Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Walking the dog

It's hard to believe that Bingley has been with us for only 6 weeks! So much seems to have happened and Bingley has changed so much: a short while ago I'd intended writing a post headed '7.2 kilos of fun'. The fun part is still relevant, but the weight quickly changed to 11.7 kilos, and now the post would have to be headed: 14.9 kilos of fun!

When we saw the vet two weeks ago she warned us several times that he was going to be a big dog - but she didn't mention just how quickly he'd grow! Labradors retain their puppy mentality for a couple of years, so pretty soon we're going to have 35 kilos of fun on our hands...or laps...or just squashed on top of us.

The daily walks are great fun, albeit short. We're going out for about half an hour each morning, but less than half of that is spent walking and a lot of the time is spent sitting around enjoying the sights and smells. There are plenty of flowers and shrubs to sniff and explore, but of course his favourite smells are bits of rubbish and the scent of other dogs. There's a definite energy curve to these short forays: initially Bing wants to run across that field (pulling along anyone who happens to be holding the lead!); but quickly those attempts to run turn into attempts to just trot - in a very elegant fashion, it must be said: he really does have a lovely gait.

Of course we're trying to teach him not to be always pulling on his lead, and to politely walk to heel. But that's a story for another day!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Beyond the gates

Bingley's first glimpse of what lay beyond the gates involved a visit to the vet, but this mornings adventure was much more exciting and a lot more enjoyable. We were out by 7am, and even as we were putting on our boots Bingley knew something special was going on. By the time we'd attached his lead and opened the gate he was ready for off; he didn't need any encouragement - he was out there like a shot! 'At last' he seemed to say.

But in fact his first walk was more like one long extended sniffing session. He often snuffles along the bottom of the gates from the inside, and the very first thing he did this morning was push his nose along the outside of the gates - he really was quite intense about it! But then he was off in a zig-zag snuffle all the way down to the local playing fields which we thought would be a good place to start his big-wide-world adventures.

It was a beautiful sunny morning (at last) and the bird song was lovely, so Jane & I certainly enjoyed our walk as well. Bingley, oblivious to all this, just didn't stop exploring and sniffing; in fact one of the few times he did stop and stand still it was just to have a look at the local geese who had wandered out of the allotments. He didn't make any attempt to chase them, but simply watched them waddle away.

We didn't meet any other dogs, and he wasn't at all bothered by the cyclist who went past with squeaky brakes - just an interesting noise to Bing! The fields had recently been mowed and Bingley had great fun gathering up the clods of grass - it's nice to learn that he's going to be helpful with the gardening.

He had another short walk this lunchtime when I took him out to meet Jane on her way back from doing some shopping. The neighbourhood was much busier by then and I must admit that I felt a bit nervous when I saw the first dog walker approaching us. But everything turned out just fine and in fact this time we met two dogs and another puppy during our walk; but they were all greeted with enthusiastic camaraderie and Bingley made it quite clear that he's going to stand his ground when it comes to energetic encounters. Along the way he also received several compliments which would have made him blush if he'd understood them!

So a successful first couple of sorties. He's now thoroughly exhausted and fast asleep, and Jane and I are having to resist the temptation to wake him up and take him out for another walk! But I think that we're all looking forward to tomorrow morning when we can do it all over again.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Dog tag

We can start taking Bingley out for walks this weekend, and as you all know we can hardly wait! Following the 5 minutes a month recommendation (that's 5 minutes walking for every month of Bingley's age) the walks will take up only 15 minutes a day, so we won't be able to go that far at first; but it's still going to be a big adventure for all of us. With these outings in mind we've bought Bingley his first dog tag - bone-shaped of course! So now if the worst happens and he gets himself lost, he only has to look at the address to remind himself of where he belongs. Actually there's little chance of us losing him, the metal tag constantly rings against the metal clasp of his collar so we always know where he is: he now tinkles around like a little mountain goat!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Double trouble

The number of toys in Bingley's toy box has doubled over the past few weeks, mainly thanks to gifts from friends and family. And it's just as well that he has this choice because his energy levels have also more than doubled, and his need for sleep seems to have halved. Until we can finally start taking him out for walks next weekend it's a relief that he can keep himself entertained and occupied with all these goodies, and we're immensely grateful for all his gifts. His two favourite toys are his Wubba and his Little Weed! As it happens, they're also our favourite toys as well; but that's mainly because they're such a dependable source of distraction - we'd be lost without them. And so would Bing, in fact he's rarely without one or the other and recently he's started carrying both of them around. He seems to have entered yet another entertaining stage of development, and interacting with two toys at once has become the norm over the past few days: he'll go around and collect two sets of toys from his stash and then carry them both outside or to his basket. Twice as interesting and double the fun.

But despite all the marvelous gifts, he still returns to those old reliables: plastic plant pots which are always in need of a good crimp, bits of old wood which are very crunchy but don't splinter, and that lovely piece of old boat. Not to mention plastic bottles. I really do admire his humble taste!

Of course he's twice the size now as well. But double the size is double the trouble and we're both having to keep our eyes on him all the time, especially as he's now learning to look upwards! However, even though those rose petals might prove to be irresistible, it’s difficult not to forgive him when he gives us one of those looks.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Friday, 17 August 2007

DogBasket v2.0

Bingley's bed has been heavily used for over a month now and he not only sleeps in it, he also chews and slobbers all over it. Add to that the not always pleasant things he stores there (stones, coal, leaves, and bits of snails are just the start) and you can imagine that by this stage it was getting a bit sticky! Time for a wash, and time to pull out the reserve bed - which we hadn't bought yet!

So this week we were back down at Pets At Home, assessing things with a more experienced eye. When I bought Bingley's bed from Ikea I didn't think that there was a significant difference between that one at £14.99 and the £50 items at PAH. But of course there is a huge difference: the new bed which we chose is more luxurious and much sturdier. Bingley likes to rest his chin on the 'pillow' of his basket, and this new one has a really firm, comfortable pillow - as well as a lovely cushioned base which will keep him nice and cosy.

Once home we decided to surprise him with his new den; so Jane took him out whilst I gave his room its weekly thorough clean, before laying out the new bed and letting Bing back in. There was no problem whatsoever with the transition!

He dashed back in, tentatively sniffed around this new item, then looked up at us for permission: 'Is it ok if I do this?' he seemed to ask! Then he dived straight in (literally!) and charged all over it - chewing and snuffling out every corner. The bed's got very large pillows with deep corners perfect for hiding things, and he loves pushing his muzzle deep into the folds - hiding and then looking for his toys or treats, or anything else that might be stashed away.

The new bed has been a huge success - for all of us!