The art of compromise

My life was turned upside down recently when a new beagle strolled into my house. My mum and dad and I took our time to decide whether to agree to adopt, and accept, Lenny. He’s my new Beagle brother rescued by Cyprus Beagles. His presence upon a house which has gradually become quieter, more organised and less stressful, would have a lasting impact and we wanted to try and make sure we were doing the right thing by all concerned. We had read and seen too many stories of dogs being rescued and re-homed almost on a whim and it doesn’t work out for one reason or another quite soon after the adoption has taken place.

It was, as we expected, a little hectic when he first arrived. For the first week in particular things were really upside down and nothing was in any real order. We were all getting used to having a young, probably disorientated, very lively eight month old pup running around. To be honest I didn’t truly know what hit me. I have been an only “child” since December 2013 so the change for me was probably the greatest test. I am used to my own company, my own bowls, beds and which parent to snuggle up to when I feel a little blue. Now there was this young Beagle champing at the bit, and chomping on my ears. Adjustments were clearly needed however after being on my own for so long. The question is how would I adapt to the changes and how would he find his paws.

That’s where the squirrels live, just over there

There are some rules which we all try to stick to with Lenny. Firstly my night time bed is my bed, so he doesn’t sleep in it. My bed on a chair also belongs to me so that is a no-go for him. And that’s it for the hard and fast rules really. Most other things are fairly flexible and I sometimes don’t seem too bothered by him trying to steal toys or food from me, for instance. In fact he tried it with some of my food when we were eating recently and I almost just stood back. We are being fed side by side and at the same time, as this is the clearest way to show that there is no favouritism between us in certain aspects of living here. On this occasion he just stuck his nose into my food bowl and it was only when he was unceremoniously stopped by dad that he got the message.

As soon as he arrived he stole a toy that was a present given to me by a friend. I didn’t seem too concerned by it. He has pretty much destroyed the toy now so it’s probably a good thing that I wasn’t too fussed. There seems to be some toy guarding which mum and dad will work on with him. It is lucky that I don’t really have many toys so the said guarding isn’t a huge issue for me.

He is removed from the big bed if he tries to get onto it for the night. He wakes up way too early for the rest of the house and we regularly play fight in the garden, until mum or dad steps in when we become over boisterous with each other. Again there is no favouritism when it comes to being sprayed with the water bottle.

I am getting used to having him around if truth be told and I think he is becoming more accustomed to living here and having some structure to his life now.

Sorry, what did you say? I was distracted by a fly.

We can see the subtle changes and these are becoming clearer each day that passes. When we were first together, there was quite a large amount of bitey face play fighting. This still takes place however it is becoming less common and we are learning to break off from playing without being told to by mum or dad. We are becoming more accustomed to one another and can walk past and lay down near to each other in the garden or in the house more often. We are able to eat side by side fairly well albeit with a parent standing between us.

He arrived without basic training and has been booked onto a course for beginners in a couple of weeks. Whilst awaiting the start of his training course with the professionals he is learning to give paw, sit, stay, lay down and to wait. All of these are being applied fairly vigorously so he learns quickly and can take these manners on with him for later in life. Another part of his training is to walk properly on a lead so that, one day, he will be able to go off lead in certain areas where the scents aren’t too great to override commands. I won’t be able to go off lead outside of my garden and I know this. It may be difficult for me watching him run around free as a bird at first but it is something I will just have to get used to. Given my early escapes and escapades when I was rescued and arrived, I am thinking it is better to be safe than sorry. I hope for Lenny’s sake that he can be trained and then trusted to go off lead in some places. I do think it would be a bit rotten luck for him to be shackled for the rest of his life here.

So, the humans are pushovers, then? This could be fun.

We are getting along more as buddies now. When I wrote the blog about his first two weeks, I tried to express what happened day to day. As he’s been here for three weeks now I can try to provide a wider appreciation about how we have adapted to each other in a situation which is very new for both of us, of course. We didn’t know what to expect of each other at first. This isn’t surprising. We were quite rough with some of the playing and it seems there was an element of trying to sort out the hierarchy. This was resolved by mum and dad stamping their authority on the situation. We were antagonising each other from first light when he arrived but now we can stroll around the garden together without nibbling each others ears or neck. We can go out on lead walks pretty much side by side although this is most likely because my prey drive is very high and I don’t know he’s there half the time. Slowly, slowly the changes are coming. I hope for his sake that the changes continue and we can live together peacefully. I am adapting too, this is a big change for me. I think sometimes that people forget that the biggest challenge is for the incumbent dog who’s life alters immediately when they’re being asked to accept another dog into their life.

I need to get used to seeing the camera.

He will make a good brother. He’s gone up in my estimation since he arrived. The best part is that he will be a good brother to me.

Happy because he’s staying

The whirlwind

It was a Friday, I remember. The 19th of April 2019. “Come on”, said mum and dad, “we’re off somewhere new for an adventure”. Into the car and around the motorway we went. Indeed this was somewhere new. Somewhere called Essex. When we arrived in somewhere new called Essex, I wandered into a new house and was immediately let off the lead. Suddenly, out of nowhere, 7 beagles, a Jura Hound and 2 Dachshunds were onto me, arooing and barking. What was this, I wondered. It was like a maelstrom of tails and fur. I wasn’t complaining as it looked like fun but I was becoming tired after a while. Some time later I was reshackled and we wandered around the nearby park with one of the beagles that had originally assailed me. We didnt really pay much attention to one another as there were many sniffs to take in. One of the Dachsunds came along as well so we kept on waiting for him to catch up. He had little legs. Mum and dad did plenty of talking and then we left the lady who lived there. We came home and it was back to normality. Or was it?

A week later on Saturday 27th April – day 1

It was a week later on a Saturday and I wondered if there was something wrong. You see, I don’t usually get a double parent walk at the weekend. However today they were both anxious to make sure I was out and about quite early. Having returned from my walk, I resumed snoozing until there was a knock at the door to my house. I wanted to ensure that the intruders knew who’s home it was, but I was immediately told to sshhh. How rude, I thought. The front door was closed and the door to the kitchen opened. I saw that one of the beagles who I had met the week before was standing in my kitchen. It was the same beagle who had walked with me around the park. What was this sorcery? How did this beagle get here? Who were these ladies standing in my kitchen talking to my mum and dad? I decided to disregard all the questions and just show this beagle around my garden. Fortunately, as I was off lead, I could run around having unfettered fun. We ran around and around like a couple of wailing banshees, so much so that the grass was a blur beneath our paws. He was a bit quick, this beagle visitor. We decided we would graduate quickly to bitey face games and I was glad to see that he was also quite good at this too. The humans were deep in discussion most of the time. However they still noticed when bitey face was getting a little rough. Before I knew what was going on, the two ladies left the house and the beagle visitor was still here. I was a little confused.

You’re the boss, right? Uh huh.

At this point mum and dad looked at each other and were clearly making plans to try and keep us in order and to restrict the shenanigans which undoubtedly would follow. Unfortunately for me this meant that a water spray bottle was used far too often and usually on my head when I got too rough. To be honest, I was soaked. Darkness soon arrived and I was ready to go to bed. My house guest was still here, I still had confused ears. I’m cool with visitors borrowing a bed so I kindly showed him what to do when it was bed time. He looked a little unsure as to where he could sleep so I jumped into a bed next to him and showed him it was a comfy place to curl up.

Sunday 28th April

Morning sun broke early through the curtains and I opened a weary eye. He was still here. This was great. A round of early Sunday morning supervised bitey face in the garden was followed by a brisk walk with dad. We returned to find mum and my house guest in the garden. She seemed to be showing him some training, so I just got on with eating my breakfast. We managed to get another seriously good session of bitey face, and then shenanigans, in before we were harnessed up for a second time and we went for a pack walk to the local fields. This was great fun, I couldn’t believe my visitor was still here.

