Sunday, 28 December 2014

Ba Humbug or necessary warning?

What is Christmas to you?

I bet this question asked 100 years ago would've produced very different answers though the fundaments of what I long for will have been the same.  Sharing time and gifts with family and a break from the day to day work related stresses.

Christmas comes with all the peripherals now, the parties, alcohol, presents and decorations.  All seemingly harmless yet for some it simply isn't the case.

Why is it that public holidays highlight what you are feeling?  Loneliness only amplifies, loss brands your heart deeper and hotter.  When accidents happen they seem worse, remembered year after year like a new bad tradition.

Well this year could have been the start of a new terrible tradition of loss.

You hear and heed the warnings though never really believing it is a warning to you.

Your dog and you.

It started innocently enough, a nine year old dog long past the days of chewing.  Being left for while on his own, hardly a new occurrence.  An old Wreath left hanging where many wreaths will have been hung before.

Was it the time they left or the new house that made this year different?

Irrelevant questioning that is like a ear worm, ever present and unwanted.  The senseless questions that will never be answered and so far luckily will soon disappear because the ultimate loss was missed my a mere whisper.

You already know what happened don't you?

He ate the wreath.  Not all the wreath indeed who knew he ate the wreath rather than just chewed it up?  The evidence was plain to see once he threw up that piece of wire.

Wire, gulp.

He groaned and whined yet walks were a welcome routine and food yup food is just grand thank you.

Until he was sick with no rest.

What became a niggling worry was soon a full on emergency.  Dehydration was the first emergency to be dealt with, he put on .5kg overnight with just fluids before being prepared for surgery the next day.

It soon became apparent the wire was not only in his stomach but further down his digestive tract so it wasn't going to be a simple operation.  The good news was no perforation.

The first part of the operation went smoothly but an X-ray was  required to find out if all bits of wire had been found.  Unfortunately the X-rays showed four pieces remained so back in they went.

His recovery is very much blessed, he after all came through the operation and the dangers of having 30 plus pieces of wire in his body.

The pain, panic, fear and distress over a token gesture towards a religious event.

He is recovering slowly, as I am sure the owners are with every healing milestone.  Next year I recon the decorations will still come out, just not within reach..

Take heed,
Take care
and it could happen to you.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Continuity, impact and what do you know?!

Dogs never cease to surprise me, I never know if that is a good or a bad thing to be honest.

Though today was, by most standards, a fairly ordinary day it had a certain impact on me.  A trip to the field with Autumn from K9-5 joining and helping me I received a welcome phone call from a previous customer.

Bella was found as a stray and she was so very similar and yet so very different from their previous dog.  We helped to find the inner pet in her and she enjoyed a social life most people would envy.  Her mam and dad are now retired so Nanny care isn't needed on a weekly basis though that certainly didn't end the Petnanny relationship there.

Jan and Colin had a wander down to our field, we were on our way back up the hill ( our field is 8 acres of grassland with a small wood and underground stream in the corner, edged by hedgerow and wood) to meet them.  To see Bella unleashed, belting down the field to join her friends is a sight few people could ignore.  In true cheesy movie style our guys ran toward Bella as Bella ran towards them.  I was delighted with the mad hello who can compete with canine friends!?

Colin has parkinson's whilst he walks comfortably for miles he inevitably moves differently, a slightly jerking swaying motion. This was to be an interesting walk in the field......

Winnie of course woo woo'd at Colin however she would have done that anyway, many of the little people briefly said hello with Oliver and Poppy throwing themselves on him with enthusiasm ( mmm our feet on the floor training working a treat there then eh?).  Mr Darcy walked round the field then he stopped dead and barked, walking backwards in that classic OMD he is new 'keep away I tell you' way, why did he start all the way down the field?  He is a chihuahua, this means he has to see over the grass and like most dogs their noses take over their sensory attention before sight, once sight and a better view kicked in he realised Colin was different.  If Colin tried to say hello once calm he started again.  I could see why and why being such a little person made it more say hello Colin had to bend forward and that was a movement that created a certain jerk to a little dog that must seem seriously overpowering.

Stanley was true to form and barked and barked, we interrupted and then he barked some more ( later when he though it needed to be reiterated the little wassick) then we were delighted to see him relax and he even refrained from barking at the people on the line.

Lottie was somewhat bemused and like many dogs who appear anxious the constant checks with us ( with us laughing or smiling each time before moving on and not meeting her eye) she soon decided there was far too much fun to be had with her pals.

Montanna however became flirty!  I have only seen her like that with entire dogs, she has a specific dance and flip of her head when she is around entire dogs and she was doing the exact same thing with our human guest.... Aren't they just a hoot I swear I could see her eyebrows working away!

Why didn't Willow worry?  What made Mont so giddy rather than her suspicious bark?  What do they see that we simply couldn't see and more importantly what do they pick up, smell or sense that we will only guess at?

Whilst I watched the human-canine interaction Bella had reacquainted herself with her BF Louie, they ran to each other and soon the games began: running, catching, spinning mouth wrestling and gentle body touches each knowing their part of a game only they played.  Absolute trust with a touch of excitement and likely fear though fear too strong a word.  Truffle and Esther have the same bond in play they intrinsically know the rules, they know when its too much or they can push more.  Two dogs from different homes and they met due to the owners mutual need for help.

I know I am a dog walker to many yet there is an impact, a continuity and a parallel moment in time we share.  The dogs share a special environment where, like us, friendships are made and occasionally lost.

We can walk the same walk many times in a year, over the years or any given day yet what do you know you introduce one new thing and the energies change and its like you don't know them at all.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Social media!

I have pinterest!

My aim is to remind myself of things I would like to look back on and also spot great ideas worth sharing.  In time I am hoping to add some of my favourite photos too.

I walk slowly toward the digital world ;-)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Pod Blog

There is a few things everyone should know about Pods:

Podenco Ibicenco or as many people know them by, Ibizan Hounds

If you haven't had one you really don't know what they are about.  I fell into that category, they are not lurchers, whippets or greyhounds.

They are addictive and rarely do you have one

Many are owned by artists and photographers, if not you are likely to turn into a photographer!

They drive you spare and they drive deep into your heart.

There ears ping back up if you hold them down, which I do, constantly.

You MUST have a sense of humour.

