone recognised the animal.

None of them did but one did suggested taking it to the vet to see if the dog was microchipped. Of course!

So, back home we got in the car, me and the dog on the back seat, me holding the rope tightly, unsure how either of us would react to this situation. It appeared content than me, and was very interested in the few other vehicles we passed.

At the vet in the next village the nice receptionist came out with a handheld device and successfully found a microchip. All of us went inside and the dog – a bearded collie, we discovered – was taken to a kennel. There were some details in the system, and they’d see what they could do about finding the owner.

The next morning we heard that the microchip was still linked to the original breeder, but that hadn’t lead to the current owner.

At the end of the day the rescue centre let us know the owner had at last been found. Phew!

But then, last night, three days on, someone posted a photo on Facebook of a very familiar-looking dog who had been found running on the roads near a village nearly 20 miles away from us.

Thankfully, by this morning, the owner had been contacted, again. What an adventurous dog.

§ So that was one drama. Re-wind to when I was sitting in the porch, stroking a strange dog, refreshing Facebook. I could see Mary coming and going, inside the house, through the glass door, and I wasn’t sure what she was doing.

Later, as we got in the car to head to the vet, Mary said she couldn’t find her passport. This was more of a problem than usual because we were due to go to Italy a week later. But, dog first.

That evening I looked everywhere Mary had already looked. We both looked in places the passport couldn’t possibly be, just in case. We looked up how to quickly replace a passport.

The quick way to replace a lost passport is to visit a passport office in person, with a completed form and photos, after booking an appointment. It then takes seven days.

So our one chance was to:

  1. Get to the Post Office for opening time to get a paper application form.
  2. Find someone we know locally who has, or had, one of the odd collection of approved jobs, and who happened to be around that morning, to countersign the photos.
  3. Drive three hours to Liverpool for the closest appointment we could get that day.
  4. Hope all the documentation was in order.
  5. Drive home and hope that a new passport would arrive from this seven day service within the six days before we left for Italy.

We did not have a content and restful night’s sleep.

Early the next morning we both did one last search before heading out. Dressing gown pockets? Inside the freezer in the garage, for some unknown reason? Then I heard…

“I’ve found it!”

It was inside a small bag inside a drawer, a drawer that I had almost but not quite bothered to search the previous day.

The relief! Buckets of it!

We spent the rest of the day almost giddy with thinking what our alternate day of stress could have been. And then imagining if we’d found the passport after that stressful day!

§ Otherwise, several small technical issues clouded my week:

  • The WatchOS 10 update meant that, like many others, my Watch now complains about a low battery by the end of each afternoon. Someone should review Tim Apple’s pull requests more closely.
  • Backblaze keeps finding further GBs of stuff it needs to back up, currently 95GB outstanding which, over a puny 4G internet connection is especially annoying. Looking at the files it’s uploading, many haven’t changed in years or decades.
  • TypePad made a change that prevents from fetching its feeds or even from me reading TypePad blogs in a feed reader.

All of which are problems I have little or no control over. I’m a long way from giving up on it all but they’re the kind of problems that make me question why I allow my life to be threaded through with so much technology, when it going wrong can affect my mood so badly.

§ On telly, we watched Drops of God (Apple TV) which was OK: A wine guru dies and his estranged French daughter and his Japanese protege must compete in a series of wine-related contests to see who inherits his vast and expensive wine cellar (and nice house).

Unfortunately I wasn’t bothered which of them won the challenges devised by a not very pleasant man. Which isn’t necessarily bad – that ambiguity could be more interesting than a clear good vs bad dynamic. Except that neither character was especially sympathetic or, indeed, had much character, outside of the contest. They were both fairly dull and self-absorbed. The only characters I had much sympathy for were the Japanese dad, the put-upon French vineyard owner, and the lawyer tasked with running what he obviously thought was a ridiculous competition.

We also finished season three of Starstruck (BBC iPlayer) which, unfortunately, was a bit dull. I wanted to like it more but, despite liking the main character, there was little plot, all of Jessie’s friends are extremely annoying, and laughs were few and far between.

We also watched The Tragedy of Macbeth (Joel Cohen, 2021) which looked great and had lovely performances. But it is hard to maintain concentration on Shakespeare when watching at home on TV.

§ That’s all, adventurous dogs.

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