A life with Pets…
I write a blog about my life working and living with pets. I hope to give some fun stories, teaching, what I learn from dogs, Walking, sitting and training information.
Please feel free to scroll down and read my many blogs. The most up to date are underneath here and then older ones follow. Hope you enjoy them.
One thing I have learnt from a life around dogs is, take each day as it comes, don’t worry about your past or future because today is a present. Live in the moment.
National Pet show
Last weekend I had some time off and decided to attend the National pet show in Birmingham. I had heard about it from the previous year and felt being “animal mad” I should get there and have a day out.
The day out turned into a weekend as I booked myself a hotel room for the night before the show to get there and relax, knowing I would be doing a lot of walking about the next day.
On the morning of the show, I had a feeling of excitement about the day ahead and drove to the NEC along with thousands of other pet fans.
I didn’t really know what to expect at the show and as I entered the huge hall I soon realised I was going to have a nice day. There were areas set aside for different kinds of pets, a reptile and aquatic area, Dogs, cats, birds, plus stages where certain animals could perform or prominent speakers to teach about their chosen subject or species.
As the day went on I sat in on talks about dog training, watched Lucy Heath(finalist on Britain’s got talent) show dog training skills and generally walked around the numerous pop up shops selling pet related goods.
One highlight for me was to meet Michaela Strachan and listen to her host the main ring where various displays took place and also the rescue barn as she described owning her own rescue dog and all the fun it had brought to her life. She was as nice and welcoming as you may think she would be, she has been on TV for many years hosting shows such as “really wild show”, “hit man and her” & more recently the hugely popular “Spring & Autumn watch” on the BBC. She has a real passion for animals of all kinds and has worked her whole life to help in the pet and wildlife fields.
Many dogs, cats and chickens! found new homes that day from the rehoming scheme certain rescue centres had organised through the show.
Noel Fitzpatrick – The supervet was also at the show. He presented a Q&A session at the “noels arc”. Such a humble, intelligent and amazing man to listen to. The “miracles” he performs on many pets to give them life is incredible & hearing how he works out each case individually was fascinating. He shared his passion came from growing up on a farm and having to patch up animals who were injured and making splints etc. brought him to study as a vet. He is now the star of “supervet” on channel 4.
There was an area called discovery dogs(and cats) where many breeds were on show for the public to meet and ask questions with the owners about the breed. I got talking to a lovely couple who were showing their West highland terriers or Westies. They were so nice and I got to make a fuss of their dogs and ask and talk about the breed. Having owned 2 for 15 years, I have a love for the breed.( My podcast will have a breed study on it- available on most podcast apps- Walking tall -dogs happy pets happy home or search Paul Dungey)
So after watching many displays, including a jedi knight routine and a dog to star wars music! , Parrots not doing what they were told and just running around the ring!, but also some wonderful teachings including a dogs for the blind trainer. I headed for the exit and the long drive home.
It was only £20 for the whole day and was a special time to meet many species you don’t normally get to see, such as spiders, giant tortoises & lizards plus all the cuddle types of pet.
It will be back next year and I would recommend a visit for the day, and if you are thinking of adopting a rescue pet, could be the place to ask many questions and possibly take one home(checks obviously have to be done first).
What else have I been up to? I was happy after a week off to get back to walking all my regular dogs and excited as they went mad to see me again. They always make me smile and each one has such different personalities. One of my clients is Walter a cockerpoo, He gets in the front of the car, seatbelt on and sits next to me like a little “chewbacca”, and gazes at me as we drive occasionally putting his paw on my arm, to say “I am here!” , they all have such different ways and always so loving. WHAT A JOB I have.
until next time…..
The modern dog
One thing I love as a professional dog walker is all the stories fellow dog walkers share about their dogs.
It got me thinking “are we just servants to our pets!!”…
The western world has a very different approach to their dogs as the rest of the world. In many countries dogs roam free, are used as a working tool and unfortunately aren’t always looked highly upon and treated badly. As I have said in previous blogs, dogs have a special way of adapting to the situation life throws at them and surviving well, although they love and crave closeness to us or the pack around them as they are a sociable animal.
But here in the UK we have turned our love of dogs into an art! we have literally become their servants and dogs being the clever beings they are, have worked out how to live a “perfect life”.
I’m going to share a few scenarios and stories with you that show our love of our pets is unconditional and a little unbalanced!!
My own story would be in the bedroom! don’t get excited I’m not writing 50 shades, this is a dog blog! We have 3 yorkshire terriers and although small can have this incredible skill of taking up a whole double king size bed by strategically spreading themselves out.
My long suffering wife is often in bed way before I decide to go up so that’s half the bed gone, I then proceed to work out how to fit in to MY bed by not disturbing the dogs!
Here is how it looks. I sneak into the room with my torch light on so as to not wake my wife, I get to my side of the bed and find Herbie, our youngest yorkie on my pillow laying as close to to his beloved servant(my wife) as he can without actually smothering her. I scan the bed and next find Stardust our little girl Yorkie laying upside down right in the middle of the duvet, making it impossible to pull it up and get in. Then our 3rd Yorkie- Rocky is at the end of the bed curled up in a tiny ball, he probably turned around in circles about 10 times before settling in that spot, knowing I am totally locked out of my bed!. So what do I do? do I pick up each dog and put them on the floor and take back control of my bed? Do I slip in the side and hang half in the bed, half out all night so as not to disturb our sleeping beauties? NO of course not, I admit defeat and go and sleep in the spare room. I get in and snuggle down and fall deep asleep, only to be woken 5 minutes later by Rocky asking to come up, then Stardust appears and proceed in locking and pinning me into the duvet for the night!
Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it shows how dogs have adapted to not only be alongside us all the time but also to outwit us to get the upper hand when it comes to comfort(it’s a love thing). How many of us let our dogs get away with stuff?
Another story I heard was of an elderly lady who owns a Shih-tzu called Bobby. She went to bed really early, not because she was tired and needed the rest but because Bobby had taken over her chair and looked so comfortable spread out and snoring away, that she didn’t want to disturb him, so he sent her to bed!