When we got back, dad picked up the house guest and stood on the scales. Normally this is not something that dad does voluntarily as it usually ends up with fits of hysterical laughter. However this time he looked at mum and said “10.3 kilos” when he stepped off. Now, even as a beagle, I know that dad doesn’t weigh 10.3 kilos. Darkness fell once more, and the house guest was still here. This time he understood quite quickly that the comfy bed within a bed was the place to go. Let the chorus of snoring commence.

Monday 29th April

Back to school. Wake up early, stretch and there he is still curled up, nose pressed tightly into the side of the fluffy bed. I thought, this is great, as I tried to get past him without waking him up. No chance, as he was onto me like a flash, his little teeth nibbling my ear. Right, I’ll show you, I told him in no uncertain terms and we became a squabble of beagles writhing on the floor. At this point I should woof that this isn’t the best way to wake up my mum and dad, who smartly separated us and made sure that shenanigans were cut short. I had another long walk with dad and this time I returned to find the house guest asleep in a chair. Mum had already taken him out for some training. I was getting a little more accustomed to him now, so the bitey face waited, ooh, until five minutes after I had returned home. However this session was also terminated fairly smartly as we were “getting too rough and needed some down time”. We’re Beagles, hello! Earth calling my parents. Soon after our fun was stopped I realised that even whirlwinds blow themselves out now and again. My house guest seems to like sleeping, somewhat surprisingly, more than I do. I accept that chasing each other around the house and garden, aroooing at the top of our lungs and playing bitey face for ages, may have something to do with our combined tiredness. However he goes out like a light.

Synchronised snoozing

The afternoon was topped off with our first zoom around the garden without close supervision. Mum and dad felt they could trust us to race around and not play bitey face as much. We did not disappoint them. Kind of. My house guest is mighty quick across the ground. However I know all of the shortcuts so I could keep up with him.

Before he went to bed, he had a bit of an accident. I think he thought that mum and dad would be angry with him, but they just changed the duvet and put the cover in the wash. He was shaking a bit in his bed but he needn’t have worried. These two are kind, I can vouch for that. I thought I would help him settle in his bed as he looked a little worried. He seems alright, for a pupster.

Om nom. Can’t believe Dex let me have the chewy rhino.

Tuesday 30th April

Yawn, stretch and morning is here. I slept so deeply last night, I can’t imagine what caused that to happen. Anyway we managed to wake mum and dad up again, but our shenanigans were cut short equally quickly. Dad and I went out for a walk whilst the house guest and mum went off for a shorter “training” walk around part of one of my favourite places, Pednor. I had a great time strolling around the fields at White Hill.

He was asleep when I got back so he must have had a good time and learned some walking tips. A quick (read 30 minutes) whizz around the garden chasing each other and general shenanigans mixed with rough and tumble ensued. I think my nap is well earned. My house guest seems to be following me around a little more. We aren’t playing bitey face as often and we can walk past each other without being naughty. Something must be wrong. He’s calming down and, apparently, so am I.

Tip toeing past the sleepy old Beagle Harrier

We had great zooms around the garden again and when we were told to break it up, we did. Wow, I must be getting old as I actually listened to my parents. We had our dinners together today, for the first time and we didn’t hassle each other. He doesn’t try to pick fights when I am on my bench bed which is good as I can get some down time.

Where is that pesky young pupster?

He does eat quite a few sticks though so they keep him occupied. Dad soon put a stop to the twigs on the grass by cutting it and hoovering them all up with the lawnmower. Bad luck little pal. I keep on looking at him and wondering if I was like that when I was a pupster. I don’t remember but I hope so. Whisper it quietly, but I am getting a bit more used to him after a few days. We will see what the next days bring.

Wednesday 1st May

Morning everyone. As dawn broke I looked wearily out of my bed. My house guest is still here and he hasn’t chomped my ears yet. Things are looking up clearly. We had the first part of our breakfasts together, although we were supervised closely by mum and dad. I was then off for another walk with dad, this time to the fields which is always fun as I get to pull on the lead and try to chase deer and squirrels. My house guest went off for another training walk with mum.

Once we returned he was asleep in the chair so I decided to try and get into the house without disturbing him. I was successful as far as getting through the door. Sadly he was onto me like a flash once I got into the living room. We became the customary squabble of beagles in the various rooms as we continued our now traditional, and extensive, sessions of bitey face games.

I shall pretend to be asleep, then pounce

I was so engrossed with the renewed shenanigans that I completely forgot that I hadn’t yet had my second breakfast. I have breakfast in two halves, not two whole breakfasts, sadly. Anyway, it seems that we are learning to play nicely sometimes when we are in the grounds and the house. Mum and dad are getting a bit more relaxed with us being together and the water sprayer hasn’t been used as much. I have just realised again that my house guest sleeps an awful lot, and in all sorts of strange positions.

Comfy? Of course

We were wandering around in the garden just before lunch and I was pleased that the water spray bottle hadn’t been used on my head for quite some time. Then I realised that my house guest was sniffing around the orchard, some 20 metres away. Maybe there is a connection between the water spray and shenanigans? I will have to think about this a little further.

You know, it’s weird having a little house guest around. I am so used to being an only dog around here that sharing beds, my grounds, lending him a harness, lending him a food bowl and allowing him to sleep in one of my six beds, takes a little getting used to. I think he wants to be friendly but he keeps on trying to nip my ears when we aren’t playing bitey face. Then he wants to snuggle up but I don’t seem to want to. Maybe this will take a little more getting used to.

It’s lucky he’s good at sleeping as mum is looking up training tips for him, to see if they can bring him a bit more into line and get some good habits instilled early. I’m not sure he would be cheered up if he knew what they are looking at teaching him. Apparently it’s too late for me, as a wise and hardy older Beagle Harrier. Phew.. Anyway, he’s been here nearly four days. Time has flown.

Thursday 2nd May

Morning breaks and the sun streams through the windows. My house guest is asleep and I am gasping for some water. No sooner am I out of bed than my now customary shadow is close by. Mum and dad are clearly wiser to the upcoming commotion and are out and about quicker than usual. We took breakfast together and mum is teaching him some more manners when it comes to waiting for his bowl to at least be put down on to the floor. He’ll learn.

Dad decided to take me for a stroll across Pednor this morning and we bumped into my house guest early into the walk. He is still under initial training by mum. We went our separate ways after a short distance together so he could concentrate. Through the field went dad and I, past the horses and up onto the wooded path, down into the valley and then up the hill on the other side. Turn right at the top and road walk it back to home. I love this part of my walk, its really pretty in the early sunshine.

Anyway we returned just after mum, to find the second half of my breakfast was about to be provided so it didn’t take long before we were out in the garden. Resumption of bitey face was instant and my head became wet equally instantly.

Grrr bark woof arooo

Then I did something really stupid. We were in the kitchen and still playing. Dad was wiping the water bowl spillage off the floor and I might have nipped his arm in my excitement. The resultant ten minutes of down time in the Boot Room was very boring, I can tell you.

We’ve just got through an entire hour without playing. Something is happening. Ok, it may be that my house guest is in the study (boot room) and I am in the living room but nevertheless, it’s fairly impressive. My head hasn’t been watered and is dry and I can even manage a nap without him wanting to play.

Mum and dad keep on speaking with the ladies who brought my house guest to my house last week. It seems the ladies are checking up on him whilst mum and dad are reporting back. I have no idea what they’re checking up on but its nice sometimes to have a guest.

