Sunday, 2 August 2009

#PuppyWelfareRulesOK ?

Photo courtesy of @banpuppyfarmsuk

We've been talking on twitter about different hash tags that could pull together #banpuppyfarming with the #banpuppymills and #stoppuppymills campaigns.

Do we want to ban puppy farms or make sure animal welfare laws are enforced? If we do the second will the first fall into place?

Part of the problem may be its an issue that crosses departments and silo thinking and working makes these sort of issues someone elses problem.

I havent heard much from DEFRA on this issue but surely its a DEFRA issue?

Our main problems seem to be that either the animal welfare laws aren't clear enough, aren't well enough drafted or they aren't being enforced

So how about this as an alternative we can all get behind on twitter?

#PuppyWelfareRulesOK (without the ?)

After all the only reason to try to get it trending on twitter is to help educate people about how to solve the problem.

What do you think is the best way to educate people?

How best can we use twitter work towards this aim?

Be good to hear from you, talk to us @wellbalancedpup on twitter.

@jenkirby @banpuppyfarmsuk @marcthevet @GalwaySPCA @DanDare6 @banpuppyfarming @susankramer #PuppyWelfareRulesOK ?
wellbalancedpup 2nd Aug 12.44 via TweetDeck

All life is training

I've been realising that I've been getting rather sloppy about basic routines that in a way can then have a knock on effect upon everyone's safety. Its one of the things about having a pack, keeping everyone on board all the time is a bit of a juggling act. Two out of three is not good enough when you are talking about number three chasing a distraction off lead. The slight hesitation or lack of concentration while you are dealing with one of the other dogs can be long enough for an accident to happen.

It was all brought very close to home when a friend's dog was run over on a busy road at the end of an off lead walk. She was putting the lead on one of the two as she entered the underpass and at that exact point in time, her very sensible gorgeous girl must have caught a scent, rushed off up the embankment and jumped a barrier right in front of a lorry. It happened so fast. Its the sort of thing none of us could ever forget and such a shock particularly as she was such a well trained and responsive dog.

So Archie's bid to catch up with another dog walker and friend recently as I lifted the hatch back of the car made me think I needed to take this very seriously. WE could be an accident waiting to happen if I don't get my act together. As I've mentioned on this blog previously we have been working at a mix of more controlled off and on lead work as well as long down stays in the back of the car.

We're all working well at it, the strange thing is that its Lilly who is breaking the down stay in the back of the car at the moment. But I have realised that her breaking the stay is linked to a routine for feeding the dogs that I had been following.

So I am working on rethinking what I do so that our routines are strengthening positive patterns. At the end of the day everything we do or expect or allow is part of conditioning our dogs behaviour. Training isn't just when you decide you are going to practise something or when you specifically go to a class, it is all the time you spend with your dogs and all the time they spend with each other without you taking an active role.

So Archie I'm not going to let you sit at the back of the class putting in minimal effort; Lilly just because you are gorgeous doesn't mean you can get away with anticipating what I am going to say rather than waiting for the command and Daisy , hmmm, you need more time on your own stretching you, as you just eat up everything I throw your way (metaphorically speaking).

I need to plan our time together more carefully so we can build solid foundations that will keep us all safe. Build emergency routines into our playtimes so when things do go wrong we can pull them back, build safety nets that help us enjoy our freedom. Routines that can cope with the unexpected because in the words of John Lennon "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans".

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Summer colours, bees and fruits

I spent some time just looking today, appreciating 
how beautiful things are in the garden right now.

the ground is still delivering 
despite a lack of attention from me..

I dug some more of our own potatoes, 
still more in the ground to dig 
but these will give us a few meals.

First gooseberries, enough for a small crumble. 

Courgettes on the way......

Bees buzzing...

and the laurel is in flower too, 
one of the benefits of not cutting the hedge..

So all's well with the world!
Just have to make sure I put the leek seedlings in soon 
as they are another vege that gives a lot back 
for a very small input of time, 

just right for my sort of gardening ...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Walk (& swim) round the tarn, much to Lilly's consternation

Often I put my iphone pics up on twitpic and forget to use them on the blog but I thought I'd like to keep a bit more of a record of these ones as it was a really nice day.

We're really lucky to have such amazing countryside all around us and I don't think I have blogged about this place before so this is a tarn about 15 minutes drive from the house and then about a twenty minute walk up the hill. We always used to swim in it as kids and every now and then still do.It's quite a bleak place in some ways but at this time of year there's lots of colour hidden away, like the heather in flower, the bog cotton and the lilies in the tarn, so quite an appropriate place to come after all.

There are  boggy patches round the far side where the Bog Cotton flourishes, and as well as watching your step so you don't end up in over your boots, you always have to be careful when you walk round here, to make a lot of noise as there are skinny dippers every now and then, real "wild swimming."

With bogs comes mud so even Lil, who as a pup would always walk around a puddle rather than rush through, got muddy but not so you would really notice. 