I work with 2 beagles and when I get back from walking them, one of their loving owners is there to greet them. Roe runs in and greets him with unconditional love and she receives a loving fuss and cuddle. She then uses this affection to her advantage and gets her regular treat, a juicy rawhide covered in cooked chicken, she takes it with love in her eyes and sits on the stairs, takes about 2 minutes to strip the chicken off, throws the rawhide aside and goes back to her owner with loving affection and sweet whining noises to get another treat, for the chicken part alone! She has learn’t by love to get what she wants from the scenario. Are we their servants!
I love the Rupert Fawcett cartoons “off the leash” and how he looks at life through a dogs eyes and making us humans the foolish ones.
In one of his cartoons he portrays the human as a poop slave, following their dog around picking it up as the dog leaves a trail for fun! Another is where the owner has only 2 poop bags, the dogs discuss this and do 2 poops using up the bags, then on the way home on a pavement go again leaving the human screaming NOOOOO!!!
Its all a bit of fun, but thinking about dog behaviour, we do create our own monsters, by mollycoddling and bowing to our dogs fake needs we buy into dogs not understanding their boundaries and limitations & creating their own. This is of course each owners choice of how to nurture their pet and enjoy their lives together as much as possible, but be warned, if we allow our dogs to rule and demand and get everything they desire, they will have issues.
The best way to nurture our dogs is to give them lots of exercise to burn their energy, a good balanced life with structure and of course love and attention at the appropriate times.
thanks for reading, tell your friends to have a browse. until next time…
Bereavement with pets.
If you are a pet owner then one of the worst things is seeing your beloved family member get old and pass away.
I have gone through this over the years with my two Westies who lived to 12 & 15 and with all things in life the situations are never the same, sometimes traumatic, sometimes peaceful but all with a great sense of loss and grief. I remember as a teenager losing my best friend, a cat called “Taggy”, we originally called her “Maggie” after Maggie Thatcher but when she had a vet visit She was a He and we had to change his name!
I remember sharing my loss with someone who didn’t understand how a pet can bond and change your life and they laughed at me as though I was a fool, to them it was just an animal, to me a family member.
For the last three years I was incredibly privileged to walk a beautiful greyhound cross called Lady. Lady and her owner had shared ten wonderful years together from when she was rescued at the age of 6. Their bond was just wonderful to see, and they lived each and everyday for each others company and friendship.
Lady was a slim white and black dog with such an elegance about her that all the people in her local area knew her so well. I used to walk her and so many people would ask how she was and pet her, she would have little burst of playful energy with the other dogs she met. Her favourite game was to spot the squirrel!
I wrote a short story a few years ago about her favourite pastime:
Lady & the squirrel
The squirrel stopped on the footpath, aware that he was trapped in the pinpoint stare of a predator.
He moved one foot to test whether it was worthy of making a break for it, but as he did, the elegant black and white sleek form pricked her ears up in anticipation.
He froze again, becoming a statue in order to blend his grey form into the pavement and become invisible. Lady shifted her stance, from graceful old girl to a young pup ready to play and pounce. She poised herself ready for the chase. Her mind was alert, active and sharp but her body lagged behind nowadays.
The standoff seemed to last an age but in reality was merely seconds of predator prey nervousness.
Suddenly the squirrel made a break for it! racing towards the tree ahead of him, his little heart pumping with adrenaline and fear. He made it to the base of the tree and looked back with a sense of achievement. Lady with all her wisdom and grace, knew she wouldn’t catch this one and was happy in the knowledge she had spotted this one and gave it a challenge!
“next time, next time” she thought to herself with a big panting grin. The end.
She loved sitting out on her front lawn watching the world go by and soaking up the warm sun rays.
Lady was nearing her 17th birthday and since the start of this year she had slowed down and lost more weight. She still loved her walks but couldn’t go quite as far as she used to.
Her owner and I, who became a close friend over the years had discussed her end of life care with great caution and sadness, but being practical and putting Lady first, we knew it was coming and I wanted to finish the journey with her as Lady had become my “best friend” over the years.
I received a phone call from her owner one morning and I immediately went to the house. We sat for about an hour making that very tough decision about whether Lady goes to the vet to be put to sleep. She had been incredibly elegant and noble, having battled old age and other conditions, but when we looked into her eyes, she was saying her time had come. She even got up and went out of the room, separating herself as animals can isolate themselves when they know it’s their time.
The next part of the morning was so peaceful. We carried Lady into my vehicle where she lay on her big thick duvet and made herself comfortable. We arrived at the vets and were welcomed straight into a room without waiting. I had Lady in my arms, this frail old girl was still carrying her beauty and gracefulness right to the end.
After speaking to the vet, he compassionately said it was perfect timing for lady to go to sleep.
Whilst her beloved owner held her head and spoke calm loving words into her, I had her on my lap with her leaning onto me, stroking her gently and feeling how calm and grateful she was to her owner for rescuing her all those years ago and showing unconditional love to her everyday of her life.
It was now time for Lady to take the next journey from life to the eternal. The vet administered the drug to bring her shallow breath to a stop. She now lay still, drifting off from her time on this earth.
There were tears, words of love and the last gentle touches to her.
She then walked over the rainbow bridge into eternity.
I wrote this on the day of her passing:
The grace and peace of this magnificent creature now lay tired and drawn.
Her eyes , for so many years burnt bright for the joy of merely being alive, now were looking and asking to close and be still.
The tight grip of a cuddle and words of absolute love washed over her and filled her ears and old bones with love, peace, gentleness and calm.
As she slowly breathed her last, the wonder of this life passed into the next. The energy left her body and she went into an eternal sleep.
She opened her eyes and felt like a pup again, running over this bridge made up of all the colours of the rainbow .
She gathered pace and a happy trot developed into a fast run, feeling the fresh new air flowing over her face and filling her lungs like never before.
She gave the briefest glance back as she reached the other end of this bridge shining and sparkling beneath her paws, just an acknowledgement of her wonderful life and excited anticipation of the next.
She reached the multitudes enjoying the eternal and faded into the joy. She was loved on the earth and now entered into a new love, a never ending love joining with her creator.
