Friday, 5 August 2016

New puppy? Here's what you need to buy

After we'd been and chosen Barney at six weeks, things went really quiet. Deafeningly quiet. We kept waiting to get a collection date but heard nothing. By the time the puppies were almost eight weeks old we decided we couldn't wait any longer before buying things for him. We didn't want to tempt fate, but equally we didn't want to get a puppy home and be completely unprepared.

We tried to think of everything, and were well prepared when we had the call and collected Barney with two days' notice. He's now been with us for eight weeks and this is everything we bought in the first month. Hopefully it'll be useful to someone in a similar situation.

There are various options for training your puppy. We opted for crate training, if you're going down the same route you'll need a crate that will be big enough for your dog when he's fully grown. To encourage him not to foul his crate (not that it's been entirely successful), we blocked half of it off with cardboard so that there was room for his bed but not much more. You can place puppy pads in the other half so he has somewhere to go if he can't keep his legs crossed. We opted for getting up in the night with him instead, so he doesn't get into bad habits. As a result we have a pristine pack of puppy pads. Perhaps they'll come in useful one day and I'm sure if we hadn't had them, we might have needed them on the journey home. I like an insurance policy!
Barney chucking out zzzs
Whilst on the subject of toilet training, we bought plenty of kitchen roll to mop up spills, Dettol wipes to make sure that no scent was left behind which might encourage him to use the same area again and a big box of poo bags (we bought biodegradable ones, no point putting a naturally biodegradable substance in something that will last for two hundred years). I'm amazed how quickly we're getting through the poo bags. Puppies just seem to eat, sleep and poo for the first couple of weeks. 

We also bought some baby wipes for cleaning his eyes and ears, and any other parts which are mucky but don't warrant a full bath. For full baths, we bought some puppy shampoo and a microfibre towel, he's had a lot of baths (don't ask!) and now is really well behaved, there was a lot of squirming and squarking initially though. As he'll need grooming when his adult coat comes through we bought a brush which we use on him every so often, really just to get him used to the process.

We started out with a basket shaped bed, but now have this either in the front room or Andrew's office so he can be in the same room as us, but has his own area. He now has a piece of vet bed in his crate to sleep on.
Bed time
To help them sleep on their first night with you, it's recommended that you place a cuddly toy with their mother and then bring it home. The cuddly toy that we were given was so smelly that it only lasted two days and he slept through the first night we removed it. Probably coincidence, but it's worth doing so you have the option. We also had a radio tuned to the same station that they had on at the breeders. Again, it's anything to make their transition a bit easier.

We'd initially bought a metal food and water bowl (well, two actually, one for inside and one for outside so he always had access to fresh water), but soon replaced the food bowl for a bowl which slowed him down when eating. He ate like it was a race (part of being from a large litter, I guess) but it can't do his system any good. He's still a quick eater, but at least he takes a little longer. We bought some treats to help with training but gave up on them as they upset his stomach. We tend to use praise for training, with bits of kibble if he needs something more. We stuck with the food that he had been on since weaning as our vet favours it. We came home from the breeder with enough to last us a week, and then bought more. It's suggested that if you're changing to something else to do it gradually unless you're moving to a raw diet, which you can do as a straight change. We also bought a clicker to help with his training, we've not used it much but it was good for encouraging him that being quiet is good!
Mmm, lunch
Our first trip out with Barney was a trip to the garden centre up the road to get him a collar and lead. He wasn't even allowed out for walks at that stage but it's good to be prepared. 
Doesn't he look smart?!
As we wanted him to get used to car journeys as soon as possible, I bought him a car seat and a safety harness, so he'd be safe if anything untoward were to happen. He squirmed and squealed for the first few journeys, but now seems happy enough and settles down for a snooze whenever we go out. 
Are we nearly there yet?!
We tried not to go over the top with toys, but it's fair to say we have collected a fair number. Ironically it's things that are free, such as an off-cut of wood or an empty squash bottle which he seems to like the best. 
These were all the toys that came to hand, but Barney couldn't leave them alone for long enough for me to photograph them
When we got Barney he came with a month's free pet insurance. We've since bought an annual policy to make sure that he's covered if he's ever unwell. We could just set the money aside and pay ourselves if he needed treatment, but given the cost of some procedures and medications, we decided it was better safe than sorry. 

