Thursday, 31 December 2009

Mixed end to the year

Well it's that time of year AGAIN. Where do the years go?

To review the year would be condensing so many trials, tribulations, fun, frolics and relationships that I am reluctant! We have met some amazing dogs who have become Petnanny pooches and I am delighted to say we have so many of our good friends still on board.

Well this is the first time since I left school that I have had a week off at christmas and I have to say its been a welcome break. Its given me time to spend with Buck who's health is declining, as usual when an old boy gets older it's never simple. He has had a blood problem all his life and is currently suffering from brain bleeds increasing his dementia and some bleeding internally. Now this sounds all very dramatic but he is in remarkable good health otherwise, bodily he looks fantastic.

So we are plodding along taking his mood into account and how much enjoyment he is enjoying a day ( me getting up makes him very happy, breakfast, tootle in garden even the green if he wants too, a chewtreat later, a good scratch where his stump wont reach, more treats, a go at the treat puzzle trip in the garden, lie infront of the fire and then teatime again).

Izzy the van has been a wench! Travelling home on christmas eve she had no warning lights on yet by Boxing day, despite having oil. her oil warning light has come on and refuses to go off. So other than ticking her over so she doesn't seeze up completely we haven't dared do anymore in case the oil pump has gone. Of course non of the garages are able to send a mechanic out to see if it is the sensor or the pump so we are a bit stranded. Bruce is currently working himself up into a state incase I have to use 'his' Trooper' for the dogs on Monday, oh the trauma! He is inventing lots of reasons and alternatives while I am resolute, hehe.

The horses are happy as pigs in *hit scoffing their expensive but tasty Haylage and playing in the snow with their new male neighbours watching on. I've only managed to ride out once in the snow before it got too icy, well worth the ride out there is something about having a good canter in deep snow, watching a hare run for miles, still visible against the white for many fields.

Sam has been uncharacteristically grumpy about the weather which makes me laugh, for some reason Sam is so funny when she gets grumpy!

Well I have a date with a hot ciabatta and latte with a friend so all the very best to all canine and otherwise and I look forward to seeing you all in 2010.

Oh and kisses to the newest member of Petnanny babies, Connie Mears I can't wait to meet you little girl and I am pleased you finally arrived!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Random Baubles and Guns

Sam taking a photo of the Bauble

Ah a Christmas suprise!

Well by now I hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas and all are nursing a rather larger tum. Thak yo so very much for our many many presents.

Our last walk together saw Sam and I walking at one of our favourite walks, Twizell. Usually the most exciting thing we come across at Twizell is the odd terratorial Robin giving us hell for daring to disturb their peace or the odd confident rabbit. Not this time tho, no in true Christmas fashion we were met with an intriguing sight...A bauble very high up in a tree with no clear way of how it got up there, the tree had no branches in which to climb and the branch it was on is very delicate yet if they had thrown it up there how on earth did the small tree hanging catch on?

Well I am sure of one thing we will never know but a very glad sight it was...not that any of the dogs appreciated it as they were preoccupied by the jack in the hole rabbits. Clever bunnies they were as they sat outside their burrows and waggled their bums provocatively then just as the rampaging dogs ran up back they would pop in...very amusing form our point of view not so amusing for the long suffering dogs.

Sam was given the day off on Christmas eve so I was on duty and Takodas mum came and joined me on the walks, in the end I was more than a little bit relieved to have had her company. Now for the first time I had forgotten my phone so didnt pick up the 10 phone calls from a frantic customer So blissfully unaware we carried on our walk at Twizell chatting away about what we had planned over the christmas period before we headed back.

Once our guys were happily on the lead we had spotted to drinking and clearly drunk lads walking up the path, we tried to pretty much leave well alone and keep the dogs concentrating on us but I did notice the lads hiding something in the dumped sofa, we both decided by now we wanted nothing to do with then and took the guys back to the van.

It was then that we noticed Malcolm who looked a tad worried and had said he had tried to ring a few times as he had spotted the lads take two guns out of a hiding place in the woods ( who would have thought an old tractor tyre could hold such things?!) and despite being drunk had gone into the woods, probably to pop off a few unsuspecting bunnies. Needless to say there is no way these guns could have been legal as they wouldn't have risked leaving them in the woods unattended. That explains the 10 phonecalls, poor Malcolm must have been worried!

