Friday, 9 April 2021

Life in the fast lane



Betty has always been the kind of dog who loves to live life in the fast lane. She is full of joy, a true delight to watch as she races like the wind, returning at the peep of a whistle, good girl that she is.

Unfortunately, it now transpires that my sweet girl has developed cruciate ligament failure, which will most likely require invasive surgery and a long, slow recovery period. Needless to say I am heartbroken for her, although relieved we are now on the path to specialist referral and hopefully, working towards Betty being able to run freely again one day. For now though, we are restricted to short, careful walks and plenty of tender loving care.

Thankfully Betty is currently managing her pain well and is as always, full of smiles, nose nudges and soft licky kisses. 

Monday, 8 March 2021

Happy 8th Birthday Polly

It is eight years since my fabulous big girl bounced into the world. Polly was the most beautiful chunky golden puppy, destined to become my constant companion at just seven weeks of age...

As anyone who has read our earlier blog posts will know, Polly has taught me much about a dog's needs over the years. We have walked many miles together in all manner of meanings and each step shared, has been an important life lesson learned... live in the moment, enjoy life's small sniffs, rainy days eventually turn to sunshine, avoid head on collisions, share snuggles often, shake off stress, listen carefully, protect your loved ones, trust, make sure your bark is always worse than your bite, play like no one is watching ... and of course, love unconditionally.

After re reading my last post, I realise I haven't updated you on the outcome of Polly's surgery. Sorry! Thankfully that worrisome lump was nothing more than a benign fatty lump. That was such a huge relief! 

Last year was a gentle reminder to us to bear in mind that, much as I wish they would slow down, the years are ticking by and despite Poll's eagerness to play like a puppy and happily, a good general level of fitness, I find myself more cautious about the terrain she races over these days and have stopped her from leaping over things when possible, in an effort not to trigger that joint injury again. The problem with her leg at the begining of the year took quite a while to recover from, followed by a painful bout of cystitis and then of course with that nasty lump removal, 2020 was rather challenging healthwise at times for my girl. 

This photograph was taken on Polly's 8th birthday walk yesterday. As you can see, she is currently in fine fettle and full of smiles!

Eight years of loyalty, mud, barks, sticks, stinky teddies, zoomies and the very best of life lessons. I have never for a single moment regretted the day this wonderful girl came into my life.

Happy Birthday to you Poll xxx

Thursday, 22 October 2020

A perfectly horrible day

 My Polly is a big 'ol hairy bird. Her coat is dense, soft and gloriously wavy. Thankfully, despite all the fluff and fidgeting whenever I brush her, I noticed a lump deep down on her chest about four weeks ago. It didn't seem to bother her when I tentatively felt around it, so I left it for a couple of weeks hoping it might disappear on its own. But it didn't. It didn't grow, but it didn't go away either.


The day arrived a couple of weeks later, when I finally scraped together enough courage to make an appointment to see our vet. He too felt the lump, checked Polly over thoroughly while she waited politely and then pronounced that said lump, probably a benign fatty lump, must be removed and examined... just in case. 

Back home after her op, sleeping off the anaesthetic, with Betty by her side.

So yesterday was lump removal day. Before we set off in the car, we did what my dogs like to do in the morning. We played. We rolled around together on the living room rug, playing tug, bitey face and scratchy bum and we had heaps of daft fun. Hopefully enough fun to last us until Polly's lump-less chest recovers from surgery and we can play 'dog' again...

Coronavirus connundrums make veterinary practices uncomfortable places to visit in pandemic times. On arrival yesterday morning, it was pouring hard with rain, so hidden behind my soggy face mask, we waited on the Vet's doorstep until he opened the door and invited us to step inside to a designated waiting area. It was clear to me Polly was anxious as she kept giving me her paw to hold while we dutifully waited ... I'm really not sure who was comforting who! To help with Polly's anxiety in the waiting room, I decided not to take the traditional option of sitting and waiting politely, instead I put Poll through her doggy paces ... sit, stand, down, sit, give paw, other paw, walk to heel etc etc... keeping her busy to take her mind off all things worrying, until the vet came back with the pre-med injection. Thankfully it seemed to work and she obliged me with a rather neat routine.

