Monday, 30 July 2007


Following some of the threads on the very helpful Labrador Forums site, I've been looking for useful information as well as the answers to some questions, one of which was: how long should a puppy need to sleep? As is often the case it turns out that there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer; but every person who responded to the concern over a very sleepy puppy also added the advice that people should 'make the most of it' and I'm starting to understand what they meant!

Bingley normally has a very early start to the day, and by the time I stumble downstairs in the morning Jane's fed him and played with him and settled him back down to sleep. And he generally stays asleep until lunch time, which gives me opportunity to catch up with chores, etc. In fact until this week I was a bit concerned about just how much he was sleeping; some days it was around 20 hours!

Ah, the good old days. Now I'm starting to feel somewhat less concerned about his long kips and I'm getting a bit nostalgic about those 20 hours a day. His toilet training had taken a big step forward and he'll now (generally) bark when he wants to go outside, rather than quietly creep over to the newspaper: and that's a good thing of course. But once he's outside, and toileted, he wants to play. And then he wants to play some more! He charges around the yard like a little dynamo, soft puppy ears flapping like Biggles and tail wagging like a wind turbine. He could definitely make a contribution to the National Grid: PuppyPower!

But of course it's great fun really; he's a treasure of a puppy and it's giving me a good excuse not to do the housework. Not that I need an extra excuse - he's not too sure about the vacuum cleaner anyway and whenever I use it it's one of the few times that he howls. But the chores are getting a bit behind; maybe I could train Bing to chase round the house and collect all those dust balls that are beginning to accumulate?

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Bingley out takes

Whilst B was snoozing after his breakfast this morning, I had a few spare moments to look back through our fast-growing archive of Bingley pix. Here are some of the images I most enjoyed, I'm sure there'll be plenty more to follow!

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Red collar day

It feels like months since I published the post on Bingley's Dog House, though it was only a week or so ago. Remember it? That nice clean room, tidied up and prepared just for Bing. Needless to say it didn't stay looking that way for long; here's a pic taken just before the daily clean-up and whilst B's having his post-meal 'mad half hour':

Pups obviously never suffer from postprandial stupor; when I've eaten, all I want to do afterwards is curl up and sleep - especially these days! But Bingley gets the equivalent of a sugar rush and blurs around the yard and in-between the pots, stopping only to chomp on anything that looks remotely chompable.

Although we haven't mentioned it yet, we bought Bingley a new red collar over the weekend - but it turned out to be a bit too big for him. Yesterday though, Jane managed to track down a smaller size in just the right proportions. What a bobby dazzler!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Sticks & leaves

Well, Bingley has been with us for a week now and he truly feels part of the family. As we get to know him we're able to identify more of his personality and individual characteristics. Increasingly apparent is his inquisitiveness & rugged determination to get what he's after (as well as what he wants - we're going to have to keep a check on that one!). I've just watched him spend ages trying to squeeze between and behind a group of plants pots, struggling to reach something. He's now worked out that he can push the smaller pots along with his head, and that's entertaining in itself; but to see him fighting so hard to get to something was puzzling. My first thought was that the snails were back! But when I went over to check, it wasn't snails after all: it was a dried leaf. We see shapes in clouds, maybe Bing does the same with dried leaves? I can't imagine what he thought it was, but he made short work of it once he'd finally dragged it out. Maybe it's the rustling-crunchiness of dried leaves - they must just feel nice to chomp. So, that's snails and dried leaves that don't stand a chance against Bingley; goodness knows what he's going to make of the front garden once we let him out there.

Monday, 23 July 2007

A dog's best friend

A man's best friend is his dog. I've never fully understood that; but my relationship with Bingley was put to the test today when, after leaving the bench for a few moments, I returned to find the cover of my new Harry Potter neatly embossed with little teeth marks! They're very sweet actually, running down from the top right corner to just above Hermione's head - at least I think that it's Hermione, the artwork is so awful that I can't be certain who that girl's meant to be. Anyway, Bing was forgiven and won't be evicted just yet. But if a man's best friend is his dog then Bingley's best friend (after Jane) are my slippers! And I'm not surprised, they're nice slippers: funky Merrell's given to me by Jane on my birthday. I've vowed that they won't be chewed (!) - but they are constantly sniffed, licked, and slept on. If I happen to be around whenever B gets sleepy, he curls up by my feet and puts his head on one my slippers and goes to sleep. Or at least he tries to go to sleep: Bingley's chin is very soft and my slippers are made of felt, so a kind of Teflon effect takes place. His head goes down, his eyes shut; but as soon as he relaxes, his chin slowly slides down to my toes - and then thumps onto the ground. Not put off, he tries again. And again. This evening he went around all the compass points of my feet trying to find a secure spot, and it was only when I helped him out by resting my toes on one of his chewy toys that he was able to utter a satisfied whimper and go to sleep. I've got a feeling that Bingley might become my best friend after all.

