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!”
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Patch
Bess
Bess
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.
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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.

 

Sophie at the vet’s – an update

An updated report on Sophie to say that everything went well at the vet’s yesterday and other than the stitches in her leg she’s absolutely fine. She was taken in at 9am so I could collect her about 2pm but the receptionist rang me at lunchtime to say that they’d had to deal with an emergency so Sophie hadn’t yet had her operation, however another phone call mid afternoon informed me that the op had just been done and I could collect her after 6pm. She was still a bit dopey when she came out of the vet’s but she perked up a bit once I got her home and she was back with Poppie. She has come home with some medication which she has to have once a day with her food and she has to go back next Monday for a check up and to make a date for her stitches to be taken out about ten days from now.
Of course Sophie now has the statutory ‘lampshade’ collar on and I’ve put her in a little pink t-shirt as the sleeve covers her stitches and should prevent Poppie from licking them. The t-shirt has a crown design on the back and says VIP – Very Important Pooch – I got two each for both her and Poppie when I went to the last animal sanctuary open day. The vet who did the op said ‘strictly no running and jumping about’ but try telling that to Sophie – as soon as I pick up the lead to take her out she’s bouncing around like she’s on a trampoline.
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Just out of the vet’s
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Back home, still a bit dopey
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Hopefully Sophie will have the stitches taken out in time for our weekend away the first weekend in July, then the week after that we’ll be away for ten days, probably somewhere by the sea, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good weather then she and Poppie can enjoy lots of beach walks.

Sophie at the vet’s

This morning I took Sophie to the vet’s for a problem she’s had before, and after an examination and discussion she’s been booked in for a little operation next Tuesday.
Almost five years ago she developed a small hard lump under the skin on her right front leg; it started off as a tiny spot and stayed like that for ages then it grew into a lump as big as my middle fingernail, although it wasn’t giving her any pain. The vet wasn’t sure if it could be cancerous or not so after it was removed it was sent off for analysis. The result came back clear, it wasn’t cancer, and Sophie has been a happy and healthy little dog ever since.
The vet did tell me at the time the official name for the lump, a long name which now escapes me, and he also said that there was an 80% chance that it could come back again, though if it did it would be in the same place. That’s now proved to be correct as she’s recently developed another lump of the same kind under the skin on the same leg, though a bit higher up than before. The vet I’ve just seen – a different one this time – asked if I want the thing sent away to be analysed but I don’t see the point as I already know what it is, so she’s having a straightforward op to remove it next Tuesday and other than having any stitches taken out at a later date that should be the end of it.
Sophie had just turned five years old when she got the first lump, she will be ten in September this year, so it looks like this may be something which re-occurs roughly every five years – I can live with that as she’s such a healthy little dog otherwise. Poppie made me smile when we got back home though – as soon as I let Sophie into the living room Poppie was all over her, sniffing her like mad and inspecting her as if to say “Where the heck have you been?!”
The time spent in the vet’s wasn’t without its moments either. Both dogs had been out in the garden for quite a while before I took Sophie down there, but while I was busy booking in with the receptionist Sophie wee’d on the floor. It was easily mopped up, but as if that wasn’t bad enough I’d only just sat down when she did a poo right in the middle of the waiting area! I suppose the staff are used to dogs having accidents but right then I just wanted a hole to open up in the floor and swallow the pair of us!

And talking of mice….

