Saturday, 23 October 2021

An Introduction on How to Not Chase Squirrels

It's been a busy little week (as always, I suppose!). Between Missy slowly getting back to health and having one of hubby's cousins stopping over for a few days, there hasn't been much in the way of free time for exploring.
Cousin lives in Cambridge, and was visiting the in laws last week, so used us as a stopover to break the journey back down. Apart from a random visit 3 years ago, hubby hadn't really had a chance to hang out with his cousin since our wedding, so we were more than happy to put him and his girlfriend up. 
Unfortunately owing to hosting duties, hubby wasn't able to join Missy and I as we went to continue her education and attended a Prey Drive Seminar (or, as I preferred to call it, an Introduction in How to Not Chase Squirrels). This was meant to have been held almost 2 years ago prior to lockdown, and has been rescheduled twice in the meantime, so it was aobg anticipated event. To be honest, I had thought of cancelling our space as Missy had calmed down a lot recently.
Then she injured herself two weeks ago in a poorly executed murder spree. 
To be fair, I had thought she had calmed down a lot. Then after her injury, I did the maths and realised that, including small rodents like mice, Missy was close to an average of a kill a month. More so really since her paws were sorted out with her new meds. (I feel so guilty that it was such an easy fix in the end, those paws, it just took too long for the right vet to join the dots up on her allergies.) 
Nonetheless. I sat her down and explained that she needed to listen and try the exercises. On a serious note, it was very informative and very interesting. I won't go into too much detail but we concluded that for Missy, the reward of hunting was the catching part. We discussed ways to fulfil that reward that didn't result in the demise of small animals, and behaviours to practice to avoid her getting into the position where she could hunt. Being sneaky, opportunistic and very, very, clever, we have our work cut out, but it's nice to have some new tools to try rather than clumsily shouting and grabbing at her.

That's really us for the week. It was a long day for Missy, and we are still being mindful of that paw, so tomorrows plans of visiting friends to exchange birthday gifts will be about it for her (on top of normal walks, of course!)

I did squeeze in a Halloween photo shoot, but I'll save those for next week! 

Sunday, 17 October 2021

The Painting of a Good Weekend

It's been another busy run of things; between virtual meet ups, pre Halloween Spooky get togethers and the theatre (Woman in Black, 10/10 would recommend), we had to call Saturday a quiet morning. There was more get togethers planned: the cinema that evening and then my mother the Sunday, but we just had to pause. 

Missy has been on quite strict rest and short lead walks, so by Saturday had clearly begun to get frustrated. Deciding on a longer (but still on lead) walk, we made the most of the nice weather and Sunday provided the perfect solution: a dog friendly day out.

For my mums birthday I had organised to take her to Glasgow where we would meet up with her sister and go ceramic painting. My aunt is very artistic - my childhood bedroom was covered in murals she had painted from 101 Dalmatians, so the venue was a good choice. And, whilst not artistic, my mother loves to make a story out of a day, and to be able to show off the end point of the story is always a win (her house is full of odd little knick knacks she's proudly made). The day went off to a bad start however when my aunt pulled out owing to food poisoning.

The weather didn't help my mood as my mum, quite upset, broke the news. To her, the main point of the day was getting to see her sister and the painting was a fun bonus to get everyone out and doing something. I suggested we could detour and visit my aunt for half an hour (she was sick, it would be imposing to stay longer), and then do the painting.
Once in from the morning walk (read swim), I popped Missy in her new bathrobe and tried her new buster collar on her as we had to nip out to the shops to buy in a special dinner. 
The delightful sea of pink (above) was enough to brighten my spirits. I hadn't realised just how much pink she has - I think I might have a problem!

My mum arrived at 11.30 and we were on our way at 12, getting to my aunts for 1pm as promised. There was hugs and I handed out cupcakes (the best cure when feeling weak and poorly) and some small talk before my mum was given her presents. My aunt lamented several times about how unwell she had been and how much she had wanted to go (she was meant to be going back to mums to start a week long tour of the Edinburgh family). After promises from my mum to come visit later in the week if my aunt felt better, we headed to the ceramics.

