Monday, February 22, 2010

Caught in the Act!

To all dog owners comes the day when you catch you're beloved pooch in the act of doing something they shouldn't. Brinkley was no exception. He could be mostly trusted to be left alone in the early morning when Daddy had gone to work. He would leave him in the loungeroom and kitchen area closing off the bedrooms to let the rest of the family sleep in.

One morning though, I woke to find a very guilty looking Brinkley, head bowed down low, not a word was spoken, so he knew that he had been caught in the act of doing something that was unacceptable. He had somehow got a roll of toilet paper from the linen cupboard which had been let open and carried it into the kitchen...

"But Mummy.....I only wanted to make some snow..."

The look says it all don't you think?

Last week I was outside hanging up some washing and when I came inside what did I find? Just had to run and get the camera before they knew I was there..... waiting for the kids to come home from school, Marley and Jasper always seem to know when it's time for them to come home....why is they have an internal clock?

Then of a sudden they realized I was watching them and turned to see what I would say. They are not supposed to be up on the furniture and they know it!.....but don't they just look so they own that lounge chair...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"I will follow you will you follow me..."

"I will follow you will you follow me
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you will you stay with me
Just one single tear in each passing year"

Remember those words sung by Genesis? It sums up Cavaliers so nicely and is still one of my all time favourite songs.

One of the nicest things I love about Cavaliers is that they just love company. They are both sitting at my feet as I type. Jasper as usual is licking my feet and Marley is as close as he can get with his head on my other foot.

If I get up to take my empty tea cup to the kitchen they will get up and follow me and then follow me back again when I come to sit down. If I get up to go to the bathroom they will follow me there too and sit outside until I come out, if I left the door open which has happened on occassion with the kids they will follow us right inside...Jasper even following my daughter right into the shower one time.

Jasper is the worst or maybe I should say the best at it, since it doesn't bother me, it's kind of sweet to feel loved that much by something that will attach itself to you and follow your every move.

Jasper will keep one eye open even while he is sleeping in case I move. I think he is worried I will go out and leave him.

They seem to be able to sense if I'm actually going to leave the house. It must be the routine...not sure, but if I go into the bathrom and start brushing my hair or applying my makeup they will sit as close as they can get and almost have this nervous look in their eyes and an agitated restlessness about them, not as calm and relaxed as if I'm sitting at the computer or outside reading in the sunroom.

Jasper has moved now. He hasn't gone far, just a few feet away, off the carpet and onto the nice cool tiles. The front door is open and there's a lovely breeze coming in.

 We've had 3 days of rain and it was so humid just before that. It took at least two days to cool the house down. Jasper loves to sit and look out at the street and occassionally bark at a bird sitting in the bird bath. but for now he's laying on the tiles and contentedly looking out the front door taking in the goings on of a busy day time street.

Marley is sitting on both feet now. He got up when Jasper did and got himself something to chew on, a plastic bone that's supposed to be good for their teeth. He's plonked himself back onto both my feet and has me prisoner...oh well, guess I'll just have to stay here awhile longer and keep posting....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Marley & Me - our dog and John Grogan's Marley.

Marley & Me is a book by John Grogan. I'm pretty sure everyone would have heard about it by now since it was made into a movie last year.

After our Brinkley died and I was just so sad we got our new puppy and while we were waiting for him to arrive to our home the children and I tried to think of what we would call him.

As I've mentioned before I just loved the name Brinkley for a dog and only having our Brinkley for two years was not nearly enough time for me to enjoy the name or the dog. I was tempted so close to naming our second puppy Brinkley II, but was talked out of it by a good friend.

So then I researched puppy name web sites and read out the hundreds of names to the children - we came up with Bentley, Bundy, Fluffy, Muffy (see my guinea pig post and you'll guess who picked that name), and Marley. In the end we all agreed to Marley and so that was the name he was given. I wrote to my good friend telling her of our choice and she emailed me that day to tell me about a great book named Marley & Me. I had never heard of it and the movie was not yet made. Within a few days a gift parcel arrived in the post and I received John Grogan's book - Marley & Me from my friend.

