Category Archives: Dogs

Dog Squad Blog – Pip, A Giant Amongst Dogs

This week my good friend John Wolsey writes a moving tribute to Pip.

The Passing of a Friend. 

I feel quite uncomfortable writing about Pip, our beloved Parsons Russell Terrier, because he was very much part of our life and he passed away on 3 May 15, leaving a massive void. So, I thought about what I should write, and in doing so I welled up uncontrollably. Quite irrational really, but the act of remembering Pip was so profound and the memory of him still so raw. Emotions eh! Non-dog owners would tell you that is silly. But to those, who have been fortunate enough to have had the companionship of a dog in our life, well, it’s a whole different “ball game”, so to speak! They are family, in a way non-dog owners will not fully understand. You see, to me, Pip wasn’t just a dog, he was a giant amongst dogs. 

Pip came from a farm, in Dorset, and his Mum and Dad were working dogs. When we asked his name, the farmer said, in a broad West country accent, that he did not have a name, they just called him “the little sod” because he was so mischievous. And so it was. He was mischievous to a fault, and energetic, and playful, and happy. He loved digging (all terriers do) and when you tried to stop him, he would run around the garden in circles at high speed, with his bottom tucked up under his back legs, swerving and dodging and side-stepping. He also had that classic terrier trait of running on 3 legs, especially down stairs! 

And slowly our life changed, to accommodate Pip. The once tidy sitting room was semi littered with toys and his teddies. Blankets covered the sofa. Water and food bowls filled the kitchen, and assorted towels, brushes and leads hung in the hallway. 

Despite his size, Pip was as brave and fearless as a lion. Once, when attacked and bitten by a much larger dog, he would not give up the fight despite the odds stacked against him. But he had a soft side too, and would paw you for more, when you stopped stroking him. And at night, he would cuddle down (usually on my feet, under my duvet) with his favourite teddy. 

We moved to Austria in 2011. Pip took to the move like a duck to water and grinned at everybody (he had always “smiled” at people from early puppyhood). Indeed, Pip helped our integration into Village life, and we were often asked “Ist das der Hund, der grinst?” (Is that the dog that grins?). The move also coincided with one of the coldest winters, often minus 20, and Pip would return home covered in icicles and snow balls. What have I come to, he must have quietly thought as his garden was covered in snow for half the year. 

Just chilling

It was with some trepidation we adopted a kitten, given Pip’s penchant for chasing anything small that moved. But the kitten loved Pip, and Pip tolerated the kitten. In time they became the best of friends, and Pip gave up sleeping under my duvet in favour of snuggling down on the sofa with the kitten. They would often happily stare out of the window together, watching the world go by. And the kitten would practice her attack and pounce moves, on his head, when he was sleeping. 


Stop messing with my head!

Pip was always busy, and had a character that could melt your heart. He was loyal beyond question and loved our family unconditionally. He never judged us, but always met us, tail wagging and grinning from ear to ear. As time went by he did slow down and would sleep more and more. And then came the heart-wrenching day when, quite out of the blue, he had a stroke. It simply broke my heart. But that is what dogs do to you, don’t they? You don’t own them, but they fill your very heart and soul. And so it was with Pip. And I realised at that moment that I, too, had loved him unconditionally all along. I was there for him at the end, in the same way that he had always been there for me. 

The house is now very empty without Pip and his leads and towels and bowls lie redundant in the dusty attic. His teddies are there, too, in a box. And all his memories. But in some ways the process of writing this blog has been both cathartic and uplifting as we remembered him, and laughed and cried out loud, all at the same time. 

So, keep your dogs in a special corner of your heart, and love them dearly, for one day, too, they will be sadly gone. But never forgotten.

What a moving tale, thanks for sharing John.

The characters in ‘The Island Dog Squad’ novellas are featured earlier in this blog series. Click http://smarturl.it/ru5uye to learn more about the first book in the series.

“I have nothing but the highest of praises to sing for this thought-provoking, tear-jerking tale of torture, death, hope and survival.” Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars

Dog Squad Blog – The Lady of the House

Today’s dog story is from Mandy. We met at netball training years ago and have been friends ever since. Mandy lives near Monchengladbach in Germany with her husband Richard and their dog.

