Pip's Diary


Pip's Diary

The adventures and mishaps of a dobermann puppy

(as told to his owner Alexandra Bastedo)


 Landing on my Feet

 I was born 12 weeks ago in Carmarthen in Wales along with 9 brothers and sisters. However 10 puppies was a lot for our mother Cassie, a beautiful brown doberman to handle so it was hardly surprising that Suzie Williams her owner decided when I was 11 weeks old to drive me all the way to West Chiltington in Sussex to a couple and their black doberman bitch who had just lost Ponto their brown dobermann prematurely to cancer. I have to say that although I loved them dearly it was a great relief to leave my nine biting, screaming, fighting brothers and sisters and to finally have a place of my own. Nellie, the black dobermann, was a bit hostile to me at first – snarling a lot – but she didn’t actually touch me so it was really all bluff and making sure I knew she was boss. But quite honestly after the mayhem of my previous existence with all my siblings just as demanding as me there was nothing she did that could remotely phase me.

It was the same with my new owners repeatedly saying “NO” or “AH AH” or “DOWN”. Most of the time I just managed to ignore them and a few minutes later would go right back to doing what I was doing before. However, there was one thing they would do occasionally when they were fed up with me and that is put me in a dog cage. But I found I rather liked it as there was always a hot water bottle in there. a non-spill water bowl and some toys. They also fed me in there so the big dog couldn’t pinch my food so it has become my haven, my very own space where I can collapse when I am tired and not be bothered by anything happening outside at all.

However, I do think I have landed on my feet – or paws – as where I am is actually an animal sanctuary. This means there are lots of things to chase like cats and ducks and moorhens. People keep on shouting at me and telling me to stop but quite honestly it is far too much fun and it takes them a while to get hold of me, pick me up and carry me indoors. Inside too there seem to be cats in every room but most of the time when they see me they jump up on tables or sideboards or vanish out the cat flap. In fact today I got stuck trying to get through it chasing a white feline called Dancer but after I squealed and screamed the house down after a telling off  my owners came and released me which was something of a relief as I was well and truly stuck.


 Learning from Nellie 

 At last Nellie, the big black dobermann bitch, has stopped snarling at me. Actually that isn’t entirely true as sometimes she lies down in MY bed in MY cage and won’t let me in growling at me all the time until my owner comes to get her out. However most of the time now she is really nice and friendly letting me lie down beside her on her bed and taking me around with her everywhere she goes.

“You have always had such beautifully behaved puppies” said one visitor ”so it’s time you had one like this!” I don’t know quite what they meant by that but I do know they think I am very clever. I am after all only 12 weeks old and I already know how to swing on door handles until they open and if the bolt isn’t on the gate upstairs I can get my head under the gate and force it open. Then once I am upstairs I can raid all the food left in the cats’ bowls up there. 

However, Nellie is my real teacher. She took me round the garden into the back door of the conservatory through the sitting room where our master’s elderly cat called Bagpuss was sitting and showed me where his cat bowl full of food was kept.  However we were caught and Nellie was told off and we were told to get out but five minutes later I managed to sneak back in on my own and scoffed the lot.  

When we were allowed out of the garden past the poultry enclosure Nellie showed me how to push another gate that had been left ajar and get into the catteries where we can also pinch more cat food. And because I am much smaller than her I have now found my way through a hole in the wire fence so I can get through when Nellie cannot which leaves her very cross the other side. The cats all look rather amazed when I come in but so far none of them has challenged me so I have been able to sample quite a variety of delicious cat food. That is not to say that I don’t get fed well – I do – four times a day – and they have got rid of my worms as well – but somehow there is something very enticing about cat food. In fact the only cat food I haven’t been able to reach is Caspar’s, the old ginger cat who lives in the kitchen. His plate is put high up out of the way on a table in the utility room  – but I know as I get bigger I will be able to get  it in the end!



Pip and Nellie

Me with my dobermann friend Nellie


Getting Older 

 I am now 13 weeks old and I am noticing some distinct changes in myself. The main one is that I have grown a little and can no longer get through the holes in the  fencing to get at the cat food in the catteries on the other side. However on the plus side I am taller and this means I can get at things on top of tables, sideboards and desks that I couldn’t before. So far I have succeeded in pulling down reading glasses, knives and forks, butter, a jug of cream, newspapers, paper napkins, important letters, bills and books – I had great fun shredding all the paper and loved ripping off the book cover. I did get told off but at the moment life is just so much fun and I have a very short memory so I tend to forget and do it all over again the moment no-one is looking.

I have been observing Nellie, the grown-up dobermann, and try to copy her a lot of the time. I have observed her peeing and doing her number twos outside and have been highly praised when I have done the same so a lot of the time we do it in unison. I find it much better than being scolded for doing it all inside the house so I haven’t made a mistake in that department for some time. Actually that is not quite true I was so frightened when I went to the vet I did a number two, stepped in it, got through the dog guard and spread it round the car. I don’t think my owner was very pleased as it took her half an hour to clean it!