So here we go photos just because you have to if you own a pod or two.  My pods had their relatives come to stay for a bit of socialisation, training and just because.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Alfresco Toiletting

What started off as a teeny tiny moan about my inability to nip for a quick alfresco pee without having one 'excitement' or near nettle experience has turned into a blog that makes me gurn in the same way as being faced with a smiling older man with an equally old staffie whilst pulling your pants up.

First I looked up the dangers of alfresco toiletting......

Check out this poor guy watching an elk calf then finding himself a target of a near bear attack ( I wanted to put bare there but maybe I was thinking of something else).

Then you have the problems of near death experiences whilst on board boats, who knew there was an etiquette and safety protocol for alfresco toiletting on boats?!

Here is an excerpt:

Following on from the "Toilet technique" thread, in which many advocated peeing over the side, this reminded me of the demise of a friend, who sadly went overboard off South Africa a few years ago, never to be seen again. He was taking a leak off the stern of his Moody 38 & when eventually the crew managed to get back, they were unable to find him.

Wonder, how common, is it, for men (usually), to fall overboard, whilst having the most basic of bodily functions?

Very common. It's called 'Fly open syndrome' by the USCG as the trouser flies are open when the body is recovered. I think the Canadian Red Cross says it accounts for 10% of all water connected deaths and the state of Washington has banned men from urinating over the side to try and cut deaths.

I even found a term I shall be using in the future:
“shake the dew off your lily”
Now I am getting serious......this kind of stuff breaks my heart.  I LOVE to see my guys and gals scratting like good'uns after toiletting to me it means they are feeling well, showing( advertising) off how healthy they are and I simply wouldn't stop it.  Mind with Flute and Tips you have to fear for your eyes and keep your mouth shut when they scrat because they aim to chuck the earth as far as possible!  
This is an excerpt from Cesar Milan sigh:
My dogs have never marked, and I have had many dogs throughout my life. If I have a dog from the time he’s a pup I do not let him mark. Not ever. I teach him to go to the bathroom on command and to eliminate completely in one or two goes. In fact some of my male dogs never cock their legs but urinate as a female would, by squatting. I have to add that because I occasionally breed them and produce a litter, they are not neutered.
I do believe that in some instances a marking dog is one that really lacks confidence and is attempting to say, “this is my territory – please keep away, I don’t want confrontation.” In other instances there is the dominant dog that says, “this is my territory and if you don’t want trouble then keep out of it.” And of course there are the ones where the owners have encouraged or allowed them to mark simply because they felt that is what dogs do.
I watch a dog and note the body posture, the tail, the stiffness of the back, the head position, and try to determine what the marking may be. In some it is definitely dominance – “I am here and letting you know.” With others it appears to be almost friendly – “Oh that smells nice; I think I will leave them a message.” Kind of like the Facebook for dogs!
What can be concerning is when the dog that begins to kick back with his hind legs after defecating or urinating. This is what I call “spreading the word.” A dog has scent glands between his paw pads and it is thought that in this way he is spreading his scent even more. As with marking, I dislike and don’t allow this behavior. For me it is a sign of dominance, an indication that this dog wants to be leader of the pack, and sees himself as independent with a will of his own. I have seen this mostly with the northern breeds. Nearer to the wild dog genetically maybe?
In most instances marking occurs because of lack of training, leadership and the development of good habits. Without realizing it, owners often place their dogs in leadership positions. The dog then believes he has to establish a territory and show he is the protector of all within it. This may go as far as marking in the house on personal belongings, even the owner’s bed. Once a dog has left a mark of territorial scent, you will find when he revisits the place he is almost “triggered” to mark again – an almost involuntary response to the smell. Then he gets into even more trouble than he was in before, which results in confusion in the dog and anger in the owner – energy that is anything but calm and assertive.

Shoot me now......
I admire the guy for sticking to what he believes in but that is it I can't admire him for much else.

So just as I don't like to end a session on a bad note with the puplets I shall end this blog with a funny little ditty from Robin it.

I shall be getting back to strictly indoor toiletting from now on!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The magical art of dog family dynamics

I changed the title so many times I am grateful I wasn't using pen and paper.

What I did decide was to definitely not call it dog training.

Training dogs is a fine art that many succeed and excel at.  Yet few master the art of dog family dynamics.  I am often one of them, just like I fail to succeed in weight management in the pet dog.  To find that key for each situation, to find the answer that means no fat dogs and no dogs ending up in the rescue centres.

Lets start with the dog.

Few dogs are one thing as the books would have you believe.  Many of the fearful dogs I know are also expert manipulators.  All of the dogs I know are multi faceted not so much a horse for every season as a dog for every human, a dog in a family of four will be a different dog for each person in that family even being different when the family is together to when there are two of the family together.

Then you have life stages which of course is adjusted by circumstances, change and seasons.

Throw in diet ( yes of course dogs are what they eat though that conjure up strange images in my mind for many of the dogs I walk haha), hormonal state, exercise levels, boredom levels, health and family relationship dynamics.  Then random circumstances thrown in just when you feel you are getting somewhere.

Then we have the humans.

The dog may have lived with one human to then find itself part of a two human family with different rules, new routines, new households and maybe even a new dog/ cat etc.  That two human family may become a two human one baby household etc. New jobs, older parents moving in and you can already see how life is not as simple as one would seem for dogs and humans.

All it takes is one of those humans to have a firm idea very different from your own and training/ management can become frustratingly difficult.

The skill of training dogs, of all animals, is not simply finding a solution to the dogs 'problems' its finding a workable solution that will work with the families dog human dynamics.  A workable solution where each human has their own weakness and strengths, time restraints and emotional mechanisms taken into account and using them to everyones advantage.

Lots of 'problems' can be solved by very simple basic behaviours.

That blog will be next and I know the title already, phew!

A picture can mean so much

Commissioning a portrait can stem from many different motives. Nearly all are to be a celebration of a love, a part of our lives shared by something or someone.  They can make you smile and cry yet their role is to transport you back or to capture a moment you mustn't forget.

This portrait was to be a celebration of a physical love lost yet love that will be with you forever. One picture will transport you back not just that moment but many memories all intrinsically linked to each other.

Then we were to add a piece of art within the art to celebrate a skill. This skill was perfect as it added depth to the portrait and was so appropriate for the subject, lending more of a story.

