Apologies for the lack of blog posts and updates on the site over the Christmas period; I was mostly on house arrest having had surgery on my hip. The dogs have been extremely patient with me as I'm still not allowed to incorporate too many hills into my walks and continue to increase by five minutes each day. The dogs have however taken up a new sport - running with Jack - they love it! Jack's been taking them for their usual walks before he goes to work but some of those he's been doing running instead (many can relate to our January healthkick!). Our wonderful Ilsley Pioneer (Barry) is used to running as he used to come out with me before the problem with my hip made running impossible, but fingers crossed in another few months I'll be totally back to normal and can give running a go again.
Here in Berkshire we've enjoyed snow before and after Christmas and the boys love it. Poor Barry's legs disappear in the snow but he thinks it's wonderful running along with his nose in it (the only time he ever runs along with his nose to the ground!) and enjoys digging through the snow to get to potential rabbit holes. Nigel thinks snowballs are great fun too!
We have enjoyed some lovely (albeit shorter than our usual) walks in the countryside. Exploring new locations is a passion of mine and I'm rather old-school; digging out my Ordnance Survey map to explore different by-ways, foothpaths and the likes. The above photo was from a recent walk to a local woodland, which is long-established and has multiple tracks meandering through the forest for you follow. The boys loved their time running amongst the trees, jumping over fallen logs and we were even startled by a herd of over ten Roe deer.
One issue that you can all relate to this time of year though is MUD. Back in my horse riding days it used to be my pet hate scraping dried mud off of my horse's coat, trying to untangle muddy knots in his mane and trying not to slip over in the mud on the way back from the field. Dogs are therefore much easier in my eyes. Nigel's gorgeous long coat does however pick up everything in site and it's often that he's dragging part of a branch in his coat that I extract once I've caught up with him! For fellow dog owners at the moment, you'll understand the worry of Alabama Rot and other diseases that can affect our dogs with very little signs or warnings. I therefore always ensure that my dogs have their legs thoroughly washed after each walk, especially this time of year and even more so if I have been in woodland where they're often running through undergrowth. This is very simple to do; buy a spare dishwashing bowl to keep by the back door. My two dogs have been trained by me to wait by the back door before launching themselves inside so they wait while the bowl is filled with warm water and I then dip each leg in by turn and hand-scrub. You can also incorporate products such as Hibiscrub that are certified to help kill any germs while being kind to the coat and skin of the dog. I personally don't feel the need for it and as long as the legs have been well washed with water they should be fine.
I am patiently waiting for Spring to arrive now though and can't wait until it does. I'm a little bored at the lack of colour in our gardens and even the dogs have no interest in going into the back garden to explore this time of year - much preferring the mud and rabbits to be found near the Gallops in our village!
More blog updates to come very soon, including my first introduction into the dog showing world!