Once Polly had been given the pre-med to relax her and I had signed the inevitable disclaimer, I was then relieved of a hefty deposit and sent on my way with my girl's eyes boring a hole in the back of my head from a wire cage as I was ushered out through the front door. For me, this was the most agonising moment. After building Polly's trust for seven and a half years, it was the moment we both knew I had broken that trust. I sat outside in my car and promptly burst into tears as I drove away. 

Never underestimate the emotional impact of these moments in your life as a dog owner... believe me, they hurt like hell.

Dad is home from work and despite her pain and confusion, 

Polly is delighted to see him.

Back home I was greeted by a waggy tailed Betty who didn't seem to mind that Polly hadn't come home with me, she just wanted a walk. It was still pouring hard but a deal is a deal when it comes to dog ownership, so out into the rain we went. It was a good call, Betty's exhuberance cheered me up and the rain meant no one else had been silly enough to go out, so we had the park to ourselves and didn't have to explain to any other of our regular dog walking pals, where our poor Polly was.

The vet called at 1pm to tell me Polly was in recovery after her surgery and could be collected. Relief swept over me as I raced to grab my car keys. A glassy-eyed Polly gave a hesitant wag with the tip of her tail when she heard me enter the recovery room. Through my joy at finding her sitting up and looking for me, I didn't absorb much of what the vet said to me except that he thought the lump was probably 'just a fatty lump' but we would need to wait 12 days for the histology findings to confirm this. He thrust a bottle of pills and a printed A4 sheet containg post operative care instructions into my hand (and just as well, because when I read it at home I realised how little information I had actually absorbed in the surgery!) made an appointment for a check-up,  handed me Polly's lead and let us wobble our way back to the car.

I was worried I might struggle to help Polly onto the backseat of my car, but even through the fog of anaesthetic, she knew what she needed to do and with my hand against her backside to prevent any slipping, she launched herself onto the seat. 

The journey home only took five minutes, but it was enough to exhaust poor Polly. She was confused and scared when we went into the house and she clumsily rushed to the back door, so I let her out onto the lawn but she just sat staring into space. It was a shock to see her so disorientated and once again, I burst into tears. After a sob and a cuddle, I managed to encourage Polly back inside onto the bed I had left in the lounge for her and that is where she slept the rest of the afternoon away... well, most of it. I hadn't considered the doorbell! It rang and penetrated her deep sleep, so she suddenly lept to her feet, ran to the window and instinctively jumped up to see who was outside! I was horrified and flew across the room to gather her into my arms, praying she hadn't done herself any further damage. For anyone going through post op care with their dog, I would highly recommend keeping them close to you on a collar and lead indoors when they first come home.  Lesson learned the hard way, I clipped Polly's lead on and led her back to bed where she settled back into a very deep sleep. Later that evening, she heard my husband come home, managed to sit up and absolutely beam at him, despite her perfectly horrible day!

24 hours later and Polly is on the mend. 

That was yesterday.  Today the anaesthetic fog seems to be lifting gradually and although Polly is far from her usual cheeky self, she is noticeably improved. She has eaten and had a drink and a wee but I think she is still quite confused, or maybe reluctant to respond to instructions, which is fair enough. If she wants to just sit and watch between naps, that's fine by me. I'm sure she'll let me know what she wants, when she is ready to tell me but I miss her bossy nose nudges and her tail wags. I do hope they come back soon.

As for the histology report and what comes next, well, I think I'll simply take a dog's eye view of this and live life in the moment, rather than doing what we human's usually do... worrying about what's to come. 

Right now my beautiful girl Polly is here with me, her lump is gone, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining.



Thursday, 17 September 2020

Fresh air, family, friendship ... and freedom.

 I haven't posted for a few months as it has been the strangest of times. This Spring, we found ourselves living through a global pandemic. Our lives were forced into Lockdown, which essentially put the world on hold. Family and work life was severely restricted and no-one truly understood the full impact this situation would have. Within a few short weeks the UK economy was shaken to the core, families were torn apart, worldwide fear was rampant...

