Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Dog

Happy 5th birthday Bracken

Today is Bracken’s 5th birthday, which I guess means that he’s entering into his 30’s in human years and so should be settling down and starting to think about having a family now that he can’t hack the pace of the Friday night partying. Except of course that he’s a Springer so he mainly behaves as if he’s a puppy still and will happily go for a long afternoon walk even if I’ve run 7 miles with him in the morning.

He is such a fab dog though and despite the fact his tail wagging to greet you could knock an elephant over even though you only popped up stairs to grab a jumper he really is ever so gentle with the children. They’ve both grown up with him so think nothing of clambering over him or when they were little pulling his ears and trying to sit on him. He never bats an eyelid and has never once even growled at them. In fact more often that not you’ll find him curled up right next to Matilda when she’s sat watching TV.

He is of course also my running buddy, the one who gets me out of bed at 6am every day no matter what the weather. I wouldn’t have done half as much running if I didn’t have him as a reason to get out the house. I love being out on the trails with him exploring, even if it is pitch black and all I can see of him is the light on his collar.

He’s not perfect though, he does have a tendency to roll in things when we’re out running. Something he does more often if he hasn’t had enough walks for a few days, punishment for me perhaps? I’m not entirely sure what is worst; rolling in fox/deer poo or the rotting carcass of a dead animal he’s found. Both are pretty bloody disgusting but I guess that’s his inner wild dog coming out.

But we wouldn’t be without him and it does feel very odd on the few occasions when we’ve been home and he’s not here. So Happy Birthday Bracken and I hope you enjoy your mackerel for you birthday dinner.

Blowing the cobwebs away

Sometimes you need to just get out and feel the almost gale force wind blowing through your hair, jump in some puddles and have running races with your children. We’re outdoors people, you know that already, so a few days of wet weather soon results in cabin fever. Throw in the seemingly never ending wait for a certain little baby to appear, some disrupted sleep and a cold bug and the urge to get outside becomes too much.

Tonight after dinner we put our wellies and waterproofs on and headed out for a tramp down the farm track with Bracken for some much needed fresh air. The children did their biggest jumps into the puddles, we raced with Bracken down the path, we threw crab apples for Bracken to chase and we almost got blown off our feet by the wind.

It was awesome.

Autumn sunset

Jumping in puddles

Playing in puddles

Walking with Bracken

Crufts 2012

As you know I am a doggie lover (no not that kind of doggie lover, that stuff goes on the other blog) and Bracken is most definitely a full member of our family. Having never had a pet let alone a dog growing up it was perhaps surprising that one of the first things we did when we bought our first house was get a dog. But now I can’t imagine not having him around, it’s so nice to come home to a waggling tail, you even get the same treatment by simply going upstairs for 5 minutes.

I love seeing him and Matilda building a relationship, she has already mastered the technique of getting rid of food she doesn’t want in an ever so casual manner as she holds her arm out to the side and lets it drop to the floor. She knows full well that Bracken is under her high chair waiting to snaffle anything the second it touches the floor.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that I am excited about the biggest dog event of the year – Crufts 2012, which takes place from 8th to 11th March at the NEC Birmingham. Quite unbelievably there will be an estimated 26,000 dogs taking part in competitions over the 4 days in the arenas. Plus of course there will be a huge area of over 400 trade stands selling everything you could possibly want for your dog and more.

There will also be experts on hand to answer your questions about health and hygiene, nutrition, training, choosing a breed etc. If you have a dog already or are thinking about getting one then this event is well worth a visit.

Information on tickets can be found by clicking on the following link http://www.crufts.org.uk/ticket-office Children aged 8 and under go free and there are concessionary rates for those aged 9 to 15, making this a relatively inexpensive day out for the family.

If you are interested in going to Crufts do check back here next week when I will have some tickets to give away.

This is a sponsored post, I was asked to write about Crufts but not told what to say, all views and opinions here are my own.

The day the dog wee’d on an antique chair

Yes, that’s right, almost the most expensive wee in history. Yesterday the lady of the manor and I went to Shepton Mallet to an antiques and collectables fair. Given that we now live in a Victorian house we’re trying to buy older furniture rather than Ikea flat packs. So off to the fair we go and as an added bonus we’re allowed to take the hound, which as any dog owner will know makes life a lot easier.

