Let’s go to the park

When the rain finally stops, the boy is at home and there’s no more jam to make for a while what could be better than a walk in the park….

They had a wonderful time, it was difficult to catch all the fun on camera…where did those dogs go?

But sometimes they stayed still long enough to captureWhen we got home they played with the Kongs…there was a bit of a disagreement and the evidence was plain to see, it’s no good looking innocent with your sister’s fur in your mouth Skye!

Time for a nap.


The Puppy Foundation Assessment

Skye is an official holder of the above certificate in the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Scheme. Frankly on her performance yesterday she’s lucky to have got it but she does know when to do as she’s told and can do all the required activities if she’s in the mood. Last night she added a new trick to her repetoire namely pulling her owner off a chair on to the floor by suddenly taking it into her head to lunge across the room at another dog who happened to have a squeaky toy that she wanted! My knees are still sore.She is learning to walk better on a lead, not because of her dog training or due to any of the methods and equipment commonly available (most of which we have tried with spectacular failure) but thanks to a super little book called “Help my dog pulls what can I do?” by Turid Rugaas and the excellent Haqihana harness.  I bought both harness and book for Tilly as she is convinced we are competing in the Iditarod and I find it difficult to hold her. Having struggled to get Skye to walk sensibly since she had kennel cough and had to stay in for two weeks I thought I’d try the harness on her too. She loved it and walked so much better that the walk was actually enjoyable rather than the endurance test it’s been lately.  Tilly is doing well with the harness too, except when we see the park when all restraint flies out of the window and she turns into a crazy dog again until she is through the gates then she’s fine. I may well be sending for a second harness if they both get to a point when I can walk them together.

On the jam making front I made some apple and bramble jelly this morning, I don’t think I added enough water when simmering the fruit so there wasn’t much juice. I got 3 jars of jelly though and it smells wonderful. I recieved a message from a friend this afternoon asking if I could use some damsons and was given a bag with almost 9lbs of damsons in it this evening. A third of them are in the jelly bag now to make Damson Jelly tomorrow, the remaining 6lb are bagged up ready to give to a couple of other jam making friends because I’m running out of jars. I think jam making is quite addictive!

Jammy, jammy, jammy.

I need to stay in today to wait for a parcel so I’m jam making again. Yesterday I stopped at a table by the roadside with damsons for sale £1 a bag each bag containing roughly 2lbs of beautiful damsons. When we went to the park I picked more brambles and some elderberries and at knitting I was given some lovely apples so today I have made 12 jars of damson jam, simmered the apples and brambles and they are dripping through the jelly bag so I will be able to make Apple and Bramble Jelly later on and frozen the elderberries in the hope that I will find more to make Elderberry jelly with soon. the kitchen smells lovely, a very autumnal cosy smell of fruit and sugar. The new jam jars are so pretty with their red and white polka dot lids and matching labels and the jelly bag and stand are perfect despite the fact that the stand is just slightly too narrow for the deep bowl to go underneath so I’m having to use a pan instead.  Just noticed that the label on the jar to the left of the photo is decidedly squint and the one to the right isn’t much better! Oh well, a squint label is better than no label at all.

Busy days, quiet nights

It’s been a lovely day, after an early morning walk with Skye I had breakfast and made a new batch of scones. My aunt came down from Dumfries to visit and we spent the day chatting, playing with the dogs and enjoying scones and jam. This evening she left to go and see my sister and we settled down to enjoy a quiet evening at home. It’s wet and chilly outside but here in the sitting room it is warm and comfortable,  Grieg is playing on the stereo, I have a good book to read, Sea Change by Mairi Hedderwick, author of the Katie Morag books, (http://www.booksfromscotland.com/Authors/Mairi-Hedderwick), some knitting to do and I can hear my son pottering in the garage fixing his motorbike. The dogs are content, Nino lying on his chair looking all of his 15 years, happy as a clam (are clams happy…and how do we know?) as he has just had his evening drink of goats milk. Skye is snuffling about at my feet in the hope that I will forget her and slip my feet out of my slippers which she will then run away with and over on the long sofa Tilly, the beautiful Polar Dog is sound asleep. She’s had a good day today, when we took Skye to the park earlier she stayed at home and didn’t howl or bark or try to scratch her way through the kitchen door. She relaxed and chewed the Kong stuffed with biscuits and peanut butter I’d left for her. When we returned she greeted us happily without the look of barely controlled terror in her eyes that has been lurking there each time she was left alone since we got her back. Progress is being made, slowly but surely.

