So what are you doing this weekend?

I’m so glad it’s Friday. Early mornings and busy weeks mean that by Friday I’m exhausted.

I’m so excited this weekend! Why? Because I have absolutely nothing on!

Ok that’s strictly not true. The house will still need cleaning. That washing basket won’t empty itself. Believe me, I’ve asked it so many times to no avail! The dogs will need walking and of course we will need feeding, but apart from that I have nothing on!

Tomorrow there will be no alarm clock waking me up! Ok technically again, I won’t set an alarm. I will just have Lola and Fido waking me! The challenge will be how many times I can send them back to bed before I have to give in and put them out!

If it’s around 5 I don’t mind. I can put them out and all go back to bed, but if it’s after 7 it’s a dilemma. Is it worth going back to bed to sleep? Shouldn’t I just pop the kettle on and watch tv in bed with a cuppa? It’s always a tough one!

The main thing is that this weekend, I don’t have to be tied down to doing anything at a certain time.

I know it’s sad, but I find weekends like this so precious. It’s a chance to recharge my batteries and spend time on things I enjoy.

We may end up packing lots in, but it will be at a far leisurely pace than normal!

So whatever you are doing this weekend enjoy it!

Happy Friday !

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Dogs behaving (very) badly!

OMG, I think this programme from Channel 5 may have just saved my sanity!

If you haven’t seen it yet, and you have dogs who don’t behave well, you have to watch it.

Graeme Hall is one of the UK’s top behaviourists and dog trainers. Each week, he helps dog owners sort out their dogs annoying or potentially dangerous behaviours.

Being the owner of 2 Border Collies, with 1 in particular having a list of bad behaviours, I was interested to watch it. As with many of the previous series about changing dog behaviours, I was a little skeptical, to say the least!

We had Fido at 16 weeks old, from his previous owner who could no longer keep him. She lived in a first floor flat, which was quite small with 2 young children under 5. If anyone knows Border Collies, they are extremely energetic and need a lot of exercise. They are also very clever.

The minute I saw Fido and his living environment, I knew we had to take him home.

I already had a dog, a Collie crossed with a retriever. The vet had recommended a puppy to help keep him active. I wanted a rescue dog, as I had always had rescue dogs, but we had had a bad experience when a previous dog we had hoped to home, had attacked my dog. Fido seemed like the perfect solution. He wasn’t technically rescued, but he did need rehoming!

From the minute we brought him home, he showed signs of trying to be the dominant male. He constantly tried to attack my older dog. Ember was such an amazing dog. He never turned on Fido. He was so tolerant and patient!

He came from a dogs home himself and was very traumatised. It took a lot of hard work and commitment to get him to the dog he was, so I wasn’t a stranger to working with dogs.

Even toilet training Fido was a nightmare. I don’t think I slept for the first 6 months, putting him out in the night to do his business. He had so many accidents. Even though it was cold or wet (it was in January), I never gave in. Wrapped in layers, I would stay in the garden until he did his business. I praised him like they tell you to, but it still took forever. I think a lot of this was due to the fact that back in the flat he didn’t have a garden. As he wasn’t vaccinated until a week or so before you took him, he wouldn’t have been able to go out, so his toilet was the flat and puppy pads!

We were hoping Ember would help us train Fido. Sadly, Ember passed away suddenly 6 months later.

Even as the only dog in the house, Fido continued to be a difficult dog, but I wasn’t going to give up on him. With us, he was such a loving dog, he still is. He is very needy and insecure, needed constant reassurance.

He never had a bed in his previous home. He slept with his owner. This was a hard habit to break, but again we continuously made him sleep in his own bed. Even now, he will try and get back onto the bed if we don’t tell him to get off!

As he got older, the problems seem to grow:-

Chasing cars, bikes, joggers etc on his walks
Barking at any noise such as Microwave, planes etc
Getting stressed if he hears the door bell, bangs etc to the point he loses it (behavioural wise)
Trying to attack other dogs
Not allowing anyone in or out of the house

It got so bad, I even thought of giving him up, although I am not sure I would have gone ahead with it.

We thought that maybe a companion might help him. We did some research and took advice. It was recommended that we look at females to help with his male dominance issue.

