September – Harvest time!

I relised I had not posted on this site in a while. No excuse just like many others, getting to grips with our new normal, though I believe there is no such thing as a normal routine, not any more.

However September is here which should mean, slow lazy gardening days, collecting, gathering an generally enjoying the fruits of our busy summer in the garden. It was going well until the brocoli incident.

You would think we had learnt to be a bit more watchful. But we don’t do anything easy or simple in this house. The Garden was looking good until we learnt that Doug loves …

Brocoli, Peas, Beans, Courgettes, Carrots, Tomatoes (red and green) in fact Doug just likes to eat! The result was flattened areas where he harvested his greens, and reds.

Update on the garden

Having 4 dogs pottering around the garden does create a challenge in itself. For various reasons, the main ones being:

 

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Odd things grow in Irish Gardens

 

Ellie, loves to dig, and hide tennis balls. We believe she does this as a – in case of accidents policy. (In other words some kid accidentally enter the garden and they do not have a tennis or football with them.) She buries them in the ground in odd places, hides them in the hawthorne hedge and even carefully places them in the branches of a thick shrub at the far corner of the garden.

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All-focus

Doug; loves to ramble and eat. He will eat, nasturtiums, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, courgette and any fruit. He is currently eyeing up the apple tree.

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Brook – energetic greyhound will lie down on any part of the garden or just anywhere.

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Bell will eat her way through any tall shrub or plant just to create a short cut.

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So all in all I think we are doing ok.

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This is the new wildflower area of the garden, seeds and weeds flourish as do ocassional children who decide to be a gardener for a while.

How about you guys and ladies and your gardening exploits during the past few months, any success stories?

Dogs and more Dogs + one Kitten

I’ll do anything for jellies.

There was only one Bob, but we did meet a lot of dogs in the past few years, some came to visit, some to stay awhile (including 2 kittens) and today, has me looking at images of some of those we met, and had fun with..

What is your favourite breed? And why?

Dogs who love to work

Everyone who knew Sir Bob knew his idea of a workday was: breakfast followed by a nap, followed by a slow walk, lunch, nap while watching Ellie or Cooper work and then dinner. His border collie pal and the labradors were, are and always will live to work.

So when I attempt to slow one of these three down, it is unpredictable. On Wednesday after working Cooper, I took him for a cross country walk. He just doesn’t do walking, but eventually, he stopped to take a breath.IMG_20200122_111624_922

Thinking outside of the box

Ellie has been working as a search and recovery dog for over 61/2 years and we have learnt a lot.  The top tip we can give anyone is: training is never simple or confined, in other words always be prepared to think outside of the box.

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What Box? This is a bucket.

An Extra Four Legs

It has been weeks since I have written anything. There are many reasons for this,  and the main one is that I lost my mojo as some would call it back when Dad and Bob passed away.

Time has stretched as days have been spent sorting through Dad’s many years of collecting books,  which he stored in a random fashion in his study or in an extra shed outside. The second reason is that we have, as you may know, given a lot of time to finding Ellie a companion.

Our visits to the pounds in the various counties resulted in nothing sparking an interest in her. We would gladly have taken quite a few of those dogs home but, she didn’t seem to show any sign of friendship to any of them.

Then one afternoon for some strange reason I called to our vets and spoke to them. This is where I learnt about Dugg /Doug (jury is out on how we spell it). He is three years old, a golden labrador who lived with a lot of other dogs but whose owner needed to find him a home. So we met him and Ellie didn’t shy from him or look annoyed when she met him.

We brought him home on trial. It was a trial. He appeared happy to be with us until each evening when the howling and barking began. It was like having a baby in the house. We were not sleeping and many a conversation ended with, “he is a sweet dog but his howling is driving me nuts.” In short, we gave him time, attention and he, in turn, tried our patience, but Ellie tolerated him and was no longer crying or looking sad. Sometimes she looked frustrated and tired, like us, but he didn’t have many issues beyond his night time love of howling.  He wasn’t overly fond of men but he is losing his distrust. Ellie and Doug are getting closer as you can see from the pictures. He is still a little too thin but as my kids say, “you will easily fix that mum!”