Make jam while the sun shines…

Yesterday Skye and I went to the local park in the pouring rain, we were as usual the only ones out and about so she could run free and chase her frisbee and roll in puddles etc to her heart’s delight while I filled a container with ripe blackberries from the brambles growing round the side of the park. After about an hour I had a large sandwich box full of beautiful berries and we returned home to get warm and dry.

This morning I began making bramble (blackberry) and apple jelly only to remember that I have no jelly bag and having decided to order one last year had done nothing about it. So I made bramble and apple jam instead and while it cooled ordered a jelly bag and stand from the Jam Jar Shop. http://www.jamjarshop.com/ There will be more brambles in a few days as there were a lot of almost ripe ones so by the time my jelly bag arrives I will be ready to make some more.

Just as I washed the maslin pan and utensils a friend called to say she had been picking Victoria Plums and would I like some… to which of course I replied yes please! I need to buy some more jam sugar then I can make some plum and vanilla jam tomorrow. When she called to bring the plums we tested the bramble and apple jam on some freshly made scones …mmm.

It never rains…

but it pours and has been doing for days, or so it seems. Mediating between two female German Shepherds is an over-rated occupation and is not improved by not being able to spend as much time outside as usual. To add to the fun we discovered that the Polar Dog is now in season so can’t go out of the garden for a couple of weeks!

A trip to the pet store resulted in the buying of two new Kongs (one for each of the GSDs as we already have a smaller one for Nino), two new balls- the last two footballs having been destroyed by large jaws and teeth, some new treats for rewarding good behaviour, a soft muzzle to prevent bad behaviour by Skye, who likes to settle arguments with her teeth, and a Halti headcollar to try to train the Polar Dog not to walk as though competing in the Iditarod .

I also got a set of hurdles for agility training for Skye but they need to be put up in the garden when the rain stops and the grass dries out a bit.

This morning I took Skye to Lytham for a walk along the front, she loved being out in the rain and wind, barked at seagulls and the few other dogs who were out in the rain. We walked back through the village, good experience walking among people shopping, children on bikes, in prams etc. At one end of the village there is a coffee shop called The Source, http://www.sourcelytham.co.uk/ The cafe offers tea and coffee free of charge (donations are very welcome but not obligatory) has outside tables for dog walkers and other fresh air fiends and also offers a good big dog bowl of fresh water and a couple of dog biscuits for well behaved dogs! I had a lovely and very welcome hot cup of tea and Skye enjoyed the dog bowl of water and some little bone shaped biscuits. She got a lot of attention from passers by and was even given a dog chew by a lovely elderly lady who said she no longer has a dog but misses treating it and so buys dog chews to give to dogs she meets. Skye behaved very well each time someone approached her and (with a little help from the fact that her lead was being gripped fimly) sat to be spoken to and patted. When we had finished I gave my donation to a man just going into the cafe and asked him to put it in one of the VW Camper Van money boxes. I’m guessing by the surprised look on his face that he wasn’t a regular visitor but he was kind enough to oblige and we continued our walk. By the time we got back to the car we were both in need of the spare towel I keep in the car for such occasions but it was worth getting wet to enjoy the walk.


Return of the Polar Dog

Some of you may remember the Polar Dog, a large white German Shepherd that we began fostering in the summer of 2009, we had her for 16 months during which time her original owner said we could keep her than suddenly changed his mind and took her back. I was devastated and could not understand why he had done it, especially as he soon gave her to someone else as he couldn’t look after her …that being the original reason she came to us. This afternoon I got a six word text asking if I wanted her back for good. I’m not sure of the circumstances except that he has been told he can’t keep her in his flat and the options were me or the local dog shelter. With the proviso that I would only have her if it was forever, I agreed and within the hour he arrived. The Polar Dog walked in, wagged her tail, ran into the garden and didn’t look back. When he left she didn’t seem to notice and as I write she, Skye and Nino are asleep, Skye and Nino at either end of the sofa, the Polar Dog between them on the floor. Sorry the photo isn’t wonderful, it was difficult to get the dogs to stay still and my phone does not take very good photos.