Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Puppy Days

Hello Lovelies,
Oh it's so it's nice to be writing a blog post again! I can't promise it will be a regular occurrence but I wanted to mark the journey so far with our newest member of the family, who will soon be turning one. 
Day 1 

  Obviously this cute fur baby has dominated my Instagram  grid since we picked him up in February, but here I can record our journey in more detail. And remind myself in years to come :0)


I was under no illusion how much work a puppy is, in fact once I decided the time was right for us to go for a much longed for dog, a rescue was always my intention. Mainly because there are just so many dogs needing homes.... and they aren't puppies!

In the end though, after approaching various dog rescues, we felt our inexperience and a neighbouring vocal dog would be in issue. 

My next tack was to go for a reputable breeder, who loved their dogs.

 In late January I contacted a lady (through the Kennel Club Website) who obviously doted on her dogs and was ethical about her breeding programme.


It's hard to know what the correct standards are when you are totally unexperienced in a particular area but you can get a feel for the right person...and she was.

We didn't get to bring this cutie home until she had interviewed us and we had been given loads of helpful, necessary information. I also signed a long contract. I can't remember all it contained but the nicest thing was that the breeder wanted the first opportunity to take him back if things didn't work out.



Here he is on the drive home. Despite how this looks he was NOT a happy bunny. He cried constantly and was sick from the journey. I felt terrible for him.
 


Thankfully, after a long sleep he was much happier...massive relief!


Here he is, wrapping us all around his little finger from the start.


You probably can't tell his breed from these photos, but he's a whippet. I had initially set my heart on a Border Terrier but was having no luck finding a litter that hadn't already been snapped up by the time I saw the advert.

When I was a child I had a Jack Russell called Tilly. Mum had previously chosen a Whippet (she called Gypsy). I was totally bemused by her choice at the time. To my, probably about 10 year old, self they were a truly unappealing shape. Not cuddly at all and looked undernourished.

Gypsy had a reputation (somewhat unfairly) of being hard work. She would certainly steal food from the worktop if you weren't careful (but I'm sure Tilly would have done the same,  if she had been tall enough). She was a poor car traveller and woofed the whole journey....but thinking back we  only ever took her in the car  when we were going away. An occasional long journey into the unknown is bound to be tricky. 

She was a super loving dog though. She particularly thought the world of my dad. When she heard his car come up the drive she would go mad, barking and running around the front room. Then she would try and jump in his arms when he walked in. He would invariably say something like "Hang on Gyp, let me get through the door first." He would sit down and she would jump up on his lap and smother him in kisses. Whippets have very small feet so they can hurt you unintentionally as there is a lot of pressure though a small area. They also have long, unpadded and bony tails which whip about ( hence their name?) another hazard! 

Dad would let her stomp all over him and give her a fuss. On one occasion he did say " Oh Gyp, it's like cuddling a wheelbarrow." That made us laugh because it was a pretty good analogy! 

Gypsy obviously didn't put me off the breed though. Surely her more challenging traits could be due to her being bred for racing? I can still remember that we collected her from a terraced street, where she was in an outdoor kennel with her mother and the rest of the litter. The chap in a flat cap who was selling her, via a small ad in the Bradford evening newspaper, was most unhappy mum wanted her to be a pet....what a waste of her potential.


As the years have passed I have grown to appreciate the elegant sighthound shape. Not to mention their power and speed. They are toned athletes not skinny waifs. There are several different breeds in the sight hound family. From the large Greyhound, Saluki and Borzoi to the small Italian greyhound. Lurchers are generally a mix of sighthound breeds and vary in size. Whippets are classed as a medium sized dog.

Anyway, I digress. Something else that has changed since the last time I lived with dogs is crate training. It might look cruel to the uninitiated but can be a positive thing for a dog to have a safe space. I read lots about the right way to introduce this and we tried repeatedly to make it work.


A "play pen" is another tool for keeping puppies safe and eldest built this bespoke version for our new arrival.


Well, those early night times  were interesting, to say the least!. The crate and pen were hated in equal measure and I quickly got used to sleeping on the sofa with our puppy. It seemed I couldn't bring myself to persist with any "tough love".


Still, he was more adorable than he was hard work. 


Who could resist these cute "toe beans"


obviously there were teething troubles...literally and figuratively. 


It did remind me of having human toddlers, to a degree. Totally exhausting at infuriating at times. Plenty of cute photo opportunities that belie the reality of house training and constant nipping with needle sharp teeth.
 

Then there's the anxiety and constant supervision required as well. 
 

