Saturday, 30 November 2013

Back on the world wide interweb!

After a frustrating, internet problem few weeks we're now up and running... it's great to be back!

It turns out that EE had taken over Orange and in the process almost cut us off. We were informed by EE that if we waited until next year it would all be brilliant... I'm sure you'll realise what our reply to that was!

The outcome is we decided to go with BT, who, although I know some people have had problems with, seems to work well in The Borders, but then it took 5 days - as in working days - to get it up and running and as we ordered it on a Friday, it took til this Friday for it to be working, but working it now is... what a relief.

What's struck me out of this is how much I rely on the web for all kinds of things and in some ways I've been pleased to have to focus on Odi.

So, apart from frantically trying to log on from time to time, what've I been doing?

Most of my time seems to have been taken up doing puppy training. Some of it has been really successful as Odi now sits and waits and can now lie down on command. We're currently working on 'stay', but that'll take a time I think. Every day we go and do something to challenge her a bit, which mostly seems to take the form of shopping. We've been to shops in Edinburgh, Kelso, Galashiels and Earlston. We've been on a bus (to Earlston 6 miles away and had to be picked up by Mountain Man as it was too much to ask an 11 week old pup to do the journey back) and spent many a happy time standing outside the house in the freezing cold to get over the sound of the large trucks rumbling by. She's still not housetrained, but we're trying and she's certainly trying us. On Wednesday this week we had the puppy training supervisor down for a visit, which lasted about an hour and a half. It was like being back in school and that's all I'm saying about it!

On a more pleasant note we've had puppy playdates with a seventeen week old Guide Dog puppy called Nancy who lives in Lauder and the gorgeous Poppy, who's going to be training as a SARDA (Search and Rescue) dog and we have another puppy coming over to play tomorrow afternoon.

Yes, life has taken on a distinctly puppy flavour!

Apart from that, I've been getting on with my Romance novel writing course, which is coming to an end this week. I've learned a lot, most of it being that I have a lot to learn; I've had workshop work to do, which has been a huge shock to my system; and had a son (No. 2) and a friend of mine to stay, both of which were fun.

I'll post some more Odi pics tomorrow to show you how much she's grown (she put on 2.2 kg in 3 weeks), but here's one to be going on with that my friend, Jenny took with 'Paper Camera app', which is great fun, but more than that actually makes me feel reasonably photogenic!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Time out plan B

Yesterday saw Odi and me heading for our very first Guide Dogs puppy training class. 18 manic dogs under 6 months old (quite a few of us first timers with 10 week old pups in tow) all trying to play with one another and the trainer trying to be heard over the din and get us into some kind of order!

Odi was by far the smallest, by far the loudest, the most attention seeking and the most aggressive in the trying to get the others to play with her. I also have to say she was the cutest... but I am a bit biased here, tho she was the only one sought out to have her photo taken.

Apart from all the behavioural issues and peeing on the floor twice, during the actual exercises she did extremely well. Her recall was particularly good.

It turns out the trainer yesterday happens to have Odi's brother Ozzie (though he wasn't well and couldn't attend yesterday) and her other brother Oliver was there too. She battered him a bit as sister's are inclined to do!

What was great was that I got some tips for time out and since then MM and I have employed our time out plan B (plan A being putting her in her cage - which, although it stopped the behaviour, I felt was a step we need to keep in hand for when she's particularly naughty), which is to remove Odi from the room the moment she starts barking and wanting attention and putting her into the utility room with the freestanding wooden trellis gate across the doorway so she can't get in. We only do this for a minute or two until she's calm and then let her back in. It's working a treat.

I wonder what tips I'll get from next week's class?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Time out

Home from the peace and quiet of London.

Odi, apparently, didn't miss me at all but when I arrived back I got one of those greetings that start off being pleasurable... the excited wagging and licking (I'm talking puppy here not Mountain Man)... and then rapidly turn into being painful as ears, nose, neck, clothes and anything that tiny shark-like puppy teeth can get hold of, get bitten to death.

Eventually, after beginning to realise that Odi must think her real name is Odi NO (complete with expletives and exclamation marks), I decided on a time out. No naughty step for her, but into her cage. I wish I'd employed this tactic earlier as it worked a treat.

Obviously my years in Child Psychology are paying off!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

In shock

Not me... but Mountain Man.

Back from 10 days of working on The One Show Children In Need Rickshaw Ride, he arrived home last night to be confronted with the reality of being a Puppy Walker. And it wasn't long before that reality hit home.

He might well have been in a bit of a bubble at work, driving wonderful young people who've overcome incredible difficulties to manage a 24 hour 700 mile challenge, to being in a completely different bubble of 'puppy world', a 24 hour Odi challenge, where time is totally taken over by playing, watching puppy sleep, feeding or taking her out to get rid of whatever has gone in. And that friends is quite a challenge!

