Fellow dog owners will understand

Fair to say, it’s not been the best of starts to the year. Following on from our spate of fox attacks on the hens, the biggest shock of all was losing our gorgeous Golden Retriever ‘Libby.’ She was fine, loving her food, enjoying walks and having fun, just that that night, when she was asleep on her side, I noticed her breathing was a little shallow. Rang the vet the following morning and got her in, he did all the usual checks, listened to her heart – fine. Lungs – fine. Body – fine. Temperature was a little high so thought maybe an infection, and because she wasn’t spayed, wanted to rule out Pymetra so took a blood sample and we left. Couple of hours later, phone rang and yes her bloods had a high white cell count so took her back in at 2pm as he wanted to do an X ray before surgery, still going with Pymetra theory. At 2.45pm he rang and I knew that was way too soon. He’d opened her up and there was a massive tumour situated between her liver and spleen, something he had never seen before in all his 30 plus years. There was nothing he could do, the x ray also revealed fluid build up around the lungs, the kindest thing was to let her go, and that’s what we did. At 7 years old, we lost the most beautiful girl – the kindest, sweetest, loyal soul that was Libby. We loved her to bits and have been in bits with her sudden passing, but what a privilege it was to be able to share such unconditional love and she knew we loved her just as much as she loved us.

Who’d have thought we’d lose Libby before dear old Tess at 14 and a half. It certainly knocked her for six too which resulted in a bacterial infection brought on by stress – for those that think animals don’t feel – they’re wrong.

I’ve always had Golden Retrievers, even bred 2 generations and all my girls bar the last two lived well into their teens but reading the statistics on the breed now, they reveal that 60% of them will develop cancer – twice the average for other breeds – how on earth has that been allowed to happen – that’s dreadful.

I know on both the occasions I chose to breed, my girls had their eyes tested and their hips scored and if at any stage they didn’t pass, I wouldn’t have let them continue. As it was, they were good and with the help of a local breeder, I then researched the stud dog, paying close attention to his offspring. Looking back, cancer wasn’t even thought about as it wasn’t an issue, but it obviously is now and just hope something is being done about it. Just like us humans, the cancer gene must run in canine famililes too and if it is known to be in either the bitch or sire, then those animals should not be breeding.

I know Libby didn’t suffer, she was playing right up to the day she died, but she shouldn’t have died – she was too bl**dy young. I really don’t know if I’ll have another Golden, if I do, I’ll be wanting to know alot more than eyes and hips, that’s for sure.

January – how did that happen

Hard to comprehend the recent events in Paris, my thoughts and prayers certainly with them and humanity as a whole and judging by the scenes of all those people at the march yesterday, humanity definitely won.

I’m not sure how it happened, but we’re nearly at the mid way point of January and as yet, I don’t feel I’ve got going! All the Christmas ‘friends’ were put away on time (other than the odd one that you seem to find a good 2 weeks later), the weather hasn’t been that bad and the phone is still ringing for work which is always comforting. It might have something to do with the start of the year when it was greeted in by Libby our Retriever being struck down with a rather nasty bug and for the first time in years, I ended up spending the night on the settee with her – glad to report she is now back to normal and an order has been put in for a new settee!

It’s that time of year to keep extra vigilent if you’ve got hens as foxes are pairing up now, and already our neighbour has lost all but one of hers. Out of the 6 killed, only 2 bodies were taken which makes me think she was visited by a pair and they carried away one each. I struggle with foxes, if they’re hungry then I can understand the killing and eating of one bird, but but they don’t stop at that, they slaughter the others, almost for fun which I hate and having witnessed one in torch light circling a new born calf as she was suckling her Mum, I really do not like to see them anywhere near my stock.
I had a close encounter just before Christmas when I heard one of my hens in distress, heading down the garden and there she was running towards me with said fox right behind her and only 2 feet away from me, not sure who was more surprised.
Our snowdrops are just beginning to emerge and I’ve even seen the bud of a daffodil. We seem to have an even larger population of Goldfinches at the moment and glad to see the return of the Nuthatch.
We’ve had a bit of snow, I suspect we’ll get hit with it over the next few weeks – as long as they can deliver my settee, I’ll be happy!

We’ve got the white stuff

I’m sitting on top of the fire in what really has begun to feel like winter, thank goodness my ’emergency weekend milking’ for a local farm estate was conducted in slightly higher temperatures!

At the moment I’m busy preparing the cookery demonstration schedule for various events we’ll be at this year with www.wotscooking.co.uk we’re very lucky that we’ve found some super chefs and demonstrators to work with, and some of them are as mad as we are!

As I’m typing this, Libby the Retriever is having a ‘moment’ with her stuffed duck, Tess the Collie has retreated upstairs due to ‘popping’ logs and thought I’d let you see this of Gracie, taken last week at 6 months old.

I’ve put my cardigan back on

We’ve had an old friend over for the past few days which was lovely, mind you with all the wining, dining & chatting that was going on I’m bushed. Sitting in the lounge looking out at a very grey day wondering what has happened to the sunshine, and just when I’d begun to develop a bit of a rosy glow. Can’t believe the rate at which the chicks are growing, to watch them is quite addictive, copying everything their Mum does including scratching the ground which makes me smile everytime. Other one is when their Cochin Mum shakes like a wet dog and each of the 4 is then blown in every direction leaving them a good foot away having to run as fast as they can back to her. Tess’s mouth is recovering well from the stick incident and of all the times to have friends over, what with her and her leaky front and Libby the Retriever in season with a leaky other end, oh the joys of keeping animals. Looks like I’ll be heading to Countrytastic again this year to help out a pal with the lambs with a promise to Glyn that I won’t be bringing any home with me – what he didn’t know was I had my fingers crossed behind my back.

Found myself looking at thermal vests today

Not sure if our annual tin of well known wrapped chocs will make Christmas, not if it keeps as cold as it is. This is more like January having to break the ice off the water troughs, it’s certainly shaping up to be a very long winter! Popped into Hereford this morning for a meeting and then had a mosey round the shops, alongside the rest of the county by all accounts, it was heaving. Couple of pressies ticked off and for some reason, I noticed thermal vests for the first time. Leominster on the way home to get provisions and I’m sure everybody had followed me there too. Sad to hear that we’ve lost Leslie Nielsen, lovely chap. I had the privilege of interviewing him when he came to Malvern a few years back, and ‘Airplane’ is one of my favourite films. Staying with things that make you laugh, I’m loving the advert with the muddy Golden Retriever on the bed and Anton and Ann had me in stitches at the weekend with their tribute to Titanic, it was Anton on the floor shouting that did it for me. I just hope my bosom doesn’t sink that low as I get older.