We tried rescue dogs, but he just attacked them. It seemed hopeless. We then decided that maybe a puppy that he could mold might be the best answer! So almost 2 years after we got him, we got little Lola, also a Border Collie. This time though, we picked her direct from her breeder.

Lola was a completely different dog. She was toilet trained in 2 weeks. Coming from a litter of 11 though she wanted to play with Fido. He didn’t seem to feel the same way back!She would constantly try and get his attention, which would end up with him going for her.

In the first couple of months I never left them on their own together. I wanted to make sure that I was there to protect Lola from him. When I mentioned it to the kennels, they advised me to stop intervening! Lola had to learn when to back off! So after a short weekend in kennels I picked up a happy Lola with a cut on her face!

I was absolutely gutted, but they were right! She had to learn boundaries! After that, things settled between them. Now they play happily together, if he doesn’t want to play she knows it, and walks away!

The other problems were not easy to sort! I would try and walk both dogs on my own. Getting out the house was stressful as Fido would fight with Lola to get out first. He would then try and chase every car that past us or attack any dogs we saw. By the time I got home I would be so stressed out, I was almost in tears, and it wasn’t even 6 am! I was beginning to dislike him!

As a last resort we called in a dog behaviourist! I could no longer cope with the embarrassment or shame of his behaviour! We were not avoiding people when we were out for walks. Letting Fido off in a field to run around wasn’t an option anymore. Worse still, Lola was learning these bad behaviours from him too!

The behaviourist pointed out that those 8 weeks before we had him were crucial for puppies, and if it wasn’t a good experience it could effect him forever.

One thing that I noticed with Lola was that when she wanted quiet time, she would go into her puppy playpen or under the chaise lounge. Fido never had that in his previous home. He would have had 2 active toddlers running around with him, in a very small space!

I suddenly realised this wasn’t his fault, so vowed I would stick with him! He deserved that.

That was almost 2 years ago!

I had researched different methods on the internet, read books and watched tv programmes. None of them really helped me.

Then the lady who looks after the dogs for me in the day told me of this programme. I’d seen Graeme interviewed on This Morning. I even tried looking for the programme on the tv, but was looking under ‘The Dog Father’. I now had the name and could series link it!

Every night I watched an episode! It was worth trying! What had we to lose?

I decided to break down all Fido’s issues and work on them one at a time.

The first one was the problem of anyone entering or leaving the house, including us! He barks and lunges at the door! To be honest, sometimes he scared me, so god knows what anyone else thought!

We had previously tried everything to no avail! We even had a child gate up in the hall to give us space between him and the front door to leave without him near us! Fido hates metal, so wouldn’t cross it! Then I saw Graeme deal with a similar issue.

The trick was to give the dog a line not to cross! Graeme only had 1 dog to deal with in the programme, whereas we had 2! I decided I needed to give them both their own lines ! That way Lola wouldn’t get in Fido’s way if he kicked off!

Fido’s line was the strip between the kitchen and hall. Lola the step.

My hubby and I both spent a couple of hours getting Fido to stay behind the line. Lola got it straight away. Fido took many attempts. My steps on my Fitbit certainly increased that day!

Every time he moved we put him back! Slowly I got nearer and nearer to the front door! And then it happened. I actually walked out of the house and Fido didn’t bark or kick off!

OMG I could have cried.

We then both did it together! It was working. With lots of praise and treats, leaving the house was no longer stressful.

Now, I’ve talked about Fido’s bad points but he does have some good ones too! One is that he won’t touch food or treats until you tell him too.

I started to leave a treat at his feet, not to be eaten until we left the house! Bingo it worked!

The true test was when our dog sitter tried it and got the same results! We are over the moon.

I am now looking at other episodes to see how we can tackle some of the other issues. Fido barking at any noises is a real problem, so I am trying to work on that now too.

The door bell is a real problem and I think that will be much harder for us to solve.

Lola isn’t exempt from this either! She has learnt to bark at anyone walking past the house. Graeme also dealt with that on one of his episodes, so I am trying to put that into practice!

We have a long way to go, and are only really working on things inside the house right now. It would be good if we could sort out Fido’s aggression with other dogs. Lola loves playing with other dogs, and by not being able to take them out over fields, I fear she is losing out. They both would love the extra exercise if we could solve it!

