Gotcha #4

Well that sneaked up on us, today is four years to the day of when Tilley first puked in our car … erm … what I mean is, that today is her fourth gotcha day!

Insert lots of soppy stories about how she is the best dog in the world and none other gets anywhere close. And tons of funny stories about how she makes us laugh. And how she shows us how she is the smartest cookie in the dog biscuit jar every day. Well that will just bore you to bits and anyway you know that this is true, if you have ever met The Diva 🙂

So here is a wee handful of pictures of her life with us over the last year.

Ain’t life with a dog brill?

Review of the Ruffwear Webmaster Harness

ruffwear webmaster harnessWe tried more than half a dozen harnesses, anti-pull systems and leads. Most lasted about a few walks before Tilley managed to pull against them or find a way out of them. Yes, she was bonkers and keen on pulling for the first year or so!

The Ruffwear Webmaster Harness is the only one she hasn’t done a Houdini on. Along with the Gencon headcollar the Ruffwear harness is the only thing that she “accepts” and doesn’t pull so much on. [As an aside, this is the dog that will happily lay outside our tent with a 30 metre line on and have birds land about 2 metres away and just look at them. Whereas when she is on a short lead on she will pull like a steam train toward a bird/dog/cat 200 metres away. Go figure!]

The Ruffwear harness is very well made, solid with durable stitches. We have used it constantly for three years, at least twice a day, in all weathers. She has been swimming in the sea and lakes and rolling in her “mud baths”. When it started to smell a bit we gave it a good hand wash. We hear some people even stick them in the washing machine.

ruffwear webmaster harness on beachThe Ruffwear harness holds well onto Tilley when we need to lift her over a stile or into the van. Without any moaning from her when she is “dangling” in the harness, it gives her good support. When she wear the harness I don’t fear that she will slip out and do a runner, all I have to worry about is to remember to hold onto the lead.

We also like it as other harnesses clearly hurt her legs (she had surgery when 6 months old for elbow dysplasia so we are very careful of her legs) when she pulled against it and cause her to limp. The Ruffwear Webmaster Harness hasn’t hurt her or elbows if she does a runner and she has forgotten she’s attached to me.

We might get the Brush Guard to give her more support when we lift her over obstacles. Even though with the amount of fur that Tilley has and her love of running into mud and undergrowth, I don’t think we would get much protection from it.

We managed to attach a little cheap bag to the side of the harness so that she could carry her poop bags and poop. This got a lot of comments – ooh, that is cute, she can carry her own treats – though when I tell them what we really use it for the cuteness disappears… 🙂

The only thing that got damaged on it that we had to fix was one of the belly straps that got chewed by one of our foster dogs (hello Jordan!). This we easily fixed at a local tent, boot and backpack mender since our sewing machine wasn’t strong enough.

We got a new one because the aluminium V-ring leash attachment started to wear through the strap it was attached too. Still good going after three years of Tilley wear.

I would highly recommend anything from Ruffwear as it is solid, durable gear with quality stitching. And, hey, Tilley does look good in her smart red harness!

Three is the magic number

Today is Tilley’s gotcha day, three years with us.

It’s been so great to have her around. Her legs are good, yes now and again she jars it and have a day or two limping. But her tail is wagging high and happy to go walkies.

She even started to like driving, when we get going she lays down on my lap, though still keep an eye on my driving. She have now learnt the last roundabout before we get to Mum, she squeals/whines like no tomorrow as soon as we get to it.

She got a few friends she loves to go play with, funny that she is very good off lead when other dogs are around. Some morning we get to meet 5-7 other dogs and she get a good sniff and run.

Yes she is still a right old Diva and tries to boss us around and is sometimes hard work. But no matter what they said in that article where they said dogs don’t like hugs, she demands them, Pressing her head in, leaning hard against us and if we don’t do it right we get a pad with her paw.

She started on raw food and she is much better for it. She also get a bone from the butchers about every week and is utterly knackered after an hour chewing away.

Oooops I forgot, we visited Dogs Trust at Darlington and they remembered Tilley 🙂

Sit down here is a few snaps of her over the last year.

Gotcha day mark two

2015-08-31 19.56.49So Tilley has been with us for two years now and we have hardly noticed the time go by. She’s always been with us, hasn’t she?

