The Gallery: Animals

When I say our house is a bit of a zoo, people immediately assume I’m referring to our children’s behaviour.

They may have a point, but usually I’m talking about the number of pets we have. At the moment the number stands at 8; 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 rats, a hamster and a snake. Yes, they do require a fair bit of  feeding, exercise, cleaning out and playing with but as a rule the animals are much less trouble than the kids.

On Tuesday, we almost added another to that number. I was out walking the dogs in the local woods, when the New Dog put his head  into  the grass at the side of the path and pulled out this little fellow.

Thank goodness it was him and not our other dog, as when the duckling wriggled and peeped in alarm, he simply dropped it. Our older dog would have gone ‘Chomp’ and that would have been that.

I managed to grab the poor baby before either of the now excited dogs went in for a second attempt. The duckling didn’t seem to be broken at all, but it was shivering and calling for its mum, so I put the dogs on leads and we waited to see if  Mother duck would show up.

As a rule Mother Ducks do tend to come running if they are in earshot of one of their babies calling for them, but they are not the best mothers and it’s not unusual for them to leave a duckling or two behind as they take their family cross country between bodies of water. After about 10 minutes of frantic peeping from the duckling, it was obvious he had been left behind and was now my problem.

If you find a duckling out and about without its mother and just leave it, it is unlikely to survive. If you leave it where it is, it will probably get eaten by something, attacked by another mother duck or even drown if left in water. I couldn’t bring myself to abandon this one, so I did the only thing I could think of and popped it in my jacket pocket while I headed home. It immediately went quiet and I was able to get it home safely, where I popped it in a cat carrier and decided what to do with it.

I did think briefly about keeping it as I have some experience with domestic ducks, but we live in a London suburb, not a farm and the dogs and cats were far too interested. Plus it was a wild animal and needed to be with other ducklings. Ducks are social and very messy.

Google provided me with the number for St Tiggywinkles, and the lady I spoke to confirmed that we could bring it up to them any time of the night or day. The wildlife hospital was about an hour away, so I was going to have to drive up in the evening, once my husband got home to stay with the kids.

In the meantime, I gave the duckling something to eat ( a finely chopped mini scotch egg!), a little dish of water to dabble in and put him in the kitchen where the dogs couldn’t get him. The kids came home and were enamored. All of them cried when I said we couldn’t keep him and DD1 insisted on coming with me to drop him off.

St Tiggywinkles is in the middle of nowhere, but the people were lovely and told us that ‘Alex’, the duck, would stay with them in a group of similarly aged ducklings until they were adults. At that point the whole group would be released back into the wild. DD sobbed when we left him; she is 13 and very susceptible to any kind of cuteness.

We plan to go and ‘visit’ Alex over half term. Of course we won’t be able to tell which one he is, but  I’m sure it won’t stop us trying.

This post was written as part of the theme over at Sticky Fingers this week. If you want to check out photos of other animals, then head on over.


The New Dog

New Dog

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will recognise some of these photos. The photo above is of our New Dog.

We have a new dog because we lost our 4.5 year old Lurcher a couple of months ago. Her story is here and I still get upset when I think about it. Our other dog, still referred to on this blog as The Puppy, even though he’s now almost three, became very depressed without any doggy company. The Lurcher had been there for him when he came home with us at 9 weeks of age and he missed her.

She wasn’t a great role model for him. She made sure he knew she was the Boss and beat him up on occasion. But they would lie quietly together after a walk, race around the garden every morning and play bitey face when The Puppy fancied a game but the The Lurcher couldn’t be arsed getting off the sofa. Sadly, he didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to her, and it kills me to think that on some level he is still waiting for her to come back.

But anyhow, once she’d died we knew we needed to get The Puppy a new companion sooner than later. He didn’t want to walk, he didn’t want to play and he was off his food. I started taking him around to visit some rescue dogs, mainly bitches, as we’d always had a boy and a girl.  We didn’t really want a puppy as they are such hard work, but did look at a couple. Some dogs he ignored, some he played with for a bit, but we didn’t meet anything he really gelled with. Then one day I was making plans to go and see a few dogs fostered by Heathlands Animal Sanctuary when the lady I was speaking to said I should come and see her foster dog.