After we phoned the police we headed off shaking our heads at the thought of two drunk (and possibl worse) lads using a gun. Later the police phoned and couldn't tell what they had found but they missed the lads. They thanked us for the phonecall and said it had been very helpful so here's hoping they found the hidden 'stash'!

Never a dull moment eh? Note to self, don't forget your phone and don't give Sam the day off, something bizarre always happens on Sam's day off.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Snowman has the right idea

Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep the dogs away from a pristine, happy snowman, it just wouldn't look the same tainted by the fastest dog cocking its leg. I can't take credit for 'Sid' my parents are retired and have obviously idle hands!
Now how could I be bah humbug whilst looking at him?
Here's another of Beaubeau doing goodness knows what!

Lastly the wedgers have been having fun.....
I am gonna catch him

Where's he gone you had him last?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Snow, sun and fun

What a stunning day!

Yesterday I stayed at home, making sure the girls( horses) had their new bale of haylage and spending a bit time with Buck who is feeling under the weather.

Today I was a little anxious as to how I would manage on the roads. What a doddle and how much easier when there aren't dodgy drivers on the road, lots of the usual tractors on the road feeding the stock. Once over this way I came across a customer in distress their van wouldn't start so after a jumpstart off he went to work.

Once all were picked up we headed off to Twizell woods and oh what fun watching the guys run and play, Jasp sliding across the ice, Murphy shaking all the snow off the trees as his considerable bulk ran past. Lola was up for anything with Koda. Vinnie spotted his tree and managed to catch the over hanging branch then proceeded to batter it. Needless to say this was too exciting for Koda to miss out so she joined in sounding like a demonic troll, certainly Dex and Harry decided far too scary to join in!

Charlielab has just been castrated so he had well and truly spat the dummy out when he was told he couldn't join in so walked forlornly by my side. Suzy the floozy was on fire dashing back and forth the snow clearly gets her all excited and you couldn't help but be caught up in the moment although it has to be said MarsBar cake kindly cooked by Sharon and Hula hoops go a long way to make our walks exciting haha.

Well IT is getting closer and the deadline for the calendars is hurtling towards us but in true Howlett fashion it will be done when its done there are not enough hours in the day!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Raining dogs and dogs

I am guessing you have noticed the rain, if nt where on earth have you been?

Well yesterday we had the guys at the field and as usual they were mad keen, weather? what weather! So they were running around, dashing about splitting up in twos or threes having a game then splitting off to play with two other pals. Hugo who used to hate the rain has now decided its very exciting and he played non stop with Tallulah, Tallulahs hair plastered to her face. Oscar would occassionally join in before peeling off to torment another.

Leia was another who was fired up and boy did she run, run and run, I will never tire of seeing a totally blind dog running without a care running because she can.

Murphy the big lump that he is is still trying to master tight turns, you can't knock him for the effort he puts into training but I am guessing they are way out of his caapbilities, fast tight corner and great Danes dont usually mix. Most of the guys have overcome their mistrust of his size and think he is great for a game of rabbit, Tallulah was regularly the rabbit but it is currently Murphys role. What a funny looking rabbit he makes!

By the end of the walks we were getting chilly and even Tash was looking a bit woebegotten so I said to Sam I would be putting the guys who wanted in the vans back in and I turned around and they were all lined up ready to go in the vans, not just us who were weary of the rain then. I was chuffed with them waiting their turn as I popped them back in some waiting with am and the rest coming when called to sit in the respective cages, heater on ready to defrost them all. I often wonder how many paws I have dried in my time.

Jaspers tactic of trying to deafen us into allowing him 100% priveleges isn't quite going to plan and he is not a happy bunny, how dare we, do we know who he is. He even spat the dummy out with Harvey who he loves playing with as Harvey went for a walk first. Daft dog.

Dexter has also been a muppet and been chewing the mats again, whilst yodelling at the top of his lungs...we have to just relentlessly wait till we get the right behaviour then they can have what they want, to run and play with their mates, lets face it we don't get everything we want for free do we. Dexs mum is trying hard to retrain her spoilt brat and of course we are helping.

Photos have been difficult as its raining so hard most days I dont want to kill my phone but I am sure eventually I will manage to safely take some.

Well it is time for afternoon tootles so back out of the warm and into the cold for all of us.

Love is in the air

Or rather in my van!

