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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Our own private woodland

I say ours, it’s not. The pro to being engaged to a forester and in particular the type of job B does, we sometimes have permission to access land that isn’t as popular as forestry commission woodland. So far fewer people around and with the access keys for the gates we can drive a little deeper into the woodland. It’s not very often but it’s a nice treat for us all. We’ve been up twice to this particular patch of wood and only on the second walk did we have to interact with other humans. A beautiful spot though! Zeph managed the whole walk on a stretchy lead and it gave him the chance to have a wee run about with his brother. Made me happy.

 

I don’t feel like I need to explain these pictures so I’ll just let you look and enjoy 🙂

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All this running about has led to some very happy and sleepy dogs:

 

Hand Recovery so far

I hope none of you are squeamish!? Thought I would try and do some updates in a sensible order. The first thing, and still dog related; my hand!

I was getting a bit frustrated in the house, and I am notorious for ‘over doing it’, so two days after surgery, I was out with Echo.

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I may be smiling in the picture, but I was certain I was going to pass out by this point in the walk, only about a quarter of the way round. I walked round the walk in a but of a daze but I think the fresh air was needed. I think it took me about a full day to recover from the walk, but it certainly made my week a little better. I had been snoozing quite a lot on my days off and I tell you, it is so satisfying having lazy days with the dogs. Nothing better really.

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Anyway being stuck in the house, I went a little mad. I would like to introduce you all to Henry:

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So Henry and I got bored so we went for lunch in Aberdeen with a friend of mine. I felt spoilt by being out for the day!

We’ve had a good giggle over it. I kept messaging B to let him know what we were up to. You will all be pleased to know that come last Friday, I had all my bandages off – it was pretty gory looking!

I have to say the surgeon has done a fab job. The stitching is very tidy! I can’t fully straighten my finger now but I haven’t been able to since I broke it, and apparently I’ll need further surgery to fix it but at least it is now straight which is something!

All this hassle because my dogs didn’t have manners and love the thought of catching a cat!! It is amazing how one silly decision can impact you so much and it’s only a finger!

 

 

A stormy day spent cuddled up

I decided that third time would be lucky for surgery, so I thought I’d be prepared. I decided I’d pre cook a few meals (ended up with 17 individual portions!) and freeze it all. Simple, healthy, full of veg meals that I can literally zap in the microwave and enjoy (Lasagne, Mediterranean chicken, Chilli and paprika smoked chicken) with some rice or potatoes. Easy. I did get a hand doing the cooking, head chefs kept me right and offered to do any tasting:

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Excuse me being in jammies in the pic. The boys were very helpful. With me being so clumsy I do need close supervision!

Speaking of close supervision, the boys don’t miss anything in the house. Ben tried to sneak out of the house:

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This is the stance I like to call “Where are you going? Why can’t we come?”. They don’t like to miss out on anything at all!

Well, the surgery has happened. The procedure itself (they only do this type of op once or twice a year!) has gone well. I feel pretty good considering, the anaesthetist has done a great job! After my last surgery I was really nervous about the general (I spent 14 hours throwing up the last time, couldn’t even have a sip of water without being sick), so having had a chat with the doc, he made a great concoction of drugs and I haven’t even felt queasy, I even made the 3 hour drive home without being ill (I am prone to travel sickness)! Felt so good after surgery I demanded we had curry for dinner of which I had two servings with naan bread and pakoras. Scoffed it down, I was starving. So the first bit has gone well, I have to keep the bandages on until next Friday:

 

I’m pretty sore but I’ve had a very handsome nurse that’s concerned for me:

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The second I got in to B’s rents house (we stayed there the night before surgery, and had post surgery dinner with them) Zeph was straight over with a tennis ball to cheer me up. He’s looking after me well.

Today, B is off to work and the boys and I are having a forced lazy day. I can’t walk Zeph in this state and I can’t take Echo as it’s raining/gale force winds/stormy and I need to keep my bandages dry so they’ll have to wait to go out again with B. I don’t think they are complaining. Nurse Zephyr has decided that we should watch some TV:

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Echo was keeping my feet cosy in this pic but both boys have now settled down for a morning of cuddles:

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Next step, hopefully get out for a walk tomorrow, I get a bit of cabin fever. I don’t make a good patient at all. I made B’s lunch for him one handed and put out breakfast with coffee while he was in the shower. I just need to start wiggling my fingers gently to keep a bit of movement but nothing too vigorous. If nothing else at least my finger is now straight! I plan to spend the rest of my day on the sofa, hopefully get some uni work done as well…probably snooze!

