All posts by Lesley

Why On-Leash Greetings with other dogs can be one of the single biggest mistake you make with your dog.


Absolutely agree with every word of this. Spread the word far and wide, folks. Then I might not get filthy looks rorm other dog owners when I tell them I don’t allow my dog to socialise when she’s on a lead.

David Tirpak

On leash greetings with people and dogs are the number one cause of behavioral issues on the walk.  They cause reactivity, condition excitement, and put dogs in immensely uncomfortable situations.  Lets break this down..

First and foremost the number one reason why we discourage on-leash greetings is due to the unnecessary social pressure that it creates for the dog.  In ideal social situations between dogs and dogs or dogs and people the dog is free to roam.  If they get stressed out due to another dog or person they can get up and walk away giving them space and reducing the social pressure.

Being on a leash is very restricting to most dogs.  They are stuck within a 4-6 foot radius of you at all times and are very aware of it.  This puts them in an innate position to tap into their fight or flight responses.  Since they do…

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A few photos of frolicking


When we first moved to Devon we were told that the novelty of living by the sea would wear off after a few months. I think someone forgot to tell Douggie the doggie. Two years on and he loves it as much as ever. In fact, if he doesn’t get a swim every day he positively sulks.

I’ve thrown in a couple of pictures taken with my fancy new filter as well. It’s amazing how a camera on a tripod acts like a magnet to snotty nosed little kids on the beach. 500 yards of beach to play on and yet they come and stand two inches away from me and seem determined to either stand right in the shot or stand next to the tripod, lose their balance and almost knock it over. Note to self: don’t take photos on the beach during school holidays.

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Ibble Ibble omnom


What?
Ibble ibble omnom
Sorry, what?
ibble ibble omnom
Ok. I give in, I still didn’t get it?
I’M HAVING A NIBBLE ON ONE!!
One what?
Mushroom
Eh?
The left over mushrooms, I’m having a nibble on one.
Flippin’ ‘eck! All I heard was Ibble ibble omnom. It wasn’t worth all the effort!

And so went the kitchen conversation this morning while we patiently waited for the last two guests to turn up for breakfast.

Art the moment we have a house full of mostly elderly people, it’s a bit like God’s waiting room. The all queue up outside the dining room door to be sure of getting the table closest to the buffet when breakfast starts at 8.15.

The only young couple we have in come down for breakfast just as it’s ending at 9.15 which means we stand around for half an hour not able to put anything away or clean up until they’ve been. The boredom leads to some ridiculous conversations, as you’ve just found out.

It’s just a walk in the Park


I came across this article on Facebook today.

It was a good read.

It’s about how some dog owners think it’s ok to let their dogs just rampage round, running where they like and approaching any and every other dog they see.

It touched a nerve.

Usually said dog owners are a hundred yards away while their little darlings are having fun. My opinion is that if your dog is a hundred yards away then by no definition ever can it be deemed to be ‘under control.’

Now that might be ok if your dog is well mannered enough to leave other dogs alone but all too often they aren’t.

It’s about time we all started to understand that dogs, like people, are not all the same and a little courtesy and understanding can go a long way. The article talks mainly about fearful and reactive dogs but actually, the issues it addresses are relevant to all.

I don’t have a reactive or fearful dog but I have also experienced much of what is said in this article.

If a dog is on a lead I don’t allow Douggie the doggie to go up to them until I check if it’s ok. If it’s on a lead, it’s for a good reason.

If my dog, Douggie is on a lead I don’t allow him to interact with other dogs.

Have I had people be offended when I’ve said so?

Absolutely I have. “snotty bitch’ has been heard muttered more than once.

Why I keep Douggie the doggie away from other dogs when on a lead is my business – but I’ll tell you. After he’s had a fit he can be unpredictable. He’s never turned on another dog or a person but I don’t know what’s going on in his head at that point and I prefer to be safe than sorry. Also, he’s a big, powerful dog. If he decided to drag me across the road because his best mate was on the other side of the road he could. By teaching him that other dogs are off limits when he’s on a lead he knows to keep himself to himself and me safe from being run over by a bus. Common sense. Other dog owners leading their dogs, often on leads, up to him and telling them to ‘say hello’ undermines everything I’ve taught him.