First of all there is Charlielab he just lurves Hansom, Hansom just lurves Murphy and Bobby well Bobby also lurves Hanom but limits his desire by quietly airhumping whilst looking longingly at Hansom. So in the van we had Charlielab trying his hardest to 'lurve' Hansom whilst Bobby was airhumping quielty in the corner. Murphy was being hugged and snigged by Hansom whilst Lil the only female looked on in disgust. She went from one to the other telling them to get a grip( Charlie was really trying to get a grip) and I can just imagine her shouting 'erm HELLO I am a girl its me you should be lurving!'.

Lola is just desperate to dive, hug, squeeze and romp with anyone who even shows a passing interest in her direction. Then Poppy was enjoying her chewtoy only it was Truffle's Cone on her head to stop her bothering her stitches....Finally there is grumpy and twitchy Beau and Bertie who can't even stand a dog looking their way unless they happen to be seriously sexy girls.

So for once Izzy was not the relaxng haven she usually is. It didn't take long for the guys to chill out and return to the friendly platonic relationships they usually share although this is partly because Charles humpy pants was seperated from Hansom. Lola worked out that most dogs don't want to play nonstop and enjoy a good snooze before and after a walk then last but not least Poppy decided my offer of a rawhide chew was a far better choice than a plastic cone!

As for Bertie and Beau they continued to grump, Bertie half heartedly just to support his brother and then both fell asleep leaning against the cages back to back with the pugs.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Hands up!

Ok hands up who has landed flat on their back today......
Oh that'l just be me then? Huh.
Now I am not a telltale.
It was Vinnie.

Bear in mind I had the Wedgers out....Mila ( a big wedger), Belle( a slightly bigger Wedger), Vinnie ( It was him it was him) Charlie ( more a numpty than a wedger), Bobby ( another numpty) and the wedger of all wedgers Murphy. Now if I was a betting woman I'd have said two St Bernards, a Wiemerarner, two labradors and a Great Dane I'd have betted on the Great Dane or one of the Bernies being the ideal I am not planning on being a betting woman anytime soon as it was Vinnie.

Never mind at least no one saw....huh you should know by now when I land on my face literally or otherwise I usually do it with an audience. Bobbys dad Kevin had joined me and with his camera. Luckily I had cleverly distracted him with a beautiful view. I really enjoyed our walks today as we mixed the dogs up a little so Kevin could see Bobby in full force.

Happy Walking!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Knowing what they have learned

Mila, where do I start with Mila?

Now if you met Mila and asked me to show you what she had been taught since I have been taking her out I'd be able to show you a really shaky sit! Oh and I suppose she walks nicely on the lead. Impressed? Maybe not until I told you what she has afterall learnt.

Mila was one of the hundred St Bernards that were removed from a recent RSPCA( yee gods they do actually step in and help animals, must have been a tv camera there) case after being abused, neglected and abandoned. Mila had been fed well at the rescue home but still lay as if crammed into a cage, didnt look up or do anything other than the bare minimum.

So since being in her new home and being walked/ trained by Petnanny she has learnt to relax.....

She has learnt to be aware of her surroundings

To try new things

To initiate play

To initiate contact

To risk the possible wrath ( linked with trying new things)

To stretch out in a cage and to come out of a cage

Now there are many, many other things she has learnt but it gives you an idea of what has been going on since her complete change of life. he may not win any obedience championships but she has learnt some important life lessons and more importantly she has learnt to live.

Not bad eh? Dogs are amazing things. I can live with a shaky sit can you?

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Rossi the crocodile

Who me? I am an angel me.

After my post yesterday I thought I would let you know what we are currently working on with Rossi. Now Rossi is still a bit of a crocodile, he has very curved puppy teeth so often catches us with his teeth so we are working very hard on teaching him how to be careful with those awful impalers.

Heres what we are currently doing to work on this and to teach him how to calm himself down.

I sit on the floor and either rough house him or play tug.....if he bites or catches me I squeal and walk away if needed I walk out the door. Then I start again. When I feel like it I go all soft and talk very sweetly to him saying 'ahhh Rossi calm, ahhh Rossi' then I hold him quietly stroking him really slowly in long slow strokes until he calms himself. At first it was like holding a death roll croc and my 'ahhhh Rossis' sounded like I was warbling! Now no matter how excited he is I can calm him by the second 'ahhh Rossi' and he snuggles into me for a cuddle and stroke. Once really calm I give him a peck on the side of the face and see if I can let go totally only holding if he tried to restart the game again I can now do this fairly quickly.

