Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Well, that was a surprise.

A while ago the Bean arrived home smelling all funny, I rubbed myself all over her to make sure that she smelt of me so that was OK.  But then...
She came home smelling funny again and this time brought two small dogs with her, they have the funny smell.  They're not like my terrier friend Moss although they're about the same size, they're little mes with squeaky barks and sharp teeth and I'm not really sure about it, I'm always the 'Smallest'.  They've taken over the house and monopolized my Bean.  It looks like they're staying so we'll have to get things sorted.  But I'm not standing for it, when they get too running about I bark at them and tell them to stop no matter how much I'd really like to join in because Bean says I can't and if that's what she says then... And it doesn't matter that it's hot I have to lie on my Bean because I want big, huge hugs to let her know that I'm still here and she says that I'm her best dog, and calls me beautiful girl, so that's alright then. Now she has a pocket full of lovely euk and when the little'uns are called in I go too because I get pieces of euk as well. So there are some good things about them too.  Now I might be imagining it but they seem a bit bigger now so maybe they'll be as big as me, or Maia one day - that would be good 'coz then maybe I could play with them, you never know.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

A week of firsts

First car ride
On the back seat sitting on and beside me and even attempting to mountaineer over my shoulder and through the dog guard for further exploration.  Dido watched out of the window fascinated by the world whizzing past.  Having been swathed in and lying on a, not dirty but not washed, dog towel and having been hugged for the nine miles over the moors the two little bodies were beginning to smell of 'us'.  All in all a successful journey without any calamities and once home the pups went into the sitting room with Mum whilst I let the big girls out of their dog house.

First meeting with Hebe and Maia
Hebe and Maia sniffed me all over and got big hugs in return before venturing into the sitting room to greet the new arrivals.  Pups sat still and cautiously lifted noses to sniff muzzles whilst larger noses snuffled them all over.  Hebe's never really met a pup smaller than her - Finnegan, even at 16 weeks, was almost as big as she is, her ears went back and her eyes became very large before she sat down in stunned amazement.  Maia, you could see, was going through the “oh, no another puppy” thought processes.

First night
Was simply amazing. Admittedly they were exhausted after a very busy and probably stressful day - not that that put them off their food, well they are Labradors after all. Puddles after supper and by 11 they were settling down so it was bed time.  Big girls went out to empty tanks whilst I put pups into their cage, it's huge (for wolfhound pups), so there's vetbed and towels as bedding at one end and a stack of newspaper at the other along with an un-tip-up-able bowl with water. The towels they'd come home with went in along with an old t-shirt that had been worn a few times but not washed (nice and smelly - lovely!). They went in happily and snuggled down whilst I sorted out the mattress and beds for the girls.  Maia and Hebe came in and hopped up waiting for their biscuits, two bonios handed out and small handful of kibble to distract littles. Lights out and off to bed we all went.  I think they slept better than I did with - one ear open for cries, starting at every noise.  Not a whimper, all night. I went down at six and I don't think they'd even moved, the girls heard me and were standing up so the pups were stretching out. The cage was dry with one little hotspot in the middle of the bedding heap.  Everyone went out and puddled immediately. And it's stayed that way, although we did need new newspaper on Tuesday after Dido in her excitement to see me sat in the water dish!  We're now going to bed at 10.30 and getting up at 7. Although last night they put themselves to bed in the cage after supper, so it was early bed for everyone at just after 10.

First words
They're learning quickly. So far they respond to their names although I don't think they know who is who yet as they react to both names. ‘No’, ‘a-a’ and ‘ha-hum’ in a growly voice all bring heads (and teeth) away from whatever they were investigating. ‘Good girl’ gets little bodies full of wags and wriggles. ‘Busy-busy’ (the puddling command) is used much but I’m not sure they’ve connected the two yet.  They’re hearing ‘give’ a lot too and are quite happy to let me rummage around their teeth to find the latest piece of fluff, tiny pebble, leaf, twig – whatever, not that they’re given a choice really!
‘Come here’ with happy voice and down on knees with open arms gets them hurtling towards you to throw themselves on whichever lap, leg, arm is nearest - I think that's more body language than words but it's a good reaction especially when they’re not looking at you.

First ask
On Monday Dido wandered to the door and squeaked, a quick trip down the yard and yes she really did need to puddle. Tuesday evening she wandered around squeaking but it wasn’t until she started circling on the tiles, nose down and tail up that I realised she needed out – as soon as she was put down at the foot of the steps she dashed down to the bottom of the yard, found the best place and dumped.  Clever little girl.  We’ve had a quite a few more asks from Dido but not really any from Hester, maybe I’m not picking them up as quickly or perhaps she’s not needed to as when one goes out so does the other. However, apparently you can scratch at your collar and puddle on the mat at the same time!

First jabs and first meeting with our favourite vet (and second car trip)
I hadn’t had time to introduce them to travelling in the car ‘on the dog shelf’ and nine miles across the moors to the Pickering seemed a rather extreme introduction so they were once again chauffeured and travelled on the back seat. They sat and behaved themselves in the waiting room with everyone wanting to say hello.  Their turn came and Katie bounced out of the consulting room to gather everyone up in a big hug, the other clients were a little surprised but it was Mum’s first return visit since Finn so it was quite a momentous occasion.  Anyway, they were checked over (lovely little pups was the conclusion), weighed (5.1kg for Dido and 4.9kg for Hester) before finally the pin in the neck and the first jabs were completed. They slept pretty much all the way home.

