25 Nov 2009

November 2009 - BEN - A SPECIAL BIG BLACK DOG - HIS BACKGROUND



Ben is a French dog, when we first met him he was only eight weeks old. His owners told us he was a Labrador/Retriever. As we were not experts at breeds of dog, to us his did look like a young retriever. However at his first meeting with the vet there were doubts about this. The vet looked at his paws and his face and declared, “No way is he a retriever, to me he is more like a French Berger”.


Today at nearly four years old, we can hardly believable how much he has changed, in fact if you look at the photos of him as a puppy and look at him now he doesn’t look like the same dog. We have to agree with the vet, he is a French Berger with a bit of Collie and also Portuguese Water Dog, mixed in down the family line.


None of this matter to us, we brought Ben to live with us as a member of our family, someone for us to look after, and give a good life to.


Berger’s love the water and Collies love to have lots of exercise, so it is very hard work keeping up with his energy and his strong love of life.




This is Ben’s story told in his own words:-



I am a French dog called Ben, I was born in Morbihan in Brittany. I don’t have a pedigree, my mum was a very nice looking sort of Collie, and my Dad was a French Berger Picardie. As I look very much like my Dad many people recognise me as a French Berger.

However I am told that I also appear a little like a Portuguese Water Dog as well, which probably is why I like water so much.

This story is about my adventures and what I like to do all day, what I have done in my life and about the people and animals who I have met with along the way.

Well the other day I was all alone in the house, mum and dad where shopping, it is summer now and very hot which means that I can’t be left in the car as it gets too hot for me, and I can’t go in the supermarket because the manager there, although he does like dogs, he doesn’t like them in the supermarket, so the best thing for me at this time is to stay at home where I am nice and comfortable.

Well I thought I would take this time to try and tell my story and how I went from looking like




















Like this at 8 weeks old



To this at 4 years old         




HERE IS MY TALE
 My Family, (I am not sure which is me)



When I was a young pup, and this was quite a time ago, I can only slightly remember having lots of brothers and sisters, I was told that I was one of eleven puppies; my poor mum who was called Dixie, must have been worn out with having to look after us and feed us all.



My Poor Mum she must have been so worn out


I can remember very well my new Mum and Dad coming to see me, Dad was walking a bit funny, he had two sticks which I later heard someone say where crutches; apparently he had had some silly accident and broken a bone in his leg. Well I found these sticks very interesting and tried to follow them all over, I think I nearly tripped him up once or twice, but that is how Dad and I got to know each other very well.

The next time they came to see me was about two weeks later. I thought this was just for some more fun, but we left all the others behind and went off to what was to be my new home. I remember feeling very nervous, I had never been in a car, and never been away from my mum. But I sat on my new Dads knee and I was cuddled and stroked all the way home. And I started to think ‘well this doesn’t seem too bad’, and anyway at least then I was not being pulled about by brothers and sisters, as they did pick on me a bit and pull my tail a lot.

When I was born, I had been living outside in a barn, with my mum and all my brothers and sisters. In this new house I was allowed inside the house and I had my own very posh looking bed, with a soft blanket and there was a box of toys as well, it was very nice.

On the first day I explored the gardens, there were lots of trees and lots of grass to play in. Although I had my own toys and treats, my favourite game was “catch the plant pot”, have you ever tried to catch a plant pot? It’s not easy, it’s something to do with the shape of it, and it rolls about in a very strange way. Well even to this day (and I am now three and a half years old,) it is still my favourite game.


My first day in my new home, I had lovely blue eyes.


During the first few months I was often in trouble. I chewed the curtains in the dining room, I didn’t mean to but they were in the way and I couldn’t see outside properly. I also chewed up my nice soft bed that had been made especially for me. I tried to be as good as I could be, but sometimes it was very hard and I ended up in trouble. It was hard learning what was right and what was wrong.

Every day we went for a long walk, most days we would go to the canal which ran along behind our house. At first just with Mum as Dad was still having a problem walking. I had to stay on the lead all the time, because I was young and silly. They didn’t want me to get hurt or lost, at this time I didn’t know how dangerous things could be, particularly cars they can be very dangerous indeed. I still forget this sometimes which I why I always stay on the lead on the roads and in the towns.



They are always taking photos of me!



