Moved in

Let me tell you, moving is an absolute pain in the arse, regardless of how far you’re actually going.

All sofas have now gone and a new one has yet to be ordered.

Dexter had a pretty hard time of it as the first week in, we had fireworks and a massive thunder storm. He had neither the comfort of a sofa or his safe place, which used to be under a built-in desk I had in the corner of the old dining room.

He was also off his food and banged his toe on the new back step, so spent a good part of the following week limping.

As if all that wasn’t traumatic enough, we’ve also decided we’re not going to stay here and need to find another house as soon as possible. I won’t bore you with the reasons but basically we didn’t have much of a choice at the time and it seemed like the least amount of hassle.

Although Nick and I have not really settled in, I can at least confirm that the big lad has found a decent alternative in the absence of his sofas and is now perfectly comfortable…

…On the spare bed.

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Sofa dilemma

As I mentioned in the previous post we’re moving house.

It’s not been too stressful an experience so far, we’re only moving 2 doors along and we’ve had a couple of weeks to do it in. But it’s nearly time so things are cranking up.

The new house has a little more space which we’re keen to maximise by pairing down the stuff we own. We don’t want to fill it up immediately, we want to enjoy the extra square footage at least for a couple of months.

Currently we have 3 sofas. All sofa’s are handmedowns, one is nearly 35 years old and I want rid of all of them. They take up so much space, none are my taste and I have never ever bought a brand new sofa. So at 47 years of age, it’s time.

Only problem is…

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Sighthounds love a sofa. They like something off the ground to avoid the draughts and it has to be soft for their boney little hips and elbows to be truly comfortable.

I can watch him endlessly when he’s snoozing. He deep-sighs, grunts and groans, stretches his digits and rolls around in apparent ecstasy. After nearly 5 years it’s still so rewarding to see our once troubled rescue mutt absolutely happy and relaxed.

The last few days I’ve been feeling bad that our professional couch potato not only won’t have his special couch but won’t have any couch until we get around to buying a new one. And then he’ll only be able to snag it when we’re not sitting there.

He won’t share. He’s too aloof for sharing.

I feel bad that he has no idea what’s coming in less than 4 days.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water

I’m in the middle of moving house, so the posts won’t be as regular for a little while. Bear with me whilst I sort through 11 years of crap.

Some dogs are all about the water, are bred for hauling things out of water or just love messing about in it.

We weren’t sure what our leggy, short haired dude would make of it.

Dexter is not keen on rain at all and has been known to cross his legs for hours rather than venture out in it. Other skinny hound owners will probably be familiar with the head-hanging-low-backward-walk-away-from-the-open-door move.

We live a couple of minutes from a river, so it was one of the first places we walked him, to see if he would be interested in it or as aloof as he is about pretty much everything else (except food).

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Surprisingly, he loves it, more specifically seems to be particularly taken with trying to bite and swallow every splash that’s made.

This, we have since learned can be a bit of an issue in sea water. Needless to say, it’s not pleasant and a bit messy, so we tend to avoid beaches these days.

He’s not a bad swimmer either and can even do a few underwater strokes. We were told he had some hydrotherapy during his lengthy stay with The Dogs Trust, which makes sense because he swims a few feet, then turns and goes back the way he came. And repeats.

I have been told that Greyhounds aren’t known for their swimming and can take an active dislike to being anywhere near water but not our boy. Under the right circumstances, he is as focussed on it as he is when he’s on squirrel patrol.

The thing I never get tired of though is the hose pipe and paddling pool.

We had several, rather expensive attempts with pools we thought we might be able to share with him. Unfortunately, Dexter likes to dig water and so the blow up kind tend to get trashed in minutes.

We have ended up with a moulded plastic kids sand pit thing. It’s not ideal but it allows us to cool him off when it’s really hot without him tearing holes in the bottom of it.

And it allows for some hilarious photo ops to capture just how much of a nutcase he is.

Getting a dog has many well documented benefits but I think one of the best is the guaranteed laughs you get every single day.

I’m told it’s good for you.

On hot days when we get the pool out, I usually end up crying with laughter.

That sure feels pretty damn good to me.

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If you’re interested in seeing video of Dexter vs Water, you’ll find some on my Instagram  at instagram.com/suzysquint

 

Finding our feet

The next few months I continued to limp about, had a bit more physio and upped the mileage. I have never got around to getting a drivers licence and was keen to get my primary mode of transport, my legs, back in proper working order.

I was loving walking Dexter again but had yet to face the fear of letting him off for a run when Nick wasn’t there to hide behind.

As much as I enjoyed watching this face coming towards me, the speed and accuracy of his trajectory was still extremely unnerving and at times took my breath away.

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Obviously, it was up to me to stand still and trust that he wouldn’t hit me again, even if sometimes he came ridiculously close. It was a real test of my nerve for sure.

One sunny morning I took him for a walk down an old river path I’d frequented as a child. We’d not been this particular way before as it was difficult to see if other dogs were coming but it was so pretty and quiet that day I decided to chance it.

We came to an opening where I could see enough into the distance and I decided this was the time to face my fear.  Before I had chance to think about it any more, I unclipped the lead and let him go.

All went according to plan and I felt a quiet sense of achievement for the rest of the day. Now Dexter didn’t need to miss out on a run because I was being a bit wussypants about it.

