32 ticks…

Unfortunately this is not the name of a new progressive rock band but the number of actual ticks we had to remove from Echo.

B had him out with him on a work site with him for the day and the wee guy had a great time!

And yes that was a bit of bone he had, assumed from a deer! However, with all fun things there is often consequences and that was a collection of very active ticks! Both dogs do have tick meds and they had started to work as some of the ticks were already disintegrating however, I couldn’t possibly leave that many on him at once.

He was a good dog though, he sat still for me and B as we took turns removing the little suckers. Oddly satisfying!

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All in a days fun…

Another little throw back

I had a little look back at the pics of Zephy standing and I thought it was a good way to show how much he’s grown in the last three years. He’s such a handsome boy! Love how big he is now. I may not have the ages right, I guessed if you can tell!!

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~ Six Months/year

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~year ish

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nearly 2

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2 and a bit

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Three and a bit

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3 and a bit

The Moonwalk

A couple of years ago a friend talked me into the Moonwalk. It’s a 26.2 (full marathon) mile walk over night in aid of breast cancer. I’ve been talked into it again for next year in London and although I haven’t signed up officially, I’ve started prepping already by trying to increase the number of long walks I’m doing. The problem I have at the moment and have had for the last 6-8 months is some serious Plantar Fasciitis in my right heel. It is a killer! I’ve been stretching and having hot foot soaks and stretching some more but still I am in agony.

Anyway, despite that, I managed 6 miles yesterday. I had both the boys with me for the first 3.5 miles and due to the hot weather I chose a walk that I know has running water, it’s Zephs favourite spot:

I try to do this walk at least once a week as it’s one of the few local walks that Zeph can have a bit of dog fun and just relax and enjoy himself.

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At the middle of the 6 mile walk (I deliberately chose  a route that went past the house half way through), Zeph suddenly leapt from the ground and then held his foot up. What did I find? A bloody wasp! Well it’s dead now. How dare it hurt my boy!? Thankfully he seemed fine, no swelling etc so we kept walking. I toyed with the idea of taking both dogs with me for the full walk I had planned as both seemed quite happy. However, as we walked past the house Zeph hesitated and all of a sudden lifted his paw as if to say “the house is right there and my foot hurts and I can’t possibly walk any further…” So Zeph was deposited at the house after another thorough check over and Echo and I did the last few miles.

 

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Anyway, Short story shorter, The boys will be joining me on some of the lower mileage walks as mental support as I build up to the full 26.2 miles.

Group Activities

Everything in our house is a group activity. Echo had an upset stomach a few weeks ago and of course it had to be group snuggles:

We had gone out for the day and returned to the poor we soul having had diarrhoea and sickness all over the carpet. I felt terrible because he had clearly been clawing at the baby gate to go to the back door to be let out. He was fine the next day though so don’t be fooled by the sad face. He got a full dose of snuggles which I’m adamant helped. Although the next day Zeph then had an upset tummy so we had more cuddles…although he did steal my seat which resulted in a lack of a group thing going on:

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Once the bug passed however, we were back to our usual walks. Thankfully in amongst all the glorious hot sunny days we’ve had, it has rained! The perfect weather for trips to the beach. It’s funny the kind of weather that becomes acceptable when you have a dog that’s scared/anxious of others. Suddenly a thunderstorm fills you with joy and phrases such as “It’s thundering down!…OOOh let’s go to the beach!” become acceptable.

We always have fun at this particular beach. The water is shallow for hundreds of metres and both dogs like to get in and run about. I am guilty of being the first one in the water, I just can’t help myself! Something my Gran always did too, anywhere there was fresh water, shoes were off and in we went. We took a little trip out in the car the other weekend and we came across a nice loch that thankfully hasn’t succumbed to the dreaded blue/green algae and we went for a wee paddle. I should’ve kept my shoes on though, Not quite got the balance the dogs do!

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It was a nice day but too hot so we didn’t get much walking in, but the pups seemed content to have a wee play.

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Other group activities that we have being doing this month include Sunbathing (don’t worry they weren’t in the heat for long, Zeph is smart in the hot weather and heads for shade):

Any exercise I try to do, the boys have to be included,  anytime I lie on the ground to do crunches etc the boys can’t help but interrupt and I get the sad face:

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I put shoes on and the troops are ready to go:

Can’t even have wine in peace:

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And of course there is the occasional nap time of which I am partial too:

And a little blast from the past:

Intense Heat

Well this Summer has been glorious! It’s the first time in a long time that I think we’ve had this many sunny and warm days. Of course this requires a bit extra work in terms of the dogs. Both of our boys suffer terribly in the heat, I don’t know if that’s because they are black or due to the size of Zeph and the energy that Echo exudes but regardless they don’t like the heat.

