Wednesday 18 December 2013

Wordless Win'sday

                                                                 Illustration by Jane West

Sunday 1 December 2013

Keep a candle burning

As we light our advent candle today, and every day, we will think of all our friends around the world who have lost a pet this year. Love from Bill, Elaine and Monkey the Greyhound.

Thursday 31 October 2013

Name game

First off let's start with a quick question - what is this a close-up of?

The question is not about the white blob, more the overall pic. Answer at the end of the post.

Anyway, how is everyone? It's been a while since I've had anything to say.
This week we went for a walk along one of out local trails - the Jinny - it follows the line of an old railway and while we were out we came across a squirrel.

Luckily it had the sense to shin up a tree but Monkey's reaction was a joy to behold. He didn't know what to do for the best. The ears shot up and he started to quiver but stood stock still watching this bizarre creature. We have come across them when out before just not so close.

The jacket was on as it had been raining when we started out on our trek. It was a pity he was wearing it as I noticed when I downloaded the pix how well he blended in with the fallen leaves. You get a good idea from the top pic where if you look just below the blue collar it is difficult to see where the Monk ends and the leaves begin. It certainly shows how well he was named when he raced - Autumn Fusion indeed.
Hopefully at the weekend I can get some without the coat - if I don't lose him in the leaves.
Anyway for those of you who didn't guess what the picture at the start of the blog was here it is from further away.
Hands up all those who said a tumble dryer filter.
At least all of Monkey's bedding is washed ready for the muddy weather.

Sunday 20 October 2013

We all shine on.....

Lady Of The House here, thinking about how it is that you can cry buckets of tears over the loss of a dog you've never met.

It's not surprising really.

For one thing, when you've loved and lost a pet yourself you know the pain their family is going through and it takes you right back to those early days of your own loss.

And even when life and work has taken you away from the pet blogging community quite a bit (as it has done for me this year) - we're all still family, and a loss for one is a loss to all.

But Mr Pip REALLY was special - with a capital S.

Mr Pip lived on the other side of the world to us - but his blog was a delight from the moment I discovered it in 2010.

He'd not had the best of starts - and the story about how he joined Kristin and her family was one of the most beautifully written posts I ever read. It restored your faith in human nature and made you believe in happy endings.

The pictures on Pip's blog always made me smile - and his family was always there for others who suffered a loss. They gave Pip a fantastic life filled with love - and he clearly gave back to them many, many times over.

They never forgot others and raised lots of money and awareness for animal charities and rescues including the very special Red Door Animal Shelter who helped Pip start his new life in Chicago.

It's no surprise to see the outpouring of love and grief on Mr Pip's blog - and others. I hope it helps ease the pain and loss for Kristin and the family a little. I'm not crying for Pip. His last 12 years were filled with fun and laughter and he was always at the heart of everything his family did. But I am crying for his family who will miss him so very much.

I will think of Mr Pip often and be reminded that good CAN triumph, that we should make the most of EVERY day - and that eating cheeseburgers now and then is OK really. I'm sure he wouldn't want us to be sad for long - but he would want us to do all we can to help dogs like him to get their own happy endings.

I'm proud to add a permanent reminder of Mr Pip - created by Ann Adamus of Zoolatry - on the right hand side of this blog, and I'd also like to share with you this final thought that is on Pip's final post and which for me says it all.

Monday 14 October 2013

Still life in the old dog

Yesterday our website Lost and Fond, hosted a craft fair in aid of Nowzad Dogs. We raised more than £780 for Nowzad between us and all the stall holders.
One of the stall holders was Burton-based artist Michele McDonald of Redroo Creatives whose work we love. Among the items on sale was this greyhound figure - ignore me in the background - which made us think of Monkey.

Of course as soon as everybody had left for school and work this morning I just had to get some pictures.
Blimey - talk about life imitating art!

