Sunday, 21 May 2017

Normal Service Has Been Resumed

Well, the last two posts here have been a bit personal, a bit hard to write, and I expect even harder to read - but I am not embarrassed by them because I know damned fine there are many people out there going through life as though they are wading through mud with dark clouds flanking their every move.

What I am, however, is surprised - at how much better I am feeling in less than a week.  The clouds have lifted, and the sun is starting to be visible, the mud has gone, although it is still a bit sticky underfoot, and my brain is actually starting to make sense of life again.

Two, maybe three, years ago, I came across an article about a nutrient - vitamin B12.  What I read resonated with me, and I went on to read more.  As a result I started taking a supplement, and was astounded at how much better I felt.  I stayed on it for quite a while - but on one occasion when I ran out, I never got round to ordering more.  I kind of thought I no longer needed it.  I was "better".

Back on Tuesday, I found a lonely little tablet of vitamin B12 in the cupboard - the light bulb went on and I popped it in my mouth.  I bought some supplies on Thursday, and the difference is astonishing.  I feel normal again - well, recovering!  My sense of humour is returning.

I settled down to do a bit more reading and did actually discover something I didn't know before.  The absorption of this nutrient is impaired by quite a few prescription drugs including anti-epilepsy drugs which I have been taking for nearly 40 years.  For 35 of those years I have struggled with a tendency to feel down, or downright depressed.  Little wonder.

It is mostly found in fish, shellfish, meat, organ meat and eggs, and given I have been pretty much vegetarian for the last couple of months, it isn't surprising that a stressful incident would push me over the edge.

A deficiency in B12, and the many symptoms that can come with it, is responsible for a number of mis-diagnoses - dementia, depression, parkinsons are just a few.  If the deficiency remains untreated, then  those diseases will actually well and truly manifest themselves as the brain gradually grinds to a halt in so many functions.

Those most likely to be affected are women over 50, people taking medication for diabetes, epilepsy and indigestion, and folks who don't eat meat and fish.

This is a simplistic view - there is a huge amount of information out there.  All I can say is thank goodness for the internet.

Thanks for your support this last few weeks.  I will go back to talking dogs again now.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Collateral Damage

So.  My last post now seems a little self indulgent.  I almost took it down, but no - we are told we must speak about these things more openly.  There are many of us who have times like that - and some of those times seem to last for ever, with no light at the end of the tunnel.  Been there and done that.  I guess some people are more sensitive, and more susceptible than others to the ravages of anxiety and depression.  It makes sense to me more now that I have realised I have, as yet, untapped, empathic abilities.  But that is a whole different subject.

You might wonder what the hell that post had to do with dogs, or this one for that matter - given this is meant to be a blog about dogs.  The answer finally came to me at 4.30 this morning.

The day before I wrote that post I had an "incident" at work.  One of the dogs ran into a chap at work just as he was leaving a cottage - he tripped over the dog, fell down some steps, banged his head, hurt his wrist, and hurt his already injured knee for which he is awaiting surgery.  I didn't see it happen, but eventually heard his shout.  I went out, he told me what had happened - without accusation, but with much pain - and I finished his jobs off and turned the pick-up so he could easily drive back to base.

I was cursing myself as I had got into the habit of always putting the dogs in the car while anyone else was at a cottage other than me and my workmate.  This particular chap, some time ago, said "don't worry - they don't bother me".  And when I watched them, I could see that they didn't - I guess he had growled at them often enough that they learned to keep out of his way.  Until that day.  He didn't see her coming and vice versa.   He ended up being taken to A&E, wasting his time, a colleague's time, and causing extra work for all.  To put a nail in the coffin, the dogs remained out only for me to look out a little while later and see my boss and another worker had arrived to do another job without my having heard them - and for once, the dogs didn't bark to warn me of someone coming.  The boss is none too fond of my dogs given that River has had a go at his own very sweet labrador on a couple of occasions, and the other chap loathes them.  I think he is also a little afraid of them.  At that point, I rounded them up, and to their credit, they came immediately and piled into the car.

