Monthly Archives: April 2017

You’ve got to run to win

Another Monday, and a short blast of Van Halen for you. Why the devil not?

It was a sunny, cold wind kind of a week, the kind that is great for stacks of washing and tidying up. Not easy with three dogs in full moult to keep everything even basically clean. At least the fire is over and done with this side of the summer.

Kind of a hectic week but a week when I seemed to get a lot done, for once. Unit 16 is now submitted for my dog behaviour course, and there’s just a dissertation to write. The jury is still out as to which topic I’ll be picking though. I am so interested in so many aspects of working with dogs.

Last week we started with a bank holiday, which was sorely needed. Since everywhere is shut Sunday, and since everywhere was shut Monday too, it didn’t half make a difference to my workload! I have clients every evening except Friday evening, but teaching on Sunday and Monday when you’ve had all day to get stuff done does feel like an achievement. Tuesday I had a cancellation, and even though I’ve had morning classes, I don’t mind that either. It’s gearing up to be a busy few months. Sunny, cool afternoons with Miss Lidy, Mr Hagrid and the other lovelies was also nice – Lidy is such an amazing dog – except for the complete lack of impulse control I should add! – I taught her “Leave it!” this Wednesday and Thursday and reinforced it Saturday. I usually leave her a handful of treats in her bed so I can get out without issue, but her “Leave it!” was so good that she didn’t go in to pick them up. Time to build in “Get it!” She is so biddable and so trainable. I hope she goes to a most magnificent home.

Hagrid has a couple of weeks of refuge time left, all being well. I’m glad. He’s tired and slow these days, achy and half-given up. If only he knew what awaits. Keep your fingers so well and truly crossed, universe. Well and truly crossed.

Nice too to have a bit of time with a couple of others. I’ve started some rehab work with a dog called Estas – he’s a little pudding with frustration issues. What I love is that so many dogs have got their champions… people who think they are just marvellous. It made me really sad last week to read the comments on the page of a trainer who is giving up working with what he calls ‘aggression’ cases. What was worse was all the comments underneath that seemed to suggest we should return to brute force learning (kind of ‘bring back the cane’ arguments) or that rescue dogs are in some way responsible for all aggression. Hate to tell you this, people, but most dogs belonged to someone once. They aren’t damaged BECAUSE they are a rescue. In fact, most aren’t ‘damaged’ at all, and despite every crappy thing that has happened to them, they are resilient, blithe spirits. Anyway…. redirected anger and bluster. No wonder I understand dogs so well!

This week brings the second week of French holidays, and a return to school for my UK students who weren’t back already. GCSEs are gearing up. Flights are booked back to the UK for June meetings and I suppose I better start girding my loins for May. It all kicks off at the beginning of May and I know it won’t settle down until late August.

Deep breaths!

Happy in the haze

A bit of Salford’s finest for you this Monday morning.

You can’t beat a bit of the Smiths for passive aggressivity.

Well, my wishes were granted – lots and lots of blue skies and warm weather. I just love this time of year. Lunch with friends last Monday was just perfect out in the sun in Angoulême in t-shirts and summer shoes. Sure, we had a couple of overcast days, but the balance was definitely in favour of the blue.

Today, I’m finishing off my last assignment before my thesis for my canine behaviour practitioner course… breed specific legislation. I’m sure I don’t need to share with you the idiocy of this. I think every single person who owns a dog should do the mandatory training. It would save a fair few dogs being left at the shelter or returned. One young dog was returned on Friday night. His crime is that he is a young dog, and the owner wanted him to behave like a well-trained seven-year-old. She could have taken a well-trained seven-year-old in the first place, but there is no pleasing some people. If you want young, you’ve got to invest in a dog’s education and occupation to get the older dog you want.

After that, I have either two months to do the dissertation, or will have to put it off until I have finished GCSE marking…. will have to see how it goes.

The first family of kittens arrived on Saturday to the shelter, so I scooped them up. Truth be told, it is strange not having kittens in the bathroom. I don’t know how people cope without them. But as cute as they are, I would so much prefer that there were no kittens at all. Luckily, more and more people are choosing to get a shelter cat – after all, it’s way cheaper than a ‘free’ one and if you want an all-purpose moggy, there’s a lot to choose from.

This week is a short one: today is a national holiday in France, and my UK GCSE students are back at school or away. My French-based students are off gallivanting. Although I’ve got lessons every night as per usual, it does make a difference having a slight reduction from last week. What I plan on doing today is spending every single minute in the garden. The apple blossom is superb and the temperature is just perfect for me. Oh for a country where every day is 20°C with a warm wind. But as Morrissey would no doubt say, we’d all be miserable there too if we had it.

Have a great week and enjoy your Monday


The real surprise

Bit of The Cars for you this Monday morning.  I spent all yesterday listening to David Lee Roth but his lycra and crazy eyes are a bit much even for me on a Monday morning. Talk about full frontal assault. Love you DLR, but you’re a crazy-pants kind of guy.

Feels like everything is speeding up as we edge into summer – those warm mornings are just fantastic. More please! Busy one last week as it’s the Easter holidays in the UK and with so many GCSE students with exams coming up, everyone’s trying to cram in a couple more.

I spent a goodly part of the week with Miss Lidy at Mornac. I confess I am mad about the girl. She’d be just perfect for schutzhund stuff, agility or competitive obedience, but … as a dog without papers and pedigree, she’s ‘worthless’. It makes me so mad. On her papers, she’s down as a Tervueren, which are the long-haired Belgian shepherds, and she’s patently not that. And she’s small for a mali. Either way, shepherd she is. I was reading about the effects of dopamine D4 receptor genes on Friday night (because that’s how I roll these days) which are implicated in impulsivity as well as other things. One of the studies was comparing the genes of four shepherd breeds with the European wolf, and it was quite marked that the Tervueren group had higher impulsivity and a more frequent appearance of certain genetic markers. Channelling it is the challenge. Other studies show the effects of different types of parenting on children who present the same behaviours and genetic markers – I can’t help but think what an amazing dog Lidy could have been if her first owner had got it right.