I’ll politely point out that I don’t allow him to socialise when he’s on a lead. At that point they will either give me a dirty look and walk off or ask me in a very surprised voice why. My reply is usually, “for exactly this reason”, as Douggie
pulls me round from pillar to post to get a better sniff at the other dog’s nether regions. Not so much of a problem with a chihuahua, bit more of a problem when you have a six stone golden retriever.

While I’m in mid rant, may I also point out that my dog is not public property. He might look like a great big, soppy teddy bear but that does not mean he’s there to be petted, have his ears pulled or generally act as entertainment for your kids. At least have the manners to ask before parading your kid up to him telling them to stroke the nice doggie. Although I suppose that’s better than when your child runs up to him, arms outstretched and screaming, “Doggie!” in his face.

Please be aware that when I tell your child to keep away I’m protecting the dog from your child not vice versa. Shouting at me “Well it should be f*ckin’ muzzled then” is just aggressive nonsense. Actually, I think you should be muzzled as your mouth is much nastier and far more dangerous than my dog’s.

Now I don’t want to come over as holier than thou in this post. It took a lot of training and a lot of training mistakes on my part before we ended up with a well mannered dog. I vividly remember when Douggie was just a few months old that if he saw another dog ten miles away he would run like the wind to get to it. On day I stupidly took him to a local playing field.

There was a person with a leashed dog at the other end of the field. Douggie took off, I took off after him, frantically calling his name as the irate owner of the other dog swore and cursed me and my dog while fighting to keep his leashed dog under control, “GET YOUR DOG AWAY YOU STUPID BITCH MY DOG’LL KILL IT! I was running as fast as I could to get to Douggie before he got killed.

I was mortified that I had so little control over my dog that he, and by that I mean, I, could have caused a really nasty incident. It certainly taught me the value of training and respecting the needs of other dogs and their owners.

After that I never took Douggie anywhere where he had a clear line of sight. For months we only ever walked in the woods where he could only see a few feet in front. That way he learned to stay near to me. Eventually, once I knew I could trust him we braved the open spaces again.

Training and mutual respect. It’s not that hard is it?

Oooh, this article got me all fired up, didn’t it? Rant over.

Playing out


It’s nice at this time of year, before our lodging emporium gets too busy. I have time to go and play out with my new toys.When I’m not going out with the girls for lunch or dinner or drinks. Tell me again why I’m not a size ten?

I’ve been playing out with my camera recently, here are my offerings from the last couple of days. I hope you like them. Do you have a favourite?

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You treat this place like a hotel!


No. Wait. Ok, it IS a hotel but you don’t need to treat it like one.

So what am I wittering on about today?

Munki. That’s what.

She’s got into the habit of strolling into the kitchen during breakfast service and ordering as a guest would.

For those of you who don’t know, Munki is our eight year old granddaughter who lives with us here at the Boofuls Towers B & B lodging emporium.

Yesterday she wandering in, looked around disdainfully, walked out again and into the guest dining room. Two minutes later she returned with a giant bowlful of the fruit salad, having taken all the strawberries and blueberries out of it and left the bits she didn’t like for the actual paying guests. Once she’d finished that – and I’d finished refreshing the fruit salad, she returned to the kitchen, “Can I just have two slices of bacon today please?” If I’m not too busy I’ll generally make it for her and yesterday she was lucky.

This morning we only had two guests in for breakfast and only one of them wanting a cooked breakfast. Service was over in about three minutes, long enough to produce two poached eggs on toast.

Munki strolled into the kitchen at her usual time. Her face fell. “What? Have I missed breakfast? I’m not late!”

I explained to her that breakfast was over and suggested she make herself some toast since she isn’t actually a paying guest. Her little face lit up and off she went.

The only trouble with Munki having toast is that she absolutely slathers it in my home made lemon curd. I can’t keep up with her demand for it. Only last week I made a fresh batch and it’s almost gone already. I may have to start rationing it. It wouldn’t be too bad if only I could stop her putting the knife into the jar after it’s been used for butter. Ugh. I can’t serve that to guests now. If I’ve told her once not to do that I’ve told her a thousand times, No exaggeration!

I think it’s a ploy she uses she she can have it all.

