My bark is much worse than my bite

I’ve had a holiday!

I’ve been to the vets – twice.

I’ve also been assessed regarding some of my more unfortunate habits.  This was as a consequence of my managing to escape when the garden gate blew open.  I ran and ran.  So did my Dad.  My Mum picked up the bags and my lead and set off at a brisker than usual trot to try to find me and my Dad.  To be fair, I did actually turn round and stop eventually, but by that time my Dad was not best pleased, was bent double and making strange couching noises.    I was brought home in disgrace and left in no doubt about how disappointed they were in me.  I do sad dog face so well.

My Mum hit the internet with a vengeance and booked us up with a man who would visit and do some work with all three of us regarding my pulling, woofing at cyclists, joggers and delivery men, and my growling at random things and people. I don’t have a problem with any of these behaviours but apparently my humans do.

Back to the holiday first though.

I got quite excited about all the suitcases littered around the house, and observed with great interest the animated discussions about what needed to be taken and what didn’t.  I had my own rucksack, sports bag and bag of bedding, not to mention a newly stocked treats box and enough food to last me the week.  The hotel was supposed to supply me with meals but my Boy wasn’t sure if they would have food that was good enough for me (preens and grins).

I went out for a run with my Dad at tea time on the day before we were due to leave and I trod on a thorn.  The combined efforts of my Mum, my  Dad and my Boy couldn’t get it out, so at ten o’clock that night I was taken off to the emergency vets.  Oh the smells.  Sheer heaven for a scent hound like me.

I liked the vet and the nurse.  I didn’t like the sounds or what happened to the other animals that were emergencies that night.  There was a sweet greyhound that had a heart attack and died, a bunny that was savaged by a fox and an old cat whose legs went.  Four patients and I was the only one that came out alive.  The nurse kept apologising to my Mum and Dad but I don’t think they minded the wait – a thorn in the paw was very trivial  compared to what happened to  the other patients that night.

When it was my turn they put on my Hannibal Lecter mask in case I bit anyone.  I didn’t.  I just pulled the mask off in disgust.  The lady vet took me off into a back room to have some local anaesthetic put on my paw and within a few minutes I was back with my Mum and my Dad.  The nurse brought the thorn with her – it was 6mm long and hurt like hell coming out.  I had an antibiotic injection and a course of pills because we were going away for a week and wouldn’t be able to come back for a check up.  Then they gave us the bill.    All I can say is that it was a good job we didn’t go there after midnight because the tariff was even steeper.  My Mum and Dad didn’t seem to mind though, they were just pleased that I was alright.

We bought my Boy a Maccie D’s on the way home but even though I was a frightfully brave dog and deserved to be spoiled, he still didn’t give me any of his fries.  He can be very strict sometimes.

Despite the late night, we were all up very early next morning and I watched with interest as my Dad and my Boy packed up the car.  The cottage we were staying in didn’t have a washing machine, and as my Mum said that she had no intention of spending her holiday sitting in a launderette, she had to bring quite a lot of clothes with her.  This caused some grumbling from my Dad and my Boy who failed to understand why my Mum needed so many clothes.  She told them that it was a woman thing and to get over it.

It was a long journey down to Cornwall but I was very good.  My bed was on the floor between my Boy’s seat and the seat that I let the Other Boy use when he was home.  The cover has now been put back on it and I can drool on the window to my heart’s content. We made four stops allowing me to poo, pee and woof my way down the country.  I also allowed my humans to stop and eat and do whatever humans do when they disappear off into a motorway service station.

By the time we arrived at the hotel my Mum and my Boy were tired and emotional, which meant that they were snipping at each other.  My Dad was just tired from all that driving.  It didn’t help that the cottage we were staying in was miles from the car park and all the luggage had to be transported in wicker baskets on wheels.  My Mum took charge of me and we followed the parade of my Dad, the lady porter and my grumbling Boy, all loaded down with luggage.

It was a nice cottage though.  Very Scooby friendly with NO stairs.  The hotel staff even left special treats for me,  a pile of pooh bags and some old but clean bedspreads to put over the furniture.  I explored the whole cottage – except for the two en-suite bathrooms – I don’t do bathrooms – that’s where humans make smells and try to wash you.

