Three years ago I asked my friend Kate to write about real life with a puppy, wort’s and all! And she did…
Now I’m delighted to introduce ‘Chapter Two’ in the life of darling Molly ‘Moll’ and the Richards household, in the form of 10 gorgeous black lab pups. I was privileged to whelp this delightful litter and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any one of either five bitches and five dogs.
So, in Kates’ words, it went something like this…
“You remember the blog about Molly, the black Labrador pup, 3 years ago? Well, we have been busy and now have 12 dogs in the house! (I think that might almost top Amanda’s tally at the moment!).
We had been thinking for a while about having a litter with Molly, who has turned into a lovely dog who is unquestionably happy and friendly the whole time, and has never growled or shown her teeth in anger. She has lots of friends from the postman to the folk that walk their dogs along the path through our field, and she still sees her mum and Aunty Molly regularly and they obviously still recognise one another.
It is a long (and expensive!) road from taking the decision to try for pups to actually having them, so our spring has been taken up with X-rays for elbows and hips, eye test, waiting for results and most importantly choosing a sire. We didn’t want to travel too far (when you have to go, you have to go, and we had to factor that into family life). Actually she was very obliging and came into season during the Easter holidays so my son Peter, Molly’s co owner, was able to come along to one of the matings with the lovely, handsome Breeze. (can add his KC name if you want?). 4 long weeks passed before we could confirm her pregnancy but then a scan showed 6 plus puppies! 5 weeks of planning and preparation followed, getting the whelping box, accumulating vast quantities of newspaper, packing a puppy bag and watching Molly grow larger, and larger, and larger! 3 days before her due date it all happened, and 10 little bundles arrived between 2.30 and 8am. I’m sure Molly was exhausted, I certainly was after a sleepless night! The pups plumped up in front of our eyes and soon got the hang of feeding. Moll was a super mum in the early weeks but as their appetites increased and the amount she had to eat to keep10 tummies full did too, we found her looking at us as if to say, ‘not dog food again!! A few tasty treats and she soon tucked again and the milk bar was full to overflowing. For 2 weeks, they are really little black slugs, but from 3 weeks, some solid food, some expeditions into the playpen and outside on the lawn, and they are the most adorable little cheeky bundles with characters fast emerging. A fine looking, even sized litter with some very pretty pups, 5 dogs and 5 bitches. KC registration in progress, and they are looking for loving homes from mid July. If you would like to give one a loving home, or are looking for a gun dog, do give us a call as these could just fit the bill!” 01600 714221 07790 331445
Someone very special to me has recently been in hospital following major surgery, and indeed now finds herself, much to the relief of all who love her and have worried long nights about her, in rude health – HOORAH! – admittedly with quite some journey of rehabilitation and recovery ahead, but joyfully at home where we can all pester her and generally outstay our best intentioned welcome!
During her week long stay in hospital, her adored dog Atti came to live with my pack, and these are his ‘Letters home’ …
Hi! My name is Atticus Finch Connors. You’ve actually met me before in previous posts in ‘Life is Beautiful Indeed’. I was born and spent my first few weeks in this house where Amanda is now writing this tale for me, and I come back here periodically when my humans have to go away or somewhere where dogs are not welcome (they tell me there are such places but I find it hard to believe?) or when they need something called a holiday?
Anyway, when my human mum had to go to something called a hospital and get all fixed, I decided to send her a letter every day to tell her what I was up to…
Monday 12th November
Morning dad, Atti here, just wondered if you’d give mum a message when you see her today. Tell her WELL DONE! And ask her if she’ll send a note to Amanda saying I don’t have to go out when it’s raining because she wouldn’t accept my word for it this morning and now I’m soaked to the skin, and then she had the audacity to hose me down which just about finished me off!
I was so pleased to hear the news that the operation went well. It might have seemed that I wasn’t at all worried in my narcissistic-nothing-bothers-me-dog-like way, but I can assure you I was quite on edge all day yesterday. None of the rest of this crew understood of course and obviously I had to act like my usual carefree self but it was hard and Mouse showed no respect whatsoever and demanded that I play with her endlessly (she’s sooooo annoying!!).
Anyway, we’re settled down in our crates now to dry off which seems utterly pointless because apparently we’re going out again-beggars belief in this weather!-so if mum could please get that note in ASAP and stop lying around in bed and think of me, I’d really appreciate it, because even if I hide under the table and stay very quiet I think Amanda will find me and make me go out again!!! Thanks dad!