On the drive we discussed our painting plans and both had a laugh when we realised we both wanted to paint the pets. Once we arrived at the Craft Pottery, I asked mum to scope out the available things to paint and was surprised to see her return with one small plate and a medium one for me (it was the last on the shelf). 
This would not do.
I took the plates, returned to the shelf and, spotting a pretty platter, picked up two. Showing one and grinning, I declared I was having the platter, and, unless she really wanted the plate, she should have one too. 
The smile was instant from her. A story had now begun.
I have a trait inherited from my mother whereby, if I'm going to do something, I'll do my darned best. I don't care if I win or what I'm doing is the best, so long as I have tried and done my best. That perfectly describes my mother painting that platter. Every aspect was discussed seriously, from the flower colours to the cats placement. And she painted the whole thing. I have a steadier hand, so helped with a few lines, but the bulk of it was her efforts. 
The distraction was perfect as she cheerfully laughed and showed off each addition to the platter.

Not a bad effort for an hour and a half! 

Although I think Missy would have been more impressed with a dog bowl...!

Once back, hubby had made us dinner and let mum tell her embellished story of the day. She was delighted at the curryvursts and German fried potatoes, and proceeded to tell us all about the food she ate as an army wife before she left to avoid driving in the dark.
Not a bad save on the day. It was just what Missy needed, something mentally stimulating for her, and she's now dozing happily. And my mum clearly needed it too. In a few weeks we'll be able to pick the peices up and she'll have the final part of her story. And something she hopefully looks on and smiles at, which I know I'll be doing with mine. 

Sunday, 10 October 2021

A not-so-Big Dog Walk

 So.... This happened.

Someone was trying for a hat trick of murder this month (one squirrel and one bunny so far, she's clearly offended at being considered an "oldie") and managed to tear her dew claw. Saturday was therefore an anxious write off as we first waited to get to the vets, and then waited for her to be sedated and have the claw cleaned up. Once she was home we cancelled all plans and decided that what she needed was a good cuddle on the sofa bed and to watch a corny monster movie.

(Our October tradition has become a "spoopy movie month" whereby we watch all the kids horrors and the old monster movies. We're on a spree of Ray Harryhousen films after going to the exhibition last week at the Modern Art Gallery, so it was the third Sinbad film we watched).

We were left with a conundrum in the evening on Saturday; we had tickets for the Big Dog Walk Glasgow the following day. We were going on Explorer duties, it was the last social doggy event on the calendar and, even if we wanted to give the tickets away, there was no one who could have made it on the short notice. In my excitement leading up to the day, I'd bought Missy a new collar for the occasion (not the new spotty collar above, but the new tartan one below) and we were all pretty bummed out about it.

We decided on a compromise. Weather was to be fair, that was the most important bit, if it was to be wet it would have been a no-go. Firstly, we'd see how she was in the morning. If all good, then we'd go to the event, do part of the 2km walk (she does need walking, just isn't allowed much), rest a bit, let her bat her eyelashes for biscuits from the stall holders, rest a little more, and see how she was doing before deciding on doing the fun dog show or not. It was as solid a plan as we could come up with.

This morning she was bright eyed and waggy tailed for us getting up. She didn't seem in pain, the nail looked great (I put a new dressing on it to be safe), and she was super excited for breakfast. On went the new collar, and off we went.

We arrived, got our goody bags, and went for the 9.30am walk. Truth be told, Missy wanted to go further (and much faster) than we did. She made friends with a Weimaraner puppy and tried to instigate play a few times but we quickly stopped that. Got back, had a cup of tea and Missy went into full charm offensive mode. After nearly eating out two separate stalls of all their treats, we ended up buying her a new drying coat and some nice boredom busting treat toys for during the week, which I feel will be needed. We sat down again and had some brunch and decided to give the dog show a go.

