Category Archives: Pets

Dog Squad Blog – My Friend Watson

In April award winning author Jean Gill told us all about her four-legged friend Sherlock. This time it’s Watson’s turn.

In November, 2016,  I started re-taking the online quizzes as to which dog breed would suit me, and I knew it was time to bring a second dog into our life again. A friend for Sherlock, whose story I told here https://debmcewansbooksandblogs.com/2019/04/10/dog-squad-blog-elementary-my-dear-watson/. One of the breeds suggested by my online quizzes was a Khortals, a wire-haired pointing griffon and I took a fancy to these beautiful feisty red-coated gun-dogs. I was checking out breeders and refuges, torn between getting a puppy and adoption, when one description smacked me in the face. 

Donald. A Khortals cross.

No dog deserves that name, whatever your politics. I took it as a sign. My Long-Suffering Husband had already said yes to the principle of another dog and he leaves the detail to me. So we headed up the motorway for an hour to Donald’s refuge, one of the better ones.

Even if you don’t understand French, you’ll see that Donald is 21kg, slim and cute. The drab dog that waddled out to see us was overweight and would be 32kg when he shaped up and gained some muscle again. Too big for most people but we were pleased – we’d thought 21kg was very small as we were used to Pyrenean Mountain Dogs.

Shelter information on a dog has a kernel of truth and much that is either behaviour induced by the situation or even well-intentioned invention, like Donald’s size and weight, intended to attract new owners. So, in direct contradiction of the ‘facts’ in his description, Donald pulled like hell on the lead, growled at Sherlock when lunging after rubbish on the verge. 

We later found that he is the most chilled dog we’ve ever had about us going out and returning. He was supposed to be prone to anxiety separation, which was why he was returned to the shelter. Nope. No anxiety. That was supposed to be his failing but – don’t worry! – we discovered other reasons behind him being dumped twice. He’d been picked up as a stray in February, no ID; transferred to the refuge; adopted in July for the summer holidays and brought back in September when his owner went back to work. So he’d spent most of 2016 in the shelter, getting fat and being called Donald.

What was true about him was that he was confident and affectionate with people. That would be a nice change, I thought, but I was worried because he’d growled at Sherlock. Two male dogs at loggerheads would not be fun.


I wasn’t sure but I knew he’d be easy with my husband and with visitors, and that it was up to me to create a respectful relationship between the two dogs, with – hopefully – friendship developing. So I went for it, encouraged by the volunteers at the shelter saying to each other that ‘Donald le doux’ had found a home. Surely the nickname ‘the softie’ had some basis? Unless it was a joke like Little John in the Robin Hood tales – a giant.

When the newly-named Watson came home with us, I tested my theory about why he’d growled – and why he was fat. I kept Watson on-lead but in the same room as Sherlock, while they both ate, each from his own bowl, with some distance between the two. Watson gulped his food down and would have had Sherlock’s if he hadn’t been restrained by the lead. I was right. Food had been competitive in the box Watson shared with some adolescent hunting-dogs – and Watson had won more than his share for months.

Over a few months, Watson slowed down in his eating habits and respected Sherlock’s food bowl. He lost his ‘every dog for himself’ mentality and learned to trust me. The detectives are a great team, more comfortable with each other than I could have hoped. At twilight one day, wild boar were grazing in the orchard outside our fenced garden and the biggest of them charged right at me. Sherlock, the ex-hunting dog, shivered in total panic. Watson, who’d been raised as a pet, didn’t hesitate. He charged back at that boar, to protect me. The boar ran away and the fence prevented any disaster but Watson had shown true courage and I won’t forget that moment.

He’s not a morning person so will just wave a leg at you from the comfort of his bed, and accept a tummy tickle, while Sherlock does his happy dance at seeing you again each new day. He has a slight problem with his joints but that doesn’t spoil his life or ours and he’s always up for a little game of frisbee. 

Now we know Watson, do we have an idea as to why he was abandoned, twice? Maybe because he has an extreme hatred of bicycles and cyclists. I suspect something happened to him – perhaps an accident or perhaps he was forced to go on walks attached to a bicycle. I’ve trained him to lie down if a cyclist comes past when we’re out on a walk but I wouldn’t trust him off-lead. He has plenty of room to run around at home so that doesn’t matter.

Or maybe it’s because he does weird howls in the night sometimes. The total Baskerville experience.