Friday 3rd May

Another night of sumptuous sleeping has passed and I awoke to find my house guest curled up in his bed, snoring quietly into the blanket he is laying on. I managed to get out of bed, shake and stretch before an inquisitive nose appeared by the side of my face. We managed not to nibble each others ears for a further fifteen seconds. When we managed to clamp onto each other there was this worrying growl and we saw dad was sitting up watching us. For the first time we went into the garden together before our first breakfast and we didn’t squabble or play bitey face. It was extremely helpful that I was onto a squirrel trail very quickly and I was thoroughly distracted. Come on, says dad, we’re off for a walk around Pednor. My house guest set off with mum and I think there was a suspicious smell of cut up frankfurters as training treats in the training treat bag. I was of course mistaken, according to mum and dad. I think something is going on with the house guest as the walks with dad are long, usually around 2 hours. We get home and mum gives dad the thumbs up, I get cleaned up and then off into the grounds for some serious running around and general shenanigans. However the bitey face is still there and the running around happens more as I chase him to have the last word in our game. But the bitey face seems to be getting more growly on my part. We do however follow each other, sniff squirrels trails and, if you are the house guest, eat beech nut kernels.

It’s a strange time I think. We are both trying to show each other who is the boss and we have squabbled a little bit too much today. Maybe we are becoming a little more used to having each other around but for some reason there seems to be more tension today. We are having more regular times apart where we are being watched like hawks. However as soon as we are released we seem to want to continue our little battles.

This is my garden so my rules. Ok?

I know he’s a pup, and he knows I am an older dog, but for some reason we aren’t hugely tolerant of each other this afternoon.

Saturday 4th May

Even I was surprised when I was woken up at 5.45 this morning. It wasn’t particularly sunny and the light had only just really reached the windows. However, there he was, yawning and stretching as he came towards me. Here we go, I thought, which ear is he going to nibble first? As he slid past me to get some water in the kitchen, I was happy that my ears remained intact, it is my birthday after all. Well, we think its my birthday but as a rescue we don’t know the actual date on which I entered the world. We both wandered out into the garden for an early morning patrol and managed not to squabble as we were too busy tracing last nights wildlife trails. Dad disappeared shopping for a while and when he returned they had breakfast. I was still surprised that, as we hadn’t had any walk yet, my house guest was able to maintain some decorum in his behaviour.

We were soon on our paws and today promised great fun as we were going for a walk together around Pednor. Along the road, turn left up the hill and along the footpath toward the farm. Turn right, up the hill and then back along the road until we arrived at the horses field. My house guest was in awe of the horses, who just stood around eating grass. He arooed at quite a few people and mum was trying to persuade him to ignore people by bribing him with small morsels of frankfurters. I know this is true as I also got some frankfurters once I had cottoned on to his luck. When we got home we started to push each other around a little which meant that mum and dad had to step in and keep us separated for a while.

We went out again later in the afternoon for a shorter further walk. When we got back we were both really quite tired and this seemed to make mum and dad happy as it meant we weren’t as enthusiastic about ear nipping and general shenanigans. Mum and dad are looking at each other a bit worried as it seems that our continual “play time” is getting a bit rough and I am struggling to know when to stop the rough and tumble with the house guest. It’s not nasty, I just want to play beyond the point when he submits. When I am told to leave him alone, I seem to get really vocal and frustrated with everyone. Maybe it’s because I have been an only dog for pretty much all of my life.

Hope I haven’t messed up?

Sunday 5th May

My house guest was awake even earlier this morning, sometime around 5.35. This is early even for me, and that’s saying something. We were out in the garden at separate times which is a little strange however it meant that the customary ear nibbling and fighting was non existent. Mum and dad are watching us both again however they needn’t worry as we haven’t been near each other in the house. We even managed to lay in our beds quietly whilst mum & dad are eating breakfast. They’re chatting away and they still sound a bit melancholy.

We went for a circuit around Pednor. The house guest was attached to mum and we all set off. I was straight onto a trail and marched off accordingly.

Squirrels are this way. Follow me!

The house guest isn’t as reactive any more to horses, runners and cyclists which is good. Mum is feeding him copious quantities of frankfurters to distract him but nevertheless he has improved. When we got back we were still not being trusted to be in the garden together and unsupervised. In the house we can be separated apparently but running amok in the garden, not so much.

Dad picked up the house guest again, stood on the scales and said to mum “11.2 kilos” so this sounds like either dad or my house guest has put on some weight during the last week. My noms money is on the house guest. We didn’t play much in the afternoon as we were quite tired after our walk earlier in the day. We had done a fair amount of sniffing and investigating and it was interesting to see that the house guest was following me about a bit more and we were getting interested in the same things.

Mum and dad spoke to the lady who dropped me off a week ago. They had a long discussion about how I was getting on with the house guest, and whether he was also settling in. The general consensus seemed to be that, apart from me being very vocal and fairly rough in play, we were getting more comfortable with each other. As the lady pointed out it is a big upheaval for me as well. After all it’s my house and I need to be able to adjust to a new fur sleeping, playing and wandering around my house and garden. I’ve been an only dog for five years and no one really knows what I was like before I arrived, with regard to socialisation. My house guest seems to have made himself very much at home. He even managed to get into the right bed when he went to sleep. He burrowed under the blanket too. You won’t catch me doing that.

Bank Holiday Monday 6th May

He woke up at five twenty this morning and wandered out to the kitchen for a drink of water. Mum, dad and I just looked at each other and thought “nope, this is too early” so he was coaxed back into his bed. When he jumped up onto the big bed, I don’t think they had the energy to put him off again so they let him snooze there as long as he laid still. Six thirty am duly arrived and we all wearily roused ourselves to start the new day.

We were put out into the garden together fairly quickly after we awoke. This is unusual as recently we have been in the garden at different times because we have been playing bitey face with a bit too much roughness. So when we were put out today and we started nibbling each other, it was surprising that we weren’t admonished. Some two hours of rough playing then passed before we came back into the house. There were regular breaks for water and we didn’t go near each other when we were drinking. It seems that when mum and dad were speaking to the lady who dropped me off, she had assured them that we may need to sort out our differences and that mum and dad were stepping in to break us up a little early in the bitey face “discussions”.

Duly harnessed for our walk, I was actually feeling the effects of the prolonged playtime. However, when we reached the lanes around Pednor we both found our vitality once again and there was some serious hedgerow investigations to do. He flaked out on his chair whilst I was zonked in mine when we came home again.

Dreaming of a furever home
Hoping my house guest stays

We returned to the garden this afternoon and, sadly, my behaviour wasn’t as good as expected for a house guest. I have a very wet head again as dad is expert with the water sprayer and both mum and dad are eagle eyed at spotting my indiscretions and my lack of etiquette. I seem to be struggling still when it comes to learning how hard to press when we’re playing rough and tumble in the garden. I don’t like being told off. I am trying to learn not to be overly rough, truly. Anyway I’m off to bed before I get into more trouble.

Tuesday 7th May

Today I thought I would allow my house guest to do a post on here. I hope it will be interesting.

Hello everyone my name is Lenny and I was born in Cyprus some 9 months ago. I was found as a stray wandering the streets and was then rescued (and saved) by Cyprus Beagles who arranged for me to move to the UK. I arrived in Essex on 9th April 2019 and was looked after by a very kind lady and her family. When I arrived at this house, I think the people said I was being fostered with a view to making this a forever home. I met Dexter the week before I arrived at his house and he seems quite a good dog. He’s very playful which is great as it fits in with my behaviour as an older puppy.

So, what have I made of the last 11 days I hear you ask? I have loved it. There are new rules that I need to understand. I can’t sleep on the big bed, however I have numerous beds I can sleep in. I also have a chair that I can snooze in. I have food three times a day and I go for walks in some great countryside.

