Monday, 21 August 2017

One Year Home | A Letter to Winnie's First Owner

A year ago today, my boyfriend and I headed off on the loooong drive to Wales. We were going to visit a lady who was rehoming one of her dachshunds, and I was filled with a mix of nerves and excitement. Everything seemed pretty normal! Moving older dogs on to pet homes is a common part of breeding, apparently. I had a new collar and lead in my bag, "just in case" there was an opportunity to take her there and then. When we got there however, things weren't as I'd expected. I detailed the whole story in this post, and I also wrote 3 month and 6 month updates on Winnie. Now that she's been with us for a year though, I wanted to get a few things off my chest...

Dear S,

   I rarely think of you, but when I do my emotions are often so mixed. Some days I find myself making excuses for you, because I just can't comprehend the state Winnie was in when I met her... maybe you were a well-meaning woman; perhaps you suddenly found yourself with too many dogs and not enough money? Perhaps you loved your dogs so much but couldn't provide for them as well as you might have wanted? Other days, I'm filled with rage and I can't believe you ever let Winnie suffer the way she must have been suffering. After speaking to others who have bought puppies from you, I'm inclined to believe that you're actually just greedy. You didn't want to waste money on vet bills for an older dog you couldn't breed from anymore, anyway. 

After just a year, I can't imagine my life without Winnie. I can't even imagine Archie without Winnie. In fact, after just a few short months, despite the money we'd spent on her and the tears I'd shed over her, I couldn't imagine our home without Winnie in it. I simply cannot believe that you owned Winnie for nearly 7 years, and thought so little of her that you wouldn't get her help when she was hurting. I can't believe you looked into her eyes, knowing all of her teeth were rotting and falling out, knowing the pain she must have been in... and you ignored it. That was just the surface, too. She had so many other health issues plaguing her. Perhaps, actually, you didn't ever look into her eyes. Perhaps you never saw her as a little soul at all.

I see her. I love her. I am so sad that you didn't, and that she had to live that way for 7 years. She will always, always have a home with me.

However, I'm also thankful. I'm thankful as your neglect means that I can have Winnie in my life. She has taught me patience, unconditional love and the joy of owning a "dog with a past". Every little success with Winnie is a milestone; she is a completely different dog to the one we took away from you a year ago. She's currently snoring away as I write this, tucked up next to me on the sofa. Warm, loved and part of a family.

So thank you... you didn't deserve her anyway.

Chloé, Archie and Winnie

Winnie's beautiful gotcha day cake was very kindly donated by Doggy Desserts bakery, who coincidentally are based in Winnie's hometown; thank you so much!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Welcome to Our Family, Maggie | A New Puppy!

Welcome Maggie!

Last week my parents asked me to find them a puppy, as they'd sadly lost their black lab Tilly in June. My dad simply can't live without a pack of dogs, so he wanted me to help him find a new addition to their menagerie. Ideally he wanted another labrador, however I love spaniels, so I sneakily sent photos of litters to my mum of spaniels too!

It just so happens that she fell in love with the cheeky little monkey above, and my parents went to view her and bring her home the very next day. 

Little Miss Maggie, or Maggie Moo as she's affectionately known, is a 10 week old black and white English Springer Spaniel. Like most spanners, she's absolutely full of beans and so comical. We all absolutely adore her, and she's already being spoiled rotten with cuddles, toys and love. She's being raw fed, and is doing really well on Natural Instinct food! 

The dogs in our family aren't quite so enamoured, though! My parents also have a 13 year old springer and a 9 year old cocker, and they're still a little unsure. With time though, I know they'll all be the best of friends. Archie is becoming good pals with the little one already, but Winnie still needs some convincing! 

She likes to eat grass, chew stones, pee on the doormat, chase Winnie round the garden and she sits splayed out like a little frog. We just love her so much already!

Stay tuned for more exciting news in a few weeks (hmm, what could that be?!)

Chloé, Archie and Winnie

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Paws in the Park | Ft. Pit Pat, Broughton & Co and more!

Hi everyone!

At the beginning of July, I packed up the dogs and headed off to Paws in the Park with our best pal Bernie and his Mum. Paws in the Park is a fab day out, with fun activities like dog diving, agility, gun dog displays and a companion dog show. Of course, there's also lots of lovely food and stalls to shop at! The event is held three times annually, across several different locations. The summer show is held at Stanstead House in Havant, which is close to our usual haunt of Hayling! It's a beautiful location with a wonderful country house, perfect for taking the photos you see above.

The last time we went to Paws in the Park Archie was just 5 months old, and he was my only dog! I was excited to go back with both dogs, and our friends of course. The dogs were dressed to impress in bows from my etsy shop (Chloe Suzanne Designs) and Archie was also wearing his Pit Pat activity monitor. I thought it would be fun to see how much exercise he gets on a day out like this, and compare it to the stats from my Fitbit! 