Thanks Michele . . .  and you Monkey.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Remembering Winnie - and her garden

The Lady Of The House here,  making a brief return to the blog to give you a gardening update.

Those of you who shared Winnie's adventures with us will remember that a zoom around the back garden was an essential part of her daily routine, resulting in this....

That blue pole thing the Man Of The House is standing beside is our rotary clothes drier, by the way.

Early attempts to dissuade her proved ineffective and we soon realised that the look of  pure joy on her face as she raced and cavorted meant that the lack of lawn seemed a small price to pay.

It's nearly ten months now since we lost her.

Monkey - who joined us in April - only makes one brief 7am trip into the garden each day to take care of business and can't wait to get back in the house. He loves his three walks a day but has no desire to spend any time in the garden at all. He also doesn't do zoomies. So the garden looks a bit different these days. The rotary clothes drier is wearing its autumn cover too.

Here's a funny thing......

There was just one particular spot, in the dirt track she created, where Winnie loved to dig. 

When she died we decide to plant a ballerina apple tree in it. But you can see that it's been joined by a few other items that we haven't planted.

The sunflower has probably grown from a seed put out for the birds on the nearby bird table. I've never seen one with so many heads on one single stem. I've counted 14 today.

Winnie left her mark on the garden - and on our hearts.  The grass has grown again but I think it's always going to be Winnie's garden. And she'll always be in our hearts too.

Friday 6 September 2013

Last of the summer whine

I know it was time to go to the toilet . . .  but I could have waited until the rain stopped.
I may well sulk for the rest of the day . . .
and you've not dried my ears properly yet.

Monday 2 September 2013

A weight off my mind

Just a quick update on Monkey and the vet.
The visit was prompted by Monkey's habit of sometimes skipping a meal and what we thought may have been a weight loss.
The weight loss thought was brought about by a visit to one of the many country shows held around here at this time of year. At this particular one a vets' practice had turned up with some electronic scales and so we thought we'd pop Monkey on just for a quick check as we'd been concerned regarding the skipping of meals.
The scales registered 25kg (roughly) almost 4kg down from when he arrived with us and we had a check up at our own vets.
Given this figure we decided to take him to our own vet even though he wasn't really showing any signs of weight loss.
Sometimes when you're around someone all the time you don't notice gradual increases or decreases in weight that a person who hasn't seen you for a long time might notice immediately. Well that's my excuse anyway.
Happily though at the weigh-in at our vet Monkey had actually gained rather than lost weight - more exercise needed Monkey.
I had been trying to get Monkey to take his meals in the kitchen before walks. Given the worry the first weight reading produced I have quit this and now put his food down by - if not on, in a dish of course - his day bed after our walks and leave it for a while to give him time to decide if he wants to eat or not. So far this seems to be working and we are throwing less food away and have no worries about him losing weight by not eating.
The vet also gave him a good going over and everything else seems to be fine as well.

The LOTH is now threatening me with the scales so I think that 'walkies' will be a brisker affair for the pair of us.

Personally, I find taking pictures at this angle is quite flattering

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Frog find and rabbit rage

Having checked out the shops in Saltburn on the Tuesday we decided that today would be the day to get the souvenir present for the GOTH and a birthday present for one of the BOTH's friends.
Another walk along the sea front preceded our trip into town and this time rather than using the bridleway we went off-road and through a cool sun-dappled wood. Once again there was plenty of doggy traffic to contend with but Monkey just ignored it all - even when they sneaked up behind him.

We also had a walk through the Italianate gardens on the way back to the car. A rather steep descent the way we approached it.
The afternoon was spent exploring the woods around the chalet and the hotel grounds.
At one point Monkey got really excited and started to snuffle frantically in the grass.

We soon found the cause of his concern - a very small frog which was hopping about in the long grass.