Love from Atticus Finch Connors. X
Tuesday 13th November
Morning dad, Atti here again. Thought I’d drop you a line or two every day that you can read to mum when you see her. I know she misses me-seriously, who wouldn’t, I am quite fabulous after all!
Well yesterday turned out to be quite a day! After no note excusing me materialised – we’ll have a chat about that when you’re home mum – we went off in the car to play with rabbits and pheasants in these play pens. I kid you not, Millicent, this enormous spaniel with a long tail(have resisted telling her how silly she looks!)was an absolute nightmare! I tell you what, she nearly ripped Amanda’s arm off and the man there said something about when was she going to get it and she’s a lot like that big black dog you had in a few months ago. No idea what he was talking about but Amanda seemed to agree and they stopped and had a cup of tea which apparently made things a lot better?! I, on the other hand, was impeccably behaved mum. You’d have been proud of me!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I did want to play with the rabbits because it looked like fun the way they kept playing hide and seek in their logs, but Amanda told me to ‘Sit!’ and blew her whistle right in my face when I ignored her first time (don’t think there was any need for that but suspect Millicent had probably stressed her out a bit and she wasn’t taking any messing from me or my siblings?!) and so I sat there as good as gold. Mum, my actual mum I mean, was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! She was allowed to run around in these pens but not chase the live rabbits and pheasants and only find the dead ones that had been hidden in the cover and lying around the place. She had to stop when the whistle was blown, then Amanda waved her arms around like fool but it seemed to mean something to mum and off she went again and found all the dead things and brought them to Amanda – YUCK! – but quite impressive. Amanda said I can have a go on Thursday if I pay attention – beyond excited!
Anyway, that’s all for now. Miss you and get well soon. Dad says you are doing brilliantly so keep it up.
Love from Atticus Finch Connors. X
Wednesday 14th November
Morning dad, Atti here again. Just a quick note to give mum please because apparently we’ve got a very busy day and have a lot to fit in and I expect mum is busy getting better too so doesn’t have time to listen to me all day even though I know she wants to.
Yesterday we went on what turned out to be a super long walk (didn’t let on but pretty sure we actually got a bit lost!), saw loads of deer (didn’t chase even one of them but Amanda had to have a ‘chat’ with The Nibster!) and squirrels and Mouse found and dragged to Amanda this dead rabbit which we all got very excited about but which she unceremoniously lobbed in to the river, muttering something about it being a mixed up rabbit or a mixy-lixy rabbit? Either way we were clearly not getting a nibble :O( … What a waste?!?! We all agreed we could have divvied it up and had a bit each although I suspect that was just a ruse on Lilian’s part and she’d have had the lot in one gulp the way she was licking her lips! Now don’t get me wrong, I really like Lilian, but she does go all Yobsville on us occasionally and it’s not at all attractive.
Anyway, that’s all for now mum. Keep getting well and don’t worry about me because I’m handling this crew just fine! And thanks dad for passing on my letters to mum.
Love from Atticus Finch Connors. X
Thursday 15th November
Morning dad, Atti here with another message for mum. I’ll try not to make it too long because Amanda says mum will be busy with some physiothingummybobby – not a clue but it sounded frightfully important!
Hi mum, OMG!!! (new lingo taught to me by Lilian! Will leave it at that because some of her language is quite frankly unrepeatable!!). Anyway, the OMG refers to her behaviour yesterday. So we’re on this fabbie walk (miles as usual and I’ll be honest I think Amanda is a bit obsessed with just how far we have to go EVERY day but lets keep that between us OK), going through this lovey beech wood and she lets us all ‘Get on’ so that we can run around like loons for a few minutes (the rest of the time we all walk ‘to heel’ which is a bit strict but I’m doing it perfectly mum after ‘the whistle in the face’ incident the other day and I don’t want to blow my chance of having a go at finding a dead rabbit in the pen which is today, so fingers crossed for me mum because I actually think it might happen?!). Anyway, so we’re all running around happily except Millicent because she’s way too naughty and can’t even go off the lead yet, when Lilian spots a deer up on the ridge above us and takes off! Doesn’t stop when Amanda blows the whistle like the rest of us do, and disappears out of sight! We stand still, all a bit shocked at how gobsmackingly outrageous Lilian is but not really altogether surprised because she is from Yobsville after all, when she comes hurtling round the corner of the ridge where she’s disappeared not moments before, all in a panic, and, because she’s not built for speed or cornering, a lot like a Landrover Defender, and with all the wet leaves on the ground, she slips and falls right off the ridge, crashes onto the ground and rolls all the way down the hill and literally lands at Amanda’s feet!!!!! And, this is the OMG bit mum because guess what? She’s absolutely fine! Just stands up, shakes herself off and sits at Amanda’s feet looking very sorry for having run off in the first place. She a M-A-N-I-A-C! Seriously, an absolute nutter!! Reeeeeespect!!! And then we just carried on with our walk like nothing had happened! It was hilarious mum, you know, a bit scary and all that, but mainly hilarious…
Anyway, got to go now so bye and I’ll let you know if I get to have a go in the rabbit pen (got my paws crossed!). Keep getting well, miss you.
