If Pigs could Fly, I’d learn to Dig
Although I knew it was inevitable, I faced the prospect of heading back to the office with all the enthusiasm of, well, someone going to work with a new lab puppy waiting at home. I made all the necessary arrangements, I cleared out the kitchen, and thanks to having two small two leggeds running around the house, there was not too much to worry about, we even had a baby gate on the door. I did spend about thirty minutes imitating a Tourette sufferer as I tried to weave cable ties through some plastic mesh on all the security gates and lamenting the curse of large fingers and small holes, before Abbey promptly ripped them off in about 3 seconds! Luckily, I am ashamed to say I did not think of it from the start, the kitchen has stable doors, so we just need to keep the bottom shut and Zulu should be safely ensconced in his refuge of fine smells and friendly voices for the day.
Zulu was still arguing the benefits of his accommodation as I tried to convey my strict set of instructions to our maid, Joyce, about not giving Zulu the time of day if he was squealing and letting him out every now and then, but only when he was calm. I have every confidence that she followed my every word religiously, at least till I was near the end of the driveway.
When I got home at lunch to save the little guy from starvation, Joyce had gone to walk Simon and Becca home. When they got back Joyce squared up to me and told me in no uncertain terms that she was taking Zulu with her to pick the kids up from then on, I know when not to argue with women!
For the rest of the week we worked on regaining the recall we lost at the family Christmas party and reinforce sit. We have given up on using Zulu’s standard pellets as treats because I do not think he is really motivated by them, so I brought out the big guns, the butcher down the road churns out some of the best dry worse bestowed on us mortal souls – made by a Scotsman no less, and I’m not saying that just because his name is Al Fraser (no relation). Zulu responds well and I get to snack on the treats too! I am pleased to report it seems to be working well and his recall and sit are exemplary (long may that last!).
Zulu is still picking at his food, but following Louise’s sage and subtle guidance I have started to feed him in his crate and that helps a lot. He now stays focused on the food and does not wander off halfway through his second mouthful to sink his little needle teeth into Baloo’s tender bits. Not only is our butcher a wiz at dry wors, by all indications he also whips up an irresistible glop consisting of what I can only assume are rat entrails and floor sweepings which, in desperation I now mix with Zulu’s food. Zulu wolfs it down with all the cunning and stealth required to take down a bowl of kibble!
Saturday was a big day for the little guy, first he took the kids to swimming (with Di and I in tow) and in all the pandemonium of kids swimming and flailing around in the water, Zulu found the muckiest puddle to lie down and relax in. Next, after a quick lunch of Royal Canin and raw rat offal we were off to the closest stables together with Jack (a 12 week old yellow show pup belonging to a friend). We successfully paid scant regard to Jemima Puddle Duck (more accurately a gaggle of three white Embden geese). Zulu sniffed around the chickens with a little more interest but with all the calm that his father (Paddington) does not.
We then got up close and personal with a horse and Zulu just sat on his bum in awe of the biggest dog he had ever seen. The horse came close to inhaling the little guy, but Zulu took it in his stride and all in all it was a non-event. On the way out we walked past a huge hog of a pig, Zulu was rather apprehensive about the pig and when the beast snorted over to us, he felt that discretion was the better part of valour and he hid behind me. I don’t think he was too put off, but if there is ever a half ton shaggy mountain of a pig as a blind in the future, I think he may blink it!
After a little nap (for me, I think Zulu also got some shut eye) he accompanied us to a friend’s (Abbey’s owner) pub wetting, while I can bristle with pride over Zulu’s impeccable behaviour, I cannot boast about my own – but the less said about that the better.
So a quick look back over the week, Zulu is:
- Reinforcing his recall and sit;
- Walking on a lead to school and back;
- Learning to be calm in the kitchen and in his crate at night;
- Still socialising with a lot of dogs, kids and adults behaving like kids;
- Walked around a farm yard; and
- We got in two adventure walks.
I should have realised when we first got to Louise’s house and saw Zulu and Dax/Dash covered in mud that we will not have a garden for some time to come, fortunately, Di and I are both more fond of Labs than Lilies and Lilacs and even the gardener suggested that we do not get any new plants for the pottage for a little while.
I have taken Louise’s advice and put off tethering him in the garden for a while, opting rather to enhance his ability to switch off by crating him at night and confining him to the kitchen when no one can look after him. I will keep you posted on the progress.
Contributed by Alan Fraser.