Of course, we had to stop by the Broughton & Co stand, and buy more goodies! I picked up another collar, and two personalised lovelocks for the dogs. We spotted Archie in amongst all the Broughton Pup Recruits, and he took a particular shine to Creative Director Luna (so did I!) Luna had an operation this week, so we're sending lots and lots of get well vibes and cuddles to her!

Broughton & Co will always be our absolute favourite for collars; the range of colours and styles are second to none, and Philippa offers incredible customer service. I recently had an issue with two of mine (which was TOTALLY my fault and Philippa was under no obligation to help me) but she offered to take them back and sort them out. Incredible service! We now have four collars and two lovelocks, and they're just stunning. The pieces are pure luxury, and I'm sure we'll continue to add to our collection!

We also came across a new brand, Kera Pets, who offer gorgeous pieces in a variety of colours and sizes. Our favourite was a beautiful jade green shade, and the collars were affordably priced. It's so lovely to discover new brands at these shows! 

We also stopped off at Equafleece, and picked up a new mulberry number for Archie. We spotted some familiar faces!

After lots of fun with our pals, we headed off to the beach at Hayling for some lunch! At the end of the day, I checked out my Fitbit and Archie's Pit Pat: what a busy day Archie had! 255 minutes of activity, whereas my own monitor measured just 44 minutes for me. It goes to show that a good walk and some fun at the beach really gets their little legs and hearts going! I love that the monitor also tracks their play and sleep; it's fab getting an insight into Archie's day. 

I hope you enjoyed reading, and that you've had a lovely week!

Chloé, Archie and Winnie

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A Weekend Away | Hayling Island

Hi all, 

If you've been following our blog for any amount of time, you'll know that Hayling Island is my family's happy place. I spent the majority of my childhood there, and for the past three years my parents have owned a holiday caravan there too. Now that my boyfriend and I are creating our own little family, we like to continue tradition and continue to visit Hayling as often as we can!

It was our fourth anniversary on Saturday 29th July, so on the Friday we packed up our things, and the dogs of course, and headed down to the van! On Saturday morning we were up bright and early, with plans for a beach walk. I find that the Beachlands end of the seafront is best for dog walks; it's dog-friendly all year round, and tends to be much quieter than Eastoke Corner. Archie can go off the lead and have a proper run (sadly Winnie's recall isn't reliable enough for her to be off-lead!) and when the tide is out there's lots of lovely flat sand to walk on. 

We walked for a few miles along the beach, before stopping for a little rest. Archie was very interested in all the other dogs that were playing at the water's edge! Winnie, on the other hand, just wanted to tell them all off as usual. Whenever we stop anywhere, we pop Winnie in her carrier as it gives her a safe little den and seems to help her reactive barking. We did the same thing on the beach, and unfortunately received some judgemental comments from passersby. It's a shame people can't keep their opinions to themselves! Not all dogs in carriers are "handbag dogs."

After the long walk back to the car, we were all pretty hungry! We stopped off at the café near the car park to refuel on burgers; I love that they've painted all the tables in rainbow pastels since our last visit! Sitting down anywhere is always a trial for Archie and Winnie... it's when their reactivity comes to the forefront. They barked a little when some people stopped to talk to us with their dogs (they also had a black and tan daxie called Winnie!) but generally, they were pretty good. It's always a relief when they behave!

When we arrived back at the van, it was still pretty early. I didn't want to sit around at the site all day, so after a rest (and an outfit change for us and the dogs!) we headed off to Chichester. Unfortunately, at this moment it began to pour down with rain. We were already out, so we figured we'd brave it... bad choice! We had to carry the dogs around, Winnie in her carrier and Archie in Will's jacket, as it was suddenly much colder than anticipated. We ended up just paying Chichester a flying visit, and the rain didn't let up at all for the rest of the day. I used the opportunity to take some photos of the dogs in the van!

On Sunday we had a lazy morning at the van, before heading out for lunch at Mad Hatters. It's a little Alice in Wonderland-themed tearoom and gift shop on the Hayling seafront, which has lovely food. I'm super picky, but I thoroughly enjoyed my sandwiches, tea and scones. The tearoom isn't dog friendly, but in good weather you can sit outside with them. This is what we did, and it was fine! Again, the dogs were pretty good until a cocker spaniel arrived... Archie had a good old bark, but it didn't take too long for him to settle again. Personally I think that their reactive behaviour has really improved, and outings like this are a "practise makes perfect" sort of thing. We'll get there!

We had a lovely weekend at the van, and I can't wait to go back very soon. One of the joys of working in a school is the long summer holiday! What are your summer plans?

Chloé, Archie and Winnie

(The dogs are wearing bows and bandanas from Chloé Suzanne Designs, my etsy shop, in this post.)