Saturday, 28 January 2012

hello goodbye

It was a nice sunny day today but after the recent weather there were some trees down, and more that looked like they were on their way.

A nice bit of sun for a change, but with lots of ice on the ground

 One of the trees that has come down blocking the path

Like something out of The Railway Children, trees on their way down the hill

Today gave Scooby a chance to play with his brand new frisbee.  It was great!  He loved it.  He chucked it around, and got very excited.

 Hello frisbee

Unfortunately his pathetically short attention span meant the frisbee ended up floating away down the river...

 Goodbye frisbee

I told him I'm never buying him another toy, ever.  Fortunately he doesn't understand a thing I say so he's not bothered.

some ice ice baby

Friday, 27 January 2012

"you got a dog wi' yer?"

I was walking through a park in the dark the other night, when this bloke says "have you got a dog wi' yer?"
Of course I had a dog with me!  What kind of weirdo goes walking in the park, in the dark, in winter... Oh, hang on.

I was glad I had the big massive torch with me.  WHAT *bash* KIND *bash* OF *bash* WEIRDO *bash-bash* DO YOU THINK I AM? *bash*
the big massive torch

To be totally honest though, the only person I've ever hit in the head with the big massive torch was Scooby....oops...(twice).

Scooby's new glow ball

I've had loads of work to do recently.  So of course I've been doing a lot of things that isn't the thing that I need to do.  At lot of this involves buying things on the internet.  A lot of this involves buying things for Scooby on the internet.

I love it when the parcels start coming. 

So far I've got a glow in the dark ball, a book of brain games, some new food and treats, and a toothpaste set for the Scoobs.

The glow in the dark ball is good.  Scooby needs to practice bringing the ball back though.  Good job it glows in the dark.

I gave in to peer pressure getting Scooby some toothpaste.  My sis's dog has lovely teeth and Scooby is two years old and never had a toothbrush!  I am a bit worried that brushing your dog's teeth is a bit of a gateway drug...where will it end?  What happened to Just Say No

Actually dogs aren't colourblind, they're dichromatic.  More on that story later.

As for the new food, this is because Scooby has ridiculously sensitive skin and someone recommended this new stuff.  Fingers crossed it helps his skin.  Unfortunately, from the same site I bought some dried fish skin treats.  They are as disgusting as they sound.  Scooby loves them. 

I have more stuff to come.  Watch this space...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Play Misty for me

It's very cold and drizzly today, and misty.

Scooby and I have had a long walk, in the nearly daylight.  Scoobs was very happy galloping about and bumping into the occasional dog.  Not sure what they are the rest of the time.

I was a bit worried about Scooby recently.  He'd seemed a bit slower and more tired, so obviously at first I thought he probably had cancer.  After some initial googling it dawned on me that maybe he was just growing up as he'd hit his second birthday and I started to worry less - afterall he was still happy and eating and drinking and doing the other stuff.  He was just sleeping more and ready to come home sooner.

But today he's been really lively.  Completely bonkers.  I did catch him eating a bouncy ball.  I think it might be connected.

Scooby, having a bouncy day today.

Maybe I've been walking him too much.  I'm not even sure if that's possible.  

This dog is not sick, just dog-tired :-)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

War horse, and dog and cat and mule and pigeon...

Scooby and I have been to Woodbank Park again today and I took some pictures of the memorial to animals that received the Dickin Medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross).  The light wasn't brilliant, but I'd recommend you see the memorial in person.

The memorial was made by chainsaw carver Tim Burgess and is over 16 feet tall.  The inscription says 'They died in war - they still serve in conflict'

 A dog that found people in the blitz

The memorial is lovely and a nice use of a tree that would otherwise have been felled.  I've seen chainsaw carvers at work once or twice and am in awe at how they can produce art with something so destructive.

Seeing the memorial prompted a discussion about what happened to people's animals during the war.  Many were put to sleep because the owners feared they wouldn't be able to feed them.  Many were taken by the Government for the war effort.  It wasn't just horses, as shown in the new film 'War Horse', but many dogs were taken as well.

Jess' owner has a friend whose alsation was taken during the war.  Unlike the majority, they did get their dog back at the end but the dog was unable to adjust to being a family pet again after the traumatic experience.

Scooby would be rubbish in a war situation.  He's scared of bubble wrap let alone fireworks and bombs and he'd love burglars rather than scare them off.  Here's hoping he never gets called up.  We'd be doomed.

The burnt out hollow in the scary tree.

The scary tree.  Wouldn't be out of place in a Harry Potter film.

Jess getting some respite from sinking in the mud.

The dogs had a brilliant run around, despite being very cold and very muddy.  First thing I did when I got home was give Scooby a bath.  He's all lovely and fluffy now, and very sleepy.  Bless.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Frozen Pond

One of Scooby's favourite ponds was frozen over this morning.  I know this because Scooby ran up to paddle in it, one foot touched the ice and he jumped out of his skin.  He was very confused.

I didn't realise he hadn't come across a frozen pond before.  His reaction was very funny.  He tried to get in the pond in a couple of places but everytime he came into contact with the frozen water he jumped back.  Bless.

He cried a lot, and when I picked up pieces of the ice he grabbed them and took them away.  I filmed him 'not going in the pond'.  I wanted to capture his response to the ice but he resolutely refused to go anywhere near the water.  I think this is a good thing, in case he ever comes across a proper frozen pond.

Important: The pond is very shallow (more like a big puddle) and the ice was very thin (less than 1cm thick).  I would never encourage Scooby to do something dangerous and he is never left unattended near anything that could be harmful to him (frozen ponds, water, cars, zombies...)

Another thing to add to the list of
Things Scooby is scared of...

