Monday, 30 January 2012

Monday Mischief- Honey goes swimming (almost).

Luna, A Dog's LifeSugar and Honey the St Bernard's who were staying with us, have gone to stay with their Grandma, before they move into their new home.  We made sure that we made the most of our last weekend and kept Mum on her toes.

Try to stay away from the edge now Honey
We were all playing in the garden on Saturday morning. We thought that it might snow it was so cold. Sugar and I were running round the garden really, really fast. Honey was having a nice snooze by the pond. No matter how cold it is, Honey will just sleep anywhere, she never notices the cold. This week Dad had let her out into the garden at 11pm, he wondered what was taking so long, he found her sleep under the (empty) chicken house.  Barking! 

Well Mum just had a feeling something was about to happen,  Honey had moved closer to the edge of the pond, and Sugar and I were running faster and faster.... when Sugar and I went skidding into Honey.  Of course 100 kilos of Honey, takes some moving. Only  Honey's back paw and tail fell into the pond and Honey didn't even notice. It took some persuading to wake her up and come into the warm so Mum could dry her off.

We are all really tired today, Honey also gets confused because she is a little bit elderly now. She woke up at three am this morning and barked until Mum came to see her. Sugar and I thought that was a great opportunity to do some more playing. It wasn't until 5am that Mum managed to get us all settled back to sleep.

I miss my St Bernard buddies, but I really need to catch up on my sleep.  Night Night, High Five! Dexter
So very sleepy 
This is a Blog Hop. Thanks to Alfie’s Blog, Snoopy’s Dog Blog, Luna, a Dog’s Life,and My Brown Newfies for setting up this hop.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Dexter does agility live!

It's Thursday night. The weekly dose of humiliation at agility class, where instead of doing agility Dexter runs round the room.  Every week he does a couple of jumps, then runs round the room doing a lap of honour, or alternatively he rushes up to every human in the room sitting watching, and tries to get a cuddle.

I wouldn't mind but when he is good he is really good at agility. So tonight I am trying a new technique rather than running after him, when he runs off, I am going to carry on running the course, like a crazy lady, with no dog. The theory being he will come back to join in the fun. Lets see how we go. We will be back at 9.45pm.


So Dexter pulled his usual tricks tonight. I started an agility round he jumped once then ran off. So instead of following him to try to get his attention back, I ran as fast as I could to the other side of the room. Amazingly Dexter came running after me. After a couple of goes of trying this game, Dex actually ran some rounds with me. For the first time ever he was actually tired at the end of the lesson. The only snag being when Dexter decides to run a course you have to run with him, fast. So I am pretty tired too!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A dog called Dexter

Finally the moment we had been waiting for, we were  leaving Battersea Dogs and Cats Home with our new cocker spaniel Goofy.  First challenge: riding in the car.  Our Labrador Millie is a professional journeyer.  Friends told of enduring very upset puppies on their first car trip. Not Millie; on her first car ride, she wasn't phased at all. She sat on my lap for the first few minutes of the journey and then hopped off on to the seat next to me, sighed, and went to sleep.  She has been a happy traveller ever since.

Even as a tiny puppy Millie loved to travel
We now use a crate in the boot of the car to keep the dogs secure. We tried harnesses, but Millie always ended up with a paw in an awkward place.  We popped Goofy into his new car crate and started the drive back to Lincolnshire.  Poor Goofy didn’t look very happy to be in the car at all, and by the time we got to a service station, he was shaking like a leaf. A stroll around the service station seemed to settle him down a bit. Back in the  car crate he would lean his head against its side and close his eyes, looking as if he was praying for the journey to end.  This little chap did not seem destined to be a happy traveller, and he still hates the car, no matter how many treats he is promised.

The staff at Battersea Dogs Home had advised us that it was absolutely fine to change Goofy’s name, as he didn’t really answer to it.  We thought that Goofy didn’t really suit this handsome  spaniel, and by the time we got home we had decided on Dexter. We had been watching the TV show "Dexter"  and thought that Dexter was a cool name. As the TV show was quite dark, we didn’t think many other people would pick the name for their dogs.  Wrong! 

