I know I have made a few comments over the last few blog posts about my lack of love for January, but looking out of the kitchen window on the first day of February, it feels positively spring-like. When I went out into the garden with Margot this morning, I left my coat inside (and didn’t regret it) and the air was filled with birdsong. I haven’t had to scrape the ice from my windscreen over the last week before taking P to the school bus and 5 degrees in the morning now feels balmy compared with the -5 degrees a fortnight before. This week we have ventured a bit further afield in the car and I have noted some small improvements in our pup’s behaviour. They may still be small steps, but they are headed in the right direction at least!
Travelling in the Car
Last weekend we drove to two different locations to walk Margot. To shake things up even more, we travelled in J’s car this time. I wasn’t sure if our pup would remember the only other occasion she had been a passenger in this vehicle – on the day we brought her home 14 weeks ago.
That box contraption I bought to try and encourage her to curl up inside is now a bit small for her, especially since she prefers to lie flat as you can see in the pictures above. I can understand why she might wish to cosy up to P on the back seat. Perhaps a towel would work better as a protective measure? I’d planned to transform the box into a seat cover but only time will tell if that’s worth it or not.
You may recall that Margot chewed through the first dog seat belt restraint we had. I got hold of a tougher version, which was marketed as ‘chew-proof’. So far, so good. Although it’s fair to say that she has given it a go… However, this restraint is also shorter than the previous one so Margot can’t fall off the seat into the footwell. She did seem much happier – or at least far more settled – on the longer journey. When we first started taking her out in the car just five minutes down the road, she would whine continually. So in that respect, she has come a long way. It’s certainly encouraging in terms of taking her further afield for walks in the future.
Walking has become far more enjoyable this week. I think P’s resilience in stopping every time Margot pulls on the lead has paid huge dividends – even though J found it incredibly frustrating on the weeeknds. Still, I’ve been really impressed with both the speed and the patience our pup is showing when walking on the lead with me during the week. I’m looking forward to an organised puppy social with my brother coming up though as Margot’s socialising with other dogs still leaves a lot to be desired. But more about that later.
Another tooth fell out onto the kitchen floor this week and we have seen traces of blood on some of her chew toys as well. Margot has stopped biting me almost completely, but she continues to put her mouth around J’s hands when he arrives home from work. We can’t work out whether it’s because she is tired, excited to see him or she remembers that when she was much smaller, he used to let her mouth him. (One source we read said this was a good idea, but we soon all agreed that it wasn’t as P and I weren’t happy to receive the same treatment.)
Tricks and Toys
With Margot seemingly being a quick learner, we have been trying a new trick this week: placing a treat on the end of her nose or on her head and seeing what happens next. I’m hoping for a quick flick of the nose upwards, followed by a deft catch using her mouth. First we need to establish that control to wait but she is getting there. I’ll keep you posted…
Some of Margot’s toys are beginning to look a little worn out, particularly the soft ones where she has pulled out the stuffing. Foxy on the right still has both legs, but his head has now lost its shape. My favourite, the yellow latex dog #2 (you may remember that the first one was purple) has a few gashes along its sides already. Olaf – from the Christmas stash – no longer has his felt stick arms or hair, but the exterior remains intact. He isn’t a white snowman anymore though, but a dirty brown one. (I wonder how long the new, bright pink pig will stay that colour?)
Margot spends time looking out of the glass doors at the birds in the garden and once outside, either hares around at top speed or sits and ponders. (She also paws at the grass next to the patio slabs as you can see in the picture above. I’m all ears for any suggestions in preventing this.)
I promised to tell my brother’s story a few posts back. He and his wife have an incredible love of dogs and a very well-trained Dexter – a Labrador mixed with something else – as I mentioned before. They are also great supporters of the charity Blind Dog Rescue UK. Last September, G and N fostered a partially sighted border collie called Fly, who had been mistreated, was malnourished and very thin. Nervous around people, particularly men, the vet only gave her a cursory check before they took her home.
Imagine the entire family’s shock when we received a What’s App call during the October half term which began with the words: ‘We’ve got a situation here!’ To begin with, I couldn’t understand what the problem was until the video started… The image was of two tiny puppies on a blanket. My brother and his wife had both been delighted to see that Fly was beginning to put on weight, but nobody had any idea or even suspected that she was pregnant. At the same time as talking to me, G was also trying to get a vet on the phone, needed to speak to the lady at Blind Dog Rescue UK and was asking the oracle that is Google what they should do to support Fly. Five hours later and we were sent a photo of eight puppies. All boys. All different coat patterns. G had to revive one of them when he stopped breathing. Even more amazing is that they agreed to keep Fly with all her babies for so many weeks afterwards as well as holding down their full-time jobs. G turned his utility room into a whelping den.
Currently, as I write this, my brother and his wife have two puppies left with them, one of which they are keeping. Some of the litter have found their forever homes, as has Fly, but a couple of them have now been fostered elsewhere in the country – Tony is still featured on the Blind Dog Rescue UK website as being available for adoption. I think it’s an incredible story and that they have shown incredible kindness. My sister-in-law’s words were: ‘It will never happen again and it’s a real privilege.’ Apparently, it has never happened before either. Is there some sort of animal kindness award I can nominate them for? If there isn’t, there should be!
‘I like travelling in the car with P now. Her legs are the perfect size for me to rest my front paws on. She’s fun to play with too although on most days she disappears off in the morning and doesn’t come back until later in the afternoon.
On the days when there is only one big person in the house with me, it is much quieter and calmer and I can sleep more during the day. I can’t help being so excitable when the others come back in the evening.’
Next week… puppy socials, six-month vet nurse check and more flea, tick and worm treatment.