I spend quite a lot of time playing with the cats. Alfie the 17 year old is quite the naughtiest. He spends quite a lot of his time trying to ambush me but I have decided to stop pouncing on him as although he doesn’t have any teeth any more his claws can be quite painful. I used to like playing with Caspar the eighteen year old ginger boy but he is rather a spoil sport and spends most of his time on top of the furniture these days and only comes down when he knows I am asleep- even his food is on top of a high table so I can’t get at it.  Ollie , the white Persian who used to live with 30 cats and dogs in a tiny house, is the most friendly and seems to quite enjoy my company. He certainly doesn’t disappear like Fluff and Gustav – two more oldies whose owner died – who  tend to leave the room whenever they spot me. I really get told off if I try to chase them which is a real shame as it is so much fun running after moving things.

However I have to admit to being terrified of some of the other animals at the sanctuary. Paris, the deaf cat, and Tigga, the tabby stalk me sometimes and hiss so I give them a wide berth and the sheep are quite frightening. In fact Nellie told me to be very careful – when Katie and her two lambs, Kylie and Kim, were running loose they actually used to chase Nellie and the other dobermann, Ponto, to the point where they were afraid to go out of the garden. As a result the sheep were banned to the field and now co-habit with Marty and Shabba, the large horses, and the two Wiltshire Longhorn castrated rams. We are kept away from the donkeys and ponies too – and Nellie says it is just as well as they can kick. However the real shame is that all the chickens and ducks are kept behind a very high fence with an elecrified wire round the bottom. When I tried to get at them I got zapped so I won’t be doing that again!


Sisterly Love 

 I have had the most exciting week as my sister Boogie came to visit me with her adopted family, Mr. and Mrs. Turner from Southsea and their other dog- a nine month old dobermann bitch called Jazz.

Unfortunately Nellie was kept in another room during the visit as she is not partial to other large black dobermann bitches, which was a shame from my point of view as I felt outnumbered and by now I am used to having Nellie as my protector. In fact to tell you the truth when the two dogs arrived I was absolutely terrified and peed on the spot. So much time had elapsed that at first I didn’t recognise my sister Boogie, but there was something familiar about her and after a few sniffs we relaxed and started playing like we used to do.

I still have the egg-shaped bump on the top of my head from the injury I sustained when the two of us played too roughly back in Wales but I had forgotten how tough she was. I think maybe she had been having a lot of wrestling practice with her larger dobermann friend, Jazz, because I found her, if possible, even worse than before. As we raced around she kept on sending me flying and sometimes she would jump on me and knock me over and I would end up on my back underneath. It was so humiliating, but I may be a little out of practice - Nellie at the age of six is much more sedate and won’t let me maul or tackle her. However I do have quite a large assortment of stuffed toys that I throw from side to side and pretend to kill and several chews I can sink my teeth into so I wasn’t entirely off form.

Still after 2 hours of my sister’s company it all got too much. We just couldn’t stop beating each other up so I had to be rescued and put in my cage for a bit until we both quietened down. Much as I enjoyed the visit it was something of a relief when they left and life returned to normal. It also made me appreciate Nellie all the more. She  may tell me off occasionally when I annoy her but she never beats me up! 

Life at the sanctuary continues to be endlessly fascinating with all kinds of animals and birds that I am not  supposed to chase- though I still manage to when nobody is looking. I have also discovered that horse manure tastes really good – Nellie likes it too – but we tend to get told off if we so much as touch it. Apart from that and stealing food off any surface I can reach I think I have been reasonably good this week - I have learnt how to use the dog flap and how to walk on a harness and lead . Now my vaccinations are over I will soon be going on walks in the great outside world- I can’t wait I wonder what new exciting smells there will be and what new animals and people I will meet.


Pip and Sister
Me with my sister Boogie


Getting the Hang of it                         

You know when you go to a new home the whole layout – the geography – is totally different so it has meant a whole new learning curve for me. However, finally at the age of four months I think I am really getting the hang of it.

Yesterday I managed to get hold of the spare loo roll from the cloakroom downstairs and it made a wonderful plaything. I took it into the garden and managed to unroll it over a wide area, but the most fun I had was tearing the paper into tiny bits and sprinkling it all round the garden like confetti. My owner was really rather a bad sport though. When she came back from cleaning out the Shetland ponies’ stable in the top field she shouted at me and then proceeded to pick it all up muttering to herself as she did so which meant there was nothing left for me to tear up and I had to go back to my boring toys which are now fairly shredded themselves.

However apart from knowing where all the cat bowls are in the top cattery, I also know where the pony and donkey carrots are kept as sometimes when they are filling up the feed bowls for the other animals they give me one. So today while all the helpers were having a coffee break I shot off down to the barn and came back with a lovely juicy carrot which I proceeded to chomp on. Nellie, the adult dobermann looked rather amazed I think she must have wondered where I had found it and was rather cross that I refused to give her any.

My main motive in life it has to be said remains food. I can swing on door handles and open the doors if there is food the other side, I can pull tablecloths off tables in order to send the porridge bowl crashing to the floor so I can scoff it before anyone sees me  and on my back legs anything left on the sideboard is now a fair target – I found I particularly like bananas in their skins but they are now living in the fridge and I haven’t  worked out how to open it yet. 

The only other thing I was told off for was a game I had devised called “swinging on the curtains” – unfortunately the curtain rail came crashing down on me and I was caught red- handed – or rather red-pawed -  in the midst of it. The humans didn’t seem very pleased at all. Every time they struggled to put it back the nails came out of the wall and they had to do it all over again. I mustn’t do that again!

