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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Chichester Harbour

My 11-Year Old Dog, Capone, Is A Miracle Of Medicinal Cannabis.

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capone-saltmarsh

Capone Stanley Reynolds, to give him his full name, has been my faithful, handsome and sweet-natured companion since 2007.  He really is a lovely dog, a strong silent type, very self-contained, gentle, calm and, I believe, wise.

Sadly, he developed epilepsy around the age of five and a couple of years later was struck with severe arthritis which means for the last three years or so he hasn’t been able to walk with me as he used to. However, regular use of CBD oil has transformed his life and I think we will have several more years together before he goes to that neverending walk in the sky where he will be able to run and play as he did when he was younger.

capone-profileHe’s a cross between a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a German Shorthaired Pointer – which is where he gets his gorgeous coat from, a mottled mixture of grey, black, white and a few touches of orange.  I believe that, apart from his siblings, he is unique and he attracts a great deal of attention.  People say he looks like a leopard and several times I have been offered large sums of money for him.

We have walked hundreds of miles together.  He first came to live with me when I lived in Emsworth, Hampshire.  We learned the pleasure of walking together around Chichester Harbour and I had an article about our adventures  published in Country Walking magazine.

I had once before, in the late 70s, seen someone fall down on a zebra crossing while having an epileptic fit.  Nothing prepares you though for when someone you love first endures a seizure.  It is frightening and deeply distressing.  I can only despair at what it must be like for a parent whose small child suffers so.

Quickly though, you become used to it.  You have to, for your own sake and so that you can look after the one who is fitting.  In fact, there’s not a lot you can do, except protect them from hurting themselves while thrashing about.  Every seizure is different but for Capone they all start with the most intense rigidity, arched back, teeth clenched and violent shaking.  Then, after a minute or so, he will appear to relax and his legs will start a frantic bicycling motion while he froths at the mouth and usually loses control of his bladder, weeing everywhere.  Occasionally he will go back into the rigid phase but at some point, usually within three or four minutes, he will jump slightly as if he’s just woken up – and indeed he has.  Then he wants to stand up, although he doesn’t have proper control of his legs and he will fall over or walk into the wall or furniture.  For up to an hour afterwards he will be wide-eyed, panting crazily and usually ravenously hungry.  Gradually he calms down, until at last he sleeps, exhausted.

Capone’s seizures come in clusters over a 36 to 48 hour period.  To begin with it was about every three hours, so it’s utterly draining, all through the night, never more than an hour or two’s sleep before the next one starts.  When at last it comes to an end, it takes three or four days for him to recover.  It’s almost like he’s had a stroke and he seems stupid, off balance and doesn’t really seem to know where he is.  Thankfully, he always has recovered, right back to normal again and a week later it’s all forgotten.

I can’t remember the exact sequence of events now but it was around this time that the story of Charlotte Figi became known, the remarkable effect of CBD oil on this small child with Dravet’s Syndrome, a severe form of paediatric epilepsy.  It wasn’t long before I decided to try Capone on CBD.

Capone & Carla3

Carla And Capone

His arthritis had also dramatically worsened by now.  We went from walking five miles every day to the point where it was taking the same amount of time for him just to walk half a mile or so.  Both I and my other dog, Carla, were frustrated and suffering from a lack of exercise. Eventually I had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave him at home and just Carla and I would go for a walk.  With a lack of exercise he began to put on weight and it became a vicious circle.  About three years ago it had reached the stage where he couldn’t walk more than about 20 yards and I feared I would have to make the toughest decision of all.  In this state, when a cluster of seizures came along, he truly was a pathetic sight, my wonderful, beautiful dog and friend in so much distress and pain.

I tried various CBD products.  I didn’t really know what I was doing and they didn’t seem to have much impact.  But then, nothing did. The best the vet could offer was rectal tubes of diazepam, like a small toothpaste tube with a nozzle that you stick up his bum and squeeze.  They had no impact at all. I have given him 30mg of diazepam while he was fitting (enough to lay me flat out for 24 hours) and it’s made absolutely no difference.  But then neither did CBD.  There was none of this immediate effect like you see on the many YouTube videos of children being dosed with CBD oil.

pluscbd-goldGradually though the frequency and intensity of his seizures started to diminish.  I had settled on using PlusCBD Gold oil.  Two grams of this dissolved in olive or hempseed oil contains about 500mg of CBD and that would last for a month or so, giving him a dropper full every morning with his breakfast.

