Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Whose house is it anyway?

It's been a busy few months here in Caesar's castle as we've been getting prepared for some pretty serious work to be done.  Basically, if we don't replace the windows fairly soon, they're going to fall out!  So we had to make a few calls.  And we knew that we were going to have to deal with salesmen coming to the house - a worst nightmare for an owner of a dog like Caesar because it means that we had to;
1.  Face salesmen alone or face salesmen being knocked over by huge bouncy staffy
2.  Spend the next few days identifying knickers/socks that Caesar has stolen and putting them in the wash/bin - depending on how badly chewed they are.
3.  Find ways around having huge bouncy dog/salesman in the same room....

When we bought the house we had no idea that we would ever end up owning a dog, let alone a slightly unhinged rescue dog who isn't entirely well behaved, particularly in the presence of strangers.  And, in the first few months of owning the place we flew through our jobs quickly.  Then, a few months later, we got Caesar and he set about undoing all of our hard work; peeing on new carpets, pulling wires away from walls, scratching sofas, scratching tables, standing on window sills and generally making the place look as much like his kennel as he could manage; a home from home if you will.

For a while, I thought I didn't really care.  After all, if my rugs are constantly covered in dog hair and my table has a few scratches, it doesn't affect my quality of life.  I enjoy Caesar and, while I wish he would refrain, I'd rather have him here than not.

So what if everything's a mess?  You only live once!

This was all well and good until a few months ago when I suddenly remembered Plan A.  Plan A started 4 years ago when I found a wonderful dorma bungalow with whitewashed walls and a conservatory.  It met every one of my criteria for a new home in its own quirky little way; yes it had a nice bathroom, but it was downstairs.  It also had 2 bedrooms, but they were smallish and unimaginative in shape and size.  It had double glazing, a conservatory, a garden and a new(ish) boiler that seemed to have been given its own little room.  And, I was very keen on the fact it sat neatly in a cul-de-sac.  After seeing it twice, we put an offer in for around £5000 below asking price which was declined immediately.

I talked about growing red roses round the door and making a sun room out of the conservatory.  I had plans to modernise it and make it appealing as a first home.  When my offer was declined, I decided to see one more house to be certain I was making the right decision.  If it were on a home buyers show it would be the 'wild card'.  It was an eighty year old end terrace with single glazed windows, a boiler that was just about still clanging away, a roof that seemed to have been there since it was built and the remains of an air raid shelter in the depressing yard.

I blame the stained glass window in the hall for the fact that 6 weeks later we owned it...

For a moment, I turned into Kevin McCloud.  We were building a conservatory, we were knocking walls down here and there.  We were having new windows, a new boiler, a new bathroom which would combine parts of the hall, bedroom, toilet and existing bathroom to create a new space.  I forgot that, unlike Kevin McCloud, I have neither the skills nor the money to put any of this into place...

And now, 4 years on, here I am sitting in front of an eighty-four year old single-glazed, stained-glass window that it looks like it's going to cost me over £1000 to replace.  And, if Caesar doesn't stop sitting on it and barking at other dogs out of the window, the time for this will come sooner rather than later!

Plan A involved buying the house, fixing it up internally and externally, and selling it on in order to do the same again in a house with more space, more land and a better location.  When I adopted Caesar I lost sight of all of this.  And it was only a short time ago that it came back to me.  A sharp shock that reminded me that I hadn't planned to be here forever.  And, that, really, a nice garden and a bit more space would do Caesar some good too.

Caesar making the most of our little yard by sitting in the planter!

This is when I desperately started calling double glazing companies.  Forget three quotes; I decided to get quote after quote until someone came back with something that was appealing enough to make our ears prick up.  Then I realised the consequences of what I'd done.  I'd asked more than a handful of salesman into our house.  And, thus, into Caesar's lair.

Now, Caesar is lovely with people.  I would trust him to the end of the earth not to hurt them.  At least not intentionally.  However, he is a big lollopy dog who thinks he's a small lollopy dog and, despite being all of 20kg, likes to sit on peoples knees...

Salesman 1: 
Tactic: Outdoor kennel
A full hour of squealing, squawking, howling and barking that is enough to make any neighbor a little bit angry....good job we're planning to move after all this work!  Salesman spent a lot of time asking where the dog was and if he'd be able to get to him.

Salesman 2:
Tactic: Send Damien out with him for a walk
A very cold Damien after salesman stayed for a fairly long time and it was windy outside!  Finally called Damien an hour later to say he'd gone.

Salesman 3:
Tactic:  Large crate in the lounge (salesman said he 'loved' dogs)
Caesar cried and barked and carried on, causing the salesman to nervously ask why he was making those noises.  When I replied, "he's a staffy, they do, and just very excited,"he said "OK, let him out..."  2 minutes later, could I put him away again?  Perhaps at this point I should have pointed out that he actually lives here and I had warned him about the fact we had dogs and that he said he LOVED dogs and it was fine.  Perhaps he didn't expect Caesar to be that kind of dog...

Who knows, but Caesar spent the next hour or so, as he haggled and scribbled and drank tea, locked in his cage.  And, continued to make that noise for the whole time.  Can you blame him?

Salesman 4
Tactic: After previous salesman, the decision was to send Caesar for a walk with Damien again.  This didn't work as intended because the salesman was half an hour late, which meant that Caesar returned just after he arrived.  And then became very excited and very vocal at which point the man calmly said 'I'm not sure I like the look of him...'  At this point, he was still on his lead!  So, Caesar went back in the cage and the salesman steered clear of him for the most part.

Kicked off his usual snoozing spot - no wonder he was crying!

So which tactic worked the best?  Definitely, with a noisy dog, the cage is not the best option.  As, they begin to look like some scary zoo animal that nobody really wants to get very close to.  And, this becomes equally interesting when you have a salesman who is not sure he likes the look of him and Caesar, obviously pawing at the locks and attempting some kind of Houdi-style escape...

Walks are a great idea but of course that means that one person is left alone to tackle salesman speak and tea making and pointless haggling.  It also relies on the salesman being on time for the meeting otherwise, a short afternoon walk, can turn into a midday hike.  And, particularly in adverse weather conditions, this can be awful!

What about putting the dog outdoors?  This, again, depends on the dog.  It did not work with Caesar as he became very vocal and agitated, this then put him in an elevated state when he returned into the house.  And, probably didn't do us any favours with the neighbours either.

Finally, leave him roaming around the house?  I didn't try this one but I've got a feeling my window quotes may have been a few hundred pounds more had I let him bother salesmen...

What, I'm not meeting them?  But I got dressed up and everything!