Friday, 10 March 2017

Hebe, 2007 - 2017. The final post

I think this must be draft number 127!
How do you put such a huge personality and vibrancy onto a page? Every attempt has been like a butterfly pinned in a box, dusty and faded in comparison with the real life version.

So start with the facts:
One of the hardest (if not the hardest) losses but actually one of the easiest decisions to take, if the final decision can ever be termed easy.
Something happened over the weekend and Hebe's ascites (abdominal fluid build up) was much worse we got an emergency vets appointment on Monday when got the blood results back from the full tests the week before.  They weren't good showing that the disease was degenerative and progressive but the numbers were not disastrous, Laura (vet) had seen much worse.  We came home reasonably hopeful with some new, differently acting, diuretics. Unfortunately they didn't work and we needed to get more protein in her to increase the albumin in her blood to try to stop the plasma leakage.  Then she lost her appetite, the vets were still hopeful and we tried some appetite stimulants and any type of tasty food we could think of.  She didn't want anything even turning her nose up at her all-time favourite tuna. Then on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday morning (yes, it really was only 2 days although it felt a lifetime) her poo was dark and tarry - she was bleeding internally.  Meaning that there really was only one thing left that I could do for her.
Our wonderful vets were fantastic and rearranged everything so Laura could come out.

Which means that:
My Peter Pan of labradors has gone to Neverland.

High-speed bouncy puppy Hebe, most of her puppy photos
are blurry unless she’s asleep!
Named after the goddess of youth Hebe was the perpetual puppy, at nine she had only the lightest sprinkling of grey on her chin, still dark almost blue black coat and the 'pink thing' (tongue) frequently in evidence.  She bounced around until the very end, enthusiastically greeting all visitors with a gift and if permitted once they were seated with an upwards clamber to thrust the proffered gift ever closer or perhaps to clean behind your ears!

She threw herself at the world and expected the world to catch her - usually it did. But on the odd occasion when things didn't quite go as expected she simply bounced right back up, sometimes with an 'oops', and very occasionally a look of embarrassment almost as if to say 'I didn't quite mean that' but either way she just kept on going.  
What are you putting the oven Mother Bean?
Can I help? I can, I’m sure I can, go on let me help.
She was 'ever so helpful', always at your side with a helping paw or a encouraging pink-thing (licking tongue, which for some reason was always incredibly wet and quite slimy).
Out in all weathers
Always ready for an outing be it on wheel or feet, in all weathers; she did manage to sit still to allow a lead to be dropped over her head, although her bottom was more than likely not actually in contact with the floor, just hovering ready to explode off and out of the door. 
Christmas presents!
Like all our dogs she loved Christmas but she was actually incredibly good about the tree and presents, although she did like to check out the parcels with a good sniff it was actually one time when she never stole anything however many times she arrived with piece of lametta or stray piece of tinsel decorating her ear!  When gift-giving arrived she graciously let everyone open their own before grabbing the contents and hurtling off to destroy - sorry properly inspect - whatever was inside before coming back to play in the shredded wrappings.  Assistance with lunch was compulsory and sprouts had to be tested, "one whole one, please" before cooking could proceed and her tea had a bit of leg, a piece of skin, a sausage etc. to be wolfed up with great relish, an annual treat! However, it turns out that she had a liking for Christmas cake as we found out one year - we hadn't quite closed the door and Hebe managed to get into the room where the newly iced cake was setting and consumed around a third! Icing, marzipan and all!! Clever girl ate the back so initially we didn't notice - good job all that dried fruit and alcohol didn't cause any problems... Next year we not only closed but locked the door - that way we could be sure the door was actually closed.

When wrote about Juno (read that one here:  I wrote: " If I said to all three "Jump off that cliff" (not that you ever would). Hebe would dash to the edge and hurl herself over perhaps even with a "geronimo"." Which summed her up right until the very end.  Although if I'm being honest I would be worried that she might dash over the cliff in her excitement not looking where she was going.  She got a black eye once, charging full tilt looking over her shoulder to talk to Maia and ran straight into a hawthorn thicket! I heard a yelp but she came out OK and we carried on, it was only later when we got home and the eye was closing up that I realised what had happened, a quick trip to the vets and she was declared fine, bruised but otherwise uninjured and very lucky.