Friday, 13 January 2012

mud glorious mud

I love love love lovely mud.  Today's mud was the best kind of mud, just the right consistency and very deep.  And noisy.  As long as you don't lose your wellies (or anything else).  And as long as you're not at Galstonbury.  Or in the First World War.  Mud is great.

The sign of a good walk is how much mud is on your wellies by the end of it.

The weather was also lovely today, and thanks to a dentist appointment (and a bit of a skive) I was able to take Scooby out in the bright sunshine.  I love it when a plan comes together....but I don't love going to the dentist.

Another plan that didn't exactly come together, or at least had manky unforeseen circumstances was the well intentioned christmas pressie I got Scooby.  I bought him a stuffed hoof.  What an idiot I was.  Little did I know at the time that the hideous disgusting thing would hang around the house for weeks and the more Scooby chews and slobbers on it the more vile the smell emanating from it.

And there's the little bits of dead cow's foot that get liberally sprinkled.  Really, it's the gift that keeps on giving.
If you see one of these  DO NOT BUY ONE!
They are manky disgusting smelly rank things.
Your dog will absolutely love it though.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

My Sunset Sky*

Things are changing.  I took Scooby out for his walk and only had to turn his light-up collar on halfway through.  We were treated to a lovely sunset, but I don't think Scooby was that impressed to be honest.

The red sky gave everything (including Scooby) a lovely orange glow, while he worked on giving his own feet a particular orangey glow.

The camera on my phone doesn't do the sunset any justice.  The whole sky was absolutely stunning. 

A side effect of the lovely afternoon was that the park was heaving with dogs and walkers.  I've never seen so many in the park at the same time.  It was a bit like when you lift up a paving stone and see squillions of woodlice scurrying about.  If you can imagine woodlice with tiny little pet dogs.  Actually it's probably not worth the effort, just imagine lots of actual human dog walkers.  With dogs.  In the park. 

One of the ponds that Scooby was dipping in

As soon as the sun set it got very cold very quickly.  When Scooby was running he appeared to be in a protective bubble of his own breath.  He's very tired now and assuming the position of sprawled across the settee with his head resting on a little table.

He gets tired a lot quicker nowadays.  I think it's because he's getting older.  More on that story later.

I hope you all had some lovely sunsets.

*The title comes from "Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky.” by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), an Indian poet, playwright and essayist, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

river runs through it

Actually with the recent constant rain, rivers are running through everything at the moment.  I'm literally shaking my fists at January.  Damn you January!  You are being rubbish already.

I did find a really interesting website that you can check the river levels on.  It's great.  Just click on the interactive map to find your local rivers, find the monitoring sites and you can see the current level, recent levels and historical highs and flood risk.

Another thing the rivers are running through is the field Scooby does his agility training in, so it had to be cancelled this week. 

Scooby loves doing agility and an hour of running around in a field flying over jumps, through tunnels and over A-frames completely tires him out.  Me too.  Although I'm not actually supposed to fly over jumps, through tunnels and over A-frames.

To keep him busy Scooby has been on lots of long drenching walks to use up his energy until we can go back to agility class.  Hopefully it'll be back on next week.

In the meantine I'm thinking of showing this short video to Scooby of how agility should be done.  These rabbits are fantastic. 

Even this hamster is better than Scooby.....

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The dangers of anthr...anthro...anthropomorphism...thinking your dog is like a real person.

The weather has been horrible today.  Scooby and I went to the appropriately named Happy Valley and there were lots of lovely playful dogs out, even though we were treated to gale force winds and a hail storm.

Where's Wally...Scooby?

Despite the weather Scooby had a great run around, up hills, through mud and in the river.  He was very happy, if a little ambitious as he started to chew the stick as it was still attached to the tree...

d'oh, Scooby is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and didn't win the battle against the tree...but he did have the final word...

On the way home we listened to an interesting discussion on the dangers of anthropomorphism on BBC Radio 4.  It was the Word Of Mouth programme Comparing the way we bring up children and train dogs .  There were lots of behaviouralists and Victoria Stilwell from It's Me or the Dog and even a woman who applied animal training techniques on her husband.

It was an interesting programme and the conclusions seemed to be:
  • Childrens' ability to learn overtakes dogs by the time they are 5 years old so it's no good using clicker training on sprogs.  Or Bonio.
  • Dogs don't get language.  At all.  They communicate through smells and then body language.
  • Even though dogs don't really understand almost everything we say to them it's still ok to talk to them.  They might look like they're listening and understanding/empathising but really they're just responding to the sounds we're making.  They like listening to us and if they like us they might find our voice comforting.
You can listen again on

This reminded me of a recent study into contagious yawning.  Some studies had shown that dogs caught yawns from humans at a rate that exceeded contagious yawning for humans and chimpanzees.  The studies suggested that dogs have empathy, and this is special because it crosses the species divide....

But...Dr Sean O'Hara at The University of Salford has discovered that when testing dogs in conditions in which they are more relaxed, and with people they are more familiar with they don't catch yawns.  It looks like the contagious yawning of dogs has been de-bunked and the earlier studies' excessive yawns were a result of anxiety in the dogs, not empathy.

Dr Sean O'Hara says "Our pets probably don't feel for us the way we feel about them, they rely on us as the source of their needs and they are clever at using us to help them acquire what they need, but they needn't feel anything towards us despite us often thinking that they might care about us, or us wanting them to!  In contrast however we know people are often very emotionally-connected to their pets."

I don't think it's a bad thing to know and understand your dog more.  I do think it is a bad thing to assume they have human thought processes and qualities though.

( from gizmodo)
Personification and anthropomorphism isn't restricted to dogs

So, I'm still going to talk to Scooby.  I'm still not expecting a reply though.  And I accept that I'm more likely to catch a yawn from him that he is from me.

All this talk of yawning.......