And as for a home? Perhaps someone who lives like I do, except with room in their life for one Lidy and nobody else. Mind you, with a dog like her, you’d not need any others. She is ALL dog, 24 hours a day. Interestingly though, even though she’s an impulsive kind of dog, I don’t find it aggressive or that she is hyperactive – and most of the studies explore impulsivity and its correlation to aggression and hyperactivity.

I submitted assignment 15 for my behaviour course last Friday – I’d earmarked it for a Monday submission, but in typical Emma fashion, I’d not finished and it ended up taking longer. This one was on senior dogs and grieving the loss of a dog, which perhaps accounts for why it took me so long. That Tobby grief is still raw. It’s two years to the day since I adopted him, and coming up on five months since he died. Life is not the same without a malinois.

Assignment 16 will be easier. It’s one about dog law in France – and that is something that always interests me. The hard thing will be narrowing myself down for the final dissertation. I’ve too many ideas to follow, and too many of them are interesting. Some of the stuff that interests me is working with families and their dogs, and my consultancy background offers ways of working in new ways. But then I’d kind of like to explore working with reactive dogs in more depth, or impulsive dogs… and have a science lab who can run DNA tests for me or analyse saliva samples….

After this… I don’t think I want to stop there. The centre who are leading the course are going to be offering an advanced diploma, but I feel like it’s time for a bit of a break and some more practical courses. As per usual, Heston is my willing test subject for a lot of the practical stuff.

Today, lunch with the ladies and then piles of GCSE students this evening… tomorrow, more GCSE and more in the evening… it feels like the next two months will pass very quickly before GCSE marking starts. To that end, I’m giving up on netflix for two months – I tend to watch an episode or two of something when I’m eating or listen to it when I’m on Facebook, but I think my internet time will be rather curtailed whilst I get everything else out of the way. How did we live before the internet? I don’t even know. I have vague memories of long evenings and a pile of library books, or evening A level courses, picking up a few extra students here and there for a bit more cash or going to the gym after work. Life is so different these days. I think it’ll do me good to have a break from the screen.

Anyway, have a good Monday, enjoy the sun if you have it, take time to stop and breathe once in a while!

Because all the while

A bit of The Who for you this spring morning

Last week was a busy’un, trying to make sure I’d got myself organised for a training session on Friday morning. Despite a bit of rain, it was good to share the day with some really lovely people and spend the day talking about Hestons and their shouty ways. Hagrid’s future owner came and spent a couple of hours with him and it doesn’t half make me feel proud seeing this dog who was at risk of being euthanised for his behaviour. He’s come a long, long way. It doesn’t always end well for dogs like him, not by a long shot.

Been a chilly old week as well – hopefully we’ll get some sunshine to warm up our old bones.

I’ve got assignment 15 out of 16 to submit today for my dog behaviour course – I can’t believe I’ve actually completed so much. This one was easy for content and hard to write: elderly dogs and their care. Always very hard to write about those final months, days or hours with a treasured pet. I know I’ve had two and a half years of seniors here, but we’re in a happy position at the shelter of having found homes for a lot of our oldies. Just after Christmas, we had thirteen oldies on the books – and when the cold snap hit, there was a big push to get them in shelters. Benji spent a couple of weeks here before finding a home, and Gaven who spent a week or so at my dad’s found his home too. With our resident rotties Amon and Aster reserved, it leaves us with three oldies. Pretty amazing. Pilou is next on my list for a really, really big push. He’s been here a long time and it’s time he found a home of his own. Casimir and Yola have just arrived, so here’s hoping for a quick home. What was great was that a lot of those winter fosters turned into adoptions. You can’t ask for more.

I won’t be taking on another oldie for the foreseeable future. Tilly is 12 this year and Amigo, although his paperwork says 9, is certainly not. His lungs are not in good shape and he struggles often to breathe. He seems to have recovered physically from his stroke, but often he seems a little lost or disorientated. He is also completely deaf. We went for his vaccinations last week – he just had leptospirosis this time and the vet said not to bother with the others. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to suggest it wasn’t worth it as she didn’t think he’d be sticking around much longer – though many vets are now saying there is little point vaccinating bigger dogs over the age of 7 as their vaccines so far should see them through. Lepto is a yearly one – more and more dogs are presenting with it here, so it’s not one I’d miss out.

This week will be putting the final touches to assignment 16, which is the last before the dissertation. It’s one on breed specific law in France, something I know inside out. I know it doesn’t make me best popular. In fact, someone posted a picture of a dog they wanted to rehome on a local Facebook site, advertising the dog as a retriever x rottweiler. Rottie Xs are subject to specific conditions of adoption, so I asked her if the vet knew for sure the dog was a rottweiler x… after a few posts intimating I knew nothing and should keep my sticky beak out (love that when trying to save someone from having a dog that can be seized and destroyed!) … she said that the dog’s colour was the only rottie thing about it. Yes, because only rottweilers are black with tan socks, face markings and pips. Grrr. I’m sure all the breeds from dachshund, minpins, hovawarts, dobies cockers and Bruno du Jura upto beauceron are just rotties as well. Must be. Same colour.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t a complete arse on the same group who likes to always make some snarky comment every time I post. He’s still got hurt feelings from when I told him to wind his neck in a few months back. Men and their delicate egos.

Anyhow, I have floors to sweep and kitchens to mop… have a fabulous week!