LEARNING ABOUT LIFE:

I heard the words training and education quite a bit, I heard Mum and Dad talking about it, and then I heard Ceaser Milan talking about training. The Dog Whisperer is my favourite programme, and I also like animal hospital, but that’s another story.

My training went very well; we continued to go out every morning for our long walks, and once I had chased a few pine cones and searched for some sticks in the forest and generally had a good run around, I was put back on my lead to do some training.

I was learning how to walk on the lead without pulling Mum or Dad over, and also learning to stop and sit at the roads to make sure I didn’t get run over.

I had to learn sit and stay when I was told, and also to come back when I was called. I manage to do this most of the time, but sometimes even now I still don’t get it quite right, and I get a bit of a ticking off. Once I had learnt these things, and proved that I would come back when called for, this was when things started to get better, as then they started to let me off the lead for longer times.









Its great fun to run and play and chase sticks, and the freedom of running along the canal paths, through the forest and through parks is wonderful. I do need a good run every day its helps to keep me healthy and lets me get rid of all my extra energy that I have.

Now that Dads leg is better we all go out for a walk together, I like it better that way, and Mum and Dad throw pine cones and sticks for me, they laugh when I fall over trying to catch them, and I feel really good once I have had my run and got all that spare energy out of my system.

When I have had enough I hide the pine cones so they can’t throw them anymore, then we all plod home tired and happy. We all enjoy the walks, and we go out even in the pouring rain, (although I don’t think mum and dad really want to get wet).

I can remember one summer, when Auntie Sarah and Uncle Mike came for a holiday, so I had two more people to make a fuss of me, I was still only little, I was only a few months old.

I was on my way back from my walk, and we were coming through the garden. I can remember very clearly running across the grass to greet Auntie Sarah, when suddenly the ground gave way beneath my feet and I felt myself going down and down in the darkness. I was very scared, and I could not breath properly, it all happened so quickly, I got a real fright, then suddenly there were hands grabbing me and dragging and I could breathe the fresh air again and I was back onto the grass.

I went back to have a good look at what had happened, it turned out that there was a large pond in the back garden, I didn’t know what one of these was until then, but I certainly do now. I had been so busy trying to see Auntie Sarah that I didn’t look where I was going and I tried to walk across the water. Well, no one can do that can they? Anyway that was my first attempt at swimming and I reckon I managed pretty well. Sadly no one had a camera to catch the action, but never mind.







This is me with Dad just before one of my many swimming lessons



Dad always says you need a plan and a routine, and I agree with him, I like the routine, it works quite well for me and I know what I am supposed to be doing all the time.

So we go out every morning, about the same time. Sometimes to the canal and sometimes we go somewhere else for a change, but we are always out for a good long walk.

Dad loves to go to different places, he says he likes adventures and I am all for that. Sometimes the walks are very long and it seems these times were when we used to ‘get lost’, I didn’t understand at first what getting lost meant, but it was good for me as I always got a longer walk. I am not sure if Mum always agreed as they often looked rather worn out when they got home.

One of my favourite places is the canal and I soon learnt how to swim properly. And I learnt how to find the best places to dive in; making sure that the bank was short enough so that I could get out again. I did make mistakes once or twice and had to be dragged out as the bank was too steep for me to climb, I must look pretty sorry for myself when this happens, being dragged by the scruff of the neck out of the water, very embarrassing.



This is me and Dad relaxing after our walk;
he is reading the book about how to train a dog


There used to be a cat at our house, she was quite old and she very obviously didn’t like me. She was bigger than me at first, and she was always trying to scratch me. I tried to make friends with her but she didn’t want to know, so in the end I gave up and just stayed away from her.

Mind to this day I don’t really like cats, I think they are just a nuisance, but that’s my opinion, apparently some dogs get on really well with cats. Perhaps I will meet a cat that likes me and then I will have a cat friend as well. I like to watch them creep into the garden, then I chase them like mad, I never manage to catch them though. I always get a ticking off for this from Mum or Dad, it seems it is not good to chase other animals.

I have met lots of friends on our walks, we had two donkeys nearby who we always stopped and spoke to, I am still not sure what donkeys do, they just seem to stand in the field and eat all day, but I am sure they have a purpose for something.

I also have two golden retriever dog friends who come and see me very often, I love to see them, they are very good friends and lots of fun they are called Poppy, she’s a girl and very tidy looking, and Sam he is a boy and a bit older and a little laid back, but he is OK but isn’t so much fun as Poppy.

