Sirus

I have taken so long to write about Sirus.

I always thought the more you time you spend with animals, the better you become at handling the inevitable sickness and loss. In reality you handle it differently each time.

I can’t explain how amazing it is to share a part of an animal’s life. It’s an honour and involves a huge amount of trust.  Sirus came with a huge grin, a quick temper and a spot for every naughty thought he had ( which isn’t true as he had lots and lots of naughty thoughts).

Though many professionals will shudder at the suggestion of such a thing, he had a huge sense of humour and seemed to revel in any reaction of horror, bemusement or indeed exasperation. How can such a big personality be gone? Well he wore himself out I am sure haha. You can’t live life so full on without going poof!

Many many times, whilst on the naughty step he proudly came to us with his chewed lead handing from his collar. Actually MY lead. Back we went and put him back on the naughty step and he would stay there beside his severed lead patiently waiting for his nanny to release him, taking the opportunity to catch his breath ready for more antics.

Always such a handsome dog he had, what we say in the horse world, interesting conformation. His back legs refused to conform to any standard and that summed up Sirus very well. We can revel in the dogs who are 100% them, they follow their own path and teach you so much, patience for one.

Now don’t get the wrong impression. He wasn’t a bad dog, he was so incredibly sweet with his children, with us and most of his dog friends. He loved and gave fully to all he trusted and if he could see it pleased you he may just give you everything you wanted. Suffer fools he did not and was as quick as a whip yet he could, with a word, rein his temper in and become the sweet boy again.

In the later years two kittens came into his life and he enjoyed a new obsession. There wasn’t a part of these fur balls that didn’t intrigue him, it was lovely to see him accept his new family even if a little ott in the beginning.

I find it hard to remember Sirus playing without thinking of Roly, his nemesis. They were like two competing teenage boys. Where Sirus went Roly followed. Funnily enough, despite being such competitive boys, they looked for each other when apart.  Games with others just didn’t have the same edge.

There are many moments we all shared with Si, one of my favourite all-time moments was Sirus’s love of swimming. He was the worst swimmer I had ever seen ( well baring the non swimmer Buck who just sank). Oh how that memory can make my heart ache and make my heart glad. It was like watching a drowning man with a huge grin on his face.

My greatest sympathies to Steph and family, thank you for sharing your grinning boy with us, he introduced us to your wonderful family and a good few laughs along the way. He made us cry and despite that I would do it all over again.

Sweet dreams you big goofball, you owe me a lead ( or ten!).

 

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I was THAT person who asked a child if they wanted to see some puppies.

I never thought I would be that person.

Yet I really did ask a young child if he would like to see some puppies whilst trying to ‘lure’ him off a very busy road.  It worked very well and for now the 2/3 year old was safe.

He was wearing a breakfast covered jumper, little boys underpants and nothing else. I was by now carrying him and asking him what he was called and where his mammy was.

“Dog!”

I was pretty certain he wasn’t called dog so I tried again whilst panicking slightly that I was carrying an unknown child, a barely dressed unknown toddler. Where do you live, can you show me?

“Dog!”

So we walked or rather I walked whilst carrying him as it was 4º and he had nothing on his legs or feet. Down the street and up the street.  I see a woman and before I engage my brain I ask her “ Does this belong to you?”. Unsurprisingly, she stared at me and at the child and shook her head.

I showed him the dogs “Dogs!” and wondered how I was going to get my phone out of the van without looking like I was kidnapping him.

Then a wonderful sight! A Muppet PJ clad ( just in case you wanted to know it was rather appropriately ANIMAL) Justine drove into the street wondering why the PetNanny van was parked askew with windows open and no one in. She was more than a little confused when she saw me with child so to speak.

She promptly phoned the police then started to quiz the toddler. “Dog” was said a few more times and then off we went to show him more puppies ( oh the shame) as the posse were in her car.

Soon we were relieved of our charge and the two dogs I had seen running loose earlier  in the street belonged to the same person as the lost toddler.

I try to look at the positives and he was safe however I was yet again disgusted at the cars who simply ignored or drove around “Dog!” and not one person even looked like they may help.

There are positives…..the police were brilliant and prompt, two people helped and the muppets do indeed live on!

 

 

Fuggy

I could only call myself fuggy today, fuggy head and legs to match.  Picks were slow and a little erratic, walk preparation frustratingly incomplete so I decided more walks with less dogs was the way to go.

The first walk was a muddle of leads, leads not finding the loop of collars and non existent sits, or at least the start of the first walk.

So I stopped.

Took a breath and just looked at them.  The fug must’ve been swirling around thick in the air so we waited.  Ember, already oversensitive was dancing about, looking around and waiting to over react to any stimulus.

Feeling a little more together we walked.  The rhythm soon took over, the fug slowly started to lift.  The guys and gals enjoying the movement, the smells and the freedom.  Our first challenge was less than perfect with slow, barely there sits whilst the lady and her lab passed by.