They same Rome wasn’t built in a day! I can’t believe what a difference it has made so far. Life is definitely less stressful when we leave the house. We will keep up with it. This programme has really made a difference to us.

So Graeme – thank you ! Oh, and if you need a dog for your next series you are welcome to sort Fido out in respect of his alpha male problem and trying to attack every dog he passes !!

So if like me you want help training your dog, check out this series on Channel 5.

Thinking about those less fortunate!

Last week I got a text from a delivery company to say the wine I’d ordered from Slimline Wine was being delivered ! I was so excited ! As I left work I had a smile on my face.

As I started my walk to the train station, I passed my first homeless person!

I see many homeless everyday on my walk to and from the train station.  It is so sad to see so many of them.  Mostly men, but sometimes women too.

It goes through my mind every time I see them, why are they here?  Some, I know have mental health problems, other have fallen on hard times.  But what is the story for the others.

I’m going home to a lovely warm house, food on the table (well when I cook it there will be), and my latest wine order!  When did these people last have that?

As the temperature drops, I can’t believe they would choose this to a home indoors ? Who would, so why are they here?

I do try to support them as much as I can.  The odd £1 here, a sandwich or cup of tea there.  I do try to avoid giving money, as I know some would use it for drugs or alcohol, but not all.  If I am popping into a shop and I see one of them outside, I will add something extra to my shopping, to give them.

As I pass them each day, I wonder how many of them feel invisible?  How many people have walked past them that day and not even acknowledged them?

On this particular day, I’m rushing home to get my train.  Suddenly, I stop myself in my tracks.  I know, on my journey home, I am going to see some people who won’t have that luxury of a bottle of nice wine tonight.  They probably won’t even have a bed.  I feel very selfish.  I turn around and head to the local Tesco shop by where I work.

Inside I look around.  There are still a good amount of sandwiches available.  I decide to pick out a few packs.

On the way to the station, as I pass a homeless person I offer them a sandwich.  The first ones got a choice.  You can’t imagine the excitement of the first man, when he saw the tuna sandwich.  It made me feel so humble.

As I continued my journey, I passed out sandwiches.  As I reached the station I still had 1 pack left.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  Then I saw a pile in a door way which obviously belonged to a homeless person.  I gently placed the last sandwich down on an old sleeping back.  It should be a nice surprise for when they return.

I appreciate that not everyone is able to do what I did.  I certainly couldn’t afford to do it every day.  There are far too many homeless people around to make an impact on my own.  What is important though, is that we do what we can.  It doesn’t have to cost us anything.  A simple hello or smile is free.

We might not realise it, but that simple acknowledgement could mean everything for that person.

I also try and give them items of warm clothing, hats and gloves.  Rather than put in a charity bags, I like to know I’m making a direct difference to someone.

If you are trying to lose weight and have chocolate or biscuits you don’t want, why not pass it on to them?  They would appreciate anything.  Everyone I have spoken to, or helped has been so grateful and polite.

A couple of years ago I got to know a lovely young man and his dog, who were homeless. He never wanted money, but was always so grateful for a cup of tea or something to eat.

He was partially blind. He couldn’t get a job because he didn’t have an address !

One day, someone decided to set up a ‘Just Giving’ page for him. The aim was to get enough money together to get him a little place to live. People donated as much as they could afford . Others provided donations such as old plates etc. The smallest of donation all added up.

Very soon he was off the streets and safe!

Unfortunately, not everyone on the street is so lucky .

So the next time you see someone who is homeless, don’t put your head down and ignore them.  Say hello.  Give them a smile.

The small things in life can make a huge difference.

Fireworks stress out pets and animals

So this weekend will see many parts of the country, including mine, celebrating bonfire night!  I love fireworks, however for me, I now have to consider the welfare of my dogs during this time.

Animals have acute hearing, loud bangs can cause them pain in their ears.  There hearing is a lot more sensitive to sounds than us humans.

Fido is 4 years old, and has always been very sensitive to noises, so this time of year is even more stressful for him.  Lola sees him stressed, and feels the need to bark too!