From that point onward, my state of mind went steadily downwards into depths I haven't visited for some time, and the door to which I believed I had locked firmly behind me after my last trip.

The lad had a suspected broken wrist, severe soft tissue damage to his knee and a bump on his head.  He was to be off work for an unknown length of time making me, I felt, the pariah of the workplace.  I cleared off home as soon as I could that night, and, other than phoning the lad to see how he was and to apologise once again, holed up for the weekend steadily going downhill.  But Monday came round and I was asked up to the "office" to chat over a few things.

I had already gone through various scenarios.  I felt fairly sure I was going to be asked to not bring the dogs to work, and I knew in my heart that there would be no way I would go and work the silly hours and long days that I often do, leaving the dogs at home.  In my mind I was exploring the options open to me for earning a living.  The financial implications hit me hard - my age hit me hard as there are limited options open to someone like me.  I realised what a narrow ridge I walk upon in so many areas of my life - there isn't much room for error.  I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place - with no control over my own life.

As it turned out, I was asked to keep the dogs in the car whilst I am inside a cottage but providing I am outside with them they are still allowed to be out - my boss recognises that I have them under control when I am out and about with them.  They can still be with me when I am gardening, they can still sit in their enclosure at "base", although perhaps I should make that a bit more escape proof.

And the good news is that a couple of weeks on, the wrist isn't broken, the head bump wasn't serious, and they have finally agreed to get on with the surgery on his knee.

So all's well that ends well?  No.

For the last couple of weeks I have holed up as much as possible, communicating with other people as little as possible.  I have hardly been on Facebook - my usual happy haunts are the hovawart groups, and chatting to my hovawart friends.  All of a sudden I don't want to be there, don't want to see pictures of lovely puppies, happy dogs, proud owners.  I don't want to hear about successes at shows, or new litters, or new pups joining households.  I just don't want to talk to anyone any more than is necessary.  I have struggled to understand why.  I think there are a mixture of things going on in my mind and many of them seem so warped, but such are the ravages of depression and anxiety that nothing really makes sense.

Everyone else seems to be happy, even though I know so many of the people I communicate with have had more than their fair share of heartache.

Everyone else seems to have perfect dogs and perfect lives.  My rational mind knows this isn't true, that we all have our ups and downs with our dogs.  I know that I have what is generally regarded as an enviable place to live, a great job, happy dogs.  But my emotional mind is not seeing this, not believing it, not accepting it.

I guess I have felt worthless as a person this last couple of weeks, my confidence has been shot down in flames, I feel I have little to offer to anyone or anything so I have just kept out of the way and let life carry on around me, taking solace in reading, watching tv, anything to shut my mind down for a while.  I have felt embarrassed that I allowed one of my dogs to do this, even though I know it truly was an accident.

The arrival of a bottle of whisky this morning, sent by some dear friends, reduced me to tears for over 30 minutes.  Get a grip woman!!

And even though I am making sense of all of this on some level - the climb back up that cliff is taking a hell of a lot longer than it took to fall off.  The damage done is far worse than it should have been.

Once again, I imagine some of you are thinking what on earth does this have to do with dogs - well, I guess it's more about the baggage that comes with them - the responsibilities, the worries, the heartache, the times when you wonder if you are coping with it all, if you are fit to be a dog owner.  But it is also to do with just how fragile the human condition can be.  At the end of the day I would far rather be over sensitive, than be one of those people who just don't give at damn.  Though at times I wish I could step into their shoes, and wear their cloak of steel against the world.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

I'm Tired

Every so often, life becomes overwhelmingly difficult.  Sometimes these times creep up on you slowly and you don’t realise it is happening, sometimes it arrives like a tsunami wave – you get a bit of warning, and you realise the inevitable is coming.  You find something to hang on tight to, and try to ride it out and hope that it passes quickly.

