Saturday, 31 August 2013

Furry Alarm Clocks and UFOs

Chilling on the decking

All this week I have had to get up at 5.45am to get Toby to work for 7am and Hugo and Pip have not been amused - they have remained lying down at the foot of the bed barely lifting an eye-lid as I climb over them and Martin has had to call them down at 7am to take them for a walk. So, why, oh why, when it is a Saturday and we can all have a lie in do that they decide 6am is a good time to get up and start jumping up and down on the bed?!! It is all very well trying to ignore them but they KNOW we are awake. They first start by charging up and down the stairs like a herd of elephants, dropping the occasional bone so it would bounce on every step. Hugo then lifts the curtain up so he can look out the window, letting in the light and Pip stands there woo wooing with a tissue in her mouth. Hugo then went and had a long drink out the toilet and came back to jump up on the bed trying to lick us while Pip came in with a wet face flannel she had found in the bathroom!! Think they were trying to tell us something. In the end Martin gave in and went and made a cup of tea and bought their biscuits back up to bed. As soon as they had had them they settled down and went back to sleep - we, of course, were wide awake. Thanks Hugo and Pip, you make great alarm clocks but not on a Saturday, please!

Selsley Common is a beautiful open space that is perched on the top of a hill and when you get to the far side you are greeted by fantastic views over the Severn Valley with the Black Mountains in the distance. It is a very popular place for flying model aeroplanes and paragliding as the thermals are good. As I was walking Hugo and Pip up there the other afternoon we suddenly had to duck as a very large model aeroplane glided straight over our heads and crashed in to the grass behind us - Pip was ready to kill it as she saw it approaching and I think she would have pounced on it when it hit the ground if I had not made her walk quickly away. 

On another evening some youngsters were flying kites which both Hugo and Pip were very interested in and they were constantly looking back over their shoulders and up in to the sky to watch what was happening - a tasty treat perhaps! As we rounded the mound right on the edge of the common where the hill drops away Hugo and Pip stopped dead in their tracks as this giant 'bird' took off with a whoosh and both of them darted towards it as it floated off over the edge. Fortunately the extender leads came in to their own and stopped them before they flew over the edge after this giant creature.- yes, you've guessed what it was, a paraglider with a man strapped in to his 'sleeping bag' hanging underneath. Think he was quite glad when the air currents swept him upwards otherwise he might have had a couple of passengers hanging on to him!

Hugo gets a bit jealous when Pip is getting a fuss!
On Thursday there was a bit of excitement up on the Common, which only allows cars to park on the very edge. As we reached the crest of the hill we spotted a gazebo with two vans and loads of people messing with a camera As they were right on the path we normally take we decided to go in the opposite direction and we saw a young girl in a high vis. jacket who was obviously part of the group. Hugo and Pip liked her as she made a great fuss of them and I asked her what was happening. She told us they were filming a commercial for Freeview, taking advantage of the beautiful scenery in to the valley. As we walked away there was a sudden whirring noise and a model helicopter took off with a camera attached underneath - it went right over the top of us, causing Hugo and Pip to spin round trying to watch it's progress and getting very excited in general. So, if you see an advert on Freeview where you can see a fat lady in a blue and white striped top with two bears prancing around and a herd of cows close by - its us!!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

River walk

Getting their feet wet
My eldest son, Daniel, wanted a lift on Thursday so I said I would put the dogs in the car and take them up on the Common after dropping him off. Instead he suggested he would take us to some fields at the back of the houses where he was going and so introduced us to a fantastic place that is only a mile from home which I did not know existed despite having lived here for 27 years!

Getting braver
Pip almost swimming!
We parked the car up and walked over a bridge and then through a kissing gate in to the first field which was quite overgrown with just a track going through it. Not a soul in site and the dogs, Pip in particular, loved the tall grass to bound through and sniff out wonderful new smells. Through the next field Daniel took us slightly off track and showed us a beautiful little river, fairly shallow with a sandy beach to stand on. Hugo was straight there, drinking down the clear, sparkling water and even Pip, who is always a little cautious about getting her feet wet, had a quick slurp. We walked on further through a couple of other fields with luscious green grass, completely remote from roads or buildings in brilliant, warm sunshine. It was absolutely beautiful and I couldn't believe that I did not know about this place before - I suspect the locals keep it very much secret! We walked for a good mile and then headed back but made sure that we went back to the little beach we had found on the way through so the dogs could have a drink before we got back in the car. Hugo was straight in the water and you could see the happy look on his face as he waded up stream, lapping the water as he went. He is normally happy to paddle in the water so long as it does not touch his tummy so there was nothing unusual in this at all. Then, much to our surprise, Miss Pip edged her way in too, very gingerly at first but getting braver and braver. She was grinning from ear to ear and found that the water varied in depth and was in raptures when she found a spot that almost covered her. Very gently she raised one front paw and then the other and she was very nearly swimming. In the end Pip was much wetter than Hugo and they had a glorious time, cooling off in the water. An absolutely magical walk which we, no doubt, will be doing again.

