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Here are some of the previous articles in the Dog Blog.
 

Monday 18th December 06 - Are you ready for Christmas?

If anyone else asks me that I shall throttle them.  I am currently waiting for Dick the Gas to come and rescue us from our cooking dilemma (I hope).  This is all very fine and good but Dick the Gas is so laid back he's almost horizontal.  "I'll be there in a minute," is like manyana only it's not so urgent.  If it gets done at all I'll be eternally grateful but I'll probably be on Prozac as well. 
Yesterday a new disaster struck.  We had both forgotten that the table we drag out once a year is no longer serviceable.  Oh my God!  Even if we have a Christmas dinner we will have nowhere to eat it.  Please let Argos stock something that we can walk in and buy and that will serve as our Christmas table for our possibly home-cooked Christmas dinner.  It's our fault for being slobs of course.  The rest of the year we eat off plates on our laps in front of the telly.
So far Jamie has the biggest pile of Christmas presents and I'm not quite sure how it's worked out this way.  He also gets his new bed tomorrow and of course he'll need a nice new blanket.  That dog's in clover.   I can see now why the man in the pet shop said he was coming back as my dog in his next life.  I just wish I could bypass Christmas and go straight on to Easter.  There's a two day show at our favourite showground and graded classes for grades 1,2 and 3.  Whoopee!  We can't wait.
 

Friday 15th December - Christmas is coming and we're a disaster area

I guess this serves me right for being idle.  I knew the cooker wasn't working properly ages ago so I waited until it was almost too late and then I bought one off the internet.  It's a bottled gas jobbie and it looks ever so clean.  Bernie said "I'll install it when it arrives" so I thought oh goody we'll be able to cook Christmas dinner.  Ahem.  The said cooker duly arrived and Bernie said "Ooops.  It has to be installed by a proper gas fitter."   So I rang the gas fitter and he couldn't come before Christmas.  I rang the next gas fitter and he couldn't come before Christmas.  In the end I rang all the gas fitters in the book and guess what?  None of them could come before Christmas.  The man of my dreams is now no longer tall dark and handsome or Mark Ramprakash, no, the man of my dreams is now anyone who can wield the necessary tools install a gas cooker.  I will fall at his his feet and worship him forever if only he can get the wretched thing going. 

So far the only one who's going to get a  Christmas present is Jamie.  Oh lucky, lucky dog.  I sat down on Wednesday afternoon to do my Christmas shopping from Argos.  Brilliant this is.  I was going to reserve everything online and then pick up all the Christmas presents in one fell swoop.  I should have known when the first item was out of stock that it wasn't going to be this easy.  Suffice to say that the only item in stock was a nice new dog bed that costs 26.99 and will keep Jamie warm and comfy for the rest of the winter.  Oh blow, blow, blow.  I've now got to get off my backside and do some shopping or Jamie will be the only one who gets a present this year!
Merry Christmas everyone.
 

Monday 4th December - Don't try this at home

Checking up on three of the horses. Left to right:  Me, Mecca, Lady, Chancer, Bernie.

The other day something reminded me of some sheepdogs I used to know.  This was years ago when we used to live on a farm. One day I decided to do something I'd never done before.  I don't know why I was stupid enough to think that the dogs would round up the horses, but anyway, I thought I'd have a go.  There was an ulterior motive involved.  The field the horses were in was very muddy round the gate and if I could get the dogs to fetch the horses it might save me losing my wellies in the mud. 

There were five horses in altogether and when I sent the three dogs to round them up they were grazing peacefully in the far corner of the field.  (Murphy's Law number 3581089:  No matter which gate you use, horses that need to be brought in will always be at the furthest point from that gate.)  I waited patiently by the gate and presently a collection of cats and one or two pet dogs came to watch the show. 

The dogs had got within about 20 yards of the horses when there was a sudden raising of five heads.  There was a bit of snorting and head shaking and this was quickly followed by a sort of collective, "Wey hey.  This looks like fun."  In perfect unison the horses began to walk and trot and then canter towards the dogs, the sheepdogs did a simultaneous skid-halt in the mud and then they turned tail and ran. 

