Monday, 25 January 2010

The Snow Is Back!

The snow is back here in Germany and I think Roman is delighted – he loves the snow! I woke up this morning to find a layer of about two inches of snow covering my garden. It’s quite surprising how well it has stuck as it had only been light snow throughout the night but it is much drier here in general than in England so maybe that is why. I am always a little tentative when walking Roman when there has been fresh snowfall as he is so strong and the slightest pull from him at the wrong time could well result in me going over and looking like a complete tool! I’m glad to say that this morning we had no such problems.

A work colleague had told me last week that the snow was on its way back but it just didn’t look likely until yesterday. I woke up pretty late (again), awoken by my new friend, Leonard, calling to ask if I wanted a lift to the pub because of the weather. I said no as I wanted to walk there with Roman so that he had plenty of exercise. We have been to the pub twice again this weekend and, each time we go, I am more and more impressed with him. He is such a friendly dog and I think most people have been surprised at how good natured he is. I hope that people who have a bad view of the breed alter their way of thinking after meeting Roman. I am sure that they do – he has an infectious enthusiasm that even the most stubborn, hard-faced person would struggle to discount.

Football training started again this week after the winter break so I walked Roman to Kirschhausen on Tuesday evening after work. It’s about three and a half kilometres to where we train so he had plenty of exercise that night. I had to tie him to a post next to the pitch whilst we trained and he was pretty funny. He barked a lot as we were running around the pitch. I think that he thought that I was going to leave him there! Hopefully, the more times we go the calmer he will become. All of the lads at football seemed to love him too which was good.

Football training was a little difficult after so many weeks of indulgence but I managed to get through the session alright. We ran for about 90 minutes so we must have done a fair amount of miles. I would guess that we had run close to 10 miles but it’s hard to say. After we had finished jogging we had a match for about 30 minutes. Roman went a bit barmy once the footballs came out – I always used to play football with him in England so I think he wanted to join in! Once football had finished we then had to walk the three and a half kilometres home.

By the time we got home I felt pretty knackered but it was hardly surprising really – I must have covered about 20 miles on Tuesday when you take into account the 2 and a half kilometre walk I have to work and back each day plus Roman’s morning walk of about 2 kilometres. When I woke up on Wednesday morning I was aching quite a bit and the walk to work was slightly less pleasant than normal! Still, no pain no gain as the saying goes. I should have had another training session on Thursday evening but I couldn’t make it due to work commitments.

Work has been pretty good since I got back and I have now been given some projects to work on which definitely helps me. It has been difficult to integrate properly here as I feel a little awkward approaching people at times. There is no employee map, if you like, so I am not sure what jobs everyone does and, furthermore, I am not sure who speaks English and who doesn’t which only serves to compact the difficulty. I feel that now I am being involved a bit more than I was before Christmas and it is looking extremely likely that I will be offered a more permanent contract soon.

I had to give a presentation to some of the senior management last week on a major project that I wanted to implement here and that seemed to go really well. Everyone was really impressed with the way that I spoke and the ideas that I had. I was quite nervous before it but once I got started it was pretty straightforward. The funny thing is that I never prepared in any way for it; I merely relied on what I knew and my natural charm! I have not really done this type of thing before but I found it much easier than I thought I would.

This week a lot of my friends here went to Mallorca for a few days from Thursday until Saturday so Friday was a pretty quiet affair. One of my friends, Guido, called me to ask if I wanted to meet him in the pub to watch the Freiburg – Stuttgart match but I had to decline. Roman’s paw has gone a little bad again so I wanted to take it easy with him for a few days. I can’t work out why it keeps happening but I have a feeling that the shape of his pads may mean that they rub against each other when he walks. I had a look to compare his paws and one definitely seems to have more of a protruding pad so maybe this is the reason. It may be that longer walks will always cause this to happen but I will keep my eye on it.