My Mum started to look happier.  She could see the sea, and we had a nice little walled garden with chairs and a table.  The sun was shining and once everyone had eaten the world looked rosy again.

We were on holiday!

For three days it was sunny and I went for long walks on the headland, shorter walks on the beach and was let off the lead in a little cove with only one way out.  My Mum and my Dad sneaked off to the hotel and had cocktails – not sure what they are but they make my Mum smile a lot.

They took me to a place called Lands End.  My Boy and I were not impressed.  There were coach loads of foreign tourists and people with small yapping dogs.  It was a relief to get back in the car.

Because it was their special anniversary (no idea – it’s a human thing) my Boy and I let my Mum and my Dad out for a special dinner at the hotel too.  I think they had more of those cocktail things because they both came back smiling and singing songs that made my Boy pull his disgusted face.  My Mum and my Dad giggled.

The weather kind of went downhill after that but my Dad – and sometimes my Boy if he was awake – made sure that I had lots of walks.  My Mum came too sometimes but her poorly toe still means she can’t walk as far as my Dad and my Boy.

One morning when I was out with my Dad I smelled the most delicious smell on the grass and had to roll and roll and roll in it.  As soon as my Dad and I walked back into the cottage my Mum wrinkled up her nose and said “Ugh – fox pooh!”

My Dad is a novice dog owner and had never smelled fox pooh before.  It is not a smell he will ever forget now.

I was taken out into the garden where – in somewhat wet and windy conditions – my Mum and my Dad applied shampoo and scrubbed me down from head to foot.  I love it when they rub you dry with a towel.  My collar and harness had to be washed  and my Mum received a heartfelt apology from my Dad because although the car had been packed too full with luggage, it meant that she had remembered to bring towels, brushes and special shampoo for me.

We went to a place called Mousehole  the next day but the only cats and mice I saw were stuffed ones.  We sat in the car, in the rain and the humans ate fish and chips, apparently they are VERY bad for dogs.  A cheeky seagull perched on our car and I wanted it SO much. I woofed and growled a great deal. My Mum promised that she’d look for a stuffed one for me.  She looked but the best she could come up with was a stuffed penguin.  Epic Fail.  I chewed it once then tucked it under a blanket and forgot about it.

I was deserted on the last night of our holiday.  The three of them went off to the hotel and had dinner – and more of those cocktail things.  I was overjoyed when they returned though.  They were equally overjoyed to find that I had been very good and not damaged the furniture, weed or poohed anywhere whilst they were out.  I fell asleep.

Tempers were rather frayed the next morning when my humans had to get the luggage back to the car.  We had acquired some extra bits and pieces and I cringed slightly whilst my Boy stomped off to the car and my Mum and my Dad had WORDS.

They made friends again though.  They never stay angry at each other for long.

We were making a couple of detours on the way home.  The first was to a tank museum – for the Boy.  My Mum and I stayed in the car and listened to a comedian on her Kindle thing.  She laughed a lot and I looked wistfully out of the window, missing my Dad and my Boy. It made my Boy very happy though, he’s rather into guns and tanks and things that make loud noises.

When they came back we made our way to see my Mum’s sister and her husband.  He is very tall and she isn’t, and I could tell straight away that they were dog lovers.  I didn’t woof or growl and although I would have liked to stay out in their garden and chase the pigeons, I was impeccably behaved.  I ate my dinner and eventually nodded off whilst the humans ate their dinners and talked.  I like having relatives.

At last we were on our way home.  It rained and apparently we shared the motorways with vast numbers of football fans heading North.  I slept for most of the journey, only really waking up when we were about a quarter of a mile from home and the front wheel  got a puncture.  It was very noisy in the car after that, and we crawled home very, very, very slowly.

Luggage was unloaded and left in piles in the living room because the humans just wanted to go to sleep.  I would have preferred to go for walkies or play games but I curled up on my sofa and did the looking-like-I’ve-fallen-asleep-until-they-go-upstairs thing.

I think I liked having a holiday, especially as it meant that I got to walk on sandy beaches and roll in fox pooh – not sure that I’ll get the chance to do that again – especially not with my Mum’s very sensitive sense of smell.

My Dad had a birthday once we were back and the Other Boy came home for a visit.  We are firm friends now – although he doesn’t do walks or feeding me still.  They all went out to dinner again and left me to guard the house.  No one came though so I didn’t even have to woof.  The next morning the Other Boy went back to this Uni place where he lives a lot of the time – and where I’m not allowed to go because they don’t have pets.