We've since bought more things, a water bottle for walks, more beds for around the house and a steam cleaner to clear up muddy foot prints. This dog owning lark isn't cheap, good job he's worth it!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

July round up

Well, July absolutely flew past, my memory is that the weather was good on the whole which is always welcome, especially with a puppy in the house. It's made evening walks much more pleasant.
My boys :)
Barney's been with us for eight weeks now, whilst on the whole I can't remember what it was like before him, I do fondly remember lie ins and lazy Sundays. Oh well... He seems to have had a growth spurt over the last couple of weeks and is teething. No teeth lost yet to leave under his bed for the Puppy Tooth Fairy, but it an only be a matter of time.

My parents came down to see us for another house viewing, and my brother joined us this time. The house we looked at wasn't quite right for them, but it was certainly an experience having five adults and a very excited puppy in our house. Luckily he behaved himself (we'll overlook the biting and toe nibbling), and hopefully he hasn't put anyone off returning. 

Andrew's boss's daughter had been absolutely desperate to meet Barney, they nipped over one Sunday morning at which point she realised that Barney isn't just a cuddly toy, he moves and I'm not sure she was quite prepared for that. She finally stroked him after a lot of persuasion from her father, but I don't think she'll be wanting a puppy of her own quite yet. We met up with them again the following week at their village fete. It's fair to say she pretty much ignored him, he was a huge hit with the rest of the villagers though.
Barney behaving himself, despite the apple bobbing going on a short distance away
Barney is from a litter of nine and I have to admit I never expected to see any of his siblings again, outside social media, as we collected him from a breeder some distance away. Bizarrely, one of his brothers lives 15 miles away so we arranged a reunion. It was fascinating to see the differences between them and exhausting that they hardly stopped for the whole time they were together. I'm hoping Barney will grow out of his constant play-fighting with other dogs.
A brief moment of them both still, building up some energy for another play fight
We've tried to catch up with household jobs over the summer, we had a guy round to fix my iPhone (Barney chewed the mute button, it appears the metal isn't as robust as I'd antiipated), had a shower replaced and the boiler serviced. It's all been a great opportunity to introduce Barney to anyone and everyone in the hope of making him a well socialised puppy. 

As another part of that we've been taking him to Puppy Playgroup. I'd expected it to be obedience training, but it's really just socialising them in a fun environment and teaching them a few basics to stretch their grey matter. There's a huge range of shapes and sizes of puppy there (although bizarrely another similar looking cockapoo), but thankfully Barney seems to be getting more relaxed about the company of other dogs as the weeks go by. 
Not the best photo, but a good indication of the distractions in class!
We took a quick trip to the Midlands to see Andrew's parents as they'd not met Barney. It's fair to say it didn't go brilliantly, they have an eight year old Westie who clearly didn't have any interest in playing with Barney and let him know in no uncertain terms. Barney didn't give up trying though, it ended up being a very noisy experience. Once we'd taken him for a walk in the sun and he'd shown himself up even more we made our excuses and left. I don't think I'll be in a rush to take him back until he's learned that not everyone wants to or has to play with him.
At least it was a nice sunny day for a walk.
It was my birthday towards the end of the month. We normally go away for the weekend, so it was surprisingly nice to spend it at home. We didn't even go out for a meal, opting instead for a barbecue at home so Barney could join us.
Barney was on top form, helping with the laundry
And checking on the contents of the shelf which has all his belongings on, you should have seen the looks on our faces when we found him up there!
In day to day matters, work is still busy but quietening down a little. I've dropped my working hours to four days a week to give me more time to deal with everything that's going on at home. I've also caught the Pokemon Go bug, which is good as it gets me out for a walk at lunch time to visit Pokestops and catch a few more weedles and rattatas. 
Shame that Pokestop across the square is just too far from work
Now onto how I'm doing against my plans for the year...

Read sixteen books
I've had 'How to Train a Superdog' by Gwen Bailey in the bookcase for years. I think my husband bought it for me to convince me that getting a dog would be a fantastic experience, so I'd let him get one. Years on, and here Barney is. Certainly not a superdog by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm looking forward to working through the training exercises in due course.


Find one hundred geocaches
No progress on this, I've spotted a good walk we can take Barney on to introduce him to geocaching. We've got a free weekend in a couple of weeks, hopefully he won't just eat the geocache container.  