Patrolling with Dex who’s way out in front

I have a big garden to run around in, I have sticks and leaves I can chase and eat, I have a good pal in Dexter who plays plenty of the time and I also have two people to look after me. I’ve been promised a trip to the local town soon as well. Something about socialisation. I even got a chew from Dex today.

A chew stick present from Dex, thanks buddy

I think I have fallen on my paws here.

There have been some teething problems I will admit. My arrival was quite disruptive to Dex as he had a fairly set routine and I, basically, blew it out of the water. As a pup I like to play pretty much all of the time and this includes a fairly significant quantity of bitey face and ear nibbling. I have been on Dex’s ear a fair bit to be honest and sometimes I am surprised that he hasn’t told me off. That’s not to say he’s been wholly accommodating to my shenanigans but he seems fairly tolerant. Equally he is quite vociferous when I have had enough of rough and tumble and he wants to play on. There have been times when we have been told off a little. I am learning to be quieter and not hassle Dex as much as I was when I first arrived. It’s difficult for us all I think as we all have to adjust and, in some ways, it’s most difficult for Dex as he has been an only dog for five years. This sounds like a long time to me but Dex explained that he is eight so most of his life. He’s alright is Dex.

Is he talking about me again?

I am relaxing a lot more now I have been here for a few days, and as I adjust to the routine which is set by the humans I am finding more time to chill out and look around me. I get to sleep often as well, which is good for me as it lets my brain catch up on all the fun I am having.

Hope these paws are here for quite a while

I was walked around the garden earlier today so I could try to get some basic commands in my mind. Dad was very generous with the frankfurter treats as long as I did sit, stay and a little bit of recall. I think I will be getting more training as time goes by, as long as I am staying that is. Dexter told me that the training is really easy, and the frankfurters are dished out liberally.

On my walks I was going out with mum when I first arrived. This was so I could get used to where I was living and so they could see if I pulled or walked nicely, and whether I was interested in pavement food, for instance. Now I get to go out for walks with Dex, although he is usually quite a distance in front of me and pulling on his double leads so he can get to the scents quickly. When we get back he’s usually tired so I thought this was the time to pounce and start playing rough and tumble. Oh how I was wrong. For an eight year old, he’s got a lot of stamina and he knows all the shortcuts in the garden so he can “cut me off at the pass”. Still, it’s good fun running around, rolling about on the lawn and chasing each other through the flowers and shrubs. Apparently I smell of Geraniums, whatever they are.

You shall not pass

This is so different from living in Cyprus. I was abandoned and probably heading towards roaming on the street, to be honest. Thankfully I was picked up and now I am exploring new places and new people safe in the knowledge that I am secure and loved. All I have to do is stop nibbling Dex’s ear. I hope I can manage it. And then I need to hope that I can stay as, whisper it quietly, its nice here and I like it. He’s a good fur.

Wednesday 8th May

Back to me for today’s update. My house guest was out of bed even earlier this morning despite it being horrible, grey and very rainy outside. We were hoping that he may want a bit of a lie in but it appears that eight to nine month old pups don’t require as much sleep as other dogs and indeed humans. I have got used to having lazy days when it’s rainy and grey outside so this was a bit of a shock to the system. Anyway “up and at em” I suppose is the motto.

We managed a quick pre breakfast game of bitey face in the kitchen, living room and dining room. Our breakfast put a hasty stop to the games and we were harnessed up ready for the walk. Outside we were swiftly onto the fields and we were allowed to pull mum and dad through the woods early into the trip. They mistakenly believed that the trees would give them some shelter from the rain, however the drips are bigger and when the wind blows through the trees, the “rain” is heavier. I didn’t care though, and nor did my house guest it would seem. Back out into the meadow and then around the top field, turn left, left again and then around the mile field. Finishing the walk and coming back down the gravel track we noticed that the rain had eased and the clouds had lifted somewhat. When we got back home we were thoroughly towelled down and let loose to continue our rough and tumble through the house before second breakfast was served. We even managed to eat our respective food side by side and without any incursion into each others bowls. Mum and dad looked relieved. Into the wet garden for a short time and then onto our beds for some quiet snoozing.

I wonder if I will stay? Hope so.

This house guest is alright. We are walking past each other a bit more often without squabbling. Ok, we are being watched over, however even I am impressed with my restraint in the face of the severest ear nibbling provocation at the moment. There are times when we need to squabble but they are becoming farther apart. I haven’t been water sprayed by dad for a whole day so maybe somethings are changing. My house guest is definitely feeling a bit more at home here. He knows he can wander about and relax wherever he wants and won’t get told off, unless he’s on the big bed of course. For instance he went missing about an hour ago so mum sent dad on a search party. After a few minutes of silence dad came back and said he was in one of my beds under the desk in the study. He was all curled up and sleepy. Originally he was a bit wary of wandering about and trying out some of my beds. However I am a gentle fur when it comes to sharing and I don’t mind if pals want to use a bed that I am not sleeping in. Apart, of course, from my night time bed which is mine and very comfy and definitely out of bounds to interlopers.

As another day draws to a close, my house guest is still here. I am getting more used to him being around and I think he is getting used to being here too. I suppose the longer he’s here the better. The thing is, I always wanted a pal to run around the garden with and wander the lanes, fields and countryside near my house. He might nip my ears and play fight quite a bit, but its nice to have a buddy to knock about with.

Thursday 9th May

I was rudely awoken at four forty am. My house guest managed to leap over my bed and onto the big bed. Suffice to say he was then quickly removed from the big bed. This lasted around ten minutes. I think they let him stay for some peace and quiet. That may not be the best idea in the long run, but we shall cross that bridge when we get to it. Fortunately it wasn’t raining in time for the morning walk and we were off for a stroll around Pednor, so the house guest could get some scents and a little lead training. The walk was going so well until my house guest decided to pick up and try to eat something that really shouldn’t be picked up and eaten. He then allowed dad to try and remove said squelchy, smelly, dirty and vile muck from his mouth. We believe it emanated from a fox. Let’s just say that dad was extremely unimpressed with this gift all over his hand and trainers. As a result the house guest was duly escorted home without honours. This is probably where the phrase “in the dog house” is most apt.

It was raining for the second day in a row. I think the house guest is feeling a little stir crazy. As a pup he needs mental and physical exercise and in the rain that’s a bit difficult. For an old paw like me its easy to snooze the day away, catch up on some rest and recharge the batteries for the days ahead.

Play away pupster, I will rest here

He has been wandering around, destroying one of the chew toys I have allowed him to maim.

Frog dog

The rounds of bitey face have returned and this means so has my harness and the water spray bottle. Dad hasn’t lost any of his aim, sadly.

Mum and dad are starting to train him both indoors and outside on the patio. A little recall and some sit, stay and down commands, all mixed with playtime and copious quantities of frankfurters for bribery. This all sounds positive as they wouldn’t be looking to train him if they didnt want him to stay. Dad has even booked a six week course of training sessions with experts, however he has told mum that if the house guest doesn’t stay then I am going to have to pass as a pup and will be doing sit, stay, leave, down and roll over. Ugh good grief, the ignominy of it all. He’d better be staying if that is the case. Anyway I am off to bed before I get into any more trouble.

Friday 10th May

This is getting bad. It was four forty five this morning when I was used as a vaulting horse for my house guest to make his way onto the big bed. He was unceremoniously removed three times before mum relented and allowed him to rest on the big bed. However, he decided that he didn’t want to sleep in today and we were all out and about far too early.

Mum and dad decided that we would go out to Pednor again as it is easier to guide my house guest and show him how to walk properly. It was good weather for a change so we didn’t get a soaking. He was quite reactive to some of the people this morning, and even managed to growl at a couple of lumps of concrete laying on the grass verge to stop people parking there. Strange boy my house guest sometimes.