On Saturday I decided to take Roman up to the pub so that I could watch the football with my friends. Again he behaved impeccably whilst there and again he got absolutely spoilt with biscuits. I think it is fast becoming one of his favourite places to go! We were back there again yesterday evening to watch the Hoffenheim – Leverkusen match and there were a few funny occurrences! Mariana, the landlady, said that I didn’t have to make him lie down all the time and he could walk around freely. It’s nice to find such accepting people. Roman was in his element then constantly going between people for treats and strokes.

Mariana let him into the pool room for a few minutes so that he could have a sniff around and I made a joke saying that I hoped nobody came into the pub through that entrance. Yes, you guessed it, two minutes later somebody did in fact come in that way! I think the guy got a bit of a shock to be greeted by a 60kg Rottweiler on the loose but, once again, Roman was superb. He was excited to have a new friend and greeted him with the same enthusiasm he seems to show everybody! He followed the guy back into the main bar and, once again, resumed going up to everyone for strokes.

After the match had finished we had to walk all the way home again and it was still snowing and starting to stick a little. By the time we got home I was feeling a little tired so decided to run a nice hot bath and get something to eat before thinking about bed. I have been struggling to sleep recently and I think a lot of it is down to the exploits of the weekends. I was reading something on the internet that had loads of suggestions of how to make it easier to sleep so have been trying a few methods out. I went through the list of suggestions and found that I only do five of the things that it recommends but out of the other seven I think there are six that I can put into practice.

Saturday night was a bit of a crazy night, especially given the fact that I wanted to have a relatively quiet weekend! It was a friend’s birthday last week so he had organized a birthday party in Kirschhausen. The thing I love about birthday parties over here is that they lay on free booze and free food. Socially, it seems to be so much better over here than in England! I ended up drinking until about six in the morning with about six or seven of my friends and then headed home feeling a lot more drunk that I had planned on being!

When I got home I took Roman out for a three kilometre walk – I knew I would be asleep for a while and it is not fair on him to not be exercised and taken out to go to the toilet. I eventually got to bed at about half seven which is definitely not a good move when I am trying to establish a good sleep pattern! Still, I knew that the Saturday would be a wild one even if I had tried to deny it. I have decided that I want to cut down on the drinking and partying a fair bit; it seems a waste to spend all of my spare money like this and I know I could build up a nice pot of savings if I just chilled out a bit.

I had a bit of bad news this week also regarding Roman and the dog tax. I had been hoping to get away with paying about €70 per year but it turns out that this area of Germany classes Rottweilers as dangerous dogs so it becomes much more complex. I got a colleague to call the local authorities to get some information for me and have found out that it will cost me a lot more than that. It will cost me €72 per year for the license which is pretty much what I had expected but I will also need to do a few other things.

I have to apply for a permit for him which could cost as much as €275. Luckily this will last for four years so I will probably not even be in Germany when it comes to renewal time. Furthermore, Roman must also undergo a character test which, depending where I get it from, could cost anywhere between €150 and €300 but this must be approved by an expert here. I am hoping I can get it as cheaply as possible but if it costs me €300 then so be it. I will only have to get this done once but it is still a lot of money. I will also have to take a proficiency exam to demonstrate that I am capable of controlling him but I have been told that this will not cost very much at all.

In total I might have to spend as much as €700 in order for Roman to stay here! I wasn’t expecting the figure to be anywhere near that but if that’s the way it is then so be it. He is worth every penny and more so, whilst it is frustrating that such a friendly dog is subject to all this, I can grudgingly accept it and I guess measures such as these ensure that the rogues of society are less likely to try and keep a dangerous dog. I will also need to get a liability insurance policy for him but I have no idea how much this might cost.

So, given all of this unexpected expense I think that February will definitely be a tight month. If I have to pay out all of this in one go (I am hoping that some of it can be paid for at the end of February but I am not holding my breath) then I will probably have about €300 to live on for the month but I will also need to buy Roman’s food out of that. Even if I wanted to go out and get wasted I am pretty sure that I won’t have the finances to support it so it may be a blessing in disguise really.

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