Hi I’m Mandy and have a wonderful little Mini Schnauzer named Lady. She is my first dog. I never imagined I’d own a dog, as my husband Richard has never wanted one. We have four grown up boys and they decided to buy me a dog for my birthday. They checked with Richard first and he agreed the day after. I knew I wanted a Mini Schnauzer and two of the boys came to the farm to look at the dogs with me. This was supposed to be an initial visit with a view to picking a dog at a later date. There were three Minis there and I was drawn to Lady who was the smallest. As soon as I picked her up I knew she was the one so decided she was coming home with us. 

I think I need a haircut mum

Lady didn’t have a good start in life. I’m not sure where she was born but she was taken to the farm in the Netherlands and that’s where we picked her up. She already had a pet passport and all of her vaccinations were up to date. She was five and a half months old when she came home with us, and I believe whatever happened to her as a young puppy has caused her to be anxious. When we visited the vet to get Lady checked over, she had quite a bad ear infection. Luckily it cleared up within a few weeks with the treatment and she hasn’t had one since.

Hello Flower
Hello Flower


Lady is quite small even for a Mini. She is great with people but is quite anxious around other dogs. She’s never really played with them and even at puppy school she would hang around my legs. Saying that, she loves to play and also loves lots of cuddles with her human brothers and her people parents. Richard is smitten and has welcomed Lady as a big part of our family.

A Cuddle Break

She can be quite a stubborn little madam at times and refuses to go out when it’s raining, but she absolutely loves the snow. We enjoy the outdoors especially walking holidays and Lady travels well in the car so we take her with us. Thankfully, many hotels and guesthouses in Germany are dog friendly so I’ve never had to leave Lady in kennels – she’s a sensitive girl and I don’t think she would cope.

Yay, snow!

Lady sleeps in her crate at night in the front room but only goes in there when I go to bed. She’s usually sleeping on the sofa by then and I lay her in her bed like I would a baby, and of course I give her a kiss goodnight (but don’t tell anyone). 

Since Lady came into our lives I am much more confident with other dogs. I was always apprehensive of them as a dog bit me when I was a child. It’s also amazing how many people stop and speak when you’re with a dog; including people that I have lived near for years but have never noticed me. 

Lady is intelligent and learns quickly. She loves her food, which is a great incentive when teaching her anything new. Her favourite thing is tummy rubs and she always paws for more – just as she’s doing now. 

Like most dogs, Lady loves going for walks and this is good for me too. I take her out at least three times each day and try to make one of the walks an hour long. This has started to show on my waistline so it’s a win, win situation. 

Coming for a walk?

Lady is almost nineteen months old and has such a sweet nature. It doesn’t matter if I go out or even leave the room for five minutes or three hours, I get the same welcome and she goes bananas when I return. She’s my little shadow so maybe that’s what we should have named her. On second thoughts, no. Lady suits her because she’s our little Lady. She’s brought lots more love to our home and now we can’t imagine our lives without her. 

Lady is loveable, just like the main characters in ‘The Island Dog Squad’ who are based on real dogs featured earlier in this blog series. Click http://smarturl.it/ru5uye to check out book one.

“I have nothing but the highest of praises to sing for this thought-provoking, tear-jerking tale of torture, death, hope and survival.” Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars

Dog Squad Blog – Lovely Little Lexi

Today’s guest blogger is Charity Rowell-Stansbury. Charity has been a blogger for over ten years and an avid reader for as long as she can remember. She adores her 10-year-old rescue dog Lexi who isn’t part of the original Islan Dog Squad, but features in Book 3. Here’s their story, told by Charity. 

Lexi has been my constant companion and muse for two years. Our story almost ended before it even began. 

In April 2015, I was diagnosed with PTSD and I lost my job shortly after. A little over a year into a marriage with my now ex-husband, Kyle, we decided that it would be nice if I had a companion who could stay with me at home while Kyle was at work. We were both determined to adopt a dog; however, we also knew it would be difficult because I have asthma and allergies, which means I can only tolerate certain breeds. Since the dog was more for me than him, it was up to me to filter through the hundreds of dogs in our local rescue agencies to find one that might be a good match.

