Welcome to The Critter Sermon! Where I will be talking about all things fur, feathered and scaled related! It may be general news stories or the adventures my own critters get up too! We are still new and spreading our wings so come back soon to see how we grow!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

a walk is an adventure!

So firstly sorry for the lack of updates, life has gotten in the way!

Today I must have been feeling ill because I decided to be brave and take the dogs on a long (well long for us!) walk and even go in to the dreaded evil park near my house. So rewind back a good 3 months ago I took both dogs to this park and we walked in to my nightmare. So many owners just had their dogs off leash and were ignoring them, letting them run about and do whatever they wanted. This included running up to my two and making them go absolutely mad because they couldn’t play and/or because they felt threatened being on their leashes while the other dogs aren’t.  It ended with me sitting on a bench crying with leashes wrapped around my arm feeling like a rubbish owner.  I dragged myself back home with my tail between my legs refusing to go back there. The reason I wanted to go that park is because they have a nice little area fenced off for dogs to be off leash, perfect for my two to run about in and have some fun without me worrying about them spotting something and doing a runner.

Darkley is a steam train on a leash, I often to refer to him as a firework on a leash! He pulls, twists and jumps about. It is a work in progress.. he is better than he was but you couldn’t tell that by looking at him really. Holly is a puller too but her harness helps defuse that so she is more of a tugger. To Holly everything is a big adventure still, she is in to everything! They both react to seeing dogs, birds and squirrels (Darkley also likes people..ugh) So every walk is like a mission. I just can’t cope with taking them both in to busy parks and things like that.  They get quick walks around the block usually at non busy times. We then play A LOT in the garden, do agility and mental games to keep them busy.

So back to today I decided I was going to take them on a walk, a long one! So after getting Holly to calm down enough to get the harness and leash on her we were out the door.  First issue is that Darkley is choking himself, he needs a harness but I can’t find one I want in his size. However people are looking at me like my dog is either diseased or has rabies as he is coughing and hacking now and then. Great.  Before we enter the first park on our walk Darkley cowers and drops to the floor freaking out. Holly looks as confused as I do. I scan the area around us for something out the ordinary. Then I spot it, there is a bin that is piled high with different bags of rubbish. Now I have my suspicions that Darkley’s eye sight isn’t what it should be, so that rubbish could well be a monster.  I walk him slowly over to it and you see the realisation on his face that it is just rubbish; he sniffs it and carries on like nothing happened. However by walking over to that bin I am now off the path and on ice.. two pulling dogs and me on ice. Yup, fall right on my face! I pop up as quickly as I fell and try to act like nothing happened. I look about..nobody saw..thankfully! The dogs however haven’t even noticed what has happened as there is something that smells amazing on the floor next to me!

We head in to the first park, which is quite empty but also very icy. After falling on my face I decide to keep to the little path that was clear. Suddenly a squirrel appears from nowhere and runs across the path and up a tree.  Those with dogs who loves squirrels tend to have an automatic reaction to seeing one, you tighten your grip on the leash and stop in your tracks! Holly got bored watching it as it went up the tree; I think she worked out that she couldn’t get it up there. Darkley however kept giving me the “I can get it mum, let me up there!” look as he whined and stood on his hind legs watching the poor little critter jumping from tree to tree.  We left the park with Holly tugging as normal and me dragging Darkley on his hind legs looking upset that I was stopping his plan to scale the tree and find that squirrel.

We walk on up the road. A scooter scares the life out of us half way up the road but we recover, Darkley doesn’t chase it and Holly just looks stunned.  We survived. I see a car approaching us, it slows and pulls over. They look lost, oh no they are going to ask me for directions.. I can’t map read for love nor money.  The little old lady winds down her window and waves a map book at me and asks where some pub (that’s been demolished!)  is. Darkley doesn’t miss a beat and tries to climb in their car to say hello! I yank him back down and tread on his tail while trying to explain where these poor people should go.  Nightmare.  I send them the wrong way (most likely) and scurry away with Darkley pleased he made some new friends.

