Tag Archives: Dogs

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.

Dog Squad Blog – Daddy’s Girl Snoopy

This week Jill Stavrou-Shaw tells us about life in Cyprus with Snoopy.

Snoopy was a Daddy’s girl, she never forgot the man who stopped his car and rescued her. She was the only puppy left alive from a litter of 3 who were abandoned by the side of the road in Cyprus. She was only weeks old, far too young to be taken from her mother, and even the vet didn’t expect her to survive. However, with his advice and several weeks of bottle feeding at home this little white puppy, who looked more like a rat, slowly started to turn into a bundle of curly white fur. 

She was a Cyprus poodle apparently? To her newly adopted family she became “Snoopy”.

Snoopy’s new human Dad always felt completely responsible for her and never having had a dog before, and Snoopy never having had a human either, they made things up as they went along. Life, work, family and Snoopy all now had to be juggled. Snoopy’s human Mum worked away a lot, so that left lots of Dad and dog time; the bond between them grew and they became inseparable. The best part of each day for Snoopy was when her human Dad came home from work. She would sit on top of the sofa looking out of the window. Her joy at seeing him erupted into this yapping, crying, bouncing bundle of flying fur who couldn’t wait to be scooped up into his arms and kissed and cuddled.

Snoopy’s human Dad thought her delight to see him was just about being fed and walked and having someone home again for company but for Snoopy it was so much more, this was the human who had saved her. They both were beginning to learn what unconditional love was really all about.

Snoopy loved to sun bath, crazy really for a dog with so much fur? She would happily snooze in the sun for hours; her short bursts of activity were all saved for her Dad. Walks to the park were tolerated as cuddling at home was far preferable. Drives in the car were much better but sitting in the basket on her Dad’s little motorbike and having a drive around was simply amazing. This special treat was usually saved for the annual trip to the vet, the delight of this mode of travel soon made her forget about the horrible but necessary jabs and potions a dog had to endure to stay well.  

This blissful life in the sun was to change when Snoopy’s human Mum and Dad had to go to England for a while, her humans were far more anxious about her travelling on a plane than she was. The suitcases, boxes and crates that had started to fill the house were confusing, but having tried to sleep in them all, Snoopy much preferred the suitcase full of her Dad’s clothes. If her pack were on the move then of course she would be going with them, she probably hoped the motorbike would be the chosen form of travel?     

Snoopy was eventually temped from the suitcase to a crate with regular tiny treats of chocolate. Nothing else would work. A lovely old jumper smelling of her Dad was put in there for her to snuggle up to, she knew he was too big to fit in too, but she would have much preferred that. Seeing Snoopy sitting in her crate, being lifted by a folk lift truck at the airport to be taken to the plane was almost too much for her humans to bear. Thank goodness we were all on the same flight!   

On landing at Manchester airport in the grey and rainy weather Snoopy’s humans were feeling a terrible mixture of emotions, their unspoken anxiety made even worse when suitcases started being taken from the plane on a conveyer belt, surely Snoopy would have her own fork lift truck here too?

Snoopy had now been away from her humans for hours, her human Dad’s need to be reunited with her was now exactly the same as her wait for him to come home from work every day. This was going to be emotional!

The drive to collect Snoopy from the cargo part of the airport seemed so wrong – she wasn’t cargo, she was family. We were mildly reassured by the “Flying Vets for Pets” signs. But we almost missed them as they were totally obscured by the driving rain that was now lashing the car. Maybe she would forgive us for not bringing the motorbike with the basket after all?

We finally found “arrivals for animals” and were met by a lovely vet who was here to hand over our precious cargo. She had clearly seen the anxious faces of so many humans who had come to collect their pets, she greeted us with a welcoming “You must be Snoopy Stavrou-Shaw’s” Mum and Dad?”. 

We were slightly surprised at the formality of using our family name for the dog? but of course that’s who she was, Snoopy Stavrou-Shaw. Our voices confirming we were just that, were soon drowned out by that familiar happy, yapping and barking that greeted us every evening in Cyprus.

A delighted flying bundle of fur came running towards us. For the first time Snoopy seemed torn as to who to greet first, then we were both jumped on by the happiest overwhelmed Cyprus poodle.

Snoopy Stavrou-Shaw had arrived safely in England, the formality of her new extended name rather suited her, so we kept it. She was back with her pack now and looked rather smug as she sat on her human Daddy’s lap as we drove to our new home.   

Thanks for sharing Snoopy’s story Jill.

If you enjoy dog stories and Cyprus, you may like my Island Dog Squad Series. 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 – 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

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.