Monday, 27 August 2012


On quiet days I allow myself to look back over the animals who have shared my life and although they all hold a special place in my heart, there is one that I wish I had known longer and been able to give more to.

Molly came into my life unexpectedly, as most animals that steal your heart do.
I was volunteering with GSD Welfare at the time and used to spend my Sunday mornings walking dogs at the local kennels.  They were there for a variety of reasons, some genuine and some not.

Molly and eight other Shepherds were living at a breeding kennels in Wales.  Their 'owner' was un-licenced and a prospective customer had been so appalled at the conditions that the dogs were kept in that they reported them to the local council. GSD Welfare subsequently received a call to say that if no one came and collected the dogs within 24hrs, they would all be shot.  Needless to say the van was on it's way within hours and arrived back at the kennels late that night. All of the dogs were scared, traumatised and filthy dirty.

I think I fell in love with Molly the first time I saw her, she was long-haired, black and tan and had the saddest eyes of any I have seen.  She was approximately 9yrs old and had been kept as a breeding bitch in a concrete kennel her whole life.  To her, the outside world was an unknown place of loud noises and strange people, she was literally frightened of everything and everyone.
She sat at the very back of her kennel, her face to the wall as she tried desperately to avoid any kind of eye contact with anyone who approached her.  She never growled, or attempted to bite, even in fear, but froze whenever anyone stopped to talk to her or try and stroke her.

Eventually she would reluctantly come outside with the kennel staff and volunteers but she was always happiest when she was put back in her kennel. To her it was home and meant she was safe. I used to save special tit-bits for her but she wouldn't eat them until the kennel door was safely shut behind me and she was alone again.

One Sunday I arrived to find that she had been rehomed and although I was sad for me, I was so happy to think that finally she had a home of her own where she could live as she was meant to. Her new owners had a few acres of land but only her second day on the property, she ran away.  She must have been terrified, she'd never known such space.  Thankfully she was found but not before she had managed to cross the A13 - how she wasn't killed I have no idea, but the following week she was back in her kennel and I knew this time that the only person she would be coming home with would be me.

I brought her back for a couple of weekend visits, to make sure she was ok with my cats (who had already lived with a GSD previously) and once I knew she wasn't concerned with them, or them with her, it became a permanent arrangement.

I have many memories of the 2 1/2yrs she was with me but my most abiding was the first day I took her for a walk up to the river.  It was a sunny morning, one of those perfect days when it's warm and bright and we walked through the fields and from there up onto the sea wall.

I'll never forget her standing on the bank, so still she might have been a statue, watching the sunlight dancing off the water and the swans swimming lazily across from the other side. To think that she had never seen anything like it still makes me sad, but the reality was of course she hadn't -  a collar and lead were unknown so how could she have ever been for a walk.

I like to think that she came to trust me, and I know she did, but the one thing she had never done despite repeated attempts to teach her, was to offer her paw.  Most GSD's will fling their paw at you at breakneck speed if they think a treats in the offing but not Molly, she would have waited and then waited some more until I grew tired of the game and gave her the treat anyway.

Her final day came all too soon, despite an operation to remove multiple tumours, they just had too great a hold and I had to say goodbye to my old friend.  As I gently stroked her and told her it was ok I remember she looked up at me and without her eyes leaving mine, just as gently, finally gave me her paw.

Her trust in me was complete.......

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Boys will be boys.......

As some of you may know I live backing onto a small nature reserve, which is frequented by a number of foxes.  My awareness that they are there has always made me endeavour to get the cats in at night, and for the most part I'm lucky that they've come in and stay in after they've been fed.  The long, hot nights though are different and they push the boundaries, sometimes leaving it until literally the moment before the kitchen lights are switched off before hurrying inside.
Last Sunday night was hot and humid and we'd had thunder rumbling around for much of the day and so of course by the time they'd actually wanted to go out it was almost time to come back in!

We'd gone to bed when there was the sounds of an almighty scuffle outside and a cat screaming and yowling at the top of it's voice.  We flew out of bed and down the stairs, my one thought that it was a fox fighting with one of the cats.  Almost at the same time as we shot out into the garden, Jet came over the side gate and tore down to the bottom of the garden where it backs onto the field.  My worst thoughts were realised - Jax was the one in trouble.

Trying to see a black cat at night with no lights is next to impossible and we called until we were hoarse with no luck.  Turning around I heard a soft miaow and found Jet next to a clearly distressed Jax.  We literally scooped them both up and went inside placing Jax on the kitchen counter where I could get a better look at him.  Apart from several clumps of fur that had obviously been loosened and the fact that he was clearly frightened and panicked, he appeared ok.

Jet jumped up beside him and set about grooming him to within an inch of his life, soft trills filling the air as Jax began to calm under his brother's ministrations. We watched in amusement as Jet checked him from head to toe, and then, when he was evidently satisfied,  sat back on his haunches and boxed Jax's ears for him, before jumping down and calmly going to bed, back turned and eyes closed.

All was right with our world again as dual purred rumblings filled the air.

What did I do???????

If you don't know by now, you never will!


Monday, 6 August 2012

Hot dogs & water.............

It probably won't come as any surprise that the main topic of conversation when I meet other dog walkers is the weather; be it hot, cold, muggy, stormy or somewhere in between, we all have an opinion on it!

For a lot of dogs of course the hot weather means staying in until the evening eventually cools down and they spend the day happily catching an extra 40 winks or 3, their imagination running riot ,but their bodies laying dormant in the cool of the house or shady garden.

My clients of course don't have that luxury and for most of them their routine is such that we are often out during the hottest part of the day since it's halfway through their owner's working day. A couple of times in the last week or so I have had to resort to staying in with them, of course they don't understand why and are just as eager to start their walk as ever, a mixture of disbelief and confusion crossing their face as we make for the garden instead of the fields.

Harvey, being a model Labrador (yes he really is for the most part now)......loves the water and will take every opportunity to either be in it, drink it or shaking it all over some poor unsuspecting human.  Add a tennis ball into the mix and fun is guaranteed.  He and Jada played quite happily in his back garden with the hose, running in and out until the grass was a muddy shadow of it's former glory and their coats were steaming gently in the rising heat.  Jada for her part wasn't quite so sure but joined in with great enthusiasm once she realised the rules - mainly that there weren't any and if there were, she was going to be the one who made them.

Harvey has become quite the gentleman with her, often letting her get to the ball first (which is really something when you consider the adoration he lavishes on them) and even catching it and then very gently nudging it with his nose towards her.  Ahhh true love......