I devoured the book in a few nights. I have never laughed so much and I read out portions of it to my husband and the children over dinner. If you haven't read it yet and you love pets please do yourself a favour and read really is the best.

I cried in parts too and then I was so eager to see the movie when it was released. I enjoy Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston both as actors so I was excitedly imagining them in the roles of John Grogan and his wife. I think we saw it on opening day. I must say I was sadly disappointed. I don't really know how to explain why, maybe it's partly that watching movies after I've read the book has always disappointed me - they never live up to the book, or maybe it was just the weird way it was filmed....I'm not a film critic so I'll leave that to those that are, but I didn't enjoy the movie nearly as much as I thought I would. There was that strange jumping through time scene and the filming of that just lost me...

Back to the book though, I loved the antics of John Grogans' Marley. One of my favourite parts was when they took him to the open air cafe and tied him to the table legs and he dragged the table through the cafe as he tried to chase another dog (a poodle I think). The other part was when he took Marley to the off-leash beach and Marley swallowed all that water. I've seen our own Marley do that in my parents swimming pool. Not pretty!!!

So what was your favourite part of the book?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Random rainy day doggy ramblings....

It started raining this morning just as I had to go out for a doctors appointment....not just a light shower, but a massive downpour! We've recently enclosed our outdoor entertaining room - did I already tell you that....anyway, it now has windows and screens and I can lock it up. Before that it was open and the dogs could sleep under there when we weren't home and would jump up on the old cane furniture we had. It was getting chewed up and so were all the cushion corners by Marley - I have to Blame it on that Dog! because Jasper is just a little angel when it comes to chewing anything.

We have all new furniture out there and we don't want doggy paw prints all over it as it's so nice to have a lovely place to sit and that looks all new and comfy. Sadly, for my two boys it means getting locked out which 95% of the time is not a problem - except....when it rains. They are so used to being under cover that they haven't gotten used to finding somewhere else to run and hide when it rains. We have the cubby house open for them with one of their beds and some chew toys in there all cosy and warm for them.....but so far three times I have come home after it rained to find them looking like they'd just jumped out of the swimming pool - all dripping and wet and ears drooping down to the ground - a very pathetic sight.

I don't know how to retrain them to stay dry. I hope in time they will learn because I really hate to see them so wet and I am dreading the day I actually have to go out for a whole day. It's usually only an hour at the most - down to the school or the shops.

A few weeks ago we went out for the afternoon for three hours and so I closed all the blinds in the playroom (our garage/laundry/office/storage of kids toys room). I made it look like night time in there and then put the dogs to bed. By the time we came home it was night time and as we pulled up the driveway I could hear Jasper yelping frantically. He was bursting to go out to the toilet. At least they held on and they stayed dry, so I might have to try that a bit more often if it's raining when I go out. I think they would prefer it to being locked outside in the open.

I got home today and there they both were all droopy and wet and I just had to take these photos - not sure how well they'll come out because I took them through the flyscreen before I let them in and dried them off, but here goes....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More about Marley and the hole stopped up...

I was sitting so peacefully outside today...enjoying my afternoon tea and then attempting to have a nap on my day lovely! and then bark....bark bark bark....bark...bark bark bark...and it was on again.

Marley first, then Jasper his smaller chubbier cohort followed him over to the side fence which we share with the neighbours white fluffy pooches. All four of them were having a good old chat through the fence and all of  a sudden I saw between the hedge branches and leaves Marley's head disappear.

I called out to Daddy to go and fix that hole once and for all. He thought throwing a sandal at Marley would solve the problem. Well, temporarily it did, Marley making a hasty retreat into the sunroom and hiding beneath my skirt...which he often does when he's in trouble with Daddy.

But, I was a bit more determined than that and so had to convince my dear darling hubby that seeing as we were heading out for the afternoon he really did need to address that hole - and so was added another long concrete edging paver along the fence to cover the next hole. So far it spans almost 5 metres...until the next time...should take by my calculations at least another good week and a half before the noses meet once again....the soil is quite dry and rocklike along the fence line - thank goodness or they would have long ago met and made a run for it.