We found some wild water lilies in flower which was a real treat & I was pleased to get a shot of Lil with her namesake but she had heard something in the distance and just wanted to find out what was going on. And as ususal she was right, there was something going on. Teen#2 who had been hanging out with some friends on the other side had decided to swim over to meet us, have a chat....

and then swim back .... Lil was really worried about him and watched him the whole way back.

Ben & Pebble

Now that it's the school holidays it means we have more time to visit friends locally. Meet Ben a very gorgeous GR who is the size of a bear and loves chewing.

and Pebble who is a very successfully re-homed rescue dog, who has settled into her new home as if she'd always been here.  Need to take our good camera next time we go over, just to show we can get those action shots, just seriously off duty here. 
Ben really liked this ring, but most of the time they were chasing around having a great time.
Pebble is definitely the Boss dog so we brought several toys but as no one stayed still very long, a group shot wasn't easy to set up especially just using the camera on the iPhone much of the time this is all we got! 

Then while the dogs had a rest, the humans went in & laughed at themselves trying to do Yoga on Wii Fit instead. After all they need to keep fit to keep up with their four legged friends.

Walks, near misses & our own potatoes

Well, Summer's moving on & the crowd here have been busy with hospital visits, I'm afraid, this time my mum. We're working on the hospital to let us bring Lilly to see her -she has been in for what must now be a couple of weeks. But in the mean time, Lilly and I have been  getting my dad back into his walking routine while she is in hospital.
He always likes walks with a bit of history and this was one we hadn't been along for about 15 yrs! To make the most of the time we decided to have a walk & a picnic which worked out well. This could be a good one with a wheel chair which fits our agenda as we are  trying to suss out potential walks they can do together when she comes home. 

So, no gardening to mention and the place is getting rather wild. But today we lifted our first potatoes, they taste so different to shop bought ones, don't know why.

 Just lifted enough for lunch which is in the oven as I blog. Photo taken of them in my own basket, made with a lot of help at a workshop a few years ago, shows why the beautiful ones hen4 makes are such good value, a thing of beauty for years to come, well hers not mine!

As usual nothing happens here without the dogs getting involved, Daisy had to check out the potatoes that I thought, misguidedly, to show them as part of practising a basic leave command, they obviously smelt scrumptious and behind the camera I lost "command" of the situation! But they all scrubbed up fine and due to the cook's perogative of being able to test things first, I can tell you they taste amazing. Talking of training....

.....we have left the dog crate that is normally in the back of the car at my Dad's house so the dogs can stay there & stay cool while I visit the hospital. Which meant we had a near miss this week, just as we set out on a favourite walk. Despite the  "stay" as I lifted the hatchback which usually is enough, Archie, the cool dude at the end (who had seen someone else set off just before us) slipped under the door as I lifted it and hared up the path to greet them, with Lilly in close pursuit. All well that ends well and they soon returned to my call but I wasn't happy and realised we needed to return to basics, without a barrier, in the boot. So here they are practising  a group stay in the back of the car. Archie looks as if he is soo bored with the whole thing but he is the one who really needs it. 

I hope we will be able to take Daisy to some events as part of the Press Pack soon, so Lilly has been giving her some pointers on how to be a star, and show off her best side. To be honest I think she will be a natural, but we have started practising some games we can play with very little space so she doesn't get bored. She is a different kettle of fish to Lilly, still gentle but very fast and quick which could be scary to people. So she has lots to learn. 

The garden is moving on as always & the lavateria has come into flower at the front of the house. The nasturciums are coming along in the salvaged fishing float my brother gave me after a flotsam walk along the beach, it works really well, they stay damp as there's no drainage and I rather like the ragged edge of the float against the green leaves.

Any way I think Archie is telling me I am burning dinner so I had better go & see what I can salvage from the oven!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Fields of buttercups.

This weekend we went up to have a look at my brother's new field. He is planning to develop part of it into a forest garden, which is a mix of fruit trees and perennials, including perennial vege, which I hadn't realised was possible. Its a permaculture approach that you can add chickens or even pigs into and it becomes self sustaining. There's an old stable with water on tap and across the road another smaller field with a boggy patch in the corner with wild water cress and frogs and newts, which he will be leaving quite wild. 

We picked some elderflowers for some elderflower cordial and Lilly had a grand time chasing around in the buttercups. So here are some calendar girl shots of Lil looking gorgeous as always. The other two had a trip to the kennels, close to home, as turning up to stay at someone's house with three dogs is pushing anyone's hospitality.This was a nice relaxing day out for Lil after her hard work at the show last weekend.

Another important reason was to keep introducing my little nephew, Robert, to the dogs to make sure that he becomes as besotted as we are. The smile on his face when he met Lil again showed we are on the right track there. The American football is one of her favourite toys at the moment, Owen can throw it a mile and she loves to chase after it. We, of course, forgot it in the buttercups and had to drive back to fetch it later as it is an essential part of life back home.