Saturday, 12 March 2016

Time for a Bath - it Must be Crufts Again!

Hugo waiting to go in to Pets at Home
Hugo and Pip have had a very busy two days and are currently lying exhausted on the floor - I don't think they will be moving much for the rest of this evening!

Yesterday started bright and early because Hugo and Pip had a 9 o'clock appointment with their beautician to get them ready for their next grand appearance at Crufts. Before we made our way to Pets at Home where the Groom Room were going to perform their magic, Martin and I took Hugo and Pip up to Minchinhampton so they could have a good walk first. We arrived at the Gloucester store ten minutes before it opened so we waited outside in the sunshine. Hugo was very interested in that big, bad Akita just the other side of the shop door that, strangely, copied his exact movements. Miss Pip was in fine form, play bowing to Hugo, trying to make him chase her and woo-wooing in excitement. At last the doors were opened and we were straight in, hurriedly dragging Hugo and Pip past the lady cleaning out the rabbits, and down to the beauty parlour at the end. Hugo went in without hesitation, nosey dog that he is, but Miss
Miss Pip in mad-dog mode
Pip started to dig her feet into the ground just in case it was the V.E.T she was going in to. She soon gave in and went through the door, too, where the nice lady took them both through the counter door and into the room at the back. She told us she would be washing and grooming Hugo but another girl was coming in at 10.00am to do Pip. We were told to come back about 1.00pm unless we heard otherwise so off we went. After doing our weekly shop we were on the way home with it when my phone rang - the Groom Room were almost finished so we could come back at 11.30am. After offloading the shopping we set off again and walked through the store. As I opened the door to the cubicle at the end of the shop I leaned over the counter and there
Sparkling, clean & fluffy
was Miss Pip, just finished - she was thrilled to see me and dashed round to great me, howling and throwing herself at me. Martin took her outside the door as it was rather a confined space and there were a couple of other people in there and the girl went to get Hugo who greeted me with much wriggling and leaning himself against me - I think he was pleased to see me. All this time and while I paid Miss Pip was standing outside with Martin howling and generally letting the whole world that she was there. The ladies in the parlour said that she had been very vocal for the first hour or so - I suspect while Hugo was being pampered and she was left to wait. We certainly like to create an audience when we go out. Hugo and Pip looked fantastic when they came out, sparkling white and very fluffy and soft. The ladies had even cut their nails which is something they will not let us attempt to do so we were very pleased.

All of this grooming and preening was, of course, for today's main event - Hugo and Pip's fourth trip to Crufts to represent Akita Rescue & Welfare Trust on the breed rescue stand. This morning's start was exceptionally early with the alarm clock going off at 5.30am but Hugo and Pip decided to ignore that,
Early morning walk
lifting their heads briefly and then promptly going back to sleep. And there they would have stayed had Toby not arrived causing great excitement, especially when they saw we were all wearing our ARW uniforms. Toby and I first drove Hugo and Pip up to Minchinhampton Common for a walk before we set off - it was frosty and dry so perfect and yesterday's beauty treatments were not ruined by wet and mud. Even better we were the only people up there so it was a very pleasant walk. Back home we picked up Martin and off we set to the N.E.C. in Birmingham. We arrived at eight o'clock and made the long walk from the car park to the Hall 1 entrance which is the only door that dogs are allowed to enter through, even though we were in Hall 3. A quick trek through all the halls and we were finally at our destination and Hugo and Pip settled in to their pen for a day of being fussed and stroked and generally made the centre of attention. Some time later we were joined by Meg who stood outside the pen and wowed the crowds too - a gorgeous, laid back girl who is this year's cover girl for the Kennel Club calendar. 

Greeting the crowds
At first it was exceptionally noisy as the ring next to us was holding the Young Kennel Club owner's fly-ball competition and the load speakers and dogs barking was almost unbearable. Fortunately, after half an hour or so it died down and more sedate activities took place. Hugo, Pip and Meg were stroked and patted by hundreds of passers by and loved every minute. After several hours they began to flag and gradually sank into lying positions, although still allowing people to lean over to touch
Getting tired now
them. By three o'clock were were all exhausted so we decided to call it a day, leaving Meg to greet the crowds alone. 