A couple of weeks ago someone had scraped a hole in the duvet cover on our bed so I went and bought a new one. At the same time I bought a lovely soft, fleecy throw to put on the bed when we weren't in it to, hopefully, protect the covers beneath. On Friday morning Martin (my OH) had fun and games trying to put the throw on the bed because Madame (Miss Pip) thought it was fun to lie on the bed and then push the cover off every time he tried to put it on but he eventually managed it. Martin went to work and I went shopping - I only left them for an hour but when I came back and went upstairs I found the cover had been scrunched up across the bed. As I pulled it straight I found two holes in it .......Pip!!!!!!!

Hugo has always had a fear of Hoovers  towels and hair-dryers but I have now found another way to get him to vacate the living room - simply produce a brush and he is off in seconds. He stands in the doorway, tail wagging, but refusing to come back in when you call him and then slinks off upstairs.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Growing up.

Hugo & Pip at Paws in the Park Birmingham

On Sunday Hugo and Pip took us to Paws in the Park in Birmingham to meet up with all their friends from Akita Rescue and Welfare. We had a brilliant day and the rain held off - the dogs were all very well behaved and as long as we kept Hugo, Obi, Princess Tia and Tyson apart (all like to be dominant) there were no issues. The dogs were particularly happy that the ARW stand was right next to the burger van and tasty scraps of food were on hand throughout the day. It was at this very event one year ago that we met Pip for the first time and a few weeks later came home with us for good. We can't believe how much she has grown in that time. Needless to say we had two very tired bears in the car on the way home and they forewent any offers of tea or walks before bedtime (think the burgers might have suppressed their appetites anyway!).

As you may already know we have a Fiat Panda which is not the biggest car in the world but we love it. When Hugo and Pip travel in the car it has always been a bit of a concern how close they are to the driver and Hugo, in particular, likes to stand breathing down your neck. For safety reasons we have been looking at different car guards and decided to try a net instead and it was on this journey to Paws in the Park that we tried it out. Hugo was not impressed but found he could put his head over with his chin resting on top of the net - it did keep him back a bit and it would have stopped them flying through the gap if we had to stop suddenly so think it will do the trick. Later in the week Toby raised it up a bit but naughty Hugo found this position was far better and he could worm his way underneath so it's back to the original way from now on! 

Hugo behind the net in the car - not impressed!

Chilling out on the journey home
As I have been off work for the last fortnight I have been continuing with taking Hugo and Pip up on to Selsley Common each day on my own. Following some comments with our Akita friends I wanted to try and be a bit more relaxed when approaching other dogs. Up to now I have tended to reign Hugo and Pip right in, standing still with them held close to me until it is safe to let them go on a longer lead again. Was this making them (Hugo more than Pip) anxious and more determined to try and get to the other dogs? On Monday I set off and we first met a man with two off-lead dogs - a whippet and a terrier - who made a bee line for Hugo and Pip. I shortened the leads but kept on walking - fortunately these were a friendly pair and just wanted to play so after a few darts backwards and forwards daring each other from all four parties we passed without any problems. Sigh of relief! We did not meet anyone else until we were on the way back to the car when a woman with three small dogs, all off-lead, approached. Two of them took no notice whatsoever of Hugo and Pip but the third, a border terrier, rushed straight up to Hugo and stopped right in front of him. I stopped walking and Hugo put out one big paw and batted the dog with it - the dog rolled over but then came straight back, snarling and barking round Hugo's nose. Hugo behaved impeccably and seemed rather bemused - I kept walking and he came too whilst the terrier ran back to it's owner. Pip hadn't taken any notice of any of them so I was really proud of them. Stupid woman owner though, not once did she call the dogs back and didn't utter a word throughout so I bit my tongue and stayed silent too. 
The day we met Pip last year

I don't know whether it is because I am walking Hugo and Pip more myself but Hugo is suddenly becoming very affectionate and wants to sit right up close to me, pivoting his head back and round, like an owl, so I can rub his chin for him. Pip has always been a cuddle monster but Hugo is usually more aloof so this is lovely. I do have one little problem with him at the moment and I am sure he just does it to tease me - I always take a glass of water to bed with me and every morning he tries to take a slurp out of it, 9 times out of 10 just licking the edge of the glass leaving a slobbering trail, disgusting dog! This is made worse by the fact that Miss Pip has educated him in where to get a drink during the night without having to go downstairs - out the toilet!