A chance inclusion has ended up being so emotionally charged and so very important I even feel it has a relevance all of its own.

No longer just a celebration of a skill now a celebration and acknowledgement of something great.

Life is simply cruel 

Yet life is all

Better to have loved as much as they have than never to have loved at all.

Goodbye my dear, you who are loved so dearly and always, now a kindly black furry face helps to transport us back to you. 

And I promise to call it a paddle not an oar xxx

Tobermory and his paddle

More to follow .....

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Couldn't organise a ......

There are indeed times when I don't feel I could organise a drink poos in a brewery however times are a changing.

The shop is up and running, I have had my first sale( New Zealand)....dum de dum dum I am ready and waiting for an avalanche of orders now haha.  Etsy is a curious thing as it involves more skill than I possess, sales and promotion have never been my natural skills so I have a sharp learning curve.  Seat belt on, white knuckles at the ready I feel I may be chugging along merrily rather than hurtling a great speed.

Designing jewellery has been a true delight, it has taught me to focus on just what is necessary for a design to work rather than put everything in.  Having only the responsibly of the design is a delight rather than for everything though the Etsy shop means I have more to do than just design it.

Justine Wilkie from Piccadilly Pooches has now come on board with her designs and bit by bit we will be adding to the range.

A little adventure into selling will be a nice little side venture wonder what it will look like from the other side of the virtual counter?

Flute is helping us out by modelling....I think he is taking this very seriously and is working that camera for all he is worth! Here he is modelling the Piccadilly tag collar.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ask away

After swimming in the lake this morning( the dogs not myself) it was the perfect opportunity to work on the guys and gals toilet stops.

To wee on command,  as discussed before, is simply invaluable as is a dog drinking when asked.  So armed with six dogs who had played, swam and drank loads of water I stopped off a high footfall area for them to stop for a wee with many distractions.  Most are pretty good now so I can add distractions and difficult circumstances.

I don't walk far otherwise they learn to hold on to their widdle in order to explore further, so standing I encourage then to have a 'wee wee' as I say.  Whilst waiting for Polly to find the perfect spot a lady walked straight up to me and said what many people must think on these occasions.

' So do you just drive around in the van and let them for a wee and that is it?'

Well I was delighted, I love opportunities like this!

So I explained briefly( for me)what they had done this morning( their busy social calendar) introduced her to the guys and gals and explained why I stopped, what I was doing and teaching.   She was really interested and went from being quite sharp to asking more and more( fatal with me haha I really can talk the hind leg of a donkey).

It wasn't long before she started to shift back and forth clearly wanting to say something I might not want to hear so I braced myself.......

'Eeh, I am desperate now all this talk and watching them have a wee I need one myself and I am walking to Chester!'

Haha not what I was expecting however I know exactly how she feels cos whilst toiletting the guys and gals its inevitable you need the loo too but have to wait till our charges are comfortable.

I much prefer forward people who ask outright, especially if they are willing to listen than people who form an opinion without understanding what our dog life entails.

I call it my scenario list:

So this is the,

'Eeeh that Petnanny drives around all day with the dogs in the van and only lets them out for a quick wee' scenario!

I recon I can have fun revealing my scenario list, whatdya think?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Portugal Pooches

My addiction is alive and well!

I have just come back from a week in Portugal.  I find the people lovely to deal with and needless to say the weather was a blessed relief although we certainly can't complain about the weather this year( for us northerners anyway).  However I really struggled.

Where were all the animals?

I looked high and low, in alleyways, down on the beach, ok I even admit to peeking in houses!  Poor Mr Gumps even joined in the where are the animals game, shouting a little too loudly every time he saw a horse.  Most of the horses we saw belonged to the Gypsy's of the area, tethered often in the sun with no water or shade, non looked terribly poor or distressed however.

The dogs that I did spot/ stalk were mostly long backed short little village dogs with bags of personality and a very clear plan of what they were doing and where they were going.  I particularly liked the little black low slung dog with a blue harness and attached to a delightful looking older gentleman who clearly had worked out who walked who on the jaunts together.  If he ever forgot how it worked the little dog( big attitude low slung) simply planted until the gentleman remembered with a sigh.  I couldn't help notice the little conversation between them one of resigned companionship mixed with a little exasperation and of course delight.  They looked a little out of place in the busy area of the Strip in Albuferia!

Another regular was a plump flop eared german shepherd type with a rather unkempt eccentric man who walked like he was late.....He did flummox me when he turned up with two matching plump flop eared germans shepherd types only to go round the corner and come back with only one....

My favourite one of all was a fabulous small podengo lookalike prick eared little person sandy coloured and like all I had seen so far entire...he had very important business to see too and didn't even give me a backward glance despite rehoming him in my mind and seeing how he would look trotting on the back of a horse haha.

The one that will stand out in my mind the most, mainly for the reaction it created was the Italian Greyhound.  Or rather my reaction to the Italian Greyhound.   A lovely slate grey held lovingly in her owners hands she looked woeful as only sighthounds can....made worse by the fact she sported a rather dramatic looking bandage over her broken leg, an all too frequent occurrence in IG's.  Her collar merely enhanced her air of importance and she looked aghast when I approached her.  Well maybe approached her wasn't really how it was.

We, Mr Gumps and I, were sitting comfortably in the shade after enjoying an indulgent tea when Mr Gumps piped'll need to move your chair back if you want to see that tiny whippet.... I jumped up and ran.  Well my rapid disappearance caused what I can only presume was a void as I apparently stopped time....whilst I was saying a delicate hello to this special shimmering beastie everyone in the area and restaurant seemed frozen, mouths agape, forks help poised in the air until I sat back down with Mr Gumps bemused grin showing he had truly gotten used to my randomness.  It was then that I had noticed everyone eyeballing me, their frozen stance soon turning into embarrassed glances and slowly normality returned to the dining area.

A more sedate encounter wasn't really an encounter at all I merely watched from afar envious of their gay giddiness.  Three dock dogs down in the harbour played chase around the upturned boats and soon one triumphant winner outfoxed the other two by hiding under a cover only to scare the living daylights out of his persuer ( I gave up after the fourth try of working out how to spell pursuer hehe).

Did I mention the rare flattop eared cats?