I'm off to London tomorrow for a meeting and then back on Tuesday, so MM will be on his own and his rude awakening to what will be our next year will be all his until my return.

Good luck MM... I think you're going to need it!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

A proud ma

Odi has now got a routine (of sorts) and it's making my life so much easier. I'm still tired as I'm having to get up in the night, but it's good to know when I can do things and when my attention is demanded.

We get up at anything from 6 - 7 (this is usually instigated by me, I have to add, as I usually wake and need to get myself something hot to drink) and rush outside so there's no accidents on the floor. After my drink we play for a little and then Odi takes herself back to her bed, where I shut her in and go get myself showered and dressed.

Then it's time for breakfast... mine first and then hers at 8. What's quite lovely is that Odi then takes herself back to bed and settles down for an hour or so, which gives me time to do whatever I need to do.

Getting ready for a post breakfast snooze
When she wakes we go outside so she can relieve herself and off we go for a walk. And after that? Well she falls asleep again for most of the morning.

Afternoons are usually spent doing some 'work' as in Odi's work of going to shops and being well behaved, which she mostly is.

My highlight today was going to get my paper and having someone in the shop say, 'What an incredibly well trained puppy you have there.' Proud? Moi? I should say so!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Not the best

Seriously cute!
My internet's been off since I last posted. It's been most frustrating, but at least I've had Odi to keep me occupied.

It's been hugely frustrating as I've been receiving emails but couldn't send anything, couldn't log onto internet sites and it made me aware just how I've come to rely on internet access 24/7. I couldn't even pay my credit card and had to do what I needed to do on my iPhone when I was at the supermarket.

It's all very well being home alone for 10 days with a new puppy, and actually I've welcomed that it's allowed us to bond and develop a pattern to our lives, but the responsibility of being a Guide Dog walker is an added dimension I'd not thought about before getting Odi and this, combined with no internet, has led to me feeling a bit isolated.

Meanwhile, I've done precisely no work at all and when I look back and think about what I have done this week, I have to say that my answer would be 'very little'.

I've been to the supermarket 3 times. The first was ok, the second I tripped and fell on my way out so have a wonderful, painful bruise on my right thigh/hip, and the third Odi managed to poo on her way out, which was pretty embarrassing even though I was armed with bags and cleaner. We've been and had a couple of puppy play dates with the enormous Teddy, who resides in Tweedbank. At 7 months old he's bigger than most adult dogs, but he doesn't know it and thinks he's tiny, so when he jumps on Odi from a height and lands with his full weight on her, it's a little scary. Also doesn't help when his owner says, 'Oh all that stuff's on the internet' which has served to add to my frustration. We've had my friend Shirley come for a visit, been to Edinburgh to meet No. 1 and No. 2 Sons, and Odi and I have done walking and a bit of training and that's about it. 

The good news is that Odi now knows her name well and responds most of the time. She sits on command and I think that's about as far as we've got. Oh yes, and the good, quiet little puppy has changed into a complete demon now she's better!

And finally, I was supposed to receive my State Pension last week, but have had nothing from the Pensions people and because I couldn't log on to the internet I couldn't do it all online. When I phoned apparently I didn't give the right answers to name, rank and serial number so they couldn't process it over the phone... wtf?! - don't ask me, I thought I new my name etc, but apparently not! When I mentioned that I should perhaps have had a letter from them telling me what to do, the reply I got was, 'We get it right 99% of the time and you are just one of those people who falls in the 1%'. Very reassuring... not! I'm hoping to get a letter soon but I'm not holding my breath.

All in all not the best of weeks.

Odi at her best!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Supermarket day

Yesterday was supermarket day. You may wonder why this is so significant, but if all you did in one day was go to the supermarket you'd understand.

After 'chickengate' I made the decision that no matter how Odi was, we would have to go. I chose Sainsbury's in Kelso because it's big enough to have chicken, isn't huge and is only 9 miles away.

And so with trepidation and armed with: poop bags, kitchen towel, badges to say she was a Guide Dog and I was a Puppy Walker, lead, shopping bags and my list of things I needed in my head, we made our journey.

Odi was great. When we got there she got out of the car and had a pee. I had to carry her around as she's not lead trained yet and negotiating a trolley and a puppy on a lead would've been too much. Sainsbury's staff were unbelievably welcoming and everyone we met was entranced with her. She seemed a little overawed by the whole experience and came over all quiet. She didn't seem particularly scared, but just sat in my arms watching it all. As we left she had another pee.

It took us far longer to do the shop with all the patting and chatting, my arms feeling the stress of carrying a 4.4 kg puppy for what felt like hours, but worst of all I shouldn't have trusted that usually trusty shopping list in my head. We came away with half of what we needed. Still I suppose having done the supermarket once, I'll know what to expect when I do it next.

