Archive | Jack RSS feed for this section

The Furry Biker’s Cookbook

29 May
Jack Shepherd explores a North Yorkshire delicacy in an extract from his forthcoming Furry Biker’s Cookbook

I’ve been travelling the length and breadth of the UK in recent months looking for exciting new recipes to tickle the canine tastebuds for my new TV Series The Furry Biker.  In Wales, the Welsh Rabbit was disappointing (owing to a distinct lack of rabbit), and in Edinburgh, the omelette didn’t go exactly to plan (must have been something to do with the Scotch eggs).  The BBC looked at me as if I was mad when I suggested a trip to Venice to try some venison sausage (and suggested I might like to look in on North Korea instead) but I’ve managed to scrape together one or two dishes which have gone down a storm.

My labrador friend e-mailed what looks like a lovely recipe last week and I’ve been dying to try it: feline daube with prunes (a lovely slow-cooked dish done with onions, a little red wine and a twist of garlic) but fresh cat is proving so difficult to get hold of and frozen just isn’t the same.  So I’ve fallen back on an old favourite which I do hope you’ll try (it’s delicious with a Nottage Hill Cabernet Shiraz – £4.98, ASDA):

Dessicated frog with a grass and sheep dung salad

Ingredients

1 or 2 dessicated frogs

A pawful of well-sniffed grass

Fresh sheep dung

Gravy bone garnish (optional)

Cooking time

Just as long as it takes your owner to realise what you’re doing, tell you off and steer you away with a gentle pull on your lead

Serves

1

Method

1.  Rip apart one dessicated frog – now they’ve filled the pond in these are relatively easy to get hold of (if your pond is still full of copulating amphibians however, then you could try: http://www.driedfrog.co.uk).  You could use toad – but they lack the piquancy and aren’t quite as stretchy.

2.  Sniff some tufts of grass on your walk – you can get away with this quite easily because they think you’re looking for somewhere to squat – and rip off a few mouthfuls of stale old grass that a cat peed on yesterday (if you’re not bothered about dressing on your salad you can omit the urine).

3.  Wolf down a bite-sized piece of fresh sheep dung as you’re walking across the field.  This should be done in one slick move like swallowing an oyster – don’t chew.  This time of year they’re rich and tasty and slightly smaller from the lambs.  You will need to make sure that your owners have forgotten that you do this and don’t have you on a short lead to prevent it.

4.  Ignore the sound of your owner vomiting with disgust behind you.

I like to serve this dish as a light snack between meals, ideally as a simple, yet wholesome starter before dinner.  After all, everyone knows that a quick G&T (grass and turd) before supper makes a wonderful aperitif.  Enjoy.

The Furry Biker, 7.30 pm BBC 5, Tuesday 5th June.  Thankfully, NOT in HD.

Jack Shepherd in Vet Dash Drama

12 May

BESTSELLING writer Jack Shepherd was rushed to the vet by flunkies on Tuesday evening, writes Al Sation, for attention to his foot.

The type of ambulance that was not used to transport Shepherd

The type of ambulance that was not used to transport Shepherd

Shepherd, 4, author of multi-million selling GSD Rescue, From Rags to Royal Cannin and the smash-hit sequel Settling In: The Story of a Shepherd in Pastures New was taken for attention to his right front paw this week after sustaining undisclosed injuries.

Jack Shepherd was not available for comment today at his £120 luxury kennel, agent Nick Palmerley refused to answer reporters’ questions and we’re having great difficulty cracking his voicemail.

MINOR PROCEDURE

A spokesman at the Betty Ford Veterinary Clinic near the writer’s North Yorkshire home said: “We can confirm that Mr Shepherd attended on Tuesday evening with a minor injury.  Our client received a light sedative and a small procedure was performed.  He left in good spirits the same evening and thanked the surgical team and attending nurses for their attention.  He is progressing well and there is no reason for concern.”

The spokesman would not be drawn on the nature of the injury, but a clinic insider said: “Jack ripped open his right front dew claw whilst chasing a cat in the garden.  The claw was removed and the area cleaned.  He’s fine and was sitting up joking with 2 labradors and a chihuahua an hour later.  He was an absolute gentleman – just like an ordinary dog really.”