Try three gym classes
I've actually started to think about this! Barney's sleeping better and is okay being left for short periods of time, so I may start to be able to make plans. How exciting! 

Meet up with an old friend
No change with this, but it's nice meeting people with Barney, whether it's other dog walkers in the park or puppy owners at puppy school. Few people can resist his hairy face.

Blog once a month
Only one post in June, a guest post I did for Penny at A Penny for Them. You can get details about it here.


Watch a new film once a month
At the moment I'm so tired in the evenings that we're back to watching NCIS and Deep Space Nine. I shouldn't mock, I love it really. 


Take six day trips
No progress on this over the month but hopefully we'll catch up over the remainder of the year, albeit with a very excited hound at our feet!


August looks like another busy month, full of puppy activities. I'm just hoping the weather is kind, as I found out yesterday, a damp dog makes for a very muddy house. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Guest blog - A Penny For Them

A couple of weeks ago Penny invited me to guest blog for her whilst she was away in sunnier climes. I was super keen as I love reading her blog and follow her on Twitter, where her tweets often make me laugh out loud. 

I really enjoyed the opportunity to write for another blog, but it was difficult trying to find a subject matter that would be a good introduction to me, for readers who won't have come across my blog before. Unsuprisingly the post includes puppy photos, if you can bear the sight of yet another image of a fluffy-faced dog, then you can read my post here

Have a look at Penny’s blog whilst you're there, hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

June round up


Well, that was an eventful month! Things are still very busy at work, so of course the sensible thing to do when I'm rushed off my feet at work is to get a puppy (not!)

If you've not read my other posts, we did indeed collect our puppy, Barney at the start of June. A month in and it feels as if he's been around forever and there have only been a couple of occasions when I wanted to put him on a train back to Liverpool. I took a few days of peternity leave to keep an eye on him when Andrew needed to be elsewhere, so all in all he's been very well looked after. He seems to like it here, now if only we could get him to sleep through the night so that Andrew can also sleep through the night, that would be perfect.

As you can imagine, our lives have been pretty puppy-centric since 5th June. Luckily we've had plenty of visitors (all visitors now come to see Barney, not us!) and have been able to get Barney out and socialising since he had his second lot of jabs. We even managed to go out for a sneaky lunch, just the two of us, whilst Barney was snoozing in his crate. A tiny glimmer of light at the end of the biting, house-training tunnel!

Now onto how I'm doing against my plans for the year...

Read sixteen books
Not fiction this time, but I read 'The Happy Puppy Handbook' by Pippa Mattinson. I'd never had a dog before and wanted to be prepared. This book was recommended to me and it was really good, it certainly gave me the confidence to know what to expect before Barney arrived and was a useful source of reference in the first couple of weeks. 

Find one hundred geocaches
No progress on this, Barney can only do fifteen minute walks at the moment, but hopefully we'll be able to take him for a trot via some geocaches soon.

Try three gym classes
My weekends now broadly consist of getting up with Barney so Andrew can catch up on sleep and then entertaining whoever is coming to see him. Hopefully in a few months I'll be able to get back to the gym reliably. For now, I'm enjoying our daily walks through the fields.  

Meet up with an old friend
No change with this, but I think we'll meet plenty of new people through Barney, he's a bit of a people magnet!

Blog once a month
I've been fairly active this month, there are a few new posts on here if you've missed them over the course of the month. There's the story of Barney's first day with us and a few things I didn't expect about getting a puppy. I also did a photo an hour post.

Watch a new film once a month
There seem to be so many new films that I'd love to see at the cinema, but I think I'll have to wait for them to come out on DVD. I'm not sure Barney can keep his legs crossed at home for three hours!

 
Take two holidays
I'm going to take this off the list. We had a really nice trip to the Isle of Wight, but I don't think it's going to be practical to do much more than day trips for the rest of the year.

Take six day trips
No progress on this over the month but hopefully we'll catch up over the remainder of the year, albeit with a very excited hound at our feet!


Hopefully July won't be as dramatic. It's my birthday month so hopefully the boys will spoil me suitably. Barney also starts puppy school, I'm just hoping he's not the terror of the classroom! All in all, I can't wait to see what it holds.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Things I didn't expect about getting a puppy

My husband has wanted a dog of his own pretty much forever, but whenever he mentioned it to me, I just didn't get it. Don't get me wrong, I like dogs, but I didn't understand the concept of bringing an animal to live in our house. It struck me that it would make our house messy and smelly and we would lose the freedom to live day to day with no one else to worry about.