I'm not too worried about the neighbours dogs coming over here. Marley and Jasper are Cavaliers after all. The "burglars friend" just about sums up their temperaments. Someone once told me that was what they were affectionately known as. Cavaliers just wouldn't hurt a fly...well...I have on ocassion seen them snap and eat a maybe I should say they wouldn't hurt another dog or person... I am more worried of Marley getting into their yard and then getting under their front fence and then onto the road outside. I'm not worried about Jasper getting out since it would take a pretty BIG hole for him to get under. He is such a chubbikins!

“Wipe Your Feet!”

Hi all, Just wanted to share an amazing breakthrough we’ve had with Marley this week. It’s been raining off and on for the past two weeks here. Still very hot and humid but with the occasional break in the monotony by a thunderstorm and some rain.

Since enclosing our outdoor room with windows and screens Marley and Jasper have been locked out whenever we’re not at home.

Twice this week after getting back from dropping the kids off at school I’ve come home to eight very muddy paws and two very wet muddy noses. Marley and Jasper have two little friends that live next door and most days they like to speak to each other through the side fence – which gets a bit annoying hearing the four of them barking at each other. Marley has been slowly tunnelling under the fence with the help of the neighbours dogs (a Bichon Frise and a Lhasa Apso x Shih Tzu) who started the whole thing two years ago (Blame it on other people's dogs) tunnelling back from the other side. So far they can all get their noses under the fence, but that’s all. We keep thinking of ways to stop them – concrete pavers placed against the fence, sheets of plastic buried under the soil…which reminds me…I’ve found a new hole so – Note to self: Tell Dad he needs to stop up that hole before it gets bigger and we have one, two or all four escapees…

Anyway, on Monday when I got home there they both were running to greet me at the back door with all this mud on them. I went to get an old towel to wipe their feet before letting them inside and then I carried them one by one into the laundry and washed their faces and feet.

Since we got them both I have been doing it this way and when I let them in the back door I make them sit and wait until I’ve wiped their feet, all the while saying to them “come on wipe your feet!” They will sit patiently while I lift one paw at a time and wipe their feet clean.

This week I was amazed that when I said “wipe your feet” to Jasper, before he could come closer there was Marley running onto the towel and attempting to wipe his own feet. He looked so funny like he was running on a treadmill on the towel and swiping his front paws one at a time…
He repeated the same process the next day after it had rained. Who says dogs are dumb? Not me – but some cat loving friends of mine say so…what would they know anyway.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jasper Kerplunk AKA "Mr Licky"

Jasper is our tri-colour Cavalier. He is shorter than Marley, black, tan and white with the cutest face and clear white snout. His fur is long and fluffy. We call him "Kerplunk" because he errs on the side of constantly on a diet - and loves to! and then "Kerplunks" in a heap on the floor. Sadly he has hip dysplasia which means his both hip ball and socket joints are not developed properly. The ball of the hip on one side only just touches the socket. If we let him get too fat it puts strain on his back legs and they slide outwards when he sits and gives him great pain.

Poor puppy - we have to limit his exercise and also his ball playing so that he doesn't overdo it on the hips. Jasper is only 18 months old so still a young puppy. We foresee not a good future for him unless we maintain his weight with diet and exercise.

In fact, if we don't keep him on a strict diet and watch his every move he will starve Marley. He is the alpha male between the 2 of them.

He is otherwise the most lovable and gentle natured dog. When we first picked him up at one of the Dog Shows from his breeder he was soooooo shy! He kept his head down and shivered in my arms all the way home.

On arriving home we introduced him to Marley - a bouncy playful definitely NOT shy puppy! Poor Jasper just kerplunked himself down on the kitchen floor and looked as if he wished the ground would open up and swallow him.

After about four hours of Marley bouncing around him and teasing him to come and play, Jasper gave Marley a quick growl and nip on the ear at which Marley made a very hasty retreat into the corner for the rest of the night - and so with one quiet "word" Jasper established himself as the alpha male.