The journey back through the halls was quite traumatic as the aisles were chock-a-block with people all going in the opposite direction to us so we had to fight our way through. Martin and Hugo led the way with Pip and myself following. Hugo was getting quite stressed as he normally likes to weave as he walks but he was
Young Meg, our pin-up girl!
very confined and kept bumping into people and coming to dead ends so it was with great relief we reached the doors and got out in the fresh air. Hugo and Pip are definitely 'country' dogs and are not used to crowds or narrow pathways as we tend to walk them in wide open spaces but they behaved beautifully and we were very proud of them. The journey home was, fortunately, very quick and uneventful with two sleeping beauties in the back who hardly moved all the way back. Here's to a quiet day tomorrow, I think we all deserve it.

Homeward bound.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

A Bit of a Tumble - or Two!

New Territory
As today is Mother's Day and Sundays are always busy, we decided that yesterday was the best day to go and see my Mum and Dad in Stourbridge. Daniel has been decorating our house and wanted to do some more this weekend so, to save him the stress of Hugo and Pip helping him by texturing the paint work, we arranged to take them with us. We set off early, first stopping off at Minchinhampton Common so they were comfortable for the journey. The weather did not look very promising with the car temperature telling us there was an 'ice alert' but the further we drove up the motorway the clearer the skies became and the sun shone through. By the time we got to Granny and Granddads it was reading 6 degrees C.

Granny was ready and waiting for Hugo and Pip when we got there with big chewy treats so they quickly settled down on the carpet munching away while the grown ups had tea. As soon as the chocolate biscuits arrived though, all interest in their treats was gone when they could see something much more interesting on offer! After some persuasion they left the biscuits alone although I did
Lots of exciting new smells
see Granny sneaking them one each when she was clearing the cups away - she assures me they were only plain ones with no chocolate on.

After a very pleasant lunch Granny and I decided to take Hugo and Pip for a walk so we donned sturdy shoes, coats and hats and off we set. I have been hankering to do the couple of mile walk that we used to do most days when we lived at home which goes straight up the road from Mum and Dad's cottage, past the wood and then onto farm tracks around fields going round in a big square - locally referred to as 'the Birches' after the name of a big house which adjoins the fields. It has been many years since I have walked this route and I should at this point mention that my Mum has not walked very much at all of late as she has various back, hip and knee problems which make it painful but she was determined to come with me.

Hugo and Pip were thrilled to be exploring new territory, first the edges of the wood that join Granny and Granddad's garden where there were all sorts of
Miss Pip smiling
interesting smells and noises going on - the crows were particularly loud. Pip amused her Granny by showing great skill at cocking her leg very nicely when she wee'd and I did explain this seems to be an 'Akita thing'.

Once on the first farm track there were some really exciting runs caused by foxes and rabbits so Hugo and Pip had to explain each one, rushing up and down the banks where they led. The track then opens out and we come to the 'Twenty Acre' field which had recently been ploughed. There is a well defined pathway along the side of the field which has been used by countless generations of walkers but Miss Pip far preferred the nice soft earth of the lose soil and kept darting back and forth as far as her lead would allow. We met a few other walkers out with their dogs so we kept dodging into the gateways of other fields to let them go by. At the top of this field we turned right and started back down another field which was our half way point.

Again there were lots of new and thrilling smells and sounds and Miss Pip suddenly took off on one of her mad five minutes.
Pip kept going in to the field.
Unfortunately the ground in that particular spot was very muddy and was starting to slope down the field and although I am quite used to her tearing around on the end of the lead, this time she totally unbalanced me and I went flying! Down I went in the muddiest part of the field but, apart from being a bit shaken and covered in mud, I was unhurt - I think I landed on a poo bag which softened the fall! 
My main concern when I fell was to hang on to the leads otherwise Hugo and Pip would have been off on their own adventures. Mum
We love it here, Mum!
came hobbling over trying to help and picking up my hat which had flown off when I sprawled on the ground and plonking it back on my head, the wrong way round. Poor Hugo couldn't move as Madam had managed to loop the lead all round and between his legs so he was hobbled like a horse and I had to go and rescue him.

