Greetings from Jack, Tilly, Daisy, Archie and Toby.
Greetings from Jack, Tilly, Daisy, Archie and Toby.
Back in 2015, we replaced our 1950’s Rayburn with a big new beast. This one ran the solid fuel heating throughout the house. Previously, the heating was driven by an open fire which we replaced with a stove, but we only lit it in the evenings and the house could be quite chilly during the day. By plumbing in the Rayburn too, we were aiming to have warm radiators all day.
After years of living with the ancient lump of metal (our original Rayburn), we had a huge learning curve to understand the new one. It never managed to get the water as hot, and while it took the chill off the house, it never really heated it completely. However, it was much better than what we’d had previously. The stove was a much better source of heat overall, when lit.
At the end of the summer we thought we detected a slight leak in our new Rayburn. Surely not? We consulted the company that installed it, and they advised us to keep using it, which we did. One morning we were only out of the kitchen for about 15 mins and when we returned there was water literally gushing out of the thing.
We quickly switched off the water and covered the room in towels trying to soak it all up. The tank inside had burst. We’d only had it three years!
Rangemaster provided a new tank but wouldn’t pay the installation costs. We had to have the whole Rayburn removed, the new tank fitted, and then it had to be wheeled back in and reinstalled.
All this took time, and we were suffering a bit from the cold!
A week ago we noticed what looked like another leak inside the firepit and investigations are underway as to whether it is a leak or just the fuel bubbling. In the meantime, we are living on tenterhooks, nervous about leaving the house in case the whole thing happens again and again floods the kitchen. We could be in for a cold, cold Christmas!
We lived with the 1950’s Rayburn for 12 years, our predecessors for a similar time, and we had no real problems with it. They certainly don’t make them like they used to!
It’s been a huge learning curve for us this past month, and for Daisy too, probably. Last month she was a 4-wheel drive this month only a 2-wheel drive. Somewhere along the line she’s lost the use of her back legs, but only on dry land.
As soon as we realised she was suffering from degenerative myelopathy we visited a local dog hydro centre where we were lucky enough to find a trained physio who did everything she possibly could to help us.
As we’ve mentioned before, she had a full exercise programme designed to keep her back legs working, and she swam or walked on the underwater treadmill. All this built up the muscles in her back legs, so they are very strong. Her problem is that she can’t control them.
Earlier this month we realised that her days walking unaided were over and so tried her in the wheels that we had ready for her. She wasn’t at all keen and just stood still until we hooked her back legs up behind her in the stirrups. That got her moving, but it also gave us another problem.
With her legs so strong, she paddled when she walked in the cart, rather like when she was swimming. This was causing the stirrups to rub on her legs making them sore and bleeding. We began bandaging her legs before taking her out, but with the constant friction, they weren’t healing.
While looking for a solution, we temporarily reverted to the belly band, made from an old sweatshirt. We first used this with Blitz, who also had this horrible disease.
She loved it and took to it immediately, but for us it was exhausting.
The next logical step was to combine the wheels with the belly band. In order to do so, the whole cart had to be re-engineered with new aluminium rods!
We finally managed to come up with a solution that gave her (and us) the best of both worlds, and although it may not look very elegant, she is one happy bunny again. It’s given her back her freedom and independence.
Here she goes…
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It seems like only yesterday we bought home that little bundle of fluff and sharp teeth but already our little girl has grown up. This month saw the start of her first season, and with two entire males in the house, we decided the safest thing to do was get her out of there!
We moved her out and spent a month camping with her in a caravan. She was kept completely separate and every time she went outside it was like a military operation, with texts exchanged between the caravan and house. We are lucky enough to have our land fenced into paddocks, so she was even walked in different areas, to ensure neither Archie nor Toby got wind of her.
We would very much like to breed from her as she has an excellent temperament but that will depend on her hip and elbow scores. Like Toby, she will be tested when she is a year old.
For the time being, however, we managed to get through a very difficult 3 weeks for all of us.