Anyway, still on the subject of Munki:

Her mum, Lashes has been picking up her old hobby of doing magic tricks.

She got really quite good at it at one point but then as so often happens at that age she lost interest and moved on to other things, boys, mostly.

Now she has started doing magic again. Please note that I was very careful not to say she was doing tricks. I said that last week to someone and then stood there mystified as they doubled up with laughter. I’m so innocent sometimes it’s ridiculous. I had no idea what I’d just said.

Anyway, I digress.

Lashes had just learned the old ‘coin in a bottle trick.’ She did it using a plastic bottle and we were all mighty impressed when this coin magically appeared inside it. She showed the same trick to MUnki who was astounded, begging her mum to do the trick again and pleading with her to show her how it was done.

Lashes, in the manner of all good magicians didn’t do the trick again but handed the bottle to Munki, “See if you can work it out.”

Lashes walked off smirking as Munki shook, rattled, peered into and generally gave the bottle a good inspection.

Five minutes later she came into see me. “Nanny, can I borrow some scissors, please?” Without giving giving a thought I handed over a pair of scissors and Munki disappeared into her bedroom.

Five minutes later again I heard a shout, “Why would you do that? Why? You’ve completely destroyed it.” Munki had only taken a pair of scissors to the plastic bottle to see the mechanics of the trick. Lashes was LIVID.

Well, you did tell her to see if she could work it out. You didn’t say she couldn’t destroy it to find the answer.

She’ll go far, that kid!

A bit of sprucing up


The year is marching on at Boofuls Towers and we have been busily decorating, tidying, rearranging and generally sprucing the place up before this years massive influx of holidaymakers.

We have toned down the pink, shiny, heavily patterned, 1980’s granny’s bedroom wallpaper teamed with mushroom coloured woodwork that clashed horribly with the predominantly blue and red heavily patterned carpet on all the corridors and stairs by painting over it.

Ideally we would have got rid of the whole lot and started again from scratch but since money is very much an object we decided to paint it. We picked out the neutral colours in the carpet and played the rest down. Now we have a nice, gentle sand colour below the dado rail and a warm and welcoming ‘bisque tint’ (warm white) above it. The blue and red have receded into the background and the gentler warmer colours make it much more welcoming. My eyeballs thank me for the change every time I step onto the corridor. My nerves no longer jangle when I see it. Altogether much nicer.

However. It came at a price.

Normally, it would be me who does the decorating but since I have been out of action (recovering nicely, thank you) we decided to get in a decorator.

After making and re-arranging his plans to start work several times he eventually turned up. He tied his horse, Trigger up outside and adjusted his stetson before entering the building. That was my first, second and third clue. I should have called a halt to it there and then but desperate times call for desperate measures. We were due to host a coffee morning for 50+ hoteliers and there were jobs we needed completing before they arrived.

Roy set to work.

He stripped two walls in a bedroom ready to put the new, contrasting wallpaper on. I was amazed at how fast he worked. Oh dear. Another clue ignored.

He put the lining paper on and then went to start work on the corridors while the walls dried in the bedroom. He got all the paint and brushes ready, cut it all in with a large brush and then proceeded to fill it all in with a roller. Brilliant, he’ll be done in no time, I thought as I strolled down the stairs.

What? Wait? STOP!!!!

“What are you doing? My carpets!! Put some dust sheets down!”

He was happily painting the corridors using roller and failed to protect the carpets, pictures, mirrors and any of the woodwork. Great big splatters of paint were all over the place.

His response? “Oh, well. I can leave if you like.” Delivered in an aggressive and confrontational tome of voice.
“Leave? I don’t want you to leave but neither do I want my house destroying. Please put some dust sheets down.”

Next thing I know he’s downstairs, having walked paint right through the house, and saying to Boofuls that he wasn’t going to be spoken to like that and he was going to leave. Attack being the best form of defence, I suppose.

Boofuls, being the diplomat that I am so obviously not, encouraged him back upstairs to continue wallpapering the bedroom. When he left at the end of the day he was back to his winking, joking, jolly, Jack the lad usual self.

Once he’d got back onto Trigger and rode off into the sunset I went to inspect his work.

Let’s just say that the quality of his work was such that we have just paid another decorator £500 to undo and redo everything he did.