I was delighted to see the cats around the area had been spayed and neutered by someone in the area and most looked happy healthy and full of important cat business.  I often wonder how many people know that feral cats are often rounded up and once spayed they have the top of their left ears ( or is it their right urm) lopped off to signify they have been neutered and often chipped.  Just like my own Button feral barn cat.  Whilst I felt particularly wicked doing it if and when she moves on she won't be subjected to capture and put under anaesthetic just to check if she has been spayed.  I often wonder why white cats are so prevalent in hot countries whilst the obvious reflecting the sunlight theory must be true they are most affected by the affects of the sun namely cancer and I saw one white cat who had lost both ear flaps, one eye and part of his neck to cancer and though not thin you could see he wasn't for this world for too much longer.  That said as I get older I often think of weather a short hard life is more fulfilling for many of the animals out there rather than the so called pampered life our live( the streets are a terribly hard place for most feral animals namely because of peoples attitudes and behaviour toward them).

One thing about going away is coming back to the guys and gals at home and never have I needed to be reminded how much I love my guys however there is something incredibly special about coming home and having two Pods nigh on combusting with excitement and a cat whirling like a spinning top.  Oh and two horses nickering impatiently for you to move the sodding fence cos they are starving!

Oh and I didn't go to the Bullfight EVEN though they don't kill the Bull!  ( all the posters around the area noted ' And we do not kill the Bull!  nope you just torment the living daylights out of him...).

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Bring me sunshine!

Somebody is certainly shining down on us all at the moment aren't they.  With wall to wall sunshine( yes I do know it is going to rain tomorrow) and no mud I have to say work has been even more of a delight than normal.

Obviously with sun comes heat.

We have tried many methods to walk our charges in the heat and there really is no substitute for finding the right walk for the conditions.  Usually involving trees and water it is our favourite place to walk anyway so no great hardship.

Then we have travelling in the vans.  Our vans are kitted out with blowers, heaters, showers and ventilation( x2) in the roof we also have a great gadget called a vent lock that come in various sizes that we use to allow airflow.  We have one window in our van at the side and no bulkhead mainly because I don't like the idea of the dogs being in a black box.  We have thermometers and I have been quite shocked at the temperatures in the vehicles.....I had to put a fleece jumper on Flute despite is being just under 28 º was too cold for him with the air gently flowing through though all the dogs were enjoying a breeze without being cold!  The hottest it has been in our dogs area was 25º which most find comfortable our area was an uncomfortable 30º.

Our routines change completely( something we have been doing  lot of recently which has been a great move with the dogs) with most of our guys going home early ( despite the vans being an appropriate temperature what if something should happen, we wouldn't want to be sitting with our charges in the heat or be held up no matter how well prepared we are).  We always water our guys and gals however in this weather their fluid consumption can quadruple  and you know what that means? Way more weeing.  So we even took advantage of this as a couple of our newer and younger dogs still aren't perfect at weeing on command when we stop.  With the increased intake we stop more frequently at more new places and it is invaluable to have dogs wee when the opportunity arises.  It also means the dogs who are wise to the 'quick wee stop' and hold off so they get long out and about tend to not bother because they are ready for a wee.

Actually I have practised that today...remember the holiday at Thwaite where we took all my lads?  Where Flute lost the ability to toilet because of the coneys?  Well we have been practising taking them to high rabbit areas and asking them to wee.  I have to make sure they have had a good drink or three and nature helps us out!  Tips is becoming a pro again whilst Flute is taking longer.  Longer is fine it is way better than never haha.

I was delighted to hear one of my training dogs was all prepared for his day out with Nanny and he had his sunblock on already, a white boxer you simply can't take risks.

Over the next week or so we are going to be facing the dreaded seeds that can cause mayhem and real damage so I am delighted at least our field is being cut which helps to limit the chances and we can usually aim to pick and choose our walks for this period though we aren't able to eliminate the risk 100%.

The sun also brings out the worst and the best of.....the flesh.  Autumn has certainly made my legs hide away in shame though they did make a brief appearance this week only to remember why I often don't dog walk in shorts, I sported a lovely collection of bramble and nettle brandings!

I hope you have managed to enjoy some of the sun and I hope even more there will be more after the land has had a good drink....I do live in hope.

Friday, 20 June 2014

My name is Caroline Howlett

My name is Caroline Howlett and I am addicted to sharing.

I can't even blame social media, I have always done it and often at the most inopportune moments with the most inappropriate people!

Social media has merely allowed me to do it more.....

It seems like if I can't photograph it, tweet it or Fb it maybe it isn't worth doing.  Once I was a person in Pelton who worked alone, went home alone and socialised alone( an oxymoron if I ever heard one).  My views had few people to bounce off and meant not a great deal to anyone.

Now I FEEL my views and opinions reach someone.

Who though?

Now there is the crux of the matter.

And why?

Oh hang on a minute there's another thing.

Mmm will have to mull this one over.

Am I Petnanny Supernanny or Caroline/ Petnanny?  Pah who cares all I know is what I value in life is what I need to value on Facebook.  So I am having a spectacular clear out( oh lordy I can feel a head between my knees moment, fanning my clammy brow), a good tidy up and a major cull.

Why now?

I once had a stalker.
He never hurt me.
Yet it shook my little world.

I also had an imposter.
She never managed to hurt me
Yet it shook my little world

I have a lurker ( or ten hehe)
I have no idea if they will hurt me
I can't let it shake my world

Maybe I am stroking my ego by making my Facebook profile a little 'we like Petnanny club'.

My next plan is to have time away from technology.  Gulp

Did I mention my addictive personality?

I am going to take my last blog seriously and remember my life needs attention too not sharing always with half a mind on my technology fix.

To acknowledge why I use it:

 Tami Simon, of Sounds True, made some insightful observations about her instinct to pull out a piece of technology. Others from the panel chimed in, creating this list:
  • For stimulation
  • For confirmation of importance (as in, I got so many emails, likes, comments I must be important!)
  • To connect with other people
  • To have something to do when anxiety creeps in
  • To find an escape from the rawness of an experience or to feel in control
  • time to be me
I am going to have just me time( I have a lot of that after all I have no children) so that time could be just lying on the floor hugging the Pods or Tumbleweed

Will I stop sharing?  Not a blooming chance.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Is there anybody there?

