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Would Aled Jones sing about this?

The snow seems like a distant memory now, but when it was here Buddy and Star had an encounter with a snowman. Just as they had got used to the field across the lane from us being covered in cold wet white stuff, the local children built a snowman. This was something new, an odd development in a usually flat area, and had to be carefully approached. It was interesting to watch their reactions.

They both noticed it as soon as we entered the field, and there was a slight stiffening in both their body language.

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Texting and dog walking: a cautionary tale

I watched the weather forecast this morning which informed me that the morning would be dry but by the afternoon heavy rain would set in. So I decided to switch my day around and walk the dogs in the morning to avoid getting wet. (Remember me not wanting to get wet later in the story.)

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Reigning cats and dogs

A few weeks ago we added two kittens to our growing menagerie. This was something we did with full commitment, but some trepidation as we obviously already have two dogs, plus Anthony is allergic to some cats. However, having made the decision to take them in, we were determined to make it work. You can hear more details in this weekend's show about how the canines and felines have settled down together, but as shown in the photos they are now perfectly happy and relaxed in each other's company.

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Buddy and Luna

Buddy and Luna cuddle on the couch.

Let's get ready to Rally

Buddy and I are going on a Rally course on Sunday. It's a sport I've researched for articles, but never actually taken part in before. Although it's established in America, it's very new to the UK, and we're lucky to have a course going on so close to us. As I understand it in the easier level the dog can stay on lead, which is a comfort when you have a friendly Labrador whose mission in life seems to be to meet and greet as many people and dogs as he possibly can. But what are the behaviours that we have to carry out as we work our way around the course? I have to say that while I'm excited, I'm now getting a little nervous too.

So I've been investigating online, and here's the findings of my in depth research so far: some of it we'll be able to manage, some of it we might well make a mess of. So it should be a fun day, and at least we'll give some of the other participants a good laugh.

The point is that we can have a go, and we can enjoy the experience knowing that's it's doing both of us a lot of good and strengthening our bond. I learned last year while trying out a lot of canine activities and sports (and leaving my comfort zone a long way behind) that I've wasted a lot of time standing at the edges of arenas and rings, watching someone else and their dog performing or competing, thinking, "One day Buddy and I will try that." But for so long we just didn't get around to it. Until last year, when we both learned a lot - and had a lot of fun in the process.

I have to admit that I don't think Buddy and I will ever be as good as Clarissa Bergeman (the handler in the video above) and her dog, but I suspect we're not on our own in that. The important thing is that we can try it out and see if it suits us. It will be an adventure. We may not put in the best performance, but as the saying goes, I know I'll be bringing home the best dog. The real challenge is to make it so pleasant and fun that Buddy thinks he's bringing home the best human. Fingers crossed!

Take care,

Julie x

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Rain stops play

It’s been one of those dreadful drizzly days when the rain never really gets going, but having not really got going it keeps on all day long. It was the kind of day to spend inside reading a book or watching a DVD. I had work to do of course, but it would have been good to read a book or watch a DVD if you had the time.

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Two gold dogs!

I now live in a house with two gold dogs - Kennel Club Good Citizen gold dogs that is. Buddy passed his last year, and Star has passed hers tonight. I am so proud of my daughter and her dog, and it's been fascinating for me to see them train together.

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What our dogs get up to on walks

I posed the question yesterday of what your style of walking is - but what's your dog's? Our two do like to be out in the lead a lot of the time. I put this down in Buddy's case to wanting to be the first one to encounter anything edible we might come across, rather than any dominant traits. In Star's case, she likes to be up with her big brother; it's a comical site him loping along, with her little legs scurrying away to keep up with him.

What they will both be distracted by is mud or water. What they seem to enjoy most are really big, really

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Strange dogs and unseen dangers

Friends of ours have a pet lamb. He was an orphan, and they fancied having a pet sheep, so it worked out well for them both. He's called Shadow and he's very tame, to the point where quite dog-like he enjoys a fuss! Also dog-like he goes for a walk an a lead. He doesn't wear a collar, he has a harness, but it didn't stop Buddy and Star mistaking him for a fellow canine.

They were both very eager to get to him, although Shadow was not as eager to get to them. He was happy to have them nearby, but he had no desire to come nose to nose with either of them. Buddy was

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Sharing

258 - Andrew Cotter Olive and Mabel and celebrating Mutts

Sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter made charming videos of his two Labrador dogs Olive and Mabel, which kept us smiling in lockdown and beyond. He talks to Julie about Dog Days, the book he has written about the ups and downs of life with his dogs, and their rise to social media stardom. Photographer Olivia Pritchard loves mutts - mystery mixed breeds as she puts it - and has created a stunning fine art coffee table book in celebration of them. She talks about her experiences meeting the dogs that feature in the book, and about her own rescue dog.

189 - The Dog Healers and War Dogs Remembered

In this episode you can hear Mark Winik talk about his debut novel, The Dog Healers, and listen to Julia Robertson explain why she founded the charity War Dogs remembered. Plus there's the DogCast Radio News, and what Mischief the German Spitz puppy has been up to.

188 - Service Dogs UK and Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home

In this episode you can hear about Service Dogs UK, a fantastic charity which trains assistance dogs to support veterans of any service - military personnel, police, firefighters, paramedics and the coastguard - who develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to their job. Also, listen to Dr Jody A Dean, a clinical psychologist talk about how her book, Roxie the Doxie finds her Forever Home, is helping children understand and talk about adoption and other family issues. Plus the DogCast Radio News and some thoughts on the alpha dog myth.

187 - Muffins Halo and Chorley Fun Dog Show

In this episode you can hear about Muffin's Halo for Blind Dogs, and what motivates people to enter their dog in a fun dog show. In the DogCast Radio News, listen to stories about the latest dog related research. Plus there's a new member of the DogCast Radio team!

186 - Maxwell Muir on wolves

In this episode you can hear trainer, behaviourist, writer, broadcaster and wolf expert Maxwell Muir talk about what wolves mean to him personally, their plight in a modern world, and his hopes for their future. Plus we have the DogCast Radio News.