She had had him for three months; he was from the Irish Pounds and they had no history on him. He was cat and child friendly and she adored him and would have kept him herself if her circumstances had been different. He was on the way to one of the other dogs, so we agreed to stop and see him. The Puppy and The New Dog hit it off straight away and played together for over an hour. The Puppy obviously prefers boys! This makes sense as most of the dogs he has a really good play with on his walks are males.

Once we’d reserved the New Dog, we had to wait a few days before we collect him, but a month ago today he came home to us. That night he was very busy and didn’t lie down until 11pm. I wondered if I had done the wrong thing!

He’s very different from The Lurcher. He comes back when you call him, for one thing. He’s very busy and is always up for a game or a walk. We have started agility with him and our neighbour borrows him a few times a week to play with their young chocolate lab which tires both of them out a bit. We’ve had no toilet training accidents and he goes into his crate at 10-11pm and comes back out at 7-8am, so that’s perfect for us.

The Puppy is much happier with another dog around. He’s more relaxed and they both go off bounding into the woods together on our walks. They don’t play 24/7 but there is more interaction between them than there was between The Puppy and The Lurcher. In fact The Puppy seems to be much calmer in and out of the house with The New Dog around.

The New Dog has got a big bark on him, and the neighbours have ‘commented’ that they have heard barking, but that has settled down a lot. Now the kids are back at school, we can get into a better routine, which I think will settle him even more. And he’s becoming a lot more affectionate with us; the last couple of nights he’s come over for a snuggle before putting himself to bed.

We have no idea what breed he is, but there is a Doggy DNA test being done to find out. My bet is on a Beagle cross- maybe with a Collie or German Shepherd. Other people have said they think he might be part Husky but we’ll have to wait and see. Have a guess if you want to. He’s Labrador sized with a similar type of coat, has hound like bark and likes to put his nose down, if that helps any.

The New Dog has fit in very well with our family and we are glad we adopted him. No matter what his breed is, he’s been a good choice for us and we hope he’s happy with us as his family too.

Holding paws

RIP The Lurcher

Willow in Autumn

About a month ago, I wrote this post, about the Lurcher being hit by a car.

She went on to have surgery on her kneecap, which seemed to go well, as she was weight bearing on the leg two weeks after her surgery. Then her sutures came out and she was allowed to go for up to 4 x 10 minute walks a day.

The first day she seemed fine, but things didn’t look quite right by the morning of the second day. And by the third day after her stitches came out, she was not walking on her poorly leg at all. I took her up  to see the surgeon who had operated on her and he confirmed she would need more surgery. But it was her tendon that was a problem now, and he felt that a special implant from the States gave her the best chance of recovery.

We did discuss the possibility of amputation as this would mean a much quicker recovery time, but the Lurcher wasn’t yet five and very accident prone. We felt that if her leg could be saved, it should.

So we waited for the surgeon to find one of these implants, then for it to be allowed into the country ( this took almost a week), then yesterday we drove her up to the veterinary clinic and left her there. She was upset at being left, so I didn’t make a big deal of saying good bye, as I was sure I would be driving west to pick her up today.

But it wasn’t to be. Last night, when the Surgeon rang to say the operation had gone well, and she was recovering nicely, I managed to relax for the first time all day.

Then 10 minutes late her was back on the phone with bad news. Our beloved Lurcher had collapsed and died shortly after he had got off the phone to me. They had tried to resuscitate her, but to no avail; something had gone terribly wrong.

We could opt for a Post Mortem but it would cost more money and not necessarily answer any questions. We’ve said to leave it but will get her cremated and have her ashes returned. It may be just ‘one of those things’ but we are all devastated by the loss of our lovely girl.

This is the last photo we have of her, taken yesterday before we headed off up the M40.

lurcher on the sofa

As you can see, the sofa will now have a lot more empty space on it.

Run free Willow. We hope the rainbow bridge has plenty of comfy beds and squirrels to chase.