All of a sudden you feel tired:
Tired of working when you’d hoped to be taking it easier by now but finding you are doing more than ever.
Tired of trying to be a participating member of society
Tired of being tired
Tired of being responsible for everything in your life
Tired of putting a brave face on in the morning
Tired of meeting people, being nice to them, tired of saying goodbye to them after their holiday, asking them if they have had a nice time, and then having to clean up their shitty toilets and filthy kitchens.
Tired of having no energy to clean your own damn house.
Tired of feeling that doing things you actually want to do is somehow wrong
Tired of living on the edge, financially and emotionally - it doesn't take much to push you over that edge
Tired of feeling that the one thing that brings me the most joy is the one that seems to irritate other people
Too tired to fight your own corner
Too tired to relax
Tired of feeling you have to fit in
Tired of being so sensitive to and caring about what others think
Tired of worrying about each rattle in the car and crapping yourself when it comes to MOT and service time
Tired of not having enough money to pay the tax man
Tired of not being able to afford a decent holiday
Tired of constantly thinking you are going to have to sell the horses and knowing it will be like selling part of your soul.
Tired of people walking over you and tired the fact that you allow them to do so.
Tired of your job and wanting  to change, but not knowing what to do and realising there isn’t much available for someone your age.
Tired of the thought of having to work like this until I am 66
Tired of questioning if you should breed a dog or not, have you got time, can you afford it
Tired of losing days due to worry and anxiety and total brain freeze
Tired of being told that life is full of joy, but struggling to find that joy on so many days
Tired of feeling it is self indulgent to feel like this
Tired of feeling guilty because you know damned fine there are others far worse off, and still not being able to shake off the heaviness of depression.
Tired of feeling nothing
Tired of feeling too much
Tired of everything and everybody
Just tired.

And after a while, it all passes, and you can bury all these feelings again.  But like weeds in a neglected garden they come back up when you turn your back and don’t keep an eye on them.

This isn’t a call for a sympathy vote, or kind words.  It is a putting down of something that happens – not just to me, but to so many people.  Chances are that many of you who might read this (if you got this far) have had this happen to you.  Everyone copes in different ways.  Apparently we are supposed to talk about it more, but sometimes you don’t want to.  All I want to do is pull down the shutters, lock the doors, and tell the world to fuck off.  But it doesn’t.  It is still there when I wake up in the morning and try to find the strength to get through another day.  And you wonder what the hell it is all about.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Socially Disadvantaged

Someone who has known me all my life recently commented that I am socially disadvantaged  because I have so many dogs.  I wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed or amused.  To be honest, I am neither of those things, but it has certainly made me think.

What does it mean to be socially disadvantaged?  Surely it must mean that you are unable to partake in a social life, or social situations, that you would like to.  So, a young mother who cannot go out to a night club with her friends must be “socially disadvantaged”.  An elderly man who cannot meet his mates down the pub because he has broken a hip must be “socially disadvantaged”. 

Then you have the young woman who says that being a new mother is hard work, but she wouldn’t change it – she made a choice and accepts that there are now certain limitations on her life.
Am I unable to partake in situations that I would like to?  That is debatable.  Perhaps it is more accurate to say I am financially disadvantaged, or time disadvantaged.  But my current situation, for the most part, is my own choice.

I can no longer go on holidays like I used to when I was married, had a thriving business, and my parents were able to look after the dogs while we went away.  But in those years I went on sea kayaking expeditions in Doubtful Sound and Charlotte Sound in New Zealand, went on a 10 day horse trek in New Zealand, walked the Dusky Track, took a float plane over Fjordland, sat in hot pools on a mountain side.

In Sri Lanka, we travelled round the country by train, climbed Adams Peak and saw the sun rise, stayed at the Hill Country Club, discovered the joys of good tea, watched turtles come up the beach to lay their eggs, listened to thousands of frogs singing by the ponds.  India brought river boats, wonderful food, traditional ayurvedic massage (that is a story in itself!).

In the Maldives we snorkeled for hours and saw rays and sharks and clown fish, watched a bait ball, watched pipe fish on the sandy ocean floor, watched a nurse shark as it slept on the reef.
The Seychelles gave me the chance to hold hands with a wild turtle under the water, scratch the throats of giant tortoises.