I saw another vet in order to get my poor paw checked.  This one was a man and not as pretty or smiley as the emergency vet had been.  He looked at my paw, listened to my heart and clipped my claws.  I didn’t woof or growl once although I was disappointed that there was no lady vet for me to charm.  Nevertheless the vet said that I was a nice dog, my paw had healed and I was in good health – but I could lose a few kilos.

More walkies – happy face – less treats and cut down on amount they give me for dinner – sad face.

The next day was both strange and special.

The Bark Buster man came.

I woofed and growled at him a bit but he just sat down on the sofa and looked at me.  I stopped growling and wagged my tail a little.  He put out a hand, which I sniffed, then I licked his fingers and we were friends.

He spent some time talking to my Mum, my Dad and my Boy and making notes  as he went along.  I got bored and fell asleep by the patio door.

Eventually they put my harness on and we ALL went out for walkies.

I confess.  I pulled – a bit = okay then – a lot.

We walked round the block  – to the amusement of some of our neighbours –  then came to a halt in the cul-de-sac (very French) round the corner.  There were more neighbours out in their gardens and they too were amused by the sight of me being walked up and down the road by the BB man and then all three of my humans.  The idea of this exercise was to stop me pulling by turning round and walking in the opposite direction every time I pulled.

You don’t get very far geographically using this method but being quick on the uptake, I stopped pulling.

I also got introduced to the ‘grunt of disapproval‘.  I don’t like it. I didn’t like it when the BB man did it, I liked it even less when my humans did it.  I prefer to bask in their approval.

Whilst they were busy discussing my behaviour in the middle of the road, I took the opportunity to frighten the living daylights out of a harmless teenage schoolgirl who was visiting nearby.  At least the BB man has seen how scary I can be now.  He didn’t appear to be too impressed though.

So now we all have homework to do.

More of the ‘ road to nowhere’ training  – especially for my Mum – who is still suffering from a poorly shoulder from where I pulled her over.  She is allowed to work with me in the front garden and doesn’t have to feel inadequate if she never gets all the way round the block.

My Boy needs to talk to me and reassure me more.

My Dad needs to continue running with me but has to teach me when to stop running.

We have high happy voice for praise, ordinary voice for commands like ‘sit’ and ‘lie down’, and we have the grunt of disapproval for when I growl or pull too much.

The BB man will come back in a couple of weeks time to see how we are all doing.

Last night I fixated on a cat, growled at another dog and just as we were walking in the gate a cyclist came round the corner and I went ballistic.

Think it is time the BB man paid us another visit.

Stranger on the shore – Scooby makes a friend in ‘Another Place’

Hello there, and humble apologies for staying away so long but my secretary (aka my Mum) has been a bit busy dealing with bureaucrats and halfwits, as well as doing some hefty reading for this Open University thing that prevents her from cuddling me, playing with me and sitting out in the garden in the sunshine (well – not all the time).

So, I have been here twelve weeks now and I am well and truly part of the family 🙂 – especially now that I’ve met the Other Boy – the one that goes to University.  My Mum and Dad brought him back in the middle of the night and after a bit of bribing with doggy treats we have become firm friends.  He doesn’t do walkies or dinners but he says hello to me and tells me to sit – so we have a relationship of sorts.  I wuff at him when he comes out of his room occasionally because I forget that there’s someone in there.  He also objects a bit when I wake him up by barking at the postman and the very nervous parcel delivery man (a dog bit him once so I guess he’s allowed to be a bit scared of my wuffing).  My Mum is so worried about me traumatising the postman that she’s bought a postbox and nagged my Dad into drilling holes in the wall and hanging in it up outside.  It was not a very nice day weatherwise.  I hope that postman is grateful – I quite liked trying to catch his fingers when they poked through the letterbox 😦

I have also been introduced to the Computer Man – who is an adopted member of the family. I grrrrr-ed at him a bit too when we first met but gravy bones can work wonders.

