Sunday, 15 July 2012

Houdini the atheist dog

This week I took a stroll up the road to go and deliver the number of our fabulous dog walker to a lady that lives a few houses up. Deep in thought about how I can convince the government to make chocolate count as 1 of our 5 a day, I heard the sound of running paws behind me. I turned around to see my dog flying down the pavement towards me, ears flapping in the wind and a huge doggy grin on her face. She came bounding over as if to say, ‘You forgot me!! But don’t worry, I got out of the house and here I am! Aren’t you happy??’

Before we got our lion sized dog, I never understood how loyal a dog can be. She loves us so much that being left behind when we go about our daily lives really really upsets her. So she has worked out a way to ensure she is with us at all times- she can open the front door and let herself out. Now this is not a good thing.... She has escaped 3 times so far and thank goodness she has not been hit by a bus or frightened the life out of some poor parent walking their toddler down the road. The solution is to keep the middle door shut for the moment- that is until she works out how to open that one too.

In the mean time she likes to remind me of how horrible I am when I do have to lock her in the house- she like to shred paper as I have said before. The problem is that at the moment she likes to shred any book I am reading that has anything to do with God. So I have lost some pages of my bible, my Philip Yancy books to just mention a few. I wonder if she has an issue with my love of Jesus? Or maybe I just leave these books lying around too much. Anyway, all I am hoping is that she converts from her atheism before she is hit by a bus after escaping through the front door! I don’t want her to miss out on all the open fields of doggy heaven one day!

Monday, 21 May 2012

When the lion was a puppy

Another story from a few months ago:
Recall training was going well. I have to admit I was a little smug about it, proud of well we were doing. The day my smugness came down a notch or 2 was a glorious one.  The sun was high in the blue cloudless sky, the air warm and the world was friendly (has anyone else noticed that the English are much happier when the sun shines?).  On days like these the tow path is full of anglers hoping to catch something for the BBQ later. Boats are moored along the green riverbank, families are sat eating lunch on them with their children squealing in delight at the swans swimming on the river.

On that fateful day my fabulous friend was walking the puppy for me. She owns a golden retriever that is so well behaved and gentle that he was the obvious choice as role model for my puppy.

They had been walking along the tow path, enjoying the warm sunshine. A few men were along the river catching fish, their bait beside them, dreaming of their lovely BBQ later. The smell of the bait must have been too much for the puppy. She sped at top speed over to the startled man and before you could say ‘other people’s food tastes better’ she had eaten it all! Just like that! My friend raced after her, calling her back but the realisation that there was food about propelled the puppy forward. All the recent fabulous work we had done on recall forgotten as she hunted down another tasty meal.

Detecting the smell of fresh cheese sticks, the puppy continued on with her quest to eat! She launched herself onto a boat moored beside the riverbank. On it sat a granddad and his grandchild. Seeing the brown blur of a puppy jump onto his boat, he lifted his grandchild into his arms.... clearly he could not tell if it was a lion or a dog.... that meant that the cheese sticks he had bought were unattended! My exhausted friend was running and calling and the puppy was using her selective hearing! She gobbled the cheese sticks, the hungry little child began to cry and my embarrassed friend and shamed retriever dragged puppy off the boat. Then they proceeded to walk the ‘Walk of Shame’ back to my house, only the puppy had no shame only a rather full belly.  Back to the recall training I think!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A roller coaster called Akira

This weekend I went away to Alton Towers to celebrate an exciting event with some amazing friends. This theme park is like Lego Land on steroids and for 8 hours on Saturday I was strapped in and flung around like a rag doll. I have a croaky voice today from all the screaming! But all of that involuntary motion reminded me that I have my very own ‘roller coaster maker’ here at home.

You see ‘puppy’ weighs 35 kg now and is a bundle of muscle. I bet she could drag along a truck like they do in the World’s Strongest Man competitions! For reasons I will chat about another time, Akira needs to be walked on a lead at the moment. Once we are on open land the lead of choice is a retractable lead. For those who are new to the dog world as I am, this is long lead that extends and retracts into a small hand held device and allows your dog to move a few meters away from you to explore whilst allowing you to have control over them.