The walk to the dreaded park was not too bad, they tried to squeeze through a fence to get to a crow looking bird but that was it. We also saw the poor lost lady driving past a few times.

We enter the park and I am scanning it from the word go. We tip toe over the ice to a nice clear path. There is a father and son playing football and some people walking but not a dog in sight. Woah. Holly stalks some pigeons and we scurry up to the enclosed area for dogs and it is an empty snowy patch of wonderfulness! I let the dogs off and Holly cannot believe what is happening.  She can run, off leash, in a park! We played for a while in the snow, lots of play fighting, running and sniffing.. we all had so much fun. Darkley hid in the snow to stalk the elderly colliex jack Russell that we know and ran along the fence to chase her…she ignored him as normal. We then trotted home. Darkley tried to jump on a guy delivering leaflets and we scared a small child by just walking by but we got home in one piece.

It was a great walk, for us. There were no tears, I only fell over once and the dogs had fun.  We have a lot of work to do in regards to leash training them but they are getting better…slowly.

Monday, 28 November 2011

christmas is coming!

The doggie advent calendars are up and ready,their stockings are on their way and their presents have started to be bought! I don't have a big family or children to spoil at Christmas...but i do have my furkids! Some people may think I am mad....naaah!

Friday, 25 November 2011

staffies, collies and hounds! Oh my!

So by now you may have guessed I love collies. This has happened totally by accident! There are so many wonderful breeds out there and there isn’t one I wouldn’t consider being a proud parent of. We all have our own ways of looking at dogs and how much the breed matters, this is just my way of looking at it and I welcome other people’s thoughts on this.

First of all they are a dog. They bark, sniff, pee, poop, investigate, love you amongst other doggie kind of things. Whatever dog you get you will get this but it is down to the dog’s individual personality to how these doggie things show themselves. For example Darkley will bark when our gate is opened or at the bin men coming and Holly wont (yet!), yet Holly will howl in excitement when she sees you and I don’t think Darkley has ever howled.  Then there are other factors that will influence their personality which is where breed and environment come in to play. Collies can be a very nervous breed and I know many who are, Holly included. Then you get Darkley who is cautious but not a nervous boy at all. So the breed CAN be an influence on your pup but this definitely is not always the case! Then there is environment which I feel can have a factor in your pup much more than anything else.  When I say environment I mean things that the dog has experienced and is currently experiencing. Over the past few weeks Holly has gone totally mad and barked at a MALE delivery driver and our MALE next door neighbour. She doesn’t bark as much as gobby Darkley so when she does you know something has annoyed her or upset her some way.  Has something in her past environment made her wary of males? I have introduced her to male friends of mine with no problems so maybe it is just males with really deep voices? No idea and sadly I won’t find out what has caused this or what it is that is exactly setting her off but I can help her in this new environment to deal with whatever issues she has. My point is that no two dogs will be exactly alike. Even litter mates bought up in the same house will have their differences, one might trip over a wire one day and develop a fear of wires and the other might get in a fight with a larger dog and develop a disliking for larger dogs. No dog can be judged easily which is why when dogs are judged just by breed it saddens me so much. Ask me my opinion on staffies? I can only tell you about the ones I have met, all of which have been so friendly and smothered me with kisses! My opinions on greyhounds? All that I have met have been sweet natured and friendly. I do know however there are going to be dogs within these breed types that are not going to be like that..which is what a lot of people seem to not think about (thankfully a lot of people also do think like that!). I am sure there is going to be a staffie which doesn’t want to give you tons of kisses but instead will bark in excitement to see you or will roll about on the floor to say hello. For me part of the fun of owning (and rescuing!) a dog is discovering their ways, quirks and naughty habits! Every day I get to watch my two grow and learn new things (from learning commands to learning how to get that toy that mum has hidden because the squeaker is driving her mad!) Holly is still coming out of her shell and nothing makes me smile like when I see a little bit of her cheeky self shine through. She play bowed at me for the first time the other day which may not seem much too some people but I got excited! Darkley is learning to “Talk” now when we play, which makes me laugh so much!
So I have just gone on about how not to judge on breed, yet I have two collie crosses. Firstly note the crosses part to that..they are not the stereotypical sheepdog by any means! Holly has been called a Labrador, whippet, greyhound, spaniel cross collie and I have no idea what Darkley is crossed with! I grew up with a border collie and having one around makes me feel safe in a weird way. Their smart arseness makes me laugh and their madness goes well with mine!  However all three dogs I have owned/part owned are so very different! My life just feels weird without some sort of collie in it!