Sleepy pupster

It seems he’s been here two weeks tomorrow and “we have a decision to make soon”. We were getting on each others nerves a bit today, the house guest and I, so we were left to our own devices to try and get some angst and frustration over the recent inclement weather out of our systems. The bitey face lasted about 5 minutes before it got a little too heated and was broken up. Mum and dad are stepping in at about the right time now, and we are ordered to our respective quiet rooms to rest and chill out. I don’t think it will affect the outcome of the “decision” but I know there is some serious discussion over how to control our rough and tumble when there is only one parent about.

Wonder what mum and dad will decide?

We are getting better at quite a few aspects of living together such as eating our food at the same time without bothering one another, and the first morning garden patrol usually passes off incident free. With a parents overview, we can often walk past each other without going in for a nibble, so things seem to be calming down. There are just occasions where it all goes a bit wrong. We need to work on these. I look at him and he clearly wants to stay and not be messed about any more with a forever home.

Saturday 11th May

I was woken up before 5 am, I got involved in bitey face and we went out for a combined walk with mum and dad. When we got back there was more bitey face and then we slept for a while. Mum and dad made a phone call and then they sat smiling, wondering what they had done.

Dad was given a bit of a black eye when Lenny leapt over the water bowl and his head whacked dad in the left eye. Good work Lenny.

I’m staying. This is going to be my manor

He’s staying. My house guest is staying. I am so happy I could run around in circles arooing at the top of my voice. He might be a nibbling pain, who tries to turn my ears into beagle versions of colanders, he might try to annoy me all the time and I might try to chase him around the garden until I am exhausted. However he is now officially my little brofur so I have to look after him, show him the way and tell what’s right and wrong. I need to help him through life and be a good friend and a great older brother for him. He has come all the way from Cyprus for this. I am not going to let him down.

Welcome to my garden Lenny

Dexter and Lenny are brothers. That has such a lovely ring about it.

Vanishing pubs of London

As some of my readers will know, I have been to London a couple of times and enjoyed exploring the city very much. So when, some time ago, my dad saw a blog written by The Gentle Author, our inquisitive nature came to the fore. The Gentle Author is a blogger and writer, based in Spitalfields which is on the boundary of East London and the City. The blog in question related to some photographs taken by a gentleman called Jeffrey Johnson. Mr Johnson subsequently deposited the photographs with the Bishopsgate Institute. They were taken in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s and were of various pubs in London. Whilst looking through the photographs, we realised that some of the pubs were no longer there. As a result of our interest, we decided I would send out my Research Assistant, also known as my dad, to investigate whether the pubs were still standing. If they were no longer there, what is in their place, we wondered.

Over a few days dad photographed, we believe, the locations of the pubs and this blog deals with what he found. I must at this point say thank you to both the Gentle Author and to Bishopsgate Institute, without whose assistance and guidance this blog entry could not take place. The photographs are arranged in the order in which they originally appeared, with Jeffrey Johnson’s picture being shown first.

The Hoop & Grapes, Aldgate

It is the oldest licensed house in the City of London, dating from 1593. Originally called The Castle, then the Angel & Crown, then Christopher Hills and finally the Hoop & Grapes. This is a reference to the sale of both beer & wine and was given the name in the 1920’s. The pub is a Grade II listed building.

Sir Walter Scott, 2 Broadway Market E8

The first reference we could find of the pub was 1851. The pub is now the Market Cafe. It stands on the corner of Broadway Market and Andrews Road, close by the Regents Canal.

City of Dublin Bottling Co., Dericote Street, nr Broadway Market E8

The building appears remarkably similar however it is clearly a private residence now. The history is somewhat shrouded in mystery, although we understand that it was part of the Guinness empire.

Knave of Clubs, 25 Bethnal Green Road E2

Grade II listed, present in 1735 the pub became a restaurant around 1994 before closing in 2001. It has since reopened as a bar & restaurant called Dirty Bones which is still open today.

Crown & Woolpack 394 St John Street, Clerkenwell

Believed to date originally from around 1851, the pub was open until 1990, then closed. It has undergone some refurbishment and is currently a hairdressers, called The Chapel.

Centre Page, Knightrider Street EC4V

Originally known as the Horn Tavern, the pub can be seen on the left when crossing the “wobbly” bridge from Tate Modern to the north bank approaching St Pauls. Another Grade II listed building, this time built in the mid 19th century. The other buildings in the area around the pub have changed significantly.

Brunswick Arms, Macdonald Road, Archway

The pub appears to have been on the corner of Macdonald Road & Vorley Road. It was demolished in the early 1980’s. The Archway Leisure Centre stands adjacent to the site and there is no trace of the pub. The flats behind the pub remain.

Queens Head, 31 Blackfriars Lane EC4V

The pub was situated immediately adjacent to the Thameslink rail line at Blackfriars. It was demolished in 1999 and now offices are in its place.

Crooked Billet, Wood Street & Chingford Road, Walthamstow

It’s believed a pub was on the site from 1742 – 1991. It was subsequently demolished for a roundabout known as The Crooked Billet on the A406 North Circular Road.

Old Bell Tavern, Pancras Road

The history of this pub appears to be difficult to come by and very little seems to be on record. The building has been swept away to provide taxi ranks and a pedestrianised area for King’s Cross and St Pancras stations. The German Gymnasium in the background of both pictures was the first purpose built gymnasium in England. It was built between 1864-1865 and today is a restaurant.

Magpie & Stump

Opposite the Old Bailey (or the Central Criminal Court) the Magpie & Stump was apparently nicknamed Court no.10 as it was regularly filled with detectives and reporters to discuss the proceedings. The old building has been replaced by an office incorporating the pub.

Mackworth Arms, 158 Commercial Road, E1

The pub was present in 1817 and closed around 2005. It’s latest use seems to be a clothes shop, however that also looked like it had been closed for a while.

Red Lion, 217 Whitechapel Road

Originally known as the Old Red Lion, the pub was present by 1839, when it became known as the Red Lion. It survived as a pub until around 1989 and is currently a shoe store under the name Sidhu.

Green Man, 7&9 Bucklersbury, St Benet Sherehog, EC4

The pub was situated in St Benet Sherehog, which now seems to be Sise Lane. It was demolished to allow the building of One Poultry, which was completed in 1997. There is another Green Man pub incorporated into the One Poultry development.

Marquis of Anglesey, 77 Ashmill Street, NW1

The address was changed prior to 1915 from 77 Devonshire Street to Ashmill Street. The pub closed around 2009 and became offices.

Bulls Head, 80 Leadenhall Street, EC3A

Demolished in 1990 to make way for an office development. Opposite Hartshorn Alley leading to Fenchurch Street.

White Horse, 8 Little Britain

Now known as 1 Little Britain. The sign is hidden behind the barred gate. There seems to have been a pub on the site since 1765, it was rebuilt in 1892 and closed around 1971. Converted to offices.

Olde Wine Shades, Martin Lane, EC4R

Now seems to be called El Vino The Olde Wine Shades, the pub remains on the same site. The establishment was built in 1663, so predates the Great Fire of London by 3 years. Due to the architectural and historical significance, it is Grade II listed.

The Crispin, 1 Finsbury Avenue EC2M

The original pub appears to have been rebuilt in the 1980’s and was then redeveloped as part of the Broadgate Development. It closed permanently in 2012. We cannot find details as to when the pub was first noted on the site of Finsbury Avenue.

Blue Posts, 73-75 West India Dock Road E14

The area has changed out of all recognition from the original photo. Westferry DLR station sits just a little behind the location of the pub. The original pub was present by 1800 and extensively rebuilt by 1876. It was demolished around 1987 – 1988 for the widening of the West India Dock Road.