Meanwhile, I'm getting a whole lot better with the pee timing and she didn't pee once inside yesterday, which is a major step forward for me. Her insides seem to be returning to normal, but time will tell on that one.

The (only) problem I am having is that I realise how ill she's been since she arrived, because a completely different puppy emerged this morning after a dreadful night of my having to get up every 2 hours. This morning I got the manic Odi, the one that races around right after her meal, which is something she shouldn't do as it can affect a dog's stomach in a very negative way if they jump around after eating, but what can I do? I sat quietly while she raced around with her toys, jumping in the air and rolling over and over. Then she wouldn't settle at all. She barked and growled and a whole lot more.

I've decided that I'll discount the last couple of days as sick days and today will be counted as day 1 and that way I'll have no expectations at all. This, I feel, is the only way I'll manage as I was rather getting to like the quiet puppy that did 10 minutes of play and then crashed, this version is far harder work especially after very little sleep, but cute button eyes and a very waggy tail can still work wonders!

Friday, 8 November 2013

The problems of being a veggie

I was going to give you a coffee plant update today, but that will have to wait and instead you will get an account of Odi's first proper whole day with me.

The day was actually not too bad. We had plenty of pees in the 'wrong' place (the utility room floor/kitchen floor) and a few in the 'right' place (the space designated by us in the garden, which Mountain Man spent some time cordoning off with a wooden surround last week). She also pooed in the 'right' place the whole day, which was encouraging... or rather down to my timing it better. It's not so easy with a small puppy to be ahead of the game and take her to the 'right' place in time. It was more a matter of luck yesterday than judgment on my part. Also, her poos stopped being runny, which, I felt, was a major step forward.

I decided to keep a daily diary to see if there was a pattern so I could be a bit more proactive on the taking her out front. I didn't so much get a pattern of the going out, but did get that she loves to sleep a lot, so much so that I actually felt I might get something else done apart from watching her over the next few days.

We had a little trip to the village shop, where Odi was much admired and then we got in the car and went off to the next village to get a prescription of mine that needed picking up and to see if we could get some chicken or fish for Odi, neither of which I stock in my freezer (being vegetarian has it's downfalls!) just in case her tummy went off again, but we were out of luck. Still it was a nice little trip out and I discovered it's rather good being able to take a dog into a shop rather than leaving her in the car.

So there we were at 6 pm, doing rather well I thought, when I took her out and she had another episode of diarrhoea and then came in and was promptly sick. She didn't look herself at all. This is where, I have to say, the Guide Dog people are very good. There's a 24 hour helpline and any problems it's easy to phone, which I did. The advice I got was, as I didn't have fish or chicken, to feed her scrambled egg and then leave her til the morning and if she was sick again then to take her to the vet. Scrambled egg was duly cooked, but my greedy guts puppy didn't want to know. She also didn't want to drink. One minute she was ok and the next she just flopped down on her bed totally listless. Talk about going downhill fast.

We were at the vets by 7.30 and poor Odi having the ignominy of having her temperature taken. She was dehydrated and not herself, but luckily hadn't been sick again, so the vet decided she could come home with me and I could do the rehydrating by sticking a syringe (minus needle) in her mouth to give her the required dose of medication and also he gave me some special food for her. He showed me how to do the syringe bit and, joy of joys, Odi responded well. So much so the vet was surprised that she was looking for more... there's something about having a greedy dog that is quite good I've discovered!

Home we went with the instructions to give her a small feed and to make it palatable to mix it with warm water so it was nice for her - I needn't have bothered with this last as she was in that plate like no tomorrow - and give her some more medication and let her settle, which I did.

By this time it was 9 pm and I realised I hadn't had anything to eat since a slice of toast around 4 so, as Odi was settled, I cooked myself my dinner. And that's when I became aware just how tired I was. I sat down to watch a bit of TV, but could only just keep my eyes open, so just before 10 I took Odi out to perform and put her in her bed and went off to bed myself.

She settled pretty quickly, I'm pleased to say and woke up at 1.30. I took her out for a pee then put her back in her bed. It took a little longer for her to settle (and even longer for me - I didn't get back to sleep until around 2.30), but she slept until 5.30 this morning. I took her out again, gave her some medication and put her back in her bed and she promptly fell back asleep. And here I am, at just past 7 in the morning, with a sleeping puppy and me wide awake.

After last night's emergency drama I hope she'll be her bright self today and then, joy of joys, we can go supermarket shopping to get some chicken in. I'm not going to be caught out again as I could almost hear the smirking down the other end of the phone when talking to the Guide Dog vet and him saying, 'Feed her some chicken,' and me answering, 'Sorry, I don't have any. I'm a vegetarian'... no sirree I don't want to go there again!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

She's worth it

Yesterday at just after 11 a.m. Odi (short for Odina) entered my life.