The show was a bit chaotic as everyone went into the ring at once and you put your hand up for the category you wanted to do. It was a last minute addition to the event (being announced 2 days ago that it was a thing that was going to happen), and it showed a bit. Best Rescue was the last category called and, whilst Missy enjoyed the judges attention, and we were flattered that they decided all the rescues should get a prize bandana, it was time to call it a day.

Missy making friends with the Judge

Its a bit weird to be home from an event before lunchtime, but Missy is the priority. She's dozing away quite happily, I've changed her dressing (everything looks great), and I think we managed it so that we all had a nice day. I'd like to revisit Chatelherault Country Park once Missy is better - the little we saw of it made it look like a nice day out.

This event was much smaller than DogFest (its the same people that run it), and honestly, was smaller than most dog day shows we've done before. Its a start though, I'd love a full sized DogFest closer to home, so fingers crossed for the future. 

In sewing news, this months Sew Darn Sweet sewing subscription box was Halloween themed. I felt these little applique gift bags would make excellent host gifts for our friends (one is hosting a games night next week and the other a movie night tonight) - I've put some sweets and chocolates in them, so they're bound to go down well!

The Christmas sewing is going well. Shant say much more except that one of the gifts would really be more fitting for this month but I dont want to spoil the surprise - you know who you are!

I imagine the next few weeks will be relatively quiet in terms of adventures, we're just going to take things easy and let Missy dictate the pace. Ironically, one thing we do have booked is a Prey Drive Seminar later this month, so Missy has been well warned that she needs to pay attention!

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Some Time off to Recover

After the chaos of last week, we decided to use the remaining time booked off to recharge the batteries and get some jobs done in the house.
It's still spring cleaning, even in October, right? 

Despite the more laid back plans, adventures must still be had. Blackness Castle seemed a good idea now its open again - although we did laugh at the fact that we've seen plenty of the castle this year with our Bo'ness to Blackness walks! It's a favourite of ours; oddly quirky with its boat shape, a grim dungeon and, in times before plague, lots of events (sadly, I think it will be some time before they host the seige again).

This was the moment that hit us with the difference between Scotland and Englands restrictions. After a week of being the odd ones out in our face masks (even in places like Beamish which asked for masks to be worn indoors, no one except the tourists seemed to be donning them), we were grilled about our health and then reminded 3 times to wear masks in inside areas. Not a problem for us, it just came as a surprise to compare the difference!

From there we did the favourite walks for the week and tried to avoid the sudden bad weather. 
The poor weather was looming on me a bit. Yesterday was our first shot at leading a group walk as Explorers at the UFO walk. One person messaged me to say they couldn't make it as the dog had an injury and that was fine. As we stood in the pouring rain however, I just knew my worst fear had come true: No one was gonna show. Everyone who parked up we queried if they were for the walk and we were either ignored or politely declined.
At 20 past the hour, just as I had given up, a car pulled in and out popped a gigantic fluffy German Shepherd and a Norwegian Elkhound.
"Dog Furiendly...?" I asked whilst getting kisses. 
"yes! Thank god you haven't left yet - I got lost coming in." 
One person and two dogs, fine, i could do that. Hubby and I gave them a personal tour of the area, including the UFO site, the Law and some rambling in the fields. Missy made firm new friends - how else does one cement their friendship without ganging up on a squirrel? I will confess to a moment of panic when said squirrel fell out of the tree and nearly landed on the dogs! Thankfully in the chaos it got back up the tree and was fine. 

Our guest turned out to be another Explorer, which was cool (we're secretly everywhere!). We bounced ideas for other walks in locations that may be more appealing to people (we're thinking of trying again on a Christmas walk at Arthur's Seat). The hour walk turned into two since all the dogs were happy together and then we headed home.

So, it could have been better, but I think we all still had a good time! 

Lastly, whilst there has been much sewing, it's the Christmas gifts that have been started on, which I won't share here. I'm feeling very autumnal today, the gloves and wooly hats are out and the garden is almost entirely put yo bed. Except for this glorious pumpkin, which I am very pleased with!

Now, do I eat it, or carve it? 