An Arm Chair (Louis XVI.)

Image via Wikipedia

So picture the scene, we walk into the fair dog trotting at our side and we start perusing the stands. As we walk along we stop to look at some tables and out of the corner of my eye I catch Bracken cocking his leg. I yank his lead quickly but too late, the deed has been done and a rather lovely antique arm chair now has a little bit of wee at the bottom. Before I can even contemplate either a) legging it or b) cleaning it before some notices a rather pissed off stall owner appears.

What can you really say in this situation? I apologised profusely and offered to clean it off, the owner however was demanding I buy it. As bad as I felt though, there was no way I was paying £325 for a chair that wasn’t even that nice. So a bit of a stand off ensued, we apologised and helped clean it while he kept ranting. Thankfully he eventually calmed down a little and we walked (quickly) away, with him telling us to put the dog back in the car (on a bright sunny day? I think not). So we then spent the next 2 hours avoiding that part of the fair and constantly worrying what he was going to use for his next toilet.

The clear lesson learned here is that if you want to train your dog to wee in particular place then just put an antique arm chair there. Simples.

The pup’s first birthday

Today is our (not so) little puppy’s birthday; I can’t quite believe that he has been with us since April when he was 6 weeks old. Having said that I also can’t imagine coming home and not being greeted by this ball of fluffy white waggling fur. He gets so excited that his whole body wiggles and he almost moves sideways when he walks towards you.

The first few weeks were absolute chaos trying to train him to wee in the right places and stop him chewing everything. Thankfully he got settled in his crate pretty quickly and within a couple of days was sleeping through the night without any issues. I still remember trying to take a shower on the first day though and him scrabbling and whining to get in with me!

We had our first holiday away with him when he was 13 weeks old and just allowed outside, a week in Padstow was the destination of choice. From the first stop at services to let him out to wee we soon realised that having a dog (and a cute puppy at that) meant that you talked to LOTS of people. Walking down a street in Padstow meant stopping every 10 metres so that someone else could stroke him. He is the friendliest, most cuddly dog in the world who likes nothing more than curling up on the sofa in the evening. Providing he’s had a walk in the morning he is quite content. He loves digging and his favourite game is definitely finding hidden treats, you’ve never seen a tail move so fast!

The next chapter in this story involves him meeting the bean in about 6 weeks time, I’m a little nervous about this and really hope they get on well. It’s certainly going to be a lot of fun having a dog and a toddler running around the house. The lady of the manor has even talked about getting another dog soon, baby first I reckon. So here to celebrate this occasion is a selection of photo’s from the last year.

Male pregnancy hormones?

I’m not an emotional person, I am the Ying to my wife’s ‘I even cry at Neighbours’ Yang, I don’t get overly excited or hyper and definitely don’t get depressed. The lady of the manor and I are a good balance in this regard, until now.

I find myself welling up at the silliest things, be it happy or sad, real or fiction. Show me a dog looking sad a tear forms, same with reading stories about disadvantaged children or hearing my wife tell me about children she has looked after (she’s a nurse). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a blubbering mess or planning on curling up on the sofa to watch sleepless in Seattle. But still it’s worrying.

You hear of men getting fat bellies when their wives are pregnant in some sort of sympathy (bet a man thought up that excuse!). Given that I run every day I have no chance of doing that so do I have sympathy hormones instead?! Or is this just my brain preparing me for the worry to come once I’m a dad? Any other guys out there experience this?

There is potentially a serious side effect of this though, today I found myself looking at the Bath Cats and Dogs home website. God help us if I ever actually visit that place, those dogs are so beautiful and just need a good home to go to. There is a serious danger that wifey will come home one day to find the house full of dogs! I know where we’re definitely getting our next dog from though, next year hopefully we can get a buddy for the brackster, sure he’d love that.

In the mean time I plan to occupy myself with some many activities such as hammering, sawing and measuring stuff with a tape measure. I leave you with a new photo of Bracken who comes back from every walk looking like this…..