We cycled round Antigua – sleeping under picnic benches, in beach huts, under bushes, and took a helicopter trip over the island of Montserrat with the money we saved by sleeping rough.

At home here in Scotland I have seen the sun rise in the mountains, seen the sunset in the mountains.  Watched mountain hares, golden eagles, slid on polythene bags down snow slopes, camped in wild places, swum in the sea, the rivers, the lochs.

I could go on and on, but the gist of what I am saying is that the holiday experiences I have had remain as memories in my mind, and they will always be there.  

My career has been varied, too.  I have picked mushrooms, and potatoes.  Worked in an ironmongery shop and a bank, went back to college, then was a secretary in the membership office of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, personal secretary to a community consultant paediatrician (that was an eye opener) and then assistant in accommodation and group services at St Andrews University. 

Then I left my home and moved up to the north east to join Chris – we walked the beach at midnight as it was so light in the summer, watched the northern lights in the winter, caught our own food.
The Isle of Skye beckoned where we ran our own restaurant – very successfully.  We discovered the joys of fossil collecting, finding ammonites, belemnites, a plesiosaur paddle, and part of the first dinosaurs to be found on the island.

Then we found our way (reluctantly to begin with) to the Isle of Seil where we had our hotel for 14 years.  We hand fed the swans that lived locally, fed hundreds of garden birds, and ducks.  We planted trees and shrubs and flowers, raised two orphan hedgehogs and eight orphan ducklings.  Watched otters swimming off the garden, deer grazing in our garden, stoats on the front doorstep, found a sparrowhawk in our sitting room.  I started riding again and got my first horse, then the second and a third.  We lost old dogs, and got young puppies.

Nowadays, my family is my four dogs and three horses, and the small group of friends I spend some time with.  I take part in the annual local pantomime, having a ball running round like a loon, I go to Zumba, I visit friends for coffee, go visit my family when time and cash allow.  But on a winter's night, I am happy by the fire, knitting, watching TV, ignoring the housework.  In the summer I like to be out in the garden if I can, perhaps a late walk with the dogs, listening to the birds singing.

But am I socially disadvantaged - by some people's standards and ideals, yes I am.  By mine?  Not so much.

I went to look for some photos, but there were just too many to choose from - here are some of my favourite memories.  There's lots more.

Abel Tasman National Park - South Island NZ

High above the river - NZ

Climbing tree roots on the Dusky Track NZ

Caving in a kayak, Charlotte Sound

River crossing on horseback

We have a convoy!

And even a hovawart in The Seychelles

A bit of a love-in

No words for this

Donkeys on Barbuda

Not quite the Titanic

Roe deer and rabbit

Humble or Pie - can't remember which

Mr & Mrs D52 and family

Our duck family waiting for supper

Sun bathing wild goats

One of my very favourite places - not telling you where!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Pantomime of Breeding

When I got Tussock, my first hovawart, I really wanted to breed from her.  It seemed a shame not to let such a gentle character pass on those easy going, steady, loyal genes.  But, living in a hotel as I was at the time, and with someone else having a say in the matter, it just never got beyond wishful thinking.  Then when the proverbial shit hit the fan and my familiar life fell to pieces, I had no choice but to forget the idea for the time being.  I really wasn't in an emotional place to consider it.  River came along - taking a pup from that particular litter was a conscious choice to use new blood into the country to breed with.  I figured I had a few years to get my act together, straighten out my life, my mind and so much else.

But I kept finding excuses not to get on with it - work was busy, the house is too small, I don't have time, I don't have money, I don't have experience, negative influence from other people.  The penny finally dropped and I realised the only thing stopping me was my own negativity and lack of confidence.  The voice inside my head now said "Get on with it".  So, for the last six months I have thought about things, loosely planned how I would cope with a litter of pups, the other dogs, creating a private space for River - knowing damn fine that all the planning in the world would likely go out the window anyway.

My next issue was a dog...... I had two in mind.  One was a young dog that River has met, and likes, and he really is a handsome lad - that would be a natural mating.  The other would have to be artificial insemination from another very handsome lad.

