Fun at the Dog Park!

There is a lovely park close to where I live, Marlay Park. I often walk there with the gang. Sometimes, I will meet friends or my brother and we will sit outside the cafe and have coffee and cake! They do a delicious vanilla latte there.

Marlay Park was one of the first parks in Ireland to open a dedicated dog park. Usually in parks here, dogs are allowed off the lead in any area of the park at certain times of the day. I prefer this method as poor Casper is too anxious and overwhelmed when faced with all the other dogs at the dog park.  It is better for me to wait until the allocated times and choose a quiet area to let him off.

However, since Pippa joined our gang, I have found that I frequent the dog park more often. It is great to have a secure area where she can have a good run and really stretch out her legs. I made a video of a great day that Pippa and I had at the dog park with a friend and her two Swiss Shepherds, Okami and Yuki.

Would love to hear what you think of dedicated dog parks? Are dogs allowed to be off-lead where you live? How do you ensure that your dogs get enough exercise?

Happy Easter to All!

This is the life! Some coffee and half an easter egg. Nom nom nom! The dogs will be getting an Easter treat too…but it won’t be coffee or chocolate. Come back tomorrow to find out what they got! What are your plans for the day?

Happy Easter Everyone!

And a gentle reminder not to share your chocolate with your dogs. Mine put on their most expressive begging eyes, but I stay firm. No chocolate for dogs in this house!

No Chocolate for Dogs!

The Arrival of a Sighthound!

Here is a tale that is long overdue. It tells the story of the arrival of our latest pack member, Pippa!

Pippa the WhippetLast year,  Mr Fluffytufts and I decided that there was room in our lives (and our house!) for a fourth dog. This time, we opted to search for a sighthound, given that there are a large amount of these dogs waiting patiently in rescue for their forever home.

Due to the fact that we have two cats and three small fluffy dogs, we needed to find a very special sighthound. We needed a dog who had little to no prey drive and who had been cat-tested. We approached a small rescue called Sighthound Strolls. They only rehome sighthounds, so we figured they would have the expertise to guide us with our decision.

Pippa the Whippet at the Dog ParkWhen we first spoke to them, they were very clear that it could take quite some time to find the right match for us. We prepared ourselves for a long wait and kept busy reading up on sighthounds and raising the garden fences! We were very surprised when less than a week later, we received a call about a possible match.

Pippa (then Indie) was brought to the rescue because she has virtually no prey drive and was no good to her owners as a hunting dog. The scars on her body suggest that it was probably not a happy life for her before coming into rescue.

The first meeting was at her foster home in Meath. I fell in love straightaway but tried not to let that cloud my judgement. We took her for a walk with the Lads and they all got along brilliantly.

Casper and Pippa meeting for the first time!In the end, it was Casper who made the decision. Given all his issues, we knew that it would only work if he was happy with her. Unusually for him, he took to her straightaway and so it was decided… Pippa was the sighthound for us!

Read more about Pippa’s adventures with us in future posts!

Venus in Transit!

It really is time that I wrote about the newest addition to our furry family. Venus joined us in September and is so settled here that it is easy to forget that she hasn’t always lived with us.

Cat enclosure at the DSPCA

Some of you may remember when I wrote about our visit to the DSPCA (click here to read it!).  We were passing the shelter and I thought it would be nice to go and see the animals. Mr Fluffytufts looked a bit unsure at my suggestion but I assured him that I was not on the lookout for another animal to join the household. Turns out, Mr Fluffytufts was not worried about my resolve, he was worried about his own!

The shelter is state-of-the-art and is home not only to cats and dogs, but a wide range of animals, ranging from snakes to horses to peacocks and everything in between! We wandered around the shelter photographing goats and ducks, petting the resident dogs, and chatting to other animal-lovers. We saw lots of cute pups and dogs all waiting patiently for their forever homes.

The cat/kitten area was full to the brim. We ambled from pod to pod fawning over each occupant. One lively kitten enticed us to play and we wiggled our fingers around the edge of his pod for him to chase.

Mr Fluffytufts turned to me and said “You know, I think Shelli could do with a pal. We have space for another cat now and they would have great fun playing together in the garden!” I didn’t know what to think. We hadn’t really talked about it. I looked at the available cats and pointed out that they were all short-haired (which I am allergic to). Mr Fluffytufts directed my attention into the cat play area and said, “What about her?”

A First Look at Venus (formerly Estelle)It was at that moment I first laid eyes on Venus (or Estelle as she was known at the shelter). She was curled up in a cat box but as we approached the enclosure, she meandered over to inspect us! She had a long glossy coat, mostly tortoiseshell with a glimpse of white. We stroked her through the wire and had a frantic conversation about the possibility of bringing her into our home. We went to get more information about her and before we knew it were inside the cat enclosure dangling peacock feathers for her to play with.

The shelter volunteers told us that Venus was around 3 and was a seizure case (which means she had been removed from the care of her previous owners due to cruelty/neglect). 