With somewhat battered dignity we set off again, Miss Pip totally unrepentant even though I told her off. As the field levelled out we decided to cut the corner and walk across the stubble. Obviously thinking this was some sort of game Miss Pip was off again, only this time circling us as she so often does with Hugo - I am fairly certain she knows exactly what she is doing - with her long lead trailing behind her. Well, of course, the inevitable happened and she managed to  go completely round Mum and I in a big loop. I could see it coming and although I did grab Mum to protect her the lead tightened round her legs and she crumpled up in a heap on the floor. All I could think of was broken hips or wrists but, very fortunately, the fall was a little bit like a controlled parachute landing and she rolled
Just before Miss Pip pulled me over!
down rather than fell hard and she was unhurt. Still, not a very nice thing for an 81 year old to experience. Needless to say, Miss Pip was not in the slightest bit worried and seemed very surprised when I shouted at her. Hugo just stood and remained calm so at least he was behaving himself.

The rest of the walk was fairly uneventful, apart from meeting more dogs that were off-lead but Hugo and Pip must have been getting tired by now and stood very nicely while they passed. As the weather was
What mischief can we do next?
rather unpredictable when we started out in the morning I had put some spare clothes in the car in case I got wet when we walked Hugo and Pip so at least I had something clean to change into when we got back to the cottage.

Hugo and Pip then settled down while the grown ups chatted until Granddad went and got a pot of pickled anchovies to show me - Hugo was very interested and although Granddad told him he would not like them he began to drool so Granddad broke him a piece off which he took - his nose wrinkled a little bit but he made short work of it and Pip also ate her offering. Hugo got his wish and a piece of pork pie was also forthcoming and they then both lay down for a snooze - Hugo on Granny's feet so she couldn't move and Pip making friends with Granddad.

More smells!
We had to laugh at Hugo on the journey home in the car. Pip was lying down asleep but he insisted on sitting up all the way back. Every time I looked in the mirror he was in exactly the same position but in different place in the car - he kept moving closer, like in that old children's game we used to call Creep, and then back but we never saw him do it.

Happy Mother's Day Mum (Granny to Hugo and Pip) - we had a lovely day albeit a bit of an adventure.

Mum still managing to walk after her
fall. Sorry about the photo Mum!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Winter Walks

Canal walk
Well January was a bit of a mixed bag of weather, mostly wet, windy and cold but with a couple of real gems of days thrown in when we have managed to take Hugo and Pip on lovely walks in brilliant sunshine, even stopping off at a local canal-side cafĂ© and sitting out in the sun. Unfortunately, it has, more often than not, been wet and we have resorted to quick trips round Minchinhampton Common with Hugo and Pip doing the necessary before jumping back in the car and going home. As with the rest of us who do not exercise enough the weight soon starts to pile on and Hugo, more than Pip, is looking decidedly chunky – I have likened it to a seal putting on a layer of blubber for the winter – and he has a definite waddle when he walks! Now Martin is more mobile since his knee replacement he has started walking them during the daytime and, because he favours the canal where he can walk from home which is much more sheltered than on top of the hill, walks can be longer. Hopefully, once the rain eventually stops and the garden dries out Hugo and Pip can expend some excess energy chasing each other around again and shed those pounds.

Room for a little one!
Yesterday was particularly nasty and we eventually braved the wind and rain late in the afternoon on our way to pick up Daniel from work. As we got to Minchinhampton Common the wind picked up and the rain turned to sleet driving it horizontally into our faces which was very painful. Martin gave up and went back to the car while Hugo, Pip and I carried on – Hugo with half closed eyes and ears flat back against the wind whilst Miss Pip didn’t seem to notice at all and pranced along as usual. Needless to say we were saturated and were glad to get back in the car. Once home the fire was soon on and that was where Hugo and Pip stayed for the rest of the evening, toasting themselves and getting dry.

Unfortunately, we did not stay dry for long! Today was the day for the Akita Rescue and Welfare pack walk at West Park in Wolverhampton and we needed to take Hugo and Pip for a quick walk before we set off, otherwise they start moaning and we have to stop – they associate going in the car with going for a walk and are used to being able to get out within 5-10 minutes of setting off. Daniel needed a lift to work so Hugo and Pip were most surprised to be wakened from their slumbers at 7.30am this morning and bundled in the car as well. It was still raining and the roads were awash but the sky was looking brighter on the horizon and by the time we dropped Daniel off it was only spotting and had stopped by the time we reached the Common. Within 2 minutes of setting off the heavens opened again with the same painful sleet as yesterday and, once more, we were soaked. Back home I got changed, (again!), and Hugo and Pip lay in front of the fire for half an hour before we had to leave with Martin taking the opportunity of brushing some of the loose fur out of Hugo, although he still looks very tufty as his coat is blowing.