I will tell you a little more about my friends and what we get up to later on in my story, but now I must go as Mum and Dad will be back from the shops and I will have to run out and welcome them home, I know they like that.




Poppy and Sam and me getting ready to go out for the day.







MY FIRST ADVENTURE

My very first visit to the seaside was when I was probably only about a year old. We had to go in the car, and it took us quite a while to get there as the beach was a long way.

When I saw the beach for the first time I just thought, “WOW”, there was so much space.

The beach is made of sand and was lovely and soft, it felt lovely when I walked on it, my feet sank into it, just like on a soft carpet.
I had never seen so much water either, all the water I had seen before was in ponds, and rivers, and I had never seen the water moving like this before, it was coming onto the beach and then going away again. Dad said this was the tide.

It was great fun to I could run along the beach, and race in and out of the water. I was a little worried about how much water there was, I had only ever swum in the canal. In the canal you are never far from the land on the beach the water seems to go on forever.



One thing I did find was that this water tasted different, it was rather strange, not as nice as the water in the pond or in my drinking bowl. This water leaves a funny taste in my mouth. I found out afterwards that this was because the sea is made from salt water.











We had a lovely day, the weather was nice and warm, and the sea was cool. And after we had played on the beach for a while with the ball, we all walked right the way along to the other end, it was a long way you could hardly see what was at the other end.

We stopped near a pier where some boats where moored. The water wasn’t too deep here and the pier was sheltering this part of the water, so it wasn't moving so fast and I was able to have a proper swim.


Dad was throwing sticks into the water for me to chase, and soon I had could dive in and out of the water and swim about without any trouble. It didn’t take me long to became really confident. I felt especially good as there were several people watching me and laughing. They must have thought I was pretty clever.


Mum and me looking for treasure

Soon it was time to head back, it was getting late and we were all pretty exhausted by now. On the way back, Mam was talking about how she likes to look for ‘treasure’ when she is walking on the beach, in case something interesting or valuable has been washed ashore on the tide.

She thinks that one day she might find a box of jewels and gold coins which someone might have lost overboard from a ship. Probably from hundreds of years ago, and when she does it will prove to be very interesting and worth a lot of money.


As we were walking she noticed something in the distance, and started to talk about what it might be. She thought it may have some gold coins in it lost from an ancient galleon. Dad said it may be from the famous ship the Titanic and had been washed ashore after years of storms at sea.

I hoped it would be full of my favourite food, Frolic. As we got closer we were still wondering what it could be, I got there first and thought it looked pretty good, but I didn’t think there was any Frolic in it. Dad laughed when he saw what it was, it was a rusty old oil can which must have been in the sea for a long time. Oh well, never mind said Mam, we will just have to look again next time.


I had a good look around myself to see if I could find something which looked like ‘treasure’, I did bring her one or two pieces of wood, an old plastic bottle, and some old rope, but I don’t think this was what she really wanted, and there certainly wasn’t any Frolic.

We were soon back to the car, the sun was getting low in the sky and we were all feeling pretty tired but it had been a really good day. I went to sleep in the car, and I was looking forward so much to my dinner. I was so hungry when I got home that I really enjoyed my bowl of Frolic.




BUSTER
One day when I was sitting at home resting, a large truck arrived on the front driveway. I had never seen this truck so I thought I would bark a bit to warn Mam and Dad. I was watching carefully from the window, and a man got out of the truck and walked to the front door. I was there before him barking to warn him that I was there, and don’t come to close please. Dad was right behind me so I was quite safe (we look after each other).

Dad spoke to the man and then shook the man’s hand and the man returned to the truck, I heard him tell Mam it was John the tree surgeon. I didn’t know what a tree surgeon was, but they all seemed very happy. The man, John opened the passenger side of the truck and out jumped a large black dog that looked just like me. I couldn’t believe it; this dog was just like me, with long hair all over and the same sort of hairstyle on his face.

Well once I had a sniff at him and he sniffed me we knew we were brothers, it was lovely to see him. I remembered him straight away and he remembered me. We ran around in the garden and chased each other all over the house. It was a lovely afternoon. It turns out his name is Buster and he lives with the people where I was born, all the other pups moved to different places, but Buster stayed there and he now goes out every day with John and helps out with the tree work.





















We spent all afternoon catching up with the gossip and having a really good time, Buster says he is very happy and I am so pleased to hear that. I had forgotten that I had brothers and sisters it was nice to have this afternoon to remember them.



















