Thursday, May 20, 2010

This Boots was made for swimming...

May is proving to be an incredibly busy and hectic month here at Barkingham Palace. Aside from dogs coming through for boarding, my photography is also starting to take quite a hold, with three potential weddings in the pipeline. Add to that, the end of year accounting, and I feel as though my calendar is starting to bend under the weight. If I were less of a maths dummy and didn't have the attention span of a house-fly, I could perhaps do the accounts myself, but that is why the good lord put accountants on this earth - they like sifting through numbers, invoices, and receipts, I hate it! Me, I like dogs. Talking of which...

I recently boarded another Border Collie. I say in another in the context of in addition to my own, Ellie. Boots stayed with me eleven nights, while her owner went on holiday. I've known of Boots for quite some time as her and her owner, Barry, take part in the same canine display events that we take part in, or I go along to photograph. But I'd never really interacted with Boots as such. In fact, the only thing that I did really now about her was that she had an excellent recall.

As it turns out, Boots is probably the most Border Collie Border Collie that I have met. You can just see the working parent stock running through her. She gets obsessed with moving things like the hoover, mops, etc. She'll occasionally even try to launch herself after a car if they drive past her on the walks. She is very timid but oh so loving too. In terms of her temperament, you just can't fault her. Around the house, you just don't know you've got her. Take her out and she's a powerhouse of energy, with a particular penchant for water!

I love water-dogs. Just love them! It's taken me the best part of three years to get Ellie confident in the water, (more on that later.) but Boots, at just twenty-two months of age, just propels herself into it like a speedboat. Lucky for us, we have a medium-sized pond in our local playing field.

Boots and Ellie seemed to get along fine and built a mutual understanding that if either of them were to 'Collie Nip' the other, then it would be responded to in kind.  (Most Border Collie owners will know exactly what I'm talking about here!) As both Boots and Ellie come from farm dogs, then they both have have strong natural BC instincts.

Now, more on the swimming. My best-friend Sue and I have been taking Ellie and her Rottie, Teal'c, to various locations over the past few weeks. As part of that, Ellie has been exposed to more and more water. She's never been a fan of water at all. There was a brief period about a year or so ago where she got brave enough to wade in to her belly, but never to swim. However, through the exposure we've been giving her lately, I am amazed and very proud to see that she will now swim as readily as any other dog. In fact, I believe that she would happily swim across a river now. I did take a great video of her new found skill but it's on my phone and the Nokia software I use to get it off doesn't seem to like Windows Vista. Still, there will be plenty more opportunities.

There will also be more photos soon as I have just purchased a new 'snappy camera'. It's great having all my professional camera equipment, but when we walk, we often take our rucksacks for food and there just isn't the room for my hulking great camera to come too. So I've just bought a handy pocket-sized camera that seems fit for purpose.

And finally... My dad doesn't care for dogs, and my mum really doesn't care for them either, and my brother was actually scared of them for many years. So where does my undying love of, and interest in, dogs come from? I now have the answer. I was recently given a large collection of old family photos, with a great many of my Granddad, now deceased. In almost all photos there is a dog, and, quite interestingly to me, never once is one of his dogs on leash, even in the more recent photos. The latter tells me that he either loved training his dogs or he just had a natural affinity with them. I do remember him through growing up, and I know he always owned large dogs as opposed to little ones. And I remember that he used to let them share his cups of tea from his saucer. My granddad did raise me for some time in my childhood and so it's likely that is where the love of dogs imprint came from. So there you go... I really hope to get some of the old photos scanned and posted soon too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Swiss Army Knife of Dogs...

It's that time of year again; the boarding dogs are coming through thick and fast. Currently, as you can see in the picture to the left, it's the return of my most frequent boarding guest, Monty the pug. Only this time, Monty is not alone - he now has a new playmate, Cooper the Boston Terrier.

Though they both have entirely different personalities, they get on incredibly well. Monty is like an older gentleman; he likes his sleep and creature comforts. He's confident and sedate. It's really not unusual for him to be the last to wake up in the mornings. Cooper is entirely different; Cooper is a nervous play-machine. He's incredibly timid at times, but he loves nothing more than running around and jumping up at Ellie. Much to Ellie's dismay I should add.

I have them both until Saturday 8th. However, on Thursday 6th, I also have a Border Collie coming to join me. Am I mad? Just ever so slightly - I find it helps when looking after dogs. :)

In other news, I have to tell you why I am so exceptionally proud of Ellie this morning. I took all three dogs around the local farm fields for their morning walk. Half way around my walk I began to get a little warm. I decided to stop and remove my jumper. I placed the leads and my sunglasses on the ground, removed my jumper and tied it around my waist, before picking up my bits and competing my walk.

As I approached my home, I noticed something was missing; I had left my sunglasses on the ground where I took my jumper off. As it was so far away, I decided to drop Monty and Cooper off at the house, and then do the walk again with Ellie.

As I stepped onto the farm fields with Ellie, I thought I would just try something. Sometimes, around the house, I will hide a tennis ball and tell Ellie to "Find". She then methodically searches high and low for the ball, and generally always finds it. Would she do it for my glasses, I wondered? I said "Find" and watched as she ran through the beaten tracks. She dutifully returned with something in her mouth. "Good girl", I cried. "Good Girl!". I was presented with a stick! Not quite what I had in mind. I decided to make one more attempt. "Go find", I asked. Sure enough, she ran off again. She returned two minutes later. I could see the sun reflecting off something in her mouth. Hoozah! My sunglasses! And that, dear reader, is why I am so damn proud of my dog. She's like the Swiss Army Knife of dogs. :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Going.... Going.... Gone....

Sue and I took Ellie and Teal'c to Beeston today. We walked along the River Trent, enjoying the Bank Holiday sunshine.

More important, Ellie finally learnt to swim; yes swim as in properly swimming! She's always been a bit wussy over water, preferring just to get her feet wet and letting Teal'd do the grunt work of wading into the deeper water to fetch the ball.

However, today Teal'c went on strike and so Ellie had a choice to make - swim herself or lose her precious tennis ball to the current of the river Trent. The lure of the tennis ball won. Sue and I threw the ball into progressively deeper water until Ellie was swimming around like a pro, even diving in at one point!

Then came the return home. Teal'c may not have been the best ball-retrieving device today, but she still made for a great pillow for a weary Border Collie...