A comment on my previous post about the mice reminded me of something which happened maybe seventeen or eighteen years ago. For some reason only known to himself Michael had bought me a hamster for Mother’s Day one year. We’d had a succession of hamsters years before when he was younger and I’d even had one since he left home; there was still a redundant hamster cage stored in the cupboard under the stairs so as he knew I like mice he maybe thought I might like the old cage to have a new occupant, hence the Mother’s Day present.
The hamster was a cute little thing, a brown and white male with a faint black mark on his back, and I called him Weeble. He lived happily in his cage here in the spare bedroom and he would often be running in his wheel while I was working on the pc in the evenings. Then one evening, when he’d been here for just about twelve months, I suddenly realised that he was being exceptionally quiet – maybe he was asleep in his little house, or worse still maybe he’d died. When I took the top off the house to check though I found he wasn’t in there, in fact he wasn’t in the cage at all – somehow he’d escaped, but as the door was still tightly fastened I couldn’t see how he’d got out. All was revealed however when I looked at the back of the cage more closely – two of the bars were bent as if they’d been forced apart by the Incredible Hulk, and the resulting gap was big enough for a determined hamster to get through. Heaven only knows how he’d managed to do that but he had, and I now had a hamster on the loose somewhere in the room.
I dreaded the thought of having to move everything to find him so I set a trap – some food in the bottom of a bucket and a ramp with a trail of food on it from the floor to the top. In theory Weeble should follow the trail up the ramp and fall into the bucket, from where he could be returned to his cage with the now-straightened bars, but in practise it didn’t work and he remained at large. Then one evening while watching tv in the living room with my partner I heard a pitter-patter sound above my head, a sound which seemed to move from one side of the room to the other – and we realised that the little devil had somehow got under the bedroom floor and was running up and down between two of the joists in the space between there and the downstairs ceiling. The question was, which two joists was he between? So Plan B came into force – with the landing carpet taken up my partner stayed upstairs and I armed myself with a broom handle and returned to the living room, then once I’d figured out exactly where above my head Weeble was I knocked on the ceiling, enabling my partner to determine which floorboards to take up.
As hamsters are nocturnal and sleep during the day I put Weeble’s house down between the joists and put some food round it – hopefully when daylight came he would go to sleep in there and he could safely be removed back to his cage. Unfortunately Plan B didn’t work and though I checked his house frequently over a couple of days he stayed on the loose – it was if he was determined he wasn’t going to be caught no matter what I did. Now while I could live with a couple of floorboards missing from the landing (after a while we got used to stepping over the gap) there was one major problem – we were going camping for five days at Easter and meeting up with friends, it had been arranged for ages and we didn’t want to cancel but I didn’t like the thought of going away and leaving Weeble where he was. Reluctantly however, that’s what I did, having put plenty of food down for him first – he had two chances so I just hoped that he would survive.
As soon as we got back from our Easter break I checked for any sign of Weeble; some of the food had gone but his house hadn’t been disturbed and even after another couple of days there was no patter of hamster feet above my head while I was in the living room so reluctantly I came to the sad conclusion that he had finally died. Although the thought of a hamster corpse somewhere under the upstairs floor didn’t exactly fill me with joy there was no way we could take up the whole floor to find it so the two floorboards that had been pulled up were put back, the carpet was relaid and life returned to normal. Then several nights later, while lying in bed, I heard some rustling noises coming from the narrow space between the side of the wardrobe and the wall; at first I thought I was hearing things but eventually I got up to investigate – and sitting among the rolls of Christmas wrapping paper which I kept there was Weeble.
He was too far back in the narrow space for me to just reach in and get him so I came up with the idea of using the small fishing net which I kept for the fish tank, but as I moved it closer to him he backed even further away until he was completely out of reach. Moving the wardrobe was out of the question so I went back to bed happy that Weeble was still alive and determined that come hell or high water he would be caught the next day. By the following morning he had transferred himself from the side of the wardrobe to the small space behind the chest of drawers and that proved to be his undoing. Armed with the small bedside waste bin my partner crouched at one end of the cabinet while I gingerly moved it a couple of inches away from the wall, then with the broom handle I gently poked and pushed Weeble along towards my partner and finally success – he scuttled into the bin and after almost a month on the loose he was well and truly caught.
Weeble lived for another eighteen months after his great escape and when he finally died of old age his cage was donated to a local animal charity. I haven’t had another hamster since then and to be honest I wouldn’t want one, but if I ever did get another one it would have to have an escape-proof cage – I certainly wouldn’t want to go through all that again!