Hang on a minute, I don't even think I've mentioned this young man's name. There were a lot of opinions to take into account. We went around in circles a few times before everyone agreed on Lando. The name was inspired by the racing driver Lando Norris (after all whippets are a speedy breed) . The boys informed me there is a "Stars Wars" character who shares the name as well.
 Mind you, if I had realised how many times I would need to explain our choice to fellow dog walkers I would have gone with something more mainstream πŸ˜‚


The other thing I was unprepared for was the length of time it would be before we could take him for a walk. Vaccinations were two doses 4 weeks apart...then wait three weeks. Oh my, that was a long time to be stuck at home. Just to get a short walk and introduce him to the big wide world I resorted to carrying him in a ruck sack at one stage!


Still, look at the cuteness πŸ’“



And we do have a garden.


Tortoise introductions went well....phew.


Short trips in the car and short carrying "walks" added to the variety.



Until....Freedom Day! hurray.


Spring brought garden sunbathing....


And off lead walks. Lando's breeder was insistent it was important to trust your dog and work on recall from a young age. This nervous puppy was a dream really. Never straying far. Obviously this was only practiced away from hazards and livestock.
 

This was our first "dog walking bag". It's already given up the ghost but was pretty worn out to start with. I've since picked up a replacement in the charity shop. It contains poo bags ( most important) training treats, a small bottle of water and a plastic container to use as a bowl. And not forgetting a ball. 


As Lando grew we upgraded his harness to this one. It's so much more secure than his first one (which he could back out of if he panicked.....not ideal!) It has an extra strap that goes around his waist and  the handle has been invaluable to scoop him up, move him to safety or help him over an obstacle 


We attended Puppy training classes, which were great for the basics and beginning socialising him with other dogs safely.

 Then, in June, when he was six months old we took him on holiday for the first time. I got travel medication from the vet as he was still very car sick and it worked beautifully. It didn't make him sleepy but he was able to rest because he wasn't vomiting.


It was just the husband, puppy and myself. We visited Hunstanton in Norfolk and stayed in a posh caravan with a deck, which was great and very dog friendly.



The weather was kind and it was a joy to introduce our "fur baby" to the beach. Maybe that seems a bit cringe worthy...fur baby, but he has become a bit of a child substitute since our offspring are all adults these days 



Whippets are not generally fond of water so we were proud of his paddling.


He climbed all over my husband in a way that reminded me of Gypsy and my dad πŸ’™


Another bonus to holidaying with a dog is that people speak to you much more. Whippet owners especially, obviously want to gush about the breed. But other dog owners and dog lovers are so chatty too. It really made the holiday for us both I think.

Only a month later Lando was back by the coast. I had planned to leave him at home when Mum and I went on a Yorkshire break but it ended up that the boys were all away the same week, so I had to take him. 


He's no angel so balancing the needs of my mum ( who's in her 90's now) and an unruly puppy was tricky but we made it work. 

Just look what a handsome young man he'd already become 😍

Through the heat of the summer he decided walking with just one of us was not something he felt safe doing?? I wish dogs could talk sometimes. It meant I was always asking another member of the family if they would come on a dog walk with me. It was a little frustrating at the time.


At home his general modus operandi is to jump straight in any seat that has recently been vacated to enjoy the warmth. Then he naps until his radar picks up the sound of any possible kitchen activity....food!!
 
You better not walk away from any half finished cup of tea either. That long snout will be straight into it, lapping up as much as possible before you realise. 

He has reminded me so many times of Gypsy, with his naughty chewing and food stealing, jumping up and reaching things you thought were safe. He has long legs and waist height is not high enough to be out of reach.  I have thought I was mad to get a whippet on more than one occasion! He's strong and pulls on the lead. He gets excited and unintentionally tramples you with his panful feet or jumps up in your face. I've had way too many bruises and scratches to count. But equally he's a total snuggle bunny. Curling up next to you as soon as you sit down...which is great during cold weather especially! Whippets don't shed much or have a strong dog odour. They are considered a clean breed and need practically zero grooming. 
They are also regarded to be generally very healthy. And contrary to what you may presume they do not require loads of exercise. They love the chance to run around at high speed for 5 or 10 minutes and will happily walk for an hour or so but after that they will be happy to sleep. 

In September, when he turned 9 months, we went away again. As his tolerance of short journeys had improved I risked not getting him any medication and though he did look a bit fed up at times he wasn't sick. Hurray.


This time the there were 5 of us plus Lando.  