Good night, God bless girl, run free.
Bereavement is an emotion and experience none of us want to encounter but it’s inevitable, as part of life is death. The best thing we can do for our four legged friends & family member is give them the best “everyday” we possibly can, take advice from them in how they live, full of joy and hope and just for the day they are in.
It has been a sad time since Lady left and she will always be in her owners thoughts and continuing the love through memories. As for me, I miss our lovely walks together, the joy of seeing her face in the mornings and the lesson of happiness only a dog can teach. She will be missed.
until next time…
Last Sunday saw the final of crufts with seven dogs through to the best in show and over 21,000 dogs judged to bring it to these final magnificent 7.
From Thursday 8th March through to Sunday 11th March thousands of people packed the NEC arena to watch and participate in the greatest dog show in the world, the world cup for dog lovers!
The first dog to get in the final was a Newfoundland called Nana. This was the working dog breed.Newfounlands originate from Canada(dominion of Newfoundland) and are a hardy dog and amazing swimmers, they can pull a small boat along and have webbed feet to help them to be more powerful in the water, so are a working dog for fishermen and are fantastic at water rescue. They generally are bred in 3 colours, black, brown or black and white. They are well known for their large size, intelligence, amazing strength, calmness and loyalty to their owner. Newfies have a love of water and mud which can make them a tricky pet for the houseproud! I have looked after 2 newfies in the past called Harvey and Baloo, they are easy going and love a slow paced walk taking in the surroundings, but also finding every puddle to sit in!
The second dog to go through to the final seven, was the Pastoral winner, a Border Collie called Nahrof Blurred Lines at Huntly.
Border Collies are traditionally known as the dog farmers rely on to herd their sheep.Originally bred on the anglo/Scottish border. They were especially bred for their intelligence and obedience. Border Collies require considerably more daily physical exercise and mental stimulation than many other breeds. The Border Collie is widely considered to be the most intelligent dog breed. Although the primary role of the Border Collie is to herd livestock, the breed is becoming increasingly popular as a companion animal, so if you consider getting one as a pet, be prepared to stimulate and walk for hours per day or behaviour issues could occur.
The winner from the terrier breeds was a Scottish Highland terrier called McEvans Big Bopper At Beameups or Bopper for short.
The silhouette of the Scottie is so familiar and has been used on many logos over the years.
An independent and stubborn character, the Scottish Terrier dog breed is also quite sensitive to praise and blame. Independent, intelligent, and hilarious in his dignified seriousness, he’s a true terrier, which makes him an excellent watchdog. He is an ideal walking companion, especially if you like him speaking loudly to bicycles and squirrels! A typical terrier but with a truly grand and regal stature.
The winner of the Hound breed was a Whippet called Collooney Tartan Tease or “Tease”.
The Whippet is a dog breed of medium-size. They are a sighthound breed that originated in England, where they descended from greyhounds. Whippets today still strongly resemble a smaller greyhound. My Sisters family has owned Whippets and Italian Greyhounds for many years now they make a wonderful pet. They need a good walk everyday and if possible time to run and burn away their energy, but once you get them home all they want to do is cuddle up and sleep.Their temperament is Affectionate, Lively, Gentle, Intelligent, Quiet & Friendly, but be ready for bursts of fun and play.
The winner of the utility group was a beautiful Akita called Stecal’s Love at First Sight or “Chanel”.
The Akita is a powerful, independent and dominant breed, commonly aloof with strangers but affectionate with family members. They originated in Japan and were made to be a hunting dog and even able to hunt a bear! As I said they can be very independent so a strong handler is required if you have one as a pet. When I used to help out at a rescue centre I was privileged to walk an Akita. She was a strong girl on the lead but as I got to know her she bonded well with me, but I still had to attain a calm assertive attitude with her and obviously as many cuddles and love I could show her!
The winner of the toy breed was a Papillon called Expana’s Sea Dragon Conqueror.
The Papillon also called the continental toy spaniel and is one of the oldest toy breeds.
Papillons are very intelligent and self-assured dogs that have a very easy time learning new tricks. These dogs can be sociable with children and strangers, but are generally reserved around new people. They can also be socialized to get along well with other pets.If not properly socialized, Papillons can be distrustful and exhibit aggressive tendencies toward other dogs and people. Papillons may also be very playful and affectionate. Widely known as great companion dogs, they have the spirit and energy to keep up with active families, but can also be calm enough to be happy with sleeping in the arms of an equally affectionate owner.
The winner of the gun dog breed was Kanix Chilli or “chilli” a pointer.The Pointer, often called the English Pointer, is a medium to large-sized breed of dog developed in England as a gun dog. It is one of several pointer breeds.Pointers are even-tempered, congenial dogs, and despite their large size, make good house pets so long as they get sufficient exercise due to their extremely high energy levels. Pointers are intelligent, affectionate, clean and intensely loyal. Their aggression level is very low to non-existent and they normally happily coexist with other dogs and cats. They are not typically territorial and can be reserved with strangers. They are very good with children and fit in well with family life generally. Pups can be somewhat boisterous and their long legs as they grow, make them appear somewhat clumsy in a charming way.
So that was the 7 winners of their groups judged from over 21,000 dogs over the 4 days.
The winner was the Whippet called Tease. She had to be taken off as she received her massive cup due to a protester, but was soon shown as the worthy winner.
So crufts is back next March and I will be there doing a daily blog of what I see and hear.
Crufts is like the world cup to dog breeders, handlers and also to us, the dog fans. Although over the years the Kennel club has been blamed for “bad breeding techniques “ and how breeds should look, it is now a celebration of everything dog and embraces the work and love dogs bring to us. Dogs truly are our closest companion species and we should take a lesson from them, live for the moment and live with joy about the small stuff.
Some information gathered from wikipedia.
Until next time….
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE…
We often hear the saying “man’s (& woman’s) best friend” when it comes to talking about our dogs.
But what makes this totally different species such a close companion to us?
There is no doubting the incredible bond we build up with our beloved pets, we probably share more secrets, little kisses & emotions with our dogs than other family member or even our spouses!