Today, he is an adorable quiet dog who follows me around the house and yard unyieldingly. Even if he is fast asleep as soon as he feels me move from his side he is up and follows.

His favourite game is fetch! Golf balls are his choice of ball, but tennis balls will do nicely too. He has a voracious appetite (if you can call it that) for playing ball. Jasper gets so excited that he yelps while waiting for you to throw the ball. He will fetch the ball and come right up and place it in your hand or on your lap.

So you ask why AKA Mr. Licky? Well, I think that one is self-explanatory....lick lick lick your feet...your hands...whatever...YUK! right...I know. We've tried to break him of the habit but he will NOT be changed! I don't mind so much the feet licking while he plonks under my desk but that's as far as I will allow.

Marley "Long Legs"

Marley is our blenheim Cavalier KCS. For those of you who are not into dogs that stands for Cavalier King Charles Spaniel - not to be confused with the King Charles Spaniel which is another breed of dog. The Cavalier is a gorgeous round eyed dog with floppy long silky ears, a longish coat and obvious snout. It was the dog that belonged to King Charles II of England. They were interbred with flat nosed dogs such as the pug to later become the King Charles Spaniel of today. The King Charles Spaniel has a flat "pushed in" snout and protruding "bulgy" eyes. In all others ways they share the same colourings of the 4 types of this small spaniel breed - blenheim (tan and white), tri-colour (black, tan and white), ruby (complete tan), and the black and tan. In the 1920's so my reading explains the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that we have today once again emerged into popularity to bring again to the world the lovable round eyed longer snout type of the CKCS.

Marley was an adorable "impulse buy" puppy after losing Brinkley The hole he left for the children and even more so for me - a stay at home/work from home mother, who thrives on the company of a lovable pet while all others are out at school and work, was too much to bear at the time and so I spent a weekend scouring the breeders of the country to find another such adorable dog as Brinkley was.

Marley came to us in June 2008. He was a bundle of fluff and has grown into a lean long legged dog with a happy disposition and a love of chewing anything that is left lying around.

Evidence: - school shoe buckle (chewed beyond recognition)
Solution: Kids pick up all your shoes and visitors for your own good leave shoes at front door.
Evidence: Cushion covers on outdoor furniture - (all corners chewed to destruction)
Solution: Windows and screens now in outdoor area and dogs locked out!
Evidence: Jaspers golf balls (chewed until the outer covering is cracked open like an egg shell.
Solution: Yet to be found - suggestions welcome.

For all his chewing faults Marley is a lovable rascal who loves to hide under my skirts like a naughty child whenever Daddy walks into the room. He enjoys a lap cuddle and stretching out on the cool tiled floor.

He has a quirky "mohawk" thing happening on the top of his head which is definitely not the "breed standard" but which makes him lovable nontheless. It took me a long time to accept that he had that on his head - sort of like a mother whose teenage son comes home with the same hairstyle for the first time - I just wanted to get in and give him a haircut!!! After 2 years now I have finally accepted that it's not going anywhere and just to love him as he is.

You gotta love a dog that can give you a "High 5" instead of the usual old boring hand shake right? - that's our Marley.

more later......

Brinkley - The Name

So you say you've heard the name before but can't remember where from. Let me put you out of your misery as you rack your brain trying to remember. It's from one of my favourite films of the 90's "You've Got Mail." Brinkley was Tom Hanks' Golden Retreiever dog that he wrote about. I always loved the name after seeing that movie and vowed that next time I owned a dog I would name him Brinkley. Part of my sadness of losing our Brinkley when he died was was in losing that name too. I wanted to hang onto the name and agonized over letting it go when we bought our next Cavalier, but replacing Brinkley so quickly was the only way I could cope with his death and missing him so much at home when I was home alone, so I couldn't just call the next dog (in this case Marley) by the same name. One day in the future I might use the name again because I really do LOVE the name as much as I loved the dog.