We moved house, our next door neighbours have a dog called Dexter, which leads to no end of confusion when we call our dogs in.  My parents next door neighbours have a cat called Dexter.  We go to an agility class with only two other dogs, one of which is called  Dexter. Everywhere we go, we can guarantee to meet another dog called Dexter.  Although we also like to think that there is no other Dexter quite like ours.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Monday Mischief. Special guest Honey St. Bernard.

Luna, A Dog's LifeWell I couldn't let Sugar have all the blogging fun. Just because I am a senior, doesn't mean I am not down with the dog blog. Sugar and I still love our foster family, but have had great news that our Mom has found a Saint Bernard friendly new home.

Daffodils did you say?
I have been up to all kinds of mischief this weekend.  Originally Saint Bernards came from Switzerland, so we aren't bothered by the cold weather. I enjoy exploring in the garden, but when I get tired I just have to stop where I am, and have a rest. Unfortunately today I stopped in the flowerbed, squashing a few spring bulbs and some snowdrops.

I also found this handy glasshouse, it is nice to come out of the cold and warm my bones in here. I can see everything that is going on,  I can watch the other dogs having fun.

It's a little bjoux, but I love it
I am really getting confident in my foster home, so when the neighbours walk by I love to shout hello at them. I have got the loudest woof round here, that's for sure.

My foster home is a bit strange, my home is all one big room divided into areas.  This foster home has walls everywhere, and holes in the walls with large pieces of wood Dexter says are called doors. I have never seen these doors before so I like to test them first, I push them shut with my paw, and then I give them a real good head butt. Trouble is once the door is shut firm you need to call a human to open them. My foster Mum has been putting objects against the doors to keep them open, because she thought I was scared of them. But it's really fun to push those objects out the way, and close the doors again.
Getting the zzs in before walkies.

I have to go, Mom is coming to take me for a walk. She told me that my new house doesnt have doors. I asked if she could get me a glasshouse!  Nice chatting with you.
Honey x
This is a Blog Hop. Thanks to Alfie’s Blog, Snoopy’s Dog Blog, Luna, a Dog’s Life,and My Brown Newfies for setting up this hop.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Monday Mischief. Guest blogger Sugar St Bernard

Hello. It's Sugar St Bernard here. I'm taking over Dexter Dog's blog today. My sister Honey and I are staying with Dexter's family while Mom irons a few things out.

Dexter has been up to some mischief this weekend. Honey is ten years old, and she likes to sleep most of the day. Little Dexter likes to sneak up on her and nudge her awake, until she plays games. Honey doesn't really like to play games normally, but Dexter's cheeky puppy ways have really cheered her up. This weekend she has been playing lots of games both of us.

Wakey-Wakey Honey

Baby gate 0- St Bernard 1
Honey and I have been up to a few tricks of our own this weekend. Our house is open plan, but these humans have lots of doors. Honey finds doors a bit scary, so when the humans went out they put a baby gate over the kitchen doorway.  We soon pushed that flimsy thing out of the way, and went to sleep by the front door.  When the humans came home, we were sound asleep and they couldn't get in the house. Honey is 12 stone, so  We are having a great holiday and love our new buddy Dexter.

This is a Blog Hop. Thanks to Alfie’s Blog, Snoopy’s Dog Blog, Luna, a Dog’s Life,and My Brown Newfies for setting up this hop.

Snoopy's Dog Blog

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Goofy comes home

We had successfully introduced Millie our Labrador to Goofy the cocker spaniel, we hoped to adopt from Battersea Dogs Home. The last step before we could take Goofy home was a visit to the Battersea vet.

When I talk to friends who are considering getting a dog, especially if it is a first dog, I always try to persuade, them to consider a rescue. Not just because a rescue dog gets a new home. I think it’s beneficial to be matched with a dog that suits your circumstances, and to have the help and support of experts if you need it.

I have lost count of the number of people I have seen in dog classes, being dragged around the room by big bouncy dogs; or heard of someone getting a border collie that chews all the furniture through sheer boredom. A good rehoming charity won’t let you take home a dog you can’t cope with or that won’t suit your lifestyle.