Hebe and Cara snoozing
Poor Hebes she had a bit of a raw deal, I think she probably came to us to too early, I'm not sure she was fully weaned, we had to split up her and Cara for overnight sleeping until their dawn chorus came to an end which grieved her greatly as she took Cara as her surrogate mum, curling up between Cara's incredibly long legs, using her as a pillow, cavorting around the garden at top speed until Hebe became too fast and too fly doubling back on herself at top speed meaning that Cara was in danger of turning one of those long legs and their race track antics were brought to a premature but safe end.  She lost two wolfhound companions, needing herbal grief counselling after Cara died quite suddenly; Finn and Juno died in a short space of time and she was subdued for a while but ever the eternal optimist she was soon up and about again pleading to go for ever longer walks, chasing, and occasionally catching, rabbits - not really a good habit for a gundog but hey-ho she was unique. She loathed cats and I'm sure given half a chance she'd have caught and eaten one! She was also our rodent-detector-in-chief giving ample warning that there were mice, voles and sometimes rats around, you could tell from her reaction which it was and when her nose was down, stern up and a determination to return to the same spot you knew it was time to get out the rat-traps!
Hebe was a running-mate for Maia when Juno's arthritis got too bad but poor Maia developed sacral nerve damage and Hebe became an only dog for outings until the dynamic duo arrived and then she was so bonkers that I ended up taking them all out separately so she didn't 'infect' them with her nutcase habits.  I'm convinced that she was spayed too soon and that contributed to her never growing up.

The house is so empty, her irrepressible enthusiasm filled every space from the first day she came home her madcap tigger feet bouncing up and down in such joyous abandonment, yelping in delight at the faintest hint of a trip in the car (we never cured her of that one) not that she went anywhere special very often, usually it was just a trip to the supermarket or town and not getting out until we got back home again.  Her naughtiness invaded nearly every facet of life, we no longer need an old flat iron on the pedal bin or a laggy-octopus-leg holding the lid on the outside dustbin; food can left on the worktops without needing to be pushed to very back or protected by crockery, we can leave a piece of cake, a biscuit, a packet of crisps on a low side table; plates go into the dishwasher, and stay dirty until it's switched on, no canine pre-washer any more.   No need to hit mute on the television at the first hint of fireworks. 

Her very own blog is full of her exploits and those of her pack (including occasionally her Beans), this will be the final, final post..

Her banana-brain, fruit-loopery kept everyone on their toes and the house is so much quieter, empty and much calmer. There are reminders of everywhere. Not least her seatbelt stuck in the catch on the backseat of the car.

Hester, Hebe and Dido
Through it all she was determined, individual, charismatic, understanding and, like all labradors, incredibly loyal and loving.
There is a huge hole in our lives and we miss her every day.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The last post.

Although we've not posted anything for a long time we have one final update to make.

 Hebe was put to sleep yesterday.

We've been writing on a new blog Erratically HareBrained, when I can manage to write about what's happened I'll post it there first and copy it here as a final, final post. There are some details about what's been going on here.

Monday, 4 November 2013

A Series of Exciting Adventures, the first

It all started with an invitation - to a party.
A Puppy Party that is at the vets, there is a serious reason behind it, to let them explore the surgery and get used to the sights, sounds and most importantly the smells as well as a bit of owner education thrown in.  But, "it's a PARTY!" and The Mother Bean really wanted them to have party frocks, we gently (OK, not so gently) explained that it's not that sort of party and really 'smart casual' (collar and lead) was much more the order of the day; she tried to push for pretty ribbons but there is no way Dido would ever wear a ribbon, especially out in society - she's just not that sort of dog and if Hester (who probably would have been quite happy with bows made from ribbons) tried she'd simply remove them, before destroying them in her own inimitable way - i.e. chewing them into shreds!  Anyway, outfit choices made - black collar and burgundy lead for Dido, red collar and matching lead for Hester - off we went.  They were very good about getting out of the car and walking through the car park, we parked at the top and by the time we'd got to the bottom they'd stopped cavorting and were walking in something akin to a straight line, we all waited by the kerb and crossed the busy road without incident. Into the waiting room to greet the other guests, Hester hung back a little whilst Dido launched herself in with a 'hello, here I am' type of bounce and grin on her face.  I found a seat and Hester sat down nicely, Dido tried to bounce on everyone and when that wasn't allowed let her displeasure be known in quite vocal terms.  When all the guests had arrived Head Nurse Anna talked a little bit about what was going to happen (Dido tried to join in), we had a tour of the practice and when we got to the operating theatre I was amazed at how small it was, I suppose for most animals and procedures it's fine but I had to ask how they'd managed with Finn - two tables and a bit of a tight squeeze was the answer, and his paws were nearly touching the ceiling!  A quick trip to the kennels before going back to the waiting room for some more instruction and QnA session with Laura, as it was lunch time Dido wanted her food but was pacified with pieces of kibble and small chicken treats - which also did quite a good job of shutting her up, the whingy anna!  Finally the pups could all greet, play and general cavort about before being certified and given their party bag; an hour had passed and it was time to go home - tired, educated and happy.  They slept virtually all afternoon....


