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Thursday 6th September

Just so that we know later, when everyone says it rained every day in the summer of 2012, the sun shone on September 6th!




Monday 3rd September-The end is nigh

We can't quite believe the end of the outdoor season is upon us.  For us it finishes on 9th September with our last outdoor show at Stithians and run by Carn Brea Agility Club.

So how have you done?  We've made a bit of progress this year and have come home several times proudly bearing rosies.  Last week we had three out of four clear rounds at the WestCATS show.  Two of the runs were pay on the day classes and all the profit went to the children's hospice in Cornwall. 

Above:  Sasha in the grade 1 to 3 jumping at WestCATS.

Now we're looking forward to the winter fun with matches and limited shows and our annual Christmas party where all the dogs and humans enjoy fun, games and competition for a whole day, by then we'll be thinking about our entries for the Easter show.....oh come on!  It's only September.




Saturday 11th August - Our first novice steeplechase

OK so I spent the week before the show training Sasha in the art of going into the tunnel first time every time.  No matter where I am on the course just go into the tunnel when I say, "Tunnel......"  Then this happened. 

You can understand her confusion.  Being an intelligent sort of a dog the best idea was to come back and check.  When we went the right way we did the rest of the course with just a pole down.

Alright it wasn't quite smooth as that.  With a long run round three sides of the ring to finish the judge ended up asking me if I'd like oxygen and I asked for new legs please.


Friday 10th August -  A four day UKA show and we go novice.

Look!  Sunshine!  We might not see it again this year so we're making the most of it at a four day UKA show near Newquay in Cornwall.  Jamie says it's much too hot and he'd rather see snow but Sasha's revelling in the heat. 

She barked all the way round the beginner's steeplechase and she was so excited. I half expected them to change their minds about the clear round but when the results came out we'd been placed third.  Hey ho that puts us up a grade into the novice steeplechase class.   What fun we have in store for us tomorrow.  I don't think the novice judges will let you get away with anything Sasha, you've been a bit spoilt in beginners.


Sunday 22nd July - The gruesome twosome and their continuing adventures at Pencarrow House

At last the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the lone carrot in the vegetable garden was busy shrivelling in the unexpected heat.  What better idea than to take the gruesome twosome for a little ride out to Pencarrow House?
  "They can come and sit in the tea gardens I said.  We can find a nice shady spot for them under a tree."

We found a wonderful spot to park, right under the walnut tree in the car park where the car would stay nice and cool while we all went for a walk.  The lady in the gift shop came out to say hello and for once the dogs were impeccably behaved as she peered into their den in the back of the car. 

"Isn't it lovely in there?" she said, "they've got all that room to move about in."
"Yes, wonderful, "we replied," as we tried to untangle our cramped limbs from the limited space in the front of the car.  "They love it." 

The dogs were quiet and it was that ominous quiet when they're just that bit too good and you know they're hatching something.  However, we got them out of the car and trooped off round the gardens and then we got to the lake. 

"Shall we walk round it?" I said and Jamie sat down.

"I don't walk to walk round it, I want to get in it!"

"You can't," I said.

"Why not?"

"Because I said so."

"But why?"

"Because if you go in there it's deep and you won't be able to get out again."

"Yes I can."


"You can get in the water and lift me out."

You can't reason with dogs.  We had a shorter walk.  It was too hot for anything else, and it looked like it was going to pass without incident.  Sasha nearly lost her new toy in the field but it was eventually retrieved, and off we went right down to the bottom gate by the labyrinth. Both dogs had been wonderfully well behaved.  "Please let it last," I prayed, but it wasn't to be.  I think it was me who spotted it first. 

I was just telling Jamie it wasn't much further to go and there was a nice drink waiting for him in the car when the most appalling smell wafted back to us on the breeze. 
"What the hell's that?" I asked and then I spotted our dear little Sasha having a nice roll. As she stood up the full force of the smell hit us.  I don't know if it was Eau de Charolais or Eau de Fresian but whatever it was it stank. 

It wouldn't have been quite so bad if there hadn't been so much of it.  Not content with a brief roll in little spot of cow pooh Sasha had dived right into the middle of the biggest cow pat in the world and it was literally dripping from her front and running all down her legs.  All thoughts of tea in the garden with two nicely behaved dogs vanished immediately. 