The only freedom legally available to us during Lockdown, was a single walk each day, from our homes ... and so we walked. And each day we were so grateful for that walk. Polly and Betty never failed to keep us smiling, reminding us to enjoy all that was still beautiful around us.

We walked many miles during Lockdown and were blessed with wide open spaces, sunshine most days and of course, the odd muddy puddle here and there.

Polly and Betty never failed to lift my spirits at a time when the private pain of being forced apart from my children and grandchildren was a daily struggle.

We kept walking through Spring into Summer. We saw bluebells, pear blossom, dandelions and clover. We walked and we walked, until at last our family was returned to us by the Government. 

In July, we could hardly believe our good fortune, when the Government announced family holidays were to be made available again. Without a moment's hesitation, we headed to the property we had previously booked in Norfolk, to reunite with my son, his family and my daughter. Polly and Betty were delighted to see bags being loaded into the car and eagerly hopped into the backseat to begin their adventure.

They spent the next week having the time of their lives on the beautiful Norfolk beaches, with their most favourite people in the whole wide world.

They splashed and they crashed, they swam and they ran...

And after all the anxieties and strain of Lockdown, I spent the entire week, grinning from ear to ear, eating ice-cream, playing with my grandchildren, chatting with my adult family and simply being so grateful for every single moment we were able to spend together.

2020 has been a year no-one will ever forget and few will remember with pleasure I am certain. I will always be grateful to my amazing golden girls for keeping our life together focused on fresh air, family, friendship and freedom... because that is what truly matters in life. 

I am so grateful to you for always being by my side girls. 
Never more so than throughout this year.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Spring 2020 has Sprung!

At last, it has arrived ...


A very joyful Betty!

Here's to sunshine, blossom and hopefully, a little less mud!!!

Saturday, 7 March 2020


It seems only a moment ago I was introducing a gorgeous chunky Golden Retriever puppy and here I am today, wishing my big, bossy, barky girl, a very Happy 7th Birthday! 

Throughout our seven years together, Polly has been the most fabulous friend ... clever, funny, loyal, cheeky and of course, always by my side. As anyone who has read this blog from the beginning will know, Missy Pollychops led me a merry dance as a youngster, always the first to race across a field to introduce herself, bark at a passing horse, or abandon a training class in favour of sniffing an important sniff but she has also worked incredibly hard to be a good girl for me over the years and those earlier misdemeanours are now nothing but a dusty memory ... well, most of them!

Polly may be a bit bossy and is barky without a doubt, but I am so very happy this amazing golden girl is mine and I pray we have the good fortune to be granted many more years of fun and love together. 

I am immensely proud of my beautiful big girl.

Wishing you the Happiest of Birthdays today Poll. 

With loads of love always, 
Mum xxx 

Friday, 7 February 2020

Capturing the moment..

It has been a while since we did any agility classes, but we always keep our eyes open for agility fun on walks because Polly, now almost 7 years old and Betty, almost 5, still both really enjoy it. Last weekend this orchard fence offered a perfect opportunity for a little synchronised 'over' between sisters ... 

 ... and by some miracle, I managed to capture it in focus, on my camera! 

Whoo hoo!


Sunday, 26 January 2020

Bouncing into 2020!

It has been a while since I last posted, so I thought I would share a few recent photographs of Polly and Betty today...

Unfortunately, Polly received an injury to her foot (a bite by a very grumpy German Shepherd, who took us by surprise when he stuck his head under a gate and by some fluke, succeeded in sinking his gnashers into poor Poll's paw, resulting in general anaesthetic, deep sutres and a huge hole in our bank account right before Christmas. The owner has duly been asked to secure her boundary so this can't happen again!) Poor Polly was out of action for about three weeks over the Christmas hols, but I am happy to report, is now back up to full steam, running around in the mud, like the proverbial puppy again.  

Note to self: always expect the unexpected!

I don't mind admitting, my energy levels are not at their best during the dark days of January, but it's not possible to hibernate with two eager goldens to entertain, so we make the most of our walks every day and by the time our walk is over and I am back home with a cuppa in my hand, I am always grateful for that walk, even on the days I think I might have preferred to stay on the couch.