Not a normal blog post I know, but I get judged on the dogs I own because of their breed and I know for sure I am not alone! (a boy once jumped a fence because of seeing Darkley, who was busy looking for squirrels anyways!) Comments like “you must have to walk loads with your collies” and “They are too hyper, Collies would drive me mad! How do you cope?!” make me grin more than anything now as my two are as lazy as I am…as I type this Darkley is asleep across both dog beds and Holly is dreaming next to me (and kicking me as she dreams!) Darkley gets bored of walks after a while and wants to just go home and play and Holly is happy to plod/drag me along wherever even if it is just round the block. Also they can’t drive me mad as I think I already am. A lot of people only get to see my pups for a short time and usually they are just excited to meet someone, not a lot get to see them relaxing and snoozing about the house.

I read a story the other day about a collie that was taken back to a rescue because it had “snapped” at someone. That someone apparently had blown air in the dogs face and it snapped back at them…would you like that? Think I would snap at someone doing that to me! The dog was then labelled as a temperamental sensitive collie. Gah!

So if I meet you and your pups know that I am will always be secretly geeking out about how awesome they are! Big dogs, small ones, scruffy ones, older ones..ones that are supposed to be big scary child eating machines…none of this matters to me! Dogs are wonderful companions and awesome animals to me… I will just be happy with a few cuddles from them really!

Ps sorry for spelling and punctuation..maybe 2am is not the right time to be writing up things!

Monday, 14 November 2011

a quick hello!

Hello all sorry for the lack of posting!

So I will start with a positive note, Holly has is unsure of fireworks but isn’t bothered as much as she was at all. She snoozed most of bon fire night and there have been some going off (STILL!) all this week and she hasn’t been bothered by them. However since the fireworks have started to go off (3 weeks agoish!) Holly has been acting a bit off. Not sure what is up but as I said in my last post Holly had decided to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and wake my mum up to let her out. I have been making sure she goes out to pee as late as I can (2am sometimes!) but she was still sneaking downstairs. Then she stopped asking to go out and just ran downstairs and went for a pee. A few days ago we had the back door open all day so the dogs could wander in and out as the pleased. I went upstairs for a quick nap before work and was joined by the pups who would wander downstairs now and then. My mum shut the door and 20 minutes later Holly ran down the stairs and just ran to the back door and went for a pee before my mum could even see what she was doing! Nightmare. So I have made a new “plan of action” with her which involves lots of praise and jumping about excitedly over pee!

Had a lovely start to last week though, Holly won 2nd best pumpkin and they both won photo of the week in their Halloween outfits from another site! A bag with two toys turned up Tuesday and a pretty orange Halloween rosette turned up for holly a few days later. Proud of my cuties!

