Friday, 30 January 2009

January Walks

During the recent wet weather I've been walking the dogs at Ashdown Forest. It's a beautiful place about 8 miles from where we live. I've walked there many times over the years. It tends to go in phases though, I don't go there for ages and then I'll walk there several days in a row. The choice of walks is huge as the forest covers 2,500 hectares. On one side they re-introduced sheep and cattle so you have to be sure your dogs are under control. On the other side there is no stock but of course you still meet deer. It's lovely walking and very good for me as it includes walking up hill quite a bit (something I try to avoid but know I should do more of!)

The dogs absolutely love it there and usually start howling as soon as they smell the forest which is before they see it. It's always busier at the weekends and I took the dogs there on Saturday. It was good for Zeki as there were quite a few horse riders about and she would love to chase so we practised recalls when we saw horses approaching and then had to do a down stay. The others are all very good at this as they've been drilled over the years walking here and on our annual holiday to the New Forest.

Wherever we go at the moment the dogs are coming back rather wet and very dirty so I have to give them a clean up before putting them back in the car. This can be stressful when you have six dogs by yourself but I have devised a new routine whereby I tie four of them to the back of my cages and then clean up two and pop them inside.

At the weekend the car park was busy so I was nervous about Niamh being tied up with lots of dogs and people around. I was very fortunate that a chap came over to admire the dogs and my vehicle after he'd cleaned up his one dog (an ancient black labrador who had to walk up a ramp into his boot.) He spent about 20 minutes fussing all my dogs whilst we chatted and I continued cleaning up my lot. I warned him that Niamh could be a little nervous with strangers and he was brilliant. He just let her make the first move and by the time the dogs were all clean she was kissing him and pushing her face into his for cuddles. I do love it when people show this sort of patience with a nervous dog, it's so helpful and such a good experience. Now I won't be so stressed when I have all the dogs tied to the car on busier days. It was also very good for Zeki. She can be a little loud and protective of the car with other dogs around. I left her 'til last so that she had the longest experience tied to the car and by the end she was very relaxed as people, children, dogs and cars were coming and going.

Here are a couple of rather poor pictures from their forest walks, I forgot the camera so they're taken with the mobile.

Having fun on the forest

The shelties playing chase on the forest

Yesterday we took the dogs to our regular walk for the first time in a week as it has dried out a bit. It was still very wet underfoot and we ended up with six very wet and dirty dogs most of whom had to be washed when we got home. It adds another hour to the proceedings but I don't like my dogs sitting around wet and dirty, especially Poppy. I like to get them warm and dry and into their beds so they can have a good sleep after their walk.

Andy took time out of the office to come on the walk. He hasn't walked much lately as he's been having lots of physio for his groin strain. Things are definitely improving and he hopes to be back playing badminton in a couple of weeks and if that goes well then back to training Kizzy. I think Kizzle will be delighted to get back to doing things. She's had a lay off after being spayed but is now ready to come back to agility. Although she is a laid back (um, sometimes lazy) little princess; she does love to do things with Andy. She really is the perfect little package as she sleeps all day until you drag her out for her walk which she actually does enjoy once she's out there and when Andy wants her to do agility he just presses her little green button and off she goes! Then you press her red button and she goes to sleep! I can't find Zeki's off button ....

Here are some pictures of yesterday's walk:

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