So, Autumn has arrived. Here in the UK, it’s arrived with sunny days and fairly warm temps, but I’m not ready to let summer go yet. I’m a summer baby and seem to thrive best with warmer weather and brighter skies. Put me on a beach with a pina colada and I’m a happy woman 🙂
Well, if we have to have autumn (and by extension, winter) it’s currently not all bad. The trees are looking amazing in their burnished glory, and there are some interesting little late-flowering plants popping up in the garden.
Walks with Vivvy are always interesting, but this autumn I’m finding them even more so. A city girl born and bred, I absolutely love living in the country. Around the village where we live there are fabulous walks, and they’re always journeys of discovery.
Recently, I discovered a new walk to the next village a few miles away which took us by acres of what I’ve named the bamboo fields, although I’m sure they’re not (Kit will probably put me right on this). I spent a fun ten minutes playing hide-and-seek with Vivvy, and now, when we go that route, she runs into the bamboo and looks out to me as if to say “come on mum, time to play”.
I also found plump, juicy blackberries growing wild and grabbed a couple of handfuls in an unused poo-bag (sorry) so we had a lovely apple and blackberry crumble at supper that night 🙂 There are copious amounts of sloes at the moment, reminding me that one day I’m going to attempt sloe gin (side note: I spent years thinking the sloes were blueberries – don’t laugh, city girl, right?)
So, all in all, I can’t complain about the demise of summer. At least, not quite yet 🙂
Smarty Pants … the new nickname AJ awarded Ms. Vivvy after she passed her Kennel Club Good Citizen’s Gold Award last week. She is incredibly pleased with herself, and I swear she knows that she’s done something of note, LOL.
It was quite a gruelling assessment (if not for the dogs, it was for the owners – phew!). We started at 10am and completed at around 11.45am. The tasks included: walking to heel along a busy road and not getting distracted by cars, people, noise and other dogs; A free run on the field where they had to come to an emergency stop when told (Vivvy was brilliant, and stopped immediately even when a swift decided to swoop down across her eye line at precisely the moment I shouted ‘stop’); and to retrieve a toy and bring it back to the owner. It also included being handled by someone unknown to the dog, leaving a bowl of food until given permission (which she’s been trained to do since puppyhood), and weaving in an out of bollards while staying close to heel.
There was also a two minute stay, thirty seconds of which required the owners to go out of sight of their dogs – something we’ve been working on for a while with little success, because usually as soon as I go out of sight she comes to find me, LOL. But bless her, she didn’t move an inch on the day.
So, our golden girl now has the hat-trick: Bronze, Silver and Gold. We’re very proud of her.
Where to now? Well, we’ve been thinking about applying for her to become a P.A.T dog (Pets as Therapy). When my late aunt was in a care home, we took Vivvy and she was absolutely amazing. Lots of the residents wanted to make a fuss of her and she absolutely loved it. She was very calm and it was lovely watching her bring a smile to people’s faces. There is also the opportunity to work with children who have problems reading. It’s been discovered that when children read to dogs their confidence and reading ability greatly improves. So there’s much to think about and many options open to explore.
Whatever she does next, we know she’ll be a little star. We couldn’t be more proud of our Golden Girl.
Taking a well earned rest!
I love spring. It’s my favourite time of year. Not that you’d know spring had arrived yet in the UK as, after a short warm and sunny spell last week, we still have chilly days and some strong winds. But, all that aside, the garden seems to be springing (ha) to life.
One of the best things about this time of year are the colourful displays in the garden. Not only bulbs I remember planting, and those lovely little spring shrubby flowers, but a few surprises, too. I don’t know how they get here, but every year there seems to be something I don’t remember planting or seeing before, obviously courtesy of the birds dropping seeds? Or seeds flying about on the wind? I’m not sure, but I’m very happy to welcome most of the new things in the garden. And the best things is they always seem to plant themselves in exactly the place where I would have put them. Spooky.