Oh, and he likes Jane's slippers as well!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails

Other than ducks, the one form of animal life that has thoroughly benefited from the 'Summer' we've been having are snails; though the slugs seem to be having a good time as well. Most of our slugs are in the front garden, and yes we should be collecting and disposing of them in one of the various methods recommended on Gardener's World...but I'm afraid we haven't. We're now out numbered, and walking down the garden path on a damp evening resembles an episode of Dr Who. But it's the back yard where we've been spending most of our time, and that's where the snails have congregated. There are lots of cool clay plant pots for them to climb, and plenty of damp corners to hide in. Well, at least that was the case until recently! As it turns out, there is virtually nothing more appealing to a puppy than a crunchy-juicy snail clinging to the side of a pot or hiding in a corner. When I first heard the chomping and saw his tail wagging I didn't know what Bingley had found and made him empty his mouth. It wasn't a pretty sight! I've no idea if eating snails is bad for him; in some parts of the world they're considered a delicacy - though I'm pretty sure that people generally leave the shells behind, and that's the bit I'm most concerned about with Bing. Erring on the side of caution I did what every good gardener would have done long ago, and using an old paint bucket I went around and collected up all the snails I could find. I'm sure that Bing, watching me, thought that he was in for a feast - he really did have that look in his eye as he followed me around. But instead I lugged the pot of snails over to a patch of greenery away from our yard, and released them to fend for themselves elsewhere - though I imagine that the geese will have got them by now. It's tough being a snail.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Day Two

It's hard to believe that it's only day two! It feels like Bingley's been here for weeks (in the best sense......mainly!). The settling-in has gone incredibly smoothly and he seems to be very contented with his new home. We're still getting to know the rhythm of his day, and he's going to have to learn ours as well; but at the moment we've been allowing him a bit of leeway and giving him some attention whenever he asks. He sleeps a lot, which is nice and gives us chance to catch up with ourselves - though it's difficult to not keep checking him out.

Jane has managed to take a couple of days off work, and today the weather was so nice that we spent much of it in the back yard in the sunshine with Bing. We've bought him quite a few toys to play with and he enjoys those, but his favourite playthings are plastic plant pots! He can't get enough of them, and today has spent hours pushing and chasing them around the yard before sitting back and looking very pleased with himself.

In between those sessions he was happy to sleep, usually very close to whoever was out there with him. At one point we were having a cup of tea together on the bench and Bingley immediately joined us, then curled up underneath and went to sleep. He's definitely starting to feel like part of the family.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Bing Day

Well, Bing day went pretty much like a dream. I spent the morning vetting the vets and as chance would have it we ended up choosing the same group as Brian & Julie have been using, so there's great sense of continuity there. In the afternoon I tidied up a few loose ends in the dog house, just to make sure that everything was in place for Bing's arrival that evening. Our friend Annie very kindly volunteered to drive us around to collect Bingley in the evening, so I met up with both Jane and Annie after work. The weather was dreadful! We drove through torrential rain, thunder, lightening and even hail stones at one point! It didn't feel like a very propitious beginning; but by the time we reached Gosforth the sun was out and it was a beautiful evening. Brian and Julie were a delight as always, and Coco came out to meet us - it was just as though she was saying 'he's all packed and ready to go.' In fact he was, and once we'd got over the fact that he'd doubled in size since our last visit we were ready to bundle him up and bring him home. Of course we also had to drag ourselves away from 7 other pups who were very keen to nibble our shoes and explore new smells. They'd all been to the vets that morning, so the journey home was Bingley's second car ride that day - and this one with complete strangers and no brothers and sisters to keep him company. Road works and a traffic accident made the journey take longer than it should have, so by the time we arrived home we didn't have a terribly happy puppy. In fact when we first put him down he immediately pressed himself into a corner by the back door and the fridge and he looked so forlorn.

But thankfully that didn't last long! Jane dipped her fingers in his water bowl and then let him lick the water off of her hand. It worked, and within minutes he was lapping from the water bowl, and crunching through his first meal. Then it was off to explore his new home. He's not going upstairs (really!), and initially we're going to use a child-gate to keep him contained in his dog house; but last night we let him have a good sniff around pretty much wherever he wanted to go.

We ended up exploring and playing in the back yard, which was good fun for all of us - and something of a relief after the trauma of the first few minutes! Then it was back inside where, as puppies do, he decided to stop. And sleep. Right there! In fact his favourite place to sleep is turning out to be with his head resting on a sea-worn brick which we use as a door stop. He ends up curled up in his basket, but he always starts by the brick! Go figure.

