Mr Tilly gets a bath

Getting a bit long and scruffy

We’ve been home grooming Tills with scissors but now that his adult coat is coming through, he’s going to need clippers to keep his fleecy coat under control.

We’ve purchased clippers, but as yet haven’t tried them out on him. Instead we hired a professional dog groomer to come to the house and get him started, while we carefully watched.

Auntie Bec, his groomer (professional name, not our aunty), is to be marvelled at. Tilly doesn’t like his bath, doesn’t like the hair dryer, doesn’t like his nails being clipped, and has an intense hatred of the brush. Like most parents, he has us treating him with kid gloves and trying to ease him into it. He’s ten months old now, and guess what – it isn’t happening! Yes, he has wrapped around his little fleecy paw.

Compliant, but not happy

Not happy with the hair dryer either – but again, compliant

He hardly puts a foot wrong though for Auntie Bec, and when he does, she stands back and tells him firmly to “stop”. And guess what, he does – he struggles for a minute or two, then with a visible sigh of resignation he becomes like putty in her hand.

All clean, clipped and brushed – now just the nails to go

We should get one more professional grooming in before we head north for a few months. Then we’ll be on our own with the clippers, trying to imitate firm Auntie Bec – what do you think will be our chances???

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Mr Tilly’s had a hair cut

Oh dearie me! We decided it was time to get Tilly a proper hair-cut instead of the home done, here and there snip . Sure, I’ve been preventing him from getting matted, but there’s no doubt he wouldn’t have been winning any doggie beauty competitions.

My usual little scallywag

He’s a lot cleaner and tidier looking for sure, and has been shaved really close in the appropriate areas for better hygiene (bottom and inside of ears). The hair has been trimmed well between his toes, and his nails have been clipped.

Who’s this little boy

The verdict – He doesn’t look like the ragamuffin, scallywag Rastas I’m used to, and I think I like the old look better. It’s nice to see his eyes, but there was something endearing about seeing him peeping out from behind his mop top fringe. However there’s no doubt there were definitely areas in his grooming that needed improvement,  plus the cost at $120 is more than we want to be spending on an almost monthly basis too.

Me thinks, it’s time to purchase some clippers and get serious about home grooming. I’ll be aiming for a look somewhere between his usual scallywag look and this prim and proper, perfectly coffered dog that looks like he belongs to someone else.

Dog friendly Bunker Bay Cafe

The moon boots off, and I’m starting to get out and about again. Still a way from walking marathons, or even kilometres for that matter, but walking from a car park to a cafe is definitely welcome and do-able now.

Last week we packed what we needed for a few hours out and about with Mr Tilly. When heading out with Tills, the days of donning a hat and tucking a credit card in our back pocket are long gone. Now it’s check first if a place is dog friendly. Once that’s sorted, then make sure the dog blanket is secured in the back of the car, fill our pockets with dog treats, top up the doggie water bottle, check we have enough poo bags (sometimes up to three may be needed), and of course, our own hats, and a credit card.

This time we chose Bunker Bay Cafe. The cafe is situated overlooking the stunningly beautiful Bunker Bay, and is in-between several national parks. Dogs aren’t allowed in the neighbouring national parks, most of which are absolutely gorgeous. We’ll save those for days when we leave Tills at home on ‘guard duty’. The Bunker Bay area where dogs are allowed, whilst not of any great distance, is never-the-less a welcome little stretch of beach adjoining the forest. For anyone visiting the area with their four legged friend, this place is definitely worth putting on your list.

The fully licensed cafe is approximately 35 mins from Busselton, 10 minutes from Dunsborough or about 50 minutes from Margaret River.

The dog, off lead exercise area

A shady spot on the deck

Open to the public for breakfast from 8.30am, through lunch until mid afternoon, the cafe has rightfully earned itself a good reputation of serving pretty good food. They also have a good reputation as a function centre in the evenings, and there would be more than one or two couples who have tied the knot overlooking the stunning bay.

We were there on this occasion to enjoy a late morning coffee, and one of their famous muffins. Thursday’s home baked muffins were blueberry and dark chocolate – oh dear, we usually share, but these sounded too good for sharing. We indulged in one each with a cup of flat white coffee (for my overseas readers – a flat white coffee in Australia is a cappuccino without any chocolate or cinnamon sprinkles). The muffins were as good as they sounded, I’m pleased I didn’t have to share. The coffee was perfect too. And that view…….

Calm today, but when the surfs up watching the surfers from the cafe provides great entertainment

I’m still not able to walk on shifting beach sands, but after our coffee Paul and Tills enjoyed their wander along a different beach.

New rocks to clamber over

And new seaweed to eat

Then home again. What a pleasure it is to be getting out and about again.