I showed this private video, taken with a stealth camera, to our vet who was no more worried than Sherlock seems. The vet’s only suggestion was that Watson’s a werewolf. I think he sees dead people. If I’m there when he does it, I can say ‘No’ and he stops, so he’s in control of himself and he’s not ill. It’s very weird and we’re lucky our neighbours aren’t too close. Visitors who stay overnight here are warned.

He is also territorial in the car and barks at a passing fly, much to Sherlock’s confusion. When we’ve taken the detectives on holiday, Watson’s rendition of ‘Are we there yet?’ has been deafening but we’ve managed to drive three hours into the mountains and enjoy a week with these two amazingly civilised ex-shelter dogs.  A filled kong toy to chew when travelling has been an ear-saver.

Am I glad I said yes to Watson? Look at this photo. Pure joy. That’s what life is all about.

Thanks Jean. If you’d like to read more, Jean’s latest novel, an eco fantasy for nature lovers, takes the original viewpoint of bees as central characters. At special pre-order price here https://www.books2read.com/QueenBee and the Publication Date is 7thJune. I loved it.

AUTHOR BIO

www.jeangill.comJean Gill is an award-winning Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with two big scruffy dogs, a beehive named Endeavour, a Nikon D750 and a man. For many years, she taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. She is mother or stepmother to five children so life was hectic.

Publications are varied, including poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

Sign up for Jean’s Special Readers’ Group at http://eepurl.com/AGvy5for exclusive news and offers. If you review one of Jean’s books you can add a dog to Jean’s Readers Dogs Hall of Fame on her website. Contact Jean at jean.gill@wanadoo.fr with comments or questions. She loves to hear from readers.

CONTACT

Contact jean.gill@wanadoo.fr

Sign up for Jean’s Newsletter http://eepurl.com/AGvy5

Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPvXZBW-VLBibveKhXA-QZQ

IPPY Award-winning ‘Best Author Website’ www.jeangill.com

Blog www.jeangill.blogspot.com

Twitter  https://twitter.com/writerjeangill

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

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

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619468.Jean_Gill

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

Dog Squad Blog – Lord Banjo The Royal Pooch

Kathy Manos Penn is a corporate retiree—or escapee—who taught English before embarking on her 32-year corporate career. There,  it seemed she was always the go-to person for writing speeches, presentations, blogs, you name it, no matter her actual job. Says Kathy, “Finally, in my last ten years, I landed in a job with the word ‘communications’ in the title.” 

On a whim, she submitted an article to a local paper and wound up with a side job as a columnist. And then . . . her dog started writing. 

This week, Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch shares the story of how he came to be a dog author, with just a little bit of help from his mum. 

 Craigslist PostFlat-coated retriever needs a new home NOW. Home in foreclosure. Must go today or go to ANIMAL SHELTER tomorrow–Saturday.

And so begins my story.  I was the two-year-old dog in dire straits.  What were the chances someone would see a Friday afternoon post and respond in time to save me from a trip to the shelter the next morning?  Even if some caring person responded, would they want me once they discovered I was an 80-lb two-year-old black dog?

Eighty pounds? Strike one.  Black? Strike two.  It’s common knowledge we black dogs are the ones who get left behind at the shelter because so many folks are scared of black dogs, especially big, black dogs.  Only two years old?  Strike three for those who envision chewed shoes and furniture and rambunctious behavior. 

By now, everyone knows that I’m not a flat-coated retriever and that I went to a good home, not a shelter. Lucky for me, my mum was checking Craigslist nonstop in search of a companion pup for Tinker, who really was a flat-coated retriever mix.  Me? I look a bit like one with my wavy black fur, but I’m a Royal Pooch—a celebrity Royal Pooch.


I didn’t set out to become a celebrity, but that’s what happened.  My mum surprised my dad one Christmas by giving me a DNA test. Though my shiny, fluffy fur is black, my DNA results revealed that one of my great-grandfathers was a Great Pyrenees—a descendant of the majestic white dogs who were once the Royal Dogs of France.  I was sure our family and friends would be thrilled to learn I had royal blood and would want to hear all about my royal life, so I asked Mum to help me share the news in a book.

Puddin’, my feline sister, likes to say she helped me tell my story because she offered encouragement as Mum and I worked.  If you consider reclining on the desk or curling up in the file drawer as encouragement, you may agree with the little thing. 