Venus (formerly Estelle) at the DSPCA Shelter, Mount Venus Road, DublinThey said she had been in the shelter for several months receiving much-needed treatment. They told us that it would take some time to find her a suitable home as most people who visited wanted to adopt a kitten. Our hearts went out to her. We wondered how she could remain so friendly and trusting after all she’d been through. We sat on a bench in the shade of a tree and went over every possibility imaginable. We thought about what we would do if Shelli didn’t like her, if the dogs chased  her, if she wasn’t happy at our home…

In the end, she made the decision for us. We went to look at her again. This time, not only did she run over to see us, she leaned towards Mr Fluffytufts and licked his hand (I kid you not!!). We felt that she had given us the seal of approval and so with excitement and trepidation, we filled out an adoption application.

Filling out the Adoption Application

This post is long enough at the moment! If you reached this point, then I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read Venus’ story. I will write another post soon about her adoption day and how she settled in to her new home.

How did your pet come to be in your family? Do you remember the first time you saw them? I would love to hear  your stories!

Dead Fox

Fox (Photo by John Robinson)A crisp, bright winter morning,
I saw a fox

Sharp teeth glistening white
Glossy, soft auburn fur
Magnificent bushy tail

A second look…

Glassy eyes
Tongue blue and lolling
Deep angry slit across the belly
The hint of intestines
A brutal scene

I cried for her
I couldn’t look away

A Letter to Casper

To my dear, sweet Casper,

The couple who bought you actually wanted a baby…I’m not sure what made them decide to get a puppy instead? In a way, I’m not sorry that they chose you because it meant that I got to have you, but not a day goes by without me wishing that you came to me under different circumstances.

Casper the BichonThe couple didn’t know anything about caring for a dog and didn’t mean to cause you so much harm and damage. That said, ignorance is not an excuse and I had to restrain myself from completely losing the rag with them. On the day I first met, you were coughing and thin and extremely wary.  I couldn’t see any toys. Well, there was one toy, a large red ball meant for a much larger breed. It was bigger than you were and made a loud noise as it rolled towards you. You were TERRIFIED. They laughed and said, “He loves to play Hide and Seek with his ball”, but it was clear you were trying to get away.

I asked the couple some probing questions and my heart sank as I began to unravel the sad story of your life so far. From their description, I am pretty sure that you came from a puppy farm, so things weren’t going well for you right from the start. The couple met the “breeder” in a car park and chose you from the several pups he had in the boot of his car.

They took you to their houseshare and you were kept in their bedroom for the majority of the next four months of your life. You were not taken to the vet for a check-up or vaccinations, not even when you started coughing. You were never brought outside. Do you remember the babygrows they made you wear? The ones for human babies? The couple left you alone all day in that bedroom with no toys while they went to college and then on to their evening jobs. I don’t blame you for crying, who wouldn’t in your situation. The other people that lived in the house were not so understanding.

So, it came to this…the couple finally admitted that they were not taking care of you properly. That is what they told me anyway, but I suspect the other housemates had given an ultimatum.

Casper the rescue Bichon wearing his Thundershirt

While they talked, I sat on the floor of their living room wiggling a raggy at you. There was no pressure…I didn’t even look at you. Slowly, I saw you tip-toe towards the raggy. Do you remember the first time you played tug with me? It was that day with that raggy. I guess it was actually the first time you ever got to play properly.

They wouldn’t let me take you with me that day. I saw you try to follow me out the front door and it broke my heart to leave you there.

It took a few days for me to convince the couple to do the right thing. I told them about my dog Pogo and my cat Shelli who would keep you company if I had to leave you. I described all the places that I could take you for walks; the sand dunes at Bull Island, the Dublin Mountains, and many more. I told them all about the training club where you could do agility with me. A few days later, I collected you and took you home.Me and Casper the rescue Bichon

That was two years ago! It took a while to sort out the physical issues. You were riddled with fleas, worms and mites. We fattened you up and got your cough treated. Sadly though, the couple also damaged you psychologically. I have tried so hard to help you but you still suffer with crippling anxiety and fear. I have seen how you completely shut down when you are confronted by something unfamiliar. I know how you suffer from panic attacks at the vets. I know you have a never-ending list of fears: small dogs, big dogs, people with hats, loud noises, people with hoods, people on bikes, old people, people who try to touch you, children, statues, the dark, being left alone, people you don’t know, the pack being separated, men of any kind, swans, heights, new places…etc

I long for the day when you realise that you are safe and I will never let anything hurt you. For now, I will continue to only walk you in places you are familiar with so you don’t have to worry. I will gently rub Rescue Remedy onto your ears when I know you will be faced with a stressful situation. I will bring you to your agility classes and watch your anxiety melt away as you sail over the jumps. I will read book after book and do course upon course until I know exactly how to help you. I will massage you and do TTouch until you learn that it feels good to relax and chill out. I will play tug with you and throw a ball for you to chase until my arms are numb. I will spend the rest of your life doing everything that I can to undo the damage.

My dear, sweet Casper, there is nothing I need from you in return. You have already given me your unconditional love and that is the greatest gift of all.

Love,

Mammy

Casper relaxing at agility!

Doggy Street Photography – Dublin City

It has been several months since I last posted any doggy street photography!

Click here to see the past Doggy Street Photography posts!

We went for a wander around Dublin City yesterday and I managed to get a good few shots of unsuspecting dogs.  They can be a difficult subject to capture as they are invariably racing along and all I end up with us a blur or a streak of fluff! Still, I ended up with a few half-decent dog shots.

Which one is your favourite?

Having fun playing fetch!

A sniffing Schnauzer

A different Schnauzer!

Fundraising Dog!

Jack Russell waiting for owner