A passer-by who fancied a few quid and says he  saw Shepherd leave added: “he walked calmly out to the waiting car with his chauffeur, jumped in the back and was driven off.  You’d never have thought there was anything wrong.”

CAT-RELATED INJURY

If true, this wouldn’t be the first time that Shepherd has encountered difficulties with cats.  Last year police dog sources report that he was cautioned for chasing a cat across the garden from the pond down to the vegetable patch, and in front of the conservatory to the fence where  it made a lucky and nimble escape.

Celebrity vet’ Trude Mostue didn’t say: “Dew claw injuries are relatively easy to sort, they just need trimming off and as long as the owners keep the area clean bathing with salt water twice daily, the claw should recover in a couple of weeks.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by an issue covered in this article, please contact the BBC Action Line on 0800  110 100 in complete confidence (or leave a comment in the box below).

I’ve had better weeks…

21 Apr

MONDAY – 5.25am, the fat one comes down to take me for my morning walk.  “It’s raining cats and dogs lad” he says as he puts on those waterpoof trouser things and that huge anorak in the porch.  Does he think I’m stupid?  There are no cats out there and I’m the only dog around here.  I’m not that bothered about getting wet if I’m honest – true, it doesn’t do a lot for my fur coat (it’s real by the way, I don’t do faux) and the thin one spends more time grooming me than a randy priest in a vestry full of choirboys so what do I care?

I put my head out of my Jackdoor whilst he’s faffing-on with those huge boots – it’s really throwing it down out there but he looks like he’s about to dive the wreck of the Titanic not stroll up the lane and back.  “Come on, let’s get off!” I bark.

TUESDAY – there I am minding my own business (just sniffing the body of a dessicated toad I found near the pond) when this police dog comes to the gate.  Now I’ve met this lad before – he’s not much more than a pup (aren’t they getting younger these days?) and a bit officious if you ask me.  “Jack Shepherd?” he asks, I nod “there’s been a report of someone answering your description worrying sheep around here last Wednesday afternoon.”  I sigh – it wasn’t me, I’ve got an alibi – I was with the gardener from 12 ’til three and then the thin one came home.

We both know he’s got nothing to go on – he’s certainly not going to be feeling my collar.  Anyway, I can see from here he hasn’t got a lead.  I walk away and leave him to it.  Whoever heard of a Shepherd chasing sheep anyway?  I mean I might bark at the odd lamb if they get a bit too close to my fence, but that’s all.

WEDNESDAY – off to the vet’s again for this year’s jabs.  I don’t mind the vet as much as some of the others do – last time we visited there was this ferret going mad in a box – obviously I calmed him down.  I like ferrets: done slowly with a little garlic and some onion they’re very nice indeed.

Oh good, it’s Sarah Vet this afternoon, not that bloke.  I do like the ladies, but if I’m honest, not quite as much as I used to do before that time when I went home with a slightly sore undercarriage and the fat one was shown what looked like two boiled sweets in a jar.  Anyway, there’s lots of cuddles and “weren’t you braves?” so I’m happy enough.

THURSDAY – I hear back from Guide Dogs For The Blind: “Dear Mr Shepherd, many thanks for your application to be a guide dog for the blind.  I regret to inform you that at this time we are not seeking to recruit new colleagues.  We will however, be pleased to keep your name on file…” yeah, yeah, whatever.  I know the score.  Looks like it’s back to stacking shelves in Pets At Home.  Thought I might at least get an interview – mind you I did mess up that one for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf – they said I was over-qualified just because I signed a whole episode of Downton Abbey and apparently I was only supposed to put the subtitles on.

I suppose I’ve yet to hear back from Smelling Dogs for the Anosmic, so there’s still hope of a more fulfilling career.

FRIDAY – worst day of the lot.  Yesterday I hacked into the fat one’s account at Tesco.com and placed an order.  They finally delivered at 3.10pm and it’s so disappointing.  I’ll be honest, I was expecting a fat moggy I could build from scratch and then spend hours chasing round the garden.  Instead, I get this:

Sometimes life can deal you some hard knocks.  I suppose on the plus side I’ve still got a nice den, owners who love me, good food, lovely walks and lots of friends on the internet.  Do leave me a message below – it’s great to hear from you.

© Jack Shepherd, 2012.

“By gum, that got them going” – Jack tells the story of his oral tumour.