However they were pleased with me on our first walk in the country as I trotted along very nicely in my new Roger Mugford training harness. It doesn’t hurt at all and instills a feeling of security when other big dogs bark at you and cows loom out of the mist. In fact the weather has been absolutely dreadful with 80 mile an hour winds so our activity has been rather curtailed . Hopefully as it gets better there will be many new experiences and lots more adventures.


Battle of the Wellingtons

Gosh the world is an intimidating place.  Now I know dobermanns have the reputationof being large and fierce but at the moment - at five months - I can feel very small and very frightened.

Firstly my sister Boogie and her nine month old friend Jazz turned up again. Although I had seen them only two weeks earlier when they arrived my sister had grown so much I didn’t recognise her and I peed on the spot as they charged towards me. I then hid away in my cage until my owner persuaded me to come out and play. However Boogie is an experienced wrestler so once again I ended up on my back underneath her most of the time and by the end of the day I looked like a pin cushion from all the times she had stuck her needle-sharp teeth into me. Thank goodness I don’t live with her any more, I fear if I did I would be scarred and battered and have a permanent lump on my head like the egg-sized lump I had on my head when I first arrived at my new home. 

The sanctuary has other terrifying things too like the screams of the foxes after dark which send me rushing back into the house the moment I hear them while Nellie, my big dobermann friend just stands and barks at them. Then there is Leah the dog next door who protects the farmer’s orphan lambs. There is a path alongside the dividing fence between the properties and as she charges at the fence I have to race past at full pelt to get by her while brave Nellie merely strolls by growling as she goes.

However, in the house I feel very safe and have a lot of fun playing. One of my favourite games involves removing all the green, black, pink and blue wellingtons from the boot rack. I grapple with each one bashing it from side to side and jumping on it until the whole hall becomes a battlefield strewn with the corpses of dead wellingtons – a truly impressive sight.

While on the topic of feet I think my owner is becoming somewhat eccentric. She always seems to wear odd slippers or odd shoes and sometimes one shoe and one slipper or even one slipper and one barefoot. She looks very funny as she lurches about on uneven heels. Of course, occasionally she will find the missing shoe or slipper in my cage, or in my bed or even in the nest outside under the rosemary bush where I leave all my missing toys out in the rain.

Strangely the stairs going upstairs which have an anti-dog gate at the bottom (to give the upstairs cats some peace) are now serving as storage for all manner of boots. shoes, slippers, letters, bills, cases and handbags which are now all tantalisingly out of reach. As I get bigger everything is getting put away higher up as my owners attempt to keep one step ahead of me.

As for food I have yet to find something that I dislike. I adore my own food of course and raid the larder to get at it if ever the door is left open. But I also love raspberries, blueberries, raw chicory,brussel sprouts,cabbage,broccoli, cake ,butter, porridge, packets of cereal, horse manure, cow pats, sheep dung, and rabbit pellets or indeed anything I can get my paws on.

Unfortunately it is all getting less accessible as doors are not merely shut now but also locked, but I am sure to find new ways to get at things and the cat food which they have put on the sideboard will soon be within my reach once again.


Pip Finds his Voice

The first time it happened – this loud deep bark – I looked behind me expecting it to be Nellie my big dobermann friend but she wasn’t there. I was rather confused but when I barked at a monster (which was an empty compost bag blowing in the wind)  later that day I realised it was me. My voice had broken at the age of five and a half months. Of course since then I like the sound of my own sonorous voice so much that I bark at everything. My owners get bored with me and tell me to “Be quiet”  or “Shut up” but I have a short memory so it isn’t long before I find something else to bark at again. The best fun is barking at the neighbours’ dogs across the lane because they answer back and we go on and on until our owners drag us back into the house out of earshot.

Getting bigger I have found has advantages and disadvantages. On the down side I find I can’t fit into cat beds any longer and can only sit with my bottom in and my paws out so it is not very comfortable. Also I can no longer barge through some of the holes in the wire fencing which seem to be a lot smaller now which means I can’t get to the cat houses and cat food the other side. However I did get under the gate to the Shetland ponies when nobody was looking and was kicked by Raffles but fortunately it was only a warning and I certainly won’t go there again! 

My larger size now means that everything in the food line is more accessible and I even managed to get from the chair on to the table and on to the sideboard where the fresh eggs are kept- and scoffed the lot. I can also open all the garbage containers and pull out all the empty packets of cat food which I shred around the kitchen and my latest achievement is not only pushing down door handles and opening the doors outwards but actually managing to open the doors inwards as well – so now nothing is safe. Books. loo rolls, makeup, toothpaste all are now easily accessed and destroyed and I find I need a regular turn-over to keep me amused.

I find my toys rather boring now as I have disemboweled most of them which means only the squeak and the fabric remain. My monkey with the long arms is still okay that I flail from side to side beating myself over the head as I do so and one of the quacking bird toys which sounds just like the real ducks on the pond. I have tried several times to bring home a live one to play with despite getting shouted at but so far have not had any success.

My owner was rather alarmed when she found a dead furry animal at the bottom of the pond. When she fished it out with a large fishing net covered in green algae the people watching were most distressed. However I was very pleased as they had finally found my missing white teddy bear which I had inadvertently let go while chasing a moorhen the week before. It has been in the washing machine and has returned to its former snowy white colour but it does have a rather soggy squeak now which is a bit pathetic. But what a lot of fun it was to see the consternation of the people watching. It was a great joke so I must throw some more toys in the pond again soon.

  pip chewing
I can always find something to chew


Barking Mad 

Today I was given a new green collar because the old one was rather tight. I am now the same size as Nellie, my 6 year old dobermann friend, but I am still growing. This means I can run faster and can almost catch the ducks, moorhens and cats that cross my path and can knock things and people over much more effectively should they get in my way. In other words I am almost full-sized but still have the exuberance and short-term memory of a puppy- which is a lethal combination.