Zephyrs progress

I have titled this as Zephyrs progress because I am trying my hardest to be optimistic. This is a long one, so you might want a cuppa.We were doing quite well for some time and making progress with his reactivity and at a point where, although he was still clearly upset at other dogs, he would go past at a distance and not make too much fuss (by too much fuss I mean, at most he would whimper a little and nothing else).

For some unknown reason, despite the fact we’ve actually been stricter on them, Zeph has gone backwards. In fact, we seem to be back at square one with other dogs and now even some people. I cannot pin point when/why this happened. A few weeks ago, over Christmas, Zephyr has decided he’s not keen on B’s younger brother (in his 20’s), and has barked at him from his cage and had a growl/lunge at him under the dinner table. Needless to say he got in trouble for that one and we had to have a serious chat about our options (not something I like having to do). We decided that, when Zeph is staying away from his usual home, (i.e. with us but at B’s rents house), that he is restricted to the kitchen and garden, and when we are having dinner or brother is about, we need to be around/Zeph is put to his bed.

We have been very strict on the waiting for food (something they’ve always both done), and they now wait for the door to open before being allowed into the garden (massive improvement, not being barged out the way). I am going by the rule of Rottie, you ask once, and then you tell them. It sounds harsh but basically it means: if I say “sit”, he has to do it first time, if I have to say it again, he gets some encouragement either from a hand on his behind (not pushing him down, don’t want to hurt his legs) or a hand gesture if he is watching. If I have to tell him, he gets no treats. If he does as he is asked, he is rewarded. The aim being, he should do it first time.

Anyway, my parents came to visit. Unfortunately, as well as I get on with them, they don’t like my dogs. Echo is too energetic (they don’t know what to do with him), and they don’t like Zeph (obviously a man eating dog). Sadly, Zephyr has done nothing to encourage any good opinions of him on my parents. It all comes down to, my parents being nervous of the dog, me being nervous of the dogs reaction and my parents reaction to him and then Zephyr reacts making us all the more anxious. All in all, it sets the dog up to fail. It’s little wonder he behaves the way he does really. It is a horrible feeling not wanting my parents to visit!

So yes, parents visited. The dogs were both in their cages as my parents were literally stopping for a quick cuppa and away, and knowing how they feel about the dogs, I put them to their beds. Despite that,they insist on saying hello to the dogs (so confusing signals, I wonder if they do it because they think it would make me happy?), First up, my mum came over to say hello to the boys and although Zeph was nervous, he accepted some cheese from mum and calmed a little. Followed by my Dad (who’s 6ft 3″ and massive), he came to say hello and Echo was happy enough but Zephyr went ballistic! Probably because he was in his cage, but it freaked my Dad out and my Mum, despite her not being the problem. So I tried to get my Dad to come over once I had gotten Zeph to calm. Dad came over on his knees and sat back from the cage (my Dad is used to really friendly labs, i.e. you can do anything you like with them so an anxious Zeph is out of his comfort zone despite being a sweetheart), and fed Zeph some treats. It seemed to do the trick but I thought I’ll keep it short and sweet. A few treats and some words of encouragement but as Dad moved away from the cage, Zeph lost it again. I had to put a towel over his cage. It was very upsetting for me to see my boy getting so worked up. He growled a few times when we sat down for a cuppa whenever my Dad spoke as well. From this, I have learned that, Not all dogs will like everyone. And on that note, if my parents come to visit, the boys will get to sleep in our bedroom in their own space. If Zeph is that stressed out about my Dad, it’s not worth putting him through it. Unfortunately my parents don’t visit very often (so technically strangers to my dogs), and won’t have the time to put into training for the big guy so safer to avoid this one I think. Only wish my Dad could get to see what a soft hearted, coward my snuggle dog Zeph is:

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So those are the two big dramas that have occurred. On top of that, he’s started to get very reactive to dogs again. I’ve met a few nice dog walkers while out with Echo and they’ve taken in the story of Zeph and have been very understanding which is helpful. So, I’m putting all this down to the ridiculous amount of disruption they’ve both had. With us moving about so much, staying at B’s rents house, and then me being away from home. I think it has all been a bit too much.