Young Moose
Toby was at work today so couldn't come with us but we went and picked up Steph – as soon as Hugo and Pip saw where we were they started barking (Hugo) and howling (Pip)  until she got in the car where she was smothered in doggy kisses! Despite the early walk Pip started pacing and panting in the car and we knew we would have to stop so ended up calling in at Strensham – just
Little Dotty
half an hour down the road! We eventually arrived, first as usual, and we met up with all our furry friends. The rain held off for most of the walk and we had a lovely turn out, made even more special by a few young puppies (under 7 months old) who joined us. Even Hugo likes a puppy and he made friends with little Luna and walked quite happily with her for a while. I think we all fell in love with young Moose and baby Dotty, two long coat Akitas who were just balls of fluff and they bought back fond memories of Sid.

Hugo eyeing up the pork pie!
On the way home we called in at Granny and Granddads where Hugo and Pip were greeted with their favourite chews and quickly settled down. There were also some goodies for the humans which went down very well and Hugo thought they looked pretty tasty too and sat staring at the pork pie and sausage rolls until Granddad gave in and gave him (and Pip) some.

After a very full day Hugo and Pip are, once again, snoozing in front of the fire and don’t look like doing anything too energetic any time soon.

Friday, 25 December 2015

'Tis the Season to be Jolly!

The last couple of weeks have been very busy in the run up to Christmas and there have been lots of exciting parcels arriving at the house. Knowing that a couple of these contained something of interest to Hugo and Pip we put them up well out of reach so they were not tempted. 

Last Friday we made the two and a half hour journey up to Chesterfield in Derby to visit my in-laws (or Little Granny & Granddad as the boys call them). We do not get to see them very often and it is generally at other relatives houses when we do so 
Hugo and 
Pip have never actually met them before. This is a great shame as Ann and Eddie absolutely love dogs but, at 81 and 91, can't really consider having another one themselves. So, when we suggested we bring Hugo and Pip with us, they jumped at the chance to see them. We set off early and had a good journey, stopping at Tamworth services on the way (we did wonder if Hugo would remember that this is where we picked him up from when he came in to our lives but he didn't show any signs of recognising it). Taking it in turns to use the facilities so Hugo and Pip could spend time on the grass and out of the car, I returned across the car park to be greeted by Pip howling her greeting and then proceeded to jump up me - I always knew wearing anything with white in it was a mistake! We duly arrived in the small village of Clowne and let Hugo and Pip into Little Granny & Granddad's house - after five minutes frantically rushing round sussing out where everything was they soon settled down and were introduced properly. Pip totally surprised us by taking to Eddie straight away (she is normally very wary of men, especially the older generation) and was quickly accepting the fuss he was giving her. It was not long before she had crashed out in front of the fire (it was not on!) and Hugo took her place by the side of Granddad's chair where he spent the majority of the rest of time we were there with Eddie leaning over stroking him. I say the majority of the time because at one point Eddie went upstairs to fetch some presents down for us. After a few minutes we realised that Hugo was missing so Ann went to check and there he was lying on the bed upstairs with Eddie talking to him - nothing like making yourself at home, Hugo!

Last Sunday I was given a gift at church by a lady I give a lift to and, not thinking, I left it on a small table by the television. (I'm sure you can guess what's coming!) On Monday we went visiting again but Hugo and Pip stayed behind this time because the aunt and uncle we were visiting have a miniature Schnauzer and she would have killed them if they had come in to her house! When we got home the living room floor was covered in wrapping paper and chocolates! Hurriedly picking up the debris I was relieved to find that there were only 4 empty wrappers and the rest of the chocolates were still there, if a little soggy (no need to rush to the vets then). Hugo and Pip must have know I am dieting and were only trying to help by making them inedible.
Like most other pet owners do, Hugo and Pip are treated the same as the rest of the family and have Christmas presents. Knowing they would be far too interested in the contents while I was wrapping them Toby took them back to his house with Steph so they did not see what they were getting before the big day. Hugo and Pip love going there but they do miss having Toby at home, as I do. 

Last night was Christmas Eve which, unusually for us, was a very relaxed evening and Hugo and Pip were ready for bed at about 8pm after we told them not to bark at Santa Paws if they saw him. Daniel had gone out and had not come back by the time we all went to bed but we were shocked awake by Pip baying the house down at 1am when he got home. She must have thought Father Christmas had arrived and she wasn't having any strange men in HER house even if he was bringing her a present! I have a bit of a funny throat at the moment and made the mistake of trying, very quietly, to take a lozenge out of a packet at 6 o'clock this morning - Hugo was there in a flash, FOOD! I then had to stop him sticking his tongue in my glass of water - nothing worse than slimy water first thing in the morning!