When we are out walking we don't actually see that many people, when I am driving I can't help but notice people out with their dogs ( I am a confirmed dog stalker!).  It fascinates me just how distant many owners are to their dogs.

There are the usual suspects, mobile phones though more often or not it is life that is making them distant from their dogs.

I wonder how many people got themselves a nice dog to allow them to walk away their life problems whilst out with them then bring them along on the dog walk.

Then we have the old dog draggers, what is that all about?  Revel in the old guys, love their slow uncoordinated legs, the vague moments where they stare into space and chuckle at them stopping yet again to sniff.

We walk and we have to stop thinking.  Not for us walking the dogs with bills and MOT's on our minds, with boyfriends or families on our minds.  We have just one thing on our minds.  DOG.

Call it therapy, call it work dedication, indeed call it what you will.  You've got to be there and I mean really there.  We of course need not only our minds on the job we need eyes in our bums!  Who will play Hugo's game if our minds were elsewhere?  Who would watch out for Chance running ahead to pee that little further and a little quicker than his companions or Rez and Sirus competing, that all important moment we can ask them to 'chill it boys' rather find a minor spat has happened 'out of nowhere'.

Being sighthound trained( i.e.: trained by sighthounds) we see the rabbits and try to lie to our guys and gals with our bodies, 'what rabbit we don't see that rabbit to your right honest we don't'..... or the roe deer who is standing wondering whether to flee or freeze.  Watching the dogs noses going, the ground scenters, air scenters and those who are more concerned about producing the scents.

Who cares what is happening in the real world, when you can stop and watch the guys sniffing at a blade of grass and wonder what they smell and see in their minds eyes.  I revel in their need to burn energy wonder why that childish urge seemingly disappeared many moons ago.  Why would it go when it used to be so much fun?

I don't just do this at work I have learned so much from Flute the Flitter.  Not for me the simple clip the lead off and walk, oh no not if I want to return home with a Flute in tow.  Not when there are mice, rabbits, hares, foxes, squirrels to chase no I hunt them with him line in hand harness taking the strain at his end I am taut with tension waiting for the explosive moment when he spots his quarry and I start running squealing with part fear part excitement at the sheer strength in those scrawny limbs....running like a toddler just about toppling hanging on by the skin of my teeth.  He doesn't complain that 10st of lump is slowing him down, well actually he does Flute the Flitter is no stealth hunter.....he forgets I am there he just knows these mythical creatures have superpowers they can run at warp speed and excite him in a way I simply can't compete.

Once done he turns back to me massive beaming gape panting as much in excitement as a need for oxygen.  And all because of a line and leaving life behind we have had that moment together.

Then Tips and I go mouse hunting.....oooh the tension, will he find a mouse or a hare.  Hare is forbidden fruit one which he knows nothing of he just knows they run, twist and turn creating a fabulous game one that has been played for millennium yet can mean life or Tips doesn't get to play that game and instead hunts mice the quarry of many a cat and owl.  He walks practically goose stepping, a certain kind of point he does that tells me he hears yet knows not yet what it is.  Will it be mouse or bug....oh yes trust me when I say he can hear bugs in the long grass.

We live for the moment he leaps, prongs and dives into the's as addictive as the hunting itself I wait poised for the leap, disappointed if he doesn't.  The constant tug and war of don't catch the mouse it's just trying to get on with life versus go catch it my boy!

The happy face of a being living an instinctive moment everything that makes sense to them playing out in a walk.

Not for me thinking of bills or who was hard done by or not.  Not for me worrying about if things will work out as I have planned or worked towards.....


For who would notice Hugo's funny little game....

Step outside of your life if just once a day and stand patiently whilst your dog sniffs that incredibly important smell.  In his short life it means so much more than your silly worries.

Happy walking!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Instinct can never be ignored

Amazing to thing Instinct

We can pretend all we like that we contain it.

Sometimes we do.

Normally we don't.

Tips watching Springwatch and all he see is rabbit.

This intrigues me on so many levels.  We always presume much is triggers by scent though Sighthounds by nature are also triggered by sight.
How come to a dog the red green and is it yellow dots that make up a tv screen still look like a rabbit to them?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

And I cried for me

I don't want to be cynical, I feel it is lazy.

Today I had to face something I really wasn't prepared for.  A car in front hit a young Roe buck and he was paralysed behind.  They didn't stop neither did anyone else on the road.

They say you can judge a person on their compassion towards animals and children.

I pulled over in the middle of the main road in the vain hope I wouldn't be knocked down and checked the young lad who was very distressed and even more so now I was handling him.  With a broken back the dawning realisation struck me.

I was going to have to kill him.

Now I grew up in a little estate adoring all animals, from stick insects to blue whales and pretty much everything in between.  I cried when one of our many fish were ill and broke my heart over knocked over hedgehogs.

I never really got used to losing pets, stray animals and wildlife we picked up along the way.  Then I got a lurcher and I got used to rabbits being brought to me alive many I could release in the hope they would survive, the ones that were squeezed or damaged I learnt to kill as humanely as I could.   Working with Heavy horses brought me in to contact with shooting men and shooting men bring along with them pheasants, snipe and partridges which I learnt to gut and clean.  I helped out a local turkey farmer plucking at christmas in exchange for the help and support he gave me throughout the year.  Then there is the road traffic incidents where pheasants are hurt and not killed so dispatching became a little more, what is the word?  Easier?

Yet over time I have had less and less contact with such things and faced with a beautiful distressed deer what on earth was I going to do?  Phone Mr Gumps of course though in the back of my mind it was too far for him to travel so it was still down to me.


I kneeled next to the lad as quickly as I could I killed him( is there a nice way of putting that?).

Whilst I kneeled and watching him pass not one car/ lorry or passing person stopped and asked if I was ok kneeling and hunched over on a busy road in the pouring rain the spray from the puddled making us both struggle to catch our breath.

I cried.

I cried for him but mostly for me.  For me having to be the one who would put this poor beautiful young lad out of his pain and certain suffering then for the lack of any compassion from anyone else.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Like a window

I like to be a clear as clear can be.  Bit like a window, mind that said, most of my windows are in serious need of a good wash!

Now where was I?

In 2014 we started an interesting ( insert scary as anything) journey and it has been a injection of reality.  We have carried on with our mission and missed much of what has been going on in the world.  With peeled open eyes we have seen all that is happening and tried to embrace it and it is paying off.