For instance, this beautiful flowering shrub/tree arrived a couple of years ago. It sprung up right where we can see it from the kitchen window, and we love it. Don’t know what it is, but it’s so pretty.
This year I’ve noticed some lovely ground geraniums popping up in a space by the window, so again when they flower we’ll have a good view from the living room. Of course, Ms. Vivvy had to investigate this new arrival to check out if it’s edible or just for show. She wasn’t especially pleased when she discovered it was the latter.
As spring morphs into summer I’ll be keeping a check to see what other new delights await. What about you? Any flowers ever arrived in your outside space that surprised and delighted you?
Yay! Fox Poo!
That’s a question we’ve been asking a lot lately. The sad truth is that it’s emanating from a certain Ms. Jones. And that would be Vivvy, not me! You see folks, lately we have a home that seems to smell permanently of fox poo. Too much information? Sorry, but there’s no beating around the bush on this one. Vivvy simply adores rolling in the Chanel No.5 of the doggie world, but for us humans…it’s gross.
We’ve tried everything to destroy the lingering scent of eau de fox poo, including: tomato ketchup (which leaves Vivvy looking like something out of a Hammer Horror film), soda water (which leaves us fancying a gin and tonic), and a specific spray from the pet store which turns the smell into something else entirely. Yuk.
Enjoying a mud bath
To make matters worse Vivvy hates the hosepipe and runs to the bottom of the garden to hide under the hedge. Anyone would think I’m trying to kill her. Not that she dislikes water, far from it, and she’ll throw herself headlong into the tiniest puddle, the muddier the better, and seems to have built-in radar for the nearest stream. We’ve come to the conclusion that despite her penchant for top class canine perfume, she’s a tomboy at heart.
Yesterday, I took advantage of the good weather and had a spring clean. Flung open every window in the house, shampooed the carpet, washed everything that could be washed (including a very reluctant dog), and gave Vivvy’s toys a whirl in the washing machine. As you can see, she wasn’t too happy about that, turning her back on me to make sure I was aware of her displeasure at seeing her beloved ‘babies’ hanging unceremoniously on the washing line. But needs must.
Look what they did to my babies!
So this morning the house (and dog) is spruced up and smelling fragrant. But since we’re just off for a walk in the local woods, I’m banking things won’t stay that way for long. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. Clean or dirty, we love our girl to bits. I just wish she’d change her perfume preferences!
Vivvy at 15 weeks!
It’s hard to believe but Ms. Vivvy will be three years old next week! Wowee, where has the time gone? We adopted her just under two years’ ago and she’s been an absolute joy…and in unexpected ways. She’s not only gorgeous, well-behaved (mostly) and adaptable, but she’s so friendly and cheeky that she’s got quite the reputation here in the village where we live. We’ve lived here over twenty years now and until we started puppy-walking for guide dogs we only really knew a handful of people. That wasn’t helped by the fact we were both working during the day, too. Walking Vivvy has changed all that and now we have made so many lovely new friends and we really enjoy exploring the gorgeous countryside surrounding us.
Vivvy – almost 3!
Because Vivvy has loads of doggy friends in the village I wanted to throw a ‘four-paws-party’ next weekend to celebrate her birthday and invite her chums along for fun and games in the garden. AJ thinks I’ve taken leave of my senses 🙂 While considering logistics I think he might be right. One of Vivvy’s BFFs is a sensitive little girl who gets stressed about the vagaries of the outside world, and her mum is currently trying to get her to come into our garden so that the girls can play while we enjoy a coffee, but until that happens I can’t consider a party without Vivvy’s special pal in attendance. Then there are a couple of dogs who don’t like each other, one who is very possessive over balls, another who barks incessantly when he gets excited…all in all, maybe a party is a trifle ambitious.
So, I’ll be making a special liver cake (yuk!) for our birthday girl (with candles of course) and she’ll have a special outing to the seaside (her most favourite place on earth) and extra special hugs from us.