When you take home a new dog or puppy there are a lot of things you need to organise, for example, somewhere for the dog to sleep, a trip to the vets for microchipping, an identity tag.  When we adopted Goofy many things were included in the £105 rehoming fee:
      Initial vaccinations, flea and worming treatment. 
      A collar, identification tag and lead. 
      Access to Battersea’s behaviour advice line for continued advice and support

In many cases your animal will be neutered. We also got free pet insurance, an information pack and a starter box of food. I think when taking a new dog home, it is great to have all of the above taken care of. Then you can focus all your energy on settling your dog in, and not having to rush out straight to the vets or pet shop. 

Finally with the visit to the vet over, and all the paperwork completed, we could take the newest member of our family home.  

I am not an expert in dog behaviour, rehoming or health issues. These are my own views.  Please talk to your vet or experts such as the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust or Battersea Dogs Home to find out more about any of the above issues

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A match made in Battersea

Millie my Labrador can be slightly temperamental. OK very temperamental. Over the last 4 years I have lost count of the times she has started barking at someone, because she didn’t like the look of their woolly hat. She will run away from smiling children, desperate to stroke her. Millie can be so antisocial and I was nervous about introducing her to the cocker spaniel we were hoping to adopt from Battersea Dogs Home.

We introduced Millie and Goofy the cocker spaniel puppy, in the Battersea Dogs Home training area.  As we let the dogs off their leads, I held my breath. Millie skipped off with her tennis ball, not giving the little spaniel a second look. Goofy however looked as if he had been well and truly hit by Cupid’s arrow. He bounded after Millie desperately nudging and pushing her. For a few seconds Millie would relent and join in the game, although she quickly lost interest. Even if it wasn’t love at first sight for Millie, it seemed she was willing to give Goofy a chance.

The Battersea rehomer was happy with how the dogs were getting along, and took us inside so we could spend time getting to know Goofy. We went to a room with toys and treats, so that we could interact and play with the dogs. The Battersea rehoming process is very thorough. We got to spend lots of time with Goofy in different environments, and had the chance to ask lots of questions.

After some time playing with Goofy, the rehomer came back to see if we wanted to go ahead and adopt him. We were sure we did, he was such a bundle of fun.  As for Millie, I was sure she raised one eyebrow and sighed, as if to say, “If you must”.

Monday, 9 January 2012

When Millie met Goofy

It was a scorching hot Friday in July, when we went to Battersea Dogs Home to introduce Millie our Labrador, to Goofy the cocker spaniel we were hoping to adopt.  Feeling positive that the two dogs would get on, we optimistically bought a bed, crate and food bowl for Goofy.

It was a long hot car journey, down to London and I was worried that the hot weather was going to make Millie grumpy and in the wrong frame of mind to meet a new dog. I felt even more edgy walking  Millie into Battersea, in case people thought we were giving her up for adoption. 

The sound of hundreds of dogs barking, all waiting to find a new home, broke my heart, as we walked through the kennels to meet Goofy. When David had first met Goofy he had fallen in love with him, so we had set our hearts on taking him home.  It would be soul destroying if Millie decided she didn’t like this bouncy little spaniel. 

A lady who was the rehomer looking after the pups, called our names, and asked “are you here to meet Goofy the springer spaniel?” My heart sank, springer spaniels are larger than a cocker spaniels and known for their bouncy, lively behaviour;  would a young Labrador and a springer spaniel puppy be far too much for me to cope with?

Luckily it was just a slip of the tongue the little dog, which was lead out to meet us, was definitely a cocker spaniel. We walked round to the training and exercise areas, to introduce Millie and Goofy. I asked if I could hold Goofy to see how he walked on the lead.  He skipped, danced and pulled in every direction.  The rehomer explained that Goofy and his littermates, had never worn a collar or a lead, and never been outside of their garden. It was thought the plan was to train the litter up as gun dogs, but they were all a bit too loopy to work (18 months later I can testify this is the case), so they were given up for adoption.

We walked into the training area to face the moment of truth; it was time for Millie to meet Goofy.