He loves babies, likes Brook and Belle two other four-legged occasional visitors and is a gentle sloppy idiot, who likes to eat fruit straight from the garden. It seems as though my pal Bob pushed me to the vets on that afternoon, so Doug is staying, what else could I do?

 

 

Rolling Days and the search has started

In some ways, it seems like Dad and Bob only left us yesterday, in spite of this when it returns the pain at their loss can be intense at odd moments. But I know, am aware this is part of the process we call living. The bit I find the most distressing in all of this is how Ellie has reacted. Around our house she sometimes seems lost, wandering to odd corners where Bob used to go to, the strawberry patch being one and then coming back to join me. Her sighs and sad looks have affected everyone. At dad’s house, she no longer races to his back door eager to be let in and given her welcoming pet from him.

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To offset her feeling of loss, I take her with me whenever I can or I invite other dogs to come and spend an hour or two in her company, but I cannot always be with her.

So, after almost 20 weeks with just Ellie, we cannot bear it any longer and have decided to find her a buddy. We can’t replace Bob but we can find an acceptable friend to fill some gaps.

We have discovered that adopting a dog is not easy. For one thing, our garden was inspected. We failed the first inspection. Though, we did explain to the gentleman that if Ellie chose a large dog the short section (4-foot long) of the wall which is only 5 foot six inches tall, (the rest being an impressive 6 foot high) would be raised to the 6-foot height needed. Our thinking on this is: the garden is secure, locked gates and if Ellie decides a Jack Russell is to be her new living companion then why raise the wall? But they were not happy with this answer.

Then you have The Form to fill in, some of the questions are so detailed and personal I expected to be asked how often I shower. However, we dutifully have filled in forms sent off photos of our garden.

In the past week, we have visited 3 rescue centres. They are all spotlessly clean. The dogs look well-fed but the problem is they are either not interested in us or they are female dogs and our main stipulation is that it is a male dog.

The question for you kind readers (all four or five of you) is, have you gone through a similar experience? Are we better off to merely concentrate on keeping Ellie healthy and happy or should we continue our quest?

I will keep everyone posted on Twitter and Instagram #FindEllieAFriend

Lessons Learnt

In our inconsistent world, some of the most powerful lessons we learn come from children and (in my case) our dogs. This is only my opinion before I get a truckload of replies all denying this is the case.

There is a tv program that tracks young four and five-year-olds at play. I love watching it as I am reminded or there resilience and love of basically having fun. They also say what they think, which is also a mind opener. If we say what we honestly think the only thing we often open is a can of worms!

I have had many dogs come and go in my life and they all taught me something different, some times about myself. The poodles my mum had basically taught me:

you cannot make someone do something just because you wish it to happen. Poodle number one often was dragged by me out on a walk and I inevitably arrived home carrying him!

Poodle number two taught me that simply giving someone time and sitting with them, listening or holding their hand is often all that is required.

Poodle number three; fun is important.

However, I was reminded of all of these things when Bob arrived into our lives. He was a great people dog. He loved to sit at the gate and wait for the children to pass by on the way home from school. This feat alone gained him many jelly babies, some crisps and a few extra inches around his middle, and a long list of admirers.  While he did this, Ellie and her collection of tennis balls would appear and she would push the balls through the gate while the children chucked them back.

He was patient, sitting calmly staring at me at 6pm each evening to remind me it was time for his food and meds.

He gave comfort to both Ellie and me whenever we returned from a long search cold and tired, with a wag of his tail and a lick across my hand and on her ear, he appeared to say, tomorrow is another day. 

It has become evident that Ellie continues to miss him but that too is another learning curve – dogs emotions run deep.

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From Ellie I have learnt a different set of lessons, never give up, don’t say can’t without trying. We have done some crazy things like swimming the river Boyne, or on one occasion climbed a great height (in torrential rain)to get around fallen trees and blocked pathway to find a missing person. Taking shelter from a snowstorm in a forest and then hitching a lift back to base in a tractor.

I would love to know what others have learnt from their canine buddies and what adventures they have taken with them.