Ticket Porter, Arthur Street, EC4R

The early address shows as 5 Arthur Street West however by 1910 it was shown as 17 & 19 Arthur Street. It is thought that the name came from the Ticket Porters who’s job it was to carry goods across London. The site is now redeveloped as part of the Bank interchange upgrade. The latest photograph was taken from slightly further down the hill toward Upper Thames Street.

Weavers Arms, 36 Sun Street, Finsbury EC2M

There appears to have been a pub called Weavers Arms since 1869 when it was thought to be at 13 Crown Street. The pub appears to have been demolished as part of the Broadgate Development and is known as 3 Finsbury Avenue which has taken the place of the southern side of Sun Street.

I hope you have enjoyed my blog. As you will see, some of the pubs still remain and are open for business. However sadly many are closed, redeveloped or swept away in the tide of change and progress that is forever present in cities such as London.

The Gentle Author’s blog can be found at http://spitalfieldslife.com and the Bishopsgate Institute can be contacted through their website at https://www.bishopsgate.org.uk . They have many interesting articles and information for everyone to view and enjoy.

A love story

I wasn’t going to do another blog this week. However in light of my poem yesterday, I got a tweet from a friend of mine on Twitter. She’s a lady by the name of Kristin Boes, also known as @catladyfurever. This lady rescued a 10 year old beagle originally called Edna and quickly re-named Daisy. Her story was published in a local magazine and can be found here –

https://petceteracolumbus.com/domesticated .

I read the story and admit that it really got to me, as a rescue dog myself. Daisy wasn’t looked after well, it seems, in her life prior to arriving at the rescue centre and to meeting Kristin and her husband. Once Daisy had adopted them, her life was full of happiness, compassion and understanding. And hugs. Plenty of hugs and kisses. Daisy went to the Rainbow Bridge on 27th February 2019. However she went with the knowledge that the last years of her life showed her what it is like to be loved and cared for in an environment where accidents aren’t punished and love is given freely. The following poem written by Kristin, deserves a read, I think.

I spent the first ten years of life

Trapped inside a cage

Then wound up at a shelter

Unwanted for my age

I spent my days in loneliness

Confusion and in doubt

Wondering if there’d ever be

Someone to let me out

But then one day a lady came

And saw beyond the grey

And ever since that moment

Every day’s been my best day

I don’t know how to be a dog

I couldn’t if I tried

I don’t know how to play with toys

I sometimes pee inside.

No one taught me any tricks

I’m not so great with leashes

But there’s one thing I’m amazing at

I love my mom to pieces.

When mommy comes home every day

From where she went without me

It’s better than a million treats!

I love her so devoutly.

She could have picked a little pup

A cuter one, or bolder

But mommy tells me all the time

She loves that I am older.

My usual state is sleepy

I like to take long naps

My favourite place in all the world

Is on or near a lap.

I don’t claw up the furniture

Or chew on peoples clothes

And everyday I’m thankful

That I’m the one she chose.

I may not be the perfect dog

Though I try and do my best

My first ten years were terrible

But she saved all the rest.

Some lines in the poem resonate with me. I want to pick out a couple.

She could have picked a little pup“. How many people look through rescue websites and scan over the older dogs but are immediately attracted to a puppy or juvenile which is probably going to be as much of a handful as an older fur.

I don’t know how to be a dog“. For someone to look at a sentient creature and wonder that they don’t know how to be a dog, must have been so utterly challenging and demoralising for both Kristin and Daisy. How can a dog not know “how” to be a dog, how to play with toys, how to interact? What life did poor Daisy have before she adopted her humans. That last part is the bit I don’t want to know.

This is Daisy. I think you need only look at her face to see what she thought of her, sadly too few, years in a loving home.

As for the line in the poem, “I may not be the perfect dog“. I shall leave that to your own thoughts. Daisy looks happy to have had a chance to live out her last years in comfort with love and affection. Daisy was perfect in Kristin’s eyes, I am sure.

Just one last thing to say. Daisy waited for Kristin to come home from work before going on her longest journey. Sometimes love is so all encompassing, that it’s scary.

Sometimes

Sometimes I sit and wonder

Sometimes I sit and think

Sometimes I sit in wonder

Sometimes I hardly blink

Sometimes I sit and worry

Sometimes I sit and smile

Sometimes I want to hurry

Sometimes I wait awhile

Sometimes I watch the weather

Sometimes I watch the skies

Sometimes I am very sleepy

Sometimes I close my eyes

Sometimes I wonder what to do

Sometimes I let it ride

Sometimes I have sad ears

Sometimes I have ears of pride

Sometimes I travel to some place

Sometimes I stay at home

Sometimes I want to see all there is

Sometimes I chew my bone

Sometimes I sleep upon my bed

Sometimes I run around

Sometimes I want to lie and think

Sometimes I bark out loud

Sometimes I think my life is good

Sometimes I think its fun

Sometimes I think of other furs

Who haven’t got someone

Stay safe everyone

Catch me if you can

Recently there was a dog that was lost quite close to my house and I managed to drag my human dad around the local countryside to see if we could help find the lost dog. Fortunately the dog returned after some days exploring and has been reunited with his owners. Dad & I had some nice walks, whilst hopefully trying to help find a fellow dog in distress. However it got me thinking of one of my earliest escapades when I arrived here. This was a fun April day in 2014.

One day soon after I arrived, it was lovely and sunny. The humans decided that we would try to do some different things and I was promised a walk in the park with my dad. This was great. When we got to the park there were so many people, numerous other dogs, and trees as far as my eyes could see. I didn’t know which way to look first. I was really excited to see and smell everything I could. I wanted to go and run about and play with the other dogs. Sadly dad decided that I was to stay on the lead and harness. This was extremely boring and I kept on pulling to try and find a way of doing my own dexplorations. Someone stopped dad to ask about me and I thought it would be fun to wrap the lead around his legs. I was really bored. When dad had finished speaking to the person he tried to untangle me from his legs and pulled on the lead. At this point I decided to back out of the loose harness. I could not believe that I was free. Dad looked at me and looked really scared but I just ran away as fast as I could towards the woods.

There were too many smells and sights that I needed to see. They were much more interesting than being restrained with a harness and lead. Dad initially chased after me but I was far too quick for him. After a short while he realised that chasing me was a game and that I would always win if it came to running around. Then he cheated. I heard him asking other people if they had seen me, and if not, could they look out for me. I still couldn’t believe I was free to roam around and explore places that I could only dream about. I kept on seeing dad so I knew people were looking for me. I managed to duck in and out of the woods to keep them all on their toes. Then I got the fright of my life when I saw mum advancing across the park towards me. This wasn’t fair as I knew that now they meant business and I would be surprised if I was recaptured before too long.I knew I had limited time to explore so off I went. The undergrowth held many smells and intrigue for me. I managed to chase a couple of Muntjack Deer which unfortunately gave away my location. I could feel the net closing around me. However there was still fun to be had. My senses were full, there were so many rabbits, squirrels, deer and birds in the woods. I was so focused on chasing them that I completely missed seeing the barbed wire fence until I had run through it. I yelped as it really hurt me. Unfortunately this gave away my position once more. It was only then that I realised I had blood on my face, ear and foot. Fortunately the blood on my face and foot was from my ear, due to my excellent ability to flap my ears. The blood was also dripping from my ear onto my paw. Whoops.

