Monday, 15 May 2017

Help!



It's the time of year when tiny, needy plants are taking up every available surface. I went too soon with the sweet peas and they perished in the cold and the wind. I bought a couple of replacement pots and separated them out into new pots, two per pot. The runner beans that I direct sowed are also looking miserable, whereas the six leftover seeds that I popped into the greenhouse in pots are doing brilliantly. I think I'll start them that way next year, although space is always an issue.

I planted out nine dahlia plants yesterday that I grew for the Blooms for Bees dahlia trial. The idea is that you grow three red dahlias, three white and three purple, then monitor the bee activity on each colour. And I think I'll need to identify the bees too, which might prove tricky. I'm terrified the snails will devour the dahlias before they get to the flower stage. I've got a couple of back-ups in each colour just in case.

I made the most of the last dry day yesterday and pottered around outside potting things up - a nice container of flowers, a mint that I had that had grown nicely has been treated to a nice new pot and I'm trying to persuade the white wisteria to climb the back of the house. I even cut the grass and gave it a feed before the rain came. It's one of my favourite things to do some gardening then watch the rain come down and water everything. It's been so dry I can almost hear all the green things sighing with pleasure.





On to the thing with which I need help. You may recall me mentioning that the littlest boy was to have a dog of his very own on his tenth birthday, which is just over a year away. Well, the date has been moved forward (at very little notice) to his ninth birthday and I am in a state of panic. It's less than three weeks away and as of right now I know almost nothing about puppies. Except that they chew everything, roll in unmentionable things, keep you awake all night and are harder work than a toddler. Did I miss anything?

I am the sort of person who likes to memorise the manual before I do anything. So you can imagine that I am in a state of panic. Here are my dog questions:

Oh, d'you know, I don't even know where to start. What do I need to know? Dog owners out there, help! I have explained to the littlest boy that a dog won't magically appear on his birthday, but we will start to look at that point. And that it will be a family dog as well and he is to share nicely and let the dog love his brothers too.

What we need most is a dog who adores him, because I know how much he will adore the dog. And one with a lot of bouncy energy that will run around with him and play. Terrier? Spaniel? Flandoodle? (Yes, that's a thing). I read somewhere that I will need an extra four hours a day to look after a dog. Okay then... Your best tips please. If anyone needs me I will be reading The Happy Puppy Handbook.

PS. A quick shout out to our local(ish) football team, Forest Green Rovers, who are now in the Football League following a thrilling victory over Tranmere Rovers at Wembley yesterday. A great achievement for a team from a little place, and all the more special because of their great green credentials - they use green energy, organic grass fertilised with cow manure, serve vegan food, give their players electric cars to drive and will be building their new stadium out of wood. They won an eco-management award in 2012 and they'll be opening an eco education centre at their new premises. So thrilled they're doing well.

28 comments:

  1. I have no dog advice, sorry. I had a dog up until about five years ago when he died, but he was a hard dog. He was not bad, just a bad temperament. I hope you find a nicer one. I'd like to have another someday. It sounds like you have a lot of good gardening going on. I love the sound of your dahlias. Those are such beautiful flowers. Your football team sounds amazing! Good for them. They sound like your kind of guys with all their eco-friendliness. :)

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  2. Your gardening looks like you're off to a good start. About the dog. I've had them since I was a wee child.. hardly ever been without one. Our current dog has been the best one ever. He's a Cairn Terrier. He loves all of us equally, he's loyal and the perfect size to sit on your lap if you so desire. He sleeps with us every night. He even kills moles and snakes and mice! The only thing is he will need to be on a leash or in a fenced area as they will take off and run. Plus, they are diggers. Doesn't bother us because we live on a farm and we don't mind. But he's been very healthy and faithful and sweet as pie. Good luck! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  3. You are such a dedicated gardener...I remember being very avid and starting a lot of plants indoors. They always got leggy before it was warm enough to transplant. I really did enjoy that sort of scientific part of it and you are having fun, too. How much longer with your classes?

