33 Months: Long Time Coming

July 8, 2011
Darwin with a big stick

If you only knew how difficult it is to run with this!

Darwin is doing extremely well and enjoying life in the country. It’s been a while since I updated this blog as we’ve been extremely busy with other things. Our lending and borrowing business Ecomodo.com has been getting more press and we’re determined to get more people to think about their purchases before parting with their money and consider whether they could borrow instead. We also launched a business for dog owners – Barker and Wags – that provides services and products to help dogs with mobility problems (like Darwin who suffers from hip dysplasia). These take time to set up and market and you find you can always be doing something more to make them better.

Anyway, Darwin is the star of this blog. She’s still a pie-eater (whenever the chance arises). We take her on a couple of walks a day and the exercise is good for all of us. She’s become a lap dog – because we let her…she now spends most evenings on the sofa with us watching TV and snoring – generally during programmes we’re interested in. Training is sporadic now. I sense she knows what she should and shouldn’t do, but will generally push the limits for attention and if there is food involved in any way.

We’ve just launched a Go-Walking tool onΒ Barker and Wags that allows anyone to plot their favourite walks on a digital map and publish a description and photographs about the walk so that everyone can see where to go. We thought it would be nice to have a dedicated site where you could find recommended dog walks anywhere in the UK. It does need people to add their walks – so if you read this blog – please upload a walk or two. Darwin would be very happy to meet anyone on our walks!


22 Months: It was all going so well…

August 18, 2010

Just when I thought Darwin was the perfectly trained hound, she steals a pie.

Don’t be fooled by the long blond hair and the cute face, inside there is a pie-eating monster lurking to find it’s way out!
One of the problems with owning a very cute looking dog (not just our opinion), is that everyone who is mildly interested in dogs wants to meet her. Now normally she’s lovely and will sit still for small people or be a bit more playful if anyone has a stick or ball to hand. Then there’s the picnicker who wants to say hello and invites her over.

I tried to warn them this wasn’t the safest course of action if they wanted to continue to enjoy their food, but alas I was too late. After a few strokes, Darwin sensed an opening and pushed past the well-to-do greeters and laid eyes on a pie. A quick shimmy past Mum acting as goalkeeper and her gnashers were firmly around a still warm steak and kidney feast. I was dumb-struck for several seconds then found my voice and roared at her. It took several more seconds to recover the pie (uneaten, but with significant teeth marks) as Darwin weighed up the severity of the situation.

I apologised profusely and offered to replace the pie, but the family thought the episode most amusing and wouldn’t hear of it. It could have been a whole lot worse. It reminded me we have a whole lot more training to do, but in hindsight it really was quite funny!

For more information about owning a dog, please visit My Golden Retriever.

21 Months: Darwin’s been enjoying the weather

July 20, 2010
Darwin cooling off in the lake

Darwin enjoys a cool swim on a hot summer's day

We’ve been swimming in Hatchet Pond nearly everyday this month. The weather’s been great and Darwin enjoys cooling down. She’s not the greatest of swimmers and when I suggest any other stroke, like a bit of front crawl, she looks at me as if I’m barking mad.

The good dog collar that proved so effective in keeping Darwin away from unsuspecting picnickers has been drowned in the lake once too often and is refusing to work, so we’re hopeful that Darwin has grown out of her stealing food capers. She’s much better at coming back from other dogs now and apart from the occasional rabbit that needs to be chased she really is quite attentive. Her back legs seem a little stronger and I’ve taken her on a couple of very slow jogs, which she copes with much better than I do.

20 Months: Darwin doesn’t care about the football

June 22, 2010

Darwin thinks its a bone


Darwin’s been bright and bouncy this month. Our clever collar that we can beep her with if she’s doing something wrong seems to be ineffective when there’s a rabbit or deer in her sights. She even went into someone else’s house and stole a pair of socks (I later found out that she was goaded into this).

Anyway, the weather has been superb (unlike the football) and we have been out on many walks enjoying the greenery. I’ve needed to pop back into London a few times and am staggered at how unfriendly the place is…long live life in the country!

19 months: older but not wiser…

May 27, 2010

Darwin’s been having a great time with lots of swimming in the lake and long walks in the beautiful weather. She has many regular friends that she meets on the heath including Arthur and Gwen (chocolate and golden labs), Domino (a dalmation) and Bramble and Tammy (both spaniels). It’s terrible, but I know the names of the dogs, but don’t know their owners by name…

We spend a couple of hours a day walking, which means that I’m not getting onto all the work that was planned. Ecomodo is taking time to establish itself. Darwin’s been helpful grabbing things from the printer and off the desk when we’re not looking. I’m not sure she realises that this is the business that’s going to keep her in bones (if we’re lucky).