Strangely the rubbish bins in the kitchen are now standing on top of the side-board. I had managed to work out how to open all the various lids and my owners were getting fed up with retrieving all the plastic and metal containers and paper that I was shredding all over the kitchen and garden. Also when they go out now they usually entice me back into my cage with a treat and lock me in or put on my plastic muzzle. I suppose the latter is preferable as I can still run about and send things flying but it does prevent me eating miscellaneous items and tearing things up.

I suppose there have been three major events which prompted my owners to take such drastic action. The first was that I pulled my mistress’ best black coat down by yanking the hook it was hung on out of the wall and had a lovely time ripping it to pieces. The second was eating most of my master’s favourite straw hat that he had kindly left on the sideboard- though I did leave the black ribbon and lastly I took my master’s bag of pills and vitamins from the centre of the table and chewed them and spat them out all over the lawn. They didn’t taste very nice and my master and mistress spent hours painstakingly retrieving each one from the grass. I also got cystitis from all the muck I was eating so had to be on antibiotics and Cantharis 30 (the homeopathic remedy) for a week.There is talk of sending me to obedience classes but like my predecessors I am bound to be top of the class in no time and will then totally ignore everything I have been taught when I get home.

My mistress was also very cruel. She took me to the vet at 6 months to have me “snipped” in the hope that it would calm me down. The effect is supposed to take 6 weeks but so far it hasn’t made a blind bit of difference. Also a peculiar quirk of my puppy personality is that I really enjoy getting told off. In fact the more I get shouted at the more I wag my tail- nothing phases me at all. Whereas Ponto, my predecessor was terrified of hot air balloons and would run away and hide I simply bark  at the flame- spitting monsters until they fly off and growl threateningly at the thunderstorms until I frighten them away.

The only real irritation in my life is the family of foxes including 3 cubs that will insist on playing with and pinching the toys and bones that I leave outside. If I see or sense them from the window it makes me barking mad.

My owners have gone to a retreat in the New Forest for a few days as they were in danger of having a nervous breakdown. I was going to think up all kinds of devilment in their absence but the presence of Jessie and Sharron, both stern authoritarians whom they left us with has put an end to that. However in the garden at least I am having fun digging up the plants in the flower pots and dead -heading all the buds on my  master’s prize roses.

  Pip sitting
Me - just wondering what I can get up to next



Gone Fishing 

I don’t think I am very popular at the moment. One of the problems is my sense of taste – I have yet to find something that I don’t like to eat particularly if it is wrapped in paper so I can eat that too. Of course there are side effects as I have been known to throw up often unrecognisable objects in the morning. It does mean that my mistress frequently puts me in a muzzle but fortunately I can’t have it on all the time so I still have ample opportunity to steal and usually I am so quick it takes time for things to be mislaid.


Today for instance Nellie the adult dobermann and I were taken for a very long walk up in the hills above Pulborough and then upon our return we were both given a huge bone. My mistress thought it would keep me occupied while she called in the sanctuary cats for the night away from the four marauding resident foxes. However I soon got bored with my bone, then Nellie comandeered it and snarled whenever I tried to get it back so I went into the kitchen to see what I could lay my jaws on there. Success! I managed to knock the kitchen compost container off the sideboard on to the floor and quickly swallowed the old teabags, dead lettuce and banana skins which spilled out. Then I went a bit higher and ate a fresh loaf of bread from the bread basket still in its paper cover. After that I managed to open up the lid of the bread bin – which had been blocked by the compost container- and scoffed the biscuits, crackers and ryvitas inside. Then I moved further along and managed to dislodge a glass jar of Udo’s Oil – omega 3 and 6 – which is added to my food. I managed to carry it in my mouth into the garden where the glass broke and I succeeded in  lapping up most of the oil from in between the shattered shards.

Needless to say my mistress was pretty angry when she came in. She locked me in my cage while she picked up all the broken glass and cruelly deprived me of my usual dinner saying “You have had quite enough!”

Nellie, my dobermann pal, has been quite wonderful in teaching me everything naughty she knows. However at the age of 8 months I have taken things to a higher level and am now teaching HER all  of my particular peccadillos which is great as she now gets told off too!

Of course apart from eating my other main joy is chasing things and I am getting that down to a fine art  as often Nellie now joins in too in formation. There is always a lot of activity from the birds on the pond but so far we haven’t managed to catch any ducks or moorhens. However I have discovered a new talent and that is fishing. I managed to grab hold of a sluggish prize koi carp that was basking in the shallows, ate most of it and deposited the head and spine in the hall as a present for my owners. But such generosity was only met with a scream when they came in and I was frogmarched back to my cage once again. However the sensation of that slimy wriggling fish in my mouth was exhilarating and it tasted scrumptious. There are plenty more where that one came from and if I manage to eat the whole fish then nobody will notice it is missing so now –  when there’s no-one about –  I go fishing!


Oh Dear!

