Category Archives: bleakholt
Has ever a dog been more frustrating, more irritating, yet more fulfilling and wonderful than Todd? I swear, he drives me mad sometimes, then at others he melts my heart. His current annoying habit is attacking the door whenever he comes in from a walk. Not going out, not any other time, but just returning from a walk. He also objects with a growl or a snap to having his lead taken off – again only AFTER a walk (although I may have solved that one by not putting up with it).
He’s massively freaked out by thunder, but I reckon we know how to handle that when it happens.
OK, that’s the downside. The upside is that 90% of the time he’s wonderful. He’s brilliant with the cats, he’s great with meeting other dogs when out and about, as well as people who aren’t either (a) carrying sticks or (b) Owen up at Bleakholt. He’s fantastic on car journeys. We had a marvellous day up at Mombat’s yesterday, when he was angelic and responsive throughout.
He’s also house-trained to the point of perfection. When he barks continuously indoors, we know he needs a poo. Like today’s, which was a squitty one due (I suspect) to Mum feeding him chips and bits of scone and who knows what else yesterday, despite my instructions otherwise. Bloody Mums.
Oh, and I’ve lost a stone and a half in the two months since we got him. Yay me! I told the family when he arrived that we’d review his progress after Christmas. Overall, he remains a work in progress, but his daily log does show that he’s improving all the time. Watch this space.
Yet another doggy post, I’m afraid – you fed up with them yet? After this though there’ll be all sorts of posts. Stuff on writing, obviously, but I also have planned articles on a huge variety of crap.
So, today at Bleakholt I walked Keano (who you’ve met a few times now – there he is top left with yet another stick), Pippa and Tyson (lovely old couple top right), and a new lass for me, Ella (left). She’s a smasher, although inclined to launch herself without warning at other dogs. And she’s some weight, I can tell you. The more walking she gets to slim her down the happier she will be.
Here’s another couple of pics of things that will be familiar to Bleakholt regulars. On the left Andy takes Scruff for a walk –Scruff obviously hoping for a treat from Andy’s Magic Pocket. And a regular hazard round by the farm is Annabel on a wall. There are two goats, actually, and I’m rubbish at telling them apart, so let’s just assume that this is Annabel.
Finally though, and here’s the good news, I finally completed the paperwork that means Todd is officially a wombat. Yay! I’m the sort of bloke who needs a dog in his life, and ever since Ben died I’ve been hoping to find one to adequately fill that gap. Todd, bless him, has been perfect (well, he growls at carrots, but we can live with that). If you look back at the first time I posted about him, you’ll see that even then I liked the cut of his jib.
So here you go, have a very short video of the brand new wombat.
I plan to get back to blogging about things other than dogs soon, I promise, but here’s just one last word about – and from – Todd. Despite my clear instructions that he wasn’t to do it, he went and got himself a Twitter account (@ToddBat37). Typical collie. Here are his first musings from today.
Hello. Last night I slepped at Beerdy’s house for the first time. I noticed through the WINDWO when it was dark and took myself to bed cos I am CLEVER. I was a GOOD BOY last night and didernt poo or wee in the kitchen. And I was QUITE all night and was a GOODOG and that. And then today we went to BLEEKHOLT to see Adriman & Sharlet. And Beerdy walked some dogs that were not me and then he walked me and I did a MASSIVE POO. And something about a MICRASHIP in my sholder happened as well in a hot room that made me PANT. Then we came home.
So many of you have been asking about Todd and whether it was true that he was on his way to becoming a Wombat, that I thought it was about time I posted an update. When I first met Todd, walking him with kennel-mate Saffron (now in a new home) as part of my volunteer dog-walking at Bleakholt, this is what I said in my subsequent blog post:
“Anyway, here are the pooches that I walked today. Normally, I try to make their walks last about half an hour, the recommended time, but I’m afraid that if I really like a dog, I’ll often go beyond that. I went beyond that with TODD here, as I really enjoyed our walk. Gorgeous collie (much more handsome than my quick snap suggests), lovely movement, and really responsive. After about twenty minutes, when he’d relaxed with me, I tried doing some close control work with him. He was brilliant, walking to heel well. I might look more into TODD’s background – if he’s happy with cats I might just think about whether I want to take things further.”
Three months later, I was amazed that he hadn’t been snapped up. Sure, the notice on his cage said he would push his boundaries and should go to an experienced collie owner, but he always seemed extremely biddable whenever I took him out. He often shared his kennel with other dogs who had found a home, such as Saffron and Kim, so he wasn’t a fighter.
Given our dodgy experience with Evan, I wasn’t at all sure that I could actually cope with another pushy dog, and I prevaricated for weeks before tentatively asking Charlotte and Michael what they thought of me trying him out. Their idea of just taking him home for the day to see how he got on with the family and the cats seemed a grand idea, guaranteed to iron out any hitherto unnoticed Evanesque tendencies to transform into the Hound of the Baskervilles.