18 Months: Adolescent, but fun

April 27, 2010

Darwin’s well and having fun. It’s been a while since we’ve updated this site as we’ve been busy launching a business Ecomodo which allows people to lend and borrow everyday objects, skills and spaces. Darwin’s been a great help, chewing up various promotional materials and virtually anything that comes off our printer or is left on an unattended desk.

We’ve had many walks in the forest and the sunshine is a welcome relief from the wind and rain. Darwin has continued to search for any muddy puddle she can find when we’re out (these are reducing in number and size with every sunny minute!). Soon, I hope, we may not need to have a hose down after every walk. We finally got round to burning all the sticks Darwin amassed in our front garden (just in time we think before the adjutters accused us of deforestation). However, another pile is beginning to accumulate.

We’ve had lots of people coming down to stay with us recently which as been great fun and meant that we’ve got out a lot and explored more pub walks and even taken a gallop (well OK a plod) on some horses. Long may the weather continue. We’ve been on our first cycle ride into the forest and hope to do many more over the summer. My mountain bike is now available to hire through Ecomodo amongst a wealth of other things.

Darwin’s back legs don’t seem to be giving her any problems, but it is noticeable how narrow her hips are compared to other dogs especially when she’s just come out of the water…swimming is the new big thing…as the puddles diminish, Darwin’s keen on jumping into any lake, river or sea that might be nearby. She seems to attract lots of ticks as well (which we’ve had not so much fun removing).

Not sure whether the swimming is making her less protected. We’ve been using Frontline flea and tick protection, but suspect the only thing that may stop them is a kevlar vest (not sure where you can get these?).


Week 69, 70 & 71: Has Spring finally sprung?

March 8, 2010

Darwin simply loves being outside, it must be all the country smells that she finds so intoxicating. Certainly when they let the cows out and are spreading the fields we need to wear a hankerchief. We’ll be indoors, perhaps with the telly on and Darwin will sit outside sometimes peering in to make sure we haven’t missed anything on the box. It’s been so cold, yet she still prefers it, guess she has a pretty thick coat. She doesn’t seem to be having any issues with her back legs, so we’re not sure what to do. The vet suggests we should certainly give good thought to a total hip replacement, but while she seems in no pain we’re quite reluctant to even consider this.

We’ve finally got some sunshine and even a lot of the surface water has dried away. Hopefully we’re now out of the cold spell and can look forward to a long luxuriously lazy summer…well Darwin can anyway.

Week 68: Oh Wet Pet…

February 16, 2010
Oh Wet Pet!

Darwin needs a bath...again

The picture above doesn’t do justice to the mess we’ve been in this week, but we’ve not thought to be taking pictures of our two tone dog this week (dark mud & light mud). So Darwin likes the rain, (and muddy puddles especially) but I must admit it’s not my favourite weather. And it takes forever to get her dry every time she goes out. Even walking on pavement, Darwin still seems to find a way to get covered in dirt & grime.

We hadn’t really noticed her full plumage until we had to clean every last strand of her coat. A retriever hairdresser would make a fortune…that is of course if retrievers had any money to pay for this service, which clearly as they are not one of the most intelligent dog breeds they are unlikely to have…as any dog entrepreneurs are likely to be border collies or the like.

Our jogging escapades have been curtailed by the weather and a nasty case of the lurgy affecting the household, but we’re pulling through and hope to be back on the road this week (weather permitting).

Week 67: Darwin and I Get Fit

February 8, 2010

My jogging pace (slow & stop) and Darwin’s walking speed are very similar. The walking action is good for Darwin as it doesn’t jolt her body in big movements, but encourages muscle build up from regular paces. The only issue is that she has to go on a lead as we jog otherwise she’d be forever trying to catch up (not that I go quickly…more that she finds one more smell after another that needs to be catalogued and referenced).

Darwin doesn’t seem too keen on this arrangement, but we’ve been for a couple of afternoon soirees now and hopefully we will keep it up (even though it did start snowing this afternoon). Darwin was worn out over the weekend by her pal Magic (a Field Spaniel that just doesn’t stop) so Monday has been a lazy day (apart from our afternoon jog which wore me out far more than Darwin). Hopefully we will keep it up…and a diet of raw meaty bones…although I’m not sure how long I will last on this diet!

Week 66: Darwin has some X-rays taken!

February 2, 2010

We took Darwin to the vet to look at how she was hunching her back and the vet said that now she is fully grown we should get some x-rays done of her spine and hips. The good news is that there’s nothing wrong with her spine and she doesn’t appear to be in any pain. The bad news is that she has quite bad hip dysplasia which means we need to regulate her exercise, continue with supplements and keep a closer eye on her as it’s likely she may suffer pain from her hips at a younger age. The vet has even suggested that we speak to a surgeon about a total hip replacement.

Darwin is not in pain and that’s not why we took her to the vet. We’re now wrestling with the idea of surgery which seems quite extreme for such a young dog that seems so happy with life the way it is.