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.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Night Time Manoeuvres!


Evidence of the destroyed trellis!

Pip on Hedgehog watch!

Hugo, Pip and Toby

Hugo has been a bit of a nightmare lately, mainly because he is terrified of flies. He thinks it is safer out in the garden, not realising that this is where the dreaded pests come from. Unfortunately, this also includes night time and, after several nights of enticing him in, only to be kept awake until the early hours with him pacing, scratching at doors and huffing, we gave in and have been leaving the back door open. This has worked fine and he normally comes inside at some stage during the night but he knows he has his escape route. Miss Pip is quite content to take up her usual sleeping position on the duvet on the floor at the foot of our bed, occasionally sneaking up on to the bed in the small hours in the hope we won't notice. 

Leaving the door open was no problem until the other night when Martin was awoken at about 1.00am with both dogs scrabbling to get outside. He suddenly realise that neither of them had returned some time later so he went to investigate. He saw Hugo on the patio outside the back door standing over 'something' that he had obviously been sniffing around as he had created a wet patch all around it. Miss Pip was on the steps up on to the lawn, also taking keen interest in something on the ground in front of her. What were these strange creatures of the night - hedgehogs! Needless to say Martin made both Hugo and Pip come in the house and shut the door firmly behind them. Highly unusual for me, I slept through all of this but a very short time after this had happened I heard Pip do one of her low 'woofs', not the one she uses when someone is coming in the house that will make you leap of of your skin, but the one to get your attention if she wants to go up the garden. I heard Toby go and open the door for her as it had woken him too and thought no more about it until Martin told me in the morning what had happened the night before! 

Hedgehog spines!
Hugo and Pip among the buttercups
Ever since then Hugo and Pip have been obsessed with looking for their spiky friends and are dashing around, sniffing under every thing they can get to and generally being very hyper. The first thing I did when I heard what they had found was to check Hugo and Pip for any unwanted little visitors - I always remember a dog we had when I was growing up that had sniffed around a hedgehog and his head was literally crawling with fleas afterwards! Fortunately, there was no sign of anything and they seem to have been let off lightly. Not so the trellis that sits on the back of our decking just a few inches from the fence that divides us from our neighbours! When I got home from work that night I noticed on the decking several strips of broken wood. On further investigation I discovered where they had come from - yes the trellis! The little darlings have created rather a large hole in it which gives them easy access to the hedgehog highway which runs between the deck and the fence. We were not amused! Needless to say the hole is now blocked and, as Hugo and Pip seem to have calmed down a bit, we rather suspect the hedgehogs have gone to pastures new. They may be very good at eating slugs and snails in the garden but I, for one, am not upset they have departed.

The tale does not end there. This morning I was pottering round the garden and was picking up some leaves and pulling weeds that were on the steps leading up on to the lawn. I was wearing gloves but suddenly felt a sharp stab in my thumb. Still embedded in my flesh, through the glove, was a hedgehog spine and I found a couple more lying on the step. It is very surprising that Hugo and Pip did not suffer any injuries from their encounter with the hedgehogs as they obviously got close enough to cause some spines to fall out - let's hope they have learned a lesson but I somehow doubt it!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Spring catch up!

Once again time has been speeding by and it has been two months since I last wrote so I think it is time for a catch up.

Hugo and Pip made their usual appearance at Crufts in March, representing Akita Rescue & Welfare Trust on the breed rescue stand and spent  four hours being petted and loved by hundreds of people who came to the stand. As is normal at any event at the N.E.C. we had to park quite some distance from the buildings and thought we would have a long trek in. Not so this time as there was a conveniently timed shuttle bus that was virtually empty just waiting to pick us up. This was a first for Pip (Hugo having being taken on the local bus by Daniel when he was younger) so Toby and I were interested to see how they would react. Apart from the fact there was another dog just inside the entrance that Hugo would have dearly liked to 'play' with we made our way to the back of the bus where Hugo and Pip had a grand view of everything we passed and they sat down beautifully watching the world go by. Success! We had a slight moment of panic when we got just inside the building which was chock-a-block with people, dogs and loud noises. Hugo and Pip had their head collars on and we held them very close to us but Hugo must have suddenly felt overwhelmed by his surroundings and tried to back away, slipping his head out of his collar as he went! Fortunately, Toby was right behind me with Pip and we managed to grab him and get the collar back on before he escaped. After that the day went very smoothly and they behaved brilliantly - they were so exhausted and so relaxed towards the end of our stint on the stand that they both lay down and went to sleep despite the loud speakers blaring out every few minutes and people trying to stroke them.

