Monday, 17 September 2012

Pups go wild part 2

So what's it like to share a tent with two bears?  Well, cooking dinner went without a hitch while the sun set and a heavy dewfall misted across the field.

They were both so tired from the day's fun they really just wanted to crash. But of course, Mojo can't just settle down - she has to do a few loops of the tent between the inner and the outer, then escape under a flap and set off to check the food status of our tent neighbours. Digger was fabulous. Sleep here, mummy? OK. 
Granted, they both felt obliged to stand on Dad at 3am and polish his face a bit.

Morning was so chilly the poor bears were shivering. Mojo had her coat stripped the week before so was especially miserable. So what can you do? Make towel togas, of course. Or Dogas, as we now call them. They really didn't understand why their mummy was laughing so hard.

A nice early start for another walk. Not so sunny at first.

This photo makes the cliffs look small but they are huge - check the size of the waves.

We had elevenses on the beach  between two little waterfalls and the bears ran amok looking for things. I'm amazed how fast they move on these stones - it's really hard work for a human but they have four wheel drive and run full tilt over them. We did a lot of grimacing and telling Mojo to mind her arthritic hips.


Then we went back to another beach where a stream made a paddling pool on its way to the sea. While we waited for some small children to get out of our pool we played on the rocks. Mojo set off first:

The boys followed, but then Digger lost his nerve and stood there looking droopy and miserable as usual.

Mojo waited and mocked him gently.

Until he came and sat  in the same spot while managing to look droopy and miserable. He's a funny chap, so different to Mojo. She's so bold and full of ideas, and he's so unsure and full of worries. Then again, he's so good at cuddles and Mojo breaks your heart by saying eeewwww to public displays of affection.

Once the kids (and their icecream and toys) left the paddling pool we sent the bears in. No photos of swimmy action as we were too busy throwing sticks and trying unsuccessfully to get Digger to get more than his toes wet. But here's a view upstream to the most delightful old cottage.

Wish you could all come to Devon and play!

Friday, 14 September 2012


I'm pretty certain the cats are not to blame for this:

It's a pretty thorough disembowelling of the futon.  Notice the yellow throw that was moved over first. With added cardboard box shreddings for a scene of complete devastation.

The process:
Firstly Digger notices the cotton tassels that tantalisingly hold the filling in place
Then Mojo decides to have a lie down which requires a quick dig before circling a few times and going flump.
The digging opens a tiny rip, right next to a tassel which Digger is keeping an eye on.
They take turns to poke said hole.
They take turns burying a tennis ball in the hole to surprise themselves with.
As the daleks would say: EX-CA-VATE, EX-CA-VATE

We used to have another futon sofabed years back, which Mojo dealt with in her puppyhood. Some things never change, eh?

Monday, 10 September 2012

Pups go wild

In the years Before Airedales we used to love going camping, but since Mojo arrived we've only been twice. At first she was too young for the walking, then I had a broken ankle, then she had a crisis of hip dysplasia, then Digger arrived and was too young. Oh, and the weather. Did I mention the weather? This summer has been the wettest on record, and when the sun shines we seem to be nursing sick dogs. Bah. So this weekend was our last chance and we headed out to our favourite camping spot at Stoke Barton Farm on Hartland Point, north Devon.

While we set up the tent Digger sniffed the sea air and Mojo had her happy grin on.

It's a fabulous campsite, huge and uncrowded, high above the sea. See those spikes on the left in the next pic? That's the highest church tower in Devon but it's hiding behind the hill. Every trip back from the facilities meant a race down the hill.

Digger is fast. He gets down long and low, and thunders past Mojo.

The bottom of the camping field has a gate to this path:

And this is what is on the other side of the hill. Can you imagine a better place to camp?

We headed  to the beach that you can see just peeking out from behind St Catherines Mount. As with any walk along this coast there's a lot of steep up and down, and dogs have to be firmly on a lead because of the cliff edges. But we were in luck as the tide was out.

As usual, Mojo swam but Digger was a wimp and ran away from the tiny waves. Mojo didn't want to leave, but we had a thirst and the pub was a few hills along.