He eventually convinced me and I thought I'd give it a go. I have to admit, it's a scary prospect, someone else to look after for fifteen years, not just that, but being responsible for their wellbeing and training to make sure they're a good citizen of the dog world.

And so Barney arrived. It's been nearly two weeks, it helps that he's utterly adorable (he's currently asleep on my left arm), and I seem to have settled into puppy ownership better than I expected. That said, it's early days. There have been a number of things that I wasn't expecting though...

The noise
Oh, the noise. I expected him to be upset on his first night. What I wasn't expecting was the hours and hours of howling, crying, whimpering, you name it... I don't actually know when he found the time to breathe. After two nights though, we didn't hear a peep from him from 10pm to 6am. I have to admit I did worry he'd died in the night...
How much noise do you think something this size can make??
The constant attention
I don't think I quite appreciated how much attention my little bundle of fur would need. I need to keep an eye out for toilet trips, either to get him outside in time, or to praise him if we're already outside, but it's also making sure he's not eating anything too unsuitable, whether it be the sofa or roses. It's pretty much a full time job.
Mmmm, moss
The laughs
He makes me laugh so much, it's great for my pelvic floor. Whether its chasing Andrew around the garden, running off with his soft toy at such a pace with no concept as to where he's going or why, or falling over because he lost balance whilst chewing his tail, it's great for lifting family spirits when you're feeling sleep deprived.
I'm not quite sure why Andrew's rugby shirt needed a trip through the dog flap, but it did
The sleeping
He sleeps a lot, just not when we want him to! Perhaps eighteen hours a day? I guess all these new experiences, smells and growing he has to do takes it out of a young puppy. That said, when he's awake he can be like a crazed beast. We end up running him around the garden just to quieten him down!
Asleep with his face in my slipper, crazy animal
The companionship
When anyone told me why I should get a dog, they all mentioned loyalty. Don't get me wrong, I value loyalty as much as anyone else. I love that my husband doesn't chase other women or moan about me behind my back (much), but I couldn't see how that would translate into a positive quality in a four legged friend. Now I think I get it. There's nothing he loves more than being next to me. He sleeps on my feet and if I get up (assuming he's not too sleep fuddled), he'll leap up to accompany me wherever I'm going. Admittedly it'd be nice if he didn't keep tripping me up, but it's nice to know that he's settled and quite likes his new family.
My little shadow
Communication issues
I hadn't realised how difficult it would be to live with someone who speaks a completely different language. It's like having a lodger from a different world who wants to eat the curtains and your clothing and you can't explain to him why he shouldn't. We're booked in for puppy classes in a month's time, I can't wait for us to find a common language.

The biting
When we chose Barney at six weeks old, he was part cockapoo, part piranha. It's amazing how sharp those little puppy teeth are. The breeders worked on his training and whilst he mainly just mouthed, he's now starting to catch us more often as he's teething again. He's now part velociraptor! We're still working on bite inhibition, I didn't even know that was a thing two weeks ago. Whilst he's learning not to bite hands, that hasn't yet translated to clothing or soft furnishings. If only the curtains could yelp.
Biting the hand that feeds
The poo
Picking up poo isn't as bad as I thought. What adds an extra dimension is that it seems I need skills for speed poo collection. If I'm not quick enough at grabbing it in the bag and whisking it away, I end up with a puppy attached to the bag. Whoever put a smell on these bags which attracts puppies is a mentalist.

Puppy blues
This was the bit I really wasn't expecting. I was left alone with Barney for about nine hours on Saturday and it was just about the toughest experience of my life. He was trouble from the start, wanting to jump up, pull at my clothes, eat the curtains, claw the sofa, you name it... Nothing would distract him and when I tried to, he'd just snap at me. I ended up putting him in his crate to calm down, but he'd be just the same when I took him out. It didn't help that I was exhausted after only six hours sleep. I didn't give up, I kept taking him out to play with him, but he was just impossible. I was fed up being stuck in the house on my own with an ungrateful hound and he probably missed Andrew. As a result, we were both thoroughly miserable. It made me realise what a huge project I'd taken on, with no training, and I was worried that Barney was an unhappy as I was. He's been much better since, but if you feel a bit helpless after a week or so, its not unusual. You just have to remember, it will all be worth it.
Sorry for biting you

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Photo an Hour - June 2016

Sunday June 13th was the date set for this month's Photo an Hour project. It's organised by Jane and Louisa, you'll be able to see more details on their blogs, as well as details as to how to sign up for reminders if you'd like to join in.