Off we set again.  My mind was still and clear, my walk felt good and the sounds of the birds started to filter through.  On this particular walk I listen for the song thrush, he trills a dog whistle three times.  I listen for that wonderful whistle and wonder how many times the bird heard it before he recreated it so beautifully.

I hear the scratting from Truffle as she marks where she has been to whomever cares to notice.

We finally walk together.  It has taken me far too long.  You can’t walk or work with animals well without a calm focussed yet almost empty mind ( Why do I hear funny comments in my mind at that statement?!).  I am sure they feel your fog, noise, the busyness.

The following walks were wonderful, a mixture of enjoying the company of the dogs and enjoying all we see.  Hugo was not suited at the litter pickers though everyone else enjoyed the smells that came from the disturbed land and grass.  Elsie and Winnie were more interested with the flour marks on the cycle track, like a unexpected picnic laid out just for the girls.

As Storm Doris builds up I think of the Doris( or as I knew her Dowis) I knew and loved.  She would have loved having a storm named after her. Enough time has passed  that you can enjoy those you’ve walked before and lost, thinking of the passing years and the ‘people’ you have shared your time with.

Next time you are out walking, enjoy a still mind and the inevitable view of your dog’s glorious bum!

How I found my legs again

Whilst walking with the guys and gals, I revel in their different ways.  They have their little habits and preferences, different likes and often funny walks.  CharlieLab wasn’t called Crazylegs by chance and Hugo looks like he is a cut and shut from the front, his hind legs walk a completely different path to his front.  Stan has his very own staffie skip, a clear indication of how he is feeling whereas Winnie’s hop is just Winnie.

I had acquired my own unfortunate walk, often falling and being completely stumped by hills going up.  Hills going down often meant a welcome speed up and perfectly flat ground  you would barely tell my hitch and swing.

A surgical procedure on my back soon fixed the problem, indeed it highlighted just how big the problem had been.  on leaving the hospital I was a little taken aback by my partners reaction ( I call him Mr Gumps and he suits it).  He was grinning, soon to be laughing and walked behind me in glee.  He clearly wasn’t taking this as seriously as he should so I tried, unsuccessfully, to spin round to glare at him and ask what was amusing him so much.

He started to high step not unlike a hackney pony but only with one leg and I soon realised I was high stepping with my right leg!

Try as I might I couldn’t stop doing it and I had visions of Crazylegs, Staffie skip and Winnie Hop being joined by Hackney hike.

The hackney hike did calm down as my body learnt it didn’t have to put quite as much effort into lifting that legs as it previously had and with physio and following doctors orders I was allowed to drive.

Oh lordy what a trial that was! My leg nerve had been so impinged my body had had to send out very strong signals to get it to respond and now the impingement was gone I was having to relearn how to control it.  Which meant pulling out of my drive practically gave me whiplash from the G-Force.  Mmm work needed on my accelerator control.  Once I had gotten over the shock of the G-Force I soon was flung forward when I tried to gently brake, a word that was all to accurate at this rate.

The driving soon became natural again, with no fear of causing mayhem on the roads.  Yet one more move has been harder to shake.

The Zombie Dive.

I frequently tripped and with a slow heavy leg I found I simply fell as my leg was to slow to react.  Baring the odd time I managed to hop myself out of trouble I either fell sideways or face down saving myself only with my hands ( often flopping sideways trying not to squish the pugs who funnily enough were often the cause of the tripping, never has the name of the Britain’s Got Talent dog, Trip Hazard been more poignant).

So for weeks I have found myself tripping occasionally and with my arms flying out in front of me, my body falling forward and yet I find myself still upright.  My foot has managed to step into place preventing the fall.  Yet still I stand looking like a Zombie, face contorted, arms out straight and looking just like I am about to fall forward into a grave!

Eleven weeks post op my body is still trying to keep me safe and my brain is gleefully waiting for it to catch up.

So if you should happen upon a lady walking dogs, doing a funny hike, or walking like a Zombie don’t rush by, wave and say hi I am obviously just having a bad day!

Here’s to more happy walking and raise a glass to the wonderful Neurosurgeon Anant Kamat, he is a shining star.

 

When a game becomes more than a game

A simple game of ‘Find It’ changed my day today.

With the sun shining down on us, we set off walking.  Rez and Phoebe, Lola and Tilly pairing up ready to race whilst Elsie and Sirus were the game crashers!  In and out of the trees they ran as I took photos and laughed at their usual antics.  A few waits and sits before setting off like bullets to a target matching each others speed to the race felt real.

Soon we came upon the nasty stream that has an awful grey tinge so out came the prey dummy ( a flamboyant slightly stinky pencil case) and we played our find it game.  The stream was ignored and they were all high on the scent games, competing with each other to find the prey dummy first.

