We have been enjoying the Kate Humble and Steve Leonard ‘The Wonder of Dogs’ programme on BBC2 Thursday nights which explores all the amazing things that a lot of us don’t know about our best friends.
Sadly it is now finished but it covered the science of breeding, intelligence, breed traits, how humans have ‘used’ dogs in history as well as how we have welcomed them into our homes.
It is done in hand with an open university course so it is scientific in it’s approach but it is executed with a huge sense of fun. If you have the slightest interest in dogs or our relationship with them, you will find it fascinating and it can’t do dog reputation any harm after some of the horrendous and tragic articles in the news about dogs lately.
We have taken quite a lot of stick from friends and family about the parentage of our JRT Max who was supposed to be 10″ long (the last coat we bout him was 20″ long). He displays traits that you’d find in other breeds and not JRTs (he points – sort of ha ha). He isn’t mad and yappy like a lot of terriers and he isn’t very terrier like in many other ways.
Fox Hound, Dalmation, labrador, beagle are to name but a few of the breeds that people have wondered what he really might be. Pretty much anything other than a Jack Russell!!
We did everything right when we got him, we met the parents, went to the home where he was born and all of the things that the sellers told us about the others that they had from the same parents was pretty true.
He is a great family dog, he loves kids and he does look like his mum and his dad.
Clearly there is something else going on somewhere though and the breed traits and DNA tests that were covered in the programme a couple of weeks ago got us thinking.
So JC sent for a home doggy DNA kit (is there ANYTHING that Amazon don’t sell?) and the results were emailed through to us this week.
So!! To all those doubters…….
He is in fact very much a Jack Russell Terrier but he also has a bit of Fox Terrier in him from grandparents and from his great grandparents there is…………………..
We had a wonderful weekend away with friends last weekend. Their luscious long legged lady, Agnes came with them.
She and Max officially love each other to bits.
It is very sweet to watch them and they never seem to tire of the endless entertainment that is to be had from play.
They conk out every now and again but the spells of rest are short lived and they are off with their playfulness once more.
The expressions are hilarious and even though there are teeth on show during the whole game, there are moment when they really look like they are having a bit of a kiss and a cuddle.
It is exhausting to watch but completely engrossing.
Their physical closeness and joy that they find in each other is very sweet. If they were human, you’d tell them to get a room! It is intimate and physically close and there is nothing but play and fun in that closeness. Highly recommended I’d say!!
It is also an exercise in outwitting your opponent and moving just that bit quicker than them.
Other times they look like they are just whispering the very best secret ever to one another.
There is nibbling, fake biting and getting as much of your opponents actual head into your mouth as possible
Tantalising and incredibly funny to watch.
There was a LOT of sleeping on Monday with no more playful distractions.
This recent hot weather is really tough on dogs and it is so sad to hear that there are still people leaving their dogs in cars to die or walking them on hot tarmac until their feet burn and blister.
Our old boy, Hamlet has always loved the sun and used to spend hours on the lawn lapping it up. (He may have been a lizard in a previous life).
He still enjoys it but he certainly gets hot and the heat that we have been getting have seen him struggling. He has a heart murmur too so we have to be quite vigilant and not let him get over hot. he has had odd little funny turns in the past which may be related to his ticker, heat and dehydration so we do as much as we can to try to prevent repeats of these.
In order to avoid the heat of the day I’m getting up at about 5.30 to walk them and JC has been hosing them down to cool them off when it is particularly bad. I’m not sure they actually like this ‘shower’ but it certainly makes them more comfortable as it evaporates out of their coats.
When faced with the prospect though, they don’t seem to appreciate the benefits and they have been known to hide. Max definitely does a runner when he sees the hoes or the tin bath.
They even hide after they have been drenched (although I’m not sure what they think that will achieve). Bless!
Ice cubes in their drinking water have helped and getting them to lick ice cubes instead of gulping lots of water is great for keeping them hydrated without the risk of them throwing it back up.
Max isn’t great at doing ice cubes and tolerates them in his water but Hamlet likes to have them thrown for him to catch and crunch.
He’s quite an enthusiastic little dog (read bonkers!!) whether it’s going out, chasing a ball or catching a treat so catching ice cubes brings a bit of a wild look in his old eye.
He would stand there waiting for them eternally I think.
As always, hugely entertaining and endlessly funny.
I’m not particularly keen on pigeons.
They are pests in the city and they are pests in the countryside.
They will roost almost anywhere, eat anything and make the most smelly, dirty mess. Yuck!!
I’m not alone in my disliking; my niece is unreasonably fearful of them and there are lots of people who invest a lot of hours in the pursuit of killing them.
Someone who illustrates his own disliking in a much more entertaining way is Max of course.
He diligently guards the bird feeders (when he’s not helping his greedy little self to anything that falls to the ground!!) and goes charging into the garden to skidaddle them whenever his vigilance has faltered and they’ve had the temerity to return!
His pursuit of them doesn’t stop there though, there is a barn on a walk that we do over the weekends that has doves in it and he clearly doesn’t distinguish, they’re all the same as far as he is concerned.
The noise he makes is deafening and reverberates around the barn. Bales don’t get in his way, machinery is no deterrent and once he is on his mission, he is difficult to drag away.
Needless to say, the pigeons (or doves for that matter) don’t hang around for long with that kind of din but the sight of a raging terrier stotting about on the ground below them must be more amusing than truly terrifying.
Hamlet has been with us for about 6 months now and he seems settled, always delighted to see us and he is eating really well.