So we are three
well really we are two plus one
For many years now there has been Sam and I plus one, a great balance of extra help, mutual need and a fresh look on things.

The plus one now is Autumn and wow what a girl.  A shy girl with such inner strength yet I saw and heard the doubt and yet she had only herself to convince.

Well there is now doubt now!

K9-5 is her business and I have seen it blossom into a great fledgling business, she is learning so much along the way and we merely support and entertain her along the way.  Autumn has drive and it shows.  Starting a business at 21years old with all that is put in her path, I am sure she will face some tough times, we will disagree and struggle to balance her business with our business needs however I couldn't be happier.

This does of course mean we have to balance a few balls, mix and match a few things and see how it pans out.

What does all of this mean to you?  Hopefully not a lot.  Autumn is helping us cover out holidays and our weekends anything else she can help with is a bonus.  We like being a two plus one so less dogs, take on the odd dog for training which keeps us fresh and up to date with our training and a more fluid business.  What we have found most interesting is how well all the dogs have adapted to our changes of routines and yet how hard some of our customers have found it.  Like us they found the small change hard to deal with so we are working on more flexibility and less rigidity, as we know dog training isn't just about training the dog!

We are very lucky to have a fabulous variety of dogs and customers, I wouldn't swap them though I know in time things change.  Here's to the continuation of an interesting journey and we all have one goal....the best possible care for your dog!

Framed and rehomed!

Katie the Cavalier looks lovely in her frame and has been sent to her mom to join Pepe- Cavalier['s Feathers.  Katie had an obsession with feathers and ended up going to Positively Pets- to redirect her passion!  It meant she could still enjoy feathers however she had to work for them and it was controlled.

Of course once I knew about this I had to have feathers in her portrait and of course her previous portrait had hidden feathers in so hidden feather it was.  Whilst having the freedom to choose your own style and type of portrait is wonderful it is also a little overwhelming.  How on earth do you catch the essence of a dog in one portrait?  Having Joanna involved in the process helped us achieve exactly what was wanted.

Jewellery commissions

Between immersing myself in dogs ( at times I come very close to being literally immersed in dogs!), drawing my commission pieces I am doing great guns with our Jewellery commissions.

The advantages of the jewellery designing are being able to do a design then leave it with David Baggaley to work his magic ( and it also means I learn how to loosen my style, focus on what details are important to include and more importantly the stuff I can leave out.  Now that is something I need to learn!

Here are a few of my recent pendants:

Missy the cocker with that fabulous eye patch

 Montanna the stunning white gsd
 Jess the gorgeous Yorkie
The fluffiest Papillon I have seen what a character

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Bang Whooosh Weeeee

We were so lucky today to be joined by Emma Walker with her gun dog trained Hungarian Wire haired Vizsla and Dexter the dalmation.  Why lucky, when Emma often joins us?  This time she brought her dummy launcher.  This works by launching the dummy via a blank cap the distance it travels is phenomenal!  Our main aim was to test the dogs on their reactions to the noise whilst rewarding any of those who didn't panic with a great game of fetch.

We had a fair idea that Truffle wouldn't cope and we already know she needs support if there us thunder or gun shots, we also have our suspicions with Lottie who is currently following our advice on desensitisation with a noise cd so they stay in the van with a couple of chilled dogs who don't mind the noise.

Everyone else whilst we know them well we weren't quite sure how they would cope with 'gunshot' at close range.  we have practised this once before at a good distance away so I was happy to give it a go whilst at the field and with three people to be with them.

Well I was gobsmacked!

Not a peep out of anyone the first time.  Most shot off after the dummy probably wondering how Emma managed to throw it quite so far.

The second time Oliver jumped at noise then continued on without a flicker.  Fluffy showed confusion though no more and Bella was starting to look around so possible she was a little anxious.  Breeze didn't like it though not in a true fearful way we forget dogs can dislike something rather than just be scared.  Breeze is a failed worker though not through being gun-shy he was simply work shy haha.

The last time I could see Bella was indeed unsettled though no more and Fluffy didn't want to join in with running after dummy so we did no more and allowed free running before encouraging them to play and go back to the bottom of the field in case any associated the noise with a place.

I was surprised to see Lottie wasn't at all bothered in van and Truffle though a little anxious came straight out and found toy happy to tease Lottie with it so not as fearful as she has been in the past.

It is such a relief to have the time(we make the time!) and space to try these things as they all help us to prepare our training and walking to accommodate our guys fears, likes and preferences.  What surprised me was the increase in tension so we now know that whilst a thunderstorm or clay pigeon shoot may startle them at first we have to make sure those dogs who showed tension are popped on a lead and taken away from the area as they show increased tension with the stimulus rather than relaxing once they know what is join to happen next.

Non of the dogs bolted which is pretty much the worse case scenario, this is hard to train for whereas tension/ anxiety can be worked on as we have with Lottie. We have all the time in the world in many ways to work on this and simply playing the cd very low in the van whilst the dogs are sharing the space with non reactive dogs can help immeasurably.

You can never tell which dogs will react, indeed we had pugs, chihuahua, collies, labs and it was the crossbred bitch a tibetan and a cocker who reacted.  Truffle is a staffie cross who are definitely a sensitive breed although we know where her fear originated when we were caught in a terrible electrical storm a couple of years back and Lottie who is sensitive by nature and she is improving weekly.

We also noticed how quickly dogs associated an action/ sound/ environmental cue with the thing they didn't like.  So Fluffy on our first lap didn't want to go to the three quarter line of the field once we passed with lots of praise love and silliness he soon relaxed, Bella reacted to the moment I said Go but only when we were poised and watching so true to form showing true superstitious behaviour.

Now and again you have to step back and watch wait and enjoy.  Today was one of those days.  Despite all of the change, trauma and turmoil I am proud of how we have held it together, showing the dogs nothing but consistency, love and a smidgeon of aggravation haha.

Lots to work on as ever but a very good learning experience and good for the dogs too.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Sometimes walking doesn't help

You walk and the simple process of putting one foot in front of the other walks you away from your tension.  You walk away your fears and silliness that bogs us down.

You can walk to still your mind, to absorb all that nature has to share, to merely smell, view or enjoy the wisp of a breeze on your face.

Only we walk and the tension increases, you take all with you and it becomes a heavy burden.