I can assure you now that a cold tap and a roll of kitchen towel doesn't remove Eau de Charolais or Eau de Fresian.  In fact it doesn't remove much at all and what you end up with is a dog dripping watery cow pooh. We dined alone in the tea gardens while the dogs sat in the car with a bowl of water and a Bonio.  Oh well, at least we hadn't bumped into Lady Molesworth St Aubyn...... 



"Hello," came a cheery voice. 

Lady Molesworth St Aubyn has never yet seen us with two well behaved dogs and all of us looking clean and tidy and fit for visiting a stately home.  She probably wouldn't recognise us if she did.  As she stopped to speak to us I just knew that there was no way I could cover up the cow pooh that decorated my T shirt.  All I could do was brazen it out and say what lovely weather it was whilst pretending that everything was wonderful at Pencarrow.  

And so our visit was complete.  A disgusting dog stank out the car park and we looked like we something rotten that had been dug out of the garden.  It was definitely time to go home.  Nevertheless I couldn't help smiling at the wording on the front of my T shirt as we said goodbye to Pencarrow.

"Qui me amat, amet et canem meum"

 Love me love my dog! 

Pencarrow house is a wonderful stately home and gardens where they love dogs.  It's in a place called Washaway near Bodmin in Cornwall.

Pencarrow House and Gardens website.


Sunday 10th June - Raffles and Tombolas

Last weekend it was the Diamond Jubilee and we had a Big Lunch in our village.  Everyone had worked hard, putting up bunting and getting the centre ready for the event.  Outside there was a barbecue and pony rides for the children and inside there was a mountain of food, a tombola and a raffle. 

I don't know about you but whenever I see raffles and tombolas I have to have a go.  It's like some primal instinct deep within.  There's the little book of tickets and there's me with a pound in my pocket just waiting to put it into the pot in exchange for a strip of five tickets. 

If it's a tombola it's even more exciting.  You get to find out straight away if you've won and you can carry your prize away in triumph. 


And so it was that I handed my 1 over for five tombola tickets and picked them out of the bucket one by one.  The first four were useless.  They didn't end in a five or zero and were non winners.  Then I picked out the fifth  and yippee!!!!  It was number 250!  I'd won!  It took a little while to find the prize amongst the many donations and then I homed in on it.  A tub of something.  Something from Boots.  Face cream?  Expensive body lotion?  Ah no.  As I looked more closely at the small print on the side of the tub I was informed that it was meant to be used on ingrowing toenails!




Ingrowing TOENAILS!  I ask you.  Who on earth put that in?  I hurriedly put the tub and the ticket back so that someone else could win it.  Unfortunately this meant that neither of us could have another go.  It's one of those things.  As sure as eggs is eggs if I'd bought more tickets I would have come up with the wretched tub of stuff for ingrowing toenails.

I wonder how many raffle prizes I've put back over the years. 

"Oh don't worry.  Let someone else have a go."  "Here, put this in the raffle for next time."  "I've got lots of clocks, soap, toiletries....." the list is endless. 

And yet still I buy the tickets.  In the picture on the right I was delighted to win a raffle prize...until I looked in the bag.  At least I was able to swap it for a big bottle of booze. 

It has taught me one thing though.  If I buy prizes to donate to raffles I try to choose something that can be eaten by dogs or humans or that can be given away to be eaten by dogs or humans.  It may be some bags of dog treats, or boxes of biscuits or some chocolates for the humans. 



Many thanks to everyone who has bought something through the Doggie Shop.  Every time we have a dog event some of the profits from the site go towards raffle prizes. I'm delighted to report that at the recent Carn Brea show Canine Crusaders made over 300 during the day and they took home a huge pile of food and goodies for the dogs that had all been donated by people at the show.  No matter what you win or don't win a good raffle is a wonderful money spinner for charities.  Long may they prosper.


Tuesday 17th April - The world according to Sasha  - "I'm gravely ill."

There we were up on Caerloggas Downs yesterday when Sasha came racing back to us with blood on her leg.  She had a small cut and a graze and we had no idea how she'd done it.

When we got home I cleaned it with boiled water and kept an eye on it during the day but Sasha wouldn't  leave it alone. 