On a different subject, we have been very keen supporters of Finns Law and are delighted by the news is that it is to become a reality in Scotland thanks to supporters and campaigners. If you have somehow missed this story of bravery by a wonderful police dog, you can read all about it HERE and lend your support to ensure that it comes into being in the rest of the UK. A word of warning though, have a tissue handy when you read it!
Through plenty of exercise on the underwater treadmill, swimming, and puller sessions, we have managed to build up quite a bit of muscle in Daisy’s back legs. But unfortunately, it’s not enough to keep her mobile on all four paws as although her back legs are strong, she has little control over them. Thanks to her worsening CDRM she doesn’t have much idea of where her back legs are. We have tried Rock tape around her feet to attempt to increase awareness, but it’s a losing battle.
It is heartbreaking because her legs are far from paralysed they work perfectly, just not in the way they should. When she’s sleeping and dreaming about chasing rabbits, she moves her legs easily, and when she’s swimming, there’s no stopping them. Just walking on dry land seems to be the problem.
When she’s in the house, she tends to drag herself around using her front legs. Outside, once you get her up and in a straight line, she can break into a somewhat drunken little trot, swaying from side to side.
We had to face the fact that, despite all our efforts, she was only going to deteriorate. When we spotted some dog wheels for sale locally, we snapped them up.
We are determined to keep her independently mobile for as long as possible but need to be prepared for the inevitable. She’s only been in the cart a couple of times, and she was a little confused by it, but we believe when the time comes, she will adapt to her new circumstances and will love the freedom that the cart will give her. It will allow her to run freely, keeping up with the other dogs without falling over. Just the way she used to, only with a little help.
What an amazing summer it has been weatherwise. We haven’t had so many sun-filled days in all the time we’ve lived at the Croft.
It hasn’t been without its drawbacks though, and the lack of rain has given us some concerns over our water supply. We have our own well, in fact, we have two wells, one connected to the house and the other way out in a field. They have been known to run dry, although not in all the time we’ve lived here. Not only do we need water for ourselves, but there are also sheep and goats to consider, not to mention very thirsty dogs!
The sunshine has also had an amazing effect on our fruit garden. We have gooseberries, cherries and a staggering amount of blackcurrants, the best crop we’ve ever seen. In previous years they barely ripen before they disappear into the beaks of the ever hungry birds that live here year round, but this time, there must be more fruit than they can eat because the bushes are absolutely laden and we are frantically picking and freezing.
There is plenty more to come as well, apples, crab apples, blackberries and blueberries. The blueberries have never managed to ripen before, but we have high hopes this year. And in addition, at the very end of the now-defunct polytunnel, there is a fig tree, sheltering under the remaining polythene and its branches are full of huge juicy looking figs. Perfect for breakfast with our homemade kefir.
We are also lucky to be close to many beautiful beaches, we can choose from pebbles and mysterious caves, or mile-long stretches of golden sands and the dogs have been enjoying both, but only in the very early mornings when it has been cool.
If the weather can just hold out for a little bit longer, we could even bale a decent hay crop!
This month we’ve been watching the grass grow, literally. The prospective hay is shooting up, and due to the amazing weather, we may actually have a chance of getting a few bales this year. Admittedly it hasn’t been as warm as the rest of the country, and we do tend to get soggy haar in the evenings, but nonetheless, a massive improvement on previous years.
With the grass so long and packed full of buttercups, the dog’s legs have all turned yellow which is very noticeable on Daisy especially when she goes swimming!
Speaking of Daisy, she had her first session on the newly installed underwater treadmill at our local hydro centre. She did amazingly well and seemed quite relaxed about it all. Secretly she would have preferred a swim, but she would never admit that. She pretends she doesn’t enjoy it, but then can’t wait to get in the car, which is a revelation in itself as she has always really disliked car travel.
You can see how she got on here:
We also attended a Pet First Aid course which was incredibly useful and informative and well worth doing.