So this has led to early morning walks, which granted are potentially still a little on the warm side and on a few days we’ve had to avoid evening walks altogether! But on the days we’ve made it out, the pair of them have had a great time as always!

The above pictures were taken at about half 9 at night, and the boys were still panting away but we had an easy stroll.

The down side of the heat, a lot more house time to keep the boys cool! We’ve been bonding a lot though:

We’ve managed a little trip to the beach, during which Zeph wanted to chase some birds:

On the one cool day we’ve had, we managed to fit in a wee game of fetch:

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…with plenty of breaks of course.

With all my worry about the heat and being very careful with the pups, it seems Zephyr was worried about me! I tried to get in a little sunbathing and Zeph was not happy about it!

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I could almost hear him going “Mum, I’m not allowed in the sun, neither are you!….Mum, mum….muuuuuuuum”. It was followed by kisses and pawing. I gave in eventually!

 

Adventure Weekend

I have recently started back onto shifts and so I have a few days here and there that I can have to myself. Due to a short run of nightshifts, I’ve had a long weekend, Friday to Sunday. I managed to keep most of Friday to myself, after having a sleep, and with B away to the Highland Show as part of his work, I thought the boys and I could explore the Highlands!

To make sense I need to go back a week. Last weekend B and I went for a drive with the dogs around Loch Ness.

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We had a few stops and short walks and then enjoyed some fish and chips.

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It wasn’t until after we had stuffed our bellies full of food that we stumbled across a gorgeous woodland walk called: Allt na Criche. Unfortunately, with rather full bellies, we didn’t walk as far as I would’ve liked, only about a half hour or so, but I liked what I had seen:

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Friday:

So fast forward to this Friday, I am at home with the boys and at a loose end with B away. So I took the perfect opportunity to drive all the way back to Allt na Criche, and I took one of the longer paths. I would like to take this opportunity to drive home the fact I went on my own!! On my own, with both dogs! We had a little setback with Zeph last week with a runner and a loose dog having a go at Zeph but I am taking the victory that despite my still useless hand (!), and a dog back to square one essentially on his training, I went on my own! I am feeling very pleased with myself. Anyway, back to the woods! It was a pleasantly warm day, and the woods weren’t too busy. The pups and I had a lovely walk:

It amounted to about an hour with us only covering about 2 and a half miles, but he had a nice stop at the top of the hill and a little break.

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And then onto more adventuring:

Before heading back the car for a much needed drink of water and a cuddle:

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Saturday:

Our plan for Saturday had been to go camping. We packed up the truck, tent, dog beds etc and off we headed toward to Loch Assynt. We chose this location because I’ve read that you can camp right on the loch side which would’ve been great. Anyway, off we trooped, all of us in tow.

It’s quite a drive and as always on any long journey we stop for various walks, and I can’t remember the name of the first walk we stopped at and bizarrely we didn’t take any pictures! So I’m not really sure why I mention it…Anyway, as we drew closer and closer to Loch Assynt, the rain began. And it got heavier. And heavier.

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The picture really doesn’t capture the high winds and battering rain. It was pretty miserable. And nothing worse than sharing a tent with wet dogs. We made the decision to drive a loop back to our house (2 hours in the car) and if we saw anywhere good to camp and it wasn’t raining we would stop. Well the weather didn’t get too much better although it did stop raining but the closer we drove back to the house, the allure of our own bed and a hot cuppa was too much. We ditched the idea of camping, at least for this week.

However, we did stumble across another woodland walk: Lael Forest and Forest Garden. It was a good point to stop to give the boys a break from sitting in the car and B and I needed the stretch as well. This is a lovely forest walk near Ullapool on the A835, if anyone is interested. There is plenty of sensible walking and picnic benches in the two carparks so you can waste a few hours here. All in all, the boys had fun, B included, and there are some spectacular trees there:

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By the time we drove home, we were greeted with clear blue skies and no winds. Perhaps we should’ve waited a little longer at the Loch, but you never can tell

Sunday:

By this morning, the clear blue skies and sunshine have amounted to a glorious heat of about 20 degrees. It is now officially the height of summer in Inverness. We were somewhat frustrated by the fact we had abandoned camping only to be taunted by such beautiful weather. So to try and make the most of it, we headed off in the car for a third day running. Our destination today, Glen Affric. It is gorgeous. The walk we did was just over an hour, although you could easily stretch this woodland out for a half day if you picnic too. The dogs had a great time! as did we, and there were plenty of streams for everyone to cool off:

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As you can see it has been a very busy weekend. The dogs are sound asleep already, and I am not far behind them I think.

So we got Married!

Well it’s been a long year so far but it was all worth it. I finished my degree (with distinction), and our long awaited wedding rolled around! We were married on the 26th of May, surrounded by our family and close friends. It was a good day, everything we planned went smoothly, just the usual drama that weddings seem to attract but nothing all that major in the grand scheme of things. And of course Gran was missed and mentioned in my Dad’s speech, it was a nice little tribute. But all in all, a good day!

