life’s a bitch

Having spent £150 on a dog behaviourist session, I am now another £50 lighter having bought special ‘non hyper’ dog food and a collar that gives off a special type of pheromone normally reserved for lactating bitches (milky mums). This is supposed to have a calming affect on a tense or nervous dog. I have bought it on the advice of the behaviourist and in the hope that it will calm the daughter Jack Russell so that she doesnt pick any fights with her Mum.

Naturally when purchasing the collar, I wondered if there was something similar on the market for us humans – no doubt it will be turned into some kind of calming ‘loom band’ but maybe with more of a lavender pong than breastmilk……..nice!

The clicker training distraction technique is also working, with my daughter and I taking it in turns to train the daughter Jack Russell. Only problem is we are now fighting over methods of training etc.

They say in the dog world it would not be normal for two mature bitches to be living in such close quarters and this is what causes ”bitch fights’ in domestic situations. The remedy is either to re-home one of the bitches or deploy a lot of distraction and calming techniques (in other words behave as if she is Mariah Carey or Naomi Campbell).

Methinks there are many similarities between the dog world and ours…….

This blog is for Unicef.

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Who let the dogs out?

It is quarter past 11 and I have just completed my first dog behaviourist consultation, which started much earlier this evening. The session led by two ladies with a whole host of experiences with doggy behaviour and misbehaviour just a whisker short of them having enough knowledge to run with a pack of wolves themselves.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have two Jack Russell bitches (mum and daughter) who fight a lot. It has been getting worse to the point where they cant go a day without a fight and a couple of times they have had to go to the vet with their injuries. Add to the mix a  3 year old toddler who they would never deliberately harm, but could get caught in the crossfire and you have a serious issue.

So, these ladies have now equipped me with an arsenal of things to try and get my two bitches to get along and enjoy life together. They are:

– Diet – turns out the reason why my girls love the current stuff they are on is because it has tons of additives in it which = irritability

– Distraction – getting the daughter bitch to think of other things rather than have a go at Mum – enter the concept of clicker training. We had a practice session tonight and she was loving it – I just need to make time to fit it all in(which is half the problem in that the daughter bitch isnt getting enough attention

– Corrector spray – no more complex than can of air but spray it during a fight and the fight tends to stop

– drugs and homeopathy – special room diffusers and collars infused with the smell of a lactating bitch (I have been assured humans cant smell it so we will see)

– Time out – Separation in the house and car (the main warzone areas) to diffuse tension between them.

– Getting Mummy dog spayed – then she will no longer give off the hormones that she would in a pack situation where nature dictates the bitches should be apart

So fingers and paws crossed all or one of these solutions works!

This blog is for Unicef.

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Four on holiday

The wind blew us from boat to motorhome,

A surprising adventure was in store,

We found some sites that were spectacular and free

Others we had to pay alot for

The sea summoned us, her charms irresistible

A boat-trip or two fulfilled us more

Sky and space and freedom worth sacrificing

The pennies and pounds we had to withdraw,

Bikes and bells absorbed sites under pedal

Cream teas, ice-creams we kept asking for

Then family joined us for a day or two

In a convoy of campers we began to explore

Kayaks and wet-suits, sandwiches and beach towels

Beautiful views and scenes that dropped jaws to floor

A dotty dog accompanied the travelling circus

Her idea of adventures sometimes against the law

Reluctant goodbyes preceded further journeys

The jurassic coast and a windy ramble to Durdle-Door

All modes of travel we sampled, buses, trains,

And anything with sliding doors

At times the children were taxing

Sometimes we fought like a band on tour

We braved the beautiful beaches

Despite  goose-bumps and chattering jaws

We convinced ourselves it was still Summer

Regardless of all the coats and layers we wore

The adventure ended in the forest

Where we decided to take a tour

Of the ponies, pines and territory

That is protected by ancient law

We fed the children first to save money

And kept fuel costs low door-to-door

But the budget still ran over

Soon we were picking pennies off the floor

But time together is well spent

Gazing at our lives now so changed from before

Holidays as a couple were relaxing

But they are an adventure now we are four.


This blog is for Unicef. Nine days away from blogging = £9 to Unicef.

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Dogs with apps

We have 2 dogs, they are so small they are barely there. However, like most small dogs (and humans), what they lack in size they make up for in personality. The older of the two likes running for balls (any type of ball, from ping-pong size right up to giant gym balls). My husband once had a job at a golf driving range, my dog didnt know which ball to pick up first, i swear i could almost make out steam coming out of her ears at the sight of o many balls. She will also retrieve sticks and will attempt any size, whacking ankles as it swings dangerously up and down either end. When you play tug of war with the stick she will hold on to it with such grit and determination, that you can lift her straight up into the air.