6 Apr

So a couple of weeks back, they give me my food and I think to myself: “OK, presentation’s good, I like what you’ve done with the arrangement of the biscuits even if your choice of the stainless steel serving dish is a bit de rigueur.  It’s seasonal, the garnish of the glucosamine tablet is a bit sloppy, but on the whole – not a bad effort”.  I’m sitting there just enjoying the moment, ready to tuck in when I hear the fat one say:

“He’s not eating his food again, come on lad, get it!” – can’t a shepherd take it slowly and savour his breakfast?  I mean come on, I’m not a labrador.  Eventually, I start.  Hmm, it’s crunchy, well-seasoned, tastes fresh – maybe a little too heavy on the beef flavouring in the glucosamine, but otherwise – I like it, it’s not quite fine dining, but it shows promise.  I wash it down with a bowl of springwater and everyone’s happy.

Everyone except the thin one that is who comes home at lunchtime and offers me a treat – one of those dry biscuit things that’s supposed to contain vitamins.  I’m not fussy, but I put it down in the hope that he’ll offer me something else instead – maybe a little of the skin from his smoked mackerel fillet?  Next thing I know he’s got the camera out, I’m on my side on the lawn and he’s prodding around in my mouth like a cross between a mad dentist and a paparazzo.

Now I know I’ve got this little thing on my top gum, but it doesn’t hurt, it’s never bled and frankly, who cares?  The next thing I know it’s Saturday morning and I’m in the vet’s – just chatting with a retriever who reckons she’s pregnant (at her age?) and then I hear the vet’ say: “No, I’m afraid it’s a tumour, it needs to come out.  Well yes, it could be malignant, we can send it off and see what comes back.  Bring him on Wednesday, about 8.30, no breakfast.”

What?  Hope he’s not talking about me – I’d promised to bark at those lambs in the next door field on Wednesday, I haven’t got the time to be having surgery.  Anyway, the fat one’s looking worried and I see him speaking to the thin one in hushed tones back at home.  Then there’s the usual cuddles, but accompanied by worried looks – and promises to ‘look after me no matter what’ and all that dross.  I walk into the kitchen and they stop talking – “It’s OK I know you’re on about me again, we need a chat, now just what is all this abou…  oh, you’re trimming some bacon?  Don’t mind if I do, cheers.”

Wednesday.  Where’s my breakfast?  Never mind, looks like we’re going somewhere in the car.  FANTASTIC.  Oh, it’s the vet’s – yes, I’d forgotten.  NOT fantastic.  Still, this young nurse is OK, yep, smells friendly, I’m very happy to follow you love, after I’ve just put this boxer in his place: “growl, bark, BARK, GROWL.”  Oh, they’re trimming the fur on my leg – “no, I’ve no holidays planned and I’m not sure if the family are coming for Easter yet” – gosh, I’m sleepy.  Hang on, what’s this, the fat one’s stroking my head and coaxing me out of the back of the car.  Oops, back legs not working very well, hang on.  Gosh, I’m hungry.  Oh, I’m back at the den, that’s nice.  And… wait for it, yes, I’m asleep again.

Thursday and Friday are spent with lots of cuddles and lengthening walks – the weather’s fantastic and I’m loving the way these lambs bolt out of the way when they see the big hairy beast coming down the lane – accompanied by me of course.  Let me tell you, after very little to eat on Wednesday, Royal Canin’s never tasted so good.

Saturday – I’m minding my own business just dozing on my bed in the conservatory and watching Carol Kirkwood talking about the weather on that big bright box thing in the corner when the ‘phone rings.  The thin one picks it up and I see his face crack into a smile: “That’s fantastic,” he says, “so it’s definitely benign then?”  Lots of fuss and affection later and they’re opening a big green bottle and pouring fizzing stuff into tall thin glasses.

They’re all over me so I roll onto my side and lift my foreleg up (they seem to like stroking my chest so I indulge them).  “Yeah, yeah, get off,” I say, “I’m sure you are delighted, but I never had any doubts.  Don’t mind if I do have a celebratory biscuit, but if you’re in the mood and it’s not too much trouble, I’d much rather have a bit of that smoked mackerel if there’s any left.”

Jack Shepherd is a freelance canine journalist and best-selling author of : “It’s a dog’s life: getting the best out of your soft, ridiculous owners who love you like a child.”