Train the trainer re-commences

Paul and Mr Tilly re-commenced obedience training last week. Tilly did his initial puppy training prior to Christmas last year.  Now it’s time for the ‘real deal’. He’s seven months old, and is ok for his age, but there’s room for improvement.

Are you paying attention Mr Tilly

One thing that becomes clear is that without formal training, both puppy and owner can get a little tardy. Another thing that becomes clear is that dogs are easy to train, providing they’re given sufficient mental stimulation. As far as I can see the main point of the training is to provide ideas for the owners to mentally stimulate and challenge their four legged friends. The interaction between owner and dog when learning tricks seems to result in such a good relationship and bond that obedience just naturally follows.

Hoops provide great training aids

Tilly gets his daily walk, usually on the beach, but that’s not enough to keep him out of trouble for a whole day. Ideas to stimulate him mentally, and at the same time help him develop into a mature dog with good social habits are very much appreciated.

As I’m still in my moon boot, the training during the sessions falls to Paul, as do his daily walks. I still attend the training and sit in the shade with our old camera (hence the poor quality photos). Whilst I’m not involved in the formal training process at the sessions, I still pick up on some things that Paul misses. Paul’s out there in the sun, trying to keep Mr Tilly calm so as he can listen.  This sometimes means trying to hear over some of the other dogs who’s owners are having even less success than Paul at keeping their canine companions calm and quiet.

Sometimes he’s very good…

And sometimes he’s easily distracted

In the two sessions we’ve attended so far this year we’re learning a mixture of important commands, like ‘stay’, and ‘wait’. And we’re learning things like how to get Tilly to walk with us zig zagging between obstacles. This involves the normal walk with me command, ‘this way’, when he’s on the correct side of us to follow, and also a ‘turn’ command when we’re going to walk into him if he doesn’t turn prior to us.

Walk this way, and turn that way

We’re also learning some things that will form the basis for more complicated commands later. One of today’s lessons was to teach him to ‘touch’ our closed fist with his nose, at which time we need an unused praise word followed by a treat delivered from our other hand. The praise word must be delivered immediately his nose touches our fist, and works like a ‘tick’ works when we ourselves as children managed to get our sums correct. Again it was stressed that this praise word must be a previously unused word. We’ve decided to simply use ‘tick’ for want of a better word. Certainly haven’t used that one before. Our homework is to let the closed fist evolve into an open hand. In time that’s supposedly going to progress to him being able to locate specific things for us, once he learns the names. The example we were given was to locate a misplaced mobile phone. Mmmm – hard to imagine, but perhaps it’ll all become clear with the passage of time…..

Sometimes it’s all very confusing – take the different words needed for different expectations to similar commands.

There’s, ‘wait up’, which means hang about for a while and relax (used perhaps when you meet someone on a walk and want to stop and have a natter). Then there’s ‘wait’, a slightly more formal version, used perhaps when we’re going out of a gate and want Tilly to wait a few moments whilst we get the gate open and check everything’s ok for proceeding forward. Then there’s ‘stay’, used as a command for staying in one spot for longer periods of time. And today, another similar command, ‘freeze’, meaning don’t move a muscle. It’s difficult for us to get the words sorted out for each situation, and not to use ‘wait’ when we should be saying, ‘stay’. If we get it wrong though, what hope has poor Mr Tilly got.

We try to use ‘here’ informally to get Till’s to check in with us when walking off lead at the beach. And we try to use, ‘Come’ as the formal command that must be obeyed, for when a potential danger is evident. Do we get them in the right place….. Haha – not a chance! Thank goodness we have a smart dog. He seems to forgive our dog training inadequacies and rewards us with behaviour that goes above and beyond our level of training expertise.

He’s a great little dog, and is shaping up to be sensible above his mere seven months of age. He’s such a joy, a true companion.

 

Mr Tilly’s growing up

Our little man is growing up. He recently turned six months old, and is coming along brilliantly for his age.

He’s supposed to be a labradoodle, but I’m not so sure he’s not a bit of ‘catadoodle’. His coat is so soft. It’s tempting to stroke him like one would a cat rather than give him a doggie type pat, and rough and tumble.

Looking like a bit of a scruff

He loves to sit on the back of the couch to look out the window, just like a cat would. Sometimes he drapes himself over with his hind legs resting on the lumber support. Other times he perches himself on the top to get a really good look.

Just checking to see if anything’s going on

Something’s happening that deserves a more intense look

We have a cover over a seat on the couch, which is supposed to be his seat. But if there’s cushions on the couch he’ll make the most of them.

Talk about a princess!

He loves his daily beach walks. Some dogs recognise the ‘walk’ word, and it can only be spoken if the leads about to come out. For Mr Tilly it’s the ‘beach’ word. Any mention of the word has his ears raised and he’s watching with eager anticipation for the signs to follow. Once Paul dons his hat there’s no chance of him containing his excitement.