Now many many people advise people with highly motivated or excitable dogs not to get them hyper or to rough house them but I have found the sooner you teach them how to calm the better. I personally dont want a robot dog or a dog who never does the mad half hour when they are excited but I do need them to have strategies to calm down themselves. Swiftly the three legged wonder dog was a evil playmate she thought if you were game enough to play with her you should have hands of steel. Yet if you even whispered 'Ow' she'd stop instantly and give a gentle kiss. This coming from a dog that went blue whilst playing with you as she was so competitive.

Am I right or wrong, probably both. Just as positive reinforcement is the right way to go it is not the end all and be all. Is it going to keep your dog safe in every situation? Not a chance. So all I can do is tell you what I have found to work with the dog I have worked with, lived with and enjoyed.

So next time you ring and it appears I am being savaged down worry I am just trying to teach Bruce ( hehe only joking Rossi!) to be calm.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A word or two about group walking

Dogs can be adrenalin junkies, waiting for their next hit, longing for that chance to really let fly. Can you imagine if you could have that all the time.....argh brain overload, what would end up happening is they would require more and more hits, harder play, faster running and more edge to their play. Its up to us to provide that adrenalin fix with control and balance.

Lola( Across a crowded floor, they worked from 8 till 4) couldn't sleep after her walk on wednesday, in fact she couldn't even come down from the ceiling! Instead of putting herself to bed at 7pm she was still doing the chacha at 10pm. So I thought now was a good time to talk yet again about frustration control amongst other things.

Now parents should know all about teaching your kids that they can't have every sweet in the shop and who can forget that fantastic advert where the child has a screaming tantrum only for the mother to scream back with her own tantrum, classic. Does this mean you should fling yourself on the floor everytime your dog is having a wobbler? Yes ( only joking although I would just LOVE to see that).

So using Lola as an example (at the copa co copacabana)I will try and explain what we have to try and achieve.

So we start very simply at the house.
Calm means collar goes on, same for lead
Then we start walking, no pulling means we continue to head for the van which is the transport to the fun place.
In the van no shouting, digging or chewing means we continue to head towards the fun place. Dogs coming and going in the van all helps towards teaching her patience.
The van stops we are at one of the many fun places.
Dogs come and go, will it be Lola or will it be Vinnie?
Lola is excited and starts squeaking, Vinnie yowls so we give the newbie a chance to get it right....the second she is quiet I lift her out and see if I can calmly put the lead on.
Now the dogs are on the lead off we head, only Lola just cant wait shes jumping about and diving on anyone in close range.
Stop. Using treats I show Lola what I want from her, the quiet dogs are asked to sit and wait.
Off the guys go whilst showing Lola we want calm.
Lola manages to be calm enjoying her treats that distract her.
A good sit and shes off

So you can see how there are many oppurtunity to show her what we want with rewards all the way. Even when she is off we will put her back on the lead intermittently so she doesn't presume its all free playing. Somedays she wont get to free play, or she may get to play with only one. Its all about her understanding there are rules.

So what has this got to do with Lola not being able to sleep? Well she obviously found the free play so exciting she couldn't wind down, bit like a child after a trip out to the fair, they are so tired but can't sleep due to the excitement. This is where you help to teach her how to wind down. Go through the usual routine preparing for bed, make sure she is fed, toiletted and then pop her in the cage or where she normally sleeps. Yes this time she may not manage to settle straight down but by going through an established routine she will soon learn to wind down.

Although this makes sense for puppies, it's also the same for older dogs, they can't just run with wild abandon everytime or the expectation will be there causing a great deal of frustration when they don't get it. Just think of it from our point of view, we turn up at work and we grab a cuppa, get our work together and then have a quick look at the computer, a moment or two on facebook with everyone laughing at whats been . Only one day you go in and the boss stops you. Today you cant go on facebook, the coffee is off the menu and you feel frustrated. It's highly likely you will try and sneak on when no one is looking and even have a sly coffee whilst nipping to the loo.

Dogs do the same, sneaking off to go play with a dog, or pinching food of the bench if they dont get their usual treat.

Well enough of the sensible stuff I'm off for coffee!