We're a week into puppy parenthood, so puppy pictures feature heavily!
10am Laundry time!
11am Barney had worn himself out and so took himself off to his crate for a sleep

12pm Not quite a photo, but a bit of post sleep training
1pm Lunch!
2pm Time for an old film, Clockwise, partly filmed where I grew up
3pm Still in front of the film, but with a nice cup of tea
4pm A cuddle in the sun
5pm Relaxing in the kitchen
6pm Watching the football whilst Barney attacked his cuddly chicken
7pm Barney managed to get one of my shoes away from me. I'll get it back damp and nibbled.
8pm Time for Top Gear 
9pm Bed time

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Barney the Cockapoo, the first day in my new home

I was spending the morning in the garden enjoying the sun with my brothers and sisters when some nice people came to see me. I think they've been before, they tasted familiar when I chewed on them. They played with me, signed some papers and then carried me away. Yay, I'm free! Hang on, what's this big, hot metal box they've put me in? It's making a chugging noise. It's really, really hot even though there is a wind blowing in me. Maybe if I climb up in the man I'll get more breeze. If I howl will the others hear me and come and pop me in the shade? No, that doesn't seem to work, what am I meant to do then? It's a bit boring here, maybe I'll give his finger a nibble, ooh, this belt holding him in tastes nice. Ah, that's better they've put my favourite radio station on. Maybe I'll lie down and have a little sleep in this shaded area under his arm. Ah he's stroking me, that's nice... That was a nice sleep but I'm still in the box. Boring! I'll have another nibble. Clearly I shouldn't, he's given me a fake bone to chew on instead. Ah, I've worn myself out chewing, back to sleep after a little stretch.

Hang on we've stopped. We're getting out, hurrah! Ooh grass. This is nice. They're very friendly here. They don't mind me following then around. I've had a bit of an explore, now we're going inside. This is odd, not like the other inside I knew. They've made a den for me, it's nice, but not like my old one. Hang on, the nice man has brought me Stinky Pheasant that I used to play with in my other home. I love Stinky Pheasant! I'll give him a bit of a chew, actually maybe a little sleep, this bed is so comfy. 
They've taken me outside again, honestly I must be out here twice an hour. I did a poo and got so much praise, do they not poo? Back inside again. Yay dinner time! I'm starving! All gone! Now I'm outside again. I pooed again and they loved it. They're weird. 

My den's moved, it's in a darker room now, I'm not too sure. They left me alone for a little bit but I howled. Luckily they came back when I stopped. The lady gave me a cuddle whilst the man organised things noisily. He took me outside and I had a wee they cheered at that too. They were in the kitchen eating so I had a little nap and dreamed about food. When I woke up they took me out again, but then back in. I wonder why they keep bringing me to this bit of grass? 
There's even more inside! They've given me a fleecy area to lie on. Hurrah, they've brought Stinky Pheasant through. The lady didn't look pleased when I tried to climb into her lap with Stinky Pheasant. Maybe I should stay down here. They're watching moving pictures on a box on the corner. Maybe I'll have a little nap. It's the only time that they don't drag me outside. Sneaky!
After my looong nap they took me outside again, it was really odd, the man was running about the grass so I followed him, I can't let him get away. I only have tiny legs, but I'm really, really fast, I kept catching him. He gave me lots of attention when I did. I got tired after a bit though, and the sky was getting dark, so they popped me back in my den. The lady sat with me for a while, I howled at her to play with me, but she didn't. After a little while the lady left and the man came in and the room went dark. Did they forget I was in here? I should howl to remind them. Maybe if I howl a bit louder? How about a shriek? That's not working. It's a bit lonely here, and a bit odd without all my brothers and sisters. I have got Stinky Pheasant though. Maybe I'll try and have a little sleep, hopefully they'll come back for me when I wake up.