    You are on a great adventure finding the puppy. There are no rules. If you have a smallish house you may want to stay with smaller dog. And the opposite. The only big thing I'd recommend is take classes with the puppy asap. I think they have to be a certain age. I liked Puppies For Dummies, but I still think every dog is different so you have to try different options in training and dealing with bad behavior. Good luck. I've had dogs all my life and I'll never not have one!

    Jane x

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  4. We have three boys ages 9, 13, 14 and we got a springer spaniel last year, he is 10 mths old now. I think they are a fantastic breed for families, equally happy to be with anyone who wants to play and so energetic, bouncy, springy and loving to run and fetch. I have no advice on training though, our dogs are outside dogs on acreage and I haven't really tried to teach anything except not to jump all over me. Have fun! Also have you thought of putting a plastic bottle cloche over your beans? I use plastic milk jugs with the bottom cut out.
    Shelly in Canada

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  5. Good luck with the Blooms for bees trial and fingers crossed your dahlias survive. Using egg shells around the base, copper rings and manually hand picking molluscs off (possibly popping them into a salty water bottle) may help for a better survival rate of your dahlias. You'll soon easily be spotting your buff tails from your white tails.

    How exciting a new puppy to become part of your family. Advice I'd give would be to make sure you know how much time your chosen breed needs for exercising each day (the Kennel club have a section to find the right breed for you), get a puppy crate for those early months (I was horrified at the suggestion of that when it was put to me but it really helps. It's a place of safety for the pup and it'll save your home from being wrecked - that last piece of advice was given to us from a breeder), to definitely book puppy classes and make sure you've got puppy friendly toys. We've only had 1 dog, he's a miniature schnauzer who is now 2 1/2 years old. We cannot imagine life without him. Your new family member will love you all, even if he is 'special' to one of them.

    What a team, let's hope their ethos spreads amongst the soccer world!

    Good luck
    Karen

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  6. puppy school are brilliant - all positive training and really helped me and the children to bond with our doggie, who at 5 now is a lovely chap. http://www.puppyschool.co.uk/ (would get booked into a class now though as there were waiting lists where we live and you can only go with your pup up to a certain age xx

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  7. Well done on the plants for bees. Will be interesting to see the results. Some butterflies show colour preferences for nectaring. Ooh how exciting about a dog! The first question is to make really sure YOU have the time and inclination because it'll be you doing the majority of the care. Other than that different families suit different breeds and natures vary within breeds too so there are no hard and fast rules. Definitely think about how much exercise you can give it and how much it will need. And training is essential if you don't want a dog with no manners. As you know, I love both ours equally but they are quite different. Ted is very gentle and Pop throws herself into life with gusto. I think your boys would love a Jack Russel because they are fantastic companions for active people (well, ours is!), they are loyal, loving, up for anything and super bright. Xx

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  8. Re dog advice - research your dog insurance carefully. Often the insurance is very reasonable restart with but as your dog gets older they put up the premiums. Ours is now very expensive but we are tied in due to the conditions that companies work on. Some breeds are more prone to certain medical problems so make sure that you check that outa d ask the breeders whether any screening has been done. Try to meet the parent dogs looking for their temperament. Also days out need more planning as many places don't allow dogs and unless you have a dog sitter you wouldn't want to leave a dog in the house alone all day. On that note some breeds cope with being left better than others. Consider the pjysical,space that a full grown dog will take, in the house, the garden, the car etc. Having said all that dogs are loyal and loving companions but it is important that prospective dog owners are aware that buying a dog isn't something to be done lightly ( I am sure you wouldn't do that) as you will be changing your life for hopefully many years to come.

