Enriching Ollie’s Walks

At this time of year when so many people are on holiday, it is not so easy for Ollie to come across many of his regular doggy pals when we are out walking. So it is up to me to try to do something to make his long walks in the heat more enjoyable.

One word he learned a long time ago is ‘Hiding’. He usually checks out regular spots where he has seen cats or squirrels in the past, and when he is upset that they are not there, I generally say that they are ‘hiding’. I adopt a hushed tone when saying the word, and imply that he might have to find them. This makes him rush around looking for whatever he was expecting to find.

This not only gives him more exercise, it also provides him with some sense of purpose to his walks, besides sniffing and marking.

The recent hot and humid weather has made Ollie reluctant to do much. He has been lagging behind me, and spending too much time just standing in the river. So when we got over onto Hoe Rough today, I took him to the spot where he had last seen a deer, and pointed into the undergrowth. I hissed ‘hiding’, and off he went, understanding completely what I was on about. For a good fifteen minutes, he scanned up and down looking for the non-existent hiding animals.

When he returned looking hot and bothered, I let him go down into the river, to cool off.

The things we do for our pets…

A message from Ollie

A 2014 plea from Ollie. This is for the benefit of new followers, as many of you have seen this before.

beetleypete

DSCF1450My dating profile photo.

OK, just because we can’t talk, does not mean that we cannot learn the basics of how to work a computer, and publish a blog post. After all, I have watched countless hours of Pete doing this, so it can’t be that hard. It is a bit tricky with paws, I will admit, but if you are careful with your nails, it is not impossible. The mouse is a lot easier, as my right paw covers that completely.

You will know a bit about me, if you read this blog. I am Pete and Julie’s dog, Ollie the Shar-Pei. The truth is, I am a bit lonely, and would like to have some female company. I thought that I would use this blog as a platform to advertise myself. If you are regular readers, you already know a lot about my life. It is a comforting routine…

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Seaside and sun

One of my early blog posts, from 2012. The English seaside, and a very young Ollie.

beetleypete

DSCF0241A very young (7 months old) Ollie, in the sea. He still had a collar back then.

The rain stopped the day before yesterday, and the sun came out today. Julie was on a day off from work, so we decided to take Ollie the dog to the seaside for the afternoon.

Wells-next-the Sea is our nearest seaside town, only 30 minutes in a car. There is a large dog friendly section of beach, and a pine forest leading up to the sand dunes. Unfortunately, the sun was not present there, as it was shrouded in coastal cloud. That didn’t matter, as it was warm, and very busy, with both day trippers and holidaymakers there for their annual summer break.

Ollie had great fun in the sea, which was surprisingly warm, and enjoyed meeting up with all the other dogs. Julie and I got a lot of good exercise, and…

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Ollie goes out in the car


Ollie, when he is ‘not happy’. Tail down, and panting.

Since he started the summer moult, Ollie has been scratching his legs and biting his ‘undercarriage’. These are sure signs of irritation caused by the usual skin infection he gets a few times a year. Rushing through nettles and brambles doesn’t help, nor does standing for long periods up to his neck in the river. That might cool him down, but it allows who knows what in the river to get into his system too.

So I bowed to the inevitable, and booked him in for a Vet appointment today. Then on Wednesday, he went to the groomer to have the loose fur stripped, and a nice bath. He came back looking sleek, and smelling a whole lot better too.

Taking Ollie to the Vet has to be done by car, as it is twelve miles away, in Swaffham. It makes me feel guilty to see how excited he gets to be going for a drive to some exciting new place, when I know where we are actually going. In the familiar car park, he emerges from his place at the back with a worried look. Having spent so much of his life to and from one Vet or another, he recognises the location immediately.

Once through the door, he begins panting and placing his paws on my knees, looking concerned, and turning in circles on his lead. I always try to see the same Vet, but he was doing surgery today, so I had to see a young lady instead. Meanwhile, a nervous Spaniel in the waiting room was whining and crying, which upset Ollie even more. He kept going over to check on the dog, to make sure he was alright.

By the time we were called in to the examination room, Ollie was trying to head for the door. Fortunately, his condition is well-known, so he only had to be weighed, and suffer a brief investigation with an ear-scope. He tolerates Vet treatment very well as a rule, and as long as I am there, they can do more or less anything to him. After a quick once-over, the lady Vet agreed that he should have the usual doses of ear-drops, antibiotics, and steroids for the inflammation and itchiness. When she got up to go and get the medicines, Ollie tried to exit through the closed door, keen to get back out to the car.

Still feeling guilty, I took him straight up to Milennium Wood in North Elmham, where he came across a group of Labradors and Terriers to sniff and play with.

By the time we were heading back to the car, he appeared to have forgotten his distressing trip.

Until the next time.

Ollie’s Nose

Ollie is a dog driven by the need to sniff things and smell them carefully. His nose can seemingly detect almost anything long before he can see it with his eyes. And because he has never been neutered, his main obsession is to leave his own scent everywhere, to let every other dog and animal around know that he is in the ‘Hood’. The short walk to Beetley Meadows, with the entrance visible from our house, begins with Ollie sniffing our front hedge. He then marks a few leaves of that hedge, just in case any other dogs are in doubt that he lives here.