He was walking better. On a good day he could now manage a couple of hundred yards.  In the summer he was able to do his very favourite thing and walk up the garden into full, unshaded sunlight and spend most of the day there sleeping on the lawn.  The seizures seemed to have stopped.

Then, perhaps a year ago, I quadrupled his dose.  I now use LoveHemp 20% oil which provides a full 2000mg of CBD.  I dissolve this inlovehemp-20 olive or hempseed oil in a 50ml dropper bottle and he continues to get one dropper full every day.

In the past two years, Capone has had just one cluster of seizures.  It took place over the same period but there were far fewer fits of much less intensity, perhaps seven or eight over 48 hours.  He can walk a few hundred yards now.  He’ll never be the vigorous, fast-running dog he once was but occasionally I take him for a slow walk now for half an hour or so.  If he sees another dog he gets excited and gets up a rather ungainly and clumsy turn of pace – but it’s almost a run and he’s still Capone and I treasure every minute that we have together.  CBD oil, or as it should be more accurately termed, low-THC whole plant cannabis extract, has saved his life.

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I Must Go Down To The Sea Again…

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My first few weeks in Weymouth are brim full of experiences, pleasures, delights and precious few disappointments.

Here I am, nestled away in the delightful village of Sutton Poyntz in a deep cleft in the chalk hills in the biblically named valley of the River Jordan.  Behind me, to the north (for an old sea dog always looks towards the water!) is my mountain.  In fact, my recent purchase of an Ordnance Survey map has revealed that it achieves only one quarter of the height needed to qualify as such.  Believe me, when you climb it, as I do most mornings, it seems plenty high enough.  I used to think the miles that I walked with Capone and Carla around Chichester Harbour meant I was fit but in Dorset there are hills!

To the south is the most stupendous view across Weymouth Bay to Portland.  The Jurassic Coast tumbles away towards Lulworth.  The monstrous cliffs of Portland join the town’s Esplanade along the great shingle isthmus that is Chesil Beach and the sky, usually blue, reminds me every minute that I must be close to paradise.

It is not always a peaceful scene and I look forward eagerly to some vicious winter storms.  Last weekend, Portland was hosting its speed trials and, sure enough, a 40 knot wind was blowing across Chesil Beach.  The wind and kite surfers sailing parallel to the road were clearly outstripping the cars and the breeze was very much more than brisk.

I parked up, released the beasts and we set off to walk west over the shingle spine.  The wind was as fierce as any I have known.  Carla whimpered.  Capone struck on.  I struggled.  Chesil shingle is large pebbles, difficult to walk through and with the blast in our faces almost impossible.  As my head peeped over the crest I remembered what real wind means.  Reaching the top I could lean my whole weight into it and riding the gusts, stand like Kate Winslet at the sharp end of Titanic, supported on air, resplendent in space.

We stumbled down the far side, an awe inspiring sight before us.  Eight foot monsters pounding down.  Spray flying thirty feet high.  The majesty of the ocean before us.  The huge, roaring, raging, thundering of the shingle dragged back in the undertow.  A lump in my throat, my tears mixing with the stinging spray.  The overwhelming, compulsive, massive power of it.  I am part of an island race.  The salt must run in my veins because this is being alive.  Nothing can be more complete, more absolute, more real.  Time stands still while the incomparable terror and beauty of nature displays itself.

The walk back is much easier with a helping hand up the hill and in the lee of the shingle mountain the wind now feels gentle and modest.  This is why I came to the ocean.  This is what feeds my soul.

I remember more than 20 years ago standing on the north coast of the island of Iona with my four month old son in my arms and being similarly overcome.  If this is what Weymouth offers me in the first month then i am here for life.

Today, it was blissfully calm.  The sea at Bowleaze Cove was as flat as the millpond at Emsworth.  Above a million feathers of high cirrus cloud, slightly below, scudding cotton wool puffs, dark at the edges, a Dali-esque caricature of a sky but real not surreal.  This is my new home and I love it!