I tried to keep it quiet at first (in order to avoid a big fuss from Twitter and Facebook Assembled about yet another dog) but Mary let the cat… erm, the dog out of the bag in an unguarded tweet, and some of you caught on. At Bleakholt the news slowly spread that Todd might be about to come home with me, and I found myself stopped by staff and other walkers to ask if it was true.
His first day at Wombat Towers arrived, and I was worried. Would he have a go at the cats? Would my daughter, a dog-wary after Evan’s attacks, accept a ‘pushy’ collie? Would he be happy to be here? Long story short – no, yes, yes. He was brilliant, respecting and avoiding the cats, behaving perfectly at meal times, and generally being the perfect dog. He walks to heel well, and is oh-so-eager to learn.
And you know, he’s been the same on every day since. Buffy the cat bosses him about, while Midge ignores him. He did try to stop Mary going upstairs one time, but was perfectly content to be told not to be so stupid and move out of the way. He’s great to walk, and brilliant off the lead (see the video below). All seems positive. Tomorrow he’ll sleep Chez Wombat for the first time, and I’m worried again, but not hugely so this time. I think he’ll be OK as long as Buffy doesn’t creep up behind him, sniggering, and whack his tail while he sleeps. Cross your fingers for us; Todd’s won me over big time, and it really does look like he might inherit Ben’s mantle and become the new Womdog.
Oh, and here’s that walk video. The wind was so loud on the soundtrack that I’ve stuck some music on instead. Please do sing along.
I had a bonanza Bleakholt walking session today. First out of the traps was DEBO, who set off like a train on fire (yes it is a thing, shut up). I careered along after him, almost skidding across the grassy bit. Once we got out, though, he did a humungous poo and slowed down to a more sedate pace. Still pulling a little, but the urgency had gone. Odd name, Debo, but he’s a fine brindly gentleman.
As I was putting Debo back in his pen, I could hear ROLO in the next kennel barking “Take me! Take me! I NEED OUT!”, so that’s what I did. We’ve met Rolo before, when I failed to take a decent photo, so here’s two of him this time to make up. Once again we had a big old tummy tickle at the end of the walk. He’s not good at selling himself to visitors, unfortunately, barking at them loudly when they appear.
Remember TODD? The lovely feller has another kennel mate at the moment, little KIM, and I took them out on a double. Blimey Kim’s lively. Todd, as usual, wanted to stop and smell all the smells, while Kim just wanted to be off to look at ALL THE WORLD! Trees! Grass! More grass! Poo! Birds! Charlotte! Grass again! It was like having dogs at different speeds, Kim all 78rpm and Todd relaxed at 33rpm (a little vinyl reference there for all you oldies). Perky Kim has already been provisionally booked, so here’s hoping for a good home for her.
I was about to go home when I spotted BELLA, a new arrival, and I just had to take her for a walk. She’s deaf, and it was an interesting walk. She responds well to small twitches in the lead telling her which way to go, and a quick pat took the place of “Good dog.” She adores a fuss, and is a beautiful dog. I doubt she’ll be at Bleakholt for long before being snapped up. I considered her briefly myself, but the deafness would require a fair bit of hard work – how would you tell her ‘No!’, for example, if she decided to chase one of the cats? It’s probably for the best if she’s somewhere without cats around.
Oh, and I saw FLACK with his ‘interested couple’ again. I do so hope that works out for him.
After a couple of weeks off due to (a) bad ankle and (b) a glorious time in Scotland, I was back at Bleakholt this morning crying “Let’s walk some dog!”. People look at me funny when I do things like that, but I don’t give a tuppenny toss. First out of the blocks was ROLO, a lovely snuffly feller who was a joy to walk. We had a big tummy rub on the grass after his walk (he did I mean, not me sadly). I could only manage a naff pic of him due to sunshine preventing me from seeing what I had taken, sorry.
My next client was the superstar that is BETTY SPAGHETTI. Spag did not want to go for a walk round the lanes. Oh no, Spag wanted very much to go in the field, thank you very much. Her being such a strong dog, that’s exactly what we did. We had a splendid time throwing (me) and chasing (her) balls. Her only fault is that she refuses to give any ball back, so that you have to have two balls in your hands at any one time. (Insert your own dirty joke here.)
And KEETO. A lively pup who wanted to grab everything he came across. Within ten seconds he grabbed Michael’s hose pipe (insert your second dirty joke here), which I managed to get him to drop by offering the other end of his lead. This he held until we came across a manky old ball, which he proceeded to rag and chew all the way round ‘the square’.
Aaah, it’s good to be back.
If you were at Bleakholt this morning you may have seen KEANO come back from his walk with me with a stick. Nothing unusual there – he does love a stick – but today he found his biggest yet. More of a branch, in fact. It was leaning against the fence over near the farm, and his little eyes lit up as soon as he saw it. He grabbed it triumphantly, and picked it up at one end, only to find that the weight of it just made him go round in circles.
Eventually, more by luck than judgement, he managed to grab it in the centre and actually lift it. Of course, when he got back to Bleakholt he discovered that it was too wide to go through the kennel doorway. He discovered this repeatedly by trying to go in; over and over bashing the sides of the doorway with his ‘tree’.