Jack Shepherd – A Day in My Life

3 Mar

OK, I’ve got this keyboard thing and thought I’d have a go.  Don’t tell them because I had to climb up on the chair to get it and I don’t think they’d like that.

Wherever I go, I’m always asked how I spend my days when they’re out, so I thought, let’s have a go at this blogging thing and put it up online so you can all read it.

5.20 am  I’m having a fabulous dream on my comfy bed (I’m out in the field and I’m just about to catch that cat) when suddenly I hear the Fat One’s alarm clock upstairs.  On the one hand I’ve lost the cat again, but on the other, I know he’ll be down in a few minutes to take me out for my morning walk.  It’s ‘swings and roundabouts’ or as we dogs say ‘muddy walks and showers’ – but that’s canine life.

5.25 am  The Fat One comes downstairs.  He’s expecting some fuss, so I do the whole platitudinous tail wagging thing, lick his nose a couple of times whilst he’s bending down to unlock the door.

5.30 am  We set off.  Across the field to the gate and up the lane.  It’s pitch black – but who cares?  I can smell cats, a fox, various birds, and the occasional deer – he was around here a short time ago, so I stop to sniff the air, but the Fat One wants to get going and mutters something about needing to get back so he can be ready for work (whatever that is).  He’s wearing that hat – thank goodness it’s dark: if Danby (the labrador at the farm) saw him wearing that, I’d die of shame.

6.10 am  We’re back.  He gives me a cuddle and then gets the bucket – it’s time to have my feet done before I go back into the den.  Don’t ask me what this ritual’s about – I’ve simply no idea.  I stand there lifting up my feet in turn like some kind of morris dancer whilst he gets some water and rinses them down and then the nice warm soft towel to dry them.  To be honest, it’s not that bad once you’re used to it – except there was that bit of sheep dung on my left foreleg that I’d been planning to save for later.  Still, never mind.

7.10 am  The Fat One comes downstairs again – he smells different and he’s wearing those funny clothes with the bit of cloth round his neck that dangles down and tickles my nose.  Nearly breakfast!

7.20 am  The Thin One’s here – now I really do make a fuss of him because he’s the one who gives me my breakfast – a lovely bowl of Royal Canin: it feels like days since I ate so I bolt it down.

7.40 am  They’re putting those things on their feet with the long whiskers that they bend round and seem to tie.  All I know is – I’ll soon be snoozing.  Hang on a minute, yep, the Fat One’s leaving – I follow him into the porch he puts down that floppy mat and, yep, here it comes: a Gravy Bone biscuit.  Delicious.  I settle down and drift off to sleep: there’s a cat to catch from this morning.

11.10 am  I’ve spent much of the morning dozing in my porch (I love it – it’s my personal space and it’s warm and dry) – but I need the loo so I pop out through my dog door into the garden (I call it my ‘Jackdaw’ – do you see what I did there?).  I amble round sniffing – hang on just a minute, there’s a cat over by the trellis.  “Bark!  BARK!”  The cat streaks round the pond at top speed, so I set off after it.  I’m gaining, there’s a fence, he’ll never get over that (like all the others have) I’m in with a chance this time.  Damn.  He’s over the fence.  Maybe next time.

12.20 pm  I hear the car.  It’s the Thin One come home for lunch.  Fantastic: he’s brought that woman with him.  She’s great, makes a big fuss of me.  We spend a good hour with everyone telling me how beautiful I am.  Whatever.

1.30 pm  I settle down for a little sleep – it’s been a difficult morning after all.

4.40 pm  The Thin One’s back.  FANTASTIC.  It’s time for my long walk – and it’s daylight (and he’s not wearing the daft hat the other one has).  It’s so exciting like winning the doggy lottery – we’re going ON A WALK!  We cross the field, a sheep gets a bit too close, so I warn her off with a little bark.  I’m told off: well I’m a German Shepherd, what do you expect?

5.40 pm  We’re back.  A cuddle and the foot thing again.

6.40 pm  Dinner.  Best part of the day.  A lovely bowl of Royal Canin: it feels like days since I ate so I bolt it down.

7.10 pm  The Fat One’s back.  I do the tail thing again and amble over for a cursory cuddle.  Hmm, his trousers smell good: a springer spaniel and a labrador if I’m not much mistaken.  What has he been up to today?  Slapper.