The peacocks allowed us another good night's sleep and on the Thursday morning we awoke to grey skies and a warning of dire weather to come so we decided that the best thing to do was to head off somewhere early and then sit out the bad weather in the chalet in the afternoon - we had brought some cards with us as the forecast had promised the downpour at the start of the week.
We drove along the coast to a small harbourside village called Staithes - where it is claimed Captain Cook learned his trade. It was quite a steep drop into the village but well worth a visit.

Can we get this way?

Doesn't look like it

Back we go then

Make sure you come out the way you went in as not all the uphill roads lead in the same direction - we think.

The view from the ice cream van

The morning in Staithes was very hot but there was an ice cream van on the quayside for those in need.

We headed off back to the chalet after a couple of hours so we would avoid the predicted downpour. Sadly, or perhaps happily the weather forecast was well wide of the mark and we had probably the hottest day of our week in Saltburn.
It was good to leave the idiot lantern in the corner switched off and spend some time playing cards. I was surprised how few card games I could remember how to play. Must look some up.
That night on our closing walk Monkey provided another surprise for me.
As you know he has never made a sound while we have had him in our family but as we crossed the lawn at the rear of the hotel a rabbit ran the length of it.
Monkey went up on his hind legs and let out a noise that seemed a cross between a howl of rage and a growl of frustration. Then he was back on all fours and back to his walk as if it hadn't happened.

Hotel lawn, rabbit not featured

Whether seeing the white scut shoot in front of him brought back memories of his racing days when he could never catch the hare on the course or perhaps it was just the yearning to run free again. Whatever it was the cry seemed to come from his very soul.
Maybe he realised that it was our last night there and was sad to be leaving.
Come Friday morning we packed up our stuff and after a final walk said goodbye to the chalet and headed back home to the normal routine.
PS. When we got home Monkey refused to eat again. I ended up having to feed him by hand and then hold his dish while he ate for a couple of meals.
He still hasn't really regained his appetite so a trip to the vet is looming - just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Time to meet and greet

Monkey seemed to be a little dazed on the second morning of our holiday but after a while we set off for our next test.

Arriving in Saltburn we parked up near the sea front and began today's adventure with Monkey.
At home I had taken to walking him around 9am after the kids had gone in at school as the noise and bustle of dozens of school pupils heading off seemed to get Monkey jittery and pulling about all over the place.
Given the lovely weather Saltburn was rather busy as we headed along the front to the pier and to watch the action on the beach.

Although it was quite early there were a few already there and the surf school was in full swing.

I have to say that I find the wind farm in the background quite striking.

While Monkey was quite nervous he was very good and although sticking close to me he appeared to be relatively calm and was not jumping at every new noise or dodging from side to side to avoid people.

Having seen the beach we turned inland along a bridleway that took us into town. It was rather comical as we made our way up the path as coming in the opposite direction were lots of people with their dogs - mainly in pairs - all at staggered intervals a few seconds apart as if they were taking part in a race.
Saltburn was busy and we had to be on our toes as the traffic was more than Monkey was used to back home and he was looking everywhere - often at the same time. He was very good though and would stand nice and still with me while members of the party checked out the various shops so they could decide where we were going to get souvenirs from.
After a good nose round we decided to head for a cafe on the front that had an outdoor dining area - sadly next to a trampoline for kids - but we all wanted fish and chips so that was where we needed to go. Our previous Greyhound, Winnie, could be a right moaner when it came to eating al fresco. She refused to keep still for more than five minutes and kept up a constant whine throughout the meal.

Once more Monkey exceeded expectations with impeccable behaviour. He stood for the whole meal in silence and managed to ignore both the temptation of the food and the noise from the trampolining children and the bustling crowds that were coming and going for their lunches.
After a marvellous meal - is there anything that can beat fish and chips in the open air at the seaside? - we decided to head back to the chalet so that our couch potato could put his paws up before his well-earned dinner.
Once again despite the company he devoured the lot. Obviously the sea air was having the same effect on Monkey as it was on his human companions.