As friends who have seen us with our mutt will attest, we love our little diva.

She’s got us sussed out and we do anything to her begging call, mainly belly rubs and treats.

All the rules we set on day one are of course strictly upheld. HA! Got you fooled, she is on the sofa, upstairs and on our bed. And the feeding from the table hasn’t gone that far that she has her own plate and seat, but she is working on it.

She been through the mill with us: operations, from which she has healed as well as she can. Sadly, she has arthritis in her hips and the elbows. Though there was no sign at all when we walked up to Stickle Tarn in the Lake District the other week. In and out of the rock pools, jumping from boulders to boulders like she’s done this all her life.


And then there were the many foster dogs. We finally learned that our little diva is a one-dog-in-the-house sort of a girl. Though she did help us fantastically well with the other dogs, they clearly were calmer and more settled with us and Tilley.

Walking on a loose lead happened a few months ago, after many harnesses and training tricks. Though she does tell me off when I don’t walk her before 8am!

Our new campervan she loves much more than the old van. She will happily sit up front and look at the world go by. We can barely put the camper bed down before she is up there spinning and digging around, making her own bed. Right in the middle and on top of both our sleeping bags.

A few weeks back we went camping with many of our friends and she was very content with the extra crowd – and belly rubs – just laid there on my lap or in campervan sleeping away.

2015-05-03--15.48.00-IMG_1043 She keeps us on our toes as she is very clever and learns things in the blink of an eye. So, new names for toys, friends and food she clicks on right away. Which means we have tried English, French and talking the first letter of words. Because any hint of “walkies” or “carrot” or “food”… you get the picture… she goes bonkers.

She might be smart but she still asks for belly rubs, food, walks etc in the same way so at times it is a guessing game – what do you want, Tilley?! And backwards she will walk while doing funny shaking, growling sounds with her mouth.

She will tell us when it is time for us to cook or sit down and relax on the sofa. She really loves to chill out while we cook, and when we relax on the sofa she loves to drape herself across me so she can have a good old sleep.

Oh, it is time for walkies, is it, Tilley? Right, OK.

Happy Gotcha Day, Tilley Diva!

2nd birthday walk

We celebrated Tilley’s second birthday, well the date we picked since we don’t know the real date, with a little walk to Wycoller. On the Ferndean way which makes a nice four mile loop. It is a bonus walk for us all :

– We get to see Tilley’s favourite person, Mum, so plenty of cuddles for her and cups of tea for us.
– She gets to run loose: there is a nice enclosed area, which is nicely away from busy roads and surrounded with fields.

We have also found a way to keep her from running around in her crate or back seat of the car and sounding like we are taking her to an abattoir. Let her sit on the front seat, so Vicky is now relegated to the back seat. There is the odd whine and whimper from her, else she is quiet as a mouse, while she studies my driving.

Otis the foster dog

otis from aireworth dogs in need**UPDATE**: The wee lad went to his forever home this afternoon, we know that he has found a great home. We will miss you and the house is quiet without you mucking about. [/end update]

We got this little fella yesterday evening to look after until he finds a new home. Tilley just thinks he is a toy, she is bonkers with him.

He had a big day yesterday – left his mum, went to vet and then to us, via some puking in the car.

He is a collie cross and is 4-months old and has now found our radiators and sofa.

He’s safe now. He’s had a harsh start in life. But he will now know love. He needs to settle and get used to a home environment. He has already started his vaccinations and has been chipped. He will be neutered when he’s old enough. We will host him for two weeks and then he is ready for a forever home.

If you are interested he will be rehomed in Keighley and the surrounding areas area, please contact Aireworth dogs in need Go on you know you want to!

Gallery from New Year:

Gallery from the first two nights:

This post is a bit crap

There is a dog shit in my gardenI grew up in the 70’s (yes I’m that old) and into the 80s and 90s there was a dog close at hand. Back then I, and other dog owners, never really spend much time picking up their deposits. The general rule was leave it where it fell, though if you were kind at heart and it was a hard deposit you would gently nudge it into the gutter.

In the 80’s there was a campaign started in Denmark where people would go around and put a little flags into the deposits they found on the pavements. It did the trick, somewhat, over the years more and more people started to pick up after their mutts. I can only guess that this turn of event also got the ball rolling over here and people started to pick up after their mutts.