Months of rain has been tiresome, but my girls never minded it. I tried to keep them clean by putting them in their raincoats now and again, but they only rolled in the mud even more when they wore them. Incidentally, in the pic above I think they were a bit confused by the fallen tree after the Storm Brendan had swept through!

We have enjoyed a rare sunshine walk and my goodness, what a boost to the energy levels the sunshine is, in fact, all three of us had a decided spring in our step on the day above.

One of our favourite walks at this time of year, is on a huge area of scrubland. Here the girls can bounce their way across tussocks of grass and brambles, stick their noses down rabbit holes and generally indulge in a jolly good blast together!

It's a great area for recall practice - both Polly and Betty love a good game or chasing back for sausage as soon as Mum blows her whistle. That said, my husband took them out here this morning and reported that the surprise distraction of a cat at the far end of the field had them racing in the opposite direction for a moment ... tut tut girls!!!

It has been a joy to see my big girl Polly back up to full speed after her miserable Christmas nursing that poorly paw. The vet did a great job and even though she is now almost seven, it seems no-one has mentioned this to Polly yet ... she really couldn't care less and was just delighted to be declared fit enough to bounce on this field again!

Recently we were walking on this field and I lost my mobile phone here. I heard a dog barking frantically on the other side of a railway track, so went hacking through brambles to see what the trouble was. I eventually spotted the little dog and it was clear he needed assistance, but sadly, I couldn't help as I was on the wrong side of the tracks ... somehow, in the process, I lost track of my phone and despite several walks in the area, failed to find it among the brambles, bracken and long grass... it really was a needle in a haystack situation! As for the little dog, after making local enquiries, I had to assume he was part of a group that live on the traveller's site beyond the railway track and he had probably escaped, then made his way back to them again. I do hope he's okay.

I hope you have enjoyed these photographs, they are a few of my recent favourites of the girls, taken on my new mobile phone camera (a Samsung Galaxy S10+). I am very pleased with the results so far and am taking great care to remember to zip this one safely into my coat pocket on walks!!!

I notice there are tiny hints of Spring now beginning to show on our walks. Snowdrops, little buds and occasional bursts of warmer sunshine are hinting of better days to come, so my fingers are well and truly crossed that the worst of the wet Winter weather is at last nearing an end. We are so looking forward to brighter days and drier walks in 2020!


Thursday, 7 November 2019

Duffed Up

Unfortunately, my poor Polly was proper 'duffed up' by a rather fierce Weimeraner in her training class yesterday. The Weimeraner has a history of aggressive, stressy behaviour and has tried his luck with Polly before, but Polly dealt with it calmly and sensibly at the time and since then they have been okay together in class. Unfortunately, after returning to our obedience class after a long break, the Weimeraner reverted to his old anti-social behaviour and once again, turned on Polly. Thankfully no real harm was done, despite poor Poll's fur flying.  After some very firm shouts from myself and the instructor, the dogs were quickly parted and a rather shaken Polly returned to me.  I reassurred her, then checked her over.  She wasn't physically damaged thank goodness, so we continued with the class and despite having a huge park to run in, Poll stayed close by my side, keeping a steely eye on her attacker from a distance.

  After giving the situation much thought on my return home, I decided to change group so Polly and I can hopefully train without such worry in future.  It was horrible to have Polly attacked in this way and to see her noticeably shaken up afterwards, so of course, I don't want that to happen again. 

I will now have to do my best to regain Polly's sense of happy confidence out on walks and keep a close eye to make sure she feels safe with other dogs. In my experience, what may seem merely an unpleasant isolated incident between dogs, can potentially generate unwanted, unpredictable behaviours in the future with a sensitive dog such as a Golden. It is possible I may need to rebuild aspects of training I have worked hard on with my lovely girl for years, to reinstate her confidence and trust in other dogs.

In my view, dog training should be fun and as my job is to keep my girls safe and happy, I felt I'd let my girl down by inadvertently putting her into a situation with a dog neither of us completely trusted. Rather than continue with that particular group, we'll simply cut our losses and join another group, to continue our training fun with hopefully, friendlier dogs. Polly loves her group training classes, so we won't give up entirely.

