Echoes of Homeward Bound

No doubt many people will be familiar with the Disney film Homeward Bound, in which two dogs and a cat trek across America to find their family; well this story is in my local paper today and though the journey is nothing like crossing America it’s still impressive for a little dog so I thought I’d share it.

Lost dog Patch’s incredible eight-mile expedition to find his mother

PATCH the Jack Russell has an extraordinary ‘tail’ to tell after he went missing and turned up eight miles away at his mum’s front door.
The little five-year-old was out walking in Hall i’th’ Wood on Sunday evening when he got lost in the woodland. His family desperately searched for him to no avail . . . but the next morning he was found sitting on the doorstep of his mum Bess’s home in Westhoughton.
Patch has lived with Lisa and John Hilton and their children Annabel, aged 15, Oscar, aged 12, and Millie, aged nine, since he was a puppy while Bess, aged 12, lives with Lisa’s father, Edward Horrocks, aged 90. The family, who live in Crompton Way, were shocked and delighted to discover he was safe and sound, but are completely amazed by the unusual journey.
Mrs Hilton, aged 47, said: “It has been a traumatic experience, but we are so glad it’s a happy ending to the story. We have always gone to my dad’s house in a car. Sometimes the windows are open and maybe that’s what led him there. I said to the kids, ‘when you are vulnerable who do you want? It’s your mum’.
“That little dog of ours, we can’t believe he made it all that way and what he might have gone through when you think about all the roads and roundabouts he would have had to cross without getting run over. We don’t know how many miles he ran – he’s absolutely exhausted now but he’s our little hero!”
Patch — who is microchipped — was walking in the woods off-lead with Mr Hilton, aged 53, when he disappeared at around 4pm. Panicked, the family gathered around to hunt for him, handing out numbers to passing dog walkers and posting Patch’s picture on Facebook. Meanwhile it’s believed the dog made his way to Crompton Way and started his journey west.
It is not known exactly what route Patch took, but his family believe he could have travelled along part of Moss Bank Way and through Johnson Fold before arriving at Landedmans in Westhoughton some time between midnight and 6am, when a neighbour spotted him sitting obediently outside Mr Horrocks’s front door.
That morning, after a sleepless night of worry, Mrs Hilton received a call from her dad. She said: “He asked if I was sitting down and I thought the worst, then he said ‘You’ll never guess who’s sitting next to me!’
“It went from tears to thinking what a clever dog we have got. He wasn’t hurt, just a little shocked and tired. We are thrilled he’s back home now though and just hope he doesn’t do it again!”
I know the place names won’t mean anything to anyone else but the Hall i’th’ Wood area isn’t far from where I live and I’m familiar with where little Patch ended up – I know it’s quite a trek from one place to the other so it beats me how on earth he managed to find his way. An in-built homing instinct maybe? A desire to find his mum driving him on? Who knows, but whatever it was it just shows that dogs aren’t as ‘dumb’ as many people think they are.

Animal sanctuary open day

Today I took my friend Lin and her daughter Dee to the autumn open day at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary about ten miles from home. It’s a place we visit regularly and it’s open daily from 10am to 4pm, with the special open days being held four times a year. As well as the normal gift shop and book shop they have stalls in the courtyard and one of the barns, a bouncy castle and other attractions, and in dry weather they have fun dog agility classes which anyone can join in for free. These events are always well attended and they make a good couple of hours out. The place seems to be very well named though as it’s close to the moors and in winter it really is bleak, although it’s lovely there in summer.Bleakholt open day
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Views from the picnic area
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Nudging the balls to get the treats out
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A resident in ‘Old Woofs’ block
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Waiting for a forever home
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Archie, now reserved
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Part of the remembrance garden
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A resident in the kitten block
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Two ‘oldies’ residents
Although the morning had been cloudy and grey it did brighten up at lunch time and the sun came out, but unfortunately it was very brief and it soon clouded over again. While I was in the cat block, sitting in with the oldies, it started raining and when I came out it was pouring down, so I found my friends and we took shelter in the cafe where we had a meal and a brew so none of us had to cook anything when we got home. We were in there for quite a while but it was still raining when we came out so we just had one more look round the stalls in the barn then called it a day and set off for home. It was such a shame that it started raining as it literally put a dampener on the afternoon for everyone, but it won’t be long before the pre-Christmas open day which is always a really good event, so hopefully the weather will be kind and the sanctuary will have lots more visitors then.