This week is also the start of Diwali celebrations. Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.  It is celebrated also with fireworks.

This Tuesday was the start of the first firework display by us.  Fido was extremely stressed, pacing around, barking, crying and hiding.  It was a horrible couple of hours to watch and hear.  Even after they had stopped he couldn’t relax, because for pets, they don’t know if its going to start up again or not!

To help, we give both our dogs calming tablets, and are doing so right through to the middle of next week.  This doesn’t stop them getting stressed, but I hope in some way it does help them be a little calmer.  You can get them from your local vets or online.  I buy Magicalm from Healthspan, which I have shown to my vet to confirm it is safe for my dogs.  If you are giving them calming tablets, make sure you check the dosage, and follow the instructions carefully.  The link is here.

https://www.healthspan.co.uk/products/magicalm?sc_camp=A637DAE161C94D44A8EAF04FF8CA3979&gclid=CjwKCAjw6-_eBRBXEiwA-5zHaX00I4MnLUvay9jC2o8alTR4OQZaxL4uOYBWfrJjfgvvCJw_lspaJxoC3C0QAvD_BwE#/?pack%20size=60

So what else do we do to help them?  We make sure there are plenty of TV’s and radios on loudly around the house to block the noise out.  Curtains and blinds are closed.  I never shout at them as this stresses them out more.  Instead, I cuddle them, and stroke them, using soothing sounds.  They are even allowed to lie on the sofa with me for added comfort.

Fido likes sleeping under my hubby’s desk in his study.   Lola under the chaise lounge.   It is not uncommon for dogs to hide during times of stress.   I leave them both there, if that is where they have gone, as for them, this is their safe place.

Dogs will also potentially become destructive at this time.  Again, don’t get cross with them, it is their coping mechanism.

I make sure the dogs are walked well before the darkness falls.  That way, I can eliminate any possibility of them being outdoors when a firework goes off.  I never allow them in the garden until I know the fireworks are well and truly finished.  This might mean they have a little accident, but it’s a small price to pay.

If you are out when displays start, get your dog home as soon as possible.  Dogs will try and run and hide.  Never walk them this time of year without a lead. They are likely to dash off, and could potentially be hit by a car or become lost.  As soon as the first sound is heard, get them home to safety.

Other Animals

It isn’t just dogs that are effected by fireworks.  Cats, rabbits, birds and even wildlife.  More animals are killed on the roads this time of year, due to fireworks and they run around in panic.

If you have a cat, do the same as with my dogs.  As they are a law unto themselves, you may need to bring them in a lot earlier.  Make sure the catflap is closed or blocked, so they can’t get back out!

Small Pets

If your pets are in hutches/cages in the garden, bring them indoors.  If not into the house, the garage.  Make sure they have extra bedding and cover the hutch/cage.

If you can’t bring them in, cover them with think blankets or old duvets to block out some of the sound.  Obviously, make sure they can still breath!

Make sure you check on them later.

Wildlife

You may think there isn’t a lot you can do to protect wildlife this time of year, and in some ways that is true.

Sadly, many types of animals will be hit by cars, trying to flee fireworks, especially deer.  These can also cause damage to vehicles.

If you have bird baths or feeders in your garden, take them down early afternoon.  This will prevent them coming out of the safety of their nests or trees.  If you can’t remove them, cover them up.

After fireworks

We will all have seen fireworks lying on the ground after a display.  When it is safe to do so, make sure you discard of them.  The firework will still contain dangerous toxins, which if eaten by animals, could kill them.

I don’t want to spoil everyone’s fun.  As I said, I love fireworks, but with a bit of planning, we can make it relaxing for both humans and animals alike.

If you see an injured animal, please contact your local vet or RSPCA on  0300 1234 999

Kraków here we come!

Woo hoo, today we are off to Kraków.  Our flight leaves at 6.25 am, so the alarm is set for 2.50 am.The plan was to go to bed last night at 8pm so we could get plenty of sleep! Typically, I’m still wide awake at this time.  I know that going to bed when you are not tired is not good for you, so I decided to watch a bit of t.v, to see if that helps.  I eventually feel the need for bed about 9.30pm.