My day started at 5.45 when I had to get up to take Mountain Man to Berwick-upon-Tweed station to get a train south for the start of The One Show's Children In Need fundraising event. The event is a rickshaw challenge where riders will pedal round the clock for 700 miles supported by loads and loads of 'backroom boys' one of whom is MM.

Then it was back home for the long wait. She was supposed to arrive at 10, but the Puppy Supervisor is always late so I wasn't expecting her then which was just as well.

Odina is 8 weeks old today. She's a golden retriever/labrador cross (her dad being the retriever and mum being the lab) and is absolutely gorgeous. She's also very naughty. She only showed this side of herself once the Puppy Supervisor had left (after a mammoth almost 3 hour stint of paperwork and instructions) and until then was as good as gold. I did feel sorry for her as she had diarrhoea the moment she got here, which she hadn't had before and I was advised to take her to the vet asap as during the PS visit she had same twice.

Odi decided, the moment the PS left, to show me her other side. She ran around manically trying to bite everything in sight, jumping up and trying to grab my watch, my glasses (when I was sitting down of course!), my jumper, my trousers, the kitchen table, benches in fact anything that was just out of her reach seemed fair game to her. Then, just as quickly as she'd turned into devil dog she flopped down and went to sleep.

Last night was a bit of a trial as I put her in her cage and she wailed and wailed (the baby alarm works - oh dear!). I went down to let her out, but no, she didn't need anything, so I put her back and she wailed some more. I went down again to find she'd had a dose of diarrhoea all over her cage (she had a pad to soak it up, but it had got over her bedding) and just to make things even better, the teddy that we'd bought her to settle her got dragged into it too. At just coming up to midnight I wasn't amused, but shoved everything (minus the teddy who got a handwash) into the washing machine (thank goodness for 15 minute washes) and because I had no other option I put her in her travel box and (the PS had said I could do this if necessary) took her upstairs with me. She squeaked for a moment, but in a moment of enlightenment I told her to settle down (in quite a strict voice) and blow me, but she did! I left her for about 10 minutes and then took her in the travel box back downstairs and left her in the utility room, where she slept for 2.5 hours.

When she woke (the baby alarm works - yeah!) I went down and took her out and she was very good as she actually wee'd in the designated place (this is a Guide Dog requirement, but this was only the first time she'd managed it since her arrival), so I put her back in her box and she wailed again. I went out. She still wailed. I sat on the stairs and told her to settle in my quite strict voice... and she did! She went back to sleep until 6.30 a.m. Sadly, I didn't.

I am exhausted today, but she seems reasonably settled. She's now got her collar on and her id tag without any fuss. She's eating voraciously (but it has to be very little and often because of her yesterday's tummy problem (which I'm pleased to report is settling), which I don't think suits her at all. She's a proper greedy guts and will do anything for food and her idea of little and often I suspect is a lot different to that of the PS and the vet!

Meanwhile I've spent my morning filling out paperwork to be sent off today - yes, we're going to be brave and head out to the local post box in a while - and, apart from a shower, getting dressed and getting something to eat, I've done pretty much absolutely nothing else but clean up puppy pee!

Still, I think she's worth it, or maybe that's just 'famous last words'!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Today's the day!

Not puppy day... though it might be and I'll find out later... no today is No. 1 Son's birthday!

He was born a whole 29 years ago today at 01.10 am.

Now that really is something to celebrate!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Will she/won't she?

Arrive that is.

I've had a phone call this morning from the Guide Dogs For The Blind Puppy Supervisor (now there's a job title to conjure with and I'll bet that starts cocktail party chat no problem), who told me that we won't know until her rendezvous with the Guide Dog Puppy Wagon that appears at The Forth Road Bridge at approx 3pm tomorrow afternoon. Still, she did say no news is good news, though given my nerves right now and the last 2 fairly sleepless nights, I'm not so sure what 'good news' actually means!

Because of the long journey, if the puppy makes it at all, then she will have to stay overnight in Edinburgh and be brought down to The Borders on Wednesday... and depending on whether the Puppy Supervisor can cancel another arrangement, this might not be until Wednesday afternoon.

And to add to my stress levels, all this now coincides with Mountain Man going off for ten days of Mountain Man duties on a BBC Children In Need event. He was supposed to go for a week and be here for puppy arrival, but things got changed. Needless to say my sense of humour has been severely challenged, but things are as they are and I'll say nothing more about it... for now!

One piece of good news is that our puppy (if it is this one) comes with a name beginning with 'O'. I have been alerted that it may be something like Odine or Odina, neither of which is a name I'd have chosen, but then it's not my puppy and it could've been a whole lot worse.

Of course this might not actually be the puppy's name and the puppy might actually not be coming on Wednesday at all... I sense my 'go with the flow' skills are going to have to be on high alert!!