Year of the Dog – December

It is almost a year since we met Faye, at Epiphany, at the King’s Lynn kennels of the Retired Greyhound Trust. We took her home at the end of February, and each month I’ve blogged about how things have been going. I still feel – much like parenting children – as if we are at the start of the adventure; every month we move forward in confidence and experience, and every month Faye manages to surprise us with more of her character, or quirks. Yesterday I got my first dog-related injury, when she tried to help as I was leaning over to collect my muddy trainers. Her skull is still intact, but I got two split lips and a sore tooth. No major harm, thankfully. Perhaps it is payback for forcing her to wear a reindeer hat.

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I look silly, don’t I?

With Christmas approaching, I thought I’d better help Faye learn about the new smells, textures and experiences she might come across. I took her to the village Christmas tree, which she was indifferent to (except for sniffing where other dogs had got there first), and I showed her that tinsel looks exciting, but is not for playing with. She was keen at first, but realised that it was not a toy.

After this I decided that she must be very clever to learn what is and is not for playing with; I let her have a large amount of packing paper from an Amazon box. She loved it. She spent twenty minutes or so joyfully pulling it into shreds with her teeth and playing in the paper. And then she squatted and weed on it. So now we have learned that Faye must have used newspaper when she was younger to amuse her and to line her toileting area. Oops. A quick distraction to get her away, a bin bag and some pet-friendly carpet cleaner did the job however. No more indoor wees!

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You can’t see me!

On the final day of term I dressed Faye up in her festive attire and took her to school to collect Lily and Joe. She got lots of smiles (as usual) and children coming up to see her (as usual) as well as extra comments on her antlers. Children are not discreet when it comes to commenting on something they have spotted, so it was clear the hat was popular with the crowds.

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Tell me truthfully – do I look ridiculous?

 

After the end of term we spent a couple of days recovering, but still had to get up and walk and feed Faye. I am actually relishing the discipline she has brought to my life in this respect. I am not a great morning person, but over the last few months I’ve been able to cultivate a really good morning routine for getting things done.

Faye will wait very patiently for her morning walk. If she’s really ready she might even lay her head on the bottom stair. Such a chilled out dog! Most of the day is spent lying down somewhere or other – I’m amazed she manages to sleep all night after a heavy day’s napping.

We went up to my parents-in-law in Blackburn for Christmas. We’d asked about borrowing a roof-top box for our car as we knew it would be a tight squeeze with all five of us and gifts, but the fittings weren’t the right size, so we had to jam everything in. Faye did not complain at all. She loves car journeys and was excited to revisit NT Clumber Park en route, with the finished ‘Central Bark’ cafe, other dogs, lots of squirrels and Christmas decorations. The dog-friendly cafe is one of several eating options, but has space and provisions for dogs with their owners. Faye was quiet and well-behaved, but we hadn’t realised that not all the other dogs would be so relaxed.

When we arrived, Faye needed to sniff around and investigate. She had a place to sleep, but wasn’t keen to use it – there was a noisy grandfather clock nearby and she wanted to be at the bottom of the stairs instead. For two nights she woke us several times with whining and whimpering, so Matthew had to spend some of the time sleeping downstairs. Thankfully she relaxed and got the idea by the third night; excellent timing and much-improved sleep for us, as ‘not a creature was stirring’.

She spent a lot of the time asleep, but also loved staring out at birds and squirrels. We allowed her a few treats, but not too many as she was unsure about eating usual quantities of her regular food in a new place.

 

We took her to a couple of parks in Blackburn. Corporation Park has lots of steps; Faye managed most of them, but wasn’t happy when water was running down one set and wanted to go through brambles instead. Other times she wasn’t quite sure what to do.

 

At Witton Country Park there were lots of other dogs, and Faye enjoyed a little bit of off-lead time, running and chasing. She is a real show-off when other dogs or new people are around, and tends to run even faster. There were longer walks to do and places to explore. Great for canine enrichment.

It was certainly colder in the north, but when she’d been running she got warm, which is why she doesn’t have a coat on while she was looking at the rabbits at Witton. (And has she been secretly been learning to read? Joe’s been reading to her, but I don’t think she really listens properly.)

It’s almost the end of the year, but what a super year it has been here. Adopting Faye has brought real joy to our lives and enriched us all. May 2019 be a joyful year for you too, and one where you can make the most of every walk, treat and opportunity to snuggle down in front of a warm fire.

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