This bond between mankind and K9’s goes back thousands of years to when we were hunter gatherers and the wolf came alongside us to assist us and help themselves in co-existence to aid survival. Dogs were designed to be our companions.
The amazing thing about dogs is the love they have for us goes deep, they bond so deeply with us because as two species we become one “pack”. They rely on us as their pack leaders to supply a steady life with food and water supplied, in return they give us their devotion, their unconditional love and lessons into how to live a simple life. They rely on a calm balanced but assertive leader to show them the way and to bring calm into their lives.
So how can such a devotion to each other come about?
I was recently reading a chapter in the bible about love (1 Corinthians 13). its says…
Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; Love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self seeking; it is not provoked; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things(regardless of what comes), believes all things (looking for the best in each one), hopes all things (remaining steadfast during difficult times), endures all things. Love never fails.
This passage can speak to us at many levels but as I was thinking of writing my “dog blog” it spoke to me how the bond between humans and dogs is totally built on love.
Read that passage back slowly and take it in. Of course we can adapt the scripture to love of each other & God truths but it also sums up for me the very nature of a dog. They never judge, never carry anger over or hold grudges, they bear everything life throws at them.
Just look at the dogs with homeless people, that devotion and loyalty is not seen in any other species, more so than even our own. I
had a dog when I was young called “sooty”, he was a border collie X who we rescued, as the couple who owned him for a year could only feed him porridge as they were struggling in life, Sooty didnt care and was loyal to them until they had to say goodbye to him. He was then our loyal lovable boy until he was 18 years old. My point is, as in the scripture above, they carry a basic, simple lifestyle and attitude to just love and live with what is, no matter the situation they are put in they will survive and survive happily if they aren’t separated from the loyalty and devotion of the pack, human or dog.
So in conclusion for this weeks blog, my question at the top was what bonds us? (Dogs and people) , I believe it is LOVE.
It’s crazy how a mad little or large furry friend can enter our lives, turn them upside down, make us laugh, make us cry & if yours are anything like my 3 yorkies will make you smile more than anything.
They show a love and bond we human beings crave for, they make the lonely feel loved, they make the lost feel found( even in the search and rescue jobs), they make mental health issues fade away through distracting us with joy, they help the blind and disabled, they bring us a confidence to help us on the tough days. They do not need to speak our language but just know and understand our feelings.
They (dogs) I believe are a miracle given to mankind with an unbreakable bond. LOVE.
until next time….
Judgement is a totally human trait, we have the ability to judge every scenario in life from keeping our own self preservation to how we interact with others.
Some people say they have “good judgement” over people they meet. What does that actually mean?
I used to be a public house manager for over 23 years and one of the important parts of the job was to judge quickly the members of the public walking through the door, were they going to be trouble? were they already inebriated? were they here for other reasons than having a nice time? are they a security risk? etc…
It was generally an instant decision on whether or not I served them and wanted them in the building, some times I misjudged, most of the time my discernment was good.
Human nature is instantly judgemental, we assess the person before us and our minds connect with our other senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch (personal space), taste(people say “they leave a bad taste in my mouth”) and decide very quickly if that person is “our type” or are they safe to be near. Judgement is a form of defence, our senses tell us to take flight or fight, they tell us to smile and like or turn away and ignore. The Bible says we shouldn’t judge and to leave that to God, but I believe in certain situations we have to make judgement calls.
Our judicial law puts a judge as the deciding person in court cases, police officers have to judge the moment they are sent into. So judgement is a part of life we cant avoid.
The worst sort of judgement is the superficial judgement that human nature produces. When we see a homeless person walk into a coffee shop we react very differently to a person in business attire. We don’t know the background or life story of either of these characters but society has conformed us to judge appropriately and look down on one over the other.
The same happens with our dogs.
Dogs don’t walk about having a clue what breed they are, how big they are, what sort of hair cut they have, whether Britain is in Brexit or not or Donald Trump is in power!
They live their lives day to day, living in each and every moment they have here on earth. They want to love and enjoy life. They don’t start out in life aggressive, timid, barking at the moon or stressed. That is all put on them by living with their neurotic partners in life – humans!
I have been judged recently on a few occasions because of the type of dog I have been caring for. If I am walking my tiny Yorkies Rocky, Stardust & Herbie, I tend to get an “awwwwww” reaction and people come up to me and make a fuss of them and chat to me. But if I am out with a different breed, for example, an English Bull terrier I walk regularly called Flynn and this very weekend a beautiful Staffie crossed with a Chihuahua called Amy, I get a very different reaction.
The description of a Staffordshire bull terrier is: reliable, affectionate, bold, intelligent, fearless, loyal and courageous. They were known as the “nanny dog” because of their reputation as a child’s playmate and guardian. They are lovers not fighters.
An English bull terrier is described as : friendly, extrovert who is always ready for a good time, sweet disposition and loving.
Because of false media coverage and unfortunate owners of the bull breeds it has led to a very judgemental attitude about them. I have been walking along and people literally cross the road or the field I am in to avoid any engagement with the dog or myself. I think they look at the breed, instantly their brain reacts, but not only judges the animal but also the walker, I go from being the funny big man walking 3 silly little fluff balls to the big angry man with a short haircut and an aggressive dog!
How wrong can people be. Flynn is the silliest, funny and loving dog, and working with Amy for the first time, I have seen her as a shy, loving, bursts of craziness, beautiful soul.
Dogs have no concept of how they look, they don’t use mirrors, they are who they are, and that personality is always there but unfortunately the people who nurture them can turn them into creatures they were never designed to be, and those are the ones who make it into the news and change perceptions.
Loving discipline, training/exercise and affection are the keys to a balanced happy pet. If we don’t put that in place as their responsible owners we are responsible for the creation they could become. It is never the dogs fault.
So next time you see a breed that makes you feel uneasy, try not to judge, just smile at the owner letting them know it’s okay they have a pet they chose and love. Use the usual rule when meeting a dog you never know , regardless of breed – No touch , no talk , no eye contact. Let them smell and understand you first before engaging with them.
