Thursday, 6 September 2012

Epworth Show and Radio Stardom

The bakery was great fun, doughnuts, pies, muffins,
 pizzas, all dog safe & yummy!
Daft Dog has now had its first outing at a country fair…
Totally unsure of what to expect from our first fair we may have over prepared and under slept! So the lead up to the fair was busy, slightly hectic and peppered with ‘appearances’ on national radio...
Firstly I had the honour of speaking about a particularly pernicious case of fleas Barry had last year on 'You and Yours' on BBC Radio4. My interviewer Winifred has the most fabulous voice (voice envy!) and they kindly edited me to sound less like a gabbling moron. 

''Super stardom is just exhausting!''
The show itself was extremely interesting, featuring a vet from Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and other people who work with dogs. They all talked about the best way to treat infestations, and more interestingly discussing whether or not products on the market are as effective as they were in the past. The idea of a ‘super flea’ roaming about in search of our dogs has me itching!

When Alex (the husband) listened to it on iplayer, he burst out laughing and hasn’t stopped doing an impression of me saying the word ‘horrific’. You can listen to some great chat about fleas and me saying ‘horrific’ in an apparently hilarious manner at

Our second radio mention was at 3:46am on Radio 2. We were up baking for the fresh doggy bakery, and in our delirium we decided to text Radio 2 to tell them why we were up at such an ungodly hour. Our plea did not go unheard and Alex, Daft Dogs and I got a mention. 

This little cutie did the sniff test to choose their treats
However, most importantly Barry &Mars had a mention, and a giggle from the presenter as we pointed out they had no intention to help & were sound asleep whilst we baked. I always knew they were meant for fame.                                               

Epworth Show it’s self was a resounding success. We battled against the winds and at some points thought we may have found ourselves flying over the fair attached to the legs of our gazebo, Mary Poppins style. 

Our stand proved a real talking point!

The bakery was a real talking point, the dog safe doughnuts were an immediate hit, and our gift boxed treats drew a fair amount of attention. Probably the most enjoyable aspect for me, as a paid up ‘dog addict’ was the opportunity to talk to so many other dog lovers and even better meet a full array of dogs. 

We came face to face with tiny Chihuahua (who’ve inspired me as a big dog owner to make some mini treats) to a gorgeous gentle and ginormous Great Dane. I also couldn’t talk about the day without talking about the fabulous Bernese that we saw out in force, including two of the fluffiest, most fabulous Bernese puppies, don’t tell Barry & Mars but I may have fallen a bit in love…

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Alex & I Got Trained!

The Dog Rocks in pride of place...

It’s been a busy few weeks at Daft Dogs HQ, we’ve been on ‘Operation Lawn’ the new Lawns UK seed is down, and we are seeing some growth, and I now have a jug with our Dog Rocks firmly in place on the windowsill. The Dog Rocks have proved a talking point as I’ve had to explain their purpose to some very confused house visitors ‘No I’ve not lost it and invested in some pet rocks they’re to give me a lawn a green keeper would lust over’’.

We’ve also had our second visit form our truly fabulous dog trainer, Sue from Sit Dog Training in Lincolnshire We decided to contact a trainer after Barry was bitten whilst out on a walk, after his bite he became very fearful and barked incessantly at other dogs, both distressing for him and rather embarrassing for us! After the decision to contact Sue we then came up with a list of the things we’d like help with and the flood gates opened. Before I met Sue she sent us a really detailed questionnaire, not just to see what our problems were but to get a handle on the dogs personalities and on ours. I’ll happily admit being really nervous before Sue arrived, our issues weren’t enormous, but I was dreading a fierce trainer, telling us where we’d gone wrong. I should really have known better as when speaking to Sue to arrange our assessment she was friendly and really positive. 

On Sue's arrival we spent a while going through the questionnaire and talking about Barry & Mars. Sue gave me some basic methods to help Barry deal with the stress of meeting dogs out and after just a few weeks he’s almost back to being his old friendly self. Our second problem to tackle was their jumping up and getting really excited when people arrive at the house. Sue saw this herself when she arrived to see two loopy dogs going crazy at a baby gate. Seeing the way Sue dealt with our dogs and the respect they showed her within minutes was genuinely awesome and with the training she gave me I was able to see results really quickly. My husband came home and was able to come through the door for the first time in two years without being launched on. We’ve kept up Sue’s methods with everyone who comes to the house and although we still have the odd day when we seem to back track they are constantly getting better, and I’m really proud when vistors come the house and see the enormous change in them. 
'This training is exhausting mum!'
Sue ran through various other techniques including clicker training (which now makes sense) and other ways to put us at the top of the pecking order. I had no idea that simple methods such as ‘door manners’ would have knock on effects, the dogs have now naturally stopped bolting their food, and meal times are now calm, it feels good to be in charge! 

It's not that we hadn't been to dog training, I just think we hadn