On Repeat

In follow up to the beach visits in the last post, I’ve now been to the Fort George Beach numerous times and I am loving it. It’s a good excuse for me to run about like an idiot with my dogs. It is absolutely necessary. How else is Zeph supposed to run about on the end of the lead?…He’s getting more time on his stretchy lead so he’s hopefully feeling a bit more fulfilled and relaxed after his walks. We’ve been back and forward a few times now and it’s a nice wee supplement to our usual woodland/housing scheme walks.

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I just about managed to get a wee clip of them running about. The water is a nice depth at this beach so they can jump about quite safely. It’s not often that Zeph and Echo get to play like this together on walks so before the summer kicks in and the beach gets busy, we are making the most of it!

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We have also found another woodland to walk around and it is massive. It took us 2 hours to follow the trail we chose and we only covered about a third/quarter of the wood. We didn’t see any other people/dogs until we were nearly back at the car so plenty of time for the boys to roam around and have fun.

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I have to say, we were all shattered after this one. Lots of nice smells for the boys. Their wee noses didn’t stop the whole time. Lovely woods – if I remember rightly it’s Culbin Woods, worth a nosy. There is a reasonably proper path all the way around, but I would still suggest wellies or good boots.

All in all, we’ve been having a good time. Zeph is still a work in progress but we’re getting there, albeit slowly. Some helps us to get through it all:

And when in doubt, treats and training in the house!

Beaches

So by now we are all aware that I have been very anxious in regards to walking Zeph, particularly with the still broken hand (yes, it’s still broken and useless). I also get a bit anxious about going to new places with Zeph if I’ve never been before. However, feel pretty good about yesterday. I wanted to go to a beach with the pups but I was on my own so had to take one at a time, which gave me an excuse to scout out a new beach with Echo.  I went with Echo first to a beach at Nairn. Beautiful day for it, if a little chilly:

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The beach wasn’t a bad size but a lot of dogs at the time of day I was there, Zeph would’ve been struggling with all the dogs but maybe at a quieter time of day it would be ok. Echo and I had a lovely walk along, played in the water and met some pups for Echo to run about with, we really enjoyed it:

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Love his wee crazy face. Well, on the way back to the house I did wonder if I would have time to go back to the same spot with Zeph before it got dark. And I didn’t want to play favourites; So, I did something I haven’t done in a while. I found a beach closer to our house on google, and off Zeph and I went, just the two of us. I had no idea what the beach would be like or how busy it was going to be but we went. I always like to see a place first before I go with Zeph so I have a mental picture and an internal map of all the places dogs can appear from, escape routes etc. This time, I did not. And we had a great time! A few dogs but none too close, Zeph growled at one dog in the distance but I quickly got his attention and other than that, we had a whole beach to ourselves and the night was just perfect. A lovely romantic walk on the beach with my handsome boy with the sun setting. A good experience for us both I think.

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For interest, this beach as Fort George, Ardersier.

A mid week treat

The extra light is not being missed here and we are trying to make the best of it! We gave ourselves a little mid week treat and took the boys down to the banks of the Moray Firth. We were only there for about 40 minutes but the pups had a good run and the views across the Firth were amazing.

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It certainly made the usual mid week hump feel a little better.

4×4

As I have said many times before, one of the many advantages of having a forester as your other half is that you get to go walking up roads and paths that very few others appear to know about. We went out last weekend for a wee drive with the dogs in the back.

We found a few frozen lochs. B asked if I’d thrown rocks onto a frozen lake because the sound it makes is like a laser ping. Well, needless to say, I haven’t but now I have! It was great fun!! Dogs stayed safely in the car because I didn’t want them running out onto the ice.

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Not all those rocks are ours, it’s obviously a past time for a few people!

A drive a little further on and we found a lovely walk for us and the boys. We had a stroll in the chilly day and the dugs had a chance to run about. Only on lead time for Echo was over the bridge, the water was just a bit too fast and I didn’t want him going for a swim!