I am not an expert in dog behaviour, rehoming or health issues. These are my own views.  Please talk to your vet or experts such as the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust or Battersea Dogs Home to find out more about any of the above issues.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A dog called Goofy

When Millie our Labrador was two years old, we thought it would be great to get her a doggy companion.  This time around we really wanted to give a home to a dog in a rescue; rather than buy a new puppy.

We regularly checked the Battersea Dogs Home website for a suitable pal for Millie.  Battersea was special to me as I had attended a dog behaviour course there and loved the work they did. One day we saw a picture of a seven-month-old liver and white cocker spaniel. We thought she was gorgeous.

David my partner works near Battersea Dogs Home; the very next day he went into the home to enquire about the spaniel.  David was first asked to take part in a rehoming interview. This helps Battersea to understand your circumstances, and the sort of pet that would be suitable for you.

 David had not mentioned the spaniel we had seen on the website, in the interview.  But the lady carrying out the interview, explained that Battersea had family of seven cocker spaniel puppies for rehoming and she thought one of the puppies would be a good match for us. 

Battersea felt that it would probably be better, for our new dog to be a male, as we already had a bitch (female).   Battersea have found often a male and female dog will get along together well.
A male puppy from the cocker spaniel litter was brought into to meet David, as a potential match for us. Amazingly out of the hundreds of dogs at Battersea, we had been matched with the brother of the spaniel we had first seen on the website.  This seemed like a definite sign.

Goofy was adorable, and wanted nothing more to climb on David’s lap, and have lots of fuss and attention.   Before David could take Goofy home, both Millie and I had to meet Goofy and see how we all got along.

I am not an expert in dog behaviour, rehoming, or health issues. These are my own views.  Please talk to your vet or experts such as the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust, or Battersea Dogs Home, for professional doggy advice.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Good dog health, good genes?

I wouldn’t change Millie my Labrador, for the world, but over the last four years, I have spent a lot of money at the vets including:
·      £250 identifying allergies.
·      £400 for a trip to the emergency vet, plus x-rays for a stomach bug.
·      £200 treating kennel cough.
·      £200 investigating a eye condition,
·      £200 investigating a hip and joint condition.
·      £300 treating ear infections.

This doesn’t include including all the little day-to-day illnesses, cracked claws, grass seeds in the eye and the occasional muscle sprain.

Don’t let me give you the impression if you get a dog, you will spend most of your time and hard earned cash at the vets. Some of Millie’s aliments are down to bad luck. But I certainly could saved money and a lot of pacing at the vets, by researching, some of the conditions which affect Labradors, and by being smarter when I bought my puppy.

When you are looking to buy a puppy; you will see lots of different adverts, with varying levels of information. Adverts will contain phrases like; puppies are vet checked, living in a house with children, KC registered.  A good breeder should provide information about the health of the parents of the puppy.  

This will probably take the form of some confusing letters and numbers. These letters and numbers will help you to understand the likelihood of your puppies carrying a genetic condition.
Below are examples of the sorts of letters and numbers you will see; one from the mum of some cocker spaniel puppies and the father of some Labrador pups:

prcd-PRA (DNA) : Carrier
FN DNA Test : Clear
Glaucoma : Clear 26/03/08
GPRA-rcd1 : clear 25/08/09
Hips 6:5
Elbows 0:0

Current Clear BVA Eye Certificate

Optigen tested Normal/Clear for prcd1-PRA

Unfortunately, I didn’t look for this information when I bought Millie and her parents had not been health tested.  Some of the money I have spent on Millie’s health has been investigating conditions.  If we had known more about the health of her parents, the vets would have been able to make more informed judgements about Millie.

Different breeds of dog are affected by different conditions, and you will need to research the breed you are interested in and the conditions that can affect it. If you talk to your vet, they can help you translate those tricky letters and numbers.

You may find you will probably pay more for puppies, where the breeder has carried out health testing.  But as you can see from the costs of investigations I have had to carry out on Millie, it can be money well spent.

Some sources of information on common conditions.
Hip Dysplasia is condition which can affect the hip joints of dogs.
Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy  an eye condition, leading to blindness.
I am not an expert in dog behaviour or health issues. These are my own views, please talk to your vet or experts such as the Kennel Club, to find out more about any of the above issues.