Walking The Dog 9

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High summer.  A blanket of thick grey cloud and a force four or five south-easterly blasts a fine drizzle into my face.  We’re checking out the aftermath of yesterday’s invasion and the pleasant surprise is that there’s no evidence at all of the drama that was played out near the Langstone bridge.

The world, his wife and about a thousands grockles invaded our space yesterday all in search of a dying whale.  Actually there were probably about a hundred turning the sea wall in front of Langstone millpond into a grandstand.  It’s a well known fact though that one grockle causes a disturbance in the Force equivalent to 10 locals so the initial, instictive estimate is more accurate.

Sid, the harbourmaster, came into The Bluebell at lunchtime on Thursday and relayed the news.  I took a walk up there with the dogs out of interest and the fantasy of a five figure photography fee.  To be honest, I don’t understand the fuss.  I know that Captain Kirk and Mr Spock have helped to endow whales with mystic, spiritual qualities but I see more interesting, exciting and tragic things nearly every day in Chichester harbour.  When the grockles arrived the following day I don’t think one of them turned round and noticed the 30 odd little egrets roosting in the trees just a few yards behind them.  The television crews certainly didn’t.

The entire area was in gridlock.  Glorious Goodwood and the whale turned our local paradise into an extension of the M25.  Television crews and photographers with lenses as long as my arm clogged our roads and pathways.  In the harbour itself, massive RIBs, the inshore lifeboat, helicopters and even a police boat added to the mainly manmade drama and the huge cost of it all. All credit to them though because this morning when I walked past the millpond where yesterday there was even a tent erected for the press and the multiple veterinary, wildlife and eco professionals, there wasn’t a single scrap of litter to be seen.

The same morning that the sorry whale paddled up the channel between Thorney and Hayling, Capone, Carla and I were on the other side of Thorney, in our latest favourite spot, waist deep in the saltmarsh grasses.  Our friend the heron came into sight and as we sidled up towards him I was delighted to see that his mate was there.  My longest lens is a mere few inches so, as best as one can with two dogs squabbling over a stick, I tried to get closer.

The birds took off and escaped me but as we reached the limit of that direction where a vicious barbed wire fence hinders any further progress,  I saw them both on the side of the river bank.  Then I saw double, for perhaps 60 or 70 yards in front of me were four herons casually watching the water and thinking about breakfast.

This was a truly remarkable sight.  Much more interesting to me than a enormous, sad mammal lying in the mud and I managed to record it at the limit of my zoom lens.  This was my scoop, captured in glorious Kodak colour while the grandstand roared and cheered and applauded.

Walking The Dog 8

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If I was to say that I bumped into Capone on the foreshore posing as a Japanese tourist you’d say I’d flipped.  Were I to propose that some 30 exotic herons were nesting at Langstone millpond you might think I was exaggerating. To say that the maize in the field next to my house grew a foot in the space of one humid Saturday…

Well it’s all true.  Unfortunately, my greedy anticipation of some innocent scrumping in the sweetcorn field has been thwarted.  A previous pilferer assures me that it’s cattle feed and the more you boil the cobs the harder they become.  It does amaze me though, the way this stuff reaches for the sky.  Planted in May as two or three inch shoots it now averages a foot above my head and, yes, on that very hot and humid Saturday it put on a full twelve inches.

Behind Langstone millpond I counted 28 little egrets nesting in the broadleaved trees. This feels more like something that you might see in the African bush but there they are, distracting me as Carla’s beady eyes focus on the coots and mallards taunting her from the pond.  Little egrets were unseen in the UK until 20 years ago but now they seem to be taking over Chichester harbour due, we are told, to the effects of global warming.  I wonder when the ostriches and flamingoes are going to arrive?

As for Capone’s antics well I wish I’d had a camera to record them.  It was in the leg pocket of my trousers, the strap dangling carelessly.

As Capone put in another withering Ieuan Evans style run down the nearside wing he managed to pass his head through the camera strap.  The pocket was ripped clean off my trousers and as he felt the weight he came to a shuddering halt and turned back to look at me, my camera hanging round his neck.  He thought he was in trouble but not for long!