Back into my pocket they resumed their pairings once again, a wonderful dance of two dogs then two pairs to make four then back to twos and then when the track narrowed they became a troupe of six.  The puggles solicited a game of scent again, ever desperate for a food hit whilst Rez, Phoebe, Sirus and Elsie wanted the racetrack.  As I set up the scent game I set the foursome off on a racetrack run ( a dead straight track run where they run to a point only they seem to see and without a word they turn and race back to me) and soon the foursome joined the puggles once again.

Posing was now in order and what posers they are, Elsie surprised me with a faultless feet up pose and the photographs showed just how happy they are posing.

The time had come for the little people to come out and a more sedate but no less attentive walk soon became a interactive love fest.  They love to sniff, love to wee and love to make me laugh.  Hugo doing his ‘not moving am staying put nobody loves me nobody cares’ waiting for me to ask ‘ uh oh wheres Hugo?  Who has seen Hugo?’ at which point he runs as fast as his puggy legs will carry him and I swear I can see a glint in that cheeky lads face!

Oscar is on wind up duties whilst Lolly and Harvey compete.  A new game to them if Harvey sniffs Lolly sniffs the spot harder and longer, if Lolly goes to look at something in the trees off Harvey goes standing by her side.  Molly was happy to mooch at her own speed, there but not mixing much today enjoying her time without Elsie housemate supervising.  Tallulah was Nanny side kick I think the only one to smell the prey dummy in my pocket, not risking missing the game.

Once again a game of find, a pose or three and a few treats freely given for tucking in whilst people passed.

What I hadn’t noticed on the last tuck in was I had dropped my phone.  My beloved phone with much of my working life neatly stored and organised on, yes I had copies but my phone!

Once everyone settled I set off again, searching in vain for a plain black phone.  I tried to remember when I last used it realising I hadn’t had the reminder for Lolly’s lunchtime tablet and retraced my steps in vain.  With my recovering body starting to tire I decided I should have used our game, Find It!

Needless to say they weren’t reluctant to head back out and although a little bemused they happily wandered about until I said find it.  Now if I am playing ‘ UH OH Nanny has lost her keys!’ they look for my keys and I had never thought to put a word or request to find my phone so I just hoped they would come across my scent on my phone ( lets face it its often in my hands).

Well after passing the same point three times and looking hard the guys and gals proved to me that a simple, beloved game of Find it is an invaluable tool.  They had found the phone standing on its thinnest edge in the brambles and they were as proud as punch….

Utterly relieved and delighted I realised I hadn’t brought the treats!

Nanny Fail.

With lots of  whoops, play and praise we rushed back and had a mini buffet at the van. Note to self, never underestimate our wonderful dogs, make sure you put your phone in your deepest pocket and never leave the van without treats!

Happy walking….

 

 

Failed

If I were to be judged on my skill, as a dog handler, based on my own dogs I would have failed.  My boys are wonderfully gregarious, sweet natured and can mingle happily in most situations and environments. They are good with livestock, excellent with other dogs and past the over exuberant greeting are lovely with children and people.

They sit, down, wait and many other useful tricks along with some completely random fun tricks.  However they have no reliable recall. Flute can’t be trusted in the outside world without constant supervision and usually a line to which I am attached at all times.  This is even before we see any prey.  Tips isn’t quite as bad however I have no illusions, his recall is a feeble, unreliable affair.

What this has taught me is ongoing. Not only my weaknesses as a trainer and owner but also what I have to do with energetic hounds who can’t be let off at will. The fact they are a challenging breed is only a part of it and not the whole.

I have learnt more with these two wonderfully, funny challenging dogs than most of my dog walking clients dogs put together. They teach me humility, how to manage a dog’s needs whilst being tied ( literally) to a restriction in freedom and a closeness. This closeness has made me think more laterally and required me to satisfy a dog wants and needs.

So whilst running and playing with dogs satisfies many dogs, I take my boys out to rough areas to hunt rodents in long reedy grass.  Where dogs may run through woodlands, I head out and find new places with new smells and hide or throw roast venison or beef for them to find. We head out on the bike, letting them match my speed fast then slow using their energy up and tiring them out mentally matching me on the bike. We go out with the horses, both a little scary and exciting to be able to move at a more natural faster pace than I can do on my own two feet.

Not for me are walks around the park.  I have to think of new ways to fulfil their needs and wants whilst not decimating the local wildlife. This ends up invigorating me as much as my boys.  Seeing the world afresh, spotting the prey whilst out before they do then sharing it with them if only visually and via scentavision. I now look closely to the changes in their behaviour and try to spot what they ‘see’ when they are using those phenomenal noses or ears.  They now look to me as much to spot things that excite and frustrate them ( in equal measure)before moving off to the next and the next.  No mobile phone texts or conversations for me whilst out walking.

So whilst I work on our reliable recall ( and always have), though I have failed one of the fundamental needs in our modern dog ownership, I will revel in the world I have been forced into.  The exciting, infuriating world of smells, sights and sounds.  Following hounds rather than walking the dogs.

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