Though this event didn’t spread to Paris, while I lived there I learned a brilliant skill. Keep one eye one the stunning architecture and the beautiful people and with the other you scan the path ahead, so that you can hot step past the many deposits that covers the French capitals streets. Who have never heard about the “PooperScooter” that zoomed about in Paris and picked up from lazy owners. It’s been a while since I was last in Paris, so I don’t know if it is better now.

In the last many years I haven’t always owned a dog but I have always been a dog lover. It saddens me to see that there is still a good amount of people who don’t pick up after their best friend. This is where the I have made good use of the skill I learned in Paris, though it is not one you really want to use.

Not picking up after your dog is right up there with RLJ – Red Light Jumpers, cyclist who makes the cyclist who DO stop for red – look bad. I hate to think what other people think about me when I out walking Tilley and we happen to walk past someone else’s deposit, that she didn’t create and I didn’t pick up.

I’m not sure what I find the saddest: A deposit left laying on the pavement or in the grass in the park etc. Vs. the left plastic bag with a deposit in hanging from a tree on a nature walk, next to the entrance to a park etc. I think it is the latter, since the owner has done something, but couldn’t be bothered to do the rest, but went out of their way to tuck it into a drystone wall. Please take it home or to the nearest bin.

Yes, you could have forgotten a bag or not seen the deposit being produced. But there isn’t really an excuse for not having one – 300 Tesco Everyday Value Nappy Bags for £0.35 – yes that is 35 pence for three hundred bags! Even if you have to double bag, it is still much cheaper than a normal doggy poo bags, thanks for the heads up Varity.

big scoop dogs trustSo please folk pick up from your K-9, we all only want the best for our little fury friends.

I wrote this many moons ago and was planing to take some pictures of the worst offenders, but never really got stated. But today is a good time to post it even with the lack of photos, because :

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has teamed up again with Keep Britain Tidy for The Big Scoop on June 13th 2014.

Update on Tilley’s elbow dysplasia

Shaven TilleyWe’ve been very busy keeping Tilley quiet since her operation so we haven’t had the time to do much blogging. We’re just glad that we don’t do the Christmas thing, because she needed constant attention to keep her quiet over the festive period. Here are extracts from The Tilley Diary which will give you a snapshot of what we’ve been up to since she had operations on both her front legs for elbow dysplasia.

The Tilley Diary: 19 December, 2013

Our Tilley had her elbow operations yesterday and all went well. She is now home and curled up in front of the fire covered in fleecy blankets as all the fur on her chest and front legs was shaved off. She’s very dopey and wobbly on her legs (but still tries to run!) but was pleased to see us and even offered a tail wag and a show of her belly.

Tilley bonesThe surgeon was pleased with how the operation went and there was more cartilage in each of the coronoid processes than he’d expected. The picture to the left, is of the bits the bits he took out of her elbows in one leg.

So, fingers crossed we will be able to keep her quiet enough over the next few months for a solid recovery. Luckily she loves her crate so that will be very helpful during this time. And I’ve been stocking up on things to stuff and freeze (Zooplus sent an extra free bag of chews, which is handy!), and reading up about new clicker training ideas. It’s going to be a struggle to keep her contained but we’ve tried to be well-prepared. Woolly just popped to Pets at Home to get a cone of shame (poor Tilley) as she’s chewing at her surgical sites.

The shaved parts of her chest have shown up many more little scars (we’re not sure from what – other dogs? cats? rabbits?) than we’d previously known about, which must have happened in her early life before we adopted her from the Dogs Trust.

Phew. I’m so glad the first big event is over. It’s wonderful to have her home.

The Tilley Diary: 20 December, 2013

Tilley had a good night although she’s developed a bit of a cough which the surgeon thinks is a post-anaesthetic irritation – we’re to see our local vet if it doesn’t settle down over the weekend. She was extremely cuddly when I checked on her a few times during the night, nestling her head into my arm and wriggling upside down for endless belly rubs. She is settling off and on in her crate with the odd outing for cuddles on her bed next to the crate or to sniff around the room or on-lead out in the back yard.

It is distressing when she won’t settle, though. If only we could tell them it was for their own good.

