The DogPeople Blog
Dog friendly articles and ideas
Lottie came to live with us on 22 May 2012. She was born on 28 March 2008. Her first owners had her until a week before Lottie came to us. They made the tremendously hard decision to give her up after a change in their circumstances meant Lottie was regularly being left alone for too many hours because of work. Lottie went to another home briefly but couldn’t settle with an existing Airedale. She then came to us; like Hamish a second re-homing.
Lottie is about two thirds of Hamish’s size, both in height and weight, but is every inch an Airedale; a real pocket battleship! She is as bright as a penny, very intelligent and full of fun. She normally settles well when a game is not ’on’ and soon seemed to understand this is the case when we are sitting at a computer working. She likes to be close to her people so rarely lies far away. It is amazing how quickly she settled with us and learned our routines and odd little ways. She knows how to get attention and barks when excited or is she wants a play etc.. She also rattles her food bowl when she wants more food (and, annoyingly, often tips it up when it has kibble in it – she seems to prefer it off the floor sometimes!). Of course there are times when she is a wilful Airedale!
In no time at all Lottie was protecting her new territory by ‘speaking’ to neighbouring dogs when they have temerity to bark too much. She also lets the Postie – and any other callers – know she’s around. Cats are definitely not allowed in the garden.
Lottie was said to be poor at recall and, as far as we can tell, had rarely been off her lead. This was a shame as she clearly enjoys meeting other dogs and loves a play. We quickly worked on her training making sure we used consistent commands and strengthening our bond with her. In no time at all we could let her off the lead in well controlled areas and found she would return. We gradually increased opportunities and she now gets off lead at least once most days. This is so rewarding for her and us – she is a joy to see running. We still have to pick our spots and have had to run after her a couple of times. Lottie made a new ‘best friend’ in a massive Great Dane named Mac. They love a run together and are really keen to see each other; everyone gets out of Mac’s way when he’s near full pace! Goodness knows how Lottie manages.
Lottie ‘started work’ for Dogpeople at the end of June 2012 with a trip involving a stay at a B&B in The Peak District, then a hotel in The Lake District, then a self catering lodge in The Lakes and finishing with another hotel in Gloucestershire. She made no fuss about long drives and loved meeting new people and other dogs. She was good indoors, but her active mind needed plenty of stimulation on one of the very wet days when we couldn’t be out for long periods; she didn’t mind the rain at all when we were out! On one walk to Hardknott Fort we were caught in a couple of very heavy downpours, one accompanied by thunder, but Lottie made little fuss; she was, though, very pleased to get to a pub (by then we’d been out 4 hours or so in almost constant rain). All in all Lottie was a little angel and gained many admirers. We are sure she and we will enjoy many trips together and she will be an excellent ambassador for Dogpeople Limited.
Lottie and we have a wonderful relationship. She is responding to our ways; we are probably spoiling her a bit! Her feeding routine has settled, she rarely touches breakfast until after her walk and clearly enjoys her evening meal more (if we eat in the evening, which we normally do, she gets some human tit bits after we’ve finished). We’ve now introduced Hamish’s feeding tower to stop her up-ending her bowl and throwing her food over the floor. She’s tried tipping the tower over a few times but hasn’t yet succeeded.
Lottie is now great off lead – she comes back 99% of the time. Even when she’s run well away in the woods she is keen to get back when whistled. It is rare for us to have to go and fetch her – but, just occasionally, another dog (or toy) will be too much of a draw for her (well she is an Airedale!). She’s become much more circumspect about which dogs to play with. When we first had her she’d run with, and pester, every dog she came across. Having been ‘rolled’ by one or two of her bigger play-mates, and ‘seen off’ by a couple of others who took a dislike to her, she is now much more careful – and runs off at the first sign of a problem. She was a joy to see running with six other Airedales and three or four Wire Haired Fox Terriers during the Kent Pet Airedale Club’s walk at the end of September.
The onset of autumn has brought with it muddy paws and lots of puddles. Lottie is certainly more inclined to jump into water than Hamish ever was (she had to swim in a fire reservoir in one of our local woods), but she’s much better than he was at dealing with the consequences. She (fairly) graciously accepts a wash down and towelling off and is so much better than Hamish at having clods cut from between her paws. She’s calmer about a clipping than he was too. She’s proving to be a ‘lovely Lottie’ and we are delighted she’s in our lives.
