Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bathtime at Barkingham Palace

The UK has been blessed with quite a bit of snow in recent weeks. Ellie, like me, loves snow. Afterall, what's not to like? However, as is the way with snow, as it has melted it has left us with several flooded areas along our walk route. That wouldn't be so bad if it was, say, a nice urban route full of tarmac walkways and trees that blow in the gentle sun-kissed breeze. However, it isn't. Our walk route is desolate farm land, with ditches to navigate across, large dips, and a hill that, I swear gets higher with each year.

Now, as any Border Collie owner will tell you, if there is one thing that a Border Collie loves more than a ball, it's running around in mud! The wetter, the gloopier, and the stickier, the better!
After today's walk, Ellie was just a little too filthy for me to be able to ignore it. She had to go in the bath! It was that, or I follow her around the house with a scrubbing brush and towel all day long.

I've bathed Ellie since she was a pup as I didn't want one of those dogs that panics when they see bath. It's fair to say that she's pretty good in the bath. You have to watch her and comfort her, as, I feel sure, given the opportunity, she would jump out and do a runner, making sure to shake the muddy water along her route as she did so, but overall, she's happy to stand there and let me shower her. But her face. Oh, the face! I swear, you would think that I had stolen her first-born from her and fed it to her! She looks an absolutely misery while being showered. And if that isn't bad enough, I then have to blow dry her. By this time, according to her miserable face, I've started feeding her the entire litter!

However, at the end of it, I have a lovely clean Border Collie, complete with dazzling white 'paint-pot' paws and tail. Until tomorrow...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just a Couple of New Tricks in the Making...

Things are picking up at Barkingham Palace. The illness that has been with me since late November has just about gone, thanks to new medication. For the record, it turns out that I probably had swine flu in Nov/Dec (though I thought it was just a bad cold) which left me with something called GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). I don't recommend it! However, I'm very firmly on the mend and that means that training Ellie is picking up again.

Inspired by Silvia Trkman's newest video, I've been knuckling down for the past couple of days and teaching Ellie to tap at the keyboard and wipe the floor. The video at the start of this entry shows progress as of day two. She seems to have really found her mojo again and is being so responsive to training!

We've also been training with my friend, Lucy, and her three dogs, Ash, Indie, and Trent. We've been putting a video together, but weather has prevented us from getting it finalised for this weekend as we had hoped. You may need to wait another week or so now to see that it in all its glory. It's going to be a good 'un!

Enjoy the video, and Silvia's video link is also well worth a watch, as always!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow at Barkingham Palace...

I hope all readers had a good Christmas. Aside from the routine infections and germs that tend to go around at this time of year, we had a good Christmas period. It was, of course, the first since the passing of Mavis, and so we had Jan's dad over for a few days. The dynamics change after someone passes away and that can take quite some getting used to. I've never known Jan's dad to be at our home without Jan's mum and it's amazing how different that makes things. But onto brighter things....

On the 29th January, my latest boarder came to stay. Maddie, is a Golden Labrador and was scheduled to stay with us until today. However, due to the snow, the owners flight has been cancelled. Ergo, I have Maddie until they can get back to the UK, whenever that might be. Maddie is a lovely dog. She's quite timid, though she's not afraid to stick up for herself when the need arises. Ellie disturbed her as she slept once and so Maddie was quick to tell her. It's been great having her during all the snow and she seems to love running across the snowy fields, playing the part of the sheep, so that Ellie can round her up. She is very much a people dog who just thrives on attention. She is one of those dogs that you just don't know you have. She rests during the day, rarely barks, and is just a pleasure to have around. I think, of all the dogs we have had stay with us, Maddie has become Jan's favourite. What I can happily say without any fear of doubt is that Maddie is a dog who is welcome back at Barkingham Palace any time. I really can't give any higher praise than that about a boarder dog.

Towards the end of January, I have Hoolie coming to stay. I can't wait. I just adore Hoolie. He's a great mix of being well trained, but with just enough cheek and daring to appeal to my sense of adventure. I just love having him stay!

I also learnt that Monty (the Pug), our most frequent guest, now has a playmate - Cooper! I believe he is a Boston Terrier but I've yet to meet him. I'm sure that I will soon enough. :)

As the picture to the left should suggest, we've had quite a bit of snowfall here at Barkingham Palace. Ellie just seems to thrive in snow. She loves it. Though, with all this cold weather, it means I seem to have been ill since the last week of November, all tolled. I have a terrible sore throat and cough to the point where I struggle to breathe. I perhaps should have gone to see a GP before today, but I really don't like troubling them for what I consider to be a cold. However, due to the longevity of this one, I think it best. Aside from that, I'm not overly keen on not being able to breathe! :) So doctor's tomorrow for me. Maybe antibiotics, who knows...

So what about Ellie? Well, she's well and truly over her recent spaying and dew-claw removal. Though, to be honest with you, she was over it the day after it happened. I always suspected she might be one of those dogs who just didn't care and she turned out to be just that. The scar along her belly has all but gone now, with just a thin trace of it remaining. I believe it will be just about invisible in a couple more weeks. I think both Ellie and I are eagerly awaiting the warmer weather and the longer daylight hours now. My clicker finger is really itching and Ellie is much braver now than she was last summer. I want to see just how much braver she is. I also want to take a video of her taking the wheelie-bin out with me. That's her latest trick.

I was also interested to watch Horizon on BBC2 last night, which showed a dog recognising 340 different objects by name. (As well as being able to recognise and retrieve objects just by seeing a photo of each one). It's got me wondering just how many different ones I could teach Ellie to recognise. Hmmm, I wonder.... More to the point, how much would it cost to amass 340+ dog-friendly objects! :)