I haven’t had quite as much success in wrecking things this month  unfortunately as the amount of time I am left unsupervised has diminished.  I did manage to pull out several books from the library shelves but was interrupted before I could shred them like I normally do.  Also with several saucepans now stacked  high on top of the rubbish bins  which have been put on the tables the noise of them clattering to the floor both frightens me and alerts other people to my activities so I have stopped that too.

However I am still targeting the kitchen sideboards and managed to pull down a glass jar of the sweetener Canderel which shattered all over the floor. It was like sticky sand to walk on so my mistress was none too pleased and locked me up while she retrieved all the shattered glass and washed the floor down with a mop and bucket. I had also managed to dislodge a  chocolate cake which was awaiting the arrival of some guests. It was delicious and Nellie, the older dobermann, and I scoffed it between us . However what is most unfair now is that if something goes missing they automattically presume I am the culprit and I get scolded even if Nellie has done it – though usually it has to be said it IS me. 

Actually the visitors were nightmare friends of my master and mistress who were visiting from America.  They seemed very nice at first and made a fuss of me as I galumphed about playing with Nellie and at one point as I misjudged a gap I nearly sent one of the ladies  flying. It was then that the seemingly nice lady called Anastasia suddenly announced she was going to give me a training session – and what an unpleasant, boring experience that was! 

She went over and over things making me walk at heel on a short lead and making me sit repeatedly.  I know how to sit but normally I think about it first before I decide whether  I will, but  Anastasia  brooked no nonsense –  I had to do what I was told.  And she went on – and on – and on – and on until I was worn down into submission.  Admittedly she did tell me what a good boy I was and made a fuss of me whenever I did things right, but it’s a lot more fun when you can just be on your own orbit and choose whether to obey commands or not. 

So ..... the bad news is that my mistress is now keeping up the lessons and life, I have to say, has turned serious. However soon they are going on holiday to Corsica and a nice volunteer called Peter Kirkwood is coming to stay so with a bit of luck the training will stop and I will be able to revert to my normal exuberant, undisciplined self once more!


The Dragon Returns! 

 I was a bit worried when my master and mistress left the house and got into their car carrying cases and didn’t take Nellie, the other dobermann, and me with them. However, we were left in the care of Peter Kirkwood, who knows a lot about dogs, and I have to say I do rather like him. He does have a problem though and I suspect he is a lot older than he looks because he is terribly slow. Whenever he took me round the village on a short lead and a halti every time I pulled ahead he stopped and refused to go on until I was back by his side. This took an age and meant that a walk that would normally have taken 20 minutes was more like 40. I wouldn’t have minded if he had let me smell all the interesting smells on the lamposts and trees but he wouldn’t even let me do that and it was so BORING just walking by his side though he did let me pee occasionally. He is a bit eccentric too as he has a thing about my number twos- he picked them all up in plastic bags. Now I could  have understood if he had wanted to keep it but when he got home he just threw it into the garbage. Why he couldn’t just leave it for the other animals to smell- it was after all my calling card – I really don’t know.

I  had a lot of fun too because he didn’t know me very well. He didn’t  put things up on high surfaces so I  had a field day in terms of all the extra food I scoffed: the lamb chops and chicken breasts he was going to have for 2 dinners, boxes of fresh eggs, tomatoes, home made cakes and a bag of flour though the latter got into my eyes, nose and ears so it wasn’t very satisfactory. Eventually he got wise to me and whenever I tried to take anything would squirt me with a water pistol which I didn’t think was very funny or very nice of him.

When my mistress phoned to see how we were Peter said “Pip’s quite a handful isn’t he!” Whatever that meant. Then when she asked if he might house sit again he said he wasn’t sure he would be able to cope over a long period of time - which is a shame as I really did enjoy getting away with murder! In fact I nearly did once when I managed to get on to his bed and Teddy the cat got on too. I tried to get at him but Peter stopped me and never allowed me into his bedroom again.

I think what I liked most about Peter was his soft voice. He is a very gentle person and I really got very fond of him. In fact it was very confusing when the dragon – my mistress- came home and for a while I really didn’t know who to go to. The trouble is she is a lot stricter than Peter, has everything well out of reach and shouts at me if I do something wrong. However the really bad thing that Peter has done is leave his far-reaching water pistol behind and has taught my mistress how to use it both inside and outside the house. Now I can’t even pounce on the cats or send Nellie flying without getting wet. It really is so unfair- I wonder what they will think up next! 

  Pip and Nellie Sitting
Me and my pal Nellie - at last I am big enough to send her flying!


Motoring is such fun!   

I have to say the house has become rather boring. The curtains that I pulled off the curtain rail have all been removed and the clothes hooks I pulled out of the wall have not been replaced. This means I can no longer access the coats and drag them out into the garden to shred them any more as the remaining ones are all now stashed away in cupboards which I don’t yet know how to open. In the kitchen everything has now been placed out of reach although if anything is left within range I can get it in 2 minutes flat. I even manage to jump on the table but there is no point now as there is rarely anything on it.

My mistress does try very hard I know to alleviate my boredom with toys which I disembowel and bones which I chew and then bury in the garden. The trouble is half the time the fox comes along at night and digs them up so they tend to be gone in the morning. The other evening I actually saw him doing it from our enclosed dog area and promptly jumped over the five foot fence and set off in hot pursuit, but unfortunately he was too fast for me and disappeared into his den.