Currently, of course, I can’t go with them both,  but I look forward to getting the daily report of who they met at the beach, and what antics Tilly managed to get up to.

I have to say, this little boy doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his 7.5 kilo body. We’re grateful when we meet up with an older dog who isn’t aggressive, but also isn’t into, ‘meet and greet’ with every canine he meets up with. Mr Tilly’s learning from these non-aggressive, growly warnings that sometimes it’s best to only give a bit of a tail wag and a friendly look, then walk on by.  Those dogs are teaching him that caution’s sometimes advisable.

Sometimes of course, his lessons of needed caution are re-enforced when he meets up with a dog that is mildly aggressive. Recently he crossed paths with a rather large Husky type pup of a similar age to himself. The dog bowled him over and had him by the throat.  Paul thinks it was extremely rough play rather than real aggression. I’m told Tilly immediately rolled on his back in complete submission and screamed blue murder. And when I say screamed, I gather it was loud and clear, and caught people’s attention over quite a distance.  Paul, and the other dog owner returned the situation to a stand off, and Paul carried Tills up to a seat on the beach to give him some time out. When they continued their walk, apparently many of our regular beach acquaintances expressed concern as to Mr Tilly’s well being. Even a few hours later, a car pulled up in our driveway, with the gentleman occupant having sought us out to check all was well with our boy.

Although the above situation possibly sounds like we’re not watching out for him, believe me we do watch out for him. Had the dog been a full grown dog that could have given more than a bit of a good scare, Paul would have had Mr Tilly back on the lead long before their paths crossed. We both carefully assess any dogs we don’t know, taking into account, age, size, and the general demeanour of both dog, and owner. Although it scared the hell out of Till’s, he didn’t come to any harm, and lessons of using caution were re-enforced.

It’s unusual for him not to meet up with one of his doggie friends on the beach and to enjoy a romp of some sort. There’s Mavarick, a gentle Great Dane the size of a small pony. And there’s his best friend, Jimmy. Jimmy’s two weeks older than him, and is a full sized Labradoodle. He’s a bit rough because of his bigger size, but they work it out. When they see each other coming from opposite directions they’re both soooo excited. We love Jimmy.

Daisy’s the same age as Jimmy, and although she’s only a medium sized labradoodle (same as Tilly), she’s much, much bigger. Daisy’s mum and dad love meeting up with Tills as Daisy’s still learning how to socialise and gets a bit heavy with her paws. Tills gives her some play time off the lead, and is so fast that Daisy doesn’t get much of a chance to stand on him.

And then there’s Zulu. Zulu’s a bittsa that resembles a Schnauzer. He’s about the same size as Tilly, and is around two years old. He has so much energy. The two of them play chase, each taking turns as to who’s the chaser, and who’s to be chased. To say they run their feet off is an understatement. Tilly runs so fast and so hard he usually throws up,  but he won’t give it up. He does have a great time with Zulu, and it seems he willingly pays the price of losing his breakfast for such a great romp.

And when he returns to the home front, if he’s not watching what’s going on in the neighbourhood – he still loves his soft toys and teddies, and plays with them often. He retrieves balls in the house or garden, and brings them back for us to throw for him again. On the beach he has no interest in balls though yet – there’s to many other things that need exploring there.

 

Although we’ve bought him two beds since his first little puppy bed, it’s his first little bed that he won’t part with. He drags it around, and despite having had the snip when he was only seven weeks old, he tries to practice becoming a ‘big daddy dog’ with his bed. When we tell him to stop that game, he squeezes himself into the bed, curled up like a cat, and sucks at the soft sides of the bed while petting away (like a cat does). He doesn’t care how he’s going to love his little, old bed, but love it he’s definitely going to do! And when outside he loves to chase butterflies in the garden. Paul calls him a ‘big girls blouse’.

We’re so pleased we finally committed to getting ourselves a dog, and so pleased that dog’s, Mr Tilly. He’s such a pleasure!

 

What to do when you can’t do anything else

I thought I’d stockpiled plenty to keep me occupied during my two weeks of forced total rest (leg in plaster and must be kept elevated). I’d deliberately left dozens of posts from blogs I follow unread – I caught up with all of them in the first three days.

Yacht anchored overnight at Cape Leveque

Although I’ve written extensively on our recent trips to the Kimberleys over the past few years, there were a few experiences we had in the Kimberleys during our pre-blog days that had created great memories. I’d earmarked a few of them to write posts on – now all done. It was great to write them up, I almost felt like I was re-living the original experiences.

I’ve read a novel that had been recommended. ‘Our souls at Night’ by Kent Haruf. It’s only a short little novel, but a great read, and just little bit sad…..If you haven’t already read it, I’d recommend it.

