Man Down!! (everybody laugh)

On Saturday I was at work and so poor Amy found herself in charge of Atlas duty.

He is both of ours and so this usually isn’t a problem, we take turns in walking him, and this usually goes without any problems.

We both train him the same way and walk out daily with the most fabulous bum bag (also affectionately known and the fanny pack) which is stuffed with tasty treats to ensure we train at every possible opportunity.

If anyone ever tells you that teaching a dog to “heel” is easy … they are lying and absolutely not worth listening to. Its gruelling and awful and nine times out of ten doesn’t work! it is THE most frustrating task Amy and I have ever had to overcome, and I’m fairly certain that every other owner of a head strong pup will agree. Atlas is nearly 11 months old and we have been preaching the same old story since he was 8 weeks old. believe me when I tell you this that two seconds of sense after a “watch me” or “with me command” can really lull you into a false sense of “he’s finally cracked it and we will walk politely”, you’ve nailed I, you have a slack lead and your enjoying your walk, you finally relax and then BAM out of nowhere that pesky Autumn leaf floats past and its lost, your back to hanging onto a crazed dinosaur with all your might trying to gain some control so that every passer by doesn’t point and laugh at the huge German shepherd with a floppy ear playing with the leaves with the stressed out human attached.

So, I return from work to find Atlas in the kitchen and Amy in a deflated heap on the couch. She then proceeds to tell me that he’s been the devil on their walk and that he’s in the kitchen to calm down (I’m not convinced she used the word devil and possible had a few choice words to call him, I guess that made her feel better). she then proceeds to tell me the story.

They were walking in the park and all was going well until our delightful pup decided he wanted to go and play with another dog. He proceeded to drag poor Amy, who at this point was struggling to hold on as he was like an unexploded bomb on a lead, over to said dog through a wet patch of grass. She slipped and down she went. She’s now on the floor, in the mud with Atlas still desperate to play with the passing dog.

Well not really sure how to take in this information and obviously knowing how she felt as it wasn’t so long ago the great oaf ran after a pigeon at top speed and sent me flying across the field on the end of a lunge line, to which he did come back rather quickly but was so excited with the whole affair he lost his mind and tried to hump me whilst I was on the floor, luckily for me the local football team weren’t practicing that day,  I obviously didn’t laugh (in front of her) but asked if anyone had come to help her up …. the answer was a definitive no and that the people around just looked at her like the village idiot who has a dog she cant only stay upright when holding on to but cant control at all in public. We’ve all been there!

Poor Amy, I think she has now forgiven him and made friends with him but I’m going to guess it’ll be me on park duty for a little while until our angel can practice some self control, Its ok you can laugh now!

Subsequently I was intrigued as to how much he now weighs. At last count he was 34kgs and that wasn’t so long ago so off I trundled on Sunday with Atlas in tow to the local pets at home and asked to use the scales, on he sits proud as punch and I watch as the numbers go up and up.

Here’s where they finally stopped …

atlas

That’s 37.8kg, 83.3 lbs and 5.95 stone

No wonder he had her over, the massive tank, maybe we should do a pool at what weight we think hell finish on haha !!

He’s finally learning to relax

Relaxation is not a strong point of Atlas’ actually come to think of it, relaxation doesn’t really mix very well in our house.

Atlas can usually be found bounding around our living room pretending the floor is lava or just generally being a goof. Yesterday he threw his toy with that much force across the room that it almost sent the television rocketing to the moon. As I’ve mentioned previously, his newest most favourite pastime is the dreaded digging, we, in our naivety had thought that has ceased. Boy were we wrong.

However recently he has learnt that whining and singing doesn’t get him any attention and he is learning that having the odd afternoon snooze is quite a nice hobby.

Here is Atlas this afternoon managing a five minute lie down whilst Amy ate her lunch in peace.

Atlas

 

Atlas vs Child

Parents with children who decide to get a puppy and don’t lose their shit in the process … I applaud you.

Amy and I don’t have children, remember … we are the “cool aunts” we try to convince ourselves that the kids love us because we don’t have kids and they can colour their eyebrows in with pink felt tip and stay up late but in fact its probably just because we have a toy box. A toy box filled with toys the kids have never seen before and don’t have to share because there isn’t anyone else to share with.

So to conclude, we are the cool aunts.

We also have an Atlas.

Not the fun coloured, spinning educational type, that the parents of said children would probably appreciate, no, an 8 month old giant missile that weighs more than three children put together.

Yes … the fun kind of Atlas.