My other dog (the younger daughter), is not remotely interested in balls or sticks, but point out a pheasant or a squirrel and she is there in a shot with turbo-charges up her tail. She even attempts to climb the tree to get o the squirrels. She is not terribly bright. In the summer she will endure heat-stroke sunning herself in a hot spot. In the winter she gets so close o the woodburner that you burn your hand if you touch her coat. She refuses to be picked up by anyone below the age of 18 and her tail has the clever knack of forming a ‘s’ shape when she is having a poo.

Now most children would love to have dogs like these in their house. This pleasure is somewhat lost on my daughter. Since last Christmas she has longingly looked at a robot dog called Teksta in the local toy shop. It does everything my dogs do and things they dont (such as back-flips, wi-fi and the ability to work with apps on a tablet). My daughter also mentioned to me  that it doesnt poo or smell. Maybe that is the future of pet ownership – robot pets.

I did find it funny when my daughter was playing with Teksta and the ball and right next to her was my dog patiently waiting for her ball to be thrown.

This blog is to raise money for Unicef. The charity’s latest campaign is to save and protect children caught up in the conflct in Susan – find out how you can help here.

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Duracell no added sugar

I am almost a month in to my ‘i quit sugar’ diet and i have found one benefit that i wasnt expecting. It is not to do with weight loss (although thankfully i havent put on any weight), it is actually energy levels.

Today I was like one of those Duracell bunnies. I kept waiting for a wall of tiredness to hit me so i just kept going and going. In fact now (21.23 pm) is the first time i have actually sat down. Every time i thought i had a chance to momentarily put my feet up, i kept saying, ‘i will just do the washing/ washing-up/ prepare dinner/ water plants/feed horses / dogs/ clean bathroom while washing kids in bath……and this is after power-hooping in the morning and walking round the countryside with the kids and dogs all day…..and while feeling below par with a grotty cold. Its not bad this cutting out sugar lark.

It makes you wonder what it is about sugar that zaps your energy long-term? A friend of mine said she couldnt quit sugar because she would feel too lethargic. When in fact cutting it out would be the best thing for her. I find my energy levels are consistent, i dont have the peaks and troughs in energy levels like i used to. So, where in the past i would turn towards something sugary mid afternoon and later in the evening, i dont feel the need for it.

Coconut is also my new best friend and the children both enjoy drinking coconut water, it is amazingly refreshing and more hydrating than water. I am looking forward to having a go at a sugar free bounty bar recipe as they were one of my favourite sweets.

A few times my husband has complained that there is not enough ‘unhealthy’ stuff in the cupboards and the children seem to have re-discovered fruit.

Not that we exclude treats, we went to the chocolate cafe yesterday and all three of them had chocolate (apart from me with my glowing halo). My husband couldnt finish off his brownie and i declined it so my daughter wrapped it up in a napkin and put it in my bag for later.

Later on that evening, i found an empty slightly chewed up napkin next to my rather sheepish looking dog, she is becoming a dab hand (or should i say paw) at rifling through my bag. Last time she did that she finished off a bag of maltesers.

I wonder if they do a ‘quit sugar for dogs’?

I am blogging every say for Unicef.

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Putting a paw down

I am no dog behaviourist, but I think my once straight-laced, best in class, best in show little Jack Russell is staging a protest for she has become a rebel.

I don’t tolerate bad behaviour in dogs. I confess I frown at people who think it is ok for a dog to snatch food out of children’s hands, jump on furniture and loo on the path. As much as I enjoyed the film Marley and me, I believe Marley could have been better behaved if his owners had been firmer with him.

Our JR is now in her 10th year, but when she was a puppy, I recall turning up for the first training class in our local village hall and being told by the teacher, ‘you can’t teach a Jack Russell to be obedient, they are too free-spirited and strong-willed’. In saying this she had thrown down the gauntlet and I was determined to prove that my JR could be obedient and even be the most obedient. I had tough competition, particularly from the collie who had herself so firmly wrapped around her owners left leg in heel work that she looked like some kind of trouser accessory. In the command for ‘down stay’ a spaniel laid so flat and remained down for so long that she became the dog to beat. The majority of the owners could traipse around the perimeter of the hall with their backs nice and straight as their hounds bobbed up and down in unison against their legs. Meanwhile I was almost bent double trying to ensure the treat used for bribery was close enough to my JR’s nose to keep her motivated. There are cats that are bigger than my JR so I did develop back pain.

She was a tease. In down-stay, she would remain down until you had reached the other side of the hall and then she would decide to lift her bottom up, for no apparent reason. But in sit stay she was the quickest to get her bum down,mainly because she was closer to the ground than the rest of the dogs. It was this skill that secured her bonio prize at the Christmas party during a ‘sit stay’ version of musical statues.

