The End of an Era

I have been avoiding updating on here this month. I have found it hard to be motivated. My gran, at the age of 90 (she would’ve been 91 in July), has passed away. We had her funeral last weekend. It was a tough day, gran was the last of the grandparents. Despite her age, it still came as a shock for some reason. Gran always seemed invincible. We were certain she would’ve seen 100. She was relatively healthy for her age, and mentally she was as sharp as ever.

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On the day of the funeral, a tiny bird stopped by each car. It was the strangest thing. The driver very kindly took a picture for us. It was an oddly comforting moment for us all.

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I wrote a little something for the ceremony. I’ll be honest, I didn’t come up with any of it. I knew what I wanted to say so I copy and pasted from a few things and in particular, from a physicist – what a physicist might say at a funeral. Gran always appreciated my sciencey point of view and as I was in a bit of a haze (I still am), I didn’t think she would mind me borrowing other people’s words. I said the following and I hope for any of you who have felt loss, that these words might be helpful for you too. I’ve never been good at grieving. I don’t really know how. Over the years, like everyone else, I have lost a large number of my family. In fact we have halved. There are only 9 of us left. The following was read for me on my behalf:

“In my search for comfort at the passing of my Gran I have turned to Science and Literature and what I found, for me personally, is a comfort that I could not gain anywhere else.

It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited and yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know and love. However, the span of  someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence. We are made from the energy of the universe, it has been around for billions of years and will be for billions more, and for a brief period of time it assembles into a human form.

The first law of thermodynamics in short; states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only change shape and form, but will continue on forever. Scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time.

The energy that is in us has come from the universe around us, from the sun and the stars. The same energy that created the big bang billions of years ago, is the same energy within each of us. It has all come from the universe that we are but a tiny part of.

Gran borrowed her energy from the universe, as each of us has, she has used it. Used it to live a long life, one in which she has had influence over us all, and she has passed on this energy in different forms that will never go away. Every ounce of heat produced by Gran, every breeze created by her movements and every calorie she burned is still here in the energy around us. As her family and friends, we have absorbed some of the heat from her body and some of her energy lives in all of us. Every photon of light that reflected off of Gran’s face, every breeze that blew through her hair, and the warmth from every hug continues on. Gran has changed the path of history in many ways and according to the laws of science, not a bit of her has gone, she is just less orderly.”

It may be a while again before I update. My gran loved dogs. She had numerous dogs over the years and she loved my two boys. I feel bad that she didn’t get to see them except when they were pups. She was a small woman, and with her on warfarin and being a little unsteady on her feet I always worried that my boys would cause her to fall, or bruise her. I think either way I would’ve felt guilty. If I’d taken them round and she got hurt I would’ve never lived it down. Instead I chose to disappoint her. I would show her pictures and videos and we would share stories, I hope that was enough. Gran had an Alsatian ornament at the foot of her fireplace, complete with collar. It was her reminder of her favourite pet. A large Alsatian, called Laddie. I am now the proud owner of Laddie (the ornament version), it felt right that I should look after Gran’s dog for her, being the dog mad one in the family. I hope she would approve.

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April Update

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It can take quite a few attempts to get a perfectly posed picture. Sometimes The boys are just not in the mood for a camera in their faces and that’s ok! Maybe I need to share more of the blooper reel with you! This is one from Echo, he tends to me more physical in his protests:

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Talking of protests, we had a minor slip up on Zeph’s training but I think I’ve cracked it. A squeeky tennis ball! Echo brought it home after a walk one day and I noticed how enamoured Zeph was by it. I use it as a distraction and as a reward on our walks. He gets to ‘win’ it for a little bit of the walk if he passes a dog without making fuss. It’s been a great tool and works better than food.

Echo is due his haircut for the summer and it’s like he can sense the impending bath time. He is using every walk to take a dip in the mud/streams.

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I’ve moved onto shifts at work again and it’s taken the boys a bit of getting used to. Although I think they are much more settled these days. I have packed away the cages so the boys have the kitchen and living room between them while we are out  and the two of them seem much happier (and I feel less guilty!). The good thing about a late shift (1-10) is that I leave at half 12 and B is home about 6. So the pups have more company during the day. Currently having a lazy morning. With me being away till 10 B has taken on the mantle of chief dog picture taker in the evenings. Echo has been lookout for me coming home and Zeph occasionally takes a turn:

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But with Echo on the watch, Zeph has taken to relaxing, he’s not fussy when I’m away:

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However, While I’m in the house in the mornings, he won’t leave me alone. He has no idea what personal is:

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And should I dare get up for a cuppa, he is right on the warm patch of the sofa:

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All in all, life has been quite settled here in a sense. I will share in the next update.

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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.

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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.)