Still,‘twas I, the Royal Pooch, who did the lion’s . . . I mean dog’s . . . share of the work.  Day after day, I could be found lying beneath Mum’s desk dictating my tale, and what a tale it was. 

 I thought my story was enchanting with a saved in the nick of time beginning and a happy ending.

  • Dog is rescued by loving family
  • Dog discovers he’s descended from royalty
  • Dog writes book
  • Dog resumes quiet life with Mum, Dad, and the cat.

But it turns out there’s more, much more.  My story didn’t end with me returning to my previously quiet life as I thought it would.  

That’s the first draft of the opening for my next book. What do you think?

Mum and I have a grand time doing book signings and meeting all kinds of folks, who admire my royal purple robe and love giving me belly rubs.  We discovered that dog lovers of all ages enjoy my sense of humor, so adults read my book and middle schoolers read my book and plenty of people laugh at my antics. 

I find it odd that my book is considered to be fiction. I mean, it’s all absolutely true.  Really! Every bit of it happened to moi.  Mum says most adults have a hard time believingthat I, a dog, wrote a book!  She tried to explain that for grownups to think of my book as nonfiction, they must have a “willing suspension of disbelief,” whatever that means.  I think that may be something she heard ages ago when she was in school.

Nonetheless, I didwrite a book, and I’m almost finished with my second one. I’m such a generous and gracious guy that I’m allowing the cat, Princess Puddin’, to have her own chapter this time.  She’s a beauty of a calico cat and quite intelligent. She told me in no uncertain terms, “If you think you can call yourself Lord Banjo just because some silly French King back in the day declared Great Pyrenees to be Royal, then you can call me Princess! So there.”

I think she has diva tendencies, but I love her in spite of her tiny tantrums. Until our next book comes out—see, I even said our book—you may want to visit Mum’s blog  https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com/to read stories from the Princess and the Pooch.  Yes, Mum writes blogs about books and things, but we all know that it’s we four-legged writers who are the most interesting.

These days, both Lord Banjo and the Princess write columns for a local paper, and their mum graciously posts them on her blog at https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com/. You can sign up to receive their posts via email, and you can contact the whole family at inkpenn119@gmail.com. They love to hear from readers. Click here http://mybook.to/ViewbookonAmazonto find Book one, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” on Amazon  

mybook.to/ViewbookonAmazon

back cover 7-13 (002).jpg

Dog Squad Blog – The Neighbour Pack

This week my friend Michelle Neighbour tells us about her love of animals and the ever expanding Neighbour pack.

As a massive animal lover I’d lost my beloved dog Holly in 2006 when she was twelve. In 2010 Holly’s beloved sister Sammie died at the grand old age of sixteen. I swore never to have another pet. I’d had the dogs before having children and thought it was unfair to have pets when I had young children to look after. 

That plan didn’t last long. 

Whilst based in Germany my children and I decided to get a kitten, so in 2012 Luna became part of the family. We picked this name as we were Harry Potter fans and one of the characters was quiet and subdued, much like this lovely kitten. 

However, we discovered that Luna wasn’t a kitten, she was the mum. I went to view the kittens and took pity on Luna as at eleven months old she’d had her first set of kittens. I took mum and kittens that day… the owners weren’t bothered about poor Luna. I had Trixie and a friend took her sister Lily. Trixie was so called as she had a bit of a devilish streak in her… much like the character Bellatrix Lestrange in, yes you’ve guessed it, Harry Potter. 

I left the army in December 2013 and moved back to the UK, to West London. 

I know this is a dog squad blog, so I’m getting to the dogs.

In 2015 I couldn’t stand it any longer. I wanted a dog and l wanted one now. So one weekend, on a whim, I drove up to Bolton and whilst stuck in the infamous M6 traffic jam, scrolled through Facebook and found him… By Sunday, Blue the Chorkie (Chihuahua/Yorkshire Terrier Cross) had joined the family, so called as he had a blue eye. 

After a week or two, maybe a bit longer, I felt bad that Blue was alone during the day. I spoke to the family of Blue’s mum and dad and found out that Blue’s brother had been returned to them. It was fate. That weekend I drove up north again.

When trying to choose a name for the newest member of the pack my daughter decided that he looked like a chocolate chip cookie, and so Chip was named.