You will find that there are a lot of “scary” looking dogs out there that are the most passive, friendly and loving dogs who have so much to give. The nice thing for them is they will never know they are being judged, they will feel fear and anxiety, but it’s their owners who feel judged and that is unfair.
There are about 8.5 million dogs in the UK, so we are never far away from one. lets not judge them but embrace their coexistence with us as our companions and most loyal creature on the planet, often more loyal than other people!
until next time…
“Small dog syndrome”
We have all heard of the phrase “little man syndrome” , describing an opinionated, sometimes feisty smaller person. This is believed to have originated from Admiral Lord Nelson. He was a small man at only 5ft 4in tall, of slight build and a weak constitution due to many illnesses. But his character always pulled through and he became Britain’s most inspiring naval leader winning many battles through tactics and raw ambition. He could have been a quiet man controlled by his size but he chose to be bigger in character than anyone around him, making him a leader and hero to his country. Its no surprise that this man has the biggest statue in this country standing in Trafalgar square, London.
I am the proud owner of 3 Yorkshire terriers. I have Dad, Mum and their first born son, Rocky, Stardust & Herbie. If I had a pound for every time a person on a walk has said to me “oh! little dog syndrome” I would be very wealthy!
I hadn’t given it much thought before and always gave a fake laugh and smile at the comments, but whilst away on holiday a lovely elderly lady came up to us and made a fuss of my Rocky. Instead of coming out with the usual phrase, she looked at Rocky and said to him “I understand what it’s like to be little, you have to go through the world with a very different approach don’t you?, I see the world the way you do and it is so big sometimes!” This lady was probably about 4 feet something tall and she made me think with a whole new perspective when dealing with smaller dog breeds.
I am 6ft 4in tall so I see the world from a higher viewpoint to many but for yorkies and similar breeds they get a ground level perspective. Even in the car my Rocky has to climb up on something in order to see out the window!
So I started to think does this have an affect on their personalities?
When my 3 dogs are on a walk, they tend to take the high ground when they meet and greet other breeds of dog and human, Rocky will start with his head high, ears alert, tail stiff to attention and sometimes stalk approach, ready to pounce if need be. He is fully on standby for a perceived attack. Now I know he is a terrier and the breed dictates certain characteristics but now I look at it from his perspective, he is walking along, his eyes are about 4 inches from the ground, his nose will be working overtime with all the close by scents he is picking up on, suddenly a human and a huge dog approach. It must be daunting to see the world from such a low level, very intimidating. All 3 of my dogs are very friendly and after some barking and sniffing generally make friends with all they meet, but I now think the initial bravado is to make themselves bigger and stronger than anything that comes along, as with Lord Nelson, they have to make their mark on the world to be noticed, or they might just get trodden on!
The question remains though, “does a dog know how big it is?”
Are we just anthropomorphic sizing dogs to fit into our thought patterns?
Whatever the case, smaller dogs do seem to have a bigger personality than is needed sometimes. Scrappy-Doo always comes to mind as the small version of Scooby-Doo trying to take on the world with a fight!
So next time you are out and about walking, take a look at the smaller dogs and try and see the world from their perspective, respect their space and always adopt the “no talk, no touch, no eye contact” until they have sniffed and greeted you.
I haven’t even got onto the amazing cuddles and lap dogs they are!!
until next time…
Time away in Sunny Devon…
My time away gave me a great opportunity to study dogs with their owners. Devon is a very dog friendly area where most cafes, restaurants and pubs allow well behaved dogs into their premises.
We took only one of our Yorkshire terriers with us for our week away, Rocky, our little boy with a big personality. When at home in Colchester he will often come out walking with me and accompany my clients dogs, he can be a typical terrier, a bit like scrappy doo from the scooby doo cartoons “let me at them, let me at them!” but soon makes friends with any dog he meets and loves the dogs I work with.
Being in such a lovely environment such as Devon is, we did a lot of walking and visits to the beach. Rocky came everywhere with us and it wasn’t long before I noticed a significant change in his character and demeanor as the days went by.
One of the things I believe brings balance to a dogs life is exercise. Dogs are very tuned in to energy levels, they read situations through emotional, physical and intuitive energy, often reading certain situations long before their human owner knows. Watch your dog on the next walk, he will change his body language as he smells, hears and sees(in that order) the changes around him including meeting and approaching other dogs. Some will stalk towards them, others will bounce and be waggy tailed, other might show a slight aggression, normally because they have sensed what they are approaching long before the humans say hello to each other and adopt the play, fight or flight approach they need for each meeting.
So getting back to my Rocky, we walked miles everyday, mostly on the beaches and around coastal towns. Rocky starts the day with lots of energy in all departments, full of joy and up for being a little feisty to bigger dogs until he is relaxed in their presence again typical terrier behaviour.
One of our favourite walks was on a beach called Ness beach. You have to get to this particular beach by going through an old smugglers tunnel cut through the steep cliff, trapping the beach in at all sides, as we walked through it we tried to imagine what it was like for the pirates dragging their loot onto the English coast line, dark, muddy and steep, I couldn’t help myself as I put on a pirates accent saying “Arrrgh me hearties!!”. As soon as we got to the end of the tunnel, Rocky was desperate to be released to enjoy the sand between his toes. Running, playing ball, going into the surf, running, meeting lots of different sorts of dog breed, running some more. I observed as his energy levels dropped and as they did, he relaxed more and more into any situation.
I believe that most dog issues can be resolved predominantly by burning up a dogs energy levels, it makes them the relaxed happy creatures they were designed to be. We as owners keep our dogs in our homes often leaving them for long periods of time whilst we are out at work and play, in that time they become like a coiled spring and need to release that energy by walking, running and meeting others of their kind. I saw a significant difference in Rocky’s temperament as the days and week went on. He was relaxed and so happy because he had become a balanced dog with no time to build up his energy levels because we were constantly draining them.
I say on my website that a happy dog makes a happy home and I stand by that, it brings me so much pleasure to see a dog happy from walking and being happily tired.
Next time you take your dog for a walk, watch his energy drain away, if you can let him say hello to other dogs and experience the pleasures of being outside where they become the animal they were made to be.