After a couple of weeks of searching and following local rescues on Facebook, one of the local agencies posted a picture of a dog named “Coconut.” Her story was incredibly sad because she had an owner who loved her very much, but he wasn’t able to continue to take care of her. Unfortunately, she had heartworm and the agency was trying to raise funds to cure her. I expressed our interest in her and even offered to pay a portion of the heartworm cure, plus the adoption fee, for the opportunity to meet her. Over the course of two weeks, the agency seemed receptive, but I started receiving private messages from complete strangers on Facebook telling me that the agency was just stringing me along to receive a donation. When I pressed the rescue agency for a specific date when Kyle and I could meet Coconut, I was told that she had been promised to someone else. I was crushed and was ready to put my search on hold for a few weeks because I didn’t think I could handle another rejection. 

Coconut

A couple of days after my horrible experience, I decided to look just one more time at another agency’s site before taking a break. During that search, I found this picture:

Lexi, pre-adoption 2016

Her name was “Lexi” and she was a Maltese; one of the breeds that several allergy and asthma foundations said I should be able to tolerate. I could see the wariness in her eyes but there was something else behind it, curiosity and a bit of playfulness. I imagined she was looking at the camera saying “Whatcha doin’?” I saw a couple of other dogs on the site that I also liked, so I sent an email expressing my interest. 

A little over a week later, I received a phone call from Nancy, a foster guardian with the rescue agency. She said that all of the other dogs were adopted, except for Lexi because she was shy and reserved during adoption events. I immediately empathized with Lexi because I can be shy and reserved around groups of people, and it takes me a while to warm up to new friends. I admitted to Nancy that Lexi was my first choice, but I was a bit wary of mentioning it in the email because of my experience with the other rescue agency. Nancy and I set up a date for when she and Lexi could come by the apartment. At the end of the meeting, Kyle and I had a new furry family member. 

Lexi, day after adoption

Since Lexi is the first dog I’ve ever had, I was overwhelmed at first. When we spent our first day at home alone together, we did a lot of staring at each other and thinking, “What am I supposed to do with you?” After a couple of days, I learned that she was timid about exploring her surroundings and I needed to be calm and confident to encourage her when we went outside. After a week, she was more confident about walking outside and decided that she wanted to introduce herself to some of the people in our apartment community. This forced me to come out of my shell and connect with neighbors. It didn’t take us too long to figure out our individual strengths and weaknesses, and we soon learned how to emotionally support each other.

Lexi, 2016

Today, Lexi is a completely different dog. We’ve been through a lot together, including a precipitous change of address and a divorce, but we have overcome these challenges together. I can’t imagine going through the past couple of years without her, and I’m looking forward to going through the next few years with her in my life.

Lexi, 2019

To read more about Charity and Lexi, check out Charity’s wonderful blog and book reviews here: https://www.onmykindle.net

Dog Squad Blog – Barking Mad Chip

Today my guest blogger is Dean Evans. Dean and Sarah are the proud people parents of Chip (AKA Aden in the books). If Chip were a person he would be called eccentric or a nutter (depending on your point of view). I’ll let Dean explain.

Chip’s story starts in a scrapyard in Barnsley. We saw this tri-colour Collie with pedigree papers, when he was six months old. He was skinny (weighing five kilos), covered in bite marks, with both eyes full of gunk. But he was such a happy little boy. He didn’t like walking on a lead at that age but was very obedient. 

I brought him home and he settled in well with our five year old Husky Thor. There was drama on our second walk out with both dogs. Chip confronted a Rhodesian Ridgeback that had a go at Thor who was forty-five kilos of non-confrontational Husky. He got in front of Thor to protect him – all five kilos of him. He soon started to gain weight and put on three kilos during the first week with us. 

Chip has developed some strange habits. The kids where we used to live nicknamed him the spinning dog, due to him spinning continuously up the road on walks. Not sure if this was because I was walking too slowly or if he is completely mad. He also used to chase cars. He’s now decided that’s too much hassle so when given the chance, he sprints up the roads in the opposite direction to the car, absolutely flat out, then comes back tail up, looking very pleased with himself. If Sarah or I stop to talk to someone during one of our walks or are chatting to the neighbours, Chip loves to make as much noise as possible. He is so jealous around other dogs and hates me stroking or giving them any attention. He shows his displeasure by eyeballing them and they learn to back off. 