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  9. I have two Cocker Spaniels, I love them very much and they are fabulous with kids but they also tend to run off when they find an interesting scent to follow, or a rabbit happens to jump up in front of them. They are small bundles of energy and also need some grooming. If you don't mind a taller dog, try Labradors, they are fabulous, goofy, great with kids, wonderful family dogs and have shorter fur which means grooming is not as tedious. Other than that, look for a good vet, one who really likes animals (surprisingly, not all vets do) and respects each of his patients as an individual. Set aside some money for the vet check ups. Be prepared it will take a while to potty train a puppy, and do count in some time each day to remove "droppings" from your garden (because no matter how often you take them out for a walk, accidents will happen at any age). As far as the inside, select a protected spot for the doggy bed and make sure every family member knows that when doggy is sleeping, he must not be disturbed. He needs his privacy just like all the other family members. Get him / her some toys but stay away from the squeaky ones. They seem funny at first but - well, just believe me on that one. ;-) But most of all: listen to your heart. You'll know the perfect dog when you see it.

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  10. Hello CJ! Love the bee testing on the dahlias. That sounds like lots of fun. I just planted everything out in my garden so i have fingers crossed that they all survive. Do look at rescues if you can. They often have puppies too. Or maybe look at a dog who is a wee bit older. Sometimes that can make life easier as they often already have some training. I rescued a ten year old collie as my first dog who was the perfect introduction to dog owning. Now I have a nine year old collie who I have had for 3 years. He is a total sweetheart and it feels so good to have given a dog who has had a hard time a home. Good luck with whatever you do. Looking forward to the photos :-) xx

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  11. I hope the dahlias are doing ok, it is pure slug weather...

    We have a Jack Russell. They are often said to be nippy and yappy but ours isn't. He likes almost everybody but after a bad experience, he is not very keen on small children that think he is a soft toy. There is lots of good advice above, just adding my own experiences here! Some doges are more prone to health problems, I would talk to a vet maybe and find out what breeds are uncomplicated in their experience. Vets are a good source of information, including information about the amount of exercise needed etc. Some breeds may need more exercise than you can offer them for example. I would also opt for a dog that fits in the car you already have (think holidays!) and one that is suitable for the size of your house and garden. Small dogs eat less, too. Not to mention the poos. You don't want top pick up poos that require Sainsbury's 5 p shopping bags! Personally, I would also opt for a puppy rather than a rescue dog. Just like people, dogs come with experiences that may make it difficult for them to adapt to a new family. We never took Jack to puppy classes but he is very well behaved. It is hard work to train a dog and it will be largely you, except for the fun tricks like roll-over. Some breeds are a bit - shall wee say academically challenged - and are difficult to train. The vet would know which breeds that is (breeders are not likely to tell you). We took Jack to many noisy places and crowded venues (school gates) and introduced him to lots of dogs early one to help him cope with the big bad world. We had a puppy cage with a wooly blanket draped over when Jack first came to us. He loved it, still loves to bury under blankets etc. I made him a nest in an old laundry basket, it is full of old wooly jumpers. Having a dog is really a bit like having children (only you get to choose the dog!). They need a firm hand and lots of love. Lastly, no matter how much your little boy now promises he will be looking after the dog, at the end of the day, you will be doing most of the work. Good luck and keep us posted. So exiting!

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  12. That last photo is beautiful CJ! About dogs - I think the most important thing to consider is what a dog has been bred for. Too many people choose a dog based on its looks, its size, or if someone they know had that particular breed. Purebreed dogs have been bred for particular traits and when people don't pay attention to those, they tend to end up in a bad situation, such as a miserable high energy dog such as a Border Collie or Springer Spaniel cooped up in a small home all day with no job to do. Or if people want to be able to let their dogs off lead, they should not get a dog with a strong prey drive such as a Greyhound. Also, size does not have any factor on energy level - our Corgis are much more high strung, loud, and bossy than say, a Lab. And since you asked... I am going to encourage you to look at dogs in shelters and rescues- both puppies and adults. If you're interested in a purebred, most breed societies have designated rescues. I have also found that when it comes to dogs, having common sense is more important than any dog book. Food and water, indoor shelter, exercise, love - all the same things that you provide for your child. And the dogs will love you just the same (if not more)! ;)