7.46 pm  I hear the door open to that cupboard in the kitchen where they put the dirty plates on those sliding rack things.  Brilliant, I go and lay down in front of it and look longingly up at the Fat One.  Hang on, here it comes – I’m in luck – a bit of left over fat.  Very nice, thank you.  Any more where that came from?

9.00 pm  They settle down in front of that big rectangular thing that lights up in the corner (don’t tell anyone but I know there’s a dog trapped inside it – I heard it barking once).  The thin one gets the brushes and calls me over to be groomed.  I lie on my side and lift my foreleg into the air.  “Don’t mind if I do mate.  Off you go!”

10.07 pm  “Toilet Jack!” – I leap up and trot out through my Jackdaw.  Quick cat patrol (we’re clear), water a plant or two, back in to my comfy bed again for the night.  They disappear upstairs and I settle down for a well-earned night’s sleep.  I’ll be honest, it’s a tough life – and all for minimum wage: warmth, love, interesting walks twice daily and the best food money can buy.  And cats.  Lots of cats.

Goodnight.

What to feed the fussy German Shepherd?

18 Feb

I’d read on the German Shepherd Dog Rescue website that newly re-homed shepherds often go off their food. Being used to labradors this seemed difficult to believe. Labradors see you proffering a dog biscuit and consider the whole treat-fingers-hand combination to be a special one-time only offer which is to be immediately snapped up. In short, if you’re not gifted with the digital dexterity of a concert pianist then you’re in real danger of a trip down to Accident & Emergency. A labrador turning down food is cause for concern: my parents’ late dog Sally once did and we were somewhat alarmed to note that she had enormous distension of her abdomen (like one of those snakes who’s swallowed a rat whole) only to discover that she’d located the sack of dog food in the garage and settled down to her very own all-you-can-eat buffet earlier that day.

Back in 2011, having picked up our new furry friend earlier in the day from his foster carer in Newcastle, we settled Jack down in his dining room, poured him some Malvern Water and offered the extensive menu.

“I’ll take a bowl of the Wheelwright’s Complete please,” he indicated.

“Good choice sir,” I replied. The initial signs were good, the ever vigilent ears stood to attention and there were genuine signs of excitement as the biscuits fell into the stainless steel bowl. I placed the food on the conservatory floor. Jack sniffed the contents, looked up at me, looked down at the food and lay down on the floor apparently entirely disinterested. “Go on boy, get it!” I coaxed. Nothing. He simply didn’t want to eat. We consulted the website:

German Shepherds often go off their food for the first few days when they’re in a new home. Offer the food to your dog, then take it away again. Your dog will not starve himself. Simply put it down again an hour or so later and he will eat.

He didn’t. So we spent a good half hour feeding the whole meal by hand: biscuit by biscuit. This pattern was repeated on a twice daily basis for the next week, the promising initial interest, followed by the disheartening rejection. Where were we going wrong? I rang our contact at GSD Rescue for some advice. “Try varying it a bit, maybe add some gravy or pilchards – dogs love fish.” Leafing through my copies of Larousse Gastronomique and Heston Blumenthal at Home we set to work in the kitchen. Wheelwright’s Veronique was dismissed, along with Wheelwright’s Dauphinoise and Wheelwright’s shiitake and spring onion sushi all ending up at best 40% in the dog and 60% in the bin.

Experienced doggy friends suggested trying different foods – perhaps he’d been used to a raw food diet? Ten days into our new dog ownership Jack had visibly lost weight to the extent that he’d twice been approached by modelling agencies suggesting that he might like to sport their new size zero canine clothing range (which would have been fine but for the fact that he objected to being on a catwalk – I know, but I couldn’t resist). I scoured the internet for advice working my way through Baker’s Complete, the entire menu from our local Chinese take-away, Chudley’s and Pedigree Chum before eventually stumbling upon Royal Canin German Shepherd food.

For those who haven’t come across Royal Canin, it’s easy to find online or in your local pet store (where it’s kept in the same sort of locked display cabinet jewellers use for their diamond rings). Purchasing Royal Canin is not unlike trying to buy a house – first you put in an offer and then the vendor lets you know their response through an agent. If you’re in luck then your solicitor organises the conveyancing before you send your money (telegraphic transfer) and the food is delivered by Securicor about six weeks down the line. I’m not saying it’s expensive, but for the same price I could probably send him to a mid-range finishing school with views of Lake Geneva.