His appetite has, historically been a barometer for the state of his emotional health (read bonkers!). If he is off his food, he’s not a happy little dog and it signals a decline into a state of madness.
This madness manifests itself in serious grumpiness, cowering, loss of appetite, endless licking (like anything!!), lots of sleeping and lots of barking. I truly believe he shows all the signs of severe misery!!
Hamlet is prone to being grumpy and a grumbler at the best of times but the level increases tenfold if he is fed up. Even when he is happy, he is prone to obsessive behaviour and a ball or toy is guaranteed to bring that out in him. I don’t think some of these things will ever change.
Old age is also starting to present itself and he is slowly losing his sight. There is milkiness to be seen in his eyes now and I think he gets startled and scared easily because he can’t see properly.
He has responded positively to our routine though and I think our relatively quiet and peaceful house suits him very well.
He’s a little treasure and we love having him with us
When he is happy, he is a complete joy; he can’t wait for his mealtimes and will take your fingers off for a crumb given the chance, he stands expectantly at the door for his walks, he strides out and is even happy to see other dogs (that almost never used to happen!!!).
We put him on a raw diet the same as Max’s for ease and it seems to suit him, he looks fit and happy, he is slim and full of beans (between monumentally noisy sleeps!!).
He is still fundamentally the same weird little dog he has always been and I’m not surprised my sister misses him as much as she does.
I have blogged about my sister’s terrier Hamlet before. He’s been around for ever. We think he is about 12 or 13 but no one is quite sure.
His eyes have recently become a bit milky and we think it has affected his sight but he is fit and generally very well. He is, however, very, very grumpy.
His grumpiness has got him into trouble in the past but it is kinda how he is and that is it. To be fair to him, he is only grumpy with other dogs, he clearly loves people and he especially loves men. His diminishing sight and overall grumpiness hasn’t been an issue really until recently when Fizz came to join his household.
She’s young and has boundless energy, I think she jumps into view and scares the bejesus out of the old fella. She gets told off A LOT. Add that to the fact that Heston, who also joined this previously ‘one dog’ household is as tenacious in his attempts to annoy Hamlet as Fizz is in her attempts to annoy Heston and the end result is that no one in the household, especially Hamlet, was happy anymore.
We took him for a few weeks at the end of the summer to give everyone a holiday from each other and hoped that when he went home, order would be restored, Fizz would have settled down and the grumpiness would have subsided slightly. Unfortunately for all concerned, it was even worse.
After struggling for a couple more weeks, my sis & Kit made the very difficult decision that perhaps Hamlet really needed some peace and quite and that a new home might be the ticket for the Old Boy.
He is undoubtedly grumpy and he has nuclear rancid breath that could render you speechless from 20 paces but JC & I didn’t hesitate to offer him a home and told my sis that he could come to spend his dotage with us and Max. He wasn’t to go elsewhere under any circumstances.
Max, our 4 year old JRT, winds him up sometimes and isn’t always pleased about sharing us but we 4 all to rub along fine and have settled into a new slightly different routine but it seems to suit.
There is still enough space for a cuddle on the sofa.
There is still enough space on the back seat of the car.
And there is still enough food to go around.
We have spare leads, spare beds, spare bowls and many more things that have made the transition an easy one. Also, we know Hamlet, he used to come and stay with us for his holidays before we had Max and he absolutely LOVES London.
We are all happy with the set up and I am sure that Hamlet and Max are happy, fit and well in this new arrangement.
My sis called around over Christmas and it was the first time Hamlet had seen her and Kit in a few weeks. He was clearly DELIGHTED to see them and stood at the gate for a while after they had left which gave me a few moments cause for concern.
We subsequently went for a walk with them and a full quota of dogs and everyone had a great time. Hamlet is still spritely even though he grumbled a few times it was evident that he was enjoying himself. I did think he is probably missing his original pack and you have to ask yourself if you have done the right thing for the old fella.
It was very clear at the end of the walk where he wanted to be and who he was going home with! He practically made a run for it!
He’s on our sofa dribbling and snoring quite loudly as I write!!
It has been an incredibly busy run up to Christmas and I have finally been able to take a breath.
Amongst the hard work and long hours in the months leading up to the Christmas break, we were able to get out and about on odd days to enjoy ourselves.
We spent a particularly lovely day out and about in the North Norfolk Countryside and it was sunny; gloriously sunny and not a raindrop in site!!
Apart from the loveliness of the North Norfolk countryside, getting such lovely watery sunshine when the rest of the country was struggling in pouring rain, was quite remarkable.
The surroundings were completely stunning and made all the more delightful by a blanket of cobwebs on the stubble that gave the fields a strange shimmer. The photos don’t do it justice but there was a gentle breeze that kept the cobwebs moving in a gentle wave while the sun glinted off it.
The day out was a partridge shoot but as always, we were able to enjoy the company, the views, the weather and the work of the dogs as much as the skill of the guns.
I love watching the dogs at work. Whether they are flushing out birds or picking up, the joy that they show in their pursuit is clear to see and they don’t stop until the day is firmly done when they can go home for a well earned rest and a good feed.
Their enthusiasm is infectious and although they work endlessly hard whatever the weather or ground conditions, it is never more evident that they have fun than when the sun is shining.
The dog’s hard work is rewarded by their handlers who love them very much. They invest huge amounts of time and patience in their dogs.
The dogs have good, happy and full lives which is such a lovely thing to see especially when you know there can be such cruelty handed out to these loyal and loving creatures.
We finished the day with a cup of tea and a slice of cake along with some happy chatter.
Everyone and all the dogs thoroughly enjoyed a superb day out and it really fuels the sole just when you need it.