One of my favourite games is called pouncing on moles. Since Dancer , the mole catching cat, was run over they are proliferating again. So I run round and round the garden in mad circles and when I sense one digging beneath the soil I leap up in the air and pounce on the rising earth. So far I am afraid I haven’t caught any.

I suppose the age difference between myself and Nellie the other dobermann is too great as she is seven years old and I am ten months. I do try to engage her in violent horseplay – dobermann style – but since I hurt her leg I have not been allowed to play with her and get squirted with the water pistol if I even try. On top of that I am now supervised at all times or put in my cage if there is no one around so that all I can do is sleep. However I have  discovered that the car is such fun. There is another water pistol in that which threatens me whenever I maul Nellie or bark at passing dogs but the best time I have is when I am left alone in it. There was a special dog cover protecting the back seat which I have slowly ripped apart and it has now disintegrated beyond recognition. Then the other day I discovered the Road Atlas of Great Britain and it proved to be quite a challenge. However it was a most rewarding past time and I soon managed to tear it apart into little pieces so Glasgow now lies next to Brighton. I just hope my mistress doesn’t need to travel anywhere important in the near future. Best of all though has been the head rests on the back seat which I rugger tackled while she was at the dentist. Having managed to unzip the fabric with my teeth I then managed to pull out lumps of sponge which I threw about all over the car. Unfortunately the inner core was made of metal and it proved too difficult to remove so that had to stay.  After half an hour she came out of the dentist with a frozen mouth but when she saw the inside of the car she screamed and told me I was a “Bad boy”. Though I really don’t know why as by then I had fallen asleep from all the exertion and wasn’t doing anything at all.

They take me on really long walks over the downs every day in an effort to tire me out but they never succeed and  they even watch the “Dog Whisperer” on television to try to pick up tips. But so far so good as I have outwitted them at every turn. I wonder what new activity I can think up next!


     pip tartan coat
Me in my tartan coat ready to go for a walk


The Indignity of it all

How could she! I know the commands sit, wait, stay, heel and come perfectly well. Admittedly I don’t often choose to obey them but that is another matter. Apparently the police force prefers to use German Shepherds as they do what they are told whereas dobermanns think about it first and decide whether it is a good idea.

Well I was dragged off to dog obedience classes. At first it has to be said I didn’t know what I was in for as we  entered the strange village hall. There were 6 miscellaneous dogs smaller than me so, tail held high, I growled a greeting to let them know I was top dog.”What a cocky fellow!”said the instructor “He is very full of himself.”Then the nightmare started as I was endlessly told to sit, heel, and stay like all the other idiotic dogs that obeyed the inane commands without question.

Why sit in the middle of a cold floor for no good reason? Why walk monotonously to heel round and round and round a room? Why pass by a Cornish Pasty on a Hostess tray without eating it? Well, I can tell you after initially obeying the commands more out of surprise than anything else  I soon got fed up and flatly refused to do anything at all. My mistress cajoled, pulled, pushed, and threatened to no avail – I refused to budge. “I’ve never had one as bad as this before” she said. Finally another lady came over. “I have a lot of experience with recalcitrant dogs- let me try” she said.

"Well I wasn’t about to respond to a total stranger so I stood when she said “Sit” sat when she said ”Stand”, came when she said “Stay”, stayed still when she called “Come”, stood up when she said ”Down” and laid down when she said “Up”. “What a contrary dog” she said “But I have a trick up my sleeve.” Suddenly I began to find her more appealing as the aroma of fresh sausage emanated from her hand and it occurred to me that if I did what I was told I might actually be given some. Well, that was it- every time I obeyed her command I was given a piece of succulent sausage. In fact such was my motivation that I was voted top of the class. My owner meanwhile looked on in total amazement. “Bribery” said the lady “Is the only solution with a rambunctious dog like this. ” I have never had to do that with any of my other dobermanns before” said my mistress. “Well you have been lucky until now” said the lady “But he is an obvious foodie so that’s the route to go”.

Since then life has improved immeasureably as I get tit-bits every time I do what I am told and Nellie - my fellow dobermann-who used to do everything for nothing is rather pleased as she has muscled in on the act and gets something too.

My love of food though did get me into trouble over the holidays. My master and mistress were hosting a Christmas party for the thirty volunteers  at the sanctuary just before Christmas. To this end they had spruced up the house and put up pretty decorations. This included a rooted Christmas tree with fairy lights and coloured objects including chocolates in silver and gold wrappers. Well  I went into the sitting room while they were in the kitchen preparing mulled wine and mince pies and discovered myself alone with the Christmas tree with the chocolate ornaments. With all the titbits I had been receiving I naturally presumed they were for me and started to remove them. The trouble was they were fairly well attached so I had to pull the tree out of its pot and drag it round the room. I did make a bit of a mess but did succeed in locating all the chocolate ornaments and gobbling them up with or without wrappers. Suddenly I heard footsteps and a scream. “What have you done” yelled my mistress as she surveyed the devastation caused by the mud, the pine needles and shattered baubles. I skulked off to my  cage and decided to stay there while the hoover and broom appeared to rectify the situation. I was subsequently locked in it for the duration of the party but didn’t really mind as by then I was feeling a bit queasy. It seemed a good time was had by all except me and the following morning I sicked up a lot of bits of  silver and gold paper. Well  I went into the sitting room while they were in the kitchen preparing mulled wine and mince pies and discovered myself alone with the Christmas tree with the chocolate ornaments. With all the titbits I had been receiving I naturally presumed they were for me and started to remove them. The trouble was they were fairly well attached so I had to pull the tree out of its pot and drag it round the room. I did make a bit of a mess but did succeed in locating all the chocolate ornaments and gobbling them up with or without wrappers. Suddenly I heard footsteps and a scream. “What have you done” yelled my mistress as she surveyed the devastation caused by the mud, the pine needles and shattered baubles. I skulked off to my  cage and decided to stay there while the hoover and broom appeared to rectify the situation. I was subsequently locked in it for the duration of the party but didn’t really mind as by then I was feeling a bit queasy. It seemed a good time was had by all except me and the following morning I sicked up a lot of bits of  silver and gold paper. Still I was better by Christmas Day and Nellie and I very much enjoyed the bones, pizzles, hide chews , squeaky toys and carrots that we found in our stockings.