It took me hours to remove the paint splatters from the mirrors and pictures and as for the carpet, I should have shares in Vanish carpet cleaner as I’ve used gallons of the damn stuff.

I wish we’d found the new chap in the first place, he’s brilliant.

Calm, efficient, clean and tidy with no flirting, winking or tantrums. Also, no photos taken of my daughter while she lay asleep on her sofa. Don’t even start me off on that one!!!

As for the hoteliers coffee morning, we were left with no option but to put signs up saying “please excuse us while we change.”

Rant over.

In other news… Munki strode into the lounge today and demanded to know, “Where’s your squirtle?”

Not quite sure what to answer to that one I hesitated and she continued. “It’s in this room somewhere. You need to find it and throw a Pokeball at it.”

Phew, the relief as I realised what she meant and it all became clear. Clear? Really? I can hear you saying.

Well, yes. It’s obvious if you live with an eight year old Pokemon maniac.

She’s spent the whole morning creating Pokemon out of paper and sellotape and hiding them around the house so we could have out own private Pokemon hunt. Bless her.

It really boring for her when we are all busy with guests. We are so lucky that she entertains herself and creates all manner of weird and wonderful things from paper and sellotape. It keeps her amused for hours. I have a feeling that this little girl will end up working in some kind of creative industry when she’s older, all the signs are there. She’s a creative genius with a vivid imagination, she’ll go far with her talents.

Practice what you preach


It’s taken me week or two to be able to write this post, every time I thought about it I was filled with lets say less than christian feelings.

Some friends of ours, Marks and Spencer, came to visit us for a few days. They are thinking of moving to the area after having been to stay with us a few times and realised how very lovely it is in Devon.

Proud to show off our new home and surrounding area we decided that a trip to Buckfast Abbey was an absolute must. It’s a stunning place, absolutely breathtaking in fact and I couldn’t wait to show it to them.

After a tasty breakfast we packed ourselves and Douggie the Doggie into the car and set off to Buckfastleigh where we spent some time admiring the beautiful quaint old railway station with it’s characterful old steam trains before we headed off to Buckfast Abbey.

Buckfast Abbey interior

Buckfast Abbey exterior

As both our friends are disabled we managed to park right outside the entrance using those ever so useful blue badges, worth their weight in gold they are. I was bit disappointed to see that the entrance to the abbey was covered in scaffolding and shrouded to try and hide it all but they covered all the shrouding in pretty, evocative photos of the interior of the abbey so it could have been worse. As building work goes it was as non-intrusive as you can get.

We strolled through the grounds, obviously heeding the signs to keep dogs on leads. After all, we were in the grounds of a magnificent, working abbey and due respect should be given such a place. Dogs rampaging round the gardens would be so disrespectful. Douggie was tethered to my side the whole time, much to his disgust. The gardens were a delight. The lavender garden was just lovely, I can imagine what it must be like in summer.

As we walked it quickly became very apparent to me that I’d massively overestimated my recovery after my operations and this amount of walking was way too much way too soon. I was starting to struggle but trying not to show it. With nowhere to sit I had no choice but to plod on.

A heavy downpour of rain encouraged Marks and Spencer to go inside the abbey. I was so pleased.

Me, Marks and Spencer all went into the abbey. Boofuls stayed out with Douggie in the rain.

Marks and Spencer went off to admire that abbey in all it’s splendour. I stood for a moment, knowing I was in too much pain to go with them and aware that Boofuls was outside in the rain. So. I scanned the entrance inside and out for signs saying if dogs were allowed or not. No sign of any signs. Happy days.

“Boofuls, there is nothing to say dogs aren’t allowed. Why don’t you come in. I’ll sit quietly in the pew by the door with Douggie the doggie and you can go and be tour guide for Marks and Spencer.”

So that’s what we did.

Dougie tucked himself in by my feet and settled down and I revelled in sitting in such a beautiful place, enjoying the atmosphere and feeling so grateful just to be sitting and easing my poor aching body.

Then came a tap on my arm. “I’m sorry, you can’t come in here with a dog.”

“What? It doesn’t say dogs can’t come in. Does God not like dogs?”

“You have to leave, dogs aren’t allowed in the grounds never mind in the abbey.”