The Tilley Diary: 23 December, 2013

An update on our Tilley post-surgery. She’s doing pretty well – sleeping, eating, drinking, pottying and all the other vital stuff! She wobbles and hobbles about gingerly, and is extremely cuddly at the moment. I’ve put a few pots of herbs along the edge of the yard so she has something to sniff at on her potty outings!

We’ve never known her to be so in need of affection, strokes, belly rubs and tickles. Even when we’re in the process of stroking her she gently paws us and looks up at us, in what we call her “penguin pose”, for more rubs and cuddles.

Antler chews and frozen cow hooves stuffed with wet food have been a “dogsend” in keeping her entertained in her crate during any excitable moments. And the clicker training is also working wonders at getting her to accept being in her crate at unusual times.

Tilley in her crate with pinguShe is on Tramadol so this helps in keeping her calm. We have moved her crate into the living room and she seems to prefer lying on the memory foam mattress in there to her usual bed. She really loves her crate at the moment and will curl up in there with the door open – unheard of!

She licks at her stitches so we put a kiddies jumper on her from the charity shop as she looked so miserable in the “cone of shame”. We also got a Hotterdog jumper but can’t get it over her front legs.

Here she is with her new favourite toy, Pingu, and with her favourite cuddler.

The Tilley Diary: 28 December, 2013

Tilley cuddlesWe were doing really well at keeping Tilley quiet but these past couple of days she’s been very restless, pacing around when she’s out of her crate, doing the post-poo zoomies like I’ve never seen, and going bonkers when any food is produced. We have to keep her on the lead even when indoors to keep her under control. When she thinks she’s had enough time in her crate she tries to open the door – she’s almost worked out how! Her left foreleg is obviously giving her jip as she holds it up some of the time, though the local vet at her recent check-up said not to worry unless she was yelping in pain or not wanting to put weight on it.

We’re employing all our coping strategies! We’re here all the time and are doing sitting-still clicker games, the Overall relaxation protocol and other such training, plus she has potters out in the backyard to sniff about among the herbs, and the odd frozen stuffed kong or hoof to keep her busy. Phew. This is a challenge for us all.

The Tilley Diary: 2 January, 2014

Tilley posing on sofaOur adorable little mongrel had a check-up at the vet this morning. Everything looks fine with the surgery and she was really good while the vet took out her stitches, weighed her, checked her ears, gave her a manicure and referred her to physio and hydrotherapy.

Tilley is also happy to report that she has made significant progress in training her owners. She made a compelling case for being allowed on the sofas by settling beautifully each time she was invited up on them and her owners now seem unable to reverse the No Dog On Sofas rule.

Her cunning plan succeeded!

Editor’s note: I (Woolly) take no responsibility for this and have protested through the rightful channels. But my protest has been vetoed by the females in the house, so she is on my lap while watching telly this afternoon.

The Tilley Diary: 5 February, 2014

Tilley Black Dog HydroIt’s been a while since we wrote an update on Tilley as the truth is… she’s been keeping us VERY busy! She is doing pretty well. Keeping her quiet is the most incredible challenge. The poor pup just wants to run, and jump, and wiggle, and chase, and play… You get the picture. She saw the surgeon for a check-up a few weeks ago and he was happy with her progress. She can now do 2×20 minute walks per day, up from 2×10 minute. As you can imagine, when she does get out she is the happiest dog in the land.

She has started physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, which she adores. She was nervous about the water at first, but on the second attempt she was keen to get into the water and did about five laps! The place we go, Black Dog Hydrotherapy at Harrogate, is really excellent and the therapists spend a lot of time introducing the dogs to the water and making them completely comfortable.

The Tilley Diary: 12 February, 2014

Hurrah! Tilley has just been signed off by the surgeon after he reviewed her x-rays and we can start to build up her exercise. He’s very happy with how she’s doing and the bones are knitting together nicely. He even said we could start with letting her run free in a enclosed area; short runs at first. This we know she is definitely looking forward to, and we can’t wait to see her running rings around us (in not just a metaphorical way!). She’s been a little start at dealing with her ‘prison time’. Yes, she drove us made at times, but she developed a lot of patience in the end.