Love from Atticus Finch Connors. X
Friday 16th November
Morning dad, Atti here. No need to worry about the influence of Lilian! She acts all tough and ‘well hard’ and generally Yobsvillian but she’s actually a real softie at heart. Don’t get me wrong, her language (and spelling for that matter!) leaves a lot to be desired but she didn’t have such a clever mum and dad like me and was taught to fight from when she was born, and could be as scary as hell if Amanda didn’t have regular ‘chats’ with her and be something called ‘all over her like a rash’ (not a clue what that means and don’t feel inclined to find out!), but in a tight corner Lilian would be good to have on my side especially as she looks like a scary gargoyle which seems to prove very intimidating to other dogs! Anyway, don’t worry and tell mum not to worry either and just to concentrate on getting well and coming home OK.
Now yesterday was beyond exciting because guess what mum?, yep!, you guessed right, I got to have a go in the rabbit pen!!! So we start the day going on an endless walk (seriously, there’s definitely an issue there mum but you can deal with that one because I’m a dog and have my limitations!), and I’m thinking Amanda’s forgotten about going to the play pens because we just seem to be walking for EVER, but PHEW!, she hadn’t and we went after we’d had our food – lamb, yummy – and a bit of a sleep.
So there’s me and my actual mum, and Arthur and Clemmie all in the pen together and mum goes first and is all brilliant and shows us how to do it properly, then Clemmie does one very good retrieve followed by Arthur who went so fast he ran right over the top of TWO rabbits and had to be walked out to them (what an idiot! I could see them from where I was sitting and so could mum and Clemmie?!). Anyway, he got one of them which left the other one for me – YEY! Now, I did get ‘the whistle in the face’ again mum but it was only because I was SO excited and didn’t wait for Amanda to ‘cast me off’, but Arthur told me later on the way home not to worry a jot about ‘the whistle in the face’ because he’s had it soooooo many times and knows that Amanda still loves him the most (now she doesn’t actually but I didn’t say anything to him because he’s black and white so clearly the runt of our litter, I mean, who’s ever heard of a proper Springer Spaniel that’s not liver and white?!?!). So, Amanda puts me back on my mark then ‘casts me off’ and I run straight out to the rabbit because I’ve not taken my eyes off it since Arthur completely missed it, pick it up (bit grim because it was all cold and wet) and bring it straight back and drop it at her feet. She kept saying “Hold,Hold” but she had to be kidding and I was having none of it because it was plain D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G, but she seemed very pleased with me and the man there said that I was a “very nice spaniel” which of course is obvious to any fool but good to see that he’d noticed! You’d have been proud of me mum! I was proud of me :O) But then things went down hill quite badly, not with me or even Lilian (I know, you’d think it would be Lilian because it always is, but not this time). It was Millicent and she was SOOOO BAD but Amanda says I have to leave telling you till tomorrow because you’ve got lots to do and so do we apparently so I’ve got to go now so bye!
Love you mum and thanks dad for keep giving mum all my letters and love you too.
From Atticus Finch Connors. X
Saturday 17th November
Hi dad, Atti here with the second half of our ‘day in the pen’ escapade I didn’t get to finish yesterday, so please read it to mum because I suspect she’s been waiting with baited breath which will only hold up her speedy recovery!