The story unfolds on a clear, blue sky sunshine day in London. A Saturday, which means that every man and his aunt are out on the common having a picnic and playing football. It is such a luxury to see the sun that I cannot wait to get out the door with Akira. She is so grateful to be out that she walks beautifully next to me all the way to the common. Here we amble around happily, watching the kids play and the grown ups fall asleep in the sun. Akira LOVES chasing a ball but she needs to stay on the lead and I am kicking the ball just in front of her so she can pick it up and bring it back to me. This seems to working well and she is enjoying a bit of a play. Again I drop the ball and... it bounces... it all happens in slow motion. I see the ball fly far from me, she also spots it and takes off. 35 kgs of muscle chase after the small blue circle. My brain begins to scream at me---- NOOOOO!--- but my body freezes. I hear the long line extend- ‘ZZZWEEEE’. At last my legs defrost and I begin to run but it is too late! ZZZWEEE and then click as Akira reaches the end of the lead. I try to run as fast as I can but my legs just cant move fast enough and I cling to the lead for dear life. Then, I launch into the air and fly for a few meters, landing on my stomach. My sunglasses fly from my face, the bag empties all over the grass as I  get dragged another meter and stop. I look up from the ground just in time to see Akria trot back over to me and drop the ball at my head.  Shucks, I hope nobody saw that!

Who needs to pay to go on a roller coaster when you have a huge dog?

Friday, 27 April 2012

Gin and dogs don't mix.

My evening walk with Akira was thoroughly amusing today. Walking along the Ham lands we came across a couple with 2 dogs .The couple however were a little worse for wear. Now I am not in the habit of judging a book by it’s cover. I am sure I looked a little nuts myself to be honest- a haze of red frizz surrounding my head and I displayed a 'ministry of funny walks' type of gait. The walk is not my fault though. I have new wellies and they eat my socks so when I walk my socks gradually slide down until they end up in a ball at my toes. Without knowing I do it really, I compensate for the 'sock slide' by sort of scrunching my toes and walking a bit like I have needles in the bottoms of my wellies...

Anyway, back to the couple. The clues that gave away their slight run in with the gin bottle were clear. They yelled ‘Hellosh’ over to me, waving their hands above their heads. I squinted to try and see if I knew them, I am sure I had not met them before. Then the ‘I am sho shorry, I am sho shorry’. At this point I had stopped and was just staring at them in a sort of perplexed way, trying to work out if they had done something terrible I needed to be mad about... but I couldn’t work it out. I noticed the man was holding the rather boisterous dog on the long line and that his partner was propping the man up. They were crab walking towards a group of trees and I just hoped that the dog would not notice the squirrels in these trees. Perhaps I should have shouted across to my new friends and warned them but I didn’t. (note to the couple: if you are reading this then ‘I am sho shorry’).  The big dog saw the squirrels and made a dash, the line went taut and the man was catapulted over to the trees. His ‘supportive’ partner clung on to him for dear life and so the couple practically flew towards the trees. At this point I thought I had better retreat but as I turned I heard the man yell over to me again ‘I am sho shorry!’. Please don’t be, you have brightened up my day!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Conversation with a dog

Coming downstairs in the morning and finding a shredded newspaper in the lounge:

Me: akira, what is this??

Akira looks around the room: What is what?

Me pointing at the newspaper: What is THIS?

Akira: Oh that? Do you like what I have done with the look of the room?

Me: No! I like seeing the floor and I also like reading the paper before it is shredded.

Akira, wagging her tail excitedly:  But do you like what I have done? I worked so hard on it?

Me: No! For goodness sake, I have told you over and over that paper in not for eating it is for reading!

Akira: Huh? Reading? I was going to make a paper mache cat to eat later, just for fun.

Me: Do you understand that paper mache is creating a new thing, not destroying it?

Akira: What?

Me: Look just stop shredding things ok?

Akira: Can you google ‘Making cat animals out of chewed up sunglasses’ for me please??

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The puppy and the toddler....

Recall - when you teach your puppy to come back to you when you call. I am on the green, being a responsible dog owner and I am training her how not to run away and get lost or run over.

A family walk along the tow path and onto the green. I watch in amusement as the toddler decides: I will not walk one inch further and sits down on the pathway. I suppress a giggle as the mother and father try to convince her to get up? 'NO!,' the toddler yells. Get back in the buggy? 'NO NO NO!!' Oh I remember those days, I think to myself smugly, but now the kids are older and run ahead of me anyway. Then the parents try to fool the toddler into voluntary movement by pretending to walk away.... they have but turned their backs and walked a few steps... and that is when I remember THE PUPPY!!! Oh bloody hell, I forgot for a minute that I owned a puppy and that I was supposed to be teaching her recall. And as if in slow motion I see her spotting the toddler sat all alone on the path. She stops, she tilts her head to the side and her tails starts to wag. I begin to run towards her, yelling her name and totally forget all the things I have been taught in puppy training - keep you tone of voice calm, only use the dog’s name once.... you know the things I mean. Puppy takes off and sprints full speed towards the toddler, the parents turn and stare in horror as a large, brown fluffy blur descends on their beautiful child, followed closely by a hysterical woman waving and shouting. The puppy reaches the toddler and leaps into the air...and knocks her over, pins her down on the floor and licks her repeatedly in the face. The parents and I arrive at the scene at the same time. I haul the puppy off the child and guess what? The toddler leaps up and jumps into the buggy. I am so happy we could help!

