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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
I thought it was going to be just another ordinary day in our home but there was more activity than normal. Something was going on but I couldn’t quite put my paw on precisely what. I nodded off while waiting for the people parents to come home from work. She took me for a walk and I assumed he was out for a pint and would return later – he’d finished his week of call out duty and was likely to be chilling in a local hostelry. Bedtime came and went and I refused to go up those wooden stairs with the lovely lady of the house, so settled on the sofa.
She sighed, gave me an affectionate pat, and off she went. Some time later I realised he wasn’t coming home. I walked up those stairs with the weight of the world in my little legs. Where was he and why hadn’t he come home?
It took a while to get off that night and when I did, I dreamt of the Wendies. For those of you who don’t know, Wendies live in the dark recesses of the planet Largo. The indigenous aliens use them to bribe and scare their offspring, much like humans do with their children. Wendies are the equivalent of the bogeyman or maybe Father Christmas (I sometimes get those two mixed up). Suffice to say that it wasn’t a pleasant dream. I’m glad I woke up before the Wendies spirited me away.
I wasn’t the only one who didn’t sleep well and she was a little short with me the following day. I forgave her though; she was obviously missing him too. I wondered when he was coming home?
The days passed slowly and I started to think he might be gone for good. I even went to his favourite place in case he’d been delayed there, but still no sign of him.
Night times were always worst when I had to resign myself to the fact that another day had passed without him and it was such an effort to walk up those stairs at the end of each day.
I always enjoy my walks but instead of the usual human accompaniment, my surrogate auntie from next door joined me and my lady. I was left to daydream as they chatted about women’s stuff – no, please don’t ask for details! We occasionally met other dogs and their human companions, and I must confess to a hint of jealousy as I watched some four-legged strangers bask in the love of the human couples they were with. These occasions were tinged with sadness and I couldn’t even be bothered to make friends with these dogs, or have a quick sniff of their nether regions.
Then yesterday I sensed a strange atmosphere. She’d been shopping so the cupboards and the fridge were replenished. There was also some recently purchased beer in the house and a new spring to her step; call me Sherlock Holmes if you will but I know she’s not the type of lady who drinks beer.
My hopes were dashed when she went out in the car when it was dark. Another social function perhaps? Could I have misread the signs? I sighed and fell asleep.
Not sure what time it was when I was woken by the door opening and something else. Yes, it was that familiar Geordie accent. He’s home! My little family is almost reunited (miss you Victoria) and all is well again in my world.
It was great while it lasted, but some things just aren’t meant to be. Pretty much from day one in our relationship I noticed that Teddy drew loads of attention. Don’t get me wrong, people love me too and I get my fair share of cuddles. But with Teddy it was different. Everywhere we went they wanted to admire or touch her. She lapped it up of course but for me, it became a little tedious.
As well as having to cope with this, a few dogs tried their luck (what a cheek!) but Teddy graciously told them that she wasn’t interested and I was her one true love. My heart swelled.
A few weeks ago we were playing ball at the dog beach. As an aside I was a little disappointed to discover that people are allowed on our beaches, but we’re not allowed on theirs. What’s that all about then? Anyway, we were approached by an older looking female Pug who introduced herself as Lola. She had the gift of the gab and it was obvious early on that she was an astute business dog. (I googled her later and was proved correct). She smothered Teddy with compliments, telling her that she was adorable and believed she would make a fab model. She told her about the glamorous life and the travel involved and I could see the faraway look in Teddy’s shining eyes, until she looked at me. Teddy smiled at me, and then turned Lola down. The shine seemed to have disappeared from her eyes and, much as I adored Teddy, I couldn’t let the opportunity of a lifetime escape her.
We had one final date the next day and as we sat holding paws and watching the magnificent sunset from the beach, we vowed to stay in touch and be friends forever. I hope she’ll remember me when she’s rich and famous.
Seeing me a bit down, my people parents decided it was time for an overnight break to take my mind off what could have been.
Off we went to Latchi to stay with some friends in a lovely villa and it was simply wonderful! The weather was sunny and we had lots of fun on long walks, fishing and just shooting the breeze. The people parents and their friends overdid it that night and while they drank and put the world to rights, I spent some time chasing the local cats. They were all a little delicate the following day – the people, not the cats – but I was as right as rain.
I got on with the new people friends, two lovely men, like a house on fire. So well in fact that I’m beginning to wonder if there’s another reason that Teddy and I weren’t right for each other.
One other pleasant surprise during the weekend was the new music. I absolutely loved the Justin Bieber vibe and am pleased to announce that I’m now a Belieber!
This is going to be my last post for a while, I’ll tell you why a bit later on. But firstly, I’m back home from my holidays now. I had a marvellous time but to be honest, I’m glad to be back with my people parents and into my usual routine.
I thought the holiday would be a great opportunity to get back into shape. I’ve been a little sluggish during the winter and haven’t kept as fit as I like to, so I’ve put on a little weight. My plan was to eat salads along with my usual food, not drink very much and go for long walks every day. I’ve never been a gym bunny so long walks suit me fine. I prefer cat food to dog food – I know, let’s just say that I’m different – so a few small bowls of cat food mixed with some dry biscuits and a couple of treats during the day and I’m well happy. I don’t know if it was the trauma of my dating experiences, seeing my people parents drive away, or getting used to the new environment that made me really hungry. The idea of salads went straight out of the window once I got my nose around the delicious smells coming from the kitchen. Braised Steak in Onion Gravy? Don’t mind if I do thanks. Bit of Sunday dinner roast pork or lettuce and tomato? Hmm, let me just think about that one! I did go for walks but shorter than I intended. I haven’t quite worked out whether I’m one of those emotional eaters or if I just love my food. The bottom line is that I returned home a little bigger than when I arrived and now the hard work of getting in shape really starts.
There’s also another reason why I want to get fit. We haven’t gone public yet, but look who I’ve met.
Her name’s Teddy and I think you’ll agree that she’s absolutely gorgeous! Teddy could have any dog she wants but she’s chosen me, I’m so blessed. These days I don’t feel the need to bark at the postman or strangers, bird song seems oh so sweeter and I just can’t stop smiling. I’m loath to use the ‘L’ word due to my other dating disasters and it is early days yet. But I’ve got a good feeling about this, a really good feeling.