So mum (actual mum), me, Clemmie and Arthur are all loaded into the dog boxes in Amanda’s car after our fun and games and my utter brilliance in the rabbit pens, to snuggle down and watch while Millicent has a go off the lead – yes you did hear me right mum! – off the lead in the deer enclosure. Now this enclosure has sides as high as the sky, or so it seemed to me, and safe as can be to let even really naughty dogs (and Millicent is right up there in my opinion!) off their leads. So in they go and Amanda has her walking nicely to heel and stopping her on the whistle and Millicent looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth (which I can tell you it would because she stole half a pack of butter from the kitchen table last night when Amanda was buttering the jacket potatoes for for Tris and Scouts’ supper and the phone rang! One gulp and it was gone!! We were all shocked although Lilian was plain furious that she’d missed her opportunity for a bit of foodie thieving!) and I said to Arthur that I just had a feeling about Millicent today and that she seemed a bit mischievous when she proved me right and took off! Amanda blew her stop whistle followed by her recall whistle and Millicent came back just so far then danced around barking. Not a good idea and totally disrespectful and quite frankly plain rude, not the sort of thing you’d EVER see me do I know mum but nonetheless she did it.
Well, we’re all sat up in the boxes now thinking ‘OH BLOODY HELL!’ (excuse my language mum but it really was a bloody hell moment!) and Millicent was for it now when, and I still can’t quite believe she did it, Amanda walks calmly out of the pen, closing the big gates behind her, over to the car, shuts the boot, climbs in and drives off!!!!! We were all speechless as you might imagine, none of us daring to say a word. We drive down this track, pull over out of sight and Amanda is talking on her phone to the man who’s always at the pens and after about 20 minutes of ” What’s she doing now?” and ” Seriously?!” and “You’ve got to be kidding me” and “At last!” we turn around and go back to find Millicent sat calmly but shaking by the deer pen gates, covered in mud, and I do mean covered, so much so that we’re all thinking we hope she doesn’t get put in with us :O/ Amanda gets her without a word (I was more than prepared to give her a piece of my mind I can tell you!) and walks her quietly to the car and loads her in with Clemmie and mum – YES! – selfish I know but she was plain DRIPPING! – and we drive home in silence. I was SO shocked mum but agreed with the others that Millicent had certainly had it coming and she was lucky we actually went back for her at all. Bit harsh but that’s pack life for you mum!
Anyway, got to go because there’s always something going on around here with so many dogs and you’d better be getting on with your getting better thing so bye for now! And thanks dad for all the letter reading.
Love from Atticus Finch Connors.
Sunday 18th November
Hi dad, it’s Atti, seriously, we need to have a chat and may be it would be wise not to share this with mum… WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?! Kidnapping mum from the hospital just because she’s missing me so much and needed to be at least in the neighborhood where I am is quite frankly INSANE! And I’m very very surprised at you dad when you’ve always been so responsible and sensible (apart from those things that we both know about but which shall remain ‘our little secret’!). And don’t even bother trying to deny it because Amanda left all of a sudden yesterday when it was dark and when she came back I could smell mum ALL OVER HER!!! So there’s no kidding me or fobbing me off and I suggest you take mum straight back and say you’re sorry and hope you’re forgiven. If you’re a bit sneaky like Millicent is when she’s stealing food from the kitchen, they might not even notice she’s gone, so crack on with that and tell mum to stop worrying about me because I am just fine and couldn’t come home yet anyway as this crew needs my stabilising influence (although I’m not altogether sure Amanda would agree with that after today, and I’m totally blaming you dad with this whole kidnapping mum fiasco and the extreme anxiety it’s caused me, culminating in me chasing THREE deer this morning in the woods – I didn’t even hear the stop whistle because I was that stressed out – and then, and I’m beyond embarrassed, I got the ‘Whistle in the face’ AND the ‘Chat’!!!). And might I remind you that Amanda’s ‘chats’ are NOTHING like the chats mum has with her friends when I’m out with her, you know, before she went to the hospital place to get all mended and stuff! I was SO humiliated and I’m pretty sure Millicent and Lilian were sniggering because I’m usually so perfect with my fabulous hair and straight legs, docked tail and noble head and manners and the ability to string a coherent sentence together Lilian! And, what’s even worse, Amanda has said she’s going to put all my letters to mum on her bog!?!? Now Lilian has told me what a bog is and quite frankly I’m baffled and plain disgusted out by it! No one is going to be able to read it if she does that, sit on it but not read it so seriously, what’s the point?!?! I honestly don’t know what the world is coming to with you dad completely losing the plot and going all commando raid and Amanda writing my precious letters home to mum on her bog :O/ …..