"I'm injured and you don't care!"  So out came the first aid box and the dressings and scissors and surgical tape and soon the wound was neatly covered.  That did it!

"Help, I'm dying and YOU STILL DON'T CARE."

"Don't be such a baby Sasha.  It's only a little cut."

"I'm ill I tell you."

"Shall I get the vet?"

"No, don't do that.  Just get me a big piece of cheese and feed it to me while I lie here."

It's odd how a piece of cheese can make things better all of a sudden.


The next day I decided to keep the wound covered and we went through the same performance except Sasha wanted a bigger piece of cheese this time. 

You know some people might be fooled by their dog's mournful eyes, especially when they produce the, "I'm sick," look.  What they can't do is to keep it up. 

Chasing cats and barking at postmen does not lead me to believe that Sasha's gravely ill.  Sorry Sasha, business as usual tomorrow and the cheese is staying in the fridge until I want to eat it.



Friday 13th April - Agility Bits goes to infinity

A couple of weeks ago we decided to try out the new super fast broadband and so we signed up for the BT Infinity package.  BT said they would send an engineer to install the new equipment and asked if there was anything they should know such as, "Please use the back door."  I duly typed into the box, "In case of allergy we have two dogs."


The day came for the BT engineer to do his work and we waited and waited and waited.  Then the phone rang.  It was the engineer.  He was lost in the village, please could we help him to find us.  Ahem.  The village has one long road, how could anyone get lost? but Bernie told him to find the phone box and then look across the road to the pink house and that's ours.  Time passed and still no man came a knocking on the door so I went to look for him. 

I asked a neighbour if he'd seen a lost engineer but no, he was nowhere to be found.  Then suddenly a big white van came into view and lo and behold, there was our man. 

"Just go round the corner and stop outside the pink house,"  I said and he looked puzzled.  "The house that's painted pink, it's the only one that's pink, you can't miss it."  Still he looked puzzled and then I realised.  He was a foreign gentleman and he didn't understand the word pink.  Stay with me, it gets better.   

Before this very nice man came into the house I asked him if he was alright with dogs. 

"Oh no."  He looked horrified, "I'm allergic, my eyes swell and I sneeze."  (His English wasn't that bad.  Perhaps I should have explained pink to him.)   

"But I told BT we had two dogs in case in case anyone was allergic."  He laughed. 
The only thing we could do was to vacuum for the second time that day and take the dogs outside.  Jamie and Sasha were disgusted.

"We won't bite him."

"I know, but he's allergic to dogs."

Ohh.  Has he got any sandwiches?"

"I don't know, I didn't ask."

"We won't bite him, honestly, just let us go and see if he's got sandwiches.  Of course we might have to kill him if he won't give us any sandwiches."


"I'm sorry but you can't see him, he'll start sneezing."

"But that's not fair."

"I know it's not fair.  You'll just have to complain to BT."

And so it went on for the next hour while I entertained two disgruntled dogs in the garden and the engineer played with our phone lines and computers.  At one point he asked where I'd like the telephone socket so I showed him exactly where it should go. 

At last it was all finished, we were superfast and it was working.  Off went the engineer and in came the dogs and then I looked for the telephone socket and I couldn't find it!  Oh no!  He might have been a very nice foreign gentleman but in the end he turned out to be just like every other man on this planet.  He'd put the telephone socket somewhere under the desk where I would have to bend to reach it and nowhere near the place I said I'd like it. 

At least he left the old BT hub behind. 

"Here," he said, "you can take it apart and see how it works if you like."

Hmmm.  Does our house really look like the sort of house where you take things apart to see how they work?  Well, actually, now you come to mention it...


Monday 16th January - New agility proposals

Well that's it.  Sasha and Jamie have read the stuff that's being discussed at the Kennel Club Agility Liaison Council meeting and they've decided to reject it.  Sasha was quick to point out the flaw in the bit about making the up contact longer on the dog walk. 

 "They've made a mistake.  I need at least a foot longer on the down contact, not the up one.  I'm going to write and tell them."

Here's Sasha in training demonstrating how brilliant she would be on short courses and with different contacts.