The dogs went to kennels yesterday.  The house is so quiet.  It’s strange not having to put them out for their final toilet break before bedtime.  I’m missing them already.

I always worry that I will oversleep when I have something important to wake up for, so I have set 2 alarms, and asked hubby to make sure his is on too.

I wake up just after 1am and force myself to go back to sleep, but I just can’t! By 2 am, I’m wide awake!  I’m going to be so tired later!

At 2.45 am, I decide to make tea for us both. I always have a pint of green tea every morning, which takes a while to cool down enough to drink, so I jump into the shower in the meantime.

The plan was to leave the house at 3.30 am, but just before then hubby realised he hadn’t notified his bank that he was going away.  Eek, neither had I! So we both have to quickly log into our computers to do it.  I’m now panicking a bit, as we are late leaving, and there is no guarantee either of our banks will update our accounts in time!

We are booked into a carpark at the airport that we haven’t used before, so we have to use the postcode!  The sat nav in my car is nearly 4 years old, it doesn’t recognise the address!  I was originally going to drive, but as my reading glasses were to hand, hubby and I swap places!  Thankfully the  Sat nav on my phone recognises it, so we find it easier than we expected.

We eventually get parked and to the airport, not as early as I would like, but we are here!

We have 40 minutes before we have to go to our gate, so we pop to Burger King for some breakfast.  Why is it so expensive to eat and drink at airports?

I’m also a bit worried about being able to draw currency when we get to Kraków, so I decide to buy some  currency at the airport.  It’s better to be safe than sorry!

A quick trip to WH Smith for water and some sweets is all we have time for, before we have to board!


We have our usual seat positions!  Hubby with the window seat, and me in the middle.  For a long while the isle seat next to me was empty.  I don’t know about you, but I always hope it stays empty, so we can stretch out!  It rarely happens, and today is no exception.  It’s quite a full flight!

We are flying with Jet2.  They are not a bad company to fly with.  My only negative is, that there is nowhere for you to put your bottles of drinks.  There is a cup holder, but it’s too big  for hubby’s Fanta and too small for my water!  Sounds like something out of the 3 bears!

The just right was a green tea which I bought in the flight!  I tried to sleep, but as usual I can’t!

The flight is just over 2 hours, so not too long. We thankfully arrive ahead of schedule!  There is a short ride from the plane to passport control!  I’ve never been in such a long slow queue!  They only had 2 desks open to deal with a plane full of people!  They do eventually open 3 more desks, but jeez!

By the time we get through the carasel for baggage has stopped, and the flight no longer listed on the board, so I had to hunt round to find our bag!

We had pre booked a car to pick us up at the airport, to take us to our hotel.  We are staying at the Rembrandt Aparthotel in the old town.

We are joining 3 other couples  there.  As we have all come from different places in the uk, they arrived late last night.  The weather promises to be mid 20’s, so it should be a good weekend!

Our driver is lovely and friendly.  The trip only takes about half an hour!

Our room isn’t ready yet, so we drop our bags in a friends room and go off exploring.  As we are staying in the old town, it only takes minutes to hit the main square.


Tonight we are heading to the Jewish quarter for dinner!

The plan over the weekend is to visit the 2 concentration camps – Auschwitz and Berkenau, the salt mines, castle, and the old town.

Keep following my blog to see how the weekend goes!

I’ll upload photos to my YouTube channel when I’m home too, so don’t forget to subscribe to it too!

When you see your name in print!

Oh wow, how excited was I on 21st August , when I opened my emails?  There, in black and white, was an email from Countryfile Magazine, telling me a photo I had sent in of one of my dogs,  was selected as the winning entry, for the September edition of their magazine.  The competition was being sponsored by Halti, so I was also to receive a selection of their products!

I have been a fan of Countryfile ever since it started! Thankfully, my husband really enjoyed it too.  It has become a religion in our house now.  Every Sunday evening, we would have a roast dinner, then curl up on the sofa, to watch that weeks episode.

One day, I was sitting in a waiting room waiting for my medical.  On the table was a Countryfile magazine.  I had never seen it before, but was so absorbed in it, I was gutted when I had to go in for my appointment.

I immediately went out and subscribed to the magazine.  That was June 2012. And I’m still subscribing to it!