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I absolutely love how happy the boys look on these type of days. It’s a great treat for us all.

No Snow for us!

No snow drama for us so far, we’ve missed it completely! So, here is a clip of Zephy giving me a burp. He does it after every meal. He seeks me out, begs for a fuss and then burps for me. I probably encourage it by always saying thank you!!

Training, cuddles and sooky blankets

As I posted a little while ago I was frustrated at the lack of progress we seemed to be making with Zephyr. I took the advice from a lovely Rottie owner and I bought a soft muzzle. It may seem like a drastic decision but bare with me on this one.

I have always been against a muzzle. I felt it was punishing Zeph for something he hasn’t done. But having done some reading and really thought about it, we felt it was a good safety net for Zeph to wear a soft muzzle. His reactivity was getting out of hand and there is always the worry of, if I was to fall or hurt myself (with my track record, not unlikely), what would the clown do? It is not a permanent feature in case anyone is worrying that I’ve gone from one extreme to another. The big bear isn’t thrilled about the muzzle, but we’ve been giving him treats and spoiling him when he has it on:

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He only has it on for very short periods of time, i.e. for a few minutes while passing groups of dogs or dogs we think might cause problems. The rest of the time, the muzzle is folded down off his face so he can breathe properly and enjoy his walks as always. I’ve taken off the harness so he only has a lead, halti and a muzzle. It is being used as a back up, but I have to say it has calmed us all down.

B and I have been going out together with just Zeph on his own, and the team effort has made a huge difference! – and most of the time no muzzle!

Zeph has made it past loads of dogs at a distance with very little fuss. While B concentrates on Zeph I can slip him some treats and/or if needed run some interference if absolutely necessary (i.e. if a dog is off lead and runs at us I can go fuss the stranger dog while B turns Zeph away etc). We’ve only had to put the muzzle on a few times if the distance between us and passing dogs is too close to be sensible and I have to say it has made a huge difference. With Zeph unable to cause quite as much of a scene, even passing strangers aren’t as uptight as they would normally be which has had a positive effect on us all.

Saying that, I’ve also gotten better at praising Zeph. And I mean really praising! I read a good article about how praising your dog while training is all that really matters, who cares about a strangers opinion. By caring about strangers the dog suffers as he doesn’t know when he is doing well or not. I have decided that I care not one bit about other peoples opinions. Look where it has gotten me! Anxious with a stressed out dog. So, I now really praise Zeph. I’m certain I’ve had some weird looks as I open my arms wide and tell Zeph in a really loud and excitable voice “What a good boy! YES! Well done!”. So the combination of a safety net (muzzle), the training as a couple, and all the fuss seems to be finally making a difference to the big guy! I am so excited to keep this going and here’s hoping it all pays off one day.

In other puppy news: B had bother with his back the other day and the boys rallied around him for support;

The pups love a good snuggle up and when one of us is immobilised they take full advantage. The two pups have been very clingy of late, Zeph has been carting around his sooky blanket. I told him it was for babies and that he was supposed to be a grown up dog now….this was the response:

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The face of “How could you!?”. He really is the softest most cowardly lump. I just want to cuddle up with him and his gorgeous face. Look how handsome he is!!

Anyway, I am desperate for summer. I miss the longer nights. I have been pushing it a little on the walks at night in my desperation to get into the woods for a walk after work. The woods are a little creepy in the dark I have to say but also very peaceful but B has asked me to not go into the woods on my own just in case. *sighs* I’ll be sensible!

