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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 – Big Boy Baxter

Say hello to Baxter who lives with his humans Amanda and David. His fictional character featured in Book 3 of the Island Dog Squad.

I’m a star!

Here’s Baxter’s story, told by Amanda.

Baxter is a 6-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback who has been with his humans since he was 8 weeks old. He is a spoilt but very loved member of the family and loves chasing squirrels, playing with his friends (he does get rather vocal though) food and snuggles with his mum and dad. Baxter has a cat sister who tolerates him and is quite bossy. There’s no doubt which one is in charge though Baxter likes snuggling up to her and giving her a good groom.

Wake me up when dinner’s ready.

Like every dog I know, Baxter loves going on long walks and he enjoys training activities whilst outside to keep his mind active. He has travelled. Though he’s mainly lived in the UK, he did spend two years living in Cyprus with us. He found the extreme heat very oppressive at first and struggled to adjust, but was much better after a few months.

Our family are back in the UK now and Baxter loves nothing more than being able to run through long grass and chase squirrels through the woods. The squirrels are not amused and find him very irritating. He doesn’t catch them and I’m not sure he would know what to do if he did.

I can fly!
Where are all the squirrels?

We had a worry recently when we found a lump on Baxter’s elbow. Thankfully it was a benign tumour and was successfully removed. His recovery has been slower than expected due to the location of the lump but he is on the mend. On this subject, Baxter would like to remind all people parents out there to get any lumps on your doggies checked out straight away.

Our lovable dog is a typical Rhodesian Ridgeback and is very aloof with strangers but once he gets to know and trust you he is a very soppy and loving dog, and such a cheeky chap. He loves physical contact and cuddles up really close when watching TV (yes, he’s on the sofa with the humans). I don’t think he realises how big he is and believes he can fit on our laps – all 47kg of him!

He’s a clever boy and has very good recall so doesn’t go too far away when out walking. He feels safest when he’s close to us both. Having said that he does like to pull on the lead and Baxter and his humans are currently undergoing some training with a lovely dog trainer, to help improve his manners. He’s doing very well so far and it turns out he just needed the right information given to him so he can understand what to do.

Baxter’s favourite foods are anything meaty, but for reasons unknown he also loves eggs. He has his naughty moments and once sneakily eat a whole large takeaway pizza, lemon meringue pie and some stuffing balls. His humans weren’t best pleased with this but they only have themselves to blame.

He’s a big fan of stuffed toys and gently nibbles on them like puppies do with their mums and siblings. He’s such a big softy and loves to cuddle up with his teddies too. Did I mention that he’s a very clever boy who loves a good brain workout? His Kong toys satisfy this need. Other than that Baxter isn’t very toy focused. He doesn’t like playing fetch and gets very bored after the first throw refusing to bring anything back.

Our lovely boy is the ideal fur baby for us and a perfect match. If he could speak, his wish would be for all dogs regardless of age go to their forever home and experience a loving home like he has.

He’s our big boy Baxter, adored by us both.

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 – 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

Dog Squad Blog – The Real Sandy

Our rescue dog Sandy inspired my Dog Squad series. 

The real Sandy is completely different to her character in the books and this is how she came to live with us.

Early last year I decided I wanted a dog. My husband Allan said he didn’t and I knew for it to happen we needed to be in agreement. I was determined so decided to work on him. Obviously I won because you know we have Sandy, but I didn’t get it all my own way. 

Love at first sight

Allan had his eye on a second hand BMW XR3 so we struck a deal and depleted our savings. I didn’t mind, as I was to get my wish.

There are loads of rescue centres in Cyprus. Sadly, cruelty to animals is endemic and you often see dogs wandering the streets after being dumped by owners who no longer want them, especially at the end of the hunting season when they’re deemed to have served their purpose. The centres are always full and there are as many kind people here as there are cruel. Some of the abandoned dogs are saved and sent to other parts of Europe.

I scanned the rescue centres via Facebook and loved the look of an eight month old German Shepherd called Charlotte. Before choosing our dog, I spoke with a dog trainer friend who advised me to use my head as well as my heart. I was excited the morning we were to visit the centre but it was short lived. Poor Charlotte was so traumatised she could barely look at us and cowered at the back of her cage crying. It was sad but we both knew we didn’t have the skills or patience to train a dog with so many problems. We were shown around and I could see the hurt and pain in the eyes of some of the dogs. It was heart breaking and I could only imagine what they’d been through. At least they were now being treated well.