It took the combined efforts of Adie, Charlotte, me and another walker (sorry matey, I don’t know your name) to separate him from it. Best laugh I’ve had for weeks. Thanks, Keano.
It was lovely to be at Bleakholt with a lead in my hand once more, after a few weeks off due to a manky ankle. First up was KEANO, whom you’ll remember from previous posts. He was on top form, full of fun with lots of interaction. Keano’s renowned for his love of sticks, or bottles, or wooden legs, or anything else he finds lying around. The stick he found today, though, was not so much lying around as attached to a tree. He spent a good three or four minutes heaving at the thing before finally succeeding in ripping it free. There he is on the left, with his prize. The thing with Keano is, don’t try to take his sticks off him. That way lies trouble. He’s OK if you swap a toy for it, mind.
Next, along came BROOKE, a big girl at Bleakholt for a short time only, before going back home next week. She’s very nervous and not fond of stepping out. Lovely temperament, though, so with a little occasional persuasion she came along happily. She really needs to lose some weight, when she’ll be a wonderful dog. In retrospect, I’m pleased that the thunderstorm did not arrive until after Brooke was back in her kennel. I’m not sure her nerves would have stood being out in that.
Instead, it was with lovely old FLACK in tow that I felt the first splot of rain on my head. Distant thunder soon became huge KERRAKs immediately overhead, with lightning forking down from above Edenfield and solid rain stair-rodding it onto our heads. We were both drenched in seconds, absolutely sodden by the time we found the shelter of a reasonably large tree. Not that it offered a lot of protection, such was the ferocity of the downpour. Flack, bless him, was completely unthrown by either deafening thunder or torrential monsoon, sitting by me and looking up occasionally as if to say “Shall we move yet, Beardy Bloke?” He’s looking a lot better now than he did immediately after his run-in with PUDDING a couple of weeks ago, don’t you think? Eventually the rain lessened into merely chucking it down, and we returned. Charlotte towelled us both down and the sun emerged over Holcombe Hill.
It’s good to be back.
Since I got my hurty leg, I’ve been unable to walk the Bleakholt dogs. As well as losing the exercise, I’ve really missed the place itself. The staff, the other walkers, and most of all the dogs. So today I popped in for a quick visit. Had a few chats with the dog staff and found that BETTY SPAGHETTI had been brought back from her new home. Boo! Then I had a wander round the pens and said hello to some old favourites and some new arrivals.
Over on the right there, little PUDDING came and had a bit of a love despite being really hot and follollopy.
Here’s TARA – always friendly and ready to lick you to death. She still needs to learn not to pull, yet. If I’d taken her out with my bad leg I’d have been horizontal immediately, being dragged around like Bill Oddie was by that kitten in Ther Goodies (oh God I’m old).
TODD (one of my favouritest of all the dogs) and kennel-mate SAFFRON were just coming back from a walk, and I managed a big hello with them too. There they are back in their pen, Toddy-todd-todd having a huge drink at the back.
There have been quite a few new arrivals while I’ve been away. I was quite interested in a 5-year-old black Lab called MARLEY. That’s the best pic I could manage, sadly. Perhaps I can take him out when I get back to walking. I’m hoping that can be next Monday, the way my leg’s going.
And finally, because I love the cats too (we have two of our own, Buffy and Midge, that we got as kittens from Bleakholt eleven years ago), I nipped up to see them. Mostly they were basking in the warm sunshine. No fools, cats.
First lad out with me today was BOB – look at him, the little cutie. He’s full of energy, full of life, and full of love. He was also full of poo, and used up three of the six bags I had in my pocket so that I had to cart Todd and Saffy into the office later to top up my supply. Bob wagged his tail, or more accurately his whole bum, the whole way round.
You may remember lively FLACK from a previous post. Today’s Flack, though, was very subdued, quiet and unresponsive. He also had several stitches close to his eye, the result of a bust up with Pudding. Until hostilities broke out in the run, those two had been the best of friends and there had been no hint of trouble. Pudding has a bit of a sore ear, but he gave poor Flack’s face a right seeing to. I took Flack round the long circle today (past the Duckworth Arms, since you ask). He enjoyed himself, but quietly.
Remember CHARLIE, the happy chappie from a previous post? I took him out in a twosome today with his kennel-mate NIPPER. Nipper, as you might imagine from his name and size, is a bit of a tinker. It was fun to watch them, Charlie being led on by Nipper to bark whenever we saw another dog, something Charlie didn’t dream of when I had him out alone.
A couple of old friends were last, kennel mates TODD and SAFFRON, who you’ve seen a few times now. Saffie was really good letting Adie put in her eyedrops before we left. I don’t think Todd was any different from usual Todd, to be honest, but Saffie, bolstered by the presence of her kennel-chum, was far more outgoing today than before. There was a brief problem when Todd’s lead got caught in Saff’s tightly-curled tail, but otherwise they were a complete delight.