...and then there's the rubber contacts.  According to Sasha dogs should be given a choice.  (Here we go!).  Those that prefer wooden or other contact equipment should go first and then they should swap the equipment over for those that like rubber contacts. 

  "See.  I told you.  All problems solved in one go."

As for jump heights, Jamie is now asking for poles on the ground for the senior citizens. 

  "The course should consist of six obstacles and they should all be easy with no time limit."

Yes Jamie.  We'll see what we can do at our next show. 

At this point I stopped them.  I think they've given the Council enough to think about already.

Tuesday 27th December - Christmas day and the dogs love it

Jamie and Sasha can't wait for Christmas day to come round and when it does they take full advantage of their humans.  It starts with opening presents, a toy each and lots of festive treats and smelly things to eat. 

Then there's the turkey.

From the moment it comes out of the fridge to the time it ends up on the table the dogs watch the progress of the turkey.  They wait hopefully while its stuffed and they watch it going into the oven.  They come running every time it's basted.  "Is it ready yet?"

At last the moment comes when it's ready to be carved and two dogs are glued closely to their human, one on either side. They know they're going to get lucky.  Then, when dinner is finished they have a bit of turkey each and some vegetables and gravy in their bowls and within about two seconds it's gone.  Of course they watch carefully where we put the remains and they keep an eye on it until it goes into the fridge.  For the next few days the turkey will have its own personal attendants who will check on its welfare every time the fridge door is opened.

(We weren't quick enough to get  a photo both dogs eating.  It doesn't last that long!)

This year we had Christmas crackers for the dogs as well as everything else.  Inside there were doggie treats and silly jokes.  Jamie loved the one about Sasha.


What's the difference between Sasha and an umbrella?
You can shut an umbrella up.

Bernie's favourite was

Why don't people like working in a tiddly wink factory?
because it's counter productive.

Me and Sasha both like this one though.

A French Cat, Un Deux Trois, and an English cat, One Two Three, went for a swimming race round a lake. Who won?
One Two Thee, because Un Deux Trois Quatre Cinque.


Eventually it became too much for Sasha.

Merry Christmas one and all.

Just a PS.  There are a lot of warnings on the internet about feeding turkey to dogs.  There is some truth in this.  If you have a dog that only eats dog food then a sudden change of diet at Christmas time can cause digestive upsets and diarrhoea.  Jamie and Sasha always have a certain amount of table scraps added to their meals and they are used to a wide variety of foods.  I have fed turkey and other scraps to dogs for 58 years without any problems but if your dog has a sensitive tummy it can react.  Please don't do likewise if you are at all unsure. 


Saturday 29th October - Sasha tells a story

It was a superb morning, clear blue sky and we were going to Pencarrow House for a last walk round the gardens before they shut for the winter.  Both dogs seemed very excited but Sasha has asked if she can tell you about it in her own words so I've reluctantly agreed.  Here's her version.

"It was a great morning, just right for a show.  We both thought it was where we were going. The humans were making tea and taking food.  I made sure they packed food for us as well and plenty of water.

We barked with joy on the road and the humans kept joining in.  "SHUT UP" they cried in excited voices so we barked louder and longer.  They were on the right road for the horse place that's indoors but then they went straight past.  Hells bells.  It must be an outdoor show, and sure enough they went in the direction of the showground. 

We thought we'd better bark some more to give them some encouragement and once again they joined in and this time it was even louder.  "FOR HEAVENS SAKE SHUT UP."  We barked even louder to help them along but it didn't work.  To our dismay they turned off the road to the big house where we go sometimes.  It's OK but we're not allowed to say hello to all the visitors.  The humans say it's because we're permanently wet and dirty and the visitors won't like it but we know better. 

We got out of the car and Jamie said he wanted a poo.  he likes pooing does Jamie.  I told him to wait so he did.  He waited until we'd gone past the only poo bin and we were walking across and immaculate lawn before he did his poo.  Mother cleared it up and we had to wait while she went all the way back to the bin.  Honestly, she could have carried it or just left it where it was.

We had a lovely walk.  We went straight into some water and then Jamie found a deeper bit where there was mud as well.

We both wanted to go in where there was a waterfall but the humans wouldn't let us.

Later, we walked across a field and I found a great cow pat.  Really stinky and slimy.  The humans wouldn't let us roll in it and they wouldn't let us eat it either.  They are spoilsports sometimes.