Certificates for enthusiastic participation - maybe a little too much in Dido's case.

So we have been really busy -  and not blogged it all!
We're going to post a series of adventures in installments, at least that's the plan....

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Three weeks have flown by.

 In a haze of mostly office stuff, see the office blog for that.
The pups are doing very well although we’ve had a few setbacks, mainly a tummy bug.  Dido was being picky with her food and I thought it was just the dish problem but somewhere along the line she’d picked up a bug which eventually resulted in a very messy yard and cage and of course shortly after Hester got it too.  They were really quite poorly, very flat and listless, not interested in anything at all really.  An overnight 18 hour starve (they’re not really big enough to do a full 24hrs) and small portions seemed to so the trick.  They both recovered quickly but a couple of days later Dido had a relapse with explosive results! This time round I thought vet assistance was required, if only to ease my mind, there was some rebounding in her guts which were loudly gurgling and a small area of tenderness.  One tube of puppy ‘calf paste’ and small bland meals every couple of hours for the next few days was the prescription.  Dido was really good about going into the vets on her own, Hebe had come with us in the car but was left on guard.  Small complication - the aga was out (that’s another story) so only a microwave for cooking.  I picked up some cooked turkey and swiftly learnt to cook rice in the microwave. After 48 hours she was much improved and I started adding back in the Euk.  A week later she’s so much better that she eats a load of cut grass which ferments in her tum resulting in all of her tea making a reappearance in spectacular fashion over the course of a few hours until the brown gungy, smelly mess appears and then she’s looking for food again - brown bread and honey for an extra supper and by morning she’s thin but ravenous!  Even more so when I only let her have half her breakfast - well, that’s what happens when you eat things you shouldn’t.
So we lost a week’s worth of training but I don’t think it’s had a major impact, in fact being stuck inside we’ve been working on sit, which is coming on really well.  They will both sit on command both verbal and hand signal with words and hand signal without words; Dido will sit at a distance of 2-3 metres (assuming no distractions) but Hester still comes towards me before her bottom makes contact with the ground.  Hester is a more natural retriever and gift bringer and today we’ve started on wait before sending out. Dido is more inclined to take the retrieve and dash off with it, and on retrieve recall (different command from plain recall) will often drop it mid way back, in expectation of reward I think even though she’s never been given one after a retrieve - that brain of hers is sometimes too smart for her own good, you can see the problem going in, rattling around and off she goes with her chosen solution which usually involves feet or teeth!

The upset tums made me readdress the feeding regime.  The first brainwave was adding a splash of hot water to their dry kibble which is very sticky and requires lots of trips to the water dish.  Since starting to add the water they’re both noses straight in and gone in one sitting.  The second lightbulb moment was feeding times, we’ve always dropped lunch first giving them breakfast, tea and supper; however this wasn’t working this time round, our (or more precisely my) time schedule is different, there wasn’t long enough between tea and supper so supper was ending up at somewhere between 10 and 11 and I was having to wake them up for it and then keep them awake long enough to empty their tanks before bed; all in all not a good arrangement.  So lunch went back into the routine and supper has gone without being missed at all.