Lottie has been with us for just over a year. She's such a bundle of fun it is really hard to remember she's now five! Many other dog owners think she's little more than a pup and we find it hard to think of her as more than two. This may be because Hamish was only about 14 months when he first came to us and Lottie has been as bouncy and playful as he was. When summer finally arrived she slowed a little - but is friskier than Hamish at her age. The main danger of forgetting how old she is might come on longer walks (see below re our Lake District trip this year).
Lottie is now well and truly our dog. She loves being with us, and we with her. She's still a wilful Airedale (thank goodness) and some of her 'bad habits' are still strong. For example, it didn't take her long to work out how to overturn the feeding tower, bowl and contents; why she prefers her food off the floor is a mystery! She certainly makes use of this 'skill' when she wants more food, leaving us in no doubt what's required! She is still a too persistent and too enthusiastic barker and this can be irritating. That said, she has been a model of good behaviour on our various Dogpeople trips and visits. On the positive side she is a good traveller and well accustomed to the whistle. She will 'recall' on it from long distances even when distracted by other dogs etc.. She is a joy to see running off lead playing with other dogs or just enjoying the countryside. She's had some wildlife encounters this summer, meeting a badger in a wood in the Lakes (when I first saw them Lottie was running away!) and a fox on a local walk. The fox was drinking from a stream and Lottie got close enough to sniff its tail before it noticed her. It then took off through the brambles at a rapid pace and Lottie was left wondering why it didn't smell like a dog! Lottie's intelligence is self evident and she has learned the benefits of being with her people. She knows when to come and has a good idea how far she can push her luck when she's wilful; recall is now 99% and we have confidence in her (and know when not to let her off at all). The last 1% is being an Airedale Terrier and we wouldn't want to change that!
Lottie continued her Dogpeople duty with a trip to West Sussex in April and The Lakes in June. Both involved a lot of longer distance walking. Lottie enjoyed the walks and, especially in The Lakes, seemed to learn a lot. On the mountains she quickly picked up new commands and clearly understood 'up'. She seemed to know 'left' but was less sure about 'right' without a supporting hand signal (not always easy as her extending lead was normally held in that hand!). Lottie had no difficulty doing the distances we are comfortable with but needs to drink even more than Hamish did. She is more ready than him to help herself from streams etc. - but likes drinking from his well travelled bowl too. On our biggest, hottest Lakes walk we ran out of water and all suffered a bit; Lottie was exhausted that evening. Even more water was carried on subsequent walks and we never ran out again. We are going to enjoy company trips with Lottie and are sure she will be as good an ambassador as Hamish was in his long career.
Lottie is still great fun and wants to be included in nearly everything going on but at 9 she is starting to slow down. In August 2016 she had a great trip to Burford, Oxfordshire where she enjoyed walks and a dog friendly day out and then onto Ludlow, Shropshire.
In December she moved home and shortly afterwards developed a limp in her right rear leg, sometimes lifting it off the ground. Fearing cruciate ligament problems (like Hamish Airedale had) she was taken to her new vet who recommended rest and short lead only walks for a couple of weeks. This did the trick and she was doing well until March 2017 when the problem came back plus her right hip was a bit droopy. Back to the vet again, another examination, diagnosis her cruciate was in reasonable condition but her hip was less good. A short course of anti inflammatory medicine was prescribed (Loxicom) and then a return visit a week later for (precautionary) x-rays on her legs and hips. Lottie had the Loxicom on her food and perked up within 24 hours but after 5 days started to be sick. Back to the vets on her birthday for x-rays (so no breakfast) which thankfully showed she had no major problems but her hips were described as being ' not great' - she has always walked with a wiggle so I wasn't too surprised. I asked if there was anything she could have that could help her and was recommended a food supplement called nutraquin+ which is described as a fast acting joint supplement. Lottie has now been on the supplement for just over a couple of weeks and I'm pleased to say it is making a difference. She can walk more comfortably, has starting playing more and is happy to eat her food with the powder from the sprinkle capsules.
Lottie can't do big walks anymore but hopefully she will continue to enjoy short trips away and days out for a few years yet.