When we got back to the car the humans made us get in it and stay there. This was just our luck! The humans didn't know the cafe was open they said and we weren't allowed inside so we had to sit in the car and wait for them.  It was alright though.  There were some  workmen to bark at and we got a Bonio each and a gravy bone.  I like gravy bones.

In the afternoon we managed to bully the humans into getting our gym ball out.  We mucked about with it in the garden.  My mother is a bit doo lally though.  She gets all excited when I push it along with my nose and then she gives me sweeties.  Jamie doesn't know how to do this.  He hasn't worked it out so he just barks and barks and barks.  it's alright though because the humans join in again.  "SHUT UP!"


Friday 7th October - An Example of Brilliant Training

Both dogs know that a neighbour has walked down here and they're hoping to catch him up so that they can mug him for biscuits.

Unfortunately for the dogs Bill was well ahead of us and we didn't see him at all. 

And then we got back to the car.....Pretty good training on the dogs' part I'd say.


Wednesday 7th September - The end of the outdoor season is nigh but has Sasha overcome her fears?

I can't believe we're nearly at the end of the outdoor season.  Just one more show to go on Sunday and that's it.  I don't know about you but we've had varying degrees of success this summer.  The biggest disappointment is that Sasha has been too scared to compete in the agility ring.  Something frightened her on the contact equipment last year and that was it. No more agility.

Right: Sasha starts to go on the dog walk in the ring.  her tail is down and she isn't quite sure about it. 


Below: Moments later she dashes out of the ring and nothing will tempt her back again. Notice the anxious lip licking. Judge Angie is totally sympathetic. We'd left Sasha until last so that there would be nothing to distract her. 

I'm surprised at the number of people who have sympathised saying their dogs had problems but had overcome them.  One became scared of weaves and another refused to go into a ring with judge in it.  Short of asking the judge to dress up as another dog  there isn't much you can do about it except persevere.  So many people have these crises with their dogs and they understand completely when it happens to someone else.   It means such a lot to us to see our dogs enjoying themselves that when things go wrong it can make you feel very upset indeed. 

Nevertheless, people do get their dogs to overcome their fears and I shall with Sasha.  I have spent hours and hours patiently training Sasha on the contacts and fingers crossed she's starting to enjoy herself.  This weekend we shall find out if the training has paid off or if we need to put more work in.  Wish us luck.

Below:  A much more confident Sasha runs onto the dog walk and A-frame in the training class.  She was the only one to get the exercise right first time and she got her contacts.


Thursday 1st July - More silent handling

I was reminded recently of the silent handling classes we've done and I had a look at Sasha's latest effort.  It was at a match earlier this year and we so nearly got our fast clear.  No-one could quite see what went wrong at the end but my goodness she's so responsive when I stop speaking and get on with it.  It's a good reminder halfway through the summer season to keep the lips zipped and get on with the running instead.

Sunday 26th June - I want to bark, the down side of a caravan holiday

Both of our dogs love going on holiday and they especially love staying in the forest in the Blackdown Hills, Devon.  This time we rented a caravan and it was right beside the forest.  Interesting sights and smells abound and Jamie loved looking out for rabbits and deer.   The down side of being in a caravan is that there are other caravans nearby and the other holidaymakers don't always want to listen to Sasha barking.  This doesn't always go down very well with Sasha......

I want to bark...

Just a little bit of barking?
It's not fair!  Another dog's barking.
Well how about some quiet barks?

Eventually............."For crying out loud girl, just do it!"

Tuesday 31st May - Jamie's recovering from his op

The boy hasn't thought much of the goings on over the last eleven days. 
"First you leave me with a lot of savages, then I come home and I'm not allowed to go upstairs to bed.  Then I'm not allowed to roll or go for nice walks and what's worse, you keep taking me back to the savages to have things stuck in me."

You just can't explain to a dog that it's for their own good.  Poor Jamie had a very big wound on his side and in spite of trying keep him quiet it was impossible to stop him from pacing around.  He's had the wound drained twice now due a build up of fluid.  