I know Rocky would still rather be on holiday!
until next time…
Earlier in the year I was asked to be a judge at the Colchester Free family fun festival dog show, which is a free to enter fun day for adults, children and also their dogs.
The categories for the show were: Most elegant, best sausage catcher, best young handler, cutest pup or dog, Best heel on or off lead, waggiest tail and then the winners went through to best in show competition to find the over all winner.
It’s so lovely to see the owners arrive with their dogs full of smiles and waggy tails as they register for their event and the dogs start to meet other dogs around them, some with a sniff, some with a growl & some with a bounciness to make Tigger look like couch potato!
The anticipation of the owners as they enter the ring, each person rightly knowing their dog is the winner, as they see them in their lives as perfect, so why wouldn’t they win!
Then it was time for Ella, my daughter and I to judge. We saw all sorts of breeds parade before us in each category and fell in love with all of them, We saw tiny pomeranians alongside huge greyhounds & Mastiffs next to cockerpoo’s. The dogs stood and walked around the show ring with confidence all mingling extremely well. After each category had been judged, the winners went straight into the best in show finale at the end of the day.
We had 4 finalists arrive for judgement, they stepped inside the show ring, did a walk for the audience watching on to see and study the breeds of Working Cocker spaniel, Puppy Labrador, Staffordshire Bull terrier & and a huge Mastiff.
After a long deliberation between Ella & myself we decided on the 4th place winner- Cocker Spaniel, the 3rd place winner – Pup Labrador, the 2nd place winner Staffie, and the winner of 2017 show -A Mastiff called Boris!!
I loved the day, being around and seeing all the dogs and how people interact with their beloved pet and how they let them behave around others.
The outstanding moment for me was watching Boris the mastiff and his handler, a 4 year old little girl! She was an absolute natural with this animal that stood head and shoulders above her.
It made me reflect on our behaviour with our pets. People who are nervous of their dog meeting another dog for fear of a fight or bad interaction, tend to walk nervously with their dog on a short tight lead with no room for the dog to sniff or interact, this feeds down the lead to tell the dog “oh I had better look after my owner as they are nervous out here” and results in an aggressive or barking dog.
But this little girl had no fear, she didn’t know or care she was tiny against the beast she was walking. She had a confidence and natural ability with that dog that I rarely see in adults. At one point when she was walking around the show ring with Boris, he pulled away slightly & she counteracted by letting him know she was in charge with a gentle tug on the lead and a firm but kind “come Boris”. It not only melted my heart seeing such a primal love between animal and human but I understood even more that a loving, respectful and trusting relationship with our dogs is built on the leader( the owner) being confident and reflecting that down the lead to the dog. A loving balance between the two brings harmony and a joy between pet and owner.
Dogs act upon a fight or flight train of thought, so if we restrict them on the lead and don’t let them meet other dogs naturally, with a nose to nose, moving to a nose to bum greeting, we stop them and the next action maybe to either want to square up to the dog or try to pull away( fight or flight). So next time you are on a walk try and relax, think like a child, relax about any situation you might think may happen( it probably won’t!), relax the lead, let your dog know everything is alright, not by verbal reassurance but relaxed, happy , loving leadership.
until next time…
“All we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”
Many years ago I was in New York on a mission trip to learn about children’s work. We went to observe and serve a man and his team running a kids church as they weekly reached 20,000+ children with sidewalk church entertainment and a massive mega kids church on Saturdays, bussing children in from their neighbourhoods. It was an incredible week as we watched this huge organisation bring fun and hope to many many families with little else in their lives.
The one man who had set this up over the years was Bill Wilson, He had been deserted as a child on a street corner and his mother never returned, he was taken in by a christian family and years later he wanted to give back to the kids of New York as he knew what it was like to be in a desperate situation. Bill went through so many challenges as he began and continued to grow his church, he was shot in the face, beaten many times and suffered ill health.
But one thing kept him going – His vision. His driven enthusiasm and ONE vision to see what he had in mind come to pass. His single vision consumed him and drove him to achieve his dream of reaching children with the love of the gospel.
The trouble with life nowadays is we get so busy with various challenges, hobbies and our jobs, our visions get watered down until they fade away and we settle for the norm.
If we look at driven individuals who had only one goal and were enthusiastic to the point of never giving up, they generally have made it to see their dream a reality. Richard Branson,Karen Brady, Mo Farah, Cesar Millan and even Donald Trump are a few who come to mind.
But whether it be family, friendship, hobbies, business, sport, writing, bringing up children, owning a pet or even doing charity work, if we have a vision and are fully enthusiastic about it we can achieve our dreams and be truly happy with life.
If we look to our dogs we again can learn so much. Dogs are naturally enthusiastic about life, they wake up each day with their one vision, to love and bring joy to their owners, whether that be in a working role or just being a home pet. A dogs enthusiasm never wavers, even when treated poorly they will still be loyal and try to make the best of the situation.
Dogs are made to seize the moment, to have a basic view on living and to use their “one vision” to bring as much joy as they can.
So in this week ahead try and live for the moment, stop, take in your surroundings,breathe, smile, wag your tail, dance & sing. Try and bring a joy to someone else, whether its buying a coffee for the next customer in a cafe, giving to charity or buying a homeless person a drink and some biscuits.
If you have a dream and vision about business, charity, running a family,writing, work, travel, training your dog, buying a treat for yourself, anything, make it your one vision, the main thing you are enthusiastic about and see it unfold and become a reality.
Bring the simplicity of life we see in our dogs into our own way of living, don’t get watered down, look to them for inspiration as they go about their mission to love and bring joy to their small world around them.
One vision brings focus , many visions brings chaos.
until next time….
We English love to greet each other.
We meet a friend or loved one with a hug or a kiss on the cheek or lips if they mean even more to us. It wasn’t always like that for us. Being the “stiff upper lip” nation of old, we used to greet with a strong handshake or even just a hello. But multiculturalism and a globalist world has made our “stiff upper lip” a bit on the floppy side nowadays! which is no bad thing, as we are now more connected to our emotional state than ever before.