At this point, the ignominy of being thrown out was overtaken by my body screaming at me to SIT DOWN! YOU’VE DONE TOO MUCH!

I sighed. “Right. Look, the thing is, I had a large operation three weeks ago. I just need to sit for a few minutes. If I can’t sit in here can I at least sit outside in the entrance porch?”

“No. No dogs allowed.”

By this time Boofuls had disappeared. I left the abbey, close to tears and in extreme pain. Knowing I couldn’t walk as far as the car and Boofuls had the keys anyway. I hobbled up to and sat on the nearest steps in the wind and the rain and tried not to cry as Douggie the doggie cuddled up to me.

Luckily I had my phone with me and sent Boofuls a text message.’I’ve been thrown out.’

After a few minutes, a few minutes where people stared at me like I was a mad woman, sitting in the thankfully now light rain on the wet steps and looking a picture of misery, Boofuls appeared.

He helped me back to the car and we waited for Marks and Spencer to return.

As we waited I stopped being upset and started being angry. So very angry.

At this point it had stopped being about the dog. I had no real issue with that. I know I don’t have the right to take him wherever I want. Their house, their rules and all that …or did I have an issue? It turns out I did.

No dogs allowed in the grounds the woman had said. Why then were there signs all over the place saying to keep your dog on a lead? Are dogs allowed or are they not? It turns out there is a very long and convoluted answer to that which involves a public footpath running right through the abbey grounds.

I ranted about how thrilled God must have been at their display of christian kindness to a person in need. No. Wait. What I meant was their very unchristian jobsworth attitude to a person in need. I ranted about their mixed message dog policy. I ranted about the embarrassment of sitting outside on the rainy steps while abbey staff walked past staring at me, not one asking me if there was an problem.

Such was my ranting that Boofuls offered to go back down to the abbey and register my discontent. Off he went.

After having registered my discontent he was helpfully informed that there were in fact ‘no dogs’ signs at the entrance. Oh really? As a dog owner we always make a point of looking to see if dogs are allowed or not. They call it responsible dog ownership.

We searched and searched for them. Eventually we found them. On the wall at the entrance, two small signs completely covered by scaffolding and the picture covered shrouds covering it. There is no way we could have seen them.

Time and time again Boofuls and I have come across this attitude of people who claim to be christians but who’s christian attitude leaves a lot to be desired. We have left more than one church because they were less about doing the work of God and more about the egos and holier than thou attitudes of the church members.

Sadly, this unfortunate incident at Buckfast Abbey has done nothing to change my view.

Rant over.

Food glorious food!


Ah yes, food glorious food, cold jelly and custard.. and so on.

I’m a big fan of food, big being the operative word, a testament in fact to my love of food.

Many times I’ve wished I had Booful’s attitude to food. To him it’s little more than fuel to keep him alive. A few exceptions include fillet steak, cheese, bread and chocolate. When we go out for meal together I don’t even bother to ask what he’s going to eat as I already know – fillet steak, chips and a blue cheese sauce.

In the 31 years we’ve been married I have realised that the food no go list is extensive. It includes, but is not limited to: fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, any kind of grain, yoghurts, anything spiced or flavourful, anything that requires chewing. I could go on.

When we first got married for the first three weeks I cooked us a lovely Sunday roast. On the fourth week he said, “do we have to have a meal, can I not just have a sandwich? And so it began. When I ask him what he wants to eat he generally replies with, “Ooh, I dunno. Egg on, beans on, cheese on.”

Over the next few years all attempts to get him to eat good food have fallen on stony ground. One small success is that he now eats his steak medium rare rather than cremated. At one memorable dinner party I cried in the bedroom when he left the table to make himself beans on toast after turning his nose up at salmon in champagne sauce. Not one of our best dinner parties.

Since I refused to join him in his eating habits I have got into the habit of making two meals. Generally something on toast for him and a real meal for me. It’s annoying but since it takes about two minutes to make beans, egg or cheese on toast it’s not the biggest pain.

Being included to fat I would shun ready meals, bottled sauces, packet foods or in fact anything pre prepared, preferring instead to know exactly what’s going into my food. Such was my food nazi-ism, I would mock anyone who bought pre cut vegetables. “How lazy can you get”, I’d proclaim, “it takes two minutes to prepare vegetables.”