I guess things went a bit wrong right at the beginning when River came into season a few weeks before I expected and I was already on the back foot.  The young dog hadn't had all his health tests, and going on the "usual" way of things, we would only have 10 days or so to be organised on that front, so it possibly wasn't going to happen.  Then his owner decided that perhaps she didn't want to introduce him to the joys of wanton females in season!  I totally understand her decision.  He is a calm, good natured boy, and she didn't want to risk ending up with a dog whose eyes went out on stalks every time a girl walked by.  AI could be an option, but that was just another complication to cope with in the time allowed.

So, AI from the other dog it would be.  The semen would come frozen, and River would be inseminated on the appropriate day.  No travelling involved..... seems a good option.

I visited my vet to get a first blood test to check River's progesterone levels, and a chat about AI.  First hurdle was dealing with a rather negative vet that I had never met before, and her announcement that they had never done AI in a dog before!  Cows, horses, sheep, yes, but not dogs.  So, a few days later I spoke with one of the regular vets who was quite enthusiastic, and keen to learn about AI.  He phoned the other vets where the semen would be coming from, had a good chat with them, only to then let me know that they didn't have the equipment to do it, and I might as well  throw my money away.  He was very helpful, though, and said he would see if he could find someone who could do it for me.

And he did.  Either a vet in Dewsbury (about 8 or 9 hours away) or one in Dunbar (about 4 hours).   By now we were on Day 5, and I needed to get the semen organised to be here in time for day 10 as that is when "most" bitches start to become receptive.  The vet contacted the lady in Dunbar, but she never got back to him.  I had ordered the semen, and then had to email them to cancel it.  Then the Dunbar lady phoned my vet.  We were on again.  I tried to make contact with her to chat it all over, but to this day, I am still waiting for her to call me back.  With little faith in her services, I regretfully cancelled the semen again.  There was no point going to all that expense only to end up having to send it back again.  We were now on about day 9.

During this time River had had several blood tests, and her progesterone levels were still low.  Great, I still had chance to work out Plan C.  Enter into the arena a trusty old lad, experienced, wonderful temperament, and a line I would be delighted to help continue.  And not too far away.  Wonderful.  Sorted.

Now to wait for the progesterone levels to rise......and wait.....and wait......!  A blood test on the Monday came back as a bit more elevated - the results came in on the Tuesday afternoon (Day 16) and the vet was suggesting another test on the Wednesday morning.  Now I was running into sticky territory.  That test wouldn't come back until Thursday afternoon by which time I wouldn't have time to do anything about it.  With a long standing commitment over the weekend I had to be at home from the Friday.  By this time River was happily standing to be bonked by Talulah so I thought I would take a chance.

So on the Wednesday morning (day 17) we all piled in the car at 6.30 am and set off.  We got to His house about 10.30, and we let her into the garden to leave some scent about the place, and let Him out.  Ooooh!  She was delighted!  Flirty flirt, a bit of coy running about, a bit of courting from Him, and then she so beautifully stood for him.  He obviously thought she was ready too.  Yes!  I thought - seeing little bundles of joy in the future!  But despite several attempts, they never really got a good go, and certainly didn't tie.  She was perhaps a bit tall for him, so we tried on a slope to give him the advantage of more height, we gave him a leg-up..... we tried letting them run up the top of the garden to a private space, which is what River seemed to want to do.  But... no go.  And the poor lad was getting a bit tired.

Okay, we will try again tomorrow we thought.  And we did, but with the same results.

Whether her progesterone levels weren't high enough, whether the result might have been different in a couple of days (days 19/20!!!) I will never know.  I had to go back home for my part in our local pantomime although it did feel as though I was starring in two pantomimes at this point.

Whilst slip matings might sometimes result in puppies, I guess that is only when you don't want them to.  We are all back to normal now, seasons finished, no more bonking.  I am not expecting the pitter patter of little paws, but you never know.........   I can dream!      

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Laying Blame

I have been mulling over this for the past week, and have written and re-written something in my mind several times over - I doubt I will remember much of it now that I have sat down!