He's such a good boy and he's wowed the vets with his appealing eyes.  He knows where there's food to be scrounged.  For a dog that "Might bite and needs a muzzle," he's done exceptionally well so far.  The nurses made a big fuss of him and on his first visit back to the surgery he had not one, but two vets waiting on his every need. 

Sasha hasn't thought much of this either. 
"Jamie gets all the attention and he can't even play with me and what about our walks on the moor?"
On Saturday Jamie came to watch the training class and he came out of the car to say hello to all his friends.  One by one the dogs came up and sniffed his wound.
"What's happened to you mate?  Do you want to play?"

It's very hard on a dog when they have an operation and it's very hard on their humans as well. We try not to worry and people tell us not to worry but we're all nervous wrecks when we leave our dogs at the surgery.  It's what you do when you have dogs.  

In the pics above Sasha stays near Jamie after his op, and Jamie shows off his operation.  

Wednesday 18th May - Jamie's Op

Jamie's lump has got to a size where it can't be ignored any longer.  Last year the vet said it was all OK, had plenty of room to grow etc. etc.  Earlier this year a locum vet wasn't keen to operate on an old dog.  He was afraid he'd kill him and we didn't want that!  Then last week our regular vet said he would be much better off without the dreadful lump. 

This isn't cosmetic.  The lump has got so big it's weighing him down and the poor boy is having a job to get around.  It's going to cost a fair bit but hey ho, that's part of owning dogs.  Thank goodness he's a dog and he has no idea of what's to come.  The vet assured us that he's low risk for anaesthetic and will do blood tests before they put him out.  This is the hard part...waiting for it to happen. 

Tuesday 5th April - Chased by pooh

There we were just setting off for a walk when Jamie paused for a pooh.  It just so happened that we were going down a steep slope, and when you're a dog you don't think too much about it, you just stop and squat and Bob's your uncle.  Having done the business satisfactorily Jamie wandered on but what he didn't notice was that the pooh had started to roll.  Once it had started of course it gathered momentum on the slope until it was rolling just fast enough to overtake Jamie as he reached the bottom of the slope.  The look on his face was a picture.  "Where the hell did that come from?"   Cartoonist Carol Seymour couldn't resist capturing the moment....

Wednesday 9th February - Are you being served?


I'm not sure exactly when we became Jamie's butler and lady in waiting but at some stage our roles appear to have changed.    Yes, I know he's an old dog and he's retired and he should take it easy but that shouldn't stop him from walking to the water bowl all by himself and having a drink.  I mean how many able bodied dogs sit there like Lord Muck and have a water bowl brought to them? 


     "And will you be having Highland Spring or tap water today sir?"
     "I think the tap, and would you fetch it in the blue bowl my good man."
     "Certainly sir.  Will there be anything else?"
     "Yes, can you remove this annoying female and make her sit somewhere else. "
     "With pleasure sir."

We haven't quite got to the stage of typing out a menu and a water list but I fear that won't be long in coming.  Unfortunately it's not just the water.

Last night we were tired and the dogs went outside early and this meant that they didn't do anything much in the garden before bedtime.  Because we were early His Lordship worked out the number of hours between his lady in waiting fetching his supper and the time when he thought his butler or his lady in waiting should fetch his breakfast and his water bowl.....oh for heavens sake, I mean ten to five in the morning and he's barking for his b****y breakfast and water.   It's no good.  We have neighbours with a baby and we can't leave a barking dog downstairs.

I guess the butler and the lady in waiting will just have to get on with it.   Perhaps we can add some more phrases to our repertoire.

  "You barked sir?" "Is the Bonio to your liking sir?"  Just don't let Sasha join in or we'll leave home.

Monday 22nd November - Silent handler, how much do you say to your dog?

If you're one of those people who feels that their dog runs better if they give certain commands such as, "Go on" "GO ON" "WEAVE"  "Wee wee wee wee wee, " "BACK"... "RIGHT"... "UP"..."GET IN"..."TUNNEL"... "GO OOOOON!!!" then the silent handler course might come as a bit of a shock.  I know it did to most of the people at our match but this was the class that the members had voted for and this was what we got.
Pictured Right: I usually bellow "GO OOON" at the end of a course.