Now before Atlas came home, Amy and I have become accustomed to a more gentler way of life, with a female dog that was probably as old as your nana. She was not interested in the kids what so ever, she didn’t want their food, their noisy Thomas train nor their bikes and scooters, she absolutely was not interested in being present for a game of hairdressers or having her nails painted. If the kids were there, Jasmine was in hiding and that’s what she liked.

She did actually take part in a re-enactment of Frozen once and played the part of Sven the reindeer because, and I quote “We need a life sized prop”, no she wasn’t as big as a reindeer but she played it very well.

Take us forward to present day and we have Atlas.

Atlas is super friendly, over friendly in fact. I’ve only ever heard him growl once and that was due to a fountain shooting up from the floor and almost taking his top jaw off. I’ve got to hand it to the guy it probably was a very big shock. Atlas loves everyone, the problem we have with Atlas is that he does everything at super sonic speed.

With adults, I’m sure that’s no problem, they get the “please ignore him until he calms down” and we all go about our business, until the children arrive and that’s when the party starts. He has stolen socks of children, stolen shoes off children, ruined a game of soldiers because he’s either knocked the soldiers down or eaten them, sat on them, literally squashed them and then the inevitable, sent them flying. I don’t mean just made them lose their balance, I mean actually sent them flying.

It doesn’t matter how much you say, please stay calm, don’t run, don’t scream his name and head off in the other direction … kids don’t learn, and quite honestly if I had a giant dinosaur thundering towards me at super sonic speed and someone told me to stand still and be calm, Id be hot footing it the opposite direction too whilst shouting some very choice words at the crazy person telling me to stand there.

I get it …

There’s the older child, she’s Twelve and Atlas loves her. She has the ability to comprehend that where Atlas is concerned, at the moment, calm is better. They go on adventures and watch films and just generally manage to coexist quite happily. she strokes him, she feeds him, she cant walk him yet but she gives it a good go. All in all there’s a beautiful friendship blossoming.

~Atlas and Darcey

There’s the middle girl, she’s a little smaller but isn’t in the slightest bit bothered by Atlas and his crazy antics. She’s only seven so we have to be careful but she’s pretty good with him. He respects her which is always good but then again that might be because she wants to do things with him. She generally complains that he’s in her way, he’s usually sat right on top of her to be fair. Or that she cant see the TV, again he’s usually sat in front of her and because he’s a very similar size to her their heads are at the same height. Again … all in all slightly more stressful than the older one but not bad considering Atlas is such a giant goof ball.

Ava and Atlas

And then there are the boys.

The boys range from six to just turned four and there are three of them. Atlas thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread. They scream, they run, they play on bikes and scooters and put up a great game of chase. They play with toys that make loud noises and have cars that shoot around the living room. Sounds great doesn’t it, I cant blame him, occasionally I feel the need to join in. Until we have discounted little humans who have to be pulled out from underneath the puppy before they start to suffocate or very upset little people because the bike tyre has gone down due to mysteries chew holes.

Who am I trying to Kid … its carnage, its the clash of the titans all over again. We have taken to Atlas being attached to me on a house lead to ensure that no children are harmed in the “visit Amy and Sophie” day. He eventually calms down but kids come first, now we know these kids will go home and so we don’t feel so bad that whilst he’s learning he isn’t let lose on them, how on earth people manage with children and a puppy that live in the same house 24/7 I do not know, all I can say is well done to you!

We do have the odd moment of utter cuteness …

Noah and Atlas

We are obviously aware (or secretly praying) that he will calm down and we try not to hide him away from them because the children and Atlas need to learn to be together shutting him away and not continuing our lives as we would, would only exasperate the situation and then maybe one day there will be a child living in the house, what would we do then? The bottom line is he has to learn not to react to the children and the children have to learn how to respect the dog.

We have a long road ahead but we are trying to subject Atlas to everything and everyone to enable him to become a well rounded member of the family. He comes to as many places with us as we can take him and has training sessions frequently (not that his obedience is getting any better).

The main part is he is a baby and is still learning, but in the interim, jokes aside we are very cautious of what situations we put him in where children are concerned, mainly due to his size. That’s our responsibility isn’t it? To ensure the children don’t get hurt and become frightened but to teach them how to be kind and to have respect which will then hopefully enable them to have their very own best friend when they’re a little older.

Please, any tips on how you deal with high energy clashes between children and puppies is much appreciated.

p.s. no children were harmed in the making of Atlas vs Child !

 

 

 

I’m not convinced I like him!

So before I go into how much of a massive arse hole Atlas is I’ll just brief you on how delightful he can be ….

1. He’s good in the car

2. He sleeps at night

… the end !

The rest of the time he literally is that person you just look at at want to punch in the throat! He has the most beautiful face and honestly not even that saves him most of the time.