On the same weekend as Crufts Martin went into hospital for a knee replacement and we were worried how Hugo and Pip would be around him when he came home. They tend to get excited and playful, especially in the evening, and we had visions of them crashing into his bad leg or tripping him over. We have been very pleased that they have done none of these things and have been very gentle when near him. When he first got home they took turns in climbing up on the settee next to him, Hugo even laying his head over Martin's leg as if to protect it. Pip, being the woman that she is, decided she did not like that nasty hospital smell and proceeded to wash his hands and arms until it was gone. Martin was always the one who took Hugo and Pip for their first walk of the day, albeit only a short one and we were surprised when Daniel took on this role without being asked - those of you that know him will understand what a miracle that is! Pip has always being wary of Daniel and barks every time he comes in but since he has been walking them she has begun to like him and now woo-woo's at him bringing a toy as a present when he comes through the door so some good had come out of it.

Just two weeks ago we went up to Sutton Coldfield for an ARW pack walk and we had a most enjoyable time around the lack and woods. Toby and his girlfriend, Steph, came too and I can honestly say this is the best pack walk I have ever been on because I let them take Hugo and Pip whilst I took photos and chatted to the others - I think Hugo and Pip enjoyed it too with younger legs taking them at a quicker pace.

Martin and I took Hugo and Pip to one of the places we used to take the boys very often when they were younger but haven't been for years -  to the Cotswold Water Park at Ashton Keynes. Martin still cannot walk far so we left him at the lakeside coffee shop and Hugo, Pip and I set off around the lake. After a brief stop to drink out of the lake (Hugo and Pip, not me) we followed the path through shaded paths with not a soul in sight. At the far end of the lake there were gaps in the undergrowth where Hugo and Pip could creep down and paddle in the cool water. As we rounded the lake, almost back to where we had started, 
the vegetation thinned out and there was a wide 'beach' where Hugo and Pip took great delight in  wadding through the waves that the wind had whipped up. I didn't feel we had gone quite far enough on such a pleasant day so instead of walking the last 100 yards to meet Martin at the coffee shop, we turned around and did the route in reverse. A good two mile walk with no-one to bother us at all so one that we all thoroughly enjoyed. Next time we might consider the other lake which joins that one and is two miles round. We rounded off our time there with a cool drink on the terrace over looking the lake where Hugo and Pip lay down, exhausted from their activities. Not much movement from them even now but there is that very familiar smell of wet dog!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Needles, Fresh Air and Kissing it Better!

Hugo & Pip think this is THEIR bed!
Hugo relaxing!
Horizontal rain!
Last week saw that annual event dreaded by all our canine friends - a trip to the V.E.T. for the yearly vaccinations. Hugo has never had an issue with the vets and actually seems to like going, putting his feet up on the counter to announce his arrival to the receptionists and looking to see if the resident cat dares to stand it's ground. Miss Pip, on the other hand, is terrified. Martin had to go with Hugo and Pip on his own this time so he was stretched (literally) to the limit with Hugo pulling in through the door and Pip dragging behind. Once inside Pip set up her wining/howl that makes everyone very much aware she is NOT happy! The door to the surgery opened and the lady vet and nurse called them in - Hugo went in at the mention of his name but Pip dug her heels in and would not budge. The crafty nurse 
Hugo waiting for the rain to pass
rattled the treat tin and she shot in - food wins the day!

The vet was pleased with them and thought they were both very healthy, Pip with a particularly strong heartbeat (probably thumping because she was scared!), and they both received their inoculations without a murmur (albeit with Pip hiding her head between Martin's legs while it was stuck in her). After lots of fuss and attention from the nurse Pip relaxed and seemed to quite enjoy the attention. Martin also picked up some worming tablets which we had the joy of getting Hugo and Pip to take later that day. Miss Pip was no problem and swallowed hers but, no matter how far we shoved them down Hugo's throat, he managed to spit them up again a few minutes later. Eventually we managed to get the much-disintegrated soggy tablets to stay down and Hugo and Pip spent the rest of the evening fast asleep. Job done.

Pip waiting for the rain to pass
Came home from work the other day to find the kitchen towel up the garden and dirty paw prints on the glass door of the microwave - hmmmm!

Hugo is thrilled because we have started to leave the bedroom window open a crack at night. The only problem is that is isn't quite wide enough for his liking (we have sliding windows) and he puts his nose in and thrusts it open wider so he can hang out and watch the world go by. The only problem with this is that I wake up in the middle of the night, freezing cold and blinded by the street light outside because there he is, curtain rucked up, watching the local cats or hedgehogs in the street.

Ready to go home
Today I have almost lost my voice - no reason, I am not ill but I sound very croaky. As I went upstairs to change after work Hugo came with me and I was talking to him as usual. He leapt on the bed, stared me straight in the eye, cocking his head from side to side and then tried to lick my mouth - think he was trying to kiss it better!