Every month, I have read the articles, looked at the walks and the competitions.  I have mentioned to my hubby many times that he should enter the competitions.  Both hubby and I love photography.  I have seen his photos, and I firmly believe he has some award winning pictures of his own.

I have never really thought any of mine would be good enough.  Then in July, after a trip to Isle of Skye, I saw the competition regarding pets on holiday.

I love taking photos of Fido and Lola, and had been pleased with how they had come out.  My hubby actually was the one who thought I should enter one of them into the competition.

I thought – why not!  What have I got to lose?  So on 16th July, I send off my photo.

When I received the email telling me I had won, I was absolutely shocked.  I didn’t care about the prize!  It was the fact that someone had thought my photo was good!  I couldn’t stop smiling.  Immediately, I started spreading the news!  I was now an award winning photographer!  Ok, it isn’t like I’m on TV or anything, but I was having my photo published in September’s edition of Countryfile Magazine.  I mean, Countryfile!

I have been waiting in excitement to see it in print.

Last night a friend received her copy of the magazine.  Mine hadn’t arrived, but she sent me a photo.  I was again in ‘smile’ mode!  She promised to bring me the magazine into work the next day.

When I saw it in print, it was like I had won the lottery!  Ok, most people won’t know me, but everyone who buys the magazine, will see the picture I took of Fido!

I was always into photography and competitions, just not both together!  This has given me a new motivation, to get out there and take more photos.  Learn more about my camera and  explore the countryside.

Sometimes, you just have to have confidence in your own ability.  If I hadn’t won, I wouldn’t have been disappointed, however now I have, I feel 10 feet tall.  I am very proud of myself, but more importantly, I am proud of my husbands word.  I know he takes some amazing photos too.  I will be pushing him more to get his work out there now!

Don’t ever doubt yourself.  Push yourself out there!  Sometimes, it turns into nothing, but other times, it fulfills your dreams and more!  I certainly will be doing more photographic competitions.  You never know, once day it may even get me on the TV with my photo in the Countryfile calendar!

You have to have a dream and ambition!

I have now started uploading some of my photos to YouTube.  If you are interested, subscribe to my channel.

Can dogs make you a better person?

You may think this is a funny question to ask, but I think they can!  I’m not saying if you have dogs you won’t commit a crime,  but I do think dogs as pets do make a difference in your life!

Since I was born, my parents had dogs.   As a child, there are many options  we want as pets.  Some want fish, some cats, some even want snakes and spiders, but like me, it has to be a dog.  Whatever the pet, the one thing they all teach kids is responsibility.

If you own a pet, you have to make sure its given food, water, a nice home to live in, and depending on the pet, exercise.  What it also does is give you the feeling of love!

How many times have you seen homeless people with dogs?  I have seen many! You may wonder why they have them when they don’t have a home.  For someone who is homeless, they not only give them someone to protect them, but it also gives them someone to love, and love them back!

When I left home at 19, I decide to have 2 kittens, rather than a dog.  I loved my cats dearly, but they are very independent creatures. Yes they would be waiting for me when I got home, but they still wanted to be out exploring!

Dogs on the other hand want so much more from you, and give even more back!

As a child, my fondest memories were of walks at the weekend with my parents, siblings, and the family dog.

We lived near Warwick Racecourse, which is also public land. When the weather permitted, this was a great spot for walking the family dog.

I’ve always loved walking, which I think came from that experience. Even when I left home, I continued with my walks!

One day, I was walking on my own around the Malvern Hills! It struck me that something was missing in my life! I loved my walking, but I really missed that one true friend ! Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of friends socially, but just going for a walk needed a special friend. – a dog!

I worked full time so knew a puppy was out of the question! I decided a trip the the ‘Dogs Trust’ in Kenilworth was the answer !

If you have ever been to a dogs home, you will know what I mean when I say, you know ‘the one’!

I hadn’t really got anything in my head, except it has to like walking!

I looked up and down the kennels, I saw lots of cute dogs, but none said ‘take me home’! So I decided to give up and go home !

Later that day I spoke with my mum. She was disappointed that I hadn’t taken her with me! I felt bad, so even though my last trip was unsuccessful, I decided to return the same day with my mum.

