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!