In Memory of Brinkley

Brinkley was our first Cavalier. I did a lot of research into different dog breeds before discovering the Cavalier KCS on a dog breed web site. I found a site that gave you a survey to fill out - specifying your lifestyle, how many people in the family, size of your house and garden, etc... and then gave you the best breed for your circumstances. Up came the Cavalier and the Beagle. Since I knew that beagles are very big diggers and we didn't want to be chasing after the "diggingest dog" we opted for the cuteness of the Cavalier. Honestly I had never heard of them before. I had heard of King Charles Spaniels but remembered their flat nose and bulgy eyes and that look didn't appeal to me. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Cavalier although a close cousin had a more appealing appearance. I immediately fell in love with their gentle nature, warm brown round eyes and big floppy ears.

Many years ago.....when I was in my teens an older friend had given me a small ceramic figurine of a tan and white dog laying flat on its belly, ears flopping out to the sides and face down between its paws. I always loved the look of that dog and treasured it - don't know where it disappeared to in all my house moves but I regret losing it. I always assumed rather than knew that it was a Cocker Spaniel. It seemed smaller which indeed the Cavies are, but I didn't know the difference. I now realize that that figurine was a Cavalier and as I now also collect Cavalier figurines I so much wish I still had it.

It took me a few months to locate a breeder with available puppies but finally found one of four available puppies only a few minutes from home. Two things I've learnt when searching for a Cavalier: 1. Buyer beware - avoid the pet shops if possible as there's no guarantee on what you're getting or of any hereditary problems of your puppy and 2. Ask all the right questions. By this I mean do your home work. Not all so called registered breeders know what they're doing when it comes to breeding. My motto from here on in is: "Go for the Show." Look for a show breeder, preferably someone who has been doing it for many years and has the ribbons to prove that their dogs are breed worthy. The best web site I've found so far in my amateur opinion is .

From the first moment I saw him Brinkley and I connected...made eye contact and I fell "in love" with my first Cavalier puppy. His puppy name was X-Box - obviously named by a child. Of course we told the kids the puppy was for them - they had been begging us for a dog for a few years and now they were old enough to look after one after practising pet ownership with a few guinea pigs. Both the children were at school now and I was working from home. I missed the company at home so a "lap dog" suited me perfectly. Cavaliers are the perfect lap dog. They thrive on human company and will follow you around absolutely everywhere - from room to room...even sitting outside the bathroom waiting for you to come out. Brinkley was the epitome of that behaviour. When I worked, he sat under my desk - as do both my Cavies I write so they both sit under my feet - Jasper "Mr Licky" doing what he does best and Marley keeping my left foot warm with his head.

Brinkley was a fast learner - he learnt to drop and roll over within a few weeks - later one of my children taught him to roll over by just a twirl of the finger using no words. He learnt to pick up the clothes pegs if I dropped them and would bring them and drop them at my feet for me....that later developed into me saying "Brinkley fetch me a peg" and he would go and get one out of the peg basket and bring it to me.

Brinkley craved human company too much though. If I went out shopping for the morning when I arrived home I would see a little brown nose poking out under the side gate. He had been there since I left home. He was always eager to go for walks and I would take him to pick the children up from school each afternoon. BUT....if the front door was left open when someone arrived and we weren't watchful Brinkley would make a dash out the door and would be gone as quick as a flash. He would run across the road to the bus stop to sniff the rubbish bin for other dogs who had walked past. My big mistake was not getting him desexed at the recommended six months of age. I was a new dog owner and I had visions of breeding him, I learnt later what that involved and didn't want to go down that road. But, by not desexing him earlier he developed the "wanting" to run for it when he had the chance. Cavaliers have absolutely NO ROAD SENSE!!! Future owners beware, this is not an idle's the absolute truth. Love them, leash them, but don't let them out of your sight!

One day, I arrived home from a doctors appointment with one of the kids while the other one was brought home by a friend and her child. I quickly ran out of the house to thank the mother of my child's friend and called out to the kids "Don't open the front door or Brinkley will get out." It happened. I blame myself because I didn't take the extra precaution of making sure the front door was locked.

