All grown up

Tilly leaves home…

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!

Dog on Wheels

Daisy does a wheely…

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.

Fruitful

We take our pick…

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!

Walking under water

Daisy takes a gentle stroll, underwater…

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.

 

Daisy takes to the water

We get to swim with dogs…

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.

Daisy gets a workout

We tackle CDRM…

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!

Toby dresses up as a lamp

We could do with some shin pads…

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!

We’re lambing and another new arrival

And we’re off…

Lambing didn’t get off to a great start; sadly we lost Big Bertha. We’ve had her many years, and she was a great character. The vet diagnosed twin lamb disease, but she didn’t make it and never gave birth.

Next came triplets, one of whom died, and then another set of triplets and another death. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just can’t save them!

Since then we’ve had some lovely healthy ones, so things are looking up.

Well, we have taken the plunge and got another puppy, a little girl named Tilly Rose. She is the sweetest thing, and we’ve already started clicker training her. She is responding well and should be competition for Toby in the tricks department.

Speaking of Toby, we finally got his hip scores back, and they were excellent, so we hope one day to have a litter with him and little Tilly, of course, that will depend very much on her hip scores and temperament, but both parents have all the right credentials so far.

The weather, as always, is a challenge, and now we are once again under a blanket of snow. The dogs are loving it, and luckily all the ewes are tucked up indoors with their wee ones or waiting their turn to lamb.

Lambing is coming

The sheep are getting fat…

This month has been up and down weather-wise. We’ve had snow and beautiful frosty mornings. Such a pleasure to be able to walk the dogs and come home clean. Not quite so good for the livestock as there’s no grass to eat so we have had the sheep inside for a bit of respite and a trough of oats.

On the flip side when the thaw happens we once again return to soggy ground and what seems like oceans of mud.
We have been busy preparing the barn for the lambing ewes, cleaning out pens, putting down disinfectant so that it’s all ready for them, and they could be needed as soon as 30th Jan, which is our first possible lambing date, nevertheless, it’s unlikely that any one of them will pop on that day.
Most years we have them scanned as it is so much easier when we know they are definitely pregnant and also the estimated due date.  However, this year, time just got away from us, and we didn’t get it done so it will be a bit of a guessing game. We will have to watch them all much more closely. Most of the girls look pretty fat, especially Big Bertha (pictured) but then their fleeces always make them look much larger than they really are. Last year Bertha failed to get pregnant, but we’re hoping she is in lamb this time. She only ever has a single lamb, but it’s always a whopper and gets well and truly stuck!
The biggest giveaway is when they start to bag-up (their udders fill with milk), but even that is not a reliable indicator. Some bag-up the night before and then catch you out with a surprise lambing the next morning! One thing’s for sure; we don’t want them giving birth outside on the sodden ground as the lambs wouldn’t survive long. Vigilance is key.
Our favourite bit, apart from when it’s all over, and we can get some sleep, is when they are all tucked up in their pens on a thick bed of golden straw, bellies full, snoozing peacefully waiting for the moment when it all kicks off, and chaos ensues!

It’s Christmas!

Proper snow…

It’s the first proper snowfall we’ve had for a few years, and the dogs absolutely loved it!

Although it can be a bit of a pain, one advantage of snow is that the dogs come back spotlessly clean from their walks. No need for a watering can wash twice a day!

It’s unlikely to be with us on Christmas day, regardless of how many times Bing sings about it, but wherever you are, whatever weather you have, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Training Lines Team