The lizards are the ones who are having issues right now. Mojo is trying her hardest to hibernate (she is too small to do this really, but she is damn determined!) She is also trying to shed her skin still which is a major issue with her since I got her, lord knows what the “breeder” did with her. She just got all her lights replaced and I have made her tank more exciting but she isn’t bothered! Thunder the gecko seems to have an issue with her eye, it is very swollen and isn’t as clear as it should be. She has just shed her skin so she could have done it with that or it could be dust in her eye or she could just be clumsy and did it some other way! The thing with Thunder that she was not hand tamed at all when I got her, she is however a lot better and loves chin tickles now but not being held too long! (gotten a few nips from her!) So I just tried to put an eye drop in her eye to clean it out without being nipped…somehow I managed to get away with all fingers intact. She calmed down a bit actually after the gel stuff when in, so maybe it has soothed her eye. She can still see out of it as she chased after a worm when I put her back in the tank! So I will be keeping an close watch on her…there is always one animal having issues! She will be having a bath tomorrow (all my rescue geckos have no idea about going in to a moist hide to shed…its very strange so they have issues with shedding.) Thunder has some skin stuck on her toes so she will get a nice warm bath and I will wash her eye then too. I am expecting her to rebel by trying to poop on me…again!

Darkley is also having issues bless him, had an upset tummy since the end of last week. He had some rice and chicken which has seemed to help him today. He has been extra cuddly which automatically alerted me to him feeling a bit rubbish. He is eating, drinking and playing as normal though so might just be a doggie bug going about.

So my cockatiel Louie is a bit of an antisocial bird. He will chat happily too you through the bars of his cage but touch his cage and you will get a cat like hiss out of him…then he will run for it! He however will bite you like he was 18 months old and not 18 years, I saw him go for the vet once and I couldn’t help but secretly be rooting for him to land a good bite on the vet who wasn’t the nicest of people! Seeing as he is so old I would only take him to the vets in an emergency, it would be too much for him to having to travel there and be handled by strangers outside of his cage. He does however need his claws cut soon.. something I am dreading! Last time I did it, it didn’t go too badly but he managed to get a couple of impressive bites on my hand.. he doesn’t like to let go either. The other birds move about a lot more which helps keep their claws short but with Louie’s age and his arthritis he isn’t hopping about much these days, just climbs around when he can be bothered too. It sucks watching him get old; I have had him since he was 13 weeks old and can’t even imagine him not being in my living room hurling abuse at someone or another bird. Even thinking about it makes me chest ache.

Sorry for the quick update and it isn’t very cheerful either! Hopefully the next one will be a tad more happier!
my angel who is still looking after me

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

dont mention the W.A.L.K word!

Evening all!

Only few things going on with us! Holly is finally telling us when she needs to go out to pee! Haha! It has taken her a while to work out that she can do certain things to get our attention. However she is choosing to do this in the middle of the night now! She sneaks off my bed and downstairs to where my mum sleeps. She sneaks up to my mum and “talks” quietly next to her and then goes and sits by the door..my mum is unimpressed that she is letting me sleep and not her! We have had a few toilet accidents with Holly over the past few days as she does not want to go out and pee because of fireworks. I can get her out there a few times over the evening but I don’t want to push her to go out there too much. She is getting better at dealing with the fireworks though, she sulks more than anything else when they are going off instead of bolting. Slow progress but progress never the less!

On Saturday I met up with a few lovely people and their dogs for a group walkies. Darkley is struggling with being separated from Holly, so I left him back home to learn that there will be times that they will be separated. (My mum said he barked and whined for a while then went in to a major sulk!) So Holly and I set off for her first long walk without confident Darkley by her side. Our pup friends that were joining us was a lovely staffie girl called Dixie who gives amazing kisses! She has had issues in the past where she hasn’t liked certain other dogs (I don’t blame her really, lots of humans I don’t like too much!) However Dixie has come far and is so so tolerant of other dogs these days. She is a lovely pup who adores her cuddles and kisses! We were also joined by Nemo, a fluffy older boy who is adorable. He has done SO well in the past few months and has become more tolerant of my two hyper pups. When I first met him 6 months or so ago he liked to tell the world about how annoying these younger brats of dogs are but I did not hear one grumble from him on the walk! I am so lucky to know some lovely owners with some awesome dogs to help me with socialising miss Holly. Holly was far more quiet than normal on the walk, she was happy though. She was on the new harness again which seemed to be helping to control her full on pulling and I think in time she will learn how to walk without trying to go a million miles an hour in front of me! She got to see lots of exciting things like squirrels, birds and murky smelly pools of water. She was super excited and her chase instinct kicked in with the birds and squirrels! She got to see a horse pass by and had a look and sniff but wasn’t too fussed. An electric wheelchair passed by us at one point too and she didn’t respond to it at all which was great. Was a lovey walkies!