Poor Hester still keeps getting bad experiences when she’s out and about but now she gets over them faster so we’re building up some confidence there.  Dido has had a few scary moments and although she doesn’t quake like Hester it takes longer to settle back down and carry on in a normal fashion; Dido is also much more bouncy and wants to bounce on the world which means that sometimes our progress is more a series of kangaroo jumps than a sedate walk.  Hester trots along happily beside me being nudged back into place - until something scary happens!
They’re both coming along really well on their own; however, yesterday we had our inaugural two puppy outing and as an exercise in heel work it was not a success!  I had to do it much earlier than I had planned because we’ve been invited to a puppy party at the vets next weekend and I need to be sure I can manage both of them; apparently the answer is yes, but they’re not exactly at heel!  Oh well, it will come in time.
This week we’re going to start walks with Hebe, weather permitting taking it in turns to go for the morning paper which will reduce my walk schedule by one but also cut the length of Hebe’s morning outing  - we’ll make it up with playtime after dark.  At least that’s the plan but we have the builders starting work on Monday in the sitting room and Maia is at the vets on Tuesday for her second cartophen injection so things will remain fluid.

Hebe has been a real revelation, she’s a perfect Big Sis, stepping in to break up raucous playtime, playing gently with tug toys, sharing chewy toys but sometimes keeping one for herself, firmly but gently.  Watching at teatime (the one shared mealtime) and darting in to hoover up any spilt bits (she doesn’t know I’ve cut her ration to account for her ‘extras’!).  Although sometime she does take advantage because apparently puppies make perfect pillows during a hard day at work.

The pups are also forming their own Job Descriptions, they taken over shredding duties and will even sometimes read the papers for us.
I think I had read this one before Hester did...
They are so different.

Chunky Monkey Dido has grown into a long legged, square headed girl; she has a week of growing up until she’s a real skinny-ma-linky-long-legs and then a week of growing out until she’s puppy shaped once again.  Hester seems to grown all ways round although sometimes she’s a real plumpkin, her face is more rounded than Dido’s and she has much bigger eyes.  Dido is curious about everything and wants to help - no matter what you’re doing - she also sleeps less and really quite vocal, grunting to be let out, a different grunt for a cuddle (which are few and far between she doesn’t like being smothered) and whingy series of grunting when she’s desperate to stay awake and play a little longer but is dead on her paws. 


Hester in contrast loves to be cuddled and will tuck her head into your shoulder folding her legs in and doing a very good impression of a teddy bear, she too fights sleep but not as much as Dido, she needs more reassurance but contrarily is often the instigator at playtime and the one who has to be forcibly stopped for her own good. Hester watches what’s going on but only if you’re on the floor will she come to investigate  - usually with a gift in mouth; she has only two speed flat out top speed ahead and flat out asleep with very little inbetween.

So as Mr Robson says on GQT it’s onward and upward.

(and I will get those photos online....)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Out into the world - or not - and did you know dishes bite?

A whole new world
Dido has discovered that she can climb the stairs, all alone and unaided but she kinda gives herself away once she's reached the top by thundering around at top speed doing a lovely impression of a small herd of elephants on the rampage.  Until Monday she couldn't get back down again.  but she can go both ways we never know where she might be.   Consequently The Board is now doubling up as an office door barricade during week days and a stair 'gate' during evenings and over the weekends.  Hester sits at the bottom and looks imploringly, "I'm only little, pick me up, carry me and give me lots of cuddles on the way"  or at least until Monday morning when Dido set off at high speed and there was no one around to assist her progress so off she took.

The big wide world.
Tuesday rolls around at last and we can set paw outside the gate. For weeks the road has been sheep free - until Monday night when a flock wandered down leaving a lovely trail of what Dido assures me are very tasty little raisins!   Dido is fascinated by everything that's going on and is paying me little or no attention, Hester meanwhile is constantly checking with me that everything is fine.  Gradually we've increased the distance and by the end of the week were getting out onto the main road with all the clamour of traffic and people.

