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 !!

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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

 

The bed saga

We have a current situation going on in our home ….

Puppy Vs Floor

He has beds, he has crates, he has “his place” and yet he choses the floor. The hard, cold, comfy floor. I’m aware that dogs will chose to sleep on the floor if they find themselves too hot because it is by all rights the coldest place in the house. I have no issue with Atlas sleeping on the floor until it becomes a problem.

I’ve fallen on him, he decided to leap up as I was stepping over him and we both found ourselves in a very awkward  heap on the very cold hard floor. He gets stepped on repeatedly, things get rolled over his tail, things get dropped on him and we constantly trip over him.

If Atlas was a human he would have won an Oscar by now for his amazing dramatic talent, for instance, you accidentally roll an onion over the base of his tail, where, I might add there is no bone just hair and you would have to assume that I’ve just tied his furry poms up with an elastic band. The noise that comes out of him when he thinks he’s in pain has no comparison, this is only turned up by a few hundred decibels when we do accidentally hurt him.

All jokes aside, I then started to notice that he has little calluses forming on his elbows, they don’t seem to hurt him or bother him but I know from previous experience that it is the bodies way of trying to protect the bone. This isn’t something I want really for him if it can be prevented and so the research started.

I came across a raised dog bed. These apparently are fairly common however since I live under a rock Id never heard of them. They stand about 8cm off the ground and have a metal frame covered in a mesh which is fully breathable and keeps the dog cool …. perfect. Also because of the bed being raised it helps with joints and should hopefully relieve the pressure on his elbows from the floor. I duly ordered one, paid for it and it arrived within a couple of days.

Atlas

It was really easy to install, simply four screws and an allen key. To be honest I wasn’t quite prepared for how big it was going to be but if it does the trick then we can cope. within ten minutes it had all been put together and Atlas had sat on it no problem.

Atlas1

Perfect, he fits, the bed fits and he likes it, so off I went back to work quite proud of myself thinking I had very easily solved the problem of the lumpy elbows. If you’ve been following this blog you will have come to realise by now that nothing with Atlas is every quite as simple as it should be.

Upon my return home from work, which was essentially two hours since I had left him, I am met with this …

Altas2

Hole

A giant puppy with a giant puppy paw stuck through his brand new raised dog bed because apparently munching on mesh is a good way to pass the time. so note to self … the mesh is strong enough to hold up a 35kg + dog but will easily succumb to munching shark teeth.

We’ve, since decided that for now he will have to live with the hole in his bed and we will just cover it over with his blanket for now. All in all however, apart from the ever growing hole, the bed has been very well received and it has saved him from being stepped on at least 10 times already. hopefully in the long run it will help with his little elbows too …..

atlas 3

Love to you all ❤

 

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 !

 

 

 

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

Atlas2Atlas1Atlas3Atlas4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He got his silver !!!

Just a little … more recent update of the dinosaur!

We have been following the Kennel Club Good Citizens award. He very quickly sailed through intro and bronze and did the most amazing trial run of the silver a couple of weeks ago.

Lo and behold the great big lump made a spectacle of us all. We dually watched as Archie the Bichon tootled around strutting his stuff so delicately on the end of the lead whilst the nine year old handler put him through his paces …. did I mention we were massively out shined by a NINE year old?!

I feel a slight tugging on the lead and turn to see Atlas lay on his back chewing Ruby the Labradors toy and grunting like a dying hippo, safe to say it went very quickly downhill from there.

Recall – this must mean run off and play with the other dogs first.

Stay – how many positions can one dog manage in two minutes (and lets not forget the incessant high pitched yapping like a Yorkshire terrier)

Heel work – not a major problem you’d have thought, considering this is something we do daily, how wrong you are ! he would have won first place and a gold star if he was auditioning for Zippy the bloody bush kangaroo !! ohh the shame !!

One word … MORTIFIED !!

I think they only gave it to him to avoid me either crying or leaving him there and swapping for Archie the Bichon! He excelled himself, he really did … he was most proud of his efforts to sabotage our Wednesday evening training at the local church hall.

Atlas 1 – mums 0 !!!

 

 

 

 

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