But this week we've had some nice walks and seen some fun things like this patch of thistles whose flowers had all turned to fluffy stuff that had covered the ground.
Then in Brook Hollows Spinney we got a good view of our friendly neighbourhood heron - who we have nicknamed Harry. He was having a paddle.
Other weeks it's not so peaceful though....which was why the LOTH and I really identified with this little letter (fact or fiction, who knows) which a friend of ours shared on Facebook recently.
So here it is for you to enjoy too. Hope your weekend is stress-free and fun.
It was good to meet you and your dog once again this morning. I’m sorry the circumstances were such that we couldn’t have a proper chat, but I’m afraid that being in a situation where I was restraining my four agitated and angry dogs whilst trying to ward your dog off with my foot as he tried to hump them indiscriminately wasn’t conducive to chit-chat.
Unfortunately we have had similar encounters several times since you moved, and as my dogs are neutered males and spayed females who don’t appreciate your dog’s relentless advances things can get a little lively when we meet, so I thought perhaps a letter might help to break the ice as it were.
I appreciate that your dog ran over two fields and nearly a quarter of a mile to get to mine, so it was going to take you a little time to get there to retrieve him. However, for next time I’d suggest spending 15 minutes standing two fields away angrily screaming his name possibly wasn’t the best use of your time. It hasn’t worked on any previous occasion and didn’t work this morning, so could I respectfully suggest that next time you cut that part out of the process and come and get your dog straight away?
Anyway, I was certainly pleased to see you after 25 minutes of my dogs being humped, barged and jumped on. It was a shame that having finally managed to catch your dog and get hold of his collar you only let us get a few yards down the path before you released him, so he immediately came after us and the whole performance started again, but hey, that’s dogs for you – who in the world could have predicted he would do that?
We did talk a little last time about how you could stop your dog continuously running off and bothering other dogs, and I’ll accept that you have indeed tried ‘everything’ – except training apparently. Or rewards, as he ‘should’ do what you tell him without them. Dogs are certainly clever animals, but I’d never before realised that they had a sense of ethics and obligation to do the right thing, I certainly learned a few things from our conversation. To think of all that time I’ve wasted with clickers and treats!
On that subject, I’m still not entirely sure how smacking him when you do finally manage to get hold of him will make him easier to catch next time - perhaps you could talk me through that one next time we meet?
We also briefly discussed that neutering might help curb his desire to streak off into the distance and hump anything that moved, but you mentioned that you were considering using him at stud in due course as he a Pedigree Labrador with Papers; and he’s Chocolate – that’s important apparently.
Now I certainly can’t claim to know a lot about Labradors, but if the standard for the breed specifies a potato-shaped body and short, stumpy legs your boy is certainly a fine example and it would obviously be a shame to rob future generations of his genes; and he has Papers. I hate to break it to you, though - so does my newsagent but that doesn’t make me want to have his babies.
You told me that you’d thought about an electric shock collar to tackle his tendency to run off, but were concerned about the cost. I’m sure the fact that you didn’t also mention any concerns about the effect of administering electric shocks on your dog’s physical and psychological wellbeing was merely an oversight, but I thought I’d slip it in here just in case it’s an aspect of these collars you may not have considered?
Anyway, having come home and pondered our mutual problem, I hope you are as pleased as I am that I have managed to come up with a tried and tested 100% effective solution that requires no time, input or effort from you and costs only a few pounds.
There is a handy little gadget that savvy dog owners have been using for many years to address your sort of problem. It’s very simple, a long strip of rope or leather with a loop at one end you can use as a handle, and a clever little clip at the other end that attaches to your dog’s collar (you might have seen that metal ring on his collar and wondered what it was for?). This brilliant device is called a lead - L.E.A.D. You attach it to your dog, hold the handle and hey presto, you have control of your dog and he can no longer run away! Most pet shops sell them – in fact I probably have a spare I can loan you to try, just let me know.
You can thank me next time we meet.
Or better still, if we don't meet that will be thanks enough.