The adventure ended when I was nosing about in a copse and a very nice lady managed to grab my collar when I wasn’t concentrating. I paid her back by dripping blood all over her coat cuff. Whoops again. Mum and dad looked really relieved to see me again and I went straight back onto the collar and lead. However there were still squirrels to pester and I tried to bolt again. Dad wasn’t very happy when I started baying, pulling wildly and trying to chase the squirrel. By the time we got home I had managed to shake blood over both my parents and we looked like extras from a zombie film. However my escapade didn’t end there sadly. Mum and dad decided that I needed to go to the vet which didn’t sound very good. They were worried that I might have an infection from the barbed wire cut and said something about tetanus. Apparently if I had this tetanus, I may not be very well. When the vet lady checked me over, she found the cuts and said I should be ok, but for safety I would need an injection. Now, I’m not very good with  needles so I squealed and wriggled far too much for them to stab me with the needle. The vet lady decided that it would be easier for me to have painkiller pills. I have no ill effects, thankfully. In fact I think I may have got some extra food in my bowl the next day, just to make sure I was ok.

I was away for three hours whilst numerous people were searching for me. Apparently mum and dad were really upset and worried about where I was and that I wasn’t safe whilst I was cavorting around the countryside. I was having a great time whilst off lead but I realise now that I probably did scare them by running away. I do not want to think of how much worry the owners of the recently lost & found dog felt. He was gone for 9 days. His owners must have been unable to sleep at night.

Stay safe everyone.

Over The Rainbow Bridge

Sometimes we have to approach a sad and serious subject. I am on Twitter as some people may know. I have a large number of friends on Twitter and despite not meeting 99% of them in the fur, we woof and discuss what has happened during the day which is usually fun stuff. There are some occasions when the talk turns to more sobering matters such as the illness and injuries that afflict us all at some point in our lives. I have gone through my phase of being pawly and injured. I am hopeful that I have finished with that particular chapter. There are friends who suffer injury now and then. We all try to rally round to help to support them when we can.

Then there is the subject that we all know will arise but none of us want to contemplate, the subject of us making the longest journey. It is known as Over The Rainbow Bridge, as this has a softer tone and feel to the inevitable end. This is the most difficult time for any dog owner, and we always try to treat it with respect and thoughtfulness.

There seem to have been too many friends who have gone bravely to take the longest journey recently and this is always a strange and difficult time. We all know that, usually, we furs don’t last as long as humans. This doesn’t, and shouldn’t, diminish our ability to wheedle our way into your hearts and then take a small piece of it with us when we make our final journey. We may not be here for your whole life but you are invariably here for our whole life. Furs inevitably rely on their humans for pretty much everything from beds to food to tickles and walks. We don’t ask for much when we are here with you and it might be this level of love and loyalty that allows us to take this piece of your heart with us when we go. It’s a strange feeling when you find out that a friend who you have woofed with is suddenly not there. The emptiness in your tummy is palpable and it doesn’t decrease for a considerable time.

I have heard it said that we know when it is “time” and I think this is a true story. A while ago one of my friends was at the vets for various ailments and a picture was posted of him. I looked at his eyes, he seemed sad and resigned to his body giving him notice that this was the time to be brave and make the final and longest journey of all. This is now being replicated by a friend who knows he will go to the Rainbow Bridge soon. However he will do it on his terms and when he, and his parents, want him to go. The bond of love between them remains unbroken and there will be an acknowledgement when the time is right for the lead and collar to be hung up for good.

That the humans we leave behind are sad and feel lonely is, I think, an indication of the esteem and love they hold for us beyond our years of living and companionship. Equally it is an indication of the love and loyalty we have given back. The overriding factor seems to me to be that we have, in the main, enjoyed our time here. This gives our humans that sense of comfort when we have gone. They have looked after us and allowed us to enjoy life, see new things, smell new scents and have fun. Maybe our departure for the Rainbow Bridge shows the humans what they will miss most about us. The sense of fun, loyalty and the bond between us. What I think, and hope, we leave behind is a sense of celebration of our lives and the fun that we had when we were here.

Its not my time yet and I hope that I will continue to be here for quite a while yet. However when I go to the Rainbow Bridge, for I shall go one day, I hope that I leave pals and peeps with a sense of contentment that they made my life worth living and that I was happy. For now though, there is still much life in me. 

Snow Day Shenanigans

Wake up, wake up. It’s snowed and I want to explore. Come on, hurry up, get out of bed. Arooo, arooo, arooo.

Straight away to the fields and dexploration is on the cards. Dragging a human around always slows me down however, I am not allowed off lead outside of my garden. It is a problem that I must bear furever it seems.

Hurry up! No time for pictures

The snow is up near my knees and sometimes deeper so the belly plate on my harness scoops up the top layer. I am cold, then soaked as the snow is melting against my fur but it doesn’t matter as I am outside and getting so many scents in my nose. I don’t actually care one jot.

Charge!!!

Up this field, turn right, down the steep bank, along the treeline and sense a deer or three in the woods. Sadly my human braking system decides we are not going into the woods just yet and we detour around the next field and into the biggest field on the walk. The wind is somewhat bracing and the snow is swirling around us. The scents seem to be sitting on top of the snow and my nose is like a beagle snowplough. What’s wrong with having a small pile of snow on the end of your nose?

Look, that’s where all the critters live.

Out of the field at somewhat of a gallop and towards the woods, all glistening with their white snowy coating. I know there are deer and squirrels in there but will I chose the woods or the meadow of wonderful aromas. Turn left, into the meadow and see a pal ahead. Arooo arooo arooo. I think I will stay in the meadow and leave the woods for another day. Unfortunately the untouched snow is deep and the harness belly plate is scooping up rather a large quantity of snow now. Lets just say its a tad damp on my undercarriage. Through the meadow, turn left down through the woods. Deer!! Deer!! Arooo arooo. Ugh good grief I am shackled and cannot get it. Appearing out of the woods I am panting heavily but smiling from ear to ear.

By the time I get home my other human wants to know “where the devil have you been” as well as “How have you got the harness so wet?”.

Sssshh dad, our little secret.

And relax!

Where I live

As some of you may be aware I live in a place called Chesham in Buckinghamshire, UK. I arrived here just before Christmas 2013 so I am almost part of the furniture I suppose. Given I have explored the town and a considerable proportion of the surrounding area, I would like to regale you with a quick tour of the town that I call home.

Chesham appears in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Cestreham and seems to have been split between 4 Lords or Overlords who all had their own share of the land, people and the agriculture. The total population was 59 households and 15 Geld units. Through the ages the town has grown somewhat and now stands with a population of some 22,000 people. It was known in the more recent past for the 4 B’s – Brushes, Boots, Baptists and Beer. The trade of brush making was rife in the town from around 1829 until it fell away due to cheaper markets overseas. Bootmakers abounded too in the early to mid 1800’s with the tanned leather being moved up from London to be worked on in small workshops. Again the boot makers trade fell away due to cheaper manufacturing methods. The Baptist movement arose around 1640 and a number of places of worship remain to this day. We have even had a person burned at the stake for being a heretic (Thomas Harding in 1532). Moving on to the Beer, I have seen that in 1937 there were 53 pubs, beer houses and off-licences serving a population of 14,000 (A pub for every 264 people). Now there are 8 pubs in Chesham itself (A pub for every 2,750 people). I am basing my research on book called The Pubs & Inns of Chesham & villages (see below) which didn’t include the Black Cat or the Hen & Chickens, both of them being located close by and which are also still open.

Chesham is now a town mainly of small independent businesses some of which have survived through many generations. Our local bakery is run by the Darvell family, who also ran a brewery in the 1800’s. The bakery was opened in 1838 so some 180 years ago and it is still going strong. The hardware store of Pearces was started in 1937 and still thrives to this day. The town is full of smaller shops, mixed in with a few of the High Street names people know better such as W.H. Smith, Cafe Nero, Costa, Waterstones and the supermarkets of Sainsbury’s & Waitrose.