Butter wouldn’t melt…

Chip could also be described as an all-in-one home entertainment system. When watching any sports he is very noisy and barks at the TV or makes other strange noises when he has a toy in his mouth. He is most excitable during football matches but also enjoys rugby, cricket and boxing. As long as spectators are making a noise he is quite happy and loves winding himself up during goal kicks, free kicks and corners.

Chip watching footie

Well known for being the fun police with other dogs, Chip will run for miles to stop other dogs enjoying themselves. He also goes berserk around the swimming pool when the grandkids are over making mad noises, picking up any toys in his mouth and running off with them.

Chip chastising Obie

Like most dogs, he is very enthusiastic about food and chases us around the kitchen near dinnertime keeping so close that he constantly bumps into whoever is feeding him. He is also a grazer at meal times; a few mouthfuls at a time then back five minutes later for a few more.

He absolutely hates the heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and shakes like a leaf. Any loud noises freak him out and at night he will jump up on the bed and if he’s really frightened will lie across my head. Only my head by the way and he only ever wakes me up if he needs to go out at night – he knows who the soft touch is in our house.

So he’s crazy, loud and a bit strange but he’s a massive personality and a whole lot of fun. Chip’s wonderful and he makes our world a better place.

Click here to discover more about The Island Dog Squad. http://smarturl.it/ru5uye

Dog Squad Blog – Obie (AKA Digger)

Last week my friend Joanne told us all about her adorable Pug named Lola. Jo’s youngest dog is Obie and this is his story.

Obie was a rescue puppy. He was put in a bag along with two siblings and the bag was thrown into a dog pound. I saw a picture of him on Facebook asking for adoptive parents and told the kids I wasn’t sure whether I wanted another dog. But we all went for a look anyway.

Isn’t he lovely?

My resolve didn’t last long and within five minutes of meeting him, I had agreed to adopt. We took him home straight away. It turns out I’m an impulsive shopper, even with dogs! I’ll just add here that we also have three cats and we all adore our pack; correction, we did have three cats.  One has decamped and lives between us and a Russian neighbor – I think their food is posher than ours. She does come to visit every now and then but has turned into a bit of a snob and turns her nose up at my offerings.

What you looking at?

Now back to Obie. He was an extremely naughty puppy. But only after he sussed us out and worked out what he could get away with. I didn’t realise his initial quietness was just a trick to lull us all into a false sense of security. We certainly fell in love with him and soon after that happened, he turned into the devil dog. Obie chewed everything from balcony chairs, to bras, cushions and shoes. In fact, he is not at all fussy and will chew at anything he can get his teeth into. He is very active and his favourite pastimes are going for long walks and runs. Since I’ve got the fitness bug I take him running and he loves it, to the point of getting very excited as soon as my trainers come out of the cupboard. 

…And sleep

Initially Lola hated Obie but they have now bonded and cuddle up together every night in the same bed. He is forever trying to get Lola to play fight with him but she is sooooo not interested. I’ve even caught him dragging her around the garden holding onto the rolls of fat she has on her neck. When he becomes too much for her she certainly lets him know.

“I know you love me really Lola.”

Obie’s code name in Deb’s books is Digger and there’s a reason for this. I have to be vigilant otherwise he will dig up all the plants in my garden and ruin all of our good work. This is frustrating as Lola has now got out of the habit of doing this but Obie’s decided to take her place. He is also an escape artist and sees any gate or fence as a challenge. But like most dogs, Obie loves his food and a little whistle with the promise of a treat, or a rustle of paper will bring him running back quicker than lightning. 

Butter wouldn’t melt

We love him even though he’s a naughty boy and sometimes makes us scream. He’s the youngest member of our pack and home wouldn’t be home without Obie.

If you’re curious about ‘The Island Dog Squad’ novellas, you can find out more at this link http://smarturl.it/ru5uye

“I have nothing but the highest of praises to sing for this thought-provoking, tear-jerking tale of torture, death, hope and survival.” Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars

Dog Squad Blog – A Pug Named Lola

Lola and Obie belong to my friend Jo and Sandy hit it off with them both as soon as they met. When Sandy and Obie become too boisterous, Lola gives them a little warning and they always heed it. Lola seemed a natural for the role of ‘Dog Squad’ leader, mission name Bunty. 