So how does this relate to our dogs?
Lets set the scene; You come home from work after a long day, you open the front door and hear the thunderous footsteps of your big mastiff charging in full excitement to welcome you home. He has been waiting for this moment for hours, contemplating the noise of the car door, the key in the lock and then the creak of the door opening. Full joy ensues with jumping, wagging tail, wet sloppy kisses and even the odd nip out of pure joy. It is the welcome home most people love to see if they are pet lovers. We then fuel that fever pitched energy by squeaking to our dog in the most high pitched voice since Mickey Mouse, sending the excitement from 9 to 10 on the scale of 10!!
For many of us this is the normal daily scenario when we come home or when a visitor arrives. What we see as a beautiful welcome in fact can become damaging in the long run, not only for the dogs emotional state but also if you have visitors who are nervous or frail.
It is more damaging for a big dog to be hyper but small dogs can have the same issues but be much noisier.
A dog is always going to be over the moon that their human has returned to them, and regardless of how we receive them at the door they will still love the fact you are home.
If your dog is in the excited routine already and you are happy with that, then carry on, but if you want your dog to start to behave around the front door and be the balanced self assured dog he deserves to be, try a few new techniques.
When you arrive home, open the door and have a “no touch, no talk, no eye contact”(Cesar Millan) policy with your dog. in other words, ignore all the unwanted behaviour. If he jumps up, turn your back to him with no chat. Move into your house and put the kettle on, still ignoring your dog. His feelings will not be hurt, he is just so happy you are back in his life. When the dog realises you aren’t receiving the attention , he will calm down to a relaxed state of mind. Then you can give attention(still no high pitched squeaking though!!). Repetition and practice will make life a lot easier when a visitor comes who doesn’t want a hyper welcome. Treats can always be given for good calm behaviour too.
My plan is to help how we live with these wonderful animals and give them the chance to be all they can be without our human ways being thrust upon them as we try to anthropomorphize them.
So often we put our emotional responses onto our dogs when we could learn so much from their body language and social aspects, except the bottom sniffing, I would rather just shake hands!!
Until next time….
I am very privileged to walk many different breeds of dog. The great thing they all have in common is how they live day to day. They have very different personalities, some cheeky, bouncy and fun, some more relaxed and calm, some senior and mature. But the one thing they have in common is living for the very moment they are in.
Dogs don’t make big plans for tomorrow or the future, they don’t look back in anger or past memories haunt their futures. They live in the moment that God has given them. I envy that attitude, because we humans mostly live with unforgiveness, we live with crazy plans about being rich & famous,we live stuck in our gadgets & we live with such busy agendas that we can’t see the beautiful world around us.
I work with a wonderful old girl called “Lady”
She is very much a lady, a 15 year old (I know I shouldn’t reveal a ladies age!) greyhound x Whippet. She was rescued at the age of 7 and instantly bonded with her owner. They adore each other.
Recently Lady has had a few health scares, due to her age and this week has a lump and also diagnosed with pancreatitis. Our human nature left her owner and I discussing future events should she not fair well with this condition. NOT Lady! she came back from the vets and had a restful day, which is common in older dogs, but the next day she was up and ready for her morning walk.
I arrived at her house and off we went to the local nature park where she met some “doggie” friends and enjoyed herself as always. The reason Lady doesn’t live in the past or the future is because she is so happy for the now, she had forgotten yesterdays vet ordeals and was ready for this day. She inspired me to write a short story whilst watching her enjoying her walk…
The Lady & the Squirrel
The squirrel stopped on the footpath, aware that he was trapped in the pinpoint stare of a predator.
He moved one foot to test whether it was worthy of making a break for it, but as he did, the elegant black and white sleek form pricked her ears up in anticipation.
He froze again, becoming a statue in order to blend his grey form into the pavement and become invisible.
Lady shifted her stance, from the graceful old girl to young pup ready to play and pounce on anything that moved. She poised herself ready in anticipation for the chase. Her mind was alert, active and sharp but her body lagged behind nowadays.
The standoff seemed to last an age but in reality was seconds of predator/prey nervousness. Suddenly the squirrel made a break for it, racing towards the huge tree ahead of him, his little heart pumping with adrenaline and fear. He made it to the base of the tree and looked back with a sense of achievement.
Lady with her wisdom and grace, knew she wouldn’t catch this one and watched him scuttle away, happy in the knowledge she had spotted this one. “There’s always another time” she thought to herself with a big panting grin.
So a lesson we can all learn from dogs is to enjoy the now. Forgive the past or people from our pasts, move away from any thoughts that taint our day we are in. Get home from work and let the day drop off your shoulders, relax and enjoy THIS moment. Each day literally is a fresh start, so whatever ailments we carry, mindsets that are fixed or attitudes. look at a dog, they carry none of it(some humans hurt their journey) they have a past but choose the now, they choose life and the simple pleasures they can take from it.
until next time…
Okay, Just stop for a minute and stare at your dog. Just take the time to look deeply at this marvel of a pet that is always there around us, with unconditional loyalty and love.
We are so busy as people nowadays that we can take for granted the small things that make up our day.
When I’m out walking I see so many people walking along staring into the little screen of their mobile phone, no doubt checking their Instagram about what their favourite celebrity had for breakfast! really important stuff!
We then get home and switch the bigger screen on in the corner of our room and get lost in dramas or news for the evening, all of this is outside our own lives and personal experiences. I am guilty of this, but whilst sitting looking at one of my dogs “Rocky” I realised they don’t have anything else to do in life except wait for us as their owners to spend time with them and crave devoted time with us.
A pet doesn’t have any gadgets to distract their day, maybe their favourite squeaky toy! They just want to be next to our side cuddled up or on a walk, that to them is “living”. It’s why most homeless peoples dogs are calm and balanced.
One of my dogs “Herbie” is devoted to my wife Jackie, He lives and breathes to please her and wouldn’t care if nobody else in the world existed, He is totally and unapologetically bonded with her. When on a walk together, he will stay near her and at home he doesn’t leave her side. When she goes out to work, he waits, and waits , and waits for her return, every car engine or door slam, his little ears prick up in anticipation of his “love” returning home. Then comes the welcome upon her return!