I carefully snipped open the hand-sewn sack (using the supplied silver-gilt scissors) and poured the biscuits into his bowl. Jack watched intently as the shining morsels (each one individually fashioned to exacting standards on the lap of a specially-trained Vestal Virgin) gently fell onto the stainless steel before… he wolfed it down like one of Pavlov’s dogs watching the opening titles to News at Ten. We had won and finally found a food our animal would eat.

The relief of was immense and can only be described as being akin to that engendered at the end of the item featuring Bruce Forsyth on The Royal Variety Performance. A content and well-fed dog has, somewhat to my surprise, made for a happier home. Our initial idea of simply employing a furry security guard has given way to the pleasure of his companionship around the house – though to be honest, those winter morning walks at 5.20 am still have all the appeal for me that a bowl of Wheelwright’s Complete holds for Jack.

Jack Shepherd – Part Two (a nineteenth century view of collecting a dog)

17 Feb

Dear Reader,

We had journeyed north to the frozen wastelands of Newcastle (a city locked in perpetual darkness for six months of the year) to view Tyler –  a rescued German Shepherd.  The excursion had been long and arduous, the rough, undulating and unmade roads doing little for my comfort and the stares of curious locals still less for my troubled nerves.  Would he be the right hound for us?  Would he be of sufficient size and ferocity to see off potential intruders?  Would we reach home in time to attend our local music hall for that evening’s performance of the remarkable Take Me Out hosted by Mr Patrick McGuinness?

Chris the foster carer showed us into his parlour where an enormous hirsute canine began scenting my spats excitedly, prior to rolling over on to his back and lifting the right foreleg as an invitation to rub his flocculent belly.  Removing the ubiquitous Newcastle United football shirt from the animal (the wearing of which is a legal requirement in those parts), we led him to our waiting phaeton.  “Come onTyler, up boy!” I coaxed as we stood by the open door (the groom clearly growing impatient to depart for home and my horse stamping his foot expectantly). Tyler looked at me, contemplated the carriage and sat upon the hay-strewn cobbles forcing the driver of an approaching steam-powered omnibus to abruptly adjust his direction of travel.

“He doesn’t know his name yet sir,” Chris ventured “they just called him Tyler when they picked him up.”

“Really,” I replied throwing sixpence to a passing mud-shod street urchin “this is good news indeed!” (for I had no intention of bringing an animal bearing the name of ‘Tyler’ into my precincts).  Chris paused for a moment, his hand tenderly touching the polished mahogany of the carriage – there was a tear in his eye as he quickly turned and made for the house.  With a jolt we set off for North Yorkshire.

On our way home we pondered how we might address our new animal.  The name Tyler conjured images of some talentless youth from an American barber-shop quintet  sporting a reversed baseball cap and sagging jeans.  A short, monosyllabic name would be preferable – easy to shout when required (and cheaper to inscribe on his collar tag).  Settling on ‘Eustace’ we drove home planning how we might spend the rest of the day until I happened, in idle conversation, (as one does) to utter the word ‘Jack’.  Our furry companion started upright in the rear of the car – perhaps this was a more appropriate name after all?  Yes, Jack it would be.

On reaching the house, we opened the door of the carriage and Jack leaped out onto the drive.  He seemed remarkably unperturbed for the journey and busied himself with an exploration of the park, stable, us, the perimeter fence and the house before flopping down upon his bed in the conservatory as if he’d lived there since birth.  Other than an extensive session of grooming (during which Cook managed to procure sufficient hair to stuff a double mattress for the Servants’ Hall) we left him to settle in to his new surroundings until time for his meal.

I could never have dreamed that a dog’s dinner would cause so much angst – but I fear that that part of the story must wait – for the maid has just entered announcing the arrival of Mr Coppertykeld who has called requesting a consultation (he has a case of the dropsy, the severity of which has not been seen locally these twenty years past).  Thus, dear reader, I fear we  must continue this shaggy tale at a later assemblage and for now I must bid you the finest of afternoons, or as is common parlance in Newcastle: “See yas later pet!”

Yours affectionately, etc.