Chesham from Lowndes Park

Surrounding the town is a belt of green and pleasant lands. The majority of the town lies in a valley leading out on all sides by hills all accessible by lanes and roads. The nearby areas of Chartridge, The Vale, Ashleigh Hill, White Hill, Waterside and Chesham Bois are all well served. I have been lucky enough to stroll around the entire town in my time here and it is wonderful that there is access to much of the fields, moor, farmland, lanes and byways. The many paths and bridleways allow walkers, riders and cyclists to be out in the countryside, yet be within minutes of the town centre. We live in the lee of the Chiltern Hills so we have access to them, along with The Ridgeway, fairly close by.

If you want a good walk, in the countryside and in easy reach of London, come and see what it’s like around here. I think you will enjoy it.

Penn Grove
Waterside is just over there
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955470745 – Pubs & Inns of Chesham & villages

Winston the Brave

I have long been an admirer of furs who have special talents or abilities. I thought it might be a good idea to woof with one such illustrious dog who has overcome some difficulties and now is an example of courage, strength, fortitude and overall doggedness. I don’t think Winston will mind if I woof that I suspect these attributes also apply to Winston’s mum (Mumz) who had the never say no attitude to try and give Winston the best life possible.

This is Winston’s story.

Winston, hi. Can you tell us how did it all begin? Have you been with your mum since you were a small puppy? When did you find out that something wasn’t quite right with your legs?

Ok well Mumz didn’t meet me until I was 6 and Bruv was 9, at least we think he was 9. I was ok at that point regarding my walking. I’d had my cyst removed 3 years before that, so I was young when I got it, however it was removed successfully. But then I started scuffing my toes on my back legs, so she took me back to specialist centre who did lots of tests and found scar tissue at operation site. The scar tissue was attached to my spinal cord. There was no choice but to attempt to remove the scar tissue but it was risky. The day before I went in Mumz made sure I had THE best day at the seaside. The operation released scar tissue but damage had been done. Mumz was told I’d be completely paralysed within the year and would be “easier” to put me to sleep. She was so shocked because she didn’t expect that response or recommendation. Through her tears she asked if I’d be viable for a set of wheels or hot rod to support my back legs and thus allow me to get around much easier. They reluctantly confirmed it was possible and Mumz was still really upset when she took me away.

However she then got cross and I mean really cross. She started doing research and hopefully try to get a second opinion. This proved to be quite hard as people in the profession don’t like to step on each other’s toes. Eventually she found somewhere in Birmingham who would see me. It’s a 3 hour drive but we did it. They were brilliant. They explained exactly what was happening inside me, and they even drew Mumz an “idiot proof” picture to demonstrate what was going on. They explained the spinal cord has no pain receptors so I wouldn’t be in pain. The only pain I would get would be muscular as my front end would be working so hard. They even recommended the best hot rod wheels for me. She was elated as they also recommended I find a physio and hydrotherapist. We took action straight away. As a result I stayed upright for 5 years. I didn’t walk normally but I walked. I needed my hot rod wheels after a year or so when we went out but I could still get round the house and garden. Of course I had my man mobile or chariot. It’s been hard work, I have physio once a week and hydro every couple of weeks and a lot of work at home as directed by physio but it is worth it. She has to massage my front end every day as I get muscle fatigue through pulling myself along on the wheels. As a result, my front muscles are larger than they ordinarily would be. She also researched mobility aids, my special “help em up” harness (I think that’s what it’s called) and then also an off roader hot rod wheels. She’s made good contacts with people in the know – in fact the hot rod people are the ones who got me the Alan Titchmarsh show a while ago on the television.

I took to everything without complaint. It took a couple of goes before I realised my hot rod was a good thing but once I realised it meant I could run in it, I was fine! I’ve done all my physio without any complaint, however I think this was probably because food was involved. I’ve adjusted with each step of this journey. It’s Mumz who found it all upsetting and has cried buckets over the years but I’ve not dwelled on how I used to be. As long as I can get where I wanna go, I don’t care how I get there. I don’t mind saying I have been an inspiration to Mumz and everyone in the family. I’ve not changed one bit from the waist up. My zest for life has always been strong and I’m always wanting to be up and at them. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not cheap to look after but I’m worth every single penny and I’ve got a really close bond with Mumz because I rely on her so much. I’m quite fond of her despite her being a bit needy. I can’t walk at all now but we knew this would happen and it’s now 8 years since they told Mumz to put me to sleep and I’ve had a great time! I have had lots of fun, holibobs, trips to seaside and so on. I’m 14 and a half now so I’ve done brilliantly. Me being disabled hasn’t made me any the less of a great pet and friend – if anything the opposite because I so enjoy life it makes it all worth while. Every owner has a special bond with their pet but I think the bond you develop with a disabled pet is a very special one, and who wouldn’t want that.

Patrolling the zombie lake

Thanks Mr Winston sir for the clear and extensive answer. May I ask where you were before you picked Mum to look after you?

We came from a somewhat broken home. Bruv and I had been living together so Mumz got to adopt us both. Bruv and I were the best of buddies, we always knocked along together and were a strong unit.

Did the hot wheels make you and Mum feel that, actually, dogs with disabilities can be super powered and inspiring to others?

Mumz was shocked almost beyond words at how easily I was dismissed as a lost cause by the people who did me op. In the very same meeting when she was told that it would “easier” if I was put to sleep, the specialist asked if we were doing anything nice for fireworks night! I mean, talk about priorities. She now understands better how other places didn’t want to step on their toes but she wasn’t looking for that. She just wanted to see if anyone had any other ideas except euthanasia, but they wouldn’t listen. She couldn’t quite believe how some people who make a living out of caring for animals could be so uncaring. She also changed vets cos my vet wasn’t great in time of crisis too. I think that’s a very important point. If you’re not happy with what you’re being told, try your hardest to get more info and a second opinion. The internet has taught Mumz so much in respect of stuff like this. For instance, like how to help with me toilets as sadly the nerves dealing with that area were affected but it’s all very manageable when you know how. My vet didn’t know how and wasn’t interested. It’s very important to get the right team around you when you have a dog like me with very different needs. They are out there, the experts, you just need to find them.

Enabled, not disabled

So, Zombiesquad was a direct result of your combined thought that pets with disabilities can be super powered and inspirational?

Yes, exactly. This is why I’ve taken on hunting zombies cos I knew I was the best candidate. The whole point of starting zombiesquad was exactly that, to inspire others and to let them see my journey, and how brave I was (I can hunt zombies after all) and the fun people can still have with a disabled pet. We wanted to make my twitter page fun. She wanted everyone to see how happy I am. Obviously she had no idea it would grow so big but she’s thrilled she’s got such a large audience who can see how good my life is. People have approached her for advice with a newly disabled pet or on behalf of friends with a newly disabled pet which has made her very happy because without Twitter / ZS they wouldn’t have known me. She was able to reassure and offer advice and point people in the right direction at a very scary and daunting time.

Thanks. I think everyone agrees that the twitter page is indeed fun and inspirational. May I turn to something a little sadder. When Bruv went to the Rainbow Bridge, this was clearly a very large loss. Did you and Mum have an idea to get you another friend or apprentice soon after.

She didn’t want another dog after Bruv. We loved him so much, still do, the thought of someone else and going through that again was not something she was prepared to do. It felt very disloyal to him. But then I got depressed. Very depressed. Mumz did her best to cheer me up and even spoke to an animal behaviouralist but I missed him so badly nothing helped. So her solution was to allow the Kid to move in. We’re not best pals like I was with Bruv but he’s a companion and someone to do things with. He cheered me up.

Mr Winston, thank you for allowing me to interview you. I think everyone can see that being a pet with disabilities isn’t something to hold you back. The zest for life, for fun and for chasing zombies clearly allows you to live as full a life as possible. Thank you also to Mumz for pursuing the alternative option, for not taking the first advice as final and wanting the best in life for you.

Rushing to another zombie alert