The same event, one year on
Pip has re-acquainted herself with the delights of hiding under the decking - she hasn't been under there for a while but we had a moment of panic earlier this week when we suddenly realised she was missing. We had been sitting out in the garden and thought she had wondered back in the house but when we went in she was not there. After a quick search upstairs she was no where to be found until Toby went up the garden and she squeezed her way out to meet him! Must remember to look there first in the future.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

We'll protect you!

Can't believe it's been a month since the last time we posted on here, where does the time go to?

Stalking the cows on Selsley Common
Hugo and Pip have been enjoying their late evening walks and it has been so refreshing going out when the weather is cooler and there are no people around - just the cows to contend with! Pip is getting braver and will stand and look at them without cowering (no pun intended) behind us but Hugo prances towards them, ears pricked and alert and his main aim seems to be to make them move off. One of  these days he is going to get a shock when he meets a braver cow and I wonder if he would be the same if there wasn't a lead attached which he knows will check him before he gets too close.

A couple of weeks ago the weather changed and we had a few thundery shows. They do not seem to bother Hugo or Pip at all which is great when so many other poor dogs are terrified. The other morning I was awoken by a crash of thunder and the lightening was crackling all around - Pip was still fast asleep but where was Hugo? Behind the curtain hanging out of the bedroom window watching it all!

Taking a breather at the show
At the end of July Toby and I took Hugo and Pip to Suki's Canine Rescue Crew Dog Show near Stratford on Avon. Rather than taking my small car we borrowed Martin's (my OH) so there was plenty of room in the back for them without them breathing down my neck. We met up with lots of other members of Akita Rescue and Welfare and had a great day with all the dogs being beautifully behaved. At one point a group photo was taken and I think I counted 25 Akitas all together - absolutely brilliant. We are looking forward to the next meet at Paws in the Park in Birmingham next weekend. Needless to say Hugo and Pip were exhausted by all the excitement and didn't even eat their tea that evening and certainly didn't want to go out for a walk!

Exhausted with all the walking
When we first had Hugo I had no problem taking him for a walk on my own but since Pip came in to our lives I did not feel confident enough to take the two of them together. This last

week, though, I decided to brave it and drove them up to Selsley Common where you can park the car right on the edge. There is plenty of space up there so you have time to get them under control when you see someone coming and there are no trees for them to wrap you round. It was brilliant and they behaved beautifully, even letting me stand still to take a couple of photos and I even managed to make Hugo sit when a couple of spaniels approached. I don't think I could quite manage on my own with them on a pavement alongside a road or along the canal where there are always cyclists and other dog walkers but it felt quite exhilarating to go solo with them so I can see this becoming a regular thing.

On Thursday night Martin was away from home and so was Daniel, my eldest lad, who was dog sitting for his friends while they were on holiday. (Their dog, Bret, is Hugo's arch enemy and you can read about when they met in the blog entitled 'A lover not a fighter' back in April). Toby slept in the shed (that is NOT as bad as it sounds!) so that left me in the house with Hugo and Pip for the night. They always sleep upstairs anyway and occasionally get on the bed although they don't tend to stay long. That night Hugo got up and lay down on Martin's side of the bed and was still there when I went to sleep. When I woke yesterday morning I felt the lump next to me and though he was still there but, no, Miss Pip was there instead - I think they must have changed guard during the night! Nice to be protected. We had to get up at 5.30am because Toby had to leave the house by 6am to go to work so, with no one else left at home, he took Hugo and Pip out for a quick morning walk at 5.45am - Hugo just got up, stretched and was ready for the off but Pip was not impressed. As soon as they were home she was straight back to bed.
Play with me Hugo!

They got their own back this morning though as both were away at 6am, huffing and jumping on and off the bed - yes, OK we ARE awake! I went and made tea and got Hugo and Pip some of their biscuits (for that's what they were wanting) and we went back to bed. I heard some birds making a commotion in the garden and Hugo and Pip flew downstairs and outside to investigate. I didn't think much more of it until I was in the kitchen later on and the same think happened - I was just in time to see them chasing off a sparrow hawk out of the Viburnum bush where the sparrows live. Although Hugo and Pip don't like the sparrows daring to come in to our garden they certainly weren't going to let anybody else have them!