On Sunday I noticed a small gap in Dido's upper front teeth (as she was lying her back laughing up at me - trying to grab my fingers), the puppy needle teeth are on their way out and consequently they are more chewy than ever, I'm clearing soggy cardboard confetti from the various floors at least twice a day.  They're also partial to empty plastic bottles, the square ones are particularly good as the corner will crush and then can be chewed with satisfying crunchy noises

Tasty, tasty
For some reason the cracks in the yard are delightful, even better than pebbles.  We’re not too happy about yard licking despite the very clean patches so the cracks have been liberally doused in washing up liquid, only one lick each and they’ve both back off.  However one evening Hester was sitting on the step with green slime around her mouth (lovely!), she’s been yard licking again I thought and went to get kitchen roll to clean her up.  The green slime was particularly difficult to remove and full of gritty bits, as I was swiping it off her nose she opened her mouth to reveal a slightly chewed slug (urgh).  She dropped it on the step and it struggled to move away as it was now totally deslimed. Oh, puppies are such lovely creatures.  So far no more slug eating adventures, phew.  Although the verandah has another piece missing, bits of brick have turned up in the water bucket and there are a couple of chairs with suspicious marks which look remarkably like puppy teeth!

Despite their choice of snacks meal times are not so plain sailing.
The pups had been fed with food loose on the ground, not out of dishes meaning their dishes were a novelty, a slightly scary one, and without the competition of eating as much as you can as quickly as you can from their litter-mates they feel no compunction to dive straight in.  I made a mistake with their dishes, I got metal ones with deep sides - thinking about the quantity they would have to eat.  The first problem was when Dido put a foot in hers, it flew up and cracked her on the head! After that she wouldn’t go near it and would only eat directly from the floor again.  I eventually coaxed her to eat from a small, shallow, glass dish, however, two distinctly different dishes wasn’t working because if Hester ate Dido’s food Dido wouldn’t finish off Hester’s, *sigh*.  Two small glass dishes it was - which was OK but they didn’t hold much so we tried going back to the big metal dishes but because they were so deep the metal D-ring on their collars would clink against the side.  Not good.  So I chalked it up to experience and invested in new dishes, shallow, un-tip-up-able style, still metal but with a rubber ring on the foot, smaller versions of the water dish in the cage.  Initially they weren’t sure about the noise of the kibble in the dish so we broke all the rules and played with our dishes and our food, leaving the dishes (empty) down all day until Dido started picking them up by the foot and running off with them. Problem solved.  However, even now when they eat tea alongside Hebe and Maia, they are easily distracted and have to be pointed back to food.  They are getting the idea and anything not finished within 15 minutes is removed or if there’s only a little left Hebe gets to clear their plates - which is helping in concentrating their minds, Hester’s more than Dido’s. Despite this they’re growing well and seem to be thriving; we’ve dropped lunch and they’re on three meals, big breakfast and tea and smaller supper.

Stairs again
Dido can now hurtle both up and down the stairs.  Hester can go up but needs lots of encouragement to come back down and if either of them need to go out it’s still better to carry them - Hester simply takes too long and can’t really hold on long enough to get down the yard, although verandah step is good enough; Dido gets distracted by everything and thus also can’t get down the yard in time.