We had a well-earned pint at the Wreckers Retreat at Hartland Quay, beneath the spectacular cliffs. Sadly no dogs allowed on this beach, but plenty of people willing to feed their fish 'n chips to two Airedales who give such sad hungry eyes.

And afterwards a steep haul back up the cliff to get back to the tent.

So did the Dales behave in the tent? Was it an Apocalypse of Airedales? I'll let you know next installment. :)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

You ate what?

Digger spent most of yesterday miserable and horribly inert at times. No barking at the postman, no drooling over our dinner, only eating under sufferance when I hand fed him morsels of rice and fish. He wouldn't walk more than a few steps before giving up - I guess because of stomach cramps. My poor sweet boy did manage a momentary grin at me when I came back from walking Mojo. Needless to say we were getting really concerned, and he slept in our room so we could keep an ear on him. Throughout it all his breathing and heart rate stayed normal, so we thought we'd wait till morning before taking him back to the vets and scheduling an x-ray. (It's odd, but whenever one of our four-legged family has a crisis, it's always a bank holiday.)

Anyway, this morning he had the poop to end all poop. A proper Digger dumper.  And most of it was tough plant material (not sticks, thank goodness, so no perforation scare) that was instantly recognisable as reedmace. There was one particularly tough chunk complete with roots.

Mojo discovered reedmace a long time ago. We live along a canal with wild vegetation on the banks - in fact, the exact conditions that Airedales were originally bred to hunt along. Mojo pulls the tall stems up, then peels the tough outer layers to find a soft, floury core that's totally yummy. It was a food source our ancestors probably used before agriculture. Smart Mojo figured it out very quickly. Digger, on the other hand, has very little common sense, and seems to have just devoured the lot.

Anyway, he's feeling much better since his apocryphal toilet time. He's going to take a few days to get back to his usual self, but his appetite and joy for life are back.

Many thanks for your Airezen. It worked! Especially on a mummy who was feeling helpless and worried sick.

So, Digger...
You were only a few months old when you ate a visiting child's sock and had to be rushed to the vet.
You were about a year old when you tried to eat a fishhook with three barbs and mummy had to catch it just before it went past the root of your tongue and down your throat.
And at a year and half you've tried to top yourself with a reedmace.
Pack it in!

Friday, 24 August 2012

pear shaped

There's a great British phrase - things going pear-shaped. It's when everything just goes a bit awry. And that's been the story of the last few weeks. So the Olympic tribute went out the window.

Once the extra menagerie went home and we didn't have to keep the doors shut and half the house barricaded (dog in season), we thought we'd relax. But then my computer started having fits and I spent forever sorting out the problem. Good job too, as I've been asked to do a bit of post-production on some photos for a charity calendar. The photos are of people who work in a beautiful National Trust garden near here, and in keeping in the spirit of charity calendars they are all naked save for a strategically placed plant or watering can. Ha! I'd love to show you but I think that might be a bit too much!

Anyway, the real pear-shaped moment is Digger, who is not well at all. He's been a bit peaky for a few days and has vomited a few times; not unusual for a dog who likes to eat everything. But last night he was sick everywhere, and today he's carried on the same. He's so miserable. The vets can't feel a blockage and his temperature and heart rate seemed ok so he had an anti-vomit injection and we see how he goes. But he's not a happy chap. Completely off his food, and feeling lousy. If he's the same tomorrow we'll be back to the vets. Even if they x-ray him they may not be able to see soft blockages, and which bit to open up? I must admit we're feeling really tense and worried right now. So any Aire-zen would be appreciated.

Here's a pic of the little chap exactly a year ago, when he decided to check on my painting with a nose-poke or two.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Olympics day 8

So what Olympic sport suits a pack of four dogs? All kinds of running, of course.
Running one way:

running the other way:

and running all ways at once:

Things were going just fine until we tried to organise a proper start. Time after time, a certain young Airedale boy with fast-twitch reactions kept doing false starts:

 The starter man had to step in and read him the riot act. One more false start and you're out. Okay, okay, I'll be good, says Digger.


D is for dog.
D is for Digger.
D is for disqualified.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Olympics day 7

Now if there's one thing the humans in this house disagree on, it's how much football is enough football. So although one of us was hoping to avoid a football tribute, it's inevitable considering there are two bears who never tire of playing it.