My family is beginning to learn more about me; most important of all is that I can be a bit unpredictable.  They were beginning to build up a picture of the kind of person I am likely to wuff at –  the problem is – I keep moving the goalposts.  Not only do I wuff at bright fluorescent jacket people (especially wheelie bin men) but I got a bit aggressive towards a nice old lady in a yellow rain jacket too (only verbally – my Mum was holding onto me very tightly).

Bicycles – mmmmm – I don’t wuff at my Boy’s bike when he leaves it in the garden – sometimes I ignore bicycles when they come past me in the road but on other occasions I go a bit ballistic.  The other day when going out in the car with my Mum and my Dad, a harmless lady in a pink bike helmet rode past and I went off on one again.  No rhyme or reason – don’t ask me – I’m just a dog.  We have established though that I don’t actually have a thing about cats – my reaction to a rabbit legging it across a field has confirmed that it is small fast-moving animals that push my buttons.  I don’t like cats but as long as they are stationary, I will behave. Promise.

I love going out in the car – even if we don’t end up with a decent walk – I just love the drive and the sticking my nose out of the window.  The Other Boy has objected to me getting HIS car seat hairy and grubby so I now have a special cover to put on the seat.  It’s a bit slippy though and if my Dad drives fast we end up finding out just how far my car harness extends (only a few feet luckily).

We went on another trip to the beach – it was the one my Mum and Dad first took me to when the tide was in.  This time it was out and there were men.  Men; just standing.  My Dad took me up to one and I was a bit wary at first – although I didn’t wuff.  I sniffed, wagged my tail and christened his leg but he still didn’t move.  Weird.  All those men and they all looked the same.  I loved the beach though and my Dad and I ran and ran and ran.  They we came back to my Mum who was waiting very patiently with the doggy treats – Yay!

They have this thing called Easter when people eat chocolate eggs – a definite no-no for us dogs but my Mum being the big softy that she is, bought me  special dog egg.  She and my Dad went off for two days on a mercy mission, leaving me to look after the house and the two boys – who forgot to give me my egg.  They remembered their own of course.  My Mum gave me the egg when they got back but it had been left in the sun and was rather melted.  It tasted nice though and I was so pleased to see them back again that I have forgiven the boys (who stayed in bed nearly ALL day – but I promised not to tell – oops).

We are going on a dog-friendly holiday in a couple of weeks.  My Dad booked the holiday to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary (they stay together a long time these humans).  It was supposed to be a romantic week away in a seaside cottage in Cornwall.  Guess who’s coming with them?  Yep!  I am.  And the Boy.  The Other Boy will be back at Uni by then.  My Mum says the cottage is right next to the beach and I will be able to run and run and run every day.  It will be a long car journey (with lots of stops for yours truly to wee and wuff), and on the way back I will be meeting more of my family; I expect they will be well-briefed about my wuffing habit and supplied with doggy treats.

So, that’s been my life for the past six weeks or so.  We have a proper routine now.  My Mum and I still play hunting for treats first thing when all the others are asleep (or gone to work in my Dad’s case), then she takes me into the front garden for a wee.  Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago an uppity husky-type dog ran into our garden and I was so anxious to sort it out that I took my Mum by surprise and pulled her over on the grass.  She did something nasty to her shoulder and it is taking along time to heal so it’s up to my Dad and my Boy to take me for walks – she sometimes comes out with me and my Dad but this thing that we can’t mention has made her a bit stressed and anxious and she worries that her anxiety makes me more prone to wuffing and growling at strangers – because I have to protect her you see.  After I’ve been outside I curl up next to her on the sofa whilst she eats her breakfast and watches the news (she shouts at the TV sometimes but I don’t mind).

My Dad and I run most of the time when we go out,  and considering he was a bit hesitant about taking me on, he loves me lots and I love him too.  My Boy is a bit more strict with me and doesn’t let me pull when we go out but he also comes down in the middle of the night and we sit together on the sofa watching ‘Storage Hunters’ and programmes about guns.  He is my Boy and always will be.  He might be going away on a course after the summer and I overheard him say to my Mum (yes, I know I shouldn’t eavesdrop but what else is a dog to do?) “What about my dog if I go away?  Would you still keep him?’  My ears pricked up and my heart beat faster.  My Mum told him not to be so daft; she said that I was a part of the family now and nothing would ever change that.

Got my paws well and truly under the table.  I promise to try not to wuff at people so much – or growl at harmless but yappy little dogs.