We had an "incident" over a month ago - nothing outrageous, just one of those things that happen when you have dogs - and especially if you have several of them, and perhaps even more so if you happen to have bitches.  I may be wrong on the last point.

Anyway.  One day at work, I was working away in the laundry.  The dogs were in the car - Tussock in the cab, and the "rabble" in the pick-up bit.  The bottom tailgate was shut, but the top bit was open allowing them to see out, and to have ventilation.  I wasn't going to be long, so didn't bother to set up their outside pen.

River snoozing in the back of the pick-up
At the other side of the laundry building is the main track in and out of the "business" part of the estate.  I have windows on three sides so can see anyone who is coming and going - but the car was parked where the dogs can only see across the fields and to the sea.  That is deliberate so they don't bark at anyone coming by.  If they happen to be going to one particular cottage which is near the laundry, or someone comes to my door - that is a different matter.

This particular afternoon I saw a couple of people known to me walking down the road towards the building I was in heading to another building close by.  They had two dogs - on on lead, and one off lead.

Suddenly a rumpus kicked up, my dogs were barking.  I went to the door to find that the off lead dog had run round to the car, kicking off the barking, and Skara (little monkey) had jumped over the tailgate and gone to play.  I didn't want Skara to learn that jumping out was a good idea (for a whole host of reasons) so went to get her and pick her up and put her back in the car.  This is where things unravelled, a lot like the original chicken shit.

I grabbed Skara, she yelped at the surprise of my grab (and because she is a little wuss).  I carried her to the car, lowered the tailgate, and popped her in.  At this point Talulah jumped out, despite my instruction to stay, ran to the off-lead dog and said "grump grump grump leave my pup alone" and ran back again and back into the car.  And the off lead dog followed her.  At which point River jumped out, grabbed the dog's muzzle, and did a death shake (well, it looked like it) whilst shouting and bawling..  As I yelled her name, River backed off and got in the car, and the dog ran off.  I shut up the back of the car, and went round to where the dog was back with its owner.  I checked over the dog's muzzle and could find no blood, not even any wetness where River's mouth had been.  I checked again, and again - really could find no harm done.  I apologised to the owner for our part in the incident and went back to my work shaking my head and cursing the world.  But after that I really didn't think much about it, other than to consider finding a method of preventing Skara jumping out again.

However, just last week, the husband of the ON-lead dog and I were chatting, and he said "Please don't take this the wrong way" (alarm bells go in my head!) "but I see that the next booking at Forest has a dog coming".  Thinking he was on another tack, I said "Oh, don't worry - I will go into clean up", as sometimes my dogs go in there for a dump when given an opportunity.  "No no - I wasn't meaning that - I was referring to the 'incident' the other week - we wouldn't want a repeat performance".  I reassured him that I had no intention of it happening again.   I have been parking in that spot for four years, and that is the first time it has happened.  Yes, we have shouting matches, but never a jumper!!

I didn't take offence, or the wrong way, or anything else.  But it did start me thinking about where "blame" should, if at all, lay.  As I see it, Skara shouldn't have jumped out, I shouldn't have dropped the tailgate, nor should Talulah have jumped out, nor River, and River shouldn't have given a death shake.  Perhaps I shouldn't have left open the back of the car.  BUT - none of the events at my side of the building would have happened if the off-lead dog hadn't wandered round.  And had the owner got hold of their dog at the same time as I grabbed Skara, then again the rest would have been prevented.  From there - okay, I take responsibility for my dogs' actions, that my dogs didn't do as asked, that Skara doesn't yet realise that jumping out is bad.  But I do feel that the whole thing has landed on River's court - she is the bad girl, she is the aggressor, she is a nasty dog.  Or is that me taking it "the wrong way"?  Perhaps he was just meaning Skara jumping out.....but given that he didn't see what happened, I doubt it.  Actually, the only person who saw it all was me.