 I decided to take Darkley on the same walk the next day as it is right by where our agility classes are…oh and how it was a different walk! As soon as we left the house the next morning Darkley was on a mission. No idea what that mission as but it was clear it meant he needed to pull as hard as he could on the lead and ignore me as much as possible! He was acting up at class (playing and putting his nose in other people’s business was FAR more interesting!) he did however show some improvement with his jumping skills. So after class I chucked a longer lead on him and went on the walk, even though he was being naughty. Even with his pulling he seemed to love sniffing and exploring the hedges and trees! He followed trails and hunted down squirrels! He then disappeared down a bank and dragged me behind him…next thing I know he is splashing about in a murky muddy mashup of a pond! Nice! We carry on walking for a bit and Darkley suddenly plops down to the floor with his back leg in the air looking concerned and licking it. The words “now what has he done” pop in to my head! I then pull out of his paw a thorn the length of my thumb! Ouch much?! Soon as it was out and I gave him a cuddle he went off to explore some more. 

I get paid this week and some of that money is going to be spent on a new headcollar and harness for him. He has reverted too far back for me to deal with on just a collar and lead. He is going to hurt himself and me if he carries on being like the steam train he is!

(I just emptied a bag of dog food in to the dog food tub in the kitchen…holly ran in shoved her face in the tub grabbed a mouthful and ran for it! She is a cheeky one tonight!)

So a year ago my mum won a giant stuffed toy of a dog. We had no idea where to put it and just shoved it in the corner where Darkley took an interest in it. He erm tried to “romance” it. Horrified I had to move it..we had no room though so for some random reason I threw it up our tree in the garden! It stayed there till the other day when a creature must have knocked it down and half of the bird feeders down with it. Holly thought that this was most awesome. Darkley joined in to destroy the toy and my garden looked like we had, had a freak snow storm. You know it is bad when you have to sweep your lawn!

I am also a proud mum because Holly actually stayed in the room when I used the hairdryer on Darkley Sunday night (after the bath to rid him of mud!) She hid on my bed and peered over at what we were doing now and then…but she didn’t run! Hurrah!

So today has been one of the THEM days, nothing has gone right. I got home and I finally sat down to relax..but not for long. I was sitting outside watching the pups hunt down the birds that were up the pear tree (not a chance they can ever get anywhere near the birds!) The pups then start zooming about and pouncing on each other as per normal when I notice there is something on Darkley’s face. It had to be one of three things- Mud, poop or blood…and hopefully not all of them. Turns out holly has taken a chunk out his face. Great. I clean the wound which isn’t too deep (Darkley was unimpressed with being cleaned up!) and it isn’t bothering him..he may however get a scar out of it. This my friends is another reason to add to the growing list of reasons why I am doing my animal first aid course!

Think that is enough chit chatting from me! If anyone knows of good harnesses and head collars that would help Darkley do let me know! (he got the gentle leader off somehow!) I just heard it is looking like it is going to rain a lot this week..no more fireworks hopefully!

Friday, 28 October 2011

how to make your cute pets cuter!