Take this weekend for example now set the scene, it’s sunny, so of course, every man and his great aunt fanny is out, so obviously we decide to go for a nice afternoon stroll with a friend and her baby! Oh how stupid were we to think we could go out in public ! The moment he got out of the car he started squealing like a guy who has his testicles locked in a vice! Before you ask … there was no reason for this at all!!

So we’re strolling along trying to ignore the fact that the noises  coming from the dog are totally normal with a strange smile on our faces like “we know we’re embarrassing ourselves but we’re committed now and it’s happening” and he spots a deer ! Oh we that was it ! He then starts wailing like a blood hound who’s had too much gin and attempts to bulldoze his way through the pram to get to said deer! I at which point decided to try and divert his attention by playing with his ball and walking in the opposite direction. What I actually ended up doin was hitting him on the head with his ball and dragging him away whilst the god awful noise was still coming from the dog!

By this point the theory of Cesar Milan being “the pack leader” and “setting boundaries rules and limitations” went to shit! I’m fairly certain people wanted to call the rspca on the crazed woman who looked like she was beating her dog with a toy in the middle of Dunham Massey !

We finally retreat to the comfort of our  home. Four walls … safe enclosed space! Haha oh no no ….. the running around in circles starts, honestly it’s like the scene out of Mary poppins “places everybody, places” grab your shoes and your brew in the knowledge the five stone flying cannon could come your way at any minute! It’s not pretty!!

After that, the humping starts …. now credit where it’s due it is only one of two of his cushions. But lord above it’s not something I want to see when Corrys on! Having to shift your view every two seconds to avert your eyes from his back end going ten to the dozen on his pillow!

When that finally ends you think you’ve cracked it …. no !

Thats when the staring starts! Never in my life did I think I’d be made to feel awkward by a dog ! Well believe me …. the intense staring with a dog who’s eye level to you is the weirdest thing and I have no idea why he does it. Eventually he decided that he’s seen enough of my face and lies down.

Thats the exact same time you realise your sodding brews gone cold and your bladders screaming at young because you’ve been holding back Niagra falls for the past hour whilst carnage unfolded in your lounge!

You cant move … you can’t even think about moving because you know if it does it starts again ….

I’m stab writing this on my driveway preparing for this evenings battle !! I’ll keep you posted !

Get a puppy they said … it’ll be fun they said !!

 

(Atlas and his teeny tiny hat … if only he wasn’t so cute 😂❤️🌍 )

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Not the Cauliflower !!

This afternoon it was pretty hot! we’ve ran out of peanut butter so in my wisdom, decided to give the massive, giant pupper of ours a cheeky frozen treat .. frozen veggies.

This was the reaction ….

(note how miniscule said piece of cauliflower is !!)

Atlas

Atlas is raw fed, and let me tell you this whittles down any fun treat your dog ever liked, every! expect for in Atlas’ case, his beloved peanut butter and frozen peas. Yep I am officially the fun sponge of the family, on a plus note though I am no longer thinking about shares in dentastix!

There is a reason for his raw feeding, and this is due to him being the itchiest thing I have ever known. He’s like a baby with eczema. He came home pretty itchy but we just initially put this down to him feeling a little confused about the whole new house, new family, first car ride etc. He was originally fed on Oscars dry food which I love ! They are fantastic, Jasmine was fed on that and so naturally when his lordship arrived, he was weaned straight onto their large breed puppy food, and he loved it, until the itching got worse.

We did the most obvious initially, the de fleeing and making sure his little body had no unwanted visitors via worming. We tried an oatmeal wash which was recommended and apart from making him look like something out of a L’Oreal advert, it didn’t really touch the sides. We re-mortgaged the house for piriton from the vet (as I paid she kindly announced I could have got them for 60p at Wilkos) …. you can imagine my joy when they didn’t work ! He was given something similar to a nuclear bomb on a second visit to the vet to ensure he had no fleas (after explaining he was in fact critter free) and then as a last resort was given a round of anti-biotic’s. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was not overly surprised when the itching persisted. We were then told by the vet that he was, and I quote “just itchy” ….. you have got to be kidding me! At this point I lost myself a little and was so angry that they had dismissed his problem which was in fact irritating the life out of us, let alone just him, that I went to researching myself.

In the mean time Atlas actually won the pet idol competition ran by Oscars food (fabulous) and so he was able to obtain a free bag of food. We decided that at this point we had nothing to lose and so changed him onto the grain free option they had … he hated it and we had to mash it with water. I don’t think he actually hated it but at the time he’d gone from tiny puppy pellets that resembled rabbit droppings to huge giant planets for food and his little teeth just couldn’t do it, Especially as he was losing them left right and centre. It did however calm the itching slightly, but not completely.