The course was just a normal jumping course but without the weaves.  I thought they should have put them in to make it more fun but the judge wanted to go home that day.  Handlers were allowed to start the dog with a command and they were allowed to clap but anything verbal was given 20 faults.  Some people sloped off home but nevertheless we had a lot of entries for our Pay on The Day, silent handler class and it all went very well.  The dogs all had fun but the riding school was unusually quiet for one of our matches.  I wonder why!

I spoke to a few people after they'd run to see what they thought and a lot of them were surprised at the way in which their dogs coped with no verbal commands.  One man said it was the best his dog had run all day.  As for Sasha, she was very vocal in all of her rounds but when I did the "Silent handler" she was quieter too.  She was puzzled at the first tunnel and spun a couple times which earned us five faults for a refusal but she did complete the rest of the course without fault.  It's certainly made us think.  Do we really need all those verbal commands?  I think not, but so many people have told me they're absolutely  necessary.  What do you think?  

Tuesday 28th September - Jamie and the dog ramp

There comes a time in a dog's life when certain things need to be made easier.  Jamie can get in and out of the back of the car but he is in danger of hurting his shoulder when he jumps down onto hard ground. 

We bought him a dog ramp and he loves it.  Here he is doing a stop on the contact. Once an agility dog always an agility dog!
It stood him in very good stead on holiday when we rented a caravan and found that the steps were too slippery for him to walk up and down without doing himself a mischief. 

Later, I went out in search of non slip matting for the steps but no-one seemed to have heard of it so I bought a doormat for 99p and cut it in half and used that.  I had to tie it onto the steps to stop it slipping but it worked a treat.
Jamie was a bit miffed though.
"Where's my ramp?"
"I didn't want to lug it in and out of the car every time you went out of the caravan."
"Huh.  You're just getting lazy in your old age."



Then Sasha joined in.
"My sprained knee's hurting can I use it too?"
"Yes, of course you can."
"No she can't," said Jamie.  "That's my ramp."

 I was beginning to feel sorry I'd bought the thing if the dogs were going to argue over it but that was nothing compared to what happened next when we were back at home. 


The dog ramp was standing in the porch and Sasha hadn't done any contacts for a while but her sprained knee was much better and it was a rainy day.  Dog ramps are perfect for indoor contact training.  You can put them up against the settee, then get the dog to jump on the settee and walk down the ramp.  At least that's the theory.

I lugged the ramp into the living room and put it with one end resting on the settee and called Sasha.  Then all hell broke loose.
"That's my ramp and she's not using it in here so there."  Jamie leapt onto the ramp and walked up and down it.  "See.  I can do a contact much better than her."
"Yes, very good Jamie.  Now let Sasha have a go."
"No."  Jamie leapt onto the dog ramp again and refused to get off.  "She's not using it."
And no matter what I did or said, Sasha wasn't allowed near the ramp until I'd tempted Jamie to leave the room and eat something quietly elsewhere.  I had no idea he was so possessive.  No wonder poor Sasha was a bit reluctant after the first time she'd used the ramp.  Jamie must have been getting on to her something rotten.  I know one thing.  I am not buying another ramp just so that Sasha can have one to herself.  Her knee is much better now and she can jolly well jump into and out of the car on her own.
If you want to have a look at some dog ramps I've made a page for them in the shop.  We bought ours much cheaper through doing a bit of research on the internet.  (We couldn't buy one locally.)

Monday 7th June - The discovery of the Inglenook Dwarf

We hadn't been in our holiday home very long before we discovered the inglenook dwarf.  It was very exciting but in case you don't know what an inglenook dwarf is I'll explain.

The holiday home was a log cabin in the Blackdown Hills in Devon. 
It was very pretty.  Outside there was a handy verandah for tethering dogs.  I thought they should have supplied a rocking chair, a shotgun and a banjo as well but you can't think of everything.









Inside the log cabin there was a nice big living room with an amazing German log burner, a solid seat and a very large slate hearth all set in a lovely inglenook fireplace. 

It was very picturesque and olde worlde but there was just one problem.  The beam over the fireplace was exactly the right height for bumping your head.  Jamie and Sasha were fine but their humans were soon nursing several bruises. 
  "What we need, " said Bernie after he'd bumped his head for the seventh time, "is an Inglenook Dwarf."
I had to agree that this might be the best plan but where to get one?  There wasn't a Tesco or an Asda for miles and we couldn't get a mobile signal to connect to the internet.  With no telephone point it was impossible to use the laptop to order one from ebay. 