Until next time! 

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Festival Fever

But not, like, an actual fever, or new cough or any such plague related thoughts. 

At last, the moment we were all waiting for, Missys most important date in the doggy year: Dogfest North.

So, back in times of early unlock, when the thought of normality will still far from grasp, Dog Furiendly asked for volunteers for all the Dogfests. Deprived of any semblance of freedom, I immediately volunteered for both days of Dogfest North and retrospectively checked if people would be available to see that week.

The day of Dogfest had arrived. I'd done it. Survived a week with the In laws (no hardship really, I'm quite lucky on that front!), managed to avoid concussion on the flumes (I may have belly flopped and smacked my face off one when excitedly racing the hubby, but all good, and no black eye!), Missy was devoid of injury and her arthritis was nowhere to be seen. We were ready. 
A group chat had been put together for us Explorers and, being told that my job today was to get content and enjoy it, I was almost vibrating with excitement (or possibly with the lack of sleep from excitement and copious amounts of tea). Missy had her game face on and we strutted through those big gates like we owned the place. 
Until I basically fell onto every dog visible for hugs and kisses. It took an hour for hubby to gently stear me to the Dog Furiendly stand as I excitedly ran off to grab another freebie, or cuddle another dog, or take Missys picture. She was on form - I've previously mentioned that she's never forced to do anything she doesn't want to, and that includes photos. You can tell when she's excited for the training (which is how she sees photos), and when she's too tired for it.

Saying that, we did make sure she got plenty of time to rest!
After the trek to the stall, I was signed into Dog Furiendlys Instagram and told to get photos and videos and share the excitement. Which would have been easy had the 4G not died a slow and horrible death owing to all ththe people sharing photos on thier Instagrams! Still, challenge accepted.
We did the Big Dog Walk (the 2km route, Missy had a long day ahead of her), and went round pimping Dog Furiendly to anyone who asked about the tshirt I had on, and made lots of conversations with the stall holders and other dog owners. 

There was really too much going on to see everything, which isn't a bad thing, really. Ironically the Manchester Police Dogs was the only thing I'd bookmarked as a must do, and it was cancelled after they were called put on a job. Best excuse really, perhaps next year! 

Knowing that we were being joined with family for day 2 we didn't do the fun dog shows or have a try events. At 8, Missy needs to be made to pace herself, she hasn't quite figured out yet that she's getting old. We did however enter her in for Scruffts Golden Oldie.
For those not in the know, Scruffts is the only category in Crufts that allows mongrels to compete (outside of dance/agility etc). In order to get into the shortlist for Crufts, you have to win one of the many heats going on through the year. I didn't expect to do well, seeing as Missy is often mistaken as a younger dog, so we just entered for funzies. 
So I was legitimately shocked at this:

Second! With her own legitimate kennel club ribbon!
Its getting framed, the print is already in the post.

So that wrapped up day 1. And we were all beat. Early nights all round (after Missy got a big well deserved treat, of course). 

Day 2 started with an Explorer meet up. It was nice to finally meet some of the crew who I've been collaborating with over the last 2 years (I became an Explorer just before lockdown hit).
My sister and her family joined us, as did the in laws. I wasn't sure how Ruby would be, but I was mistaken in my concern, it being my FIL who was most overwhelmed at the experience. 

This time we did DogFest as a more normal event - there was tombolas (my neice and nephew are clearly lucky charms, they walked away with teddies and t shirts and all sorts of things!). We also tried Loveliest Lady (a dalmatian was "spot on" and won, but I got to meet Michaela Strachan (Missy tried to sway her with cuddles, but alas, it was to no avail) so was pleased with that. My inner 10 year old was in absolute joy. 

Most of the "have a go" things are too high impact for Missy these days - whilst she could have easily managed the hay bale race, I'm wanting to preserve her knees as best I can. Still, my neice took Missy round the obedience ring (we had a great deal, she gave Missy the treats and I said the commands) and Missy even walked onead for her beautifully around the last part of the ring. Missy is still learning new tricks, adapting to the neices and nephews whims as they grow.