The door was opened and in a few moments it was all over. Brinkley came bounding out to say hello to me. I grabbed for his collar but only managed to grab an ear. He slipped from my grip as I twisted and fell grazing my toes and ankle in the process. Brinkley shot across the road and as I looked out it really was like one of those movies where everything happens in slow motion. I never believed that before but I can attest to it now - your mind really does do that. I saw the car coming down the road and my mind calculated the impact to exact precision. Brinkley's head collided with the front drivers wheel and he was knocked down and killed instantly.

It was a terrible horrible day. The kids were all outside and saw the whole thing. One child ran screaming inside the house, the other ran onto the road on an impulse to check Brinkley was okay - a thought which haunts me to today. We've since had to drum into both children that it doesn't matter WHAT happens never ever ever run on the road ever ever EVER! Your own life is worth more than any beloved dog or cat or anything else. It's just not worth it!!!!!!

The car stopped and the driver and her husband on their way home from work emerged - she crying and apologising profusely that she hadn't seen the dog and me not able to cry and just trying to reassure her that it wasn't her fault it all happened so quickly.

My friend sent me inside bewildered and I think I was saying something like "I don't know what to do???" I was in shock. She very calmly took matters into hand and sent me inside to see to the kids. While she very gently wrapped Brinkley in something temporarily and carried him up the driveway as she herself sobbed uncontrolably - so she later told me, for my husband to deal with when he arrived home. I rang him hysterically and he rushed home to bury Brinkley before I had time to think.

We buried him in the bush near our home - my husband removed his collar and tags and then came home and removed the dogs bed and all his toys and locked them in the shed. When I later remembered the dog tags Brinkley was already buried and I cried. What a wonderful man I married, he knew me so well and knew that I would want to keep the tags with Brinkley's name on it.

My youngest child set about making me a cup of tea and trying to console me by offering to cook dinner that night - that child was 6! Here I was a blubbering mess who couldn't sit still - pacing the rooms in shock while my 6 year old child (who loved the dog more than anything on this earth) was trying to help ME cope!

My husband took the kids over to Brinkley's grave a few days later and they planted some flowers there. It helped the youngest one cope. I have never been over there. It's not something I feel the need to do. Brinkley is in my memory and in my heart still.

He will always be my "Brinkley Boo."
...Next post....Brinkley the Name???... you say I've heard that name before but where from?

Blame It On The Dog!

Our first Blog title was born of a comment made by one of our family when something happened and nobody wanted to own was adopted the saying amongst us all to "Blame it on the Dog!" Not really fair considering we can't defend ourselves with words. But the eyes tell it all. Cavaliers have the most innocent round eyes. Eyes that can melt, eyes that say - "Hey don't look at me, I was just laying here quietly minding my own business."

That expression "Blame it on the Dog" has continued to be used a number of times over the past 3 years that  Cavaliers have lived in this home. When something goes missing - "It's not me!" is heard echoing through the rooms...and in answer Mummy returns, "Oh well, we'll blame it on the dog!" When a broken item turns up unexplained..."blame it on the dog"...and so on it goes. Ofcourse secretly she and we all know that it wasn't really us...but she gives us a wink to let us know that we're not in trouble and with that quiet smile of hers and a pat and a rub around the ears she reassures us that she will get to the bottom of what really happened.

Teaching the lesson of owning errors is a challenge for any parent...and let's face it...when it's not something too serious...when it's humorous - then it's not such a bad idea to "blame it on the dog!" It sends a quiet message to the little people that Mummy is aware that it can't always be the dogs own up!

There are two of us living here at present. Jasper (that's me) and my brother Marley. We're Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I'm the tri-colour - black and tan with a white snout and underbelly. Marley is a Blenheim - tan and white. We're both the same age, less a week, but from two different breeders. We've been together since we were very small puppies and so we've become the closest of friends - "brothers".

We're coming onto two years old in May. We hear that there was another Cavalier living here before us. His name was Brinkley. But I'll save his story for another post - that'll give you time to get the tissue box ready, it's a real tear jerker.