This being rural hunting country, many of the dogs are hunting breeds. We looked around them all - some tiny terriers, some hounds built like horses, some with massive problems that perhaps I could cope with but not keep a marriage intact at the same time. I also wanted a male, for some reason I prefer them. We couldn't see one that said "take me home", so in desperation one of the volunteers said "we've got some puppies". OK, I'll just take a look, I thought. So here is Raffles:
|Take me home!|
I decided to go for crate training from the start. Some people seem to think it's cruel, but getting a dog used to a crate is a real boon. If you do it right, it's a safe haven for them, and if they have to stay at the vets or be contained on a car journey, they're already used to it - in fact, more often than not, he sleeps in his crate with the door open.
The first few nights, as expected, there was a bit of crying, but I slept on the settee and he soon settled down. House training was super easy - he just doesn't want to go on his own territory. Teething was another matter, it was a whole year before he grew out of play biting.
Training has been a bit hit and miss, a) because I can't devote much time to it, and b) being a scent hound he has an incredibly high prey drive. I doubt if I'll ever be able to let him off lead safely in an area that's not fenced, because he's just off after a deer, a boar, a bird, a leaf, a spider...! So, he'll come when he's called, maybe, if there are no distractions, he can sit, lie down, roll over, give alternate paws and weave in between my legs.
We have a very small fenced garden, so they rely on their walks to let off steam. We're lucky enough to have a fenced paddock that we keep for hay, so for most of the year they can chase each other round to their hearts' content, and dig for voles which is their other hobby.
Winter can be a tricky time for keeping dogs occupied. One game we devised that works for us, is
Back to photos, dogs are characters, each with their own funny little ways, and if there's one thing that Raffles has got in spades, it's pathos, which makes him very suitable for get well and 'sorry' cards. Here is a selection with Raffles and Ginny, including Christmas cards, and some other dogs as well. Photographing dogs romping in the snow can be quite tricky, especially with a black dog on white snow, it took many many photos to get these few!