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We have just returned from a two week honeymoon, which we spent in Singapore and Bali. It was amazing! Nice to get away from it all and switch off.

Unfortunately, our ‘boys’ had to go to kennels for just over two weeks. We have a good kennel that we use and trust of course but that doesn’t make it any easier to leave them.  The universe obviously didn’t want us to forget about the dogs either while we were away, and bizarrely, during the first week we visited a local art gallery and what are the first two paintings that we came across:

We couldn’t believe it and we had a good giggle over it. All the way to Bali and our dogs are still making our decisions. So of course we bought both paintings, much to the delight of the local artist. They thankfully survived the journey home and are now hanging up on the wall in the living room. Love them!

Before we could get back to our boys, we had a one night stay with my parents when we got back as a quick stop over before driving back to Inverness. It gave me a chance to see this old boy:

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My very first dog, he’s still on the go. He’s not ageing very well unfortunately. He had a really bad ‘episode’ a few years ago which required him to go to the vets for a few days, on drips etc. He nearly died and they don’t know from what and since then, he seems to be ageing quicker than it seems fair to. My mum now has to carry him outside in the mornings because he struggles so much with the step out the door he panics. But, as you can see, he still has a good life. He enjoys sunbathing and on this occasion the free food that was going, we had a bbq so a few sausages went ‘missing’. Lovely wee dog.

Despite the great time we’ve had away, by the end of the honeymoon we were both keen to get back to our boys and get home. The pups have been so clingy and sleepy, I just can’t get enough of them so I’ve spent a lot of time lying on the floor with the two of them playing with the toys they got for going to kennels.

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I am under the dog in this pic, not sure how that happened.

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We are not back to work yet (that’s tomorrow – eugh!), so we are taking full advantage of the day we have left. As I write this, the dogs have gotten very comfy around me:

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And we are clinging to our honeymoon by enjoying some the gifts everyone was kind enough to bestow upon us:

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How to cope with loss. Live.

I found myself wallowing in my grief at the weekend. It hit me that my Gran has gone. But as my last post suggested; She has not gone, she is just less orderly. I suddenly had the urge to runaway. To escape and be free. In times of struggle I have strange ways of coping. Before I could understand myself, I used to self harm. It was a release. A way of venting my stress/anxiety whatever you want to call it. As I got older I would push myself in the gym, walk further, work longer. Now I realise that all I was doing was making myself miserable to make myself feel better. I realise how that might sound counterproductive! But, at those moments when you reach your breaking point and you push through it, you win, you are rewarded with Dopamine. The brain party drug!

So, in my quest to feel better. I chose to live. Gran always liked to hear about my adventures. So I should keep doing it. Gran had 90 years, full of adventure and she would want us all to have the same.

So, I decided to climb a Munro (I tackle one every few years or so). B was kind enough to join me and we had a very strenuous but enjoyable day, dogs included. The walk was tiring, through intense heat, cold, rain and snow! But I got the reward. The summit was peaceful and calm. I feel really proud of all of us. It gave me peace and quiet. A chance to think but also a chance to think of nothing else but the hike. It was much needed therapy.

To Ben Wyvis we trekked.

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That’s not the summit either. That is just the start!

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Those steps were killer on the thighs. And the sun was beating down on us for a stretch. I was worried Zeph would over heat! Originally, we weren’t going to take the dogs, but they got so excited while we packed our rucksacks it seemed harsh not to take them with us. And look how smiley they are! It did get too hot at one point so we stopped for lunch and got the boys to lie down in the heather, in the shade of some rocks.

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Thankfully, it got windier and cooler as we made the ascent,

And colder still, the further up we went:

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And snow. Snow in APRIL! The dogs were in their element as we made it to the summit.

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A little break at the top and time for some family photos!

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I think I will get a few of these printed out and framed. And of course they will be part of next years calendar!

The boys love playing in the snow and Zeph took the opportunity of us walking off the summit to play some tug of war with his Dad;

We made him wear the hat of shame:

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We managed to get some nice pictures as we hiked. Unfortunately, with the summit in cloud, we couldn’t get an all round view. But some nice pictures none the less:

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Some food for the soul. It was a good day of bonding for the four of us. The dogs and us were exhausted but I felt accomplished by the time we headed back to the truck. That’s a real smile. When we got back to the house we all flumped onto the sofa, ate some pasta and drank tea. I was in bed early and my legs are only just recovering now!

I don’t think I will ever know how to deal with loss, but doing something a bit out of the ordinary certainly helps.

My New Dog

This was my Gran’s dog. I am now the proud owner and he sits on the stairs watching over the living room. The boys have had a good sniff at him and welcomed him into their home. This has helped.

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