Next, every road sign, wheelie bin, front gate, and back fence has to be marked, in a walk of less than one hundred yards that can take a good few minutes. Then his lead is removed, and he is free to mark the sign telling everyone about Beetley Meadows, before dealing with the four corners of the fences surrounding the children’s playground, followed by the basketball court. The first big Oak tree always gets a cursory splash, prior to the serious work of marking the nettles and other plants fringing the pathways.

Once he is satisfied with that, he lifts his head, nose twitching. He is trying to get the smell of any other local dogs, or a squirrel or deer in the vicinity. I am usually well ahead of him by the time he catches me up, after he has been checking under the blackberry bushes for any evidence of much smaller dogs who might have peed up them. Once we get to the bend in the river, Ollie goes into overdrive. There is the rubbish bin to deal with, the dog-waste bin, and the assorted picnic tables and benches.

By now, his ‘marking tanks’ have almost run dry, so he is straight into the river to refill them with a very big drink. Cooled and replenished, he trots off to sort out half a dozen molehills, and the reeds at the side of the riverbank. All this, and we have only been out for ten minutes. Once we are under the trees, every tree and overhanging branch must be inspected. As those trees are home to lots of squirrels, this takes a considerable amount of time. So I carry on walking, and let him catch me up later.

If he arrives with his jowls covered in froth, looking like he has just downed an exceptionally milky cappuccino, then I can be sure he has detected some ‘lady-dog pee’. And if that dog was in season, he will have enough foam around his mouth to make any passerby think he had Rabies.

We have now arrived at the bridge, on the way across to Hoe Rough.

The bridge has to be inspected carefully by Ollie. So many dogs cross it in a day, that he has to mark at least three spots, sometimes five. And woe betide I try to pull him away using his lead. He will stand his ground, suddenly becoming dead weight, refusing to budge until the sniffing is complete. Getting through the gate at Hoe Rough is a mission in itself. Every wooden bar and post of the large gate has to be examined in minute detail, and ‘precision pees’ delivered onto the smallest areas. Any dog coming onto the small nature reserve must be left in no doubt that Ollie has entered before them.

Then I let him off again, for the majority of his daily walk. Off he goes, tracking overnight deer, dogs from earlier that day, and any other smell of any sort he can detect. Once the long walk is over, you can guarantee that he will repeat the process as we retrace our steps on the way home.

Just in case.

One day in the sun

Saturday was very warm in Norfolk. The sun was out, but it wasn’t what you would call a ‘nice day’. Humid, often cloudy, and pushing 26 C (78 F) at times, it was what some people might describe as ‘uncomfortable’.

I was out with Ollie of course, for just over two hours. He must have been feeling the heat, as he made at least five trips into the river, including a venture into deep water that made him have to swim.

The heat brought out squirrels in abundance, so Ollie was kept busy chasing them too.

I was happy enough. It wasn’t raining, always a plus. I was dressed suitably, enjoying my shorts, and the occasional breeze around my legs. I carried on with my dog walk as usual, though it was obvious that Ollie was not so keen, given the rather oppressive heat. Accordingly, I spent a lot of time standing around while Ollie cooled off in the river, including investigating a juvenile swan.

The evening was also warm, something I welcomed. The temperature was pleasant, well up to the time it got dark, and beyond that too. Unlike life in big cities, Beetley evening warmth is to be enjoyed.

I spent some time cutting the grass, and clearing up afterwards. That made me decidedly warm, and a second bath was required before dinner.

Once I had eaten, I felt relaxed, in what I think of as the ‘Mediterranean’ way. Evening felt like daytime, and I lamented the absence of pavement cafes and Tapas Bars in Beetley. An evening stroll or ‘promenade’ would have been most welcome. But here, it would ultimately be pointless, sadly. Unless I wanted to navigate a few residential streets in the late evening sunshine.

Perhaps I should have retired to Spain?

Languid

I was searching my mind for a word to describe how I am feeling today, and this popped into my head.

LANGUID
/ˈlaŋɡwɪd/
adjective
1.
(of a person, manner, or gesture) having or showing a disinclination for physical exertion or effort.
“his languid demeanour irritated her”
synonyms: relaxed, unhurried, languorous, unenergetic, lacking in energy, slow, slow-moving;

Oh yes, that’s the word.

Yesterday, I was preparing for my dog-walk with Ollie, and noticed it looked like it might rain. I popped on a thin ‘showerproof’ coat, and took my umbrella too, just in case…

Ten minutes later, I was in a wind-driven rainstorm. The umbrella was of little use, as the rain was hitting me from all directions at once. Ollie was so wet, his fur looked black. My thin coat was saturated in seconds, and my tan shorts had become so waterlogged, they were wrapped around my legs like damp cling-film. I had been ill-advised to wear leather boat shoes too, as they were sodden, and my feet were slipping around inside them. After 75 minutes of this, I couldn’t stand any more, and even Ollie seemed to have had enough, readily heading toward the exit to the road, and home.

I arrived back at the house easily as wet as if I had jumped into the nearby river. It took three towels to get Ollie anywhere near dry enough to be allowed into the house, and he still felt damp hours later. My clothes were all hung up in the bathroom to drip into the bath, and I changed into a dressing gown after I dried myself.

Sure enough, one hour later, the rain stopped, and the sun came out.

Today is a Public Holiday in England. But I don’t want to do anything. I am not in the mood. I have no inclination, no inspiration. Little energy, and no enthusiasm. The sky is quite blue, but thick clouds are low, and look like they might have some work to do later. Whatever happens, I have to take Ollie out soon, and I am not looking forward to that today.

I am languid.