Her first swim had to be cancelled due to illness and another trip to the vet, but we finally got Daisy to the pool last week.
She’s not the easiest dog to deal with and her condition has left her grumpier than usual, probably due to the fact that she feels quite vulnerable. She has always been in charge of the pack and now her authority is dwindling.
On arrival at the pool, she had a quick shower, slipped on a life jacket and then it was time to get her in. Unlike with Toby one of us was going in with her to reassure her so it wasn’t a great problem to get her down the ramp and into the water. Once there was nothing under her feet and she had to swim, she took to it like a duck to water.
She did a few laps with some assistance and then got to swim all on her own.
We’re not quite sure if she was actually enjoying herself or if she was just so shocked by the whole experience that it left her silent rather than her normal grumbly self.
In the evening she was exhausted and could barely eat her evening treat, but by the next morning, she was back to full growl!
She’s got another swim booked and we are hoping to get her on the underwater treadmill when it is up and running.
With Daisy’s back legs becoming progressively more and more wobbly we decided to make enquiries about whether there was any kind of exercise she could be doing which may help. We are lucky enough to have an excellent hydrotherapy pool locally (Fusion Vet Physio) which we have visited in the past when trying to get Toby to swim. That failed miserably as he refused point blank to go in, but they also offer physio and rehab, so after a referral from our vet we took Daisy along for a consultation.
She doesn’t travel well but managed to arrive without vomiting, which that was a bonus!
The owner and qualified physiotherapist is a lovely lady who certainly knows her stuff. She immediately put us at ease and made us feel that there was some hope of keeping Daisy on all fours for a while longer if we put in some effort.
Like a top athlete, she will need to warm up in the mornings before she goes out for her walk, and she has a full programme of exercises to increase muscle tone, remind her that she has two legs at the rear and help her use them. She also ends the day with a gentle massage.
In addition, she has a swim booked for next month; we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we have more luck getting her in the pool than we did with Toby!
Thankfully, she can carry on with her usual exercise regime which involves chasing her favourite toy of all time, the Puller!
Lambing is just about done, and we have a lovely crop of cute babies this year, although there have been some triplets which means we have had to bottle feed, topping up the mother’s milk. There is just one ewe left lounging in the maternity suite, but since we didn’t get them scanned this year we can’t be sure she’s even pregnant, we think she’s just enjoying the extra special treatment!
So, just when we thought we could go back to sleeping at night, Toby stepped up and put a stop to all that. First of all, he had a bad tummy upset, of course, it started at the weekend. On Sunday we cracked and took him to the emergency vet where he got antibiotics and some paste for his gut. We also discovered that the ‘starve them for 24 hours’ rule was no more. Apparently, it’s been decided that that isn’t effective. Toby was pleased, as despite his upset stomach, he was his usual ravenous self.
Sunday evening he set off for his walk and made a mad dash across the field where the rabbits hang out, smashing into a metal gate hinge on the way.
The result was a painful yelp and a limp for a few minutes. When he came inside afterwards, we spotted a small gash at the top of his leg which actually looked quite deep. A night of groaning followed and so Monday morning first thing he was back at the vet! They took one look and decided it needed to be closed up, so he stayed in and had quite a big operation. There was more damage internally and, of course, bruising, so now he has a shaved leg and plenty of stitches!
When we got him home, he was like a zombie for about 24 hours, but now he’s recovered slightly, and regained his energetic bounce. We really didn’t want to put a cone on him as no dog enjoys wearing one, so he started off wearing an old pyjama jacket buttoned on his back to prevent him getting to his stitches. Sadly that didn’t last long, and as they began to itch, he began to nibble at them. We had to put the cone on him and felt so guilty because he was clearly stressed by it, however, a clicker and some chicken breast worked their magic, and he soon cheered up!
He’s now discovered the true power of the cone and uses it to great effect to manoeuvre around the house with everyone keen to clear a path for him. Heaven help our shins, and the rest of our bodies come to that!