My, how times have changed.

Now I’m feeling bit sheepish at my holier than thou attitude to food preparation. These days, it’s packets, preprepared vegetables, anything in fact that makes life easier. Fling it in a slow cooker, and Bob’s yer uncle. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

So what brought about this amazing volte-face?

Time.

Time and a change of lifestyle.

Being lucky enough to have always been self employed and have a relatively large amount of free time it was easy to shop for and cook healthy, nutritious and delicious food.

Since becoming the proud owner of a bed and breakfast emporium and latterly having rest and relaxation forced onto me after my big op, I’ve realised the only way I’m going to get a decent meal is by letting someone else take the strain. Hello ready prepared vegetables. Hello bottled sauces. It’s either that or join Boofuls with the egg on, beans on, cheese on diet.

Yesterday’s offering was a beef and lentil stew which took me about two seconds to prepare. Throw in a packet of veg, a stock pot, a packet of cubed beef and a handful of lentils and let the slow cooker work it’s magic.

I’ve discovered that it’s really ok to make life easier for yourself. If time, lifestyle and inclination permits then go for it. If not, that’s ok too. No pressure, no guilt it’s all good.

I’m getting to enjoy this


Enforced rest and relaxation. Six whole weeks of it. GAAAAHHHH!!!

For a woman who generally skips around like Tigger on speed I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with it. The prospect of six weeks of Jeremy Kyle and other daytime tv offerings sent me into a depression just thinking about it. The massive operation I had to undergo a seemed a far less frightening prospect.

So. Surgery out of the way and two weeks down the line how has it been I can hear you ask, dear reader.

Why, thank you for asking, that’s very nice of you.

It’s been bloody boring, that’s how it’s been. I’ve slept like a sleeping thing. I’ve slept so much that I could make your average dormouse look like a beginner in a sleeping competition. Now I’m not saying I could sleep as much as Lashes who’s capacity for sleep never ceases to amaze me but me and my bed are certainly besties at the moment. Every time I say I’m going to do something Boofuls looks at me horrified and says, You can’t do that!” “Yes I can, I’m not a bloody invalid!” “yes you are, that’s exactly what you are.” “Oh shit, I suppose I am.”

Other hoteliers may have decided to close their doors for a few weeks and call it a mini holiday but since it is January which is notoriously quiet we decided to stay open. It’s not as though the diary had anything in it, from New Year to 26th January we had not a single booking.

What the hell happened then?!? Where the hell have all these people suddenly come from? We are almost full this weekend!

Lashes and Boofuls have picked up the reigns leaving me feeling guilty, useless and helpless because I physically can’t do anything and weepy because I feel surplus to requirements and if I try to help Im just in the way. I do like to pull my substantial weight.

Poor old Douggie the doggie thinks I’ve fallen out of love with him because we aren’t having our three walks a day. Boofuls and my wonderful friend, Fiz have taken care of that.

It would appear that I’m not indispensable after all.

Efforts to push myself to ‘crack on’ have ended up with me crying and in pain. I’ve had to learn the hard way that I just can’t do it.

Ok then. I surrender! I’ll rest, alright?

What? Wait!

Now I’ve stopped fighting it all I’m quite enjoying pottering about. Read a book, watch a film, have a little doze. No pressure. Potter about some more if I feel like it. Take Douggie the doggie out for a short, slow walk under close supervision from Boofuls who drives the car down to meet me so I don’t walk back up the hill. Fancy a lie in? Yeah, why not. Turn that alarm off and snuggle down.

All of that, along with being taken out for lunch, enjoying the sunshine on the beach while Boofuls throws stones into the water for Douggie. Coffee with my friends, being bought flowers and chocolates, invitations to drive me to places and events, and of course time to sit and write a blog post if I feel like it.

What have I been fighting it all for?

What’s all the fuss about?

I should be embracing this time off! God knows that as of the end of March there will be precious little time off till October.

It’s amazing what a change of attitude can do. Now that I know Lashes and Boofuls are more than capable of taking care of things I can relax, chill out and get on with the important task of getting back up to full strength. Then it’ll be a case of: Watch out world, I’m coming to get ya!