Hugo and Pip have had a good day today, lots of presents, Toby home for the day, walk on Selsley Common in the rain, wind, cold and mud then a huge dinner. I always give Hugo and Pip exactly the same as us on Christmas Day, including the spouts which Toby cunningly mashed into the potatoes. The only things left were a few pieces of carrots and one parsnip. Then zzzzzzzzzzzzz for the rest of the afternoon! Very surprising is the fact that none of the presents have been destroyed yet (which must be something of a record) apart from, of course, the edible goodies which were devoured within minutes of opening. The firm favourites with both Hugo and Pip seem to be the Kong tennis balls but if Pip does not stop squeaking them they might rapidly go missing!

Hugo and Pip would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and look forward to keeping in touch with all their friends in the New Year.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

All change!

Hugo in 'his spot' on the new settee
I know it has been a long time since I last wrote on here so rather than write too much I am going to go by the saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ and end this posting with lots of pictures from the last few months. 

Miss Pip has selected her chair
This week has been one of great change in that my younger son, Toby, last Saturday moved out of our house and in with his girlfriend, Steph. Along with him went our two settees which left us awaiting the arrival of our new three piece suite until Tuesday (for the chairs) and Thursday for the settee (couldn't get it in on Tuesday so had to come back and take the

glass out the living room window). We have a couple of nice comfortable chairs from our “shed” (home office) so we were OK for a few days without but Hugo and Pip have had to make do with the floor – well, when I said they made do with the floor, what I actually meant was they spent most of the time upstairs on our bed!

Hugo and Pip have been totally lost without Toby around and leap up whenever a car slows down outside in the hope it is him. 

Pip loves her brother Toby
They (or rather Miss Pip) still greet Daniel, my older son, very vocally, but it is not the       same, Toby is their brother.

The three amigos
On Tuesday, when the armchairs arrived, Miss Pip lost no time in claiming one of them as her own but Hugo was still relegated to the carpet, although he normally likes to lie there anyway so it was no great hardship. The chairs, being new, give off a strange scent and I think it is because of that Hugo is not too keen. The settee duly arrived (and glass replaced) and Miss Pip, again, took control and made herself comfortable on it – she does prefer the armchair though and this is where she prefers to sit. It has taken Hugo two days but he has, eventually, climbed up and found ‘his spot’ on the settee. This morning he has even squeezed himself into one of the armchairs but soon found it a bit too confining for his bulk and got down again.

Hugo loves his brother Toby
Yesterday, Toby called in here on the way back to his house and picked up Hugo and Pip to take them back with him so he could meet Steph from work and walk them before they all come back for a Chinese. This meant that Hugo and Pip visited Toby’s new house for the first time which they explored thoroughly, Hugo christening the garden. They then found their old friends, the leather settees and quickly re-established their acquaintance with them!

June - a shady spot
Following the visit to their ‘brother’, Hugo in particular seems quite depressed as if he realises now that he has seen all Toby’s things in another house that he won’t be coming back. He keeps making crying noises and sighing, especially if you talk to him in a sympathetic voice – this might just be a ploy to get our attention but it is very sad to hear him. On the other hand it might just be because he can’t go outside because the weather is appalling – only time will tell.

June - Pip

June - Pip posing
July - Brush time - Hugo is blowing his coat!

July - Paws in the Park Birmingham with Akita Rescue & Welfare

July - Paws in the Park - Pip greeting her foster Mum, Kim,
who she hasn't seen for 2 years

July - Paws in the Park - relaxing with friends

July - new harnesses

August - Paws in the Park Cheltenham with Akita Rescue & Welfare

August - Paws in the Park Cheltenham - taking a break
from their admiring public

August - Worcester Show with Akita Rescue & Welfare - rained off,
here are Hugo and Pip sheltering with Toby and Steph

October - pack walk with Akita Rescue & Welfare at Cannock Chase

October - ARW pack walk at Cannock Chase with 22 friends

October - Hugo suffered with 'frozen tail' which made his tail uncurl.
It is now back up and all is well.

October 25th - Hugo's 4th Birthday.