The real Lola and Obie

Here’s Lola’s story, told by Jo.

For many years I wanted a pug, their unusual look and character appealed to me. One day I went into the pet shop with my daughter to buy fish food. I noticed a little pug puppy sitting in its cage looking at me. She was tiny and of course we picked her up, cooed over her and instantly fell in love. I handed over 700 Cypriot pounds – we left the pet shop with the pug and without the fish food we were supposed to buy. 

Lola took over the house with all her toys, bed, and feeding bowls. When I brought my son Zak home from nursery that day, he was ecstatic and went wild when he saw her. Lola and Zak quickly became best buddies and even go to bed together now at the same time in the same room.

As a puppy Lola was partial to my plant pots in the garden, quite often we found her running around the garden with one in her mouth and my lovely plants devastated, if I shouted at her for being a naughty girl she would huff and puff and turn her back on me. She doesn’t take well to discipline but I’ve since discovered this is a common trait amongst pugs.

For such a small dog she is a huge princess! Lola is extremely stubborn and if she doesn’t want to do something there is no making her do it. She will even throw a dirty look and turn her back on you. As for her snoring, it’s like an old-fashioned train. 

…And sleep

Lola must be the only dog that doesn’t like exercise. When the fancy takes her she can trot along with the rest of us but when she’s had enough or if she doesn’t like the route she goes on strike, sits down and refuses to move. Carrying her home is not an option; she is a solid 12 kilos. So we do tend to bow down to her and take the route her majesty dictates.

Just chilling

She follows me everywhere in the house. I can’t even go to the bathroom without Lola and Obie sitting guard at the side of me. 

Lola is a funny, unusual little girl adored by us all. For such a small dog she has a massive personality and none of us could imagine what our home would be like without her. 

Obie and Lola are like chalk and cheese and I’ll tell you Obie’s story next time.

To find our more about ‘The Island Dog Squad’ series, click here.http://smarturl.it/ru5uye

“I have nothing but the highest of praises to sing for this thought-provoking, tear-jerking tale of torture, death, hope and survival.” Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars

What if?

Life can take us in many different directions, some planned others not. I believe it’s called fate.

I’m Sandy, I was rescued by my people parents Allan and Deb on 14 March 2018. I think rescued is a bit of a stretch actually. I was living quite comfortably in a cat and dog rehoming centre on a military base in Cyprus, (BARC Cyprus) where we were all treated very well. Fed and watered, accommodated in basic digs, received lots of cuddles, and all our needs met. The only things missing were having our very own people parents, or a family to room with, depending on your perspective.

Deb came to look at another dog in February. She saw me first then decided almost instantly that I was ‘the one’. She only had to convince Allan to agree. He visited the following day and liked me too. At this stage I thought they were amongst the many volunteer walkers who helped out the centre staff, so didn’t allow myself to get too attached – though I felt a connection with Allan almost immediately. By the fourth visit I suspected something was going on, so here I am, sitting downstairs in their lovely home in Souni Village, contemplating the route my life has taken. They are out at work for a few hours, grafting they tell me so that I can be kept in the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed during the past couple of months.
I’m having a lazy couple of hours having already worked out how to get the treats out of the toy they left me, those little titbits are long gone. So now I return to my original question. What if?
What if I had been the only blonde puppy born in a litter of adorable black puppies, and the mistress had a reason for disliking blondes?
What if I had almost been attacked by a nasty-looking big fish with massive teeth, then another, prettier big fish saved me?
And what if I’d been washed up on a beach and saved by uniformed dog trainers who taught me skills your average dog could not even imagine?
The story started to form and I’m determined to get it all down and published eventually so you can read about what might have happened if my life had taken a different direction.
Next time I’ll introduce you to some of the other characters in ‘The Island Dog Squad’, and their special talents. I might even tell you how we met.
Oh and by the way, I didn’t tell the other dog that Deb had come to look at her. Sometimes ignorance can be bliss.

