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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!).



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.


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?


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!




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.