There are serious tackles:

some serious teeth:

 and some serious attempts to run over the photographer:

We confess that our Olympic tribute is a little lacking in verve today, because canine chaos has arrived in our house. See the big fella below?

That's Sol, who we have for a couple of weeks every year while his people go on holiday. Well, a day before they were off this time he was hit with a horrible gastric thing that had him vomiting and pooing blood. So for the last week we've been doling out an endless array of tablets that all happen at different points throughout the day, and having to cajole him to eat. We even had to syringe water into his chops as he just wasn't drinking. Well, he's feeling much better now, thank goodness. Meanwhile, his sissy was staying with another family, but she's come into season and they have an entire male... so now we have her too. Daisy is hormonal and can't be let off the lead, Sol is feeling well enough to try to mount her continually (even though he's been 'done') and Digger is having serious issues with mummy's divided attention. Mojo is just being perfect, thank goodness. We're going to need that bottle of Ouzo when our friends get back from Greece!

Walkies looks like Ben Hur's chariot race but with the perfect country collection: two Airedales, a huge lurcher and a spaniel/lab cross. Or as we call them: two bears, a wolf and a beaver.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Olympics day 6

The best thing about the Olympics is that you find yourself watching sports you know nothing about and still end up cheering like crazy. I've been fascinated by the judo all week, but today things reached a peak with the finals of the ladies 78kg. I shed a tear or two, for the British woman competing in the memory of her mother, and the American winner who had to overcome appalling circumstances to get there.

Anyway, I still know little about judo. I can tell you that there are points scored for different throws. The lowest points are given for a yuko, which throws the opponent on their side. Here Mojo (at 5 months old) demonstrates how:

The highest points - and an immediate win - is for a ippon, which involves throwing the opponent onto their back. Mojo demontrates here with her pal Harvey:

Harvey was only 6 months old in these pics - he's part Saluki and is now twice the size. Even at 6 months he gave as good as he got:

Opponents can signal submission. Either by grinning:

Or by making noises like a whoopee cushion:

It didn't take long for Digger to get the rules. Just squash your sissy and bite!


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Olympics day 5

So four badminton teams have been disqualified for not trying hard enough. Harrumph! You would never say that about an Airedale. Although Mojo can be selectively deaf on recall unless she sees proof of biscuit rewards.

Anyway, our tribute today has to be swimming, what with Michael Phelps being both awesome in winning and gracious in defeat, and Chad le Clos's father being spectacularly emotional and thrilled.

We're lucky to live next to a canal that has been turned into a country park (for wildlife and people). For the first two years of Mojo's life she would paddle daily but only up to her armpits. In winter she'd lick the ice to try and break through to the wet stuff. Then one day we went up into Dartmoor, got into our swimmies and took her in the deep bit of  the river. The penny dropped, and now we can't keep her out.

We keep a stash of sticks in a tree, and believe me she knows which tree it is. So in she goes.
She always has to turn to the left, probably to do with her left hip being weaker. I'm always amazed she doesn't inhale a gallon of water when carrying sticks back.

Good job Airedales have semi-webbed feet.  I love the periscope tail!

In fact, this next pic makes me wonder if those old sightings of the Loch Ness monster were simply swimming Airedales - the serpent shapes following the high-held head...

Such a happy bear. Luckily she hasn't chased after any ducks yet, but give it time.

Meanwhile, Digger is  absolutely , never ever going to get his belly wet, no-sirree-bob, not on your nelly. Heh heh. What a wimp.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Olympics day 4

I've not had any chance to get out with the camera today so I've trawled the archives for a suitable Olympic tribute. This is from a few years back, and I was laughing too hard to focus, but it's perfect for a nod to the Olympic shooting.

I'm not sure who is more ridiculous, Mojo or the Man (aka The Dog Butler, 'cos he opens all the doors and does all the driving).

We had to hide the water pistol because she used to bark incessantly until we picked it up, and her excited bark is ear-splittingly shrill. It makes me feel like my brain will leak out my ears if exposed to it for too long.

And I had to include this as a bonus pic - this is the face Digger pulled as we tried to set up the shuttlecock shot. Those reproachful eyes! That sad face! My handsome boy.