We did try for Scruffts again (prettiest bitch) but didn't place. I was still on cloud nine from our previous success, so honestly didn't mind. A German shepherd cross won, which I had to agree was a beautiful dog, so I didn't mind. 

After that, everyone was absolutely knackered. Between the shock of the crowds, the unexpectedly nice weather, the good company and being on feet all day, we said our final goodbyes and went separate ways. I would have liked to have seen more of my neice and nephew, but between our action packed week, my adopted into family and school, there really wasn't time. Hopefully I'll see them again before the year is out!

Would I Dogfest again? Absolutely! 

But I need to recover from this one first! 

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

A Big Manchester Holiday

This post will be in 2 parts - for Dogfest, the post will be up later this week, in the meantime, here's our action packed trip to Manchester! 

So, the plan had always been a week trip down south to make a holiday of Dogfest. As explorers, we received complimentary tickets to go and figured a trip visiting relatives was long overdue whilst at the same time having our own base to still go and do our own thing. 
We received some bad news a few months back in that hubby's uncle had had a heart attack and, due to his pre existing conditions, was in a bad way. We had already mentioned to the in-laws our plan to go and do the family circuit, so we weren't surprised when they asked if they could tag along with. Thankfully I was only just looking for places to stay, so we accommodated the extra dog and couple quite easily.

The calm before the storm!

Plans were reshuffled and a rough itinerary was put together with the in laws arriving Sunday and us all leaving Monday. We kept the travel as easy as we could and stopped first of all at Gretna Green Village (top photo). It has a better space for dogs to run about than the Gretna services, and provided a good spot to take a long lunch.
Then we shuttled down to my sisters to walk the dogs at the big park by hers. By coincidence, the Airbnb was only 7 minutes from hers (I had booked the location based on midway between Tatton Park for Dog Fest and our poorly Uncle). There was much thanking as we queued for a quick privvy break and then I got to sit back and watch my MIL get a guided tour of my sisters craft room. They were soon cackling away together and I was content knowing that the families would work well for our get togethers. 

Tuesday was planned as awonder about Blackpool before hubby and FIL went to check the lay of the land with the relatives. I was originally a bit put out at the suggestion of mooching about the tat epicentre of Northern England, but reminded myself that the weekend was solely for Missy and I, and went along in good grace.
I'm pleased I did. Whilst we didn't "do" anything, we managed a walk along the promenade, explored the birthplace of Sooty at the North pier and rode the merry-go-round there. We tried to set it up as a little spur of the moment photoshoot for the in laws with me riding a horse in front of them and hubby getting photos from the sides. The in laws are much like myself and the hubby, thousands of photos of the dogs, and none of ourselves! 

Ruby hasn't learned to pose like Missy has (well, I say pose, she really just has a very good sit and stay command) so we tried throughout the holiday to various success to get some photos of them together. 
After all of the above, we walked back via the shops before letting the dogs run on the beach to the south of the south peir which allowed dogs. Missy got to play in the arcade (the in laws decided against allowing Ruby in) and then we all had fish and chips in true Lancaster fashion. 
(As an East of Scotland girl, I will always lament the lack of "sauce", no matter what people say of it!) 
The evening was quiet as we waited for the update that would really shape the holiday: how well was our poor Uncle? Hubby and FIL were pleased to announce that, whilst he couldn't really stay on his feet, his humour was as sharp as ever and he was keen to see visitors. 

Tuesday was a doggy day off and FILs official retirement. We celebrated by running around the flumes at Sandcastle Waterpark. MIL was not interested at all in coming and seemed to enjoy a quiet day to herself whilst we exhausted ourselves rushing up and down stairs. 
The day was finished with a meal out with my sisters family. As they would all meet at Dogfest, it seemed a good idea to introduce the kids to my in laws first. As FIL and BIL bonded over a camembert, MIL heard all about the books the kids were reading and the games they liked to play. A successful day, if I do say so myself! 

