We made the cover!

Image courtesy of Manchester & Cheshire Dogs Home

Image courtesy of Manchester & Cheshire Dogs Home

I’m thrilled to shout out the words ‘we made the cover!’, like some sort of celebrity hitting the tabloids! But this is much more important; Max has been chosen as one of the many dogs to feature on the Christmas cards by Manchester & Cheshire Dogs Home!

They recently opened a competition via their Facebook page, asking for Christmassy dog photos. I entered both Jess & Max (Jess being a MDH dog), and although Jess isn’t starring on the cards, Max will of course be representing them both :) Can you spot him? Fourth row down, fourth across! These are the photos I entered…

image

image

There are four card designs, and the cards along with a stunning calendar can be purchased through their website :)

Human why do you love to bathe so much?

House re-wire in progress!

House re-wire in progress!

So, whilst I’m staying here my mum is having her house re-wired/plastered (great timing I know!). As I write this, the light fitting in the bathroom is unfinished, meaning we have to bathe with the door open (so we can see in the dark) and a lamp.

Of course all the animals popped in and out during my bath last night, because the door was open, but Jess’ reaction was so hilarious/intriguing! Her expression was like ‘human, why are you lying in the giant scary box thing which terrifies me?!’ Perhaps I was naive in thinking ‘oh if I look like I’m enjoying myself, she might change her mind about baths…’ She did her usual sweet little head tilts at me, which are irresistible may I add! But also everything that has been there for years; the bath mat, shower curtain, toiletries, all suddenly became so fascinating! Her nose was working overtime! She was also licking everything and trying to strain her neck to reach the soapy bath water.

Then I spotted the starfish on the side, so I showed it to her, and she backed away! She was not a fan of her spiky new friend! She was intrigued though, kept creeping back in for a sniff, then jumping away. I couldn’t smell a thing on it, but I don’t have 200 million scent receptors! So I left it on the side and she suddenly became brave now that it was out of my hands, and was all over it!

Afterwards she claimed it as her own, until she tried eating it so I had to take it away… Here she is with her new five legged friend :)

Friends!

Friends!

Celebrating dog milestones #1

rochdale mayors fete

Technically this post has two reasons to celebrate. The first being… I am on holiday! My first big holiday since starting my small biz, two years ago. But I suppose the second being the most important, and the focus of this post…

The first half of my holiday has taken me about 100 miles west, back home for a visit. Then the second half will be spent in Cyprus, not sure how many miles away that is! So on Sunday my mum and I visited the ‘Mayors Charity Country Fete’, which was about a twenty minute walk from her house. It was decided that a walk rather than a car ride would be best, so the dogs wouldn’t be so hyped up to arrive at such an event.

The fete held a dog & pony show, but whether we entered depended on Jess’ reaction/behaviour as we walked around. So far so good, so we headed to the registration booth. I suppose this was our first ‘test’ as it was a pretty small, enclosed area with lots of new people and dogs passing through. Jess did well.

We decided to enter Jess in ‘Golden oldie’ (which made me a little sad, but that’s a whole other post!) and ‘Prettiest girl’, with Max in ‘Waggiest tail’. Alas, we did not win, not a sausage, as my mum says! But without wanting to sound too ‘cliché’, it really was the ‘taking part that counts’ for Jess. As some of you may know she is nervous of new people/situations and her dog greeting is sometimes a little full on. We are fairly good at reading her signs of anxiety now, her avoidance and displacement behaviours, and have our usual explanation to new people. But she was near perfect on Sunday. My mum has been making an extra effort walking lately, and says she has learnt a lot more about Jess’ behaviour. Her dog ‘hellos’ were polite(ish), and the crowds didn’t seem to faze her. Our only ‘incidents’ were Jess backing away from the judge and her whining when I left her to enter Max’s class. One of the problems I’ve found entering dog shows is that the dogs start to get a little restless with all the waiting round, which Max did. I also admit I thought we had ‘Waggiest tail’ in the bag, I don’t know what went wrong! But I’m not bitter…

But on a serious note, I just felt so happy for Jess. Happy that she could enjoy the day without feeling too worried, and experience everything the same way everyone else did. We didn’t feel that we had to leave early, or separate ourselves from people or dogs. We’ve come a long way from having to cross the road to pass a stranger. A happy dog equals a happy human!

shih tzu bandana

Tragic Dogs Home Fire

My heart breaks as I write this post tonight. Last night a devastating fire tore through the Manchester branch of Manchester & Cheshire Dogs Home. Thankfully 150 dogs were saved, but the lives of around 50 dogs were cruelly taken away.

