Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Something puppy this way comes....single (puppy) parenthood

No, don't panic, I wasn't daft enough to add a puppy into my canine family just yet!

But my dear friend Ali has taken the plunge and we're being treated to special mini series of blogs all about raising an awesome pup.

If you're considering bringing home a puppy, do take a read and make sure you're as ready as possible.

And a sneaky heads-up that we'll be opening bookings for the New Year of classes next week. There's a whole range of activities to choose from on Mondays and Wednesdays AND you can split your class fees into three payments too!

Monday Activity Classes
Wednesday Activity Classes
APDT Good Companion Award class
Sniffing School Level 1
Canine Activity Foundations
Sniffing School Level 2
1-2-1 Scentwork Introductions
Bodywork & Relaxation (for your dog!)
Three Week Intensives LEVEL 1
·         Baby Come Back
·         Stay By My Side
·         Mind Your Manners
Three Week Intensives LEVEL 2
·         Baby Come Back FASTER
·         Stay By My Side LONGER
·         Mind Your Manners REGARDLESS

Parkour Skills (mixed ability)

Morag and the beasts

The Eva Diaries (part 1)


This week was an exciting one for us, as 8-week-old puppy Eva joined our family.

Eva is a Large Munsterlander – a HPR (hunt, point & retrieve) gundog, she's likely to have a lovely nature, lots of energy and drive, strong natural hunting instincts and a desire to be involved with anything and everything! Eva is my fifth Large Munsterlander and I'm confident she'll be a great fit for our family and lifestyle, but it's been 11 years since we last had a puppy this young.

Eva's arrival was something of a surprise, as she came home just 12 days after I first started seriously looking for a puppy. It felt like the right time to welcome another dog into our lives and I thought it would take a while to find a litter we felt comfortable with – one bred for health and temperament, and raised in an enriched home environment, to give the puppies the best start in life. But I found a wonderful litter that fitted all our criteria almost immediately, and although the puppies were 7 weeks old there was one girl whose home hadn't been decided. Following a successful visit to meet her and her mum, dad, siblings and breeders, when she seemed to decide she'd like me to be her human, I found myself driving home with Eva beside me.

The first hour was eventful, even though Eva had experienced happy car journeys with her mum – Eva panicked about being alone in a crate and away from her littermates for the first time, calmed down when we took a short break, tried to settle but vomited up her lunch as she'd been so upset, pushed half of the vomit out of the crate and all over the car while trying to eat the rest of it, then cried because she couldn't find anywhere vomit-free to lie down! So we stopped for cuddles and a clean-up operation, and then she settled remarkably well for the rest of our long journey home.

The rest of the first week passed in something of a blur, with the half-drunk cups of coffee and tea and abandoned meals testament to how demanding young puppies can be when they're awake!


Eva, like most puppies of her age, is either on or off – she's full of energy and mischief and needs constant supervision when she's awake, otherwise she's totally asleep. Her favourite activity is biting things, including me, and it's important to let her so that she can learn to use her teeth gently while she's small. I'm fortunate that it's usually easy to distract her with a toy or chew if she gets too mouthy, and that she only turns into a piranha on legs when she's over-tired or over-excited – although I'd forgotten that antiseptic cream is a crucial part of any puppy kit!

These early days have been all about our relationship. Eva is still very young, and leaving her mum and littermates is a significant change for her. My top priority has been to ensure that she feels safe and secure, both with me and at home in general. I've spend hours sat on the kitchen floor with her, letting her climb, chew and cuddle on me in between venturing away from me to explore and find toys by herself – allowing her to build her confidence in her own time, and teaching her that I'll always be here as her 'safe space' when she needs reassurance or time-out from her adventures. I also spent the first nights sleeping downstairs – at first right next to her crate, and then on the sofa in the same room – until Eva was settled enough for me to move upstairs overnight.

My partner works away from home during the week, so I'm mostly a single parent to our dogs. I'd expected to need to manage early interactions between Eva and our older Munsterlander Inca, who at 11.5 doesn't appreciate too much youthful enthusiasm, but I hadn't anticipated our playful 8-year-old collie cross Lara deciding that puppies are scary, awful things and not wanting anything to do with her! I'm hoping gradual and positive introductions will lead to good relationships in the longer term, so for now I've mostly separated Eva so that the dogs can smell and see each other, but not interact directly – not least because Eva loves throwing herself into our soft dog beds and bouncing between them, which is not much fun for Inca when she's lying in one, and because Lara's bushy tail looks way too much like Eva's favourite soft toy for her to resist the temptation...

Eva has mostly been an absolute joy this week – she's a sweet, happy, affectionate, playful puppy and watching her antics has been a delight. It's also been a reminder of just how much time and attention puppies need to thrive in the early days. But the sleep deprivation and hard work seem so worthwhile when Eva's cuddled up to me, chewing the toggle on my jumper and gazing at me with her beautiful eyes, and I can feel the bond between us starting to grow. I'm sure there will be many highs and lows to come – but I'm already smitten!