First lead
It’s been too hot for much of anything, even going down the yard they sensibly stick to the shaded areas so only a couple  of trips each, just five minutes or so walking round the garden, or more often standing still until they stop cavorting and look at me again.  So far Dido wanders along beside me mostly “following the feet” the lead loose until a sniff catches her nose and then a little dart to investigate.  Hester is more of a prancing pony, cavorting along beside me; we have lots more stops and sometimes our walk around the garden is little more than the length of the back lawn  - already, I can see she’s more determined than Dido and is going to need a little ‘persuasion’. We use the same ‘come on then’ and similar to get them to ‘follow feet’ either with or without the lead (we’ll worry about heel commands in a week or so, for now they need to get used to the weight of a lead and the little bit of constriction).

First trip in my car on the ‘dog shelf’
I had intended to get them ‘car ready’ before their first jabs, but we decided that jabs were more important so on Thursday evening they went out for the first time in the tailgate with Hebe.  We only went up to the roundabout at church and back but they were very good, hardly any squeaks but a few scrabbles as they try to find the best vantage point to look out and one growl from Hebe as someone tried to sit on her shoulders!  We’ve been out again today, this time up to the Pickering junction lane end and back, and they were just as good, so I think by the time their second jabs are due (a week on Tuesday) they’ll be fine to go in a proper fashion.

First puppy inflicted injury
A long scratch from a claw down the inside of one leg caused by an over enthusiastic greeting. Note to self: if  you’re sitting on the floor / ground and calling in a hyperactive pup probably best not to wear shorts!  They are very soft mouthed and although my right forearm is just the right size to be grabbed as they’re being carted around so far there’s I’ve only picked up one tooth mark which is smaller than my recent horsefly bite (and far less annoying).  In fact I have more bruises from the big girls (Maia particularly) being determined not to be left out of the morning puppy pile.

Things remembered
When cleaning up puppy puddles to put the bowl of clean water between your knees that way they can’t knock it over / jump in it.
The remarkably small space a puppy can manage to get into – but not necessarily out again.
No matter how many I’ve already removed they are pebble seeking missiles and are still able to find yet another one.
And who needs a fitness programme when carrying 10kg of puppy up and down stairs (my office and sitting room are on the first floor) and lifting them up and down the back steps onto the yard.
How to behave like an idiot when clowning around while persuading a puppy that I really am the best (most daft) thing in its life.

What a first week.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Meet the New Arrivals!

Yes, plural! Having taken it under advisement and after much thought we've decided that we're up to managing two.

So why two?  We've always had pups as singletons before but this time I decided to chance my arm (and I realise I very well may live to regret it) and double the 'pack size' in one fell swoop rather than with two lots of disruption within a short time span.  I really wish they could arrive at five or six months old when I can really get into the 'proper' training but you would miss so much of their development and the opportunity to shape them from the start so small squidges must be dealt with (and they are kinda cute when they're good - for good read sleepy!).  Although we now number four as Maia is now an old lady of thirteen and her injured back is making her ever less of an integral team member which means that I'm really only dealing with three and that was one of the main forces in the decision.  With a team of three I can work with one whilst two are company for each other and when working with a pair (Hebe plus pup) for a short time the other has a chance to be alone and develop some independence, this started from the day (well the day after) they came home.  Each pup is an individual with her own personality and will have her own training schedule and handling regime although they all sleep together in the dog house, pups currently in the huge wolfhound cage (sorry crate), big girls on the mattress they should all be sharing the space by late autumn and the cage can go back in storage come spring - well that's the plan.

So will you all please welcome Hester and Dido.

(Hester on the left wearing the very fetching red collar, Dido on the right with the very smart black collar)

Thursday, 18 July 2013


After losing Juno and Finnegan last year we decided that 2013 would be the year in which we got a puppy.  By a strange fluke of chance we were in contact with Mittenhills (origin of Juno & Maia) who, as luck would have it, were planning a litter in the spring.  Wonderful, we put our names down for a bundle.  Eventually Jess came into season and everything was looking good she was positive she was having pups and so were we - but the five-week scan showed it was all in her imagination; sad faces all round.  And so the search began. I found a lovely looking lot but the breeders were sending their pups home at six weeks, way too early.  The search continued.  Some things are meant to be, Eastgate didn't have enough of Maia's pills in stock so I got half and would pick the rest on the next Saturday, when I called in their file had just been updated with information on a new litter, just around the corner - literally.
As soon as I got home I phoned and went to have a look a day later.  Wonderful we've found our puppy! I reserved Queen's Drive who will be known as Dido (Queen of Carthage), but they were only six weeks old and their personalities were not really developed although they are wonderful bouncing bundles, click through for some pics.  I returned a week later and picked my pup; we collect her on Saturday - eek!
Puppy cage and baby gate have been liberated from under the spare bed, the girls are getting used to less space in their doghouse.  Box of puppy paraphernalia dug out of the cupboard, lots of collars, leads and a few puppy sized toys.  But the smallest sized collar is missing, ah yes puppy number four was one too many and the soft leather split.  And what in the name of all that's holy has happened to the puppy dish? One word: Finnegan! more chewed plastic than dish, a new one is in order.
Time for a shopping trip.
New collar, lead, dish and a small heap of toys plus 15kg of puppy food and we're set.