The evening walk saw us discovering something I had not realised - peacocks roosting in trees - I suppose I always thought they slept on the ground. We also came across a few rabbits, including a black one that made me think of Watership Down, in the grounds plus an awful lot of toing and froing across the paths as Monkey followed something's trail through the woods. Having found fox droppings along the way I think we knew what had been out and about before us. We even found an indent in the long grass that appeared to be the right size and shape for a fox near the duck pond.

That night the peacocks were far more restrained. I don't know if it was the fact I had been feeding them during the day - bribery - or that we were all so tired that we just never heard them but after a good night's sleep we awoke ready to start again and even Monkey seemed more cheerful and was not shivering.
To be continued.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

What were we thinking?

Most of you will be aware of the 'quirks' Monkey has displayed since joining our forever family. I will not list them here as it would take too long. Suffice to say it has been a challenge for all of us - not least our lovely retired racer.

So why were we attempting to take our shy, neurotic, scatter-brained hound off to a chalet in Yorkshire for a week?

Lately Monkey has been showing signs of settling into family life and behaviours have been learned - by all of us - that help alleviate stress points and encourage an opening up so why were we doing this?

Because we needed a break, a change in routine, a chance to switch off the computers and phones and charge our batteries rather than theirs.

We chose Saltburn-by-the-Sea for a few reasons: we had been there before and found it to be a very friendly relaxing place; it was within three hour's driving time and also we knew our way around the town and the surrounding area.

The first concern was the travelling. Although Monkey now loves trips out in the car, none have been as long as this. Will he settle down for a long journey? Will his toilet needs be met?

We decided to stop around halfway to Saltburn for a comfort break for all of us. I took Monkey into a nearby field where I managed to stumble which of course made him jump and got him spooked up so he wouldn't have a drink.

However, we were soon back on the road and there were no untoward incidents for the rest of the journey.

When we arrived at our holiday home, in the grounds of the Rushpool Hall Hotel, Monkey and me went off for a stroll while the LOTH and BOTH unpacked and sorted out the bedrooms.

We met some of the residents of the hotel grounds while we were out - a flock, is that the right word, of peacocks - and Monkey paid them scant heed and they did likewise.

The floor of the chalet was a slippery one - similar to the dining room at home that Monkey will not go in due to past skidding incidents. But by keeping hold of his collar we negotiated our way to his bed.

For the first time that day we all relaxed.

The LOTH and BOTH then set off in a tropical downpour to garner provisions from the nearest supermarket. We had hoped to eat out most of the time but our holiday home position was such that it would have meant taking the car for every meal and the LOTH would have to forgo the pleasure of a glass of wine with her evening meal.

The next hurdle would be feeding time for Monkey, as you know he likes to be left alone to dine otherwise he won't eat. This, coupled with the fact that when we first brought him home from Crossing Cottage, the rehoming kennels, he refused to eat for some days, made me think it could be a week without food for him.

Monkey soon dispelled these fears. We put his bowl down by his bed and he dived straight in. It was the first time the BOTH had seen him eat. I was totally taken aback and for the first time thought that this might just be a good idea after all.

His evening walk was strenuous but uneventful as we explored the many paths through the grounds and into the woods. Monkey took it extremely seriously and was like a bloodhound with his nose to the ground weaving from side to side as you see tracker dogs do in those American films where they are chasing convicts through the swamps.

We settled in for the night with a bit of telly before heading off to bed for a well-deserved sleep.

Sadly that was when the peacocks decided to start saying goodnight to each other - over and over again - luckily it was not the piercing shrieks they make when you see them out and about during the day but it was loud enough to keep me awake. 

It was also coupled with what seemed to be several of the birds tap-dancing in clogs on the wooden roof of our chalet.

As is usual, I was up with Monkey at 7am and when I went in to him he was on his bed shivering. This I put down to the disturbances of the night rather than any cold. While the BOTH and LOTH slept we went out and did a bit more exploring.

To be continued.

Tuesday 20 August 2013