Chip

Our pack was now complete. Two dogs and two cats… yeah right. 

In 2017 I was scrolling through Facebook (damn social media) and saw that a family had a puppy and that their other dog was being horrible to it. I drove straight over and picked up the cute little bundle who they’d named Bobby. 

I’ve heard it’s bad luck to change an animal’s name but didn’t really want a dog that sounded like it was named after an uncle. So, in line with our love of Harry Potter and the fact it sounded similar, Dobby, a Jack Russell Terrier, became part of The Neighbour Pack. 

So that’s it. Our pack is complete, and we’re definitely stopping there. Well, at least for now. 

The Neighbour Dogs

Michelle completed the London Marathon last month and raised money for an animal sanctuary. If you’re feeling generous, there’s still time to donate and here’s the link. https://www.everyclick.com/hillsideanimalsanctuary-mneighbour?fbclid=IwAR2Owp0ysi-2yqBTPt-V8Nwv7YNX7zvdI91GUXXv34ZS2PnmYH8MvnIYNZQ

Dog Squad Blog – Boydog and Lollopy

This week’s post is from Boydog’s point of view. His people parents (Tania and Simon) live down the road from us in Cyprus. Tania is currently fulfilling a longterm goal of hers by providing delicious and nutritious meals to the local community, via her catering company, Mish Mash. She also teaches cookery when time allows. So without further ado, over to Boydog.

Boydog

Let me introduce myself. My name is Boydog. I know you want to laugh, everyone does, but Mummy and Daddy told me that I am a dog and a boy so it seemed pretty obvious at the time. I put it down to a lack of imagination if the truth be told but I don’t hold it against them because for a few years after they rescued me, I was the happiest Boydog in the world. Then along came Lollopy. 

How cute am I?

Now I’m not saying it’s all bad but things did change for the worse. My dinner time definitely got worse. I’m not a greedy dog and sometimes I’d like to have a nibble then a wander and pop back later for a little bit more. Not any more I can’t, not since Lollopy came along. If I don’t gobble down every last morsel at the precise moment the kibble is poured in my dish, the second I take two steps in any direction, a huge nose dives into my bowl and devours every last crumb. This has certainly added a few kilos to my ever expanding figure as I now have to empty the bowl whether I am hungry or not! 

Walk time has definitely got worse. I always recognised the signs that a walk was coming up. Daddy (or at the weekend Mummy and Daddy) would put on their ‘special’ shoes and gather up my harness and lead. I would give the odd “woof” which I wouldn’t call bothersome to anyone, then off we’d go. Not any more! not since Lollopy came along! The ‘special’ shoes are recognised before they are even on feet and the fun begins. The frantic charging around the garden, barking at several hundred decibels and the yells from Daddy and Mummy to cease that awful noise almost makes me rather have a quick poop behind the tree in the garden. 

And we’re off!

Once out in the street, I used to enjoy a calm leisurely trot, sniffing all the wonderful aromas and then thoughtfully masking them with my own. I was forgiven if the dreaded black cat crossed my path as it was in my nature to protect my Mummy and Daddy from such a peril. Not any more! not since Lollopy came along! Lollopy seems to think it’s a race and tries to cover as many miles in the shortest space of time possible. Mummy complains that her shoulder will be pulled out of its socket. Daddy complains a bit but I’ve heard him whisper “black cat” close to her ear just to wind up Mummy even more. 

Family mealtimes used to be such a treat. I had managed the art of begging so Mummy and Daddy thought I was just laying innocently under the table but managed to sneak the odd morsel which Daddy fed me without Mummy seeing. Not any more he can’t! not since Lollopy came along!

Lollopy feeding

Lollopy is so tall that she can almost put her nose on the table and eat off Daddy’s plate much to Mummy’s disgust. Obviously Daddy doesn’t let her so she has to sit further back than I used to, which means Mummy always notices when Daddy sneaks us the odd morsel and all three of us get shouted at. There used to be the odd plate to finish off but now the plates are scraped and rushed into the dishwasher before Lollopy gives everything a pre-wash. 

And then we come to bedtime, the worst change of all. I had my own lovely little corner at the bottom of the bed. Occasionally, I would find myself trapped by feet as Mummy or Daddy stretched out, but generally I had a peaceful and comfortable night. Not any more I don’t, not since Lollopy came along! Lollopy takes up the whole bed. Mummy wakes up having a panic attack because she’s dreaming she’s trapped in a strait jacket, having woken up unable to move a single muscle. Mummy moans at Daddy about this massive lolloping dog sleeping in the middle of the bed and I have resorted to sleeping in my own bed on the floor – not my idea of a comfortable night. 