Thursday was the National Waterways Museum - a suggestion I made based on our previous adventure in the Chester area
It was interesting to see how it differed from our last visit in the days before plague. Some areas were shut, licenses had expired on some of the engines that were used for demos, and the museum was under refurbishment. Despite that, there was new boats to climb aboard, and the cottages had been done up. Well worth the revisit. 
We finish the day all visiting Aunt and Uncle (and visited by Granny) and having a truly Northern dinner. Mince and potato pie. Lamb hot pot. Mashed potato. And liver, but I avoided that plate and tried all the rest. There was syrup pudding and apple pie for dessert and we all chatted and laughed at the squirrels on the feeder.

Both dogs were thankfully asleep. It may have been a small disaster had Missy clocked the furry beasts. As it was, she stole the sofa and cuddled up to Aunt and Uncle where I overheard a few soft "oh, just like oor Tara"s from them. I've previously seen photos of Tara, a Manchester heeler, and she sounded a wonderful dog with a temperament similar to Missy. FIL tried to damage control the comments with a "oh, but they do love her as Missy in her own right," but I know that comparing someone else's dog to your most beloved pet is a high compliment, so brushed it off as endearment.

On Friday, we managed a rare day of "winging it", something I have been unable to really do owing to covid. Firstly we visited the Blue John Cavern where everyone was very impressed at the dogs. Missy is well practiced on stairs from years of castles, so she comfortably managed the 250+ steps on the way down and then the return.
It quickly became a joke that we went all the way down to go all the way up at Peveril Castle
Calling it a castle is an exaggeration, it being more a single storey watch tower, but the winding path was certainly worth the stunning views. We all admired them for some time, a landscape quite different from home despite its similar beginings through glaciation. 

And I will leave the blog there for today, the last tranquil moment before the enjoyable chaos of Dogfest:

Sunday, 12 September 2021


Is that the face of true love, or just really wanting that peice of pancake? 

It's been a quiet weekend, which we've needed to recharge from a few busy weeks. Work has been very busy for us all and we're still trying to figure out a routine that let's us enjoy weekends without burning out.

Friday we finished up the birthday run seeing some local friends who have just moved house and both hubby and I were delighted with a voucher for Stack and Still as a gift. It was good having a quiet catch up and we ended up staying longer than we had intended.

Saturday was a rare quiet day in. It was by BILs birthday weekend and he and hubby decided on a boys day together, leaving me and Missy to have a girls day in. It was nice having time to just bumble about and potter about the garden and get on with some sewing. My latest project is an upcycle - I was given a bag of old jeans that I've turned into a bean bag. I will confess that I'm ridiculously pleased with how it came out as, sometimes, upcycles don't turn out all that pretty. 

Today has been a cleaning day. Scrubbed the house top to bottom before our neighbours pop round to go over budgie care as we have a holiday coming up. With that voucher burning a hole in our pockets, we decided that we deserved to go out and have a treat for lunch. 

The staff were great with Missy, although it was obvious that, despite being dog friendly, they don't get a lot of doggy visitors. The main clue being the fact that when we went to get seated, the lady serving us had to really think about where we were to be sat. 
Missy, as always, put on an exemplary display of good behaviour. She sat/lay under the table and didn't make a sound as we ordered food. I spotted that they had gluten and lactose free pancakes and, in a moment of "why the hell not", we decided to order Missy her own pancake.

The girl serving us, after a moment of confusion about a plain pancake for special diets, accepted the explanation with a laugh. 
Then one of the kitchen staff popped over to double check something hadn't gone wrong with the order. And then laughed about it.
And after that I'm pretty certain every staff member on the floor popped by to check on us and watch Missy get fed little peices of pancake. 
The kids at the table behind us were absolutely delighted about this, and it never ceases to amaze me how much children are more observant than their parents. Every time Missy was mentioned, it was a kid pointing her out to a parent who had failed to see her. 
Nonetheless, Missy very much enjoyed the pancake and the attention. Although all of us are gonna have to go on a long walk this afternoon to burn off the calories!