Charlotte has since been trained and adopted by caring owners

The staff thought we might be interested in another dog and it was let out of the cage. This one was eighteen months old and it acted like it had overdosed on energy drinks. The dog dodged the lead and ran to the other end of the enclosure. Then he turned and headed back towards us at full pelt. My inner drama queen surfaced, and I held my breath, believing I was going to die. (I had been attacked by a dog as a youngster and although there was no lasting physical harm, I had a few issues and can be wary of dogs I don’t know.) The man managed to grab him before the dog had a chance to leap. I realised I wouldn’t be able to handle a fully-grown German Shepherd, so we left and crossed that one off our list. 

Bo was adopted and taken to her forever home in June 2018

Back to Facebook, the BARC (British Animal Rehoming Centre) site came up in my newsfeed with a photo of a cute little dog name Bo. I arranged to visit but on the day, didn’t even get as far as Bo’s cage. Someone else caught my attention and I knew instantly that she was the one for us.

Allan liked Sansa as much as I did and we took her for walks during the next few weeks to ensure the feeling was mutual. We arranged the adoption date, sorted out the papers and brought her home on the 14thMarch. We changed her name and she started answering to Sandy almost straight away.

Sandy soon settled in and was as good as gold. We thought it unusual that she didn’t bark and it was a big shock during week seven when she found her voice when someone knocked at the door. She now barks to let us know if somebody is coming but other than that she’s a quiet dog. If she wants to go out she paws us or makes a crying sound and if other dogs bark from their gardens while we’re out walking, she tends to ignore them. On the odd occasion she’s taken an instant dislike to passing dogs and has barked at them and she did try to mount a beautiful white German Shepherd once – they hadn’t even had a date!

Sandy continues to be a model dog and is great fun. Besides for Allan and food, her favourite things include cuddles, tennis balls, and her toy duck; the order depends on her mood. If she doesn’t like a new trick I’m attempting to teach her, her default position is to lie on her back with her legs in the air, tail wagging manically. She’s so cute and loveable and is exactly the right dog for us.

I can’t say we weren’t happy before we had Sandy, but she’s definitely made our lives better and I can’t imagine life without her.

A walk up at Troodos

During the following weeks you’ll hear about other Dog Squad members and a few of those who made guest appearances in my series.

If you have an interesting tale (tail?) to tell about your dog and would like to feature on this blog, please let me know. And if you want to check out ‘The Island Dog Squad’ novellas, click here http://smarturl.it/ru5uye

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.

Inspired by Ants

I was sitting in the garden, chilling after a long walk and wondering what to write next.

I probably should have started book three in my ‘Aliens’ series. Ideas were swirling round in my head but nothing tangible yet. I saw movement on the ground and looked down. An army of ants were going about their business. Some headed in my direction. As one neared my foot I lifted my thumb to squish it, then hesitated as I had a fleeting thought. Looking up to the sky I wondered if anyone up there was poised to ruin the day or life of an innocent human who had taken a wrong turn, or perhaps found themselves caught up in one drama or another.

ants1-1730011_1920This got me thinking about death, religion, the afterlife and the eternal battle of good versus evil. I left the garden and started writing straight away. And the ant? He or she lived to fight another day. Not so the many others who pushed their luck and moved into the house shortly after. No mercy was shown to this lot.

ant_on_thumbMy Afterlife series is about the eternal fight of good against evil. I wanted the good guys to win but it wasn’t always easy and that doesn’t reflect real life, unfortunately. I believe in reincarnation and have always liked the idea of Karma with the hope that we reap what we sow. When some of my baddies got their just desserts it was important that they felt the pain they’d inflicted on their victims. My overactive imagination was a great help in this process. I spent some time wondering what would be really horrible but plausible (to my story) and took it from there.

When you’re dealing with the afterlife, heaven, hell or whatever you like to call it, almost anything is possible.

In this series, when there is absolutely no doubt, the really bad souls are taken to the dark, merciless world of cruelty and demons. They either serve their masters or are subjected to pain for the amusement of the demons – sometimes both. When their masters tire of them, they are returned to earth in various guises to suffer extreme levels of humiliation, pain and degradation. If they’re lucky, those in charge may return these souls to earth as humans, to carry out their evil.

This is why the innocent suffer.

Blog 1 pic 3

Where there is doubt, the final destination isn’t so simple.

That’s the situation in which Claire finds herself and more about this next time.

 

 

Best Book Cover Contest Winner

BEST BOOK COVER WINNER 2017Over the moon to be the winner of Ultimate Fantasy Books Best Book Cover Contest 2017. The fantastic cover was designed by the multi-talented Jessica Bell. Big thanks to my friends, and friends of friends, for getting me through to the final.

My ‘Beyond Death’ blog tour runs from 22 May to 2 June. Click here Beyond Death Blog Tour to discover more or here Headtalker Beyond Death Book Tour to support the tour. Let me know if you have any questions and I hope to see you there.

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