MY FIRST HOLIDAY IN ENGLAND

Just before Christmas in 2008, Mam and Dad started packing up the car with boxes and cases and all sorts of other things.  I thought they where having another clear out of the rubbish they collect.  I thought they may be off to the rubbish tip (or decheterie as they call it here in France).  I knew I wasn't going with them as they had completely filled the back of the car where I normally travel.

Next they put a new dog guard behind the front seats and rolled out a lovely new cover for the back seats and told me to jump in.  This was nice, I was nice and close to them in the front seats and I could see everything that was going on, but I was still nice and safe and they wouldn't end up with me crashing into them if the car stopped suddenly.

Next day we set off early for our walk in the forest behind the house, Dad said it was going to be a quick walk as we had a long day ahead of us.  And it was a long day.  We set off in the car about 10 o'clock and drove for many miles.  We stopped at a large service station where they had coffee and I had a walk and sniff around.  We did this every few hours as Dad and Mam didn't want me getting to stiff sitting in the car all day.

Soon we ended up in a place called Calais and we stayed the night in a hotel.  I didn't like this, the man next door was snoring loudly, and the person the other way was very noisy and his mobile phone kept ringing.
There where also lots of doors banging and people walking around and I just didn't feel happy about this.

Next day we set off after a nice breakfast and we were headed for the Channel Tunnel.  We arrived at the pet passport office and Mam and me went inside to see the officer.  I was terrified when I hear the Officer say my passport wasn't in order. I was so frightened about what was to happen next. 

Well the Officer gave Mam a piece of paper and we set of to the local vet, I thought I was going to have to have another injection.  I had already had one the day before from my lovely vet Heink in our village. Seems though that everything was ok, the vet in Calais just filled in some papers and stamped the passport for me, I think she charged some money for this but I am not sure.  Mam and Dad wern't too happy about it, but I was relieved as it meant I could travel to England. 

We got back to the Channel Tunnel, but we had missed the train so we went for a walk while we waited.  About and hour later we all got back into the car and started heading to the train.  This was exciting, and from my new seat in the car I could see everything that was going on.  We drove onto the train behind another car, and stopped.  Well half an hour later we where in England it was pretty cool.

We had a great time in England, we spent lots of days on the beach and I met lots of English dogs there.  We stayed with Nan who made us all feel very happy.  We visited all our relations and friends and had a lovely Christmas when lots of people came for dinner, this was great as I got treats off everyone.

I really like England, and am looking forward to my next visit there.

OUR NEW HOME 

When I was about 2 years old, I woke up one morning and found that things were going to be a lot different.

For some time we had been having a lot of people coming to the house. I always knew someone was on the way because Mam would have the vacuum on all over the house. Dad would cut the grass and clean up the garage. People who I had never met would arrive and spend a lot of time looking about the house and asking questions.

It turns out that Mum and Dad had decided the house was too big and the gardens where too much for them to look after. There was also a separate house which people would come and spend their holidays in; I liked this as it was someone else to play with. However Mum and Dad said they wanted to spend more time travelling and enjoying themselves, getting out and about instead of cutting the grass and cleaning the cottage out every weekend.

It was soon clear that someone had decided to buy the house and we were going to be moving somewhere else. I wasn’t worried about this, as long as they didn’t forget to pack my Frolic, my toys and of course my bed.

Everything, and I mean everything had to go into boxes, there where boxes everywhere. This went on for about a month, sometimes we only managed a short walk in the morning as there was so much to do, but I normally got another walk later in the day

Eventually the day came; I woke up to hear a large truck backing down the drive to the front door. I can’t help it, but when I hear something out of the ordinary I bark and bark, which normally gives Dad a real fright, and then he gets a bit annoyed. Anyway the driver, whose name was Geoff, came in and they all sat down for coffee. Humans always have to have a cup of something before they get started.


Next everything was loaded in the van, this took some time, Dad and Geoff and another man did all this while Mum cleaned and tidied the house. Soon the whole house was empty, it was really odd and I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

I soon found out, and we all piled into the car and followed the van. We arrived about an hour later at a small white house. It was much smaller than the last house but it still had a good size garden which I was quite pleased about.

Soon everything was unpacked and to my great relief my bed was placed in the hallway, a good place I thought, as it meant I could keep watch at everything that was going on.