Monday, 11 December 2017

When life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade – stop buying more lemons!

I was in an accident last week. Another driver took a chance on a side junction, cut across the traffic and went straight into the side of my van. We were really lucky because neither of us was going that fast, but it was terrifying for me and the collie girls.

The aftermath with police, ambulances, recovery vehicles, having to find a friend who could come and rescue the girls – noisy, unfamiliar, lots of stressed people.

The van is away for repairs (I hope!) and we’ve finally sorted out a temporary replacement.

Bronte has taken it all in her stride. Being deaf and part blind means life can be pretty unpredictable and she generally shrugs and moves on.

Freya is really struggling, but then this is the fourth time she’s been in some kind of vehicle collision. Every time we’ve managed to work through it, but it gets harder each time.

Passing traffic noises are scary again, she’s on high alert in every situation and when Freya saw the replacement van outside my house she panicked and tried to flee. That was just seeing the van, we weren’t going near it or unlocking it.

Having a positive attitude to life and turning challenges into opportunities is one way of coping with the ups and downs the universe throws at us. So yes, when life gives you lemons – making lemonade can be an excellent choice.

But the truth is being optimistic isn’t enough.

Using positive affirmations might help your attitude, but what needs to change is your behaviour.

So when an avalanche of lemons lands on your head, the smart thing to do is cancel your monthly order of lemons…

I’ve organised my work schedule and personal plans so that barring emergency vet trips, Freya doesn’t have to go anywhere near a vehicle for at least the next month.

While I know I could ask her to go in a car, and she would try her best for me, it’s not worth pushing our luck and adding to the stress she is already under.

We’re going to be using supportive medication, plus all of the training techniques that have worked so well for us in the past to build Freya’s confidence around vehicles.

Freya has a pretty good set of resources to draw on (she adores crate training, knows that loud noises equal treats, enjoys scentwork, learns fast) but most importantly she knows that I won’t force her to do scary stuff.

If you need help with an avalanche of lemons, let us know!

Have a safe week

Morag and the collie girls

PS Looking forward to seeing some of you at our Xmas social on Thursday where the only lemons will be round the edge of my tequila glass

PPS Well Connected Canine is taking some well-earned time off over Christmas to spend time with
our dogs and our own families. We’ll be closing on Thursday 21 st December and re-opening on
Thursday 4th January. If you do need to speak with us before Christmas, make sure you get in touch
soon - it’s creeping up fast!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Do more stuff with your dog

Thanks to the hardy souls who braved the cold and came along to our first Parkour walkies on Saturday at Brimham Rocks. Sian led us on a magical mystery tour to find objects to climb on, under, go through and more. 

We did manage to get everyone on the same rock (briefly), and several people managed to film some elements for their International Parkour title submissions. 

Parkour is a dog sport/activity that builds confidence, improves body awareness and can be done by all ages and sizes. Most importantly it gets you into the outdoors having more fun with your dog – the best way to build a better relationship!

Want to find out more about Parkour? Just email us (info @ and ask to go on the waiting list for our Parkour workshops and classes, we’ve lots of fun events planned for 2018.

Hope your dogs are enjoying the frosty weather

Morag and the collie girls

PS We’ve all enjoyed doing more activities with our dogs this year so here’s a sneaky early announcement that from January 2018 you can join the Sunday Sports & Social Club every month. A chance to catch up with like minded people and dogs plus practice your skills for rally, agility, parkour, scentwork and more. We’ll provide the space and the hot drinks, you bring cake, dogs and enthusiasm!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Squirrels and fireworks, an unexpectedly perfect combination

It’s been an odd weekend to say the least* and it wasn’t possible to get away for the weekend to hide from the fireworks. Instead Laura and I instituted a range of coping strategies to help our dogs.

Brian isn’t scared of fireworks, but he does get very angry at them invading his house. Cue lots of shouting and barking at the stupid noises.

Freya tends to shout at fireworks in a grumpy way to start with, but if they are relentless and very loud she ends up getting overwhelmed and anxious. This is a huge improvement on where we were three years ago at the height of her noise sensitivity (fearful, trying to flee, shaking constantly, panicky at loud noises on walks).

It’s not a fun weekend for either dog really, and while Bronte is mostly deaf she tends to join in with the barking just for fun….and winds the other two up!

However, both Freya and  Brian are intensely interested in walks, sniffing, bunnies and squirrels. 

They both often go completely deaf in the presence of small furries…so rather than just taking them for a walk to tire them out we used the walks as active distraction.

Our recipe for survival

  • Headtorch with fresh batteries
  • Travel mug of tea or coffee
  • Snacks or dinner plans (we opted for takeaway at a friend’s remote house on Friday, and a dog friendly pub dinner on Saturday)
  • At least one friend for company and route finding
  • Safety lights for your dog
  • Long line and gloves
  • Securely fitting harness and collar
  • Intensely interesting walk in woods or moorland away from main displays but with plenty of wildlife sniffs – no need for check-in training this time, we wanted them as distracted as possible!
  • Vast quantities of exciting treats to use for scentwork, on the spot “bang=happy voice+food” and general distraction
  • Freya also wore a close fitting jumper for added comfort

For our two dogs, the ideal would have been getting away to a remote cottage all weekend. But since we couldn’t do that this year we needed to distract as much as possible. Sitting at home even with a cosy den, noise blocking stuff and plenty of stuffed food toys just wasn’t the best option for Freya and Brian for three whole nights. 

Instead even on Sunday night when we ended up walking in a wood closer to a big display (5 miles – but so loud) than planned, our dogs carried on sniffing and exploring even though I could hardly hear Laura talking.  

I hope your weekend was less eventful than ours, and I’ll share more success strategies as I catch up with my noise fears clients this week.

SAFETY NOTE at all times when not in the house, our dogs wore collars and harnesses plus securely attached leads, ID tags, lights at night and of course they are microchipped with up to date details logged. Dogs were on lead in the garden at night, and when moving from house to cars and vans!  We made the right choice for our dogs because we knew how they feel and react to loud noises – as the Americans say “your mileage may vary”!

Have a good week

Morag and Freya & Bronte

*my darling senior collie girlie has been poorly recently so I didn’t want to go away somewhere and be too far from our vets. Farah went to sleep for the last time in my arms on Friday so any plans we did have obviously went out of the window. 

I know everyone who reads the blog, our emails and comes to our sessions will have met or heard of lovely Farah so I wanted to let you know she is gone. PLEASE don’t ask me how I am if you see me, don’t reply or message me with kind thoughts – I know you all mean very well but I am working very hard to hold things together for Freya and Bronte, and grieve in my own way.

Thank you so much for understanding and holding us in your heart.