The Island Dog Squad – Coming to Amazon on 20 July 2018

I’m excited to tell you that the first book in my new series of novellas will be live on Amazon on 20 July 2018. ‘The Island Dog Squad’ is inspired by Sandy, our lovely rescue dog. Sandy intends to write a blog about the series and her life, and will get around to it shortly.

Jessica Bell designed the cover and came up with these three after I submitted the questionnaire. They’re all fabulous so it was a really difficult decision. I asked some of my friends and readers on Facebook what they think, then decided to go for my favourite, with the dog standing on the rocks.

This is the winner!

 

Here’s the blurb and a few comments from the 5-star reviews:

I have nothing but the highest of praises to sing for this thought-provoking, tear-jerking tale of torture, death, hope and survival.” 

Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite

 

“Anyone who’s had the privilege of sharing their lives with an animal companion will love Sandy’s story … most highly recommended.” 

Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

 

In the depths of despair, she has no idea who, or where she is.

Dying of thirst and with her ribcage almost poking through her skin, she can barely put one paw in front of the other when she’s rescued from the street.

When Sandy’s people parents take her to her beautiful new home on the island, she tries to focus on her future, and return the love and kindness showered upon her.

Then she meets Lola, Obie and Chip, and the traumatic flashbacks begin.

As her past slowly unravels, and her memory returns, Sandy must make a choice that will determine her life and her future.

What will she decide?

‘The Island Dog Squad’, an animal action and adventure novella, told by Sandy the rescue dog.

Who’s the Top Dog?

Please welcome the multi-genre best-selling author Jean Gill. I love Jean’s historical novels, the Troubadours Quartet. But am excited to hear that her wonderful dog story ‘Someone To Look Up To: (a dog’s search for love and understanding)’ is currently the number one best seller in its category on Amazon. I’ve asked Jean to give us an insight into her life in France and how she became a best-seller.
Over to you Jean.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Thank you, Deb! I’m a Welsh writer and photographer now living in the south of France with a big white dog, a scruffy black dog, a Nikon D750 and a man. We escaped the rain in 2003 when my husband retired. I wanted to write full-time after having taught English in Wales for many years. My claim to fame is that I was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Wales. I’m also mother or stepmother to five children so life was very hectic.

Have you always loved dogs?

I joined the P.D.S.A. (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) when I was seven. I knitted blankets for dogs and nagged my parents for one (with no luck, as we moved house and country too often). As an adult, the moment I was in a house with a garden, I adopted a dog advertised in the local paper as ‘deaf Pyrenean puppy needs re-homing’. So I think that’s a ‘yes’. 😊

How did you become a dog trainer?

When we moved to France, I joined French dog forums to meet other fans of the Great Pyrenees breed. We’d been owned by four of them and were discussing whether to start the great adventure once again. Training was often discussed on the forums and somebody recommended Michel Hasbrouck’s bestseller Dressage Tendresse so I read it and it all made sense to me.

Jean with Bétel learning to swim

I contacted Michel to ask whether he knew of a similar book in English for my friends, and he said, ‘Why don’t you translate it for me?’ So I did, and we found a publisher to bring out Gentle Dog Training. Michel and I became friends, and worked together to support dog-owners online, offering them his Dogmaster training.

When we welcomed two Great Pyrenees puppies into the family, I took the first one, Blanche, to Michel in Switzerland, for two days intensive training (of me, not of the dog). We always joked that she’d been to Swiss Finishing School.

A few years later, after we’d worked together online, I went back to train as a dog-trainer and passed the weekend’s challenges – like most experts, Michel is exacting. I wanted to continue but life threw me a curve ball. My husband needed an emergency appendectomy and I faced the fact that, in my fifties, I couldn’t take on all these new careers, or I’d explode.

I trained as a beekeeper instead and I did learn enough from Michel to feel confident in dealing with whatever problems my own dogs present. That has been a life-saver.

Is the book fiction or faction?

Faction. All the stories in the book are true, based on some of the thousands of true stories I came across on forums and in my work with Michel. They did not all happen to the same dog but I shaped them to make an adventure from the dog’s viewpoint, to show both the mistakes we humans make and the love we could find.