Your mind swirls around with thoughts you want to fly away, banish and batten down.

Yet I don't own any of this I am a mere spectator carrying only a droplet of what is borne by someone so close and dear.  It's wrong, it's cruel and its utterly isolating.  Help we may, empathise we try, cry tears of course yet we can never truly be part of it.

Utter hopelessness is something we will have to get used to until a day should come, if it comes, when another emotion shall overpower.

I truly long...........

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Professional embarrassment or maximum coverage

Professional embarrassment or maximum coverage?

No question as far as I am concerned.

Very much like the day I realised parents are people muddling through life trying to do their best for all concerned, well today I have had to realise I may be a professional dog handler it doesn't mean I can be infallible or faultless.  No matter how hard I try or how much I plan to prevent things happening.

So I am in the very lucky position to be embarrassed and upset not devastated and full of guilt.

Flute ran away today, my own dog.  He chased a fox that had been in the private grounds we had been in and continued to chase past and over the boundaries and kept running to goodness knows where.  With St Bernards( who live there)and the terriers with me no matter what my heart was telling me I knew I had to get them called in and taken home so that they were safe and then head back and hope to find him.

Flute is a dog I have to heavily manage, I have made so many mistakes with him ( I have a huge hole in my training repertoire, I allow too much freedom as pups with my own sighthounds I live to see them run and don't focus enough on their fun coming from me rather than they have been bred for for many years.)so I know when and why he would run and train to try and contain it.  When it is safe he gets time off for free running and ensure everyday he gets free off lead fun in a safe area.

Only I didn't manage it enough this time.  The little estate allows us to have fun, for them to hunt and it has been working a treat, his recall has been so much better and when there was lots of possible prey chasing opportunities elsewhere he was on lead and working on stay with me.

Today the two girls spotted a fox in their garden and off they bombed at this stage Flute was happily staying with me and I hoped to call him in calmly BEFORE he spotted the fox.  All to no avail he turned to look at me when his name was called and saw the fox off he shot.  Belle and Mila had gone straight through the fence and as I called the little ones in( which they did fabulous wee souls that they are)Flute sailed over the double fence and ditch.

Two and a half hours is just long enough for you to have had him shot by farmers, hit by cars, grabbed by dog nappers and all kinds of unimaginable stuff that does happen to people in exactly the same situation as me.  Was I to be a lucky person or not?

I managed to get back to the van head off and find the first farm I came to.  I couldn't have found nicer people and both headed to likely fox spots and passed on numbers of other farmers who could do with knowing there was a sighthound on the loose during the worst possible time of year, Lambing!  I expected anger and sharpness and received nothing but thanks and promises to ring if they spotted him.

With my charges safe and tired as they had already had a good walk, I became a mam again, an owner not a professional, all the fears and dread everyone at some point faces.  Phoning all I could and asking friends to put on fb anything to help get him home hopefully safe and sound.

I take great pride in my work and there is very few things more upsetting than losing a dog thankfully a rare thing in our case, to then have to advertise your shortcomings and failings to all who you meet, asking if anyone had seen a lost dog with PetNanny emblazoned across you van.......I would have ran naked shouting Petnanny loses dogs if I had had to, anything to get him back.

Thankfully to all concerned I didn't need to.  As soon as my knightess in a shining estate car turned up to help I finally received the phone call I longed for.  He had been spotted and was heading back to us.

The responsibility is mine, I have had my shortcomings pulsing in my head and yet I also know he is a dog doing what dogs do.  Every ounce of his body programmed to do just as he did.  Unfortunately the world in which he lives in doesn't cope, accommodate or allow for dogs to blindly follow their instincts so it is up to me to manage better and stop it happening again.

So I have a plan and it is completely fail safe....

Lead Boots.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Normal stuff

It truly is the normal stuff I love.  I do get bored of the same routes and the same games the dogs often play yet I don't get bored of the dogs, the new things they throw at you and the interactions.

Today was such a day where I wanted to revisit a walk I often used to do.

Now this usually means madness and borderline mayhem, new smells new routes and the excitement that brings. So we choose our walking partners with care balancing entertainment and company with level headedness and steadiness.

Well we threw that away today and just got out who we felt like though obviously the gimpy ones weren't included in the equation and we simply walked, not our usual march a slow steady take in the smells and sights kind of walk.

It is truly amazing how dogs pick up on the funny ways of humans.  It is so easy to underestimate and take for granted what 'dogs' do yet you only have to know each one to know they are all pretty amazing in their own way....oh and utterly infuriating at times but then it would be boring otherwise I am sure.

We do the poop and wee checks( not so much smell the roses moment), and walk watching for triggers or moods that may mean we have to watch for a flare up or be more supportive.  Pixie and Martha are hormonal hetties so we are not only watching them like hawks we are watching to make sure no one bothers them as hormonal bitches definitely cope badly with anxiety or emotional stress.

A quick photo stop then Lola and Ember start eyeing each other up.....

Lola has a gaze that could burn holes in titanium, Ember spotted it and we just knew what was gonna happen next......Ember bum slaps Lola, Lola screams and chases her which is pretty hard to do when Ember hasn't moved far because she is spinning like there is a huge flea on her tail.....of course by now Fluffy can't resist a bit aggravation so dives in aggravating Lola who like the skilled gamestress she is fettles both without turning a golden hair.

Now at this point I did have to remind them that I was having a calm walk and as they were with me THEY were having a calm walk with me can you believe it they did.  Seriously they just stopped mooched and age each other the eye and trotted around the corner.  Ah ha I know what you three are up too and sure enough Ember was spinning and lola was thrashing fluffy Ember silently.  Anyone who has walked with Lola and Fluffy realises this is not something that happens.  When Lola plays she gobs off.   Funny how they can be quiet when they are doing something they shouldn't!

I often fear for my aim to be even half a step in front of them.  Sam and I chuckled at them before continuing along tootling happily.

I left Nanny Sam to continue her walking and headed for my lunch after having done my first walk at 7.30am!

My first walk was a funny one as I had The Terrorists, The labraspecialadors, The Louts, The Little Big Girls and Leyla.  Well not Leyla as she was still in bed.  This meant only one thing, Lake time!

There is nothing The labraspecialadors love more than the lake time, The terriorists and Louts love the hunting and lake and The Little Big Girls just love the interaction.  I have to say I love to watch them leap off the dock!