I don’t always sleep on the floor!

The worse time of my life was when Mummy and Daddy would bring down their big bags and carefully fill them with as many clothes as they could squeeze in. I would always try to sneak in but they would look at me with their sad actor’s eyes and tell me that, although they love me dearly, I couldn’t go with them. They would drive off with mock tears in their eyes and I would be on my own for a hundred years at least. A strange lady would come and give me food and a quick hug. I might get the odd walk but it wasn’t like a daddy walk. Day became night and night became day over and over. I felt sad and forgotten. Not any more I don’t, not since Lollopy came along! Now I have a friend. When the sad eyes say their goodbyes, Lollopy and I perform our best acting skills to make them feel mega guilty but then…….. we have a ball! Lollopy chews up all the cushions and I dig up the stones. Lollopy eats all the plants and I chase the cats. We both go mental when the postman or dustmen come. This is our home, this is our family and we are in it together…. forever.

Any chance of some treats, Mum?

Dog Squad Blog – Border Collie Skai

This week’s post is from Craig Gowans. We served together in the Army in Germany and I worked and socialised with Anji Gowans who is great fun (and also barking mad!) Craig gave me loads of information and anecdotes regarding his time as a Royal Military Policeman, which helped shape the first book in my ‘Unlikely Soldiers’ series. http://smarturl.it/m202d6

Here’s the story of the Gowans family K9 pal, Skai.

Skai is a Border Collie originally from Holland.  Her Dad is actually a Dutch National sheep dog champion, which is pretty cool!  We got her in January 2007 and so she is now 12 years old, although you wouldn’t think it!

Border Collies are famous for their herding abilities and working with farmers and shepherds to herd sheep and goats all over the world. Watching them work is really impressive as they operate on commands using whistles.  But why whistles?  Well it’s simple, a whistle carries over much further distance that voice.  So when they are working across large distances and in bad weather, they can still understand exactly what the shepherd wants them to do.  

Having Skai as a member of our family has been and continues to be tremendously rewarding; her love is undivided and she is always there whenever we need her for a hug, or just to talk to.  Sometimes she even helps our youngest daughter with her university work! 
Skai is a people person, but sometimes can get a little close to your feet if you are in the kitchen (so my wife says!) 

Skai has a myriad of facial expressions, like a human I suppose, some of them do make us laugh.  Whether it’s serious herding mode, elegant and beautiful mode or just ‘what are you doing Skai?’ mode, you can almost tell what she is thinking by the way she looks. And if you are lucky she will give you a squinty look, which we all now means ‘I love you’.   

Skai loves to herd, she just cannot help herself and I genuinely think it is all that matters to her from waking up, to going to sleep! Being from working stock it is literally part of her DNA where she has an unbelievable urge to watch and herd the cats!  She follows our 3 cats and literally every single waking minute of every hour of every day she stares at them!  Just waiting for them to move.  When they do, off she goes ‘Come by to the left, away to the right’ lol it really is non-stop.  The cats will go round the coffee table and Skai will go the other way to herd them, when she gets there she just stops and stares.  Poor cats think this is normal as she has always done it.

The cats are used to her, but for visitors who don’t know Skai, they find it funny.  But to Skai, it’s not funny, it’s serious, she’s working! 

Skai loves to go for her walkies and is very obedient off the lead and listens to verbal commands and whistles.  We have the ‘Wrekin’ hill near us and she loves to go up there for a walk with us, always good for photos too, all the smells and long grass and heather are just what
she likes.

Skai has seen all of our four children grow to adults and met their children too!  She is a true part of the family who brings us all happiness and lots of love.  She has been with us since we lived in Germany with the Army and moved to five different homes in total.  Skai is getting into her twilight years, but there is literally no stopping her.  She is really healthy and just won’t slow down (It is the Collie way!).   

I hope you enjoyed reading about Skai, she really is quite special to us.  I will leave you with my favourite picture of her at the top of the Wrekin, if you look closely you will see those ‘Squinty eyes’ I mentioned earlier.  

What a beautiful dog and a lovely story. Thanks Craig.