After six plus years of training classes with my girls among many, many other dogs of all breeds, sizes and characters, naturally we have experienced both ups and downs in classes along the way. The one thing I have learned above all, is to take ownership when things aren't working for the benefit of my dog. Training classes should be fun and beneficial for your dog and when the mix isn't quite right in a group, sadly things do have the potential to go wrong.  If that happens, personally I believe it is time to make changes for your dog. Unfortunately, not all classes will work postively for you, as fine tuning a group of dogs to work and play together is a tough job for any instructor, no matter how experienced. I like and respect our instructor very much, but am no longer confident for Polly within this particular group of dogs, so as I see it, it makes sense for us to move on (we are staying with our instructor, just changing groups).

... after all, Polly is six and a half now and should be enjoying a more peaceful middle-age!


Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Betty's 'Real Life' Training

If you look closely, you might just about see Betty racing into the distance on our training walk this morning...

The handsome fellow in the foreground is one of Betty's 'Real Life' training class pals.  We were out first thing this morning with our group, training in a beautiful local nature reserve, made even more lovely by the fabulous autumn colour on display (not to mention so much more fun than training in a village hall or on a boring field!)

The dogs worked really hard on obedience skills today, practising polite lead walking along a noisy road before even entering the nature reserve, then focusing on maintaining a series of challenging 'sit stays' against the almost overwhelming distractions of the nature reserve.  By the time the group was eventually allowed a free run, all five dogs were well ready to rampage!  Betty flew threw the trees, tore up and down steep brambly banks and chased excitedly around with her new pal Charlie, a sweet little chocolate cockerpoo. I don't mind admitting, there would have been a time when this harem-scarem, out of sight running, would make me anxious but not today, because despite her high levels of excitement, Betty checked in with me regularly and happily raced back for her recalls and a treat or two.

I am so pleased with Betty's progress in exciting environments. When we first began 'Real Life' training a couple of years ago, I could barely get Betty to put her bum onto the ground in a sit because her excitement/stress levels were so high, let alone get her to sit and stay off lead until released for play. Now she sits politely waiting for her release cue before charging off to play, giving me the opportunity to release her safely and calmly and also to call her back quickly if needed. She also checks in regularly while she is off lead, making sure she knows where I am and most importantly of all, she pays close attention to the whistle and recalls promptly.

I love seeing my girls having fun so much on their walks as it is an absolute joy to watch them running at pelt in a natural environment. Needless to say, off lead runs should always be undertaken as safely as possible. I highly recommend training classes/group walks as a great way to achieve the level of cooperation and understanding, essential for keeping your dog safe off lead.  They are great for socialising dogs (and their owners) too!


Friday, 11 October 2019

Lead etiquette

I was reading an online forum post yesterday, written by an owner of a young Golden puppy, she was asking for advice on dog lead etiquette after her poor pup had been bitten by an off lead dog on their walk. It put me in mind of when Polly was younger and bitten whilst on the lead and how that has since affected her lead behaviour in certain situations, so I thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences here, in the help they might help anyone else with similar issues as I know firsthand how a flare up on lead can easily knock both the dog's and the owner's confidence. 

The following tips are based on my own experience with Polly and the work we have done and continue to do, to help us cope better with lead walks. There will of course be other views on how best to cope with lead situations. I think it is a case of getting to know your own dog's potential responses to other dogs as well as you possibly can, building a strong bond with your dog and having the confidence to protect your dog adequately.

The following are my preferred methods of dealing with on lead situations:

Meets on lead can be fraught with potential problems as not all owners have good control of their dogs, some dogs are walked off lead and have little or no recall and not all dogs react well on a lead, causing them to be unpredictable when in close proximity to your dog. Bear in mind, being on lead puts your dog at a distinct disadvantage in confrontational situations as his option to take flight has been removed. 

Here are a couple of simple pointers I use for lead walking: I keep the lead as loose as possible and resist the temptation to pull tight if there is a dog ahead, to avoid giving my dogs the message there may be a problem looming they need to deal with. Secondly, if I do need to pass an oncoming dog, I give as much space as possible by curving away from the oncoming dog and owner as this is read as a non-threatening approach by most dogs. If you can't achieve a good space to pass, teach your pup to turn with you and walk back towards a wider space to allow safe passing. 

