I decided to start the new year with a good groom and and face trim for the doods. I can’t say either of them relish being combed, but they co-operated enough for me to remove half a bin liner of black, tumbleweed fur, and they just about tolerated having the hair around their eyes cut back and half their beard length reduced. I was a little unsure myself, but I have to say it is lovely to be able to see their eyes, and with their beards trimmed they look more like their poodle ancestors than ever! As my friend says, it is nice to be able to read their emotions in their eyes instead of trying to interpret eyebrow language.
At present Banjo, in particular, spends a lot of time riven in stone, or so it appears. We have squirrels you see, and she is glued to squirrel tv all the time. Sometimes her excitement bursts out of her involuntarily and she gives little moans of pure longing. When I let her out on the terrace to ‘do her business’, she immediately lunges at the lower part of the cherry tree placing her paws as high as she can and stretching her nose up to where the offending creature has been perched attacking the birds’ peanuts. I don’t begrudge them the nuts, but I do wish they wouldn’t flirt so with the dogs. They quite nonchalantly creep up to the glass doors and gaze at the black faces inside, apparently with no fear whatsoever. It is sheer torture.
At four and a half years old, I am still waiting for our dogs to grow up. They are so charming and such amazing company, although still a little unpredictable with other dogs, I often wonder if my recovery from stress would have been so quick if I had not had the responsibility and distraction of these two bundles of energy. Actually I say bundles of energy but often they look as if they couldn’t put one foot in front of the other, lounging on the sofas like they are suffering from fatigue rather than me!
Many people stop me and ask me what breed they are, and I always reply that they are labrador, poodle crosses. The response is invariably ‘oh labradoodles – they don’t moult do they?’. The truth is that the crosses vary greatly and that my two (known as mid coat scruffies) do moult, but the hair doesn’t fall out very readily. Hence I am constantly grooming, a process that neither of them relish. Banjo, who used to love the attention, is often quite elusive when the brush comes out and has been known to hide behind the cat. I think this is on the understanding that the cat cannot get enough grooming, so perhaps she thinks that the cat could take their share as well.
Their relationship with the cat has changed considerably over the last couple of years. Mo is getting on now (14 this year) and has become much more interested in being cuddled and she considers the attention of the dogs to be her due as the elder statesman. It is quite funny though that, when in the garden, the dogs still think she should be chased. It is almost like they don’t recognize her as the same cat.
I just wish I could get past this lively, roughness with other dogs. They seem to have a chase reflex that no amount of training or socialization overcomes. It does make walking less pleasurable and I tend to try to walk where I meet the minimum number of people. Mind you, with my arthritic knee the walks are not as long as they used to be at present. Perhaps that doesn’t help. Got to finish, Bertie has come over, tail wagging, demanding some attention.
Wow, I suddenly realized that it has been a long, long time since I wrote anything about the doods. It is quite sobering to think that they will be 3 years old in March. I still think of them as puppies, and in many ways they still are. Banjo can be very insecure about other dogs, and although she starts out wanting to be friends, she quickly looses confidence and can react snappily. On that signal big brother Bertie piles in to protect her from this new unseen threat (he’s usually been exchanging sniffs quite happily until that point). Alternatively his chase instinct gets him into trouble if a nervous or excitable dog charges by and his boisterous and bossy nature is not always appreciated (understandably so). Having said all that they are very sociable and friendly but I am still waiting for them to calm down (I am told by my vet this could be a long wait).
On Monday we braved the mizzle and did our favourite walk on the north side of Kit Hill and as we approached the stile at the bottom, I suddenly saw a flash of white and watched an oversized rabbit (a young female deer actually) disappearing with graceful bounds into the gorse. It took the doods by surprise. They are usually very quick to identify when deer are around, particularly on this part of the hill where they tend to be more common, but on this occasion they were slow on the uptake. They didn’t stand a chance, but they went through the good-natured process of playing their role and gave chase. Their red coats flashed through the fog and drizzle, but they did come back immediately to my whistle. My whistle annoys my sister-in-law intensely. She has a lovely high-pitched, shiny dog whistle which we can barely hear. I, on the other hand, wishing to recycle existing equipment, use my old PE whistle which blasts everyone within twenty meters. My argument, although lame, is sound. My whistle is distinctive and my dogs are not confused by other people’s. Truthfully I just wanted to use my PE whistle because I already had it.
We have just had an hour of intense grooming with the furminator. Both dogs quite enjoy the attention, but Bertie wriggles and makes life quite challenging. The pile of hair I got out of them could stuff a sofa, let alone a cushion. Now, hide chews safely dispatched, they recline on the sofas, no doubt planning the recontamination of their coats at the earliest opportunity. Happy Walking.