The lone goose and swan pair barely flicker now when we turn up so it means we can happily take over the lake I know Poppy had designs on the goose but not enough to take a dip without it being heated first that girl likes things warm.

Unfortunately for Wobbily he can't keep up with Poppy so when she ran round to the bushes to hunt coneys he followed and then found we were on the other side of the lake.

What to do?

He ran in circles of course!

So with one eye on him and the other spare one I laughed and dodged the flying water spray as they guys and gals swam or whined at the ones swimming.  It wasn't until I saw the lone goose swimming away and realised Wobbily had decided to launch into the lake and join us.  Oh lordy I had images flash into my mind of me stripped down to my knickers( OH NO no matching underwear when will I take my SIL's advice to NEVER leave the house with underwear that doesn't match)and jump in to the frigid water to save a wayward wonky wobbly....

Sheesh I should never underestimate dogs....Tugboat Terrier ahoy! For a little dog who doesn't know how to run straight all credit to him on his epic swim he was as straight as an arrow.

Well that is it for today time to get them out again for afternoon mooches and for Rez the gimpy to go explore another garden in the vain hope it will entertain his active mind and body whilst on restricted exercise.

Find the Feathers!

I have just finished the lovely lady that is Katie.  Joanna already has a portrait of mine so it was only right to match the style and that style was camouflage art!

So here is the finished piece and can you find the feathers?  Not only was Katie obsessed with feathers what is more appropriate than feathers on a cavalier

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Committed to a paint a pretty picture?

Committed to paint a pretty picture?

No not I.

In all seriousness if you would like a picture that pleases the eye you need to look at my art rather than hope for it with the dogs.

My life would probably be so much easier if I just said everything was lovely and fluffy, birds tweeting in the sky, ickle puppy dogs playing together, the glorious smells of the countryside and not one of the dogs ever getting anything wrong.  

Of course it is all true baring the last one.

Heres the thing.....

We are committed for the long haul.  Our ultimate aim is to have the hardest thing of all to achieve....a well rounded pet dog that has all the strategies to cope with their life no matter what changes happen throughout their life.  Oh and to earn enough to keep everyone going.

So why can't we do both?

Because life just isn't like that.  I will try and break it down because being simple soul I like things nice and simple.

Can you guarantee your life will be the same for minimum ten years.
Not a chance I would never have thought I would be living with a MAN.  That isn't to say I was expecting to be living with a WOMAN either but I thought a six month relationship was phenomenal!

Can you definitely say you keep everything the same all of the time day in day out?
Urm apart from anything else why would you I am about as homebody as you can get( without the house tending talents many of those people have) yet I can't think of anything worse than doing the samething day in day out. YAWN

If you went on holiday or needed someone to watch your dog would your dog be able to cope?

There are a hundred more things I could list( my cogs need a little more WD-40 for that mind), though I am sure you get my drift.

So we don't pick up your dogs to take them for a glorious walk in the woods with the sole motivation of tiring them out because that would be way too easy, no we try and set your dog up for life....Life after PetNanny, shudder.

Life Skills:

Dogs are the ultimate when it comes to being malleable yet so many seem utterly limpet like when you ask them to do something new or change their routine.  They train us to accept it is just the way they are.  They revel in routine so much so that we stick to them like Lola to a bottle.

We learn our dogs behaviours so well they become their funny little ways....not realising we are making them that way.

We are told by those who know ( I wanna be one of them one day.....only the type who really know not the the who think they know) that dogs must have exercise must  blah de blah de blah.....

Just as well dogs haven't read those rules are we would all be in trouble.

Well here's what we do. ( sometimes we fail a little, succeed a lot and sometimes we do a bit of both)

We teach a dog how to learn.

We teach them to share, cope with other creatures wanting their things and how to cope when they want something so badly that they would happily rip their competitions head clean off ( ok maybe a teeny bit of exaggeration there).

We gently break it to them that whilst their world does revolve around them ours does not ( pssst don't tell them we are actually paid to attend to their every need I know at least ten who would learn how to snap their paws!) that they share the world with many other animals and people who are as important as them.

We teach them that they can 'probably' have anything they want if they can just hold on for a second or two, or do a little trick for us first....frustration control is a magical thing.

We teach them that bullies aren't appreciated, squealers to not be quite so theatrical and social tarts( I mean butterflies) not to be quite so Velcro like.

All of this takes planning, forethought, dogged determination and a certain amount of urm whats the word resignedness, resignation urm no idea I am sure you kind of get what I mean.  

So when your dog has been named and shamed don't feel bad, don't feel you are failing just see it as getting more than your moneys worth and be safe in the knowledge that all the times your dog wasn't named and shamed they are marching toward brilliant life skills.  Actually come to think of it I haven't named and shamed for a while....I shall have to put that right!

If you would ever like to know what we aim to teach just ask's quite a long list and you are dumped for coffee and maybe a biscuit or three.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

What a wonderful PetNanny week!

We have certainly have an amazing week one of our busiest due to all our newbies starting the same week as our two non regulars!

Times like this you really appreciate not only accommodating customers, established and truly great long term dogs, our own experience and always working below maximum capacity. 

Everything went smoothly fitting in training for Devon, separate visits for young Weimerarner Monty and big sis Jazz, puppy day care for BellaBoo and Stanley then introductions with BellaBoo, Stanley and Oliver.  Beau our irregular dog fits in so well and our guys love having him for a bit of excitement.

I must take time to say thank you to Julie with Takoda who gave me a week off from helping with kodes rehab walks so I only had Mila's rehab to do it really helped us out.

Our newbies are going to fit in so well BellaBoo is going to be a challenge, jury is out on young Stanley haha and Oliver is a real treasure. Monty is a true Weimerarner and is struggling with frustration control and jazz is lovely and calm though as of yet we have no idea how they will be until they mix.  

They will be a real compliment to our guys, potential friends and playmates.

We say goodbye to Izzy who is no longer moving!  I'm delighted to say she is leaving for love...... Her mom has met someone so they will share the mammy day care oh izzy will be so happy.

Wish us well at crufts I do giggle at the very idea of Flute and Tips being ambassadors for their breed at discover dogs at crufts. 

I can't wait to show our banner a photo that makes me very proud indeed.