My girls have been taught to sit and wait for the other dog to pass quietly as this shows the other dog they don't wish to interact, however, bear in mind, this is a big ask for some dogs as it may make them feel vulnerable. In an ideal situation, my preference is to keep moving forward if there is sufficient space to do so safely, using an encouraging voice, loose lead, treats if necessary and putting myself between the dogs where possible. I also always say a friendly but brisk hello ahead of passing, so that my dogs hear I am in control on their behalf, relaxed and have decided it is safe to move forward.

I taught Polly and Betty a verbal 'walk on' instruction so they know not to greet without my permission whilst working, ie lead walking. I found obedience classes really helpful for this.

I think most dog walkers are far too polite when an off lead, oncoming dog suddenly appears on a path ahead. In the past I know I tried to pass loose dogs while Polly was politely on her lead. I kept my fingers crossed and reluctantly trusted owners who called out 'he's fine, don't worry!' It was rarely the best course of action in hindsight and often made my girl anxious to be faced with a potentially unpredictable dogs in narrow spaces such lanes, for example. Consequently, she would occasionally decide to lunge and bark, to tell the dog it needed to back off , which wasn't much fun for either of us. As my awareness and handling confidence improved, I learned it hadn't been fair of me to leave the decision to Polly; after all, I was her handler, her owner and therefore, should also be her protector. My advice now (hard learned!) is never be afraid to call out to request that an owner put their dog back onto the lead. If that owner refuses, stop calmly in your tracks, encourage your dog into a turn (better still, teach it as a verbal cue), then quietly retrace your steps away from that owner and their dog ... it may add a few more minutes to your walk, but far more importantly, it may also protect your dog from suffering a confrontation with an off lead, out of control dog, which puts both you and your dog at serious risk of injury.

If an approaching dog is off lead while yours is on lead but approaching calmly and slowly, you could try stopping where you are and giving it a moment to decide to return to his owner .. don't make eye contact, just show you don't intend moving towards him. Usually this will result in off lead dog stopping his approach, not always, but if he isn't racing up to you initially, just heading your way, it may work.

Always give the owner enough time to lead up before you begin moving forward.

Next scenario: when an on lead dog is heading your way and your own dog is off lead, what do you do? In my view dogs shouldn't be walked off lead unless they have a solid recall and owner can turn them quickly when necessary but many owners believe it is okay to walk their dogs off lead with minimal or no recall training. I know, go figure! So, most sensible dog owners will tell you, it is polite to put your dog back on lead if another dog on lead is being walked towards you as you really can't tell whether a leaded dog is likely to react to your dog being off leash, or how your own dog will react, so why risk a confrontation? If you want your dog to enjoy off lead fun (and they should!) work hard to train a good recall - being able to call him back to you safely and quickly will be the best thing you ever teach.

It can be very helpful to teach pups to greet when you give permission. My girls are given a 'say hello' cue when I am happy for them to interact and they wait for that cue to be given before going in for the nose to nose greeting. This gives me time to ask an owner if they mind their dog saying hello and it also has also taught my dog that we don't have to say hello to every dog we meet on walk, we can take our time in getting to know regular, friendly dogs and their owners instead.

Important to keep in mind: Blind corners can be very tricky areas between dogs on walks, so always approach such a corner slowly, listening really carefully for oncoming activity, before exposing your own dog ... most dogs prefer to have space ahead/around them and no surprises! Corner confrontations can be unexpected and the sudden flare-up horrible to deal with, so do try to keep your dog by your side, rather than ahead of your, whenever you approaching a corner.

Ditch your mobile phone! It always amazes me how many people are completely unaware of what is happening ahead of them and their dog simply because they are engrossed in their phone screen or are wearing headphones to listen to music (please don't get me started on that one!!!) Responsible, safe dog walking either on or off lead, requires the owner's total awareness at all times.

To summarise, there is a fine line between teaching your pup how to behave socially, but also how to stay safe. They aren't always good at reading other dogs' body language to start with, so it is important that you the owner, learn as much as possible about dog body language to help you see/sense the potential for problems arising on a walk. There are some great books on this topic available - if you are interested, I have listed some of my favourites if you scroll down the right hand column of my blog.