We went to Bude in north Cornwall, which was lovely despite the cool weather. We took a stand up paddle board and I optimistically bought him a life jacket but there was no way he wanted to try it ....very sensible 😊


He was a star at chilling in the pub by the end of the week though, so that was a win...πŸ˜πŸ‘


And many hours were spent enjoying running around after eldest especially. That was great to see.


I guess we have all been on a steep learning curve over the past 10 months. There have been vet visits for upset tummies. He now has this fresh frozen food which suits his digestion but not my bank account so much πŸ˜‚. 


Obviously I knew a dog was a big financial commitment and I don't begrudge him a healthy diet. I'm just trying to be candid about the stuff you might not think about. Such as the fact an emergency vet visit costs £260 before any treatment!! ( think about insurance...you can shop around for that). Lando has a basic policy which costs me £12 a month. I also pay £50 a month into a separate savings account in his name.  I'm hoping this combination will mean there's a pot of money for any age related illnesses should I ever feel unable to keep up with the policy. I know they get more expensive as your dog ages and many conditions are excluded anyway. 


As you can probably tell he is rather spoilt. I'm sure there are as many ways of owning a dog as there are owners. But also all dogs are different. We have a WhatsApp group for his litter mates and the breeder. It's an invaluable source of advice and reassurance. Some of his brothers and sisters have gone to experienced whippet owners who have found this puppy challenging, whilst others have gone to first time dog owners who haven't had any problems. I'd say Lando is in the middle somewhere. Not a a dream like Wesley or Poppy, but not as much of a handful as Dillon or Coco. 


Obviously he's an important part of our family now and though I do hope he's a bit more chilled once he reaches adulthood , I wouldn't change him for the world. 

Well done if you have made it this far. Thanks for reading and much love to all of you.
Jacquie x



Saturday, 11 December 2021

Short days and Twinkly Lights

Hello Lovelies, 
I do hope you have had a good week with not too many worries and lots of happy moments. We have started to receive a few Christmas cards. They are all really nice but this one stood out to me as I adore all the detail and humour

It's sold in support of the British Hedgehog preservation society too....perfect.


 We haven't had any more snow or much frost this week. It's been largely grey and often rainy. Nevertheless I've been doing well with my walking and haven't missed a day. This weeks walks range from 1 to 6 miles. Yesterday I did 4 miles on a lovely sunny afternoon.


It's all local paths I'm very familiar with but the light changes with the seasons and when the trees loose their leaves.


The cold weather encourages the birds to come straight down for the food I leave too. This always makes me smile.


As of today I have 46 miles left to reach my 800 outdoor miles goal for 2021. It's not the 1000 miles I easily reached last year but I'm still counting it as a win. 
 Life is much busier this year.

 I'm very happy youngest is now working from home for a while as I'm not that keen on driving after sunset on unlit roads these days. Plus taking him to work and fetching him home every day was costing a small fortune in petrol and eating even more into my outdoor time.
Though I must add I'm super proud of the way he has quickly adapted to the world of work.

Yesterday was Christmas jumper day in the UK, did you join in? These days it's Christmas jumper day for the whole month of December for me. We have 3 jumpers the boys had for wearing at school on Christmas jumper days. They still try and squeeze in them if one is required for work but I wear them daily as they are a nice loose fit on me and so cosy 😊


I think it's fair to say I'm not into fashion and  there's no fast fashion in this house. The boys even buy second hand clothing on occasion, frequenting vintage and retro shops. Something I never did in my late teens, early twenties

By 3pm yesterday the moon was clearly visible, as the sun, which never got very far above the horizon, was rapidly descending.


This was 3.20pm


And as I heard the school bell ring for the end of the day at the boys old school, the sun set at 3.30pm. 


As we are quite close to the school I have our Christmas lights on a timer so they are illuminated for both school runs. Yesterday, as I didn't have to take youngest to work, I was around to hear a little one saying this is his favourite window...Yesss....that made my day 😊


Indoors we have reached maximum Christmasification too. I love walking under this garland.


As always it's full of all my red and white makes. Like these Scotty dogs....Pattern HERE


And Lucy's snowflakes.....Pattern HERE


Today, as usual on a winter's Saturday, I did some baking. Using up some more of my mincemeat.

These days I use THIS recipe for the pastry....it works well for me. 


I've already eaten two, with some squirty cream, they were yummy! I don't feel too guilty as I tend to only eat homemade ones at home and this year, as I'm not really going visiting friends, or to cafes at the moment, I haven't had any bought ones at all.


Thank goodness I'm happy at home, now more than ever.


Wishing you a happy rest of the weekend lovelies and some quiet moments to notice the sunset and the twinkly lights next week.

Jacquie x