Sometimes dogs can be so embarrassing

An email ‘conversation’ with my blogging friend Eileen recently triggered the memory of a rather amusing but embarrassing dog-related incident which happened some years ago. It had nothing really to do with the subject of our emails but now having thought about it I can’t seem to unthink it, so I’ve decided to share it instead.
Back in April 2003 my then partner acquired Sam, a 4-month old German Shepherd/Border Collie cross. He was a lovely dog and right from the start he got on well with my dog Sugar, but he was a bit of a clown and not exactly blessed with intelligence, though he was also very loveable and often a great source of amusement with the daft things he did. As he grew older and Mother Nature gave him raging male hormones he would ‘hump’ anything he could get his paws round – chair legs, table legs and gate posts to name but a few, and it caused great hilarity one evening when he tried to hump the wrong end of one of the cats. Needless to say, the cat in question wasn’t best pleased!
Now while his antics may have seemed funny to us while we were indoors they were rather embarrassing if we were ever in company, especially if the people we were with also had a dog, so eventually the decision was made – a trip to the vet’s and Sam came home minus two bits of his anatomy. It did calm him down quite a lot but not completely, and every so often he would still get the urge to hump something if he could get his paws round it.
A couple of years later we were camping in North Wales with my partner’s brother and sister-in-law and their dog Bru; the weather was glorious so one particular day we decided to take a picnic and drive to Bala lake. The car park there is right by the lakeside and in certain parts of it it’s possible to park within a few yards of the water’s edge so we found a suitable place next to a shingle beach and settled in to enjoy the day. The water there was very shallow for quite a distance out and the three dogs really enjoyed themselves racing in and out after sticks and stones thrown for them.
It was while we were setting out our picnic that we realised Sam had gone missing; he couldn’t have been far away but with no response to our calls my partner and I went to look for him. It didn’t take long to find him – he was in the shallow water about fifty yards along the lake shore in the next little bay, and in full view of anyone who may have been looking he was humping a big black dog whose owner didn’t look particularly happy. I wasn’t sure if the black dog also being a male made the whole scenario better or worse but we apologised to his owner, and as I waded out to get Sam I really wanted the ground to open up and swallow the pair of us, especially when my partner then said to the other guy “He couldn’t do any harm anyway, he’s had his nuts off”!
Back at the car though, my partner and I couldn’t keep straight faces as we told Alan and Louise what had just happened and we all had a good laugh about it. Sam did eventually grow out of the humping habit but that day was never forgotten and we laughed about it a few times over the years. Sadly Sam is no longer around but many of his antics will always be remembered, even if they were a source of great embarrassment at the time.
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Sam
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Bala Lake

If ever there was a time to feel bad….

It was this morning. Why? Because I stood on Mouse. Yes, it probably sounds funny, and it looks funny now I’ve written it down, but it wasn’t at the time and I felt awful.
Now there are many ways to describe Mouse – peculiar, odd, a one-off, affectionate, funny, totally mad but also totally adorable, she’s all of those things and more, and she’s very much the favourite out of all three cats. This morning when I was getting ready to go out she was lying on the landing floor in a patch of sunlight near the bedroom door, but by the time I came out of the bedroom again I’d completely forgotten she was there and I stood right on her. Of course her natural reaction, along with the howl of pain, was to retaliate with her claws and they swiftly connected with my left ankle, but within seconds she had forgiven me and lay there purring away while I stroked her to say sorry.
It must have been ten minutes later when I noticed a couple of small streaks of fresh blood on the carpet where Mouse was lying – I must have injured her in some way and I was mortified. It seemed like I may be making a trip to the vet’s but a thorough inspection found the cause of the blood – a small nick about halfway along her tail. Other than that she was okay so the wound was given a quick clean up with a damp cotton wool ball and the problem was sorted. I’ve checked her tail a couple of times since then and thankfully it’s absolutely fine, showing no more signs of having been trodden on.
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As I type this Mouse is sitting in one of her favourite places, on the rail at the top of the stairs; she’s probably already forgotten that I stood on her this morning but she’ll be getting an extra treat with her supper tonight to make up for it.