Back to the training thing, now at some point B and I may wish to try for a family. We aren’t there yet I hasten to add! but at some point in the future who knows. And I was thinking about the dogs manners. I often wonder how other people manage to have such well behaved dogs and mine are a riot. I am well aware I am not the best at making boundaries (we all know how the no dogs on the sofa rule went)

So I was thinking about boundaries and well obviously we might have to make more to accommodate any new arrivals and besides that, it is about time I actually taught my dogs properly.  So I thought I would try out a new  rule. I like to sit up in the office with the door open so I can hear the dogs downstairs. The downside being, that they often join me in the office, which is fine if they come and lie down but often they want to steal things, climb on the bed etc. So I decided that no, they cannot come through the door. It is still a work in progress but I managed to get them to lie out in the hallway. I did this by getting up out of my chair and walking towards the dogs as they tried to come in the room. As soon as they went back out the door I backed off and sat back in the chair. It took a few attempts for them to get the idea but eventually they realised that I was in the room, it was mine and I didn’t want them in it. They sulked a little and Echo had a tantrum (full on, flail about on the floor like a child) but they got the hint. I am going to stick with it. I will need to make the wedding bouquets soon and the office is the only place to do that so obviously I don’t want them stealing anything! Once we get this under wraps, I will think of what I want to teach them next.

And to finish it all off, here is some nice pics of the boys:

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 xx

 

 

We won!

Scotland v France today in the six nations. We actually won!! I can’t believe it. Final score 32-26. Absolutely wonderful game to watch with great play from both teams, worth the watch. I’m putting the win down to our lucky mascot:

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(Echo wouldn’t sit still for me to put the scarf on him.)

Movie time!

I say movies but a few short clips. I felt bad that the boys were back to being left in the house while I went back to work so I bought them new toys. I decided to get them treat reward toys to make them work for it a little bit. And here we see the difference in personality and brain power.

I give you first, the Rottie. A powerful breed, known for it’s strength, muscle…Zephy not so much. It took him a wee bit to work it out but he got it.

I love watching this. He is incredibly gentle with it. Very sweet.

And now I present, the spaniel. A small (ish) gundog breed, known for brains and energy. I couldn’t get footage of him going crazy, but he throws this around and once it is empty he is breathless! While Zeph just ambles around the room with his.

It has been a tiring few weeks for all of us, with new jobs and extra walks to make it up to the dogs. Before you can snooze you have to get comfy:

You might want the sound on for this next one, hopefully you can hear him snoring. He always seems to be dreaming.

Not very long clips but I thought I’d share them with you anyway.

Enjoy the weekend! x

 

Bed Fixing and Movie making

I’ve been annoyed by the bed Zeph slept on for a while. He destroyed every bed we gave him until we let him have an old duvet. They are his favourite kind of bed but unfortunately are very stinky as obviously not easy things to wash. I was cleaning the duvet covers but the duvet itself was getting a bit whiffy. Anyway, I thought we’d have a little swap around with dog beds, so I fixed one of the torn apart ones and now Zeph has that, the duvet is in the bin (thank god!), and they both got new fleecy blankets cheap from tesco. Echo thought he’d help me fix the bed:

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Obviously lying on the bed while I’m sowing was absolutely helpful. It really made the job much easier having a sleepy spaniel on the very thing I was stitching just sped things up…


 

So as I said, I was bored being stuck in the house, so I started to find film references in the woods. It was quite fun actually! It all started with this tree. I don’t know if anyone remembers, but there was a film called Fern Gully when I was younger (90’s) and the evil spirit/being Hexxus, was imprisoned in a tree. I could imagine that he could be trapped inside here which means that there are fairies about watching over it!

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Not long after this, I discovered Narnia, the unfrozen one. I think the white witch must be dead! Perhaps if I stood long enough Tumnus would appear for tea! Thankfully no lions about though! Aslan was nice but not sure I’d like to meet one in the woods.

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A friend of mine suggest I find a picture that was a bit more sinister, the Blair witch project! I couldn’t think how best to capture this film so here is what I have. This made her laugh though when I sent it to her:

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I should really have taken this picture in the dark but I was a scared to just in case something was to appear behind me!

Who could resist this view though! The reward for making it through all the trees and up the hill:

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