Category Archives: Walking the dogs


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….




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.