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  13. Having always had three dogs most of my life I think I've covered most breeds....all rescue dogs of course. I would avoid a terrier, they are intelligent and energetic but have a strong prey drive so birds, rabbits etc will be slaughtered on a regular basis, they are also wired so difficult to let of leads...the ultimate runners. Border collies are loyal, intelligent and devote themselves to their pack.They need lots of exercise though, ideal for three active boys, also better off leads than on them, not to friendly with other dogs usually, but very pack orientated. A spaniel sounds the best option, lively, bouncy, friendly, curious and good all round family pets. Having said that I have a doberman at the moment along with a collie and jack russel.....the doberman is goofy, gentle, loyal and devoted....usually dogs respond to how they are treated, although you can get an odd bod, just like people. I would go with a spaniel...or a good old fashioned mongrel. Good luck, I hope you choose a rescue dog, a shelter will advise you what breed is most suitable for your family.xxx

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  14. No dog advice here either, I'm afraid - could I interest you in a house rabbit instead?! Your Dahlia experiment sounds fun - my money is on the purple ones. I've a greenhouse full of veggies too - I was going to plant them out last weekend, but then I spotted a baby deer actually inside the fenced off veggie patch. I might as well just ring a dinner bell. Good luck choosing your new family friend; your son is going to be so happy. I look forward to lots of photos. xx

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  15. Hey CJ,
    All the advice above is sound and good. But it's the choice of dog that's key I think. CT is right; it will be you that will have the most interaction, so it should be you that chooses the breed. I would go for a medium size breed, that is family friendly and likes to be out and about. I had no clue about dogs when I got Honey. I bought her on a whim after falling in love with my sister in law's Cavalier. I didn't prepare, didn't go to puppy classes, and spent about 6 months getting up to her in the night. Having said that she was always up for fun with the boys, got us out as a family, loves cuddles and playing with toys, is bright and well behaved and an integral part of our clan. All puppies are bouncy, some more than others! Good luck! The puppy will choose you anyway, so all you need to do is decide on n a breed that would suit and go for it!
    Leanne xx

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  16. I see you have already got lots of advice about getting a dog. Going to puppy classes, crating from an early age, and socializing the dog with both people and dogs from an early age are all great ideas, as is researching the temperaments of various breeds to see what is a good fit for your family. I see Snowbird has advised not to get a terrier, which is the one piece of advice I disagree with. Fergus, my West Highland Terrier, is a delight. One idea that hasn't been mentioned is going to the various groups for individual breeds on Ravelry and reading through some of the threads to get an idea of what owning that particular kind of dog is like. I know such groups exist for dachshunds and Westies, so I'm guessing they are there for other breeds as well. It's so exciting having a new puppy in the house! Their cuteness more than makes up for the extra work involved with training them. :-)

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  17. Exciting about the puppy! They are like having small children - you need to be firm and give them boundaries but mostly they are eager to please. I would definitely recommend a crate for night times and when you go out as it keeps them and your house safe. Good luck!

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  18. When I reach back into my childhood memories the runner beans were some of my favorites in my mom's garden. I am so excited for the little to get a pup, but as a Mom, I feel your dread. It'll work out, it just might be a task initially, like so many well loved and worth it things.

    Congrats to the Green Rovers! Fantastic Stuff!

    Favorite photo today: #2. It makes me feel like I could possibly write fiction it's so inspiring and magical.

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  19. I suggest you don't buy a puppy at all - get in touch with your local pound and get a rescue. You will be able to gauge the dogs personality better ( pounds are stressful and they will be at their worst there so if you find a friendly responsive dog the likelihood is they will be even better once bonded to you) and if you go for a slightly older dog you won't have the house training or chewing issues. You will also be teaching your boys a lesson about the value of a life and treating animals respectfully. Sadly the bottom line is that if you buy a dog from a breeder you are not only supporting an industry that creates unwanted pets, but a dog in a pound won't get a home.
    We've had two rescues and they are the best dogs. Our current dog ( a German shepherd cross) was six when she came to us and had been terribly neglected. She hadn't been trained at all and had some physical issues from the neglect. The first few weeks were hard but she has turned into the best dog ever - she's learned so much ( old dogs do learn new tricks) and fitted in wonderfully. She's so appreciative of everything we do for her and now virtually everyone who meets her says they would love a dog like her - quite a turnaround from the dog that was about to be euthanised because no one wanted her.