And your characters, are they based on real people/dogs?

The character of Sirius owes a lot to my own dog Bételgeuse, who had a sense of justice as big as his heart. His sister Snow is very like my Blanche-Neige, feisty and playful. Some of the anecdotes in the book are from my own life with dogs. Blanche really did steal a whole slab of Beaufort cheese and sat there with her cheeks hamsterful, jaws glued together, until I noticed and rescued her.

Unfortunately, the macho attitude to dog-training is also drawn from life and I well remember one man, a doctor by profession, bragging about how he disciplined his Great Pyrenees.

As for animal shelters: yes, there are indeed some like this, with these types of people working there. We have adopted three dogs from French shelters, since I wrote the book, and life matched fiction far too well.

Any advice for new dog owners? (My husband and I are looking to adopt our first dog from a rescue centre).

The great adventure begins! Advice is not a one-off as the more you learn, the more you’ll understand. Read Someone To Look Up To – of course! I’ve blogged about dog adoption too, with some advice here

And in my book One Sixth of a Gill http://smarturl.it/1sixth which is available free to those who sign up for my newsletter. www.jeangill.com

Top Tips

Choosing – talk to the shelter workers about what sort of life you are offering the dog and listen to their recommendations. Don’t let pity rule you. Don’t choose a dog with health problems. Don’t choose a scared dog. Especially if you are new to dog adoption, you want to lessen your chance of dealing with aggression. Don’t worry if the dog is more interested in rushing along the lane on a test walk than he/she is in you – shelter dogs have to make the most of the tiny amount of time they have outside a cage.

Travel

If you can, make the journey from shelter to your home a chance for you to talk to your dog, to stroke him, to give him some dog treats, (if he likes them). Let him have an old cardigan with your smell on it. This is where the relationship begins. You can use a dog crate with the cardigan and some treats in it, especially if travelling alone. Make sure you have a collar with your contact on it, to put on the dog – dogs get lost by escaping at this stage!

Jean’s current dogs – Sherlock and Watson

Jean with Betel

Homecoming

Make time to be with your dog for at least the first 2 days and ban all your friends and neighbours from the house. Your dog has enough to deal with! Establish a routine to make the dog feel secure; a place to sleep, a place for food and routine times for going outside. DON’T let the dog off-lead anywhere that’s not fenced, for at least 2 months and even then, test that the recall can be trusted. If not, DON’T take a risk. It is normal for a dog to try to escape, even to go back to a horrible shelter. Your dog has to learn that this is home.

When your dog is lying peacefully, doing nothing wrong, praise him in a purring voice. Tell him he’s beautiful. Love him with your voice. Ditto when he does something you want to encourage.

NEVER ask your dog to do something unless you can enforce it. You are teaching disobedience and disrespect.

THE TIP OF TIPS

Ask for help if you need it, from a trusted dog trainer who never recommends hitting or shouting.

I could write a book on it! But of course I have. As has Michel.

What other books do you write?

I’ve written nineteen books, including medieval historical fiction (the award-winning Troubadours Quartet), memoir, non-fiction, Young Adult and poetry.

What is your next project?

I don’t know! I have several photography projects, including a shoot in a smithy with a master craftsman who’s going to make me a Damascene steel knife. My bees will wake up in the next couple of months. I am working on Watson’s vélophobie – he goes bonkers when he sees a bicycle. I can only guess at what happened in his life before us – he was dumped twice at the shelter. But I don’t know what I’m going to write next. Input from my readers will influence my choice as I have drawerfuls of ideas and don’t know what to choose. What do you think I should write next?

Thanks for sharing Jean and for your top training tips. I’m popping over to Amazon now to check out your other books.

As for your next writing project. I know your readers would love another historical fiction series or how about some cozy mysteries involving a bee-keeping amateur detective?

Check out the links below if you want to contact Jean Gill or would like to know more about her books.

Jean.gill@wanadoo.fr

IPPY Award for Best Author Website www.jeangill.com

Blog www.jeangill.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/writerjeangill

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/writerjeangill

The Troubadours Page https://www.facebook.com/jeangilltroubadours

Youtube book trailers https://www.youtube.com/user/beteljean

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/writerjeangill/