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.
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?
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.
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.
Mr Bob is becoming a grumpy demanding old dog! No other way to put it, I am afraid to say he is relishing the role. If there were a doggy version of Father Ted, he would be Father Jack! He doesn’t call for whiskey though he did lick some off my fingers with great enthusiasm which would indicate that if a bowl or glass were offered it would not be refused.Bob still makes everyone smile, as he plods about the house, walking under the visiting Brooke (Greyhound of a very leggy variety) as though she were not there. His meds have increased a little and on each occasion, I call to the vets to get a new batch, they express their surprise and delight that he is still king of the castle. I have attached a few photos of the grumpy, sometimes smiling old dog. Please note I did try bribery to get him to look at the camera, but…
LIfe is full of mysteries, like how do they get the fondant fancies so equal and smooth? Some make us smile and some simply leave everyone puzzled.
Dad has been busy. He created a puzzle. One night he fell, gave himself a nasty whack on the head, and we went off to A&E where they were very nice, very kind and despite all we hear about hospitals today, relatively fast at getting him x rayed and examined. He had a fracture above his wrist and it was bandaged and he was admitted to hospital for a few days. Fast forward to his release, all went really well, I mean I didn’t lose him which was great but when I got home I discovered his heavy bandage was missing. I rang the hospital and no one could answer the question. He was brought back and a heavier brace applied. All seemed well until 6 days later, I was woken at 3.30am and found this…..
a perfect cast sitting on his pillow and he seemed relatively happy that it was no longer on. He couldn’t remember how he got it off. To everyone who deals with him, it remains the eighth mystery of the world.
I write this through a pleasant fog of tiredness….
It has become a ritual.
At precisely 4 o’clock we have tea.
Tea and toast that is.
Dad suggests it, I fool that I am agree
The trouble with this plan is not plain for him to see
But I know that when he has relaxed and needs no more,
I alone am left to tidy, sweep and get on with my day while he simply starts to snore,
Left feeling that again I have been duped
Because it is 4am and not 4pm
These are the questions being asked by those about me, and the answers are mixed. Some from Bob and some from me. I bet you can guess who answered what..
What if the sun burns itself out?
His next in command, the moon, will take over and our lives will be mellower.
What if it doesn’t rain before September?
Irish people will become even more disgruntled and focused on the weather? Nothing new there. Their 4 legged tail wagging friends will wallow in the shade and be content with early morning walks in the woods.
What if Breeze the ogre moves out of the wood in search of water?
More cupcakes for little old me!
Summer is strange, but often life is stranger.
We tend to walk a lot, (well Ellie and myself – Bob avoids it at all costs.) And during the past few months we came across these items during our travels.
This story might be familiar to some of you already.
Niall’s legs felt like lead as he walked the short distance to collect his car which he had left parked at the house his sister was minding. Two days of work with only travel time between jobs left him feeling as grey as the sky overhead.
Lost in this hazy greyness he failed to notice the tiny woman until she spoke to him. “Good afternoon.” Her soft voice had an authoritative air to it which made him stop before her.
He noted her pastel pink coat, soft nude coloured shoes and pink hat thinking, she is dressed like the Queen of England. Niall noted the package she carried was square, wrapped in a crimson glossy paper and sitting on top of it a perfectly formed golden bow. He looked around him and couldn’t see how she had arrived at this old house on the top of the hill. He wondered if she was an angel.
“I’ve been invited to tea.” Her crisp words brought a smile to his face.
Niall opened the gate and she, to his surprise, walked through. He followed and they walked towards his car.
“You must work here. Are you the gardener?” She stared at him closely. “I have come to have tea with Lady Louise.”
He wondered in what parallel universe did gardeners wear nifty suits and white shirts. But she reminded him of his grandmother, whom he missed, so he made no caustic comment.
“No, I don’t work here. I left my car with my sister who is minding the house while the owner is away and I have come to collect it. I don’t think there is anyone here.” He waited for her to digest this information.
“So I am at the wrong house. I should try the other big house on the far side.” She said with a nod which sent a ripple waving across her silver hair.
He opened the passenger door intending to leave his jacket on the seat when, to his astonishment she neatly slipped into the seat.
Her blue eyes flashed at him as she said, “That is good you have your car. It won’t take a minute.”
Niall smiled while inside he groaned. He had thirty minutes to get to Dublin for his last appointment, then it would be home for food and sleep. He opened his mouth then thought better of speaking. He shut the door carefully and got into the driver’s seat.
The house in question was a mere four hundred yards away. He drove slower than normal and arrived before the large electronic entrance gate.
“It’s shut.” His passenger said. “I’ll wait.”
Lucky for all concerned the gate opened and he drove through, straight to the front door.
Then without thinking he got out, raced around to the passenger door, opened it and when she alighted Niall gave a slight nod.
With a nod in his direction she sailed sweetly past him carrying her gift.
Niall didn’t linger. Tiredness evaporated as he got back into his seat, gunned the engine and got out of there before he was snared again. “I am not up to dealing with a double dose of silver-haired trouble today.” He said with a sigh of relief as he noted his passenger had gone inside.
I was reminded of this tale last week.
It was late, I was late. And worse the automatic gate was playing up. The reason why became apparent when I stopped outside the gate and rolled down the passenger window. A ladies voice wafted in to me “Ah good I thought I was late.”
I frowned wondering if I, yet again, had got my wires crossed. I didn’t remember volunteering to drive an elderly lady anywhere.
So I leant across the seat and peered out the window. No, I didn’t volunteer to drive a stranger anywhere, especially to a committee meeting, which I guessed was her destination judging from the clipboard and file she carried.
She was talking at a rapid pace. I remembered NIall’s encounter and wondered should I shut my window, lock my doors but her next words caught my attention, “It is kind of you Maureen to offer me a lift.”
“I am sorry I am Maria, not Maureen. Are you sure you have the right house?”
She looked at me blankly then grimaced. “You are not Maureen”
I overlooked the disdainful look she shot my way. I smiled and agreed.
She didn’t look happy at all. “Where is Maureen?”
“One house over,” I said , thankfully at this point the gates clanged shut and I put my foot to the accelerator and left her to toddle into the house next door.
Like mother like son, I decided.
The simple answer would or should be, write another one. And there are five or six books written but not edited sitting in a neat queue somewhere in my desk.
However, I am stuck on the marketing and shouting about the first one.
If I constantly blog about it, – am I seeming too pushy? I dither on this question. But you guys are truthfully the only ones who read my ramblings, and for that I am extremely grateful. So please let me know if I am pushing it a bit.
Blogging, twittering, FB and G+ are very time-consuming events. Which limits time for other important stuff. The only one in my house who loves to see me head for the computer is – Bob.
He assumes his best-loved position. Sorry there are two:
Everyone else groans, (including Ellie) as they know I will be superglued to the seat until I have set up x amount of promotional posts.
And lastly for today my promotional push is:
The Runaway Schoolhouse is on Kindle for €0.99 ($0.99) for the next week, in the hope that a few reviews will float or clunk (be thrown) my way.
The purpose of the reviews for me is to help discover the fate of the other books gathering dust in my desk. Do I continue to publish or simply to blog?