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  20. How exciting to be getting a dog. We had a mongrel when our children were young-I think she had a bit of terrier and who knows what else-she was lovely and really thought she was one of the children-she lived until she was 17. Our next dog was a golden lab and he came when our children had left home. It really felt like having another boy in the house-he was gentle and totally adorable and perfect with our grandson- we used a book called The Perfect Puppy and it was so helpful.
    Good luck with your search-lots of fun and love ahead!!

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  21. I can't help with the puppy choice. We came within a fortnight of getting a King Charles Spaniel. His name was going to be Bertie and then I just suddenly knew it wasn't the right time and contacted the breeder who was genuinely grateful that we hadn't taken a puppy and then regretted it. We'd always had cats. I've never owned a dog and I think that we wouldn't have been good owners. I don't think the boys were as passionate as yours about having one either.

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  22. I would avoid terriers - we loved our Jack Russell, but had I read a book about them first....
    I think a lab would be great with three boys. I have, besides my no-terrier rule, decided on a no-long-hair rule because I don't love grooming so I stick to short haired breeds. I think the rescue option is great. Our chocolate lab Ruby is a treasure and we are her fourth (and last) home in her short 5 year life (I just have to make sure there's nothing edible on the counters when we leave her home alone). You will love whomever you end up with and wonder how you ever lived without a dog, I'm sure.

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  23. Good luck with the dahlia growing. And good luck with the dog choosing. We have a Boo (I'm a big fan of a novel with 'mockingbird' in the title). More specifically, a working cocker spaniel. Intelligent, medium sized, minimal grooming, good at exercising himself (he just needs someone to hoy the ball ad infinitum) and very loyal (he gazes adoringly at the mister here and never lets him out of his sight). Even comes with the Royal seal of approval (though sadly no accompanying tiara).

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  24. No puppy advice here I'm afraid as I don't know the first thing about them! But I'm sure your family will make a wonderful home for one lucky pup :)

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  25. I think people make WAY too much fuss about the puppy stage. I've heard people actually say - in all seriousness - that it would be easier to have another baby. Really?! I am of course deluding myself because we are puppy hunting right now and, if it weren't for the fact that we're away for a fortnight in August, would have one already. Yes I expect it's hard and they need training and might chew stuff and wee everywhere but oh my goodness, they love they will bring you. I still miss Molly desperately and think about her every night and hope she's ok and has a nice home now. Dogs bring untold joy and love into your family, they really do. Plus all that walking means it's ok to eat more cake and drink more wine. :-)

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  26. When you consider your puppy, as others have said keep in mind, walking, vets bills etc., but also when it sheds its coat?...I had a golden retriever (beautiful temperament, loved everyone, but very, very hairy). I also had a Alsatian x rottie who was such a beauty, brilliant guard dog, lovely temperament, and very loyal. Now I have got a jack-a-poo (jack Russel x poodle) no shedding of fur, but has to go to the groomers....very strong minded, but loves everyone too. Good luck with your choice, whatever breed you choose will give you unconditional love and loyalty.

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  27. Please can I reiterate Nicola's comment; do consider rehoming a rescue dog; there is so much genuine need out there and these dogs can repay you back with so much love. As Nicola says the staff at the resuce centres are good at helping you find the right temprement too, so it is not as risky as you might think. As far as runner beans go, I also put mine out too early as they had grown too big to stay indoors. However, a put a 'wall' of enviromesh all around them to keep off the chilly wind and they have romped away. Good luck with both the puppy and the beans.

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