The big wide world is a wonderful / scary place.
It’s wonderful: Dido is enjoying going out and will nudge the leads asking to go, she’s been up to the shops, in the post office, round the block, buses and coaches are surprising large, met Sue and Ali and their dogs Kim and Minty, been down to the crossroads, been terrified by a motorbike and then worried by cars but we’re over that now, up the incline, the hand driers in the public loos are very noisy and scary, met Linda and Moss (Moss is wonderful and he thinks Dido’s pretty great too), today we met Denis and Ollie (who doesn’t like black labs but didn’t recognise Dido as a lab, she’s not big enough yet!), talked with lots of visitors, learnt that it’s ok to puddle and dump outside, sheep are worrisome but their deposits are very tasty (no they’re not Dido, grr, ah-ah, leave) but apparently not on the menu.
It’s scary: Hester on the other hand is having problems but then she’s not had a smooth ride.  To begin with Hester was much better being focused on me and not what else was going on however I’ve found out that she’s frightened of dogs especially small ones and barking terriers turn her into a quivering wreck; some people are scary too. She was the first to venture off our road and into the village, unfortunately two runners came thundering past from behind us, they made me jump so poor Hester was very wide eyed but a little sit and she was OK and on we would go, not 5 metres on and a pair of badly behaved Charlies on a double lead pulled their owner across the road snarling at us.  It’s a good job her collar was tight otherwise she’d have slipped it and been away, no option but to pick up and walk back towards home; back onto the Mill Green and I put her down again, she tugged most of the way back and panted for quite a while.  Next day we’d go early before the visitors arrived, she set off very well but only half way down the road we met Marian and Jill (soft as washing old Border), Hester hid behind me before trying to bolt for home again.  We walked on a little way to let Marian get out of sight before finally coming back.  We will not be defeated so that evening we would try again, this time she was keen until we got to the gate and then she didn’t want to go out.  Oh-oh I’ve got a little agoraphobe!  Poor little pup what a series of frightening experiences.  A day off from leads completely and then back to garden walks to get over that one. Next up was to go in the car to somewhere new - top of the village to walk across the green and around the church, which was fine but talking to a tourist who wanted directions was enough make her quake again, so we called in at the Post Office on the way home, she walked across the road very well but started backing off when we saw people; I decided to carry her, that way she has the security of being in contact with me, at head height (not foot), she can’t escape what’s going on but I don’t need to reassure her (which would ‘reward’ her behaviour) leaving her to deal on her own.  It’s working, she’s been to the garden centre, the craft fair in the hall and back to the shops, carried for all and although some people still make her shake she gets over it much faster - funnily enough children, even tiny ones, don’t bother her at all. Yesterday we went back up to the church end and this time Hebe came too!  As an exercise in walking to heal it would have been a disaster but in confidence building it was a triumph - there were lots of things that made her start and had she been on own would have bolted but she looked at Hebe who simply carried on and thus so did Hester. The plan now is confidence building outside, heal work in the garden and in a couple of places which should be worry free.

Their development is different that if I didn’t know I’d think they were from different litters, different ages.  Hester is still a puppy whilst Dido is a little dog, there’s about 2-3 weeks difference in the physical and mental development.  Dido has been hopping in and out of their cage for 3 weeks, Hester has only started doing it on her own this weekend, Hester still bunny hops up the stairs, Dido walks.  Watching them grow is fascinating - apparently we should ‘write a paper on it’!  (I’m sure there are lots already....)

Why so much in one chunk? Well see the office blog for reasons....
Photos have got as far as the server but not online yet.


When you have a series of dogs over the years you accumulate various pieces of paraphernalia.
Maia has Bramble's dish, you know which one was hers because she carried it around and one day dropped it at the top of the steps, it bounced on the concrete yard with a resounding clang and ever since has a 'ding' in the side. Hebe got Bracken's, the matching pair to Bramble's but without the ding. Juno was the third dog of the tribe (with Bracken and Bram) and consequently needed a new dish, hers has a different rim on it and will be Dido's or Hester's in the fullness of time.  Leads are not quite as long lasting as metal dishes but they too have been passed down. Dido is already using Juno's slip lead and Hebe's long puppy fixed lead, Hebe has a smart new fixed lead to go with her posh town frock (a leather collar with an engraved ID plate). As we usually have only one puppy at a time Hester has her own all new fixed lead.  Bramble never had a slip lead so Maia had her own but it's too heavy for the pups so Hester has a new one waiting on the hook, because of her huffing (and general naughtiness) Maia no longer uses her slip lead and only goes out with a leather collar and short fixed lead.  Until I dug out Juno's lead Dido was using Hebe's which was actually Bracken's originally - it no longer has a stopper on it but that doesn't bother Hebe.
Hester with Juno's lead, a little big yet!
Toys are generally short lived however we have a few which have been around for a long time, we have Cara's giant Wolfie-sized kong, Hebe's 'flying saucer' also made by Kong, Maia's green nobbly, previously squeaky, ball  but the oldest is a Ty rainbow snake called Wormie and he was Juno's we have a photo of him being washed before Maia arrived in 2000, apart from having his 'black feelies' (don't ask) chewed he's still in fine shape.  Until last week we had Juno's 'very, pleasant, Christmas present, pheasant' (again best not to ask), it was a little worn around the edges but a puppy tug of war allowed its stuffing to see the light of day and he has finally left the toybox. 
I wonder what Hester and Dido will pass on.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Whisper it, but it's still going well

Gosh, three weeks already, sometimes it feels as if they've been here forever, and my how they've grown. They can now walk up the steps onto the yard and when they arrived they couldn't even bounce up and down them.