I’m going now dad and how much of this you choose to read to mum is entirely up to you but I’d give it ALL some considerable thought first…
Love from a decidedly shaken AND stirred Atticus Finch Connors. X
Words by Christopher Curtis
Drawings by John Tickner
Oh, the dogs on our shoot! ” Will you come here, you brute!”
You can hear them shout all down the line.
Untrained and unruly, I promise you truly
That the only exception is mine.
There’s old Colonel Jack, swearing, flat on his back
With his gun pointing up in the air.
You can hear how he felt when, attached to his belt,
His young labrador spotted a hare.
Dick’s bird hits the ground, four dogs make a bound
And arrive on the scene all together.
They divide it in three and, from what I can see,
Dick’s dog brings him back just one feather.
That spaniel of Joe’s has a terrible nose,
A fact which accounts for the reason
Why he mutters rude words as he looks for his birds
– His dog hasn’t found one all season.
“Get away from my bitch!” That’s Fred’s springer which,
(Apart from being too over-sexed)
Getting quite overwrought, drops each bird that it’s caught
Before dashing straight on to the next.
Bob’s not been too clever and used as a tether
His cartridge bag fixed to a stake.
When a rabbit went past, his dog took off fast
With his bag – now they’re both in the lake.
I cannot believe a worse golden retriever
Exists than the one owned by Jones.
The only sound heard when it picks up a bird
Is a horrible crunching of bones.
But even that’s better than Charlie’s red setter,
Which is really the worst of the bunch.
After eating a pheasant, it did something unpleasant
While we all sat around having lunch.
Quite deaf to Jane’s yell, like a bat out of hell
Goes her flat-coated dog being active
In pursuit of a runner and, though Jane is a stunner,
Her dog I find far from attractive.
No, you cannot dispute that the dogs on our shoot
Are the worst ever seen in a line.
Look, there goes one now and it’s chasing a cow,
Disgraceful! Good gracious, it’s mine!
Residential Master-classes with The Lady Dog Whisperer at Sarah’s Place.
This unique concept has come about through being continuously asked ” Do you do residential training?” and ” Couldn’t you just move in?!” and, well, no to both! That is until now… (although I’m still not moving in!!)
So, thinking cap on, I spent many hours munching through delicious lunches then attempting to ‘walk them off’ with my friend Sarah and our multifarious pack (the pack, I hasten to add, was only walking not lunching!) and, well fed and well exercised, our minds began to create the concept of a live-in master class.
Sarah owns and runs a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Cleddon Falls in stunning Monmouthshire, called Falls Cottage. With views to die for and enough countryside to get completely lost in just outside both her front and back doors, it is an ideal place to learn the skills you’ll need to turn any ill-mannered mutt in to a perfectly polite pooch! So,that’s basically 24 hours of me, you and your dog!
Jumping up, pulling on the lead, those unwelcome early morning wake-up calls and all manner of unacceptable behaviours will be a thing of the past. You will leave Falls Cottage having learned instinctive correction techniques and pack leadership skills for a life-long journey of balance and harmony with your beloved dog.
For more information about this exciting new venture, please contact me using my details in ‘How to contact The Lady Dog Whisperer’.
For those of you who are regular readers of my posts, the name Lucy Racz will be a familiar one to you all and will remember with fondness I’m sure, her exquisite pen and ink drawings of Dolly, my Springer Spaniel bitch and her five gorgeous puppies from January through to March last year.
I received a huge amount of interest and comment at the time and now, I’m pleased to announce, some of Lucy’s work, including some of Dolly’s puppies, will be on display at The Elms Veterinary Surgery here in Monmouth (full address details will be found at the bottom of this post).
Lucy trained at Bower Ashton in Bristol and specialises in animal studies and, as you can see from the display below, excels in her chosen field. For further information or if you just fancy a chat (she’s very friendly!), why not give Lucy a ring on : 01600 714774, 07970 003380, or drop her a line at : firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively, pop down to The Elms Veterinary Surgery, New Dixton Road, Monmouth. NP25 3SJ and have a look at her beautiful studies for yourselves!
A friend shared this beautiful and moving story with me and I feel it would be selfish not to share it with you… I wish you enough this New Year.
Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport.
They had announced the departure.
Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the father said, “I love you, and I wish you enough.”
The daughter replied, “Dad, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Dad.”
They kissed and the daughter left. The father walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?”
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how grey the day may appear.
He then began to cry and walked away….
They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them; but then an entire life to forget them.
To all my clients, post followers, friends and loved ones, I WISH YOU ENOUGH…