Jumping Jack Flash

 Well, I think I have cracked it.  I was getting extremely frustrated at no longer being able to get through the holes in the fences, but I have found the answer.  I came across the solution by accident.  I had gone out through the dog flap into the fenced I dog garden when I spotted the fox.  Well that was it.  I jumped over the gate and set off in hot pursuit.  Since then my jumping abilities have increased and with no fence to stop me it has given me tremendous freedom to roam around the sanctuary.

Admittedly I can’t clear the 10ft chicken fence to get at the silly birds the other side but I can get into the catteries and into the cats’ food bowls where I demolish the leftovers, I can get into the pig enclosure but there isn’t much point as they always lick their plates clean and I did get into the ponies field but they chased me and I had to jump back out quickly so that isn’t such a good idea either!  Poor Nellie my old dobermann friend barks to tell me off but I think she is just jealous that she can’t do it.

 A rather strange phenomenon has occurred since I started jumping as several of the trees around the sanctuary have sprouted cables with clips on the end and often I find myself attached to them.  It is highly irritating because all I can do then is watch and cannot chase anything or smell out food.  A piece of electric tape has also appeared along the top of the cattery fence but it doesn’t phase me as I can easily clear that as well.

The other day they tried blocking the dog flap with a large heavy box to keep me in – it wasn’t a problem I merely moved it backwards, climbed over it and was out of the dog flap and over the fence in a flash.  You see that wretched fox torments me when I am locked up at night in the utility room.  I push the blind in the window out of the way (it’s a bit lop-sided now) and he baits me from the garden chewing my bones and throwing my toys up in the air.  I get barking mad when I can’t get out to chase him!

My other new found pleasure is jumping on the bonnets and roofs of the volunteers cars and leaving my muddy footprints all over them.  And down in the barn my favourite past-time is climbing up to the top of the hay bales and sending them crashing down preferably dislodging a sleeping cat in the process.

The down-side is that for some peculiar reason the adults have bought me a bigger cage and lock me in it whenever they go out while Nellie is free to move about and frequently I find myself at the end of one of the clips the trees have sprouted.  Apart from that growing bigger certainly has its advantages.  The fencing is now getting taller and taller but I just jump higher and higher so it is not a problem.  I like a challenge – what a lot of fun life is!  



 Pip Full Head

 This is me in a rare quiet moment



Life is a lot Less Fun

 I don’t know quite how it has happened but life isn’t as much fun as it was.  Firstly my mistress has watched the “Dog Whisperer” on television.  This resulted in my being taken on a very long walk with Nellie my dobermann pal early in the morning.  This tends to knock me out so I am zonked for the rest of the day: the fences seem too high to jump after a walk and I am too tired to bark so I just lie around quite a lot getting my strength back which pleases my master and mistress no end.  Things went a bit wrong for a few days when a sign went up saying “Keep Off” as the local fields had been sprayed.  Apparently Dorrit one of my dobermann predecessors had come back once looking like a fillet steak after a field she walked in had been sprayed so after 2 weeks we have only just been allowed back on it.

 Also it isn’t as much fun jumping those fences as the pigs have started to attack me whenever I bark at them and they are quite scary when they come at me together and charge.  The trees on the sanctuary keep on growing more and more long wire branches too with clips that fit on to my collar and curtail my activities and Peter Kirkwood has devised a new handle to prevent me getting into the catteries and stealing the cat food.  They stopped putting my muzzle on for a while “He is much calmer now” they said but since I have eaten one of the seats in the old Honda CRV for some reason they have started putting it on again.  I find it most annoying as I cannot get up the much from the bonfire or steal things from the table and I can’t hunt properly as everything I chase escapes.  However I can still manage to bark with it on and that drives everyone crazy so I do usually get what I want in the end!

 However, I do feel I have really achieved something this month – I have learnt to pee properly.  Silly Nellie, the dobermann bitch squats down but I have discovered a much better solution.  When I pee I raise my FRONT paw and aim at the ground where the paw had been.  Altogether a much more stylish action!


Not a Sheepdog but a Donkeydog

 Apart from learning how to pee properly by raising my front right leg, as I reach the age of 1 year and 8 months, I really do think I’m beginning to get the hang of things.  I don’t steal food quite so much from the kitchen, so I don’t get scolded all the time.  Of course if the butter or piece of cake is left at nose height, I make an exception.  I mean, how can they expect you to resist when it is put right in front of you.  Besides, Nellie my Doberman friend can be just as naughty as me, so they have to tell us both off.