They're both confident little bodies not bothered by thunder, low flying aircraft, big wagons on the back road, steam trains hooting, wind, weather, car alarms however on Monday evening something terrified the life out of Hester.  They puddled, came in and ate their tea whilst I prepared some potatoes, once they'd come to the boil I realised the timer was in the sitting room and by the time I returned Hester was all of a quiver looking like a beaten puppy.  I hadn't heard anything and although she initially seemed fine Dido was a bit jumpy too. No amount of cuddles or distractions perked her up and my happy, waggy Hester was a shaky, frighted pup so I let them put themselves to bed in the cage, Dido draped herself over a still big eyed Hester; Hebe kept going out to check on them and coming back looking worried.  They did cheer up later on in the evening and ate their supper as usual; by morning they seemed back to normal.  I've kept an eye on them and they are definitely worried by certain barking dogs especially terrier type barks fortunately Hebe and Maia barking at the door has no effect on them neither does that bark that is supposed to tell them to stop behaving like lunatics.  They've greeted all their visitors with a smile and a wag, except on Wednesday Yvonne called in and Hester immediately backed off, ears down, a few treats and lots of cuddles and she was prepared to make contact but not like Dido to demand attention.  I can see that Hester is going to need more socialisation than Dido and to meet many more people in lots of different places.

Tuesday was their trip to Pickering for their second jabs and they were brilliant, travelling all the way in the back of the car with Hebe and Maia on the back seat. They were weighed again and they've both put on around 2kg, no wonder they're large puppy-lumps!
They are small monsters of destruction, having dug out one side of the verandah and caused a small sink hole to appear they've now started on the other side and my sitting room floor is a morass of cardboard confetti, but better cardboard than furniture.   They're also label hounds - no not dedicated followers of fashion (although Hester very might be given half a chance!, oh and human) they have an avowed intent to remove labels from everything.  It started with the label on a toy, then another toy, next a dog bag, then off empty plastic bottles, and from more toys, then the dog towels and now it's simply anything with a label.

Their training progresses steadily.  Hester still trots along beside me on her lead with a piece in her mouth, she is slightly more easily distracted now that she's gained some more confidence but comes back to heel quite readily.  Dido is another matter, the fixed collar and lead is providing no negative feedback and it's far more interesting to sniff the flowers or eat the grass than it is to walk along beside me.  So we've progressed to a slip lead and the change is remarkable, just that slight tightening is enough to stop her in in tracks and with verbal encouragement back to my heel before we set off again.  Although we'll all be ready for pastures new come Tuesday when we're finally allowed outside, there are only so many times you can walk around the garden before everyone is bored and want to lie down (yes, that includes me too!).  Recall is still good, they'll come in from the yard through the dog house and into the kitchen handbrake turning every corner and all from out of sight.  They're doing so well that we now have two levels of treats, kibble for standard returns but little puppy training treats or tiny pieces of schmako for recall from really tempting things like breaking off mid-play, leaving a really interesting sniff etc.  Our play in the back garden has been curtailed by the activities of a sparrowhawk which has left three piles of feathers, one blackbird, one blue tit (I think) and something else small (maybe a house martin) and heaps of feathers are one distraction too many so as soon as the gate is opened they head straight for the feathers, dive in and refuse to leave; I'm not going to let them fail or struggle to get them to return so for now we'll simply avoid the feathers until they've gone / lost their smell but they are quite useful for ensuring focus is on me for lead work, we can walk through the blue tit and almost past the blackbird without any sideways tugs.

Dido has turned into a bit of a Grunting Gertie, there's the I'm tired but don't want to go to sleep squeaky-grunt, the let me out I need to go down the yard deep grunt and the wingey grunt meaning i want to play but everyone is ignoring me.  Hester doesn't grunt (and doesn't seem able to ask to go out, she waits for Dido) but does squeak when she's tired and barks at Dido to get her to play and they both growl at each other, and at Hebe, when they're playing big teeth.

Small problem with the photos - my computer is not recognising the card reader but all is not lost because the laptop is, so another slight delay.