Is it me, or is this stupid?

As I was coming home from work this morning I was overtaken by this vehicle; there was nothing remarkable about the vehicle itself but what did attract my attention were the two big dogs in the back. They both had harnesses on and were obviously fastened in somehow, but it struck me that transporting dogs in this way is a pretty stupid thing to do. I dread to think what would happen if the vehicle were to be involved in an accident – if it was, those dogs wouldn’t have much of a chance, they would either be seriously injured or even killed.
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I don’t know who the driver was or where he was going, but I very much suspect that he often transports his dogs like that. Convenience, unthinking ignorance or just plain stupidity? I don’t know, but for the dogs’ sake I just hope he never is involved in any kind of accident – the possible outcome really doesn’t bear thinking about.

A sweet little surprise

While cleaning in the kitchen at work this morning I moved the large kitchen bin to mop the floor underneath and saw what I thought was a small bit of paper down in the corner. I was just about to bend down and pick it up when it moved – it wasn’t a bit of paper at all, it was a tiny baby frog not much more than in inch long and so pale that it almost blended in with its surroundings. How it managed to get there is a mystery as the kitchen is quite a distance from the works entrance and it was so small it could easily have been trodden on by someone’s big work boot. I couldn’t leave it where it was though so I caught it and took it outside.
The works building is surrounded on three sides by woodland and on the right there’s a bank sloping down to a stream, so I thought that would be an ideal place to release my little friend. Walking halfway down the bank I placed him gently on the ground near the base of a tree then waited and watched – sod work, I wanted to make sure he was safe. He stayed still for a minute then with a couple of hops he was gone, disappearing under some damp leaves a few feet from the tree. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of him as I didn’t have my camera with me, which was a shame as he really was the sweetest little thing – fingers crossed he stays safe, finds some friends and lives a long and happy life somewhere in the woodland.

I have no words….

I’m deeply shocked and saddened to have just read this in today’s local paper –
A GANG of youths are believed to have shot and killed a swan at a Bolton canal. The RSPCA and police are investigating the incident, which is said to have taken place on Tuesday afternoon in Little Lever.
Kayleigh Taylor arrived at the scene at around 2.30pm and talked to an eyewitness who had seen the group shoot the bird. Miss Taylor, aged 20, said: “I spoke to a man who had seen a group of youths shoot the swan for fun at 2pm then walk off. They were aged between 16 and 18. “Hopefully someone will know the vile group.”
She added that she had been left ‘devastated’ and said that the male swan and its partner, which was sitting on a nest, had lived on the canal for at least 15 years. Swans mate for life and Miss Taylor said the female has been left ‘very distressed’.
Little Lever swan
Photo taken from local news online
Miss Taylor, from Radcliffe, said: “The people who did this haven’t just killed one swan, they have potentially wiped out an entire family as it will be extremely difficult for the female to hatch her clutch of eggs alone.” She urged people to be extra vigilant along the canal and report anybody carrying guns or acting suspiciously.
Miss Taylor said the eyewitness believed the bird was shot with an air rifle.
The RSPCA confirmed that it was called to the incident. A spokesman said: “A woman contacted us on Tuesday afternoon to report the death of a swan in Little Lever. We understand the swan was shot and we will be looking into this incident further. “We would be really concerned if this beautiful bird had been killed deliberately and would like to remind members of the public that it is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and, if prosecuted, offenders can face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment.”
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said that they were called on Tuesday afternoon to reports of youths shouting. Around 10 youths aged between 16 and 18 had gathered around the banks of the canal and when police arrived they discovered the dead swan.
None of the youths were still in the area when police arrived.
I’ve seen this pair of swans myself several times over the last few years when I’ve been walking the dogs along the canal, in fact I got a lovely photo of the two of them while on my New Year walk in early January this year. Without writing something totally unladylike and unprintable there are no words to describe what I think of the callous low-life(s) who did this. Instead I can only cry – cry for the dead swan, cry for his mate, and cry for the possible loss of any potential young ones. Sometimes people can be so cruel.