We’ve discovered a truly magical new walk recently.  It’s as close to virgin territory as you can get on the south coast.  I’m pretty sure that there’s no other humans have passed there in many months or even years, perhaps not since some maintenance work was last carried on the Thorney Island airfield approach lights.  Judging from their sorry condition that’s been a very, very long time.  It’s on the right side of the MOD boundary so I don’t think I’m in danger of being shot on sight.  It’s saltmarsh with acres of waist high grasses and patches of damp but parched and cracked mud that sounds hollow as you walk across it.  The dogs thunder across it sounding like a herd of buffalo and there’s a pair of herons, huge cormorants and shelducks always in the same place, vastly offended by our invasion.  Walking here is an overwhelmingly soothing experience.  Cares and worries just evaporate and I find myself returning to the car with a wide, involuntary and peaceful smile.

Only three days after that sweltering Saturday the temperature has dropped 10 degrees and out on the foreshore under thunderous skies there must be another 10 degrees of wind chill.  My two favourite dogs are about 40 yards out squabbling over a stick in the heavy chop that’s thrashing in from Hayling.

Rain or shine, calm or wind, it’s just perfect out there.

Walking The Dog 6

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So in the fourth week of July, summer has finally decided to show its face and very welcome it is too.  But not for Capone.  When God invented dog he forgot the sweat glands and made do with a long, long tongue and a predilection to pant – sometimes very noisily.

In fact, Capone is far from the worst or loudest in this department although it does seem to be something that particularly afflicts Staffs and similar breeds.  I sat in the vets the other day and this poor animal sounded like it was being slowly strangled, gagging and panting as if on the point of death.

You have to be so careful when you leave them in the car in this weather.  Tescos provides very little shaded parking and even with two front windows left wide open, I have to be in and out in a flash.  The only alternative is to tie him to the hitching post outside (you know, where the cowboys tie up their horses) but Capone, being the superstar that he is, attracts so much attention, so many “oohs” and “aahs” that it can take twenty minutes to break out of the conversations and escape.

Other than the arrival of summer, there is some truly momentous news to impart.  Capone has a friend, a companion, a permanent partner.  She arrived just a few weeks ago and has the same provenance as him, rescued by special forces extraction from the hellhole known as West London.  Only nine months old, she too had spent her life locked in some grotty flat for twenty-three and a half hours a day, released only for a short walk to the fag shop and back.

Allow me to introduce you to Carla.  Yes, if President Sarkozy can have one so can I and she struts and preens and prances as any good supermodel should.

On arrival Capone thought I’d finally found him the teenage sex slave that we’ve both been hoping for but being a gentleman he soon relented and has given her a warm and loving welcome.  It has to be said that this is not always entirely deserved for she can be a right little bitch at times – and I am moderating my language as much as possible within the bounds of accuracy.

After a few weeks proper exercise with a little discipline and training she has developed into a delightful member of the family.  All credit has to go to Capone for his wonderful temperament, forbearance and patience.  Even when they are both exhausted from a lengthy walk, the exuberance of youth still causes her to clamp his leg in her jaws, chew on his cheek or plant her nether regions in his face in the hope of a little playtime.  They playfight and tumble, chase each other and fight endlessly over sticks but they are now firm friends.

At first, when the obligatory rich tea biscuits were handed out, Carla would snatch, grab and my fingers would be in great danger.  Now she accepts these sweetmeats with all the delicacy and elegance of Madame Sarkozy taking a spoonful of foie gras.

Capone has taught Carla to swim.  At first she would try to jump on his back, then after a few frantic paddles she would panic and return to shore.  To Capone’s consternation she has now become a faster swimmer than him and she delights in letting him set off then plunging in and overtaking him to retrieve the stick first.

There is a remedy for this which has to be applied regularly.  It involves a trip to the end of Hayling Island, out of the calm waters of Chichester harbour, to where the surf thunders in and for my best boy and girl, the waves are twice or three times their height.

Here Capone’s great bravery and strength triumphs.  He will go out through anything, rising and falling in the swell, capturing the stick and returning to the shore through the white water and massive undertow where a frantic, near hysterical Carla promptly steals it from him while he recovers.

Just like a woman – but she is our little girl.

Capone has a good laugh as Carla gets her first real swimming lesson

Capone has a good laugh as Carla gets her first real swimming lesson