We went up to Minchinhampton Common tonight and arrived just as the heavens opened and the rain poured down - horizontally because the wind was so strong. We could see it was only a shower so we waited in the car until it was over - Hugo and Pip were not amused because they wanted to get out there whatever the weather! We did not give in this time though and, apart from the freezing cold wind, enjoyed a walk in brilliant sunshine without getting wet.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Fresh Fields.

Well, once again, life has been flying by and I suddenly realise it has been a very long time since I last posted back in November. Since then we have had Christmas, New Year and another Akita Rescue & Welfare pack walk (without Hugo getting wet this time!). 

As Selsley Common (our usual walking place) has been so cold and windy lately we have found an alternative place for walking Hugo and Pip, especially as it gets so dark by the time we get home from work. Believe it or not it is at the Stonehouse Town Football club playing fields and they are only a mile or so away from where we live but we have never been there before. We came across them by chance one evening when Toby had a Doctors appointment in Stonehouse and I was going out later so we needed to fit in a quick walk somewhere and we thought the playing field might be suitable. We have often passed the club but had not realised the extent of the fields because there is a large play area and skateboard ramp on the roadside so you do not see beyond.

The club consists of several pitches and there are poo bins every few hundred yards - those of you with dogs will know how much that is appreciated - what is more they are empty and clean. Right at the far end is a lovely little stream where Hugo and Pip like to paddle and there are fields beyond the pitches that we will have to explore in warmer weather. Hugo and Pip have a wonderful time there, made even more appealing because there is hardly a soul in sight. The ground is a little boggy underfoot but, hey, that's a small price to pay for a totally stress free walk!

We have been there quite often over the last couple of weeks and have been trying to do a bit of training with treats - mainly to just get Hugo and Pip's (but mainly Hugo's) attention when we are out walking and they see another dog. Hugo just pulls when he sees one and wants to go and play (at least that's what we hope he wants to do!) and it is very hard to get him to even notice you are with him. Miss Pip, on the other hand, as soon as she hears the treat packet rustle rushes over and throws herself at you, sitting, giving paw, giving double paw, anything that might get her a treat.

Pip often has a mad five minutes when we walk but she seems to be doing this more so lately and charges as poor Hugo, tying him up in knots - Toby thinks it might be because he is looking at another lady dog in the far distance and she is telling him off! A little worrying though is they both keep trying to eat the sand that has been spread over muddy patches round the goal and side lines and we have to keep pulling them away - Pip is worse than Hugo and rushes to get to the sand when she sees it, trying to gobble as much up before we pull her away!

A couple of years ago my boss found a toy Husky dog in a charity shop and bought it for me. This sits on the side in the living room and Hugo and Pip know they are not allowed to touch it, although it has mysteriously lost it's nose at some point. However, I couldn't help but laugh the other day when I received the following email and a photo from Toby:

Hi mum,
I regret to inform you that the toy husky has been playing up the garden with Hugo and Pip and has sustained some war wounds.Toby x

Oh, dear, poor Husky - he looks very sad and bedraggled now and I don't think he will every quite recover! Hugo and Pip showed no remorse whatsoever when I questioned them and actually seemed quite proud of what they had done.

Last week Hugo suddenly had very red eyes and we were rather worried about him. We could not get an appointment at the vet for a week or more so followed the advise of a friend - bathe his eyes in cold tea. Hugo does not mind this at all and they have vastly improved so there is something to be said for home remedies and I will certainly remember this one. Hugo and Pip are due their annual vaccinations and are booked in to the vet this week so we will get them to check his eyes anyway but I am quite happy with them. 

I let Hugo and Pip up the garden the other morning and left them out there while I was making my breakfast. I looked out and could see Pip standing on the decking up the garden sniffing the air, her head proudly in the air on the prowl for the squirrel, I suspect, Of Hugo there was no sign. As I was quickly scanning the garden trying to see him a black bird suddenly shot out from the side of the shed with Hugo in hot pursuit - in your dreams Hugo, you do not stand a chance of catching it!

I had a bit of a tidy up this morning and removed all the empty pop bottles from Hugo and Pip's toy box which was beginning to resemble the recycling bin. There did not seem to be many toys left so I went off in search and found the garden looked like an explosion in a toy factory - not nice, very gruesome, with head and legs and stuffing all over the place. I went around and picked up a few of the less damaged things and popped them back in the toy box. Within seconds the darling pair dashed in, snatched one out and started playing tug-of-war with it, ripping it to shreds and leaving stuffing all over the freshly swept carpet. Love them really!