I was really upset the other day while walking Zeph. I thought about how difficult it is to walk him at the moment. There is always something that sets him off. It’s not been enjoyable at all. It is a vicious circle really. I get anxious about taking him out, he acts up (possibly because of that), I get more anxious and so it goes on. However, even on days when I feel great and confident, he does something at the moment to ruin a nice walk. What makes it worse is that I’ve been enjoying my walks with Echo so much I even had the thought of “it would be nice to go back to having one dog”! Now please don’t judge me on that. I would honestly never rehome my dogs. They are my world. But I’ve been doing this for 2 years now with Zeph. I just wish he could understand English even for 2 minutes, so I could tell him that it’s ok, nothing is going to hurt him and that he doesn’t have to scare off anything. It is exhausting for him and me doing this everyday. I really do feel like I’ve failed him. I saw a woman out today walking with her black lab. I say walking, she was glued to her phone and didn’t once look up to see where she was going. I was annoyed, jealous and also relieved to see her. I was annoyed because her dog was happy to amble around her, no one was bothered by that or nervous of him, I was jealous for the same reasons. But I was also a little relieved, despite my anxiety and depression already having kicked in, I told myself “I am putting in more effort than that”. That statement has made me think though; what if all my ‘interfering’ has made Zeph into the cowardly lion he is today. If I had just left him to it, would he have been more confident? Would he have been that Rottie that everyone loves? I don’t know. I was feeling pretty low about it all, but I can’t do that. If I let myself sink, he will be miserable. A good walk is good for us both even if we do have moments that dishearten me. We are back to square one, we will just need to work at it again. I have sausages. Nothing can make him avoid the lure of tasty sausages! Persevere, that’s all I can do!

 

Trying to see new places

As you will have noticed, I’ve been trying to find new places and adventure a bit more around the highlands. With all the snow we’ve been getting I’ve had to reign it in a bit as I am not equipped to be up mountains/glens in this weather. Even if I had all the kit required, with my previous knee surgery and still ‘broken’ hand, mountaineering even in the best weather without my dogs is a complete hazard (add in the dogs and we have injuries with no rescue as my dogs wouldn’t let anyone near me if I was hurt, so all round not a good idea). Despite that, I’ve still managed a few teeny hills and forest walks etc as you’ve seen (If you are looking for dog adventures that go up mountains etc, this is not the blog for you!).

We attempted to go for a little hill walk yesterday, and I hoped with the snow that it would be a chance to walk Zephyr with no dogs about (I will post an update about him next). I did not take into account that my car wouldn’t even make it to the car park. My aim had been to go up Ord Hill but by the time we made it up the road to the car park, we were all shattered! So we did a quick turn about the woods with chest high snow (for Echo, sounds more dramatic that way!), and we headed back down to the car. It worked though. We were all tired out.

Hopefully at some point we can get back up there and go the top without being so lazy!

This morning we were even lazier. Zephy had his usual circuit walk this morning (about half an hour/40 mins), and we had a little jog in the snow and a bit of tug of war, and he has taken himself to his bed and is snoring happily as I type this. With Echo we were even lazier! There is a playing field across the road so that’s where we headed this morning with a throwing stick and tennis ball. He had a wonderful time!

Trying to get his recall back, he can be very cheeky when he wants to be, so we did a bit of training with him during his game of fetch. We are teaching him to be patient, so he has to wait before going to find the ball. It’s a little like what a real gun dog would need to do. They have to wait until the bird has fallen before they can go and retrieve it. However, he was determined not to come straight back, he likes to run past us, so we are encouraging him to come back to our feet.

We also then just had some fun in the snow, why not!?

And the last video, on a complete side note – why we can’t have nice things:

Anyway, off on a tangent again! I will update about how Zephy is getting on with his training in a bit. Time for a cuppa.