So a few months back I went to the dogs trust open day. Twas such a hot day so we left Darkley to snooze at home as he would just get hot and over excited! I got to see my Holly as she was still in kennels at that point -I sat by the glass trying to say hello to her and proudly telling anyone who would listen that I was adopting her soon! (haha proud mum already!) While we were there I was, as always, on the hunt for presents and treats for Darkley and now Holly. I came across a stall selling handmade Bandanas..they were SO cute! There was a little dog next to me who had just been bought one and he was sitting there proudly wearing it! they are little company called puppylove (click the link you will not be disappointed!) I was greeted with smiley helpful faces and more importantly dog lovers! I showed them photos of Darkley and said about how I was hoping to adopt Holly and all the issues we were having with that...anyone who is willing to listen to me rattle on about my dogs is an awesome person in my books! I ummed and ahhed about what size to get Darkley and I had no idea if Holly would even wear one, so I took their card and bookmarked their website when I got home.

So with Holly home and more than happy to be dressed up I wanted to get some made for Holly and Darkley. The awesome thing is that if you want a particular colour or something extra snazzy for your pup they will try and do it if they can...I of course wanted purple and green..and in certain shades! I own diva dogs! As they are handmade they can be made exactly how you want for your pups and best of all at such a reasonable price- because dogs will be dogs and I knew full well that mud and all sorts will end up on them! I dont want to be paying a lot for something I know my pups may abuse! 

Darkley has worn his to agility and on walks...oh the comments from people! A sweet group of older ladies gathered around him saying how cute and handsome he looked..that he was so smart! They can happily play in them too, they don't bother them in the slightest! My two were chasing each other about the garden in them! (see the photo above!)They are also made with Velcro at the back so if the bandana gets caught it wont hurt them at all as it will just undo (which is good to know with my clumsy pups...but i haven't had any problems!)

They do other stuff for your pampered pooches too! plus it is so nice to buy handmade things and not the same old stuff from pets at home! I will most likely be getting another one for them both for Christmas..because why not? 

So have a look at http://www.puppylovepets.co.uk/ there is a blog on there which is an awesome read AND see if you can spot the photo of Darkley on there! happy shopping people!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

ickle update!

so a little fireworks update!

It was diwali last night and in this part of London it is celebrated just as much as bonfire night...actually sounded like bombs going off! my neighbors were setting them off so close our house shook!

So at around 4pm it was still light out so the pups were wandering in and out playing. A huge squeal and bang goes off! Holly Freaks out and Darkley jumps in front of her and barks like mad AT the firework. He looked so pissed that the firework DARE to scare Holly! Holly went and hid in my bed as per normal while I started to shut up the house and make it as soundproofed as possible. 

Holly came down for her dinner and hung about..the constant fireworks going off didnt seem AS scary as the odd bang now and then. I got her to curl up next to me and snooze there for most of the evening..her head bopped up now and then when a huge one went off but apart from some fast breathing and concerned looks she seemed better than expected! So now Darkley was asking to go out to pee...which is fine but it made me realise holly will need to too...and she has a weak bladder so its more important that she does. So off Darkley  goes to pee and explore the garden (ignoring the fireworks!) and i put holly on a leash and gradually walk to the door with her..she takes a step outside and then thinks "screw this!" and runs back to her bed! I dont force her so I go outside with Darkley who is trying to get me to play tuggie with him! Holly comes up to the door a few times to see what we are doing then runs back to her bed...we praise her for coming to the door to which we get a happy wag but we dont push it any further than that. An hour or so later we try again...this time we have a plan. Darkley and me are outside playing and my mum throws a ball out for Darkley...Holly automatically forgets there is fireworks as there is a ball being thrown! She runs outside and grabs her ball and runs about looking all pleased with herself! We tell her she is brave and a good girl over and over! We throw the ball again and she runs to get it ignoring the fireworks now. She strolls over for the longest pee in history before collecting her toys up to take them in...from then on wards she seems way more relaxed about the fireworks! yay! 

So every animal dealt with the fireworks okay, even holly was better then expected. Now we just have actual bon fire night to look forward too ugh!

in other non firework related news.. Holly tried a new harness today and she wasnt as much as a monster on her walk! My arm didnt hurt, I didnt get stressed and she got to have a good sniff about! 

hope everyone else's pets are coping okay!