A few years ago we walked into Manchester Dogs Home and chose this beautiful face to come home with us that day. If it wasn’t for Manchester Dogs Home, we wouldn’t have this amazing dog in our lives.

dog selfie

I can still picture the kennel block like it was yesterday; one long, noisy row of kennels. The images I’ve seen are devastating, the block is completely destroyed. I can’t get over the fact that Jess was in there at some point, in the end kennel. Just waiting. I cannot even begin to imagine the fear that those poor dogs must have felt. The sounds, the smells, the smoke, the pure heat. As for the staff, they must be truly heartbroken. Working with dogs you cannot help but form an attachment to them. Luckily for me I know all of the dogs I work with have fantastic and responsible owners and a roof over their heads. In a rescue situation, you become attached in a way that you feel compelled to help these animals and that it is your duty to keep them safe. The whole situation is completely overwhelming; dogs were being tied to railings, sedated, fighting and being transported to other rescues. I don’t know how they’re going to keep track of them all.

Astonishingly over £1,000,000 has been donated in just a day. You can donate here :) Literally hundreds of people surrounded the home last night, with crates, food, blankets and dog leads, and the donations continue today.

I gave each of the dogs at work an extra special squeeze today. I hope the surviving dogs can fight through the trauma.

‘All dogs go to heaven’

paws

What is your favourite training aid or dog gadgetry?

dog long line

Mine is pretty simple, but important nonetheless – the long line

Why? Mainly because of my job. Since working as a self employed dog walker, my long line has become my most valued tool. When I take on any new clients they have to give written permission for their dog to be walked off the lead (for insurance purposes). However, I never let a new dog off lead immediately, no matter how good of a recall they have according to their owner. I ALWAYS use a long line as we build our relationship.

The main reason is for the dogs safety and well-being. The dogs I walk vary in what they want from a walk; some love to run, some retrieve and others just sniff and plod along, but I love giving them the freedom and space to do so. Exploring the area and getting enough mental and physical stimulation is what a walk is all about. But, the dog is new to me, just as I am new to him, and there is a possibility he won’t have a reliable recall on our first walk together. Taking care of someone elses dog is a huge responsibility, especially in a public place. The long line eases owners minds, and mine too.

Most of my clients contact me when they’ve just adopted their dog, and so sometimes there is little recall already in place. So I whip out my long line, and get started on some recalls, working alongside what the owner is practicing too. As with all kinds of training, it also allows me to build a bond with the dog. One of the dogs I walk is quite independent on walks, and using the long line meant he had to spend more time with me (to his disappointment!), but we really bonded and now he’s fab off lead :)

I admit, it’s not a perfect tool. It gets tangled, and knotted, and trails in the mud. It’s also not great to use when a dog is interacting with others, as it can get caught on a few paws. However, if used correctly, with a harness and a good technique, it helps me alot!

30ft long line

Long line wash day!

 

 

Dog show weekend – Day two

white gsd

The second dog show we attended recently last month, (I have been soo busy!) was Pets in The Park. It was hosted by Pet Respect, an animal education charity here in Hull.

There were certainly a ton more dogs than the previous day, particularly a whole lot of Staffies and Huskys. One of the event organisers announced on his microphone that over 100 dogs had entered classes, Sam and I were no. 65! Of course Sam made sure we didn’t leave empty handed, and bagged fourth place in ‘Dog the judge would most like to take home’! Before the class, I heard a worried youngster exclaim ‘but what if we win, will they take our dog home?!’ Aaww!

dog show  fourth place  dog show ring

I also took Sam over to the Hull Animal Welfare Trust stall, his previous temporary home, and they were very proud to learn he’d won first place the day before :) There were also lots of other dog charities in attendance, mini agility, flyball, groomers, our friends from Just Poochie and trainer Jess of Canine Pride, who kindly gave out lots of fishy free samples! Who doesn’t love free stuff?! 

Mowgli  Free stuff  Mowgli

Yet again, Sam wowed me with his patient and calm behaviour, and we spent alot of time with my little buddy Mowgli, a Jack Russell. It was the dogs’ first time meeting, as I met Katie and Mowg dog walking at work. The weather was a huge contrast to the day before when we got soaked! It was pretty warm, and Sam was starting to lose interest by the end of the day. We were ready for home after a busy weekend and retreated to our beds!