We continued the routine for the next few months and by the time we celebrated the first year anniversary of adopting Dexter, I was pretty much (aside from the large scar and odd twinge and creak) back to full working order.

In that time Dexter too had gained an enormous amount of confidence, was properly bonded with both of us and continued to reveal more and more of his hilarious character every day.

I found myself grabbing the camera or the iPhone almost daily, he was challenging to capture when moving but he also wouldn’t necessarily play ball when he was still either. Like my mother, the moment a camera is produced or a lens pointed in their direction, they both turn their heads away.

I persevered with patience and treats and managed to get a couple more quite nice shots.

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For photo’s of my mum on the other hand, you need patience, stealth and alcohol.

 

 

First Holiday

It was the end of March, I had rid myself of stitches and crutches and was into the physiotherapy stage. I was still hobbling about and my leg was devoid of muscle, which I was in the process of building back up.

For the previous few years, Nick and I had been renting holiday cottages on the Isle of Mull. We loved going out of season for the peace and lack of people. The weather is usually pretty kind, the scenery is amazing, there’s some jaw-dropping wildlife, lots of things to take photographs of and I get my fill of seafood.

It would be another test for Dexter too. Starting with a 5-6 hour car journey to Oban, a 45 minute ferry and a whole new house to get used to for a week.

This time we’d got a lovely little place on the edge of Loch Na Keal. There wasn’t much walking nearby but that obviously didn’t matter this time, as I wasn’t really ready for much of that business. What it did have was a good grassy fenced garden, which we knew D boy would enjoy.

We spent our time enjoying the location and the view. We had a lot of this…

 

 

Followed by quite a bit of this…

 

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And when we got home and I reviewed my shots, I discovered I’d taken another photo I was really pretty proud of.

 

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When zoomed right in, you can see the reflection of Nick in his eye.

Bonded with his master. It’s the look of love alright.

Ears and DNA

During my ‘non-weight bearing’ period, I spent a lot of time at my computer, sitting some distance from the screen, on a sun lounger, with a wireless keyboard. The splint on my leg dictated the ridiculous furniture adaptation. At least this way I didn’t have to lie in bed watching daytime TV.

I’d been obsessively researching my dog, his breed, the issues he had. It was all still so new and I had to distract myself from watching an endless stream of very helpful people come in and walk Dexter for me.

A lurcher is a cross between any sighthound breed and something else. Sighthounds are bred for hunting predominantly but their grace and elegance mean they have been the companions of Royalty and the rich since, well, humans pretty much. They go at least 5000 years back and I really quite like that.

Anyway, it was clear that Dexter had a good chunk of greyhound but he is smaller and slightly stockier in proportion when you compare him to a pure grey and his colouring is a little unusual too. I was becoming more and more fascinated with his physique and with certain characteristics, expressions and drives.

Most of the time his ears lay firmly flat down the back of his neck, especially when he spotted something or someone he liked, which is very greyhound but occasionally his ears would unfurl to their full extent, stand straight up and well, they’re really quite something.

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Somehow or other in my endless web trawlings I came across a DNA test for dogs. A simple swab that you send off to a lab and get a report on your dogs heritage a couple of weeks later.

SOLD. Dammit, Science is such a wonderful thing.

So here he is

3 parts Irish with a sprinkling of Spanish. Which totally explains the ears.

 

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It’s a really amazing thing to be able to get this kind of information about your mixed breed dog. Not only will it answer a bunch of questions you have about what they might contain but it can be really helpful for your vet if there are health problems.

I highly recommend it. I got a right kick out of it.

One of these days I might get around to doing my own DNA. I know I’ve got Irish, English, German and some potential Italian in there. The human equivalent of a mutt.

Or you could say I’m a European.

#Remain

 

First proper photograph

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I took this picture 4 days before the leg break.

He’d settled himself in a window shaped area of Autumn sun and was looking gorgeous. I grabbed my camera and shot a handful of him snoozing.

He looked so much more relaxed than he had 3 weeks ago and I got a bit of a buzz seeing him all chilled out and content.

When I pulled up the images in Photoshop I got quite excited by this one. The contrast is nice, the depth of field is good and it shows his great lines and curves. And those eyes.

It’s not perfect, his nose is just nudging out of the light but I allowed myself a little quiet credit. I subscribe to extremely high standards but I’m aesthetically more drawn to and appreciate the little imperfections in things, if I’m honest.

Coming from someone with a massive scar down one leg, I guess I would say that.

What I try really hard to do is take the pictures I want to take and not attempt to recreate something I’ve seen before. Although I understand that’s part of the learning process too, there’s SO much photography these days it can be too distracting and can (for want of a better way of putting it) blur my focus.

I’ve been into photography since I was a student and had worked around it professionally for years but had never really considered myself a photographer as such. It was a hobby I enjoyed for myself and something I knew quite a bit about but without professional equipment I wasn’t about to call myself one. Besides, I was of the opinion at that time that doing something creative, that you love, for money, was a bit of a contradiction.

At this point I had been working as a freelance graphic designer for several years and had been feeling for some time that it wasn’t quite right. Any joy I had for it felt like it had been sucked out of me. I think I applied that same logic to my photography and was actually quite scared about sharing something so personal and fulfilling, in case I lost what I loved about it.

But corny as it sounds, Dexter became my muse and because I had all that time on my hands to look at and study him whilst I healed, as soon as I was mobile again I became a little obsessed with walking him of course, and photographing him.