By this time I was through the gate and into the field with my bucket and halters but it was a pathetic attempt to stop the charge.  One by one the three dogs and the five horses shot past me and out through the gate.  I hurried after them and the pet dogs and the collection of cats all came running after me in case I dropped any food or did something interesting.

It just so happened that as the crazy procession rounded a corner and headed for the stables the farmer drew up in his Land Rover.  His face was a picture as we belted past him.  I'd never seen him speechless before.

  "Just bringing the horses in," I shouted as the three sheepdogs, five horses, me, various pet dogs, and the collection of cats hurtled past.

All was well in the end.  An exceptionally greedy horse was in the lead and knowing that his dinner was served he went belting into his stable.  The others all milled around until they'd been sorted out and the dogs all came and sat in a semi circle and begged for horse nuts.  I don't know what happened to the cats.  They're independent animals at the best of times and they don't like horse nuts.

Helen Davies comments:
So amusing and easy to readI have just read your account of the horses being 'brought in'. I am still smiling at your account of it. What an easy living person you are, if ever you were to write a book, I for one would be happy to buy it. I can even smell the country-side and hear the sounds, as you write it.

 

Monday 20th November - So what's going to happen next year then?

According to the folks in Cornwall everyone's waiting to see how the new class structures pan out next year.  Our first outdoor show is in April on Good Friday and Easter Saturday.  Grades one to three in the large dogs section have agility and jumping on both days and the classes are graded.  That means there will be prizes for the best in each of the grades.  The other grades for large dogs will come into one or the other of the combined classes, grades 4 and 5 are combined and grades 6 and 7 are combined.  That's like the old intermediate and senior classes.  The small and medium dogs have combined classes for grades 1 to 4 and grades 5 to 7.
If this is going to be typical of the schedules for the first season then it's good news for the former elementary dogs and for the graduate novices.  We haven't had and elementary classes in Cornwall since 2005  so it's good to see that all the beginners only have to jump against other beginners in their grade. 
Mind you, if our performance at the match yesterday was anything to go by we'll need to forget agility and take up obedience.  For some reason all the dogs were highly excited and Jamie managed a first.  He's never jumped off the dogwalk and the A frame before.  At least we went clear in the jumping. It was a nice steady clear as he was a bit tired after spending his lunchtime tearing round and round the exercise field with a variety of dogs. 

The Kernow K9 Easter Show is to be held at the Royal Cornwall Showground at Wadebridge on Friday 6th April and Saturday 7th April 2007.  The last time I looked the show was listed on the Agility Eye site but the schedule wasn't available. 
 

Sunday 5th November - It feels like spring

I have to confess that today's blog is an excuse to put some photos on the site.  We've been to the beach and it was so lovely and warm it was like spring.  Jamie loves to get wet and he loves playing with all the other dogs on the beach.  I managed to avoid the trick he pulled on New Year's Day when he pushed me into the sea.

Let's get nice and wet shall we?

Then we'll have a nice shake all over everyone.

 

Phoebe likes it too.

Oh what a dirty face!

Friday 27th October - Aaagh!!!  Not Christmas already?

Have you done all your Christmas shopping yet?  No, neither have I.  I had no intention of doing anything before 1st December but today Bernie was wandering around Tesco and I was waiting for him by the doggie Christmas bits.  Before I knew it I was squeezing the squeakers and wondering what Jamie would prefer, a nice red Santa perhaps or a funny snowman?  The trouble was they all went "eee eee" and I think Jamie really likes things that go "er er."  Then I looked at the stockings.  One had a small ball that could choke a dog Jamie's size  and the others had  "eee eee" squeakers.  I poked and prodded and squeaked some more.  After a while several children began to look interested and tried to drag their mothers across to join in.  So there I was I was happily squeaking away when all at once a total stranger asked me for help with choosing an air freshener.  Ah ha!  I must look like a Tesco's shelf filling lady who'd been sent to check the dog toys.  As I walked across it did occur to me that it might be a cunning plan to stop the dreadful squeaking coming from the dog section.
  "I would definitely choose that one," I said and I pointed to a flowery plug-in thing. 
  "Oh thank you ," she said.  I thought she was going to give me a kiss so I legged it.
I hope it's OK.  These things tend to make me go all allergic and I've no idea what I'm talking about.
Then I remembered we'd bought some ice cream and if we didn't get it home soon it would melt all over the shopping.  I left the Christmas goodies for another day.  It's only October for goodness sake.
 