Why I will never go to Betws-y-Coed again

Five years ago, while camping in North Wales, I visited the village of Betws-y-Coed, and even though it’s a very popular little place I wasn’t particularly impressed with it, and for more than one reason I decided not to bother going there again. However, last Easter I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and make a return visit, but I was soon to regret that decision – and an incident which happened there only a couple of months ago has reinforced my original vow to never go there again.
So here they are – my own personal reasons for never going back to Betws-y-Coed –
1 – It’s not exactly the prettiest of villages. It’s full of nothing but drab dark grey stone buildings which make it look dreary and dismal. The nicest part of it is over the bridge at the far side of the river.
2 – Every other shop is an ‘outdoor’ shop selling nothing but cycling, walking and hiking gear and expensive outdoor clothing. When I wanted some spare guy lines for my tent not one single shop had any; in fact there were very few camping accessories to be had anywhere in spite of there being two camp sites in the village. It may be an okay place for those who like walking and hiking and need to buy the relevant gear but I really don’t understand why it’s such a big attraction for everyone else, as other than a handful of gift shops and cafes there’s not much else there.
3 – The pavements are far too narrow for the amount of people walking on them, meaning you very often have to step into the busy road to pass people coming the opposite way – not good if you have a couple of dogs in tow.
4 – Shops, cafes, restaurants, even the Londis and Spar mini markets – you name it, everywhere is overpriced.
5 – Parking is a nightmare when the place is busy and you can drive round and round for ages before finding a space. My attempts to find a parking space last year resulted in a two foot long dent in the bottom of the side door of the van – and a bill for £160 for a replacement door when I got home.
6 – The Royal Hotel. I’ve never been in there before but even if someone were to offer me a million pounds I wouldn’t go anywhere near the place. I’m very much an animal lover and I abhor cruelty of any kind, so an incident which happened there in December shocked, sickened and upset me very much. Following the incident the two staff members involved were sacked but I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks the manager should also have been sacked. I’m not going into details but the link to the story is here – be warned though that it’s not very nice to read. Following on from that there’s also an online petition here – if just one person reading this blog signs it with a comment I’ll be happy.
So there you have it – the reasons why I will never ever go to Betwys-y-Coed again. Bear in mind that this is my own personal experience and opinion of the place – there are many people who do like it, hence its popularity, but it’s not for me. I’ve been to much nicer towns and villages on my camping travels and those are the ones I will return to; North Wales is a lovely place with beautiful scenery but Betws-y-Coed? – never again!


Stewy, Lily and Dylan

After a few days of being laid low with a very heavy cold (believe it or not, the first one I’ve had in over eight years) and not having been out properly since I did a 9-mile walk last Saturday (don’t ask!) I thought I’d inject a bit of the ‘Awww’ factor into the blog and introduce Stewy, Lily and Dylan.
Stewy and Lily belong to one of the design engineers at work; they are Bengals and from the same litter, although Lily is bigger than Stewy and looks older. While Stewy is very affectionate and likes cuddles and a fuss Lily is very shy and will hide away from people she doesn’t really know. Last October I looked after them in their own home for two weeks while their owner was away and for the first five days I didn’t see Lily at all; I’d just got to the point of thinking that somehow she must have escaped when I finally found her in the wardrobe behind all the clothes. I looked after them again just recently, for three weeks this time, and again Lily was always hiding in the wardrobe – that’s where she was when I took the photo, and she doesn’t look best pleased at having the camera pointed at her.
Dylan is a Seal Point Birman and belongs to the boss at work who I clean the house for. He seems to spend most of his time lazing on one of the beds, though he can be very playful when he wants to be and sometimes on the days when I’m cleaning we play a game of ‘chase’ up the stairs. He’s mainly very quiet but when the mood takes him he’ll wander round after me while I’m working and constantly squawk at me, though a quick cuddle is usually enough to keep him happy. He looks decidedly grumpy on the photo though – I think he’s another one who doesn’t like the camera.
Today I got a text from Dylan’s owner saying he’s going away tomorrow for a week and asking me if I could look after Dylan for him – no problem there as it’s only a couple of minutes up the road from me. I’m already, as from today, looking after a friend’s dog while she’s visiting her mother in London but another furry creature to care for is neither here nor there – I’d look after a whole zoo if I ever got the chance!