On a side note: all the car journeys we have done with Tilley to the vet, physio and hydrotherapist, have unfortunately not helped in changing her mind about the car. She absolutely detests it. We have tried two or three different drugs that should help with her car sickness and anxiety. Nothing has helped or stopped her whining, crying, drooling like the Niagara Falls and being sick almost every time she travels. We’ve had best results with not feeding her either food or medication for a good few hours before the trip, but she still whines with anxiety and nausea – we think the former has come from the latter. The return journey is always the best, since she is knackered from the ‘to’ journey and the vet/hydrotherapy visit, but still she is not happy and has to be lifted into the car as she won’t walk near it. It is distressing for all of us. We have a lot of desensitisation work on our hands if we’re to be able to drive her places happily!

The dark days of keeping her (and ourselves) cooped up will soon be behind us… roll on spring. We have lots of lovely moors and dales to show you, Tilley!

Sticks and stones: Tilley’s elbow dysplasia

tilley over skiptonA couple of months ago, we noticed that Tilley was limping badly especially after a long walk or a long sleep. She would struggle to get up from her bed and then wobble quite noticeably for a while. She would also throw her elbow out on her right front leg while walking.

We went to the local vet where we got the bad news that x-rays showed that Tilley has elbow dysplasia, with the right leg being the worst affected. We had her booked in for an arthroscopy on the right elbow followed by the surgery the vet thought would have the best effect.

The vet told us that her particular problem is a short radius, coupled with an elliptical shape to the ulna. Osteoarthritis is showing already in both elbow joints. Depending on the severity of the condition shown by the arthroscopy, the vet will either just clean out the joint, or cut a chunk out of the ulna, or cut the ulna and plate it. The joints have recently started clicking loudly when she walks, so we are calling her Clicky now.

This problem is genetic and it has not helped that she clearly had been left to run around too much while a puppy. We don’t know how much, since she was found dumped by the side of the road at roughly six months old.

Well, that was the situation until we did a bit of further research and found another surgeon who has the highest qualifications in the area of dog orthopaedics and is a RCVS recognised specialist – you do just want the best for your dog. Today Tilley had a CT at the new specialist, as that gives a better image and idea of what is going on in her joints, compared to the x-ray.

Tilley in sheep pooThis meant an hour long trip in car, for which she thanked us in her own special way. Having woken her up two hours before her normal morning call, she managed to sneak in a bit of cat poo during her walk. So much for ‘nil by mouth’ before CT scan. In the car she was whining, dribbling and pacing in her crate, poor thing. Then with a loud burp, she regurgitated her ‘breakfast’ – yes, if dog sick wasn’t disgusting enough, our delightful pooch had sicked up cat poo. But she still had a surprise up her sleeve. In true K9 style, she immediately lapped up her deposit. Yummy. The recycling would probably have continued ad infinitum if we’d not stopped to clear things up.

The vet specialist spent a good half hour talking us, observing Tilley walking and checking her joints. He manipulated her joints in the most comfortable position for her – lying on the ground with her belly in the air. She clearly wasn’t happy with him bending her elbows and licked his face – her usual gentle response to discomfort. This is another reason we like Tilley so much: she would never bite. She knows and respects the difference between skin and toys when we play. She was taken off to be sedated before her CT scan. We were pleased to hear that this procedure could be done without a general anaesthetic.

We returned to pick Tilley up a few hours later and heard the news that the situation is worse than the initial x-rays had shown. There are bone fragments in her joints as well as joint incongruency. The vet had an emergency and was in theatre, so we got the info from the head nurse – who also doubles as his wife – who told us the he will sit down tonight and really study the images from the scan to find out the best options for Tilley.

We are very thankful, firstly that we’re in a position to help her as much as we can, and secondly that we took out decent Lifetime cover PetPlan insurance as the vet’s bill is likely to be in excess of £3000. We’re covered up to £4000 with PetPlan.

The vet called this morning to discuss his findings. In summary, Tilley has very dodgy elbows, with each displaying similar symptoms: bone fragments, ill-fitting joints – not a straightforward case of short radius syndrome – and arthritis. She will have an arthroscopy next week on both elbows to remove fragments, review the wear patterns in the cartilage and remove bits of bone which are hindering joint function. While the aim is to slow down the progression of joint degeneration, it is not a cure and not all dogs are less lame after the op. But, 80-85% show some improvement.

We’d welcome any advice from anyone who has been through a similar experience with their dog, especially to do with suitable jointcare foods, complementary therapies, exercise, supplements, and how to keep a livewire puppy quiet while healing.