Monday, 9 April 2012

The problem with a stick

Interesting fact- the bigger your puppy will be one day the less they must walk when young. Now forgive me for being silly but that is just upside down if you ask me. But it seems that all things puppy are! So we decide to go to puppy training which happens to be a 20 minute walk away. Now don’t laugh at me ok? Promise? How am I meant to get her there and back if she is not allowed to walk that far? I had a bright idea!

 I dig out the baby buggy, dust it off and ‘tah dah’ the perfect puppy transportation device. Not really- she spends the entire trip trying to fling herself over the side to... yes you got it... to walk! Get some funny looks I tell you, but who can blame them? A woman pushing a buggy whilst frantically trying to keep an over excited large puppy inside. I consider strapping her in!

That is just the start of the humiliation of puppy training. It had to be the way didn’t it? Everyone else has small, cute and well behaved pups. We arrive with a giant puppy that has too much energy and a tendency to do the opposite of what has been asked (bit like kids I think). Again, we get a pack of information to read through- no warnings in this pack either. The following week they go around the room asking every owner what tricks their angelic puppies have learnt this week: ‘my puppy has learnt to roll over’ and ‘my puppy has learnt to go to the toilet in the garden’ (makes me cringe as I think of the explosions happening in my house).

Then it is my turn. I am so proud I could burst, ‘My puppy ran after a stick I threw and brought it back. Isn’t she clever?’ The entire room goes quiet, everyone stares at me in disbelief. ‘What? What have I done now?’ I go through events in my mind in a panic trying to work out what I did wrong this time and come up with nothing. ‘Ahem, did you not read the information in the pack you got last week?’ The panic has truly set in now! You are meant to actually read everything in the packs? Nobody said it was compulsory! I have been too busy cleaning up poo and wee to read! I am sleep deprived and haven’t had a proper meal in a week! So I lie, I am ashamed to admit it but it is self preservation that kicks in. ‘Yes, of course I did read the pack. Why?’ I ask innocently. Then the trainer pulls out the article entitled: the dangers of throwing sticks for dogs.

It dawns on me slowly: I am the bad mother in the group and people are feeling sorry for my puppy. Poor girl, hope she makes it to next week’s class without being impaled by a stick or being crushed by the wheels of a buggy!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Never pick up an exploding puppy- no matter what!

The thing is, I am not really a dog person. I know that this may change how some people feel about me but there it is. Awhile ago, whilst chatting to another dog walker, I made the fatal error of saying this. She was so mortified to hear this terrible news about me that she called another dog walker over- yes called her over and said:’ This lady has a dog and she doesn’t really even like dogs! Can you believe it?’ Well, that ended that ‘temporary dog walking friendship’ fast I tell you.

She should have given me time to explain. Uttering the word ‘no’ is difficult for me. I am easily swayed, please don’t tell the door to door sales people that! One Sunday afternoon, we had friends over for lunch and he works for the RSPCA. I vaguely overheard him telling my husband about a litter of puppies they had rescued. I ignored the conversation, said husband never spoke of getting a puppy before so we were safe. Mistake number 1! (of many mistakes I might add)

Puppies use unfair tactics! They are small and fluffy. They bound up to you and jump on your lap, they look at you as if you are the best human being they have ever ever met! They smell so scrumptious! Then the next thing you know you have signed the adoption papers and you take your new best friend home along with a folder full of advice leaflets! Those leaflets should come with warnings I tell you!!!

That is when the problems emerged.......

Have you ever looked after a baby? They cry when left alone- so do puppies, babies poo loads- so do puppies but the difference is that babies WEAR NAPPIES!!!!! Ha! I am going to invent a nappy for puppies, as soon as I have time off from all this cleaning!!! So, the advice I get is to set my alarm throughout the night to get out of my nice warm bed and take puppy out for a wee and poo. 2 am the beeping wakes me, I drag myself out of bed, put on my white night gown (I think you can see where this is going) and walk half asleep down the stairs. She wags her little tail at me- ‘thank you thank you’ she seems to say, ‘I am desperate!’ We amble sleepily over to the back door when.... her bum explodes! Yes is explodes poo all over the floor. I scream loudly and then do one of the dumbest things I have ever done- I pick her up and run for the door! So then the explosion is spread all over the floor and my white night gown. I get her out the door, onto the grass and she looks at me- ‘I don’t need to go anymore, thank you’ and proceeds to walk back inside and get back into her bed. Moral of the story- never pick up an exploding puppy, no matter what!!