It’s the little things in life that excite our pets, TIME is the most important little thing. Time is love, time is devotion and time is looking at the priorities of life and changing our habits to accommodate appropriate small time with the animals and people we love.
It has made me re-evaluate my time. When “Rocky” does his little bark to play ball(even at midnight!) I am going to stop worrying about what I’m watching and play with him. He is in my world, right now and it’s my duty to spend quality time with him and all my dogs instead of placing gadgets and the outside world first.
So just stop. look at your pet. Think about the small things in life they cherish and take advice from them, it may help to reduce worry, stress and normalise life in this busy, messy world we share.
until next time…
How dogs say hello!
When I am out and about walking I am lucky enough to meet many different dogs and their owners. One of the things I notice the most is how we as humans expect our dogs to say “hi” just as we do.
We walk along a path and the owners are all smiles ready to speak and say hi, sometimes they hold the leash tight and tense worrying about how their dog will react to meeting another. So the humans are happy to say “good morning” and maybe say “nice weather” but the dogs are going through a totally different experience.
The dogs are approaching face to face, they are on a lead so the “fight or fright” scenario is off the table as they cant run away from the situation, so for some dogs the “fight ” scenario kicks in. Before they even get near each other they have already smelt the approaching friend or foe, dogs have 220 million scent receptors as opposed to our 5 million, so for them the air is full of delicious or obnoxious smells ( delicious to them maybe foxes poop!!)
When they finally arrive at a meeting point on the path, they have some idea of who they are meeting, but the best way for a dog to understand who the other one is , is by sniffing the bum. A perfect meeting would be to go past each other with a slight nose to nose and then straight to each others bums, the nose then reads the CV of the other dog, what breed they are, what they had for breakfast, where they have been, what sex they are, their favourite human & best chew toy amongst other facts!
Once this introduction has taken place, most dogs will relax and be happy to be in the presents of the other dog. As human beings we find this “meet & greet” a disgusting habit and some people say “NO!” and pull their dogs away, this can eventually lead to behaviour issues as the dog being stopped will never learn to say hello in doggie fashion and will go straight to the face, which in the dog world is aggressive.
One dog I work with is a Cocker Spaniel called “sizzles”, he is a very nervous boy and would rather have a quiet walk with no hassles. If we do meet other woofers out on a walk how he reacts is, he either sees or smells the approaching pooch and stops in his tracks, he then lets out a little whine to tell me he isn’t sure of this situation. I stop and let the other dog and owner approach, my body language and energy(I will talk about energy another time) are calm and Sizzles feels that, which helps him relax. I never make Sizzles say hello and it’s always done on the terms of the dogs. Once Sizzles has realised all is well he approaches the other dog with his usual waggy tail and happy nature, and the more he does this the more confident he is becoming each day.
I love dog behaviour and find it fascinating that a totally different species lives in harmony(most of the time) with us crazy human beings. Dogs are a miracle how they put up with us humanising them, if they could speak and comment on us, I’m sure they would say “watch and learn from us, and the world would be more balanced”….
until next time.
Why a walk?
Walking is one of the most natural things we can do, it is good for our hearts, body and mind. As we walk along our thoughts become clearer(unless we are rushing to work!) and things become more balanced as our breathing and heart beat work together to regulate our movement.
I love walking Dogs, I guess that’s obvious as I set my business and life around it! But the reason I love it is because I see such a change in most of the dogs I take out. One of my happiest sounds is after the walk, let me explain…
When I arrive at certain dogs homes, they are like a coiled spring, they are so excited about what I represent, I guess it makes me popular in their eyes as I am the “fun” man!
The tail wags so hard, it makes their whole back end wiggle, they have the happiest face as some may have been alone for a few hours before I arrive and the joy often overflows into jumping up and down and not being able to stand still so I can get close to putting a lead on!
An example of this is a beautiful English Bull Terrier called Flynn. I have the pleasure to walk him twice a week. As I arrive at his house he is waiting by the back door as if to say “I know what day and time it is!”, so excited he makes a high pitched noise as his tail wags and he wants to smother me in kisses and jump ups. Being such a big strong boy I always attempt to bring calm to him before making a fuss of him, so he knows how to act to get a fuss. Then comes the collar time, trying to get it attached is a challenge through the sheer joy of knowing where he is going, but again I try and calm him until he is good to go.
We walk out to my little van, I open the back door and he gets his front paws on the back plate but that’s it I then have to get him by the back legs and lift his tense excited little body in. As I drive to the local park he sits up behind me looking out the front window with his paw on my shoulder, looking trying to recognise the land marks he recognises as we approach the treasure of the park.
I pull up, park and open the back doors. He is there waiting to jump out and sprint away on the long lead he is connected to, pulling me, it’s like trying to hold a small car back as it pulls away!
The walk is a mixture of sniffing , rolling in the long grass, more pulling, a bit of short lead walking training, wee’s, poop and just pure natural happiness at the other dogs and people he meets along the way. As we walk I see a significant change in him, the energy he started with starts to unwind and smooth out, he relaxes, takes more time to enjoy where he is, the panting is heavier as we march on.
We get back to the van and his energy is fully drained, the coiled spring is more like a slinky now! I give him a big drink of water and lift his bulky behind back into the van where instead of sitting behind me on my shoulder, he lays down in front of the fans I have on in the back and he relaxes.
The sound I mentioned at the start of my blog is this…
He is absolutely content, he has burnt off his energy and he has become a balanced, happy boy. The sound is silence, the gentle breathing as he rests in joyful memories of what has just occurred. Silence is the lovely sound of a happy dog, walked.
A good walk is the key to many many behaviour issues in our dogs, but that’s for another blog. xx
disclaimer: All my blogs are my opinion and behaviour ideas. Please consult a professional in your area if what I write raises issues for your dog or pet. It is your responsibility as an owner to handle your dog well and get help if needed. My blog is for advice, fun stories and general help. Be responsible and respectful when out with your dogs always.