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.