Tuesday 16th October - Is it a boy or a girl?

Something on the Canine Forum this week has just reminded me of a funny incident that happened a fewyears ago.  We were visiting friends when they told us that their little girl's hamster had died of old age.   Christina was very upset and as her birthday was coming up I asked her parents if I could buy her another one.  They readily agreed and on the day of the birthday I went along to the pet shop and chose a beautiful white and brown and black hamster. 

  "Is it a boy or girl?" I asked Mr Field, the pet shop owner.
  "It's definitely a boy," he said.  "They're in demand at the moment and the females are all being kept back for breeding."
I purchased the hamster and bore it triumphantly back to our friend's house.  Christina was delighted and she duly christened the hamster Arthur.  You can probably guess what's coming next and you're right.
A few days later Christina's dad came visiting.

  "You know that hamster you bought?"
  "Ye-es,"
  "They did say it was a boy didn't they?"
  "Ye-es.  They keep the females back for breeding.  They said so."
  "Well you'll never guess what.  It's had eight babies!"

I must say I had to giggle.  It's not often a birthday present multiplies like that. 

The babies were delightful and every one of them survived.  When they were old enough Mr Field bought them all for his pet shop.  I would have loved to have had one myself as they were a total entertainment system for our Cavalier Collie cross.  She could spend a good part of an evening just watching the hamsters and although she never looked like attacking them I didn't quite trust her.  If she'd had her own hamster the temptation would have been just too great.   

Pictured here is A complete entertainment system for a dog.   Thanks to Dawn Turner's Hammie from morguefile
 

Friday 6th October - What motivates your dog?

This week we've been up to Surrey and very interesting it was too.   The local recreation ground is ideal for exercising dogs and at any one time you can expect to see dogs of all shapes and sizes doing their own thing.  One day for instance there were two German shepherds practising for an obedience competition, an agility dog getting some exercise, five little cavaliers that enter breed classes and loads and loads of companion dogs all socialising with each other.   What I was particularly interested in though was what motivated the dogs to do what they were doing.   In the photo Jamie is getting to know some of the dogs on the recreation ground.  These dogs all stayed close to their owners, and although they came across to greet Jamie they never went far from the rest of their pack.  The same couldn't be said for some of the dogs we met.

One evening I found myself the centre of attention for a standard poodle and two Gordon setters.  They all had their noses firmly attached to my pocket and no matter what their owners did they refused to leave my side.  After we'd got chatting the owners said how surprised they were to see a dog as obedient as Jamie and they wanted to know how to train their dogs to walk to heel.  (I didn't tell them I was just as surprised by Jamie's sudden bout of obedience.)   Before long I was giving an impromptu training class and showing the owners how their dogs would walk perfectly to heel and sit as long as there was something in it for them.  In this case it was lovely smelly dog treats that were proving irresistible to the dogs.  The owners were delighted to see that their dogs could behave well and that all it took was a few treats.

The following day I was wandering across the recreation ground when suddenly we were joined by a brown mongrel.  The dog was staring up at me with a look of adoration and he appeared to have completely forgotten about his owner.  This was hardly surprising since the owner was chatting away to friends and wandering further and further away without once looking to see what the dog was up to.  The object of this dog's desire was a squeaky toy and toys were clearly something of an obsession.  Never once did the eyes leave the toy and I had the impression that the dog would have done anything for me just to get hold of the toy.  The dog's owner was some considerable distance away when he finally realised what was going on.  By now Bernie was complaining that we would have to take the dog back to its owner and this meant walking a very long way.  It was my fault for holding a toy.   As it happened we didn't have to walk anywhere.  I stuffed the toy up my jumper and turned my back on the dog.  I folded my arms and waited and as soon as I became less interesting the dog took off to find its owner.  I'd have loved to have done some training with that dog and a few toys. 

It always helps to know what gets a dog going and Jamie's motivation at all times is food, food and more food.  I often wish it was toys or just a simple desire to please but there we are.  Jamie's a dog and dogs always need to get something out of what they're doing.

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