I’ve accustomed Mr Tilly to being brushed a little more, and I’ve managed to sneak in clipping his nails. He’s always been reasonably tolerant of having a hair cut (with scissors only though, no clippers, and not around his face), but he’s not been tolerant of being brushed, or having his nails clipped. During my forced rest he spends a lot of time snuggled next to me on the couch, so I’ve used the time to good advantage. He’s getting a bit more tolerant now when he sees the brush in my hand – a way to go yet though.

Good company, snuggling next to me on the couch

I’ve begun researching a camper van trip to New Zealand’s South Island for early next year. I have two brothers who live in Christchurch, and one will turn 70 in February 2019.  All going well, we’ll coincide his birthday celebrations with this long awaited camper van trip.

We’ve done our research for our replacement caravan, and have decided to go with a new one. We’ve chosen a 16ft, Prado friendly (weights are suitable), New Age, Manta Ray. All finishings have been chosen. Would you believe it, the sales manager drove down here from Perth with all the samples so as we could get our order finalised for the earliest possible delivery. That’s a 6 hour driving day, plus almost two hours here. Now that’s what I call service! The van should be delivered by no later than 1st June.

I’m now starting to research this years caravan trip. This one is going to be whole new experience for us. With Mr Tilly being a new addition to our household,  he’ll be coming along for the ride. One thing I’m finding is that most of the on-line information on travelling with dogs doesn’t quite seem to fit our scenario. There’s lots of basic sort of information, what to take, and how to secure your animal for safer car travel, and there’s quite a bit of information on travelling with a dog and children together. There doesn’t seem to be anything much that actually gives a running account of how a triip taken by Grey Nomads with a dog goes. If anyone is aware of any, please let me know.

I’ll be starting a whole new set of categories. These will include preparing for a trip with a dog. And a week by week, or day by day account of any trips we take. These will no doubt commence soon.

I revisit the surgeon after two more sleeps (yes, I’m counting down the sleeps), and hopefully the plaster will come off and be replaced with a moonboot. I think that means I’ll still be considerably incapacitated for some time to come yet, so most of my posts are likely to be research based rather than based on actual experiences. And being sat on my bum, with plenty of time on my hands, I’m likely to have lots of time to put into research. Apologies if I get a bit boring!

 

Mr Tilly’s first Christmas causes knee jerk reaction

Opening his pressies

Enjoying his beef-hide cracker on Luka’s bed

Mr Tilly is settling down again after his first Christmas, and today – so are we. I say today, as we’ve been at sixes and sevens now for a couple of weeks, not knowing if we’ve been coming or going (literally).

With so many people here over the Christmas period Mr Tilly was never at a loss for attention. He loved having the two young teenagers here, Luka and Emma, who were both more than willing to play any number of games with him, including ‘chase’. He loves ‘chase’!

Our little house is situated on the corner of busy Bussell Highway. Sometimes, particularly over the busy holiday seasons (Christmas and Easter), the traffic noise can get a bit intrusive. We’d thought that the noise was the only problem with our location, and have been planting screening plants and bird attracting natives ever since we moved in. The plan has been to block out a little of the noise, and to provide a distraction from it in the form of bird song. As yet, the plants are still immature, so it’s early days yet to see how successful the plantings will be.

However, as we were to find out, there’s more problems that go with living so near a main road than noise…..

After many games of chase with Luka over Christmas, grandson Tim arrived. We usually allow Mr Tilly to accompany us outside when guests arrive, and he’s always so excited to see the visitors that there’s no danger of him doing anything except following them back into the house to say hello. However, upon Tim’s arrival,  seeing another long legged younger male, he excitedly took off towards busy Bussell Highway, I think trying instigate a game of chase.

Back in the safe arms of Emma

I couldn’t begin to relate the panic that followed, and I won’t go into  details. Fortunately, tragedy was averted, and Tilly was returned indoors to safety.

We were lucky that time, and realising we may not be so lucky if there’s ever a second time,  we had since been planning to move house. However, today we’ve realised it’s early days yet for that, and it’s probably a bit of a knee jerk reaction.

Sanity has returned, and a more sensible, less knee jerky plan has evolved. Tomorrow Paul is going to arrange some fencing to go between the posts of our front verandah. The fencing will provide a second barrier between our front door and access to the busy corner roads. Additionally, now the silly season is over again we should soon be able to re-commence dog obedience training – and Mr Tilly will hopefully learn to respond immediately to the”come” command regardless of exciting distractions.

So that means we’re not moving – well not this year anyway. We want to see the plants grow, and the birds arrive to enjoy them. Plus we’ve hardly begun yet to knock this little house into shape yet. Watch this space for improvements yet to come……

I think we’ll still be here at this time next year, and hopefully I’ll be recording photos from our little boy’s second Christmas. For now though here’s a couple more from Mr Tilly’s first Christmas:

He loved his Christmas Cracker

Digging at the beach (the only place he’s allowed to dig)

What a cutie