I then saw an advert for raw feeding and did some research. I spoke to three breeders and a few friends that also feed raw and so decided to give it a try. Having never prepared raw food for dogs before it took a little trial and error to understand what I was actually doing (trust me its like a minefield) but once we did we have never looked back. I found that most companies will do the complete minces with the 80:10:10 ratio of meat, bone and offal that is recommended, and it was around the same as we were paying for his dried food. He loves it so much that I had to invest in a slow feeder because it was gone in seconds.

Atlas 2

We are still at a trial and error stage and notice quite significantly when his body doesn’t agree with a certain meat, for instance he loves fish and tripe (Warning … it smells like death) but he loves it, I added a chicken and beef for a bit of variety and the itching started, take the beef away and it stops. I like to add different things to ensure I can give him a variety but at the same time figure out which he will be ok on and which he wont. We are lucky at this point that the itching does only last a few days, unlike before when he was always scratching to the point of causing sores.

His coat is beautiful, his teeth are white and his weight is 34kgs. He’s not overweight as you can see … just the size of a small aircraft ! But I have found cons to the diet, which brings me back to the frozen veggies. Training treats are difficult to find, most make him itchy because they are not completely fresh. We end up buying tonnes of chicken and ham and occasionally sausage to reward him when training. He loves peas, so we use these in his wobbler toy, but as I mentioned its trial and error and finding what works for you and your puppy.

I would like to at this point mention that I am not adverse to dry dog food and I am certainly not on a rampage about how everyone should do go raw, it just so happens that Atlas took us on a different journey and we do what’s best for him

Our local butcher is fantastic and gives us huge bones for £1

(the rug takes a bit of a beating. Its basically Atlas’ he chews it, shreds strips of it, plays with the fray and now rolls around with his raw bones, it will be replaced when he learns some general house rules, in the mean time we are the family that watch Corry and Emmerdale with half a cow leg in the living room!)

Atlas3

P.S. my mum is a vegetarian …. we have to arrange feeding times around visits, and god forbid she finds a raw butchers bone lying around !!

Its all fun and games with an Atlas in the house Continue reading “Not the Cauliflower !!”

We chose Atlas …

Hopefully by now you will have read the previous blog about how we ended up being in contact with our lovely breeder and his family with their delightful country house in the abyss.

I have to just mention that initially we were very aware that the poor the breeder and his wife clearly couldn’t quite work out the dynamics of the two women who had just arrived at his home late and a little disgruntled. It became quite obvious that they were trying to comprehend whether one was wanting a puppy and the other had gone for moral support and advice or whether they were in fact a couple. Of course they were polite and never asked the question however I have noticed the same look a few times, whether it be training class, vets visits or just out walking with a misbehaving Jumbo Jet on a lead !!

You have the family with the nice car “oh that puppy went to a family with a range rover” or the wife who is a vet “oh that puppy went to the lady who’s a vet” Atlas is “the puppy with the two mums”. Of course there is absolutely no animosity but it is interesting to watch the faces of people who are trying to understand the makings of a less traditional family.

Now if you haven’t ever seen a litter of puppies close up then you cant fully appreciate the feeling of pure emotion that comes over you, and yes before you say it, you are right baby dogs absolutely make me much more broody than baby people! Atlas was one of originally eleven puppies born, unfortunately three didn’t make it and so there were eight. Eight bundles of pure loveliness shuffling around their crate like tiny seals looking for their next meal. Their eyes had just opened and so they looked like someone had just taken a picture with the flash too close and their eyes hadn’t had time to adjust.

Beyond the squinting eyes and the lack of coordination, there in front of us was effectively our future best friend (or so we thought). So the breeder at this point is very proudly passing us puppies and showing us the little girl that they were keeping and one puppy that had already been reserved, Mowgli.

I think I previously mentioned that there were only boys to choose from because this was mums last litter and they wanted the girl who was already named Ember. I was at this point quite insistent that I wanted a big dog with as long a coat as possible, we had already had long coat and that was what we liked.

As I was quietly trying to figure out which puppy was which (im sure you can empathise that is is quite difficult to tell puppies apart at that age) he announces, and I quote “Now this big guy is my favourite … look at the size of him” and presented us with the most divine little face I have ever seen. He was slightly bigger than the rest and was significantly fuzzier than the others also but in all honesty my initial wants had gone completely and I just wanted to snuggle this little monster and not put him down.