I must admit we were both a bit stumped and for a moment I almost wished we'd booked a five star hotel.  No sooner had I thought that however, than there was a blinding flash of light and a giant puff of smoke.  Bernie said it was the wood burner but I said,
   "No it's not.  Look, over there!"  Jamie and Sasha barked as I pointed to a corner of the inglenook. 
   "What?  Where? What is it?"
We all looked in amazement as a little bent old man appeared on the hearth.  Jamie wagged his tail and Sasha looked very puzzled but not scared.  He must be friendly.
   "It's an inglenook dwarf," I said.
   "At your service madam."  The inglenook dwarf said and he tugged his forelock and carried some more logs to the woodburner.
   "Gosh, can I take your picture?" I asked.
   "Course madam," Inglenook Dwarf replied and he tugged his forelock again.








This was truly incredible.  We thought the log cabin between the woods and the lake was magical but we hadn't bargained for getting our own personal inglenook dwarf thrown in as well.  Blow ebay.  This was much better. 

Later, when we got to know Inglenook Dwarf a bit better, I asked him if I might take a little video clip. 

  "Course madam," he said.  "At your service." 


Tuesday 27th April - The 2 haircut or how to make an art form of being cheapskate

Last week I found the ultimate answer to saving on hairdressing fees.  I discovered that I could get my hair cut for two quid at a hairdressing college as long as I didn't mind a student doing it.  This sounded great, especially when I was assured that the student would be supervised at all times.  I suppose it was my own fault that I believed everything I was told. 

On the day of the 2 haircut I arrived on time and was shown to a seat.  A very nice student filled in a questionnaire about allergies and then asked if I wanted a shampoo. 

  "No.  I'm allergic to some of them.  A dry cut will be fine," I said. 

The student hesitated.  "Umm," she said uncertainly and then she fled in search of her tutor.  It was at this point that I met The Dragon.

"You don't want a shampoo," she said in her best Miss Bossyboots manner.  

  "No.  I'm allergic to some of them."

  "It's much easier if you have a shampoo."

  "No really.  I just want dry cut."

  "Hmm."  The Dragon glared.  Then she gave her only instruction to the student.

   "Make sure you wet it down thoroughly.  Get it really wet."   

Oh dear.  I should have smelled a rat and bolted for the door but I was already wearing a cape and a towel. 

  "I'll just wet it a bit," the student said and she waved a plant sprayer vaguely in my direction. 

Two minutes later and she might just as well have dipped my head in a bucket of freezing cold water.  I was soaked through to the skin.  .

  "Help me God, "  I prayed but to no avail.  The student grabbed her scissors and hair clips and chopped away at my hair as if she was trying to hack her way through a jungle.  There was no sign of the tutor.  At one point I yelled, "No don't just cut that bit straight across," but it really didn't do any good.  I tried to explain about shaping and not having a parting but the girl must have had some sort of hearing problem. 

Throughout the ordeal I kept glancing across to a woman who was having a fabulous short hairstyle done.  It looked really good and her student seemed more than capable of producing a real masterpiece.  Not so my girl.  When she finally stopped her hacking she went to fetch the tutor to check her handiwork.  If I thought the student was a little rough on my hair I'd experienced nothing until The Dragon got hold of it. 

I clearly hadn't been forgiven for the lack of shampoo.  With a comb in one hand and scissors in the other  she grabbed handfuls of hair and began yanking my head from side to side.  The comb had specially sharpened teeth which she raked across my scalp.  It was agony.  Just as I was about to scream for mercy or at least some painkillers she stopped and the student was told it was very good. The Dragon obviously had defective eyesight but by this time I didn't care.  I paid my 2 and legged it. Small USA Dog Bowl in Pink

Later I wondered if I could have bought a dog bowl cheaper and just put it on my head and cut round it.  I cut a bit of my hair myself to get rid of the straight across chopped look and then hunted out the hair gel.  It's going to take months to put it right.  At least the dogs didn't notice. One thing I have promised them is that I will never ever let an unsupervised grooming student loose on them.  In fact I might try a dog groomer myself next time.

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