My apologies for such a long post, but I really wish I had this information when I first started lead walking with Polly six and a half years ago, rather than having to learn the hard way.

I hope this post is helpful if you are concerned about keeping your pup safe and also, being a polite, responsible dog walker.

Wishing you and your dog, safe, fun, happy walks!


Thursday, 10 October 2019

Destination Norfolk!

I have been holidaying in Cornwall for more years than I can remember, but thanks to many local dog bans on beaches making it so much more difficult to enjoy walks with my girls these days, I reluctantly decided that this year would be the perfect time for us to enjoy a change of scenery...

I began my search for the perfect dog friendly holiday online. Google makes finding holiday properties easy, but it is a bit like being a kid in a sweetie shop, there is so much choice it is almost impossible to decide on just one! Fortunately 'Pack Holidays' in Norfolk popped up as the ideal choice for us and our arrangements quickly fell into place thanks to the excellent service provided by holiday provider Gail.  We booked Gail's 'Oak Cottage' in East Ruston and when we pulled up at the gate on the first day of our holiday, we couldn't have been happier.

Polly and Betty immediately claimed the fabulous wrap around and completely secure garden as their own. They had a wonderful time playing chase while we unloaded and explored the house ... and what a house it was! Not only was it clean, comfortable, spacious, a definite 'home-from-home', it truly was the most dog friendly property we have ever had the pleasure of staying in, with everything a dog owner could possibly need provided, including home baked doggy treats, poo bags and would you believe it, dog showers and an actual poo bin!!!

 Once unpacked, we played with the dogs and settled in the garden to watch the sunset with a glass of wine, at which point Polly decided it was time to go home ... she hopped back into the car and bluntly refused to leave the comfort of the back seat. She would not be budged! I think as far as she was concerned, we had been visiting, it had been fun, but now it was time for us all to go home and we needed reminding of that. She is so funny, not to mention clever at times!  Eventually, with a heap of cajoling and some treats, I succeeded in convincing Polly to leave the car.  From that point on, she settled down with us, set up camp at the foot of our bed each night and positioned herself with one eye fixed on the front door during waking hours ... there was no chance of any holiday intruders slipping past my girl unnoticed that's for sure!

We were delighted to discover miles of beautiful sandy dog friendly beaches so close to our holiday home and spent many fabulous hours wandering along the shoreline, enjoying a salty breeze while our girls chased excitedly through the waves and across the sand.

And yes, of course, we had a nice paddle together too!

Norfolk is famous for seals and on one of our beach days, the dogs suddenly began to pay closer attention to the waves as we strolled along, when suddenly, a curious seal popped his head out of the sea to stare back at them!  Unknown to us, he had been following my girls quite close to the surface as they ran along the beach.  It was an incredible moment! I happened to have my camera in my hand to capture what was a real holiday 'wow' moment!

I also had my trusty dog whistle around my neck (never leave home without it!) so quickly gave that a jolly good blast and thankfully managed to recall my awestruck girls back to me to have their leads on, just to be on the safe side. It's unusual circumstances like these when all those years of obedience training really pay off.

We had such a lovely time on the beaches in Norfolk.  It was a fantastic experience for Polly and Betty to be able to run so freely through the sea and along the beaches and wonderful to see them enjoying their runs so much as sisters.  They had an absolute blast!

We also visited Felbrigg Manor and the local pub and tea shops with the girls while we were away and as usual, they were exceptionally well behaved wherever we took them ... my girls really do love a holiday!

For me a holiday these days is all about making my dogs happy because when they are happy, I am happy. I don't miss foreign holidays, hot climates, or flying, I am far happier when the car is packed full of dog paraphernalia, wellies and waterproofs and my husband and I can share fresh air, peaceful beaches and gentle waves with our girls, as a family.

Pack Holidays gave us the best dog friendly holiday we have had yet. Norfolk was beautiful, peaceful and very welcoming and we are looking forward to returning soon ... with our girls, of course.

Thank you Gail, for creating the perfect dog friendly holiday for us and making us all feel so welcome. Polly and Betty were sleepy for a week when we came home ... definitely the sign of a successful holiday!

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