The titbits to motivate her had to be pure meat, dog food versions just wouldn’t cut the mustard, they would be sniffed at and then ignored. But this method did work and she managed to come third in the class at the end of term (of course the collie won).

But no sooner had the ink dried on her certificate, she started to develop selective hearing, almost as if she would weigh up the pros and cons of obeying each command and only chose o obey when it suited her. For example, she will only obey the ‘sit stay’ command if she is in the village hall where we did the training. She certainly won’t do it if the ground is too wet or muddy.

She has tolerated the arrival of children and has had to increase her tolerance levels since baby boy arrived, as he has a tendency to cuddle her a little too vigorously. So I think this recent lapse in behaviour is something to do with demanding attention in a crowded house. Today was particularly bad. This morning I found her surrounded by chocolate wrappers that she had extracted from my handbag. This was chocolate leftover from a girly night at the cinema yesterday and she polished off the lot. As she sat looking at me on the dog bed she was wearing an expression that mixed sheepish with satisfaction. Later on in the dog walk she rolled in fox mess and then found baby boy’s sultana box in my bag (which was deep in the recesses so she must have really rooted around for it) and guzzled the whole lot. Even though I had reprimanded her in the morning she looked at me defiantly. If she was human she would be a teenage girl with a hoodie chewing gum and lighting up a fag while telling me what her next ‘tat’ was going to look like.

To add to the day of doggy issues, both her and her daughter became fascinated with the engine compartment of my husband’s transit van suspecting some rodent had nested there. They were so keen to flush it out that they jumped into the engine from underneath. My husband popped the hood to see what was going on and found two jack Russells staring at him near the dipstick. He ill-advisedly encouraged them to do some further investigation resulting in the daughter JR getting stuck. In order to release her he had to undo some of the engine parts.

My vet once said that JR’s are a magnet for trouble and that is true, it is also what makes them so endearing (although sometimes I say this through gritted teeth).

I am blogging every day for UNICEF – read more about the campaign here.

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It has been a week now since the commencement of project potty and I am pleased to report a few Eureka! Moments. I did not think it was possible to get excited at the sight of poo, but it has happened, twice now. I am a very proud parent.

The puddles in the bed every morning are getting smaller too so hopefully the tide will be well and truly out through the night once he has completely grasped the concept. The downside is getting up as soon as baby boy awakes to encourage him on the potty. I have discovered it is a rude awakening at just gone 6am to go straight from a deep sleep into poo and wee cajoling.

The Eureka moment today happened with the guidance of a 3 year old boy. I have to pause at this moment because as I was typing my son suddenly started saying ‘potty’, ‘potty’. So I rushed into the living room to see my son shifting uncomfortably in a damp patch on the sofa. So I put him on the potty while I put the cushion cover in the washing machine along with the trousers and pants.

So, back to the Eureka moment, I figured it had been a while since his last accident, so I put him on the potty and put on his favourite film, cars. After a while I heard him say ‘all done’. He has said this many a time after emerging from a dry potty, but when I glanced down and saw a pool of yellow I cheered as if we had won the lottery (well maybe that is slightly over-dramatized but you get my drift).

Like most parents going through this process (mainly mothers as we tend to be slightly better at multiple reminders), I wondered whether this would represent the turning point. The sofa incident proved that we are still a way off.

This was further confirmed when I watched my baby boy walk across the room with his toy laptop, pause, adjust his legs a little wider, drop a brown bomb that arrived on the laminate flooring with a splat and then carry on walking again as if it was entirely normal to ‘poo on the go’. I suppose he has seen our dogs do it and then watched me picking it up with a bag so assumes its ok for him too. I swiftly picked him up and carried him over to the potty in the next room and placed him on the potty. I hadn’t realised that another brown package had descended on route to the potty and I walked straight through it. My daughter was watching this as if she was watching some disgusting comedy kids programme on TV providing commentary as she watched me tackle the poo. I quickly peeled off my poo covered socks and whisked them to the washing machine.

Then the doorbell rang. It was my friend and I welcomed her in explaining why me and the house might smell a bit suss. Armed with Dettol spray I returned to the site of the incident, I returned to find it had magically disappeared and glanced up to see one of my dogs licking her lips. My daughter said, ‘yeah she just ate the poo’. I don’t know whether she attempted to stop her or whether she decided to keep quiet and see how much of baby boy’s poo our dog was willing to eat.

The whole entire time my son was watching this while sat on his potty. He is going to be one confused kid.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you can donate to the campaign, please click here.

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