 Outside, the enticement to get into the catteries has diminished, as most of the time they make me wear a muzzle to stop me eating the cat food, so there really isn’t any point in making the effort to jump over the fence any more.

 The pigs, Ant and Dec are obnoxious, as they still gang up on me and form a 2 pronged attack when I bark at them, so I have decided to give them a wide berth for the moment.

 However, there is one area where I am proving myself very useful.  Last week a gate with a faulty catch was left open and 3 shetlands and 2 donkeys started charging around the fenced in poultry orchard. The humans then appeared, but were totally useless in rounding them up as they charged about scattering in all directions.  Even Gretel, the fragile arthritic donkey suddenly found her feet and took off like a race horse whenever anyone came near. Anyway, I was around at the time and thought I could help, so set off in hot pursuit with the humans charging after me.  I couldn’t actually nip them because I had the blasted muzzle on but I could bark, chase and dodge and much to everyone’s surprise after 10 minutes of my noisy wild strategy, Charlie, Gussie, Nicky, Hansel and Gretel all fled back through their gate.  Having been initially shouted at, I was in fact awarded for my efforts with my favourite Denes biscuits. A week later Hansel, the large bossy donkey got out through the dodgy gate again.  Well, all I can say is that as the sole object of my rounding up technique, he was back begging at his gate to be let in within 5 minutes.  What a naughty donkey.

 I really enjoyed the experience of being a sheepdog – sorry donkeydog - enormously and just hope the new latch on the gate doesn’t prevent those silly mokes from getting out any more – what fun!


My Point of View

by Alexandra Bastedo

 I don’t know whether it was the bump on Pip’s head that he received as a puppy but mentally Pip has been quite unlike any other dobermann I have had over the past forty years.  Blue, Sophie, Kipling, Daisy, Little Dorrit, Roscoe, Ponto Nellie – all seem to have been absolute saints in comparison with Pip.

 He was quite the most deranged, hyper-active puppy we have ever had : he distributed my husband’s pills all over the garden, he slung our Wellington boots al around the hall, he chewed my husband’s best books in his library, took great delight in ripping my best raincoat from TK Maxx into little pieces and pulling the hook out of the wall in the process.  His antics are far too many to itemise.  The solution was to try to keep one step ahead of him.  Is he very clever or is he very stupid?  I suspect the former.  The police say that a German Shepherd does what it is told whereas a Dobermann will think about the command first and decide whether it is a good idea before acting on it.  For the first time ever, in desperation, we imported a large dog cage to put him in whenever we were absent.  In the past the presence of another wise dog was enough to calm the puppy down but not Pip.  He learnt every one of Nellie’s peccadillos but took the art of being naughty to another level altogether.

 As for food!!! There was absolutely nothing he did not find scrumptious and to a large extent still does in spite of lots of pet food and regular de-worming.  The answer was a plastic muzzle but even now if he is not wearing it and someone leaves the door open he is off at the speed of a cheetah leaping over 4 foot fences, barging into the catteries to polish off the cat food, racing down to the fields to paw at and scoff any manure piled by the fences, picking up a few mouthfuls of pig dung on the way, and finally digging up the bonfire for any charred choice morsels deposited there.

 However, now, at the age of one year and nine months it has to be said that he is better than he used to be.  The answer really has been extensive walks to tire him out which of course have worn me out too in the process!  However his recuperative powers are amazing and before many hours elapse he is back to his normal adventurous self.

 The point of getting a puppy and not a dog through Dobermann Rescue was to get a dog that would respect the animals, and indeed people, at the animal sanctuary.  Ant to that end Pip has been a big success.  He may occasionally attempt to torment the pigs with barking but it is in play and he has learnt to leave the sheep alone since Kylie and Kim, the two black ewes, chased him down the path.  After the odd scratch on his nose he has learnt to give the cats a wide berth but sometimes curls up with Alfie the friendly veteran house cat on his bed.

 As for the horses and donkeys having observed them occasionally kicking their heels in the air he instinctively knows to avoid them unless he is rounding them up!  As far as people are concerned he is so used to the volunteers coming and going throughout the day that apart from the occasional “woof” at the new face he gives them all an over – enthusiastic welcome.  Fortunately they are, of course, animal lovers and respond accordingly with a “Hello Pip” and a pat.

 In the evening Pip is now the most adorable dog as he lies quietly next to Nellie on their large chewed dog bed stirring only to sniff at the items being brought to the dinner table.  Any thought of pilfering halted by the sight of the yellow and red plastic water pistol highly visible next to our plates.

 So, all in all, we feel we are getting there.  After months of anguish and despair – apart from the odd moment of lunacy – Pip is turning into a really nice affectionate dog.  He is a true dobermann of course with an instinctive bark at anything strange but with not an ounce of malice in him.


Pip’s Diary has been a chronicle of “Great Expectations”.

Copyright Alexandra Bastedo 


    Pip in Garden  



Alexandra Bastedo is the author of “Beware Dobermanns, Donkeys and Ducks”, “The Healthy Dog” and “The Healthy Cat” books. Alexandra was the founder of the ABC Animal Sanctuary which is staffed by volunteers each day and depends upon donations – however small- to finance all the animals.