Jane slept on the sofa last night, with the kitchen door open - just in case. She got up to check him out a couple of times, and he'd obviously been up to pee on the newspapers. But otherwise it was a peaceful night for both.
So a good start, and certainly not filled with the all-night crying (from all concerned) which we've read can happen.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

The Dog House

Most people, with good reason, are enthusiastic about using a cage for at least the first couple of years. But after giving it a lot of thought we've decided to start without; we have a large utility room which I've been converting into Bingley's room, and at the moment I'm home all day so I can keep an eye on him.

Here's a photo of B's room in its early stages. I actually bought his bed from Ikea! It wouldn't have occured to me to go there for pet accesories, but after spending ages browsing Pets At Home at Gateshead Metrocentre, I needed to call somewhere before I had a little accident and once in Ikea I found that I couldn't get out without walking through the entire shop - a cunning bit of marketing. It took about two days and I was just beginning to despair of ever seeing the real world again when I spotted the exit. Luckily though, before my gleeful dash for freedom, I noticed a selection of pet things including this basket for £14.99! It might not be as luxurious as the £49.99 baskets in Pets At Home, and I'm not averse to spending money on Bingley, but...I couldn't see a great deal of difference between them, and this one is patterned with paw prints! Good old Ikea. I did buy a nice blue water bowl from PAH though, and we're going down again today to select chewy things....and treats.

The observant amongst you will have noticed issues with Bingly's room in the first photo. A section of electricity cable and a radiator valve right next to where he'll sleep - both very tempting to a teething puppy, but certainly not good for him (or for us). Thankfully I'm always hanging on to those useful looking bits of timber left over from DIY projects (what else are lofts for?), so I was able to quickly box off the problematic sections. Here's a photo of the finished job. The accessories are also increasing: there's a lovely soft blue fleece for Bingley to snuggle into - a gift from Liz West, and B's first present! Also a new doggie bowl - with a lovely blue inside and usefully labled 'Dog' just in case we get it muddled with our soup bowls.

The room is bright and airy, it's got a solid floor so little accidents won't be a problem, and I've removed anything that might get damaged or which might cause problems for Bingley. I hope that he appreciates all this! But more importantly we hope that he'll be happy and settled in there.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Bingley not Mr Bingley...

...though I've got no objections! A number of people have asked if Bingley is named after Mr Bingley, which is a question that caught me out the first time. I enjoy Jane Austen's writing immensley, and I've also enjoyed watching Pride & Prejudice on TV & DVD several times - though nowhere near as often as some people I know! And of course I'm referring to the classic BBC version with Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth, and Crispin Bonham-Carter. But for me Bingley's name was so closely associated with the West Yorkshire town of Bingley and its famous and spectacular 5-rise locks that I'd forgotten the literary association. Bingley also just sounds nice. 'A good name for a dog', we thought. We've actually been thinking about getting a dog for a long time, and Bingley was always how we refered to him - so, to a large extent, by this stage all associations have been pretty much forgotten: Bingley is simply the name of our dog.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Puppy Love

{photo: Julie & Brian}

As I've mentioned, we have to wait until Bingley's 8 weeks old before we can introduce him to his new home. But we have been round to meet him, and here's Bing at approx 3 weeks; he's still got blue eyes, but he's definitely looking less like a hamster now!

Julie & Brian invited us round to have a look at all nine pups, and I think to check that we still wanted Bingley once we'd met him. As if that was ever going to be an issue! It was love at first sight, and we'd have happily brought home as many of the pups as we could carry. But it's Bingley who we've chosen and now we just can't wait until he's here.

Brian and Julie have been marvellous, and we feel very fortunate to have met them. They've given the pups a very thorough and warm introduction to the world, and they're going to be a tough act to follow. We're hoping that Bing doesn't miss them too much, or Coco and all his brothers and sisters. Apparently it's not unusual for them to cry for the first few days (I know that I would!), but we've still got a few days to get everything in place and to make sure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible. So now on with the shopping: dog basket, bowls, chewy things....

A very small beginning...

Bingley is a chocolate brown labrador who will very soon become part of our family. We have to wait until he's 8 weeks old before he can come to live with us, so that gives us another week until 'B Day'! We're very excited, and counting the hours.....

{photo: Brian & Julie}

This was our very first view of Bingley! Though to be honest it's difficult to be certain who's who in this photo. Only Coco, Bingley's beautiful mum, is easily identifiable; though I do hope that B's the puppy upper right because that one's got sticky out ears just like Bing Crosby.

Bingley's one of nine pups (3 boys, 6 girls), and in this photo they're just a few hours old. As ├╝berparents Brian and Julie pointed out, they looked more like hamsters at this stage!