They say dogs choose their owners and as soon as I held him he looked straight at me, tilted his tiny little head backwards howled and then snuggled in for a snooze. At this point I was delirious and took that as a sign that he had chosen us … now knowing Atlas it is evident that it wasn’t at all fate and was just his prodigious personality shining through even then.

You will be please to know that I did let Amy have a hold before announcing to the breeder that he was the one we wanted to share the next decade with, evidently not realising that I was never to have a cup of tea on my sofa ever again and that we were going to have to very quickly have to learn how to deal with public embarrassment due to our new puppy fancying himself the class clown, of course we wouldn’t really change him for the world ! We chose the tiniest little blue velcro collar that I’m fairly certain came from the craft section at the range and popped it on his neck to make sure that he didn’t get mixed up with the others, were told that we could collect him on the 18th January and that if we wanted to pop back to see him we were welcome any time which we did of course take him up on …  and so our story began.

 

 

Baby Atlas – The day we fell in love

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Our journey to finding the Regal King

So your family decides to get a dog. I would have imagined by this point that there had been some discussion about what type of dog you want, old, young, small, big, even giant in fact and lets face it guys its big thing! This creature is going to invade your home for the next decade at least … you’ve got to make sure its the right one, and so the search begins, easy right ?? Absolutely not … its the most difficult, heart wrenching, frustrating ordeal I’ve ever encountered and let me tell you, it didn’t even last very long.

We already had an idea that we wanted to get another German Shepherd and I’d ideally have liked a long haired, not that it was too much of an issue, but everywhere you look you find stickers and posters with big bold writing “ADOPT DONT SHOP” and “STOP PUPPY FARMING”. So we did what any normal animal loving couple did … trawled the internet and set up play dates with the dogs in the dogs home.

Now did you know its easier to foster a real life human baby than it is a dog? There’s checks for your house, checks for your income, checks for your past conduct with animals, checks for your immediate family and if your working you cant work more than four hours a day. Now I’m not criticising and obviously jokes aside the people in the rescue centres and the rehoming shelters do an amazing job and they have to follow certain procedures as these dogs have 99% of the time had a pretty rough time. Added to the fact that they have to cover themselves, because you and I both know, as sad as it is, in todays society … where there’s a blame there’s a claim.

We don’t have children but we do live in a fairly busy home and there is usually a random child or three dotting around (we fancy ourselves as the cool aunts … we’re not, we’re just unpaid childcare, we know this and choose to ignore it anyway). So we knew we wanted a big dog and were open to any kind of larger dog, we’ll not go into my BMI but lets say a teacup Chihuahua probably wouldn’t look right, and we had it in our minds that larger dogs are harder to place purely because of their size. It became a common occurrence that the larger dogs were to be placed in homes with children over 12. apparently dogs over 60 inches high have a child phobia!?! Of course we get it … we’re fairly intelligent, these people have to make sure some poor child wont be mauled by a stressed out dinosaur. After many conversations with shelters and a especially one very strange lady who wouldn’t give me details of on certain dog for, and I quote “data protection reasons”, since when did dogs care about GDPR?? we decided to rethink and so we went down the puppy route (for our sins).

Jasmine came from a reputable stud and so we thought ok we have a starting point so we looked on the stud dogs and came across the stud that we wanted, I say “we” in this part but I am very aware that poor Amy (mum number two, if you didn’t know Atlas has two mums, you do now and yes we will go into that at some point and no he doesn’t wear a rainbow collar … yet !) ended up just agreeing because I was probably a little overbearing and had reached the end of my tether with the dog search and wanted something sorted. We then searched for a litter that had been born, nothing technical, we used Google and an iPhone, and found a litter.

They were black and tan, mainly short hair but one that looked like he was going to be a plush coat. and let me tell you, they were the cutest thing id ever seen. They were only two weeks old but the breeder said to come along anyway and if we wanted to we could have second pick of the litter … Perfect. He had mum and grandma there to see also but said out of 8 puppies there was only one girl that he was keeping. Ok now until this point …. shockingly we hadn’t ever discussed whether we wanted female or male so we decided that although the male would be bigger we weren’t too bothered and agreed a time to go over to the house to meet the puppies, and turns out the whole family and the two adult dogs.

It was the second week of December 2017 and freezing. Turns out the family lived in the most beautiful location right in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, which is all lovely and nice until you have to find it in the dark, is there a reason they don’t have lights in the country?? So we go in and have a chat with the breeder and his wife, who by the way was such a lovely couple!

We had cuddles with mum and grandma dog (at this point I feel like I’m writing a story for a children’s collection, but let me tell you … this actually took place) and then the breeder stood up and said the famous last words … “would you like to meet the puppies”.

 

This is what he presented us with  … two weeks and two days old ❤

baby Atlas