As we walked around the kennels I saw the same dogs again.  My views on them hadn’t changed.  I felt sorry for them, they were cute and sad, but none still didn’t pull the right heart string!  Then I saw her.  She was a beautiful golden dog.  She was called Tilly.  They thought she was a german shepherd and greyhound cross.  She was 8 years old.  They didn’t know much about her except she was found in Ireland.  I fell in love with her immediately.

I registered my interest in her.  When you take a dog from a dogs home, they always make checks on you and where you live before they agree if you can take the dog home.  Thankfully, I passed the tests and Tilly came home with me a week later.

The dogs home had named her Tilly.  She hadn’t been in there long so didn’t really know her new name.  I decided to change it to Sophie!

She was a beautiful dog.  Very loyal.  In the 4 years I had her before she passed away, I never heard her bark.  She was frighten on newpapers though and bangs.  She had a bullet a few millimetres from her heart.  It was believed she may have been shot.  As it was so close to her heart, they couldn’t remove it.

Sophie and I became immediate friends.  She would love coming out for walks with me.

When you walk with your dog, something changes.  You become more sociable.  When its just you walking down the street, you wouldn’t often say anything to someone you pass!  When you have a dog at your side, you seem to have to be polite and make a gesture.  Good morning or afternoon become normal phrases.

You meet other dog walkers.  Funnily enough, you always get to know the dogs names but never the owners!  I was ‘Sophie’s mum’.

I have had 3 more dogs since Sophie.  Ember was next.  He was 2 years old and again from the dogs home.  He was my best friend and very beautiful.  Everyone would stop and talk to me, sparked by their love of my dog.  He was so well behaved.  It broke my heart when I lost him 10 years later.

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We had  a great time with him.  He was walked miles in the Lake District,  up and down Snowdonia as well as the Peak District.  He came down to Devon and Cornwall with us.  In fact where I went, he came too!

He helped me through my cancer treatment.  He didn’t need a lead, so I could walk him straight away.  The exercise helped me keep fit and prepared for my radiation treatment.

Dogs need walking.  You can’t just ‘veg out’ in your house!  You have to get up in the morning to walk them, and again in the evening.  Not only does it give you exercise, but it means you are always out and about meeting new people.  This was vital after my cancer operation.  it could have been so easy just to sit around at home, worrying.

It can be extremely lonely, if every night you just go home to an empty house.  I know some people who go home on a Friday night from work, and not see or speak to someone again until they return to work on the Monday morning.    That is when depression and loneliness can set in.

Having dogs mean you have to leave the house.  Even if you don’t speak to anyone, they will speak to you!  It forces you to be more sociable.

I actually met my ex husband from walking my dog.  He had seen me out and about and wanted to get to know me.  He didn’t have a dog, but he had noticed me.  Whilst he is now my ex, it does show that having a dog can bring new experiences in your life.

I now have 2 border collies. Fido and Lola. They are very beautiful and draw a lot of attention.  Even people without dogs stop to talk to me about them.

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One of my walking routes takes me around an estate where there is a lot of bungalows.  This means that there are a lot of elderly people there.  Every day I meet many of them, either looking out of their window, going to their cars, doing their gardens or putting out the bins.

As I pass them, I always give them a wave, or say hello to them.  I wonder how many other people they see or talk to in that day?  I feel that that little gesture to them, may make a lot of difference to them.

When we are not walking we are also missing out on our surroundings too.  We have recently come back from a week in the Lake District.  We had the 2 dogs with us too.   One of the walks we did was not far away from our cottage.  We had driven the same road every day when we were there.

As we started our walk, I spotted a river which I hadn’t seen before.  I had passed that route so many times, but I had never seen that river.  I then started to spot other things.  Feels with cows and sheep, views over the countryside.

During that week we did over 139,000 steps.  It took us to many places.  If we hadn’t had the dogs we might have just jumped onto a plane somewhere.  Instead we explored the countryside.  We did the same in June in Scotland.  We got to see some stunning views as well as get plenty of exercise.

Dogs help us see more of our surroundings, which we are blind to when we are just driving through!

So do dogs make you a better person?  Yes they do!  For so many reasons