In thinking this through, I began to think about it more deeply (one of the hazards of working alone) and how things are differently perceived by different people.  The owners of those two dogs are first time dog owners - and the person I was talking to has the sweetest, gentlest little bitch you could ever meet - what a gloriously easy dog to have for your fist one.  But it is the difficult dogs that teach you the most - Sisko was my teacher - I guess, in hindsight, he wasn't really difficult, it was just that he and I never really gelled, and he came with a few behavioural issues that I wouldn't bat an eyelid at nowadays!

Bless him, he wasn't really a bad dog!

Sisko was a true thief at any opportunity
I think that what those folks see is simply an act of aggression from one of my dogs - but I see it as far more complicated than that - a series of actions and reactions which, to be honest, we cannot always foresee.  But I honestly think they don't recognise their dog's part in this - or their own.  Do I have more understanding of dog behaviour?  That is debatable, but I do have more experience, I think.  It is impossible to stop all shit hitting the fan, but we learn by our mistakes - I certainly try to.  And I try to protect my dogs from situations where they may present "unwanted behaviour" - big black dogs, in packs, are always going to be blamed!!

I keep thinking about what I could have done differently, and really haven't come to a conclusion.  I could have shut the door on Talulah and River and let Skara play - but that would send too strong a message to Skara that jumping out was a good thing - you get a game and make a new friend.

As a post script, the day after this incident I was out walking my lot when I saw the off-lead dog with its people coming in our direction.  I took mine off the track a few metres and asked them to sit and wait (yes, treats were involved) which they did.  And I was proud of them for that.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Journey to Crufts Part 4

Finally on the M74, we settled down for a long journey south, and agreed to stop off at our usual services to gather our wits, have a coffee, and let the dogs have a stretch.

However, it would seem we had another problem in the form of River who was beside me.  She just could not get comfortable.  In my haste to get the hire van packed up and get going again, I really didn't look at the size of the front bench seat.  I was sat in the middle and she in passenger seat, but there just wasn't enough room for her to lay down, not enough room to curl up, she didn't want to go in the foot well, and so she just sat up watching the road like Min and myself.

But she was tired and every now and again she would put her head on my shoulders, gradually sliding down the back of me, then she would sit up and lean on me.  Then she started to shake.  And pant.  Oh boy.  I came to the conclusion that she needed the loo not having had much opportunity to poo since the morning.

The services eventually loomed up and I got out River and Silkie - both of whom gratefully peed and pooed.  Great, I thought, River will settle down now.  Next were Chief and Larney.  And finally Min and I went in for a coffee and sat down with relief that we were on our way properly.  And now we were suitably fuelled with coffee.  Did we eat?  I can't remember!!

River seemed happier for the next bit of the journey.  Not long into our journey, a police car passed at high speed with all lights flashing.  He was certainly in a hurry.  And five minutes down the road we saw the queue of red lights stretching ahead........

We came to a halt, and then inch by inch we moved forward.  After a while it transpired that all the outside traffic was coming in to our lane, and there was traffic coming on to the motorway - int our lane.  It seemed every other lane was moving faster than we were.

Finally, about 45 minutes later, the cause of the bottle neck became apparent - a three vehicle crash on the outside lane - somebodies' journey had come to a halt on that Friday night.  I guess we should be grateful it wasn't us.

Once we got going again, the road became quieter and quieter as the evening went on - and we munched up the miles efficiently.  River was starting to shuffle again - poor girl - there was nothing I could do to make her more comfortable.

As we neared the services where we would be staying, I commented that we had managed to retain our humour despite all that had happened, and that we hadn't shouted at each other - quite a feat, I think!  I suggested that if we swore at each other in the morning that we shouldn't take it personally!  Agreed.

At 3.00am we arrived at our hotel.  Dogs out for a pee, watered, back in the van - we were on autopilot by now - bags in hand we staggered in, got our room key and went upstairs.  Double bed.  Hmm - don't mind sharing with Min, but I did feel we would sleep better not sharing.  Luckily I had said yes to Min's question "do we need the foam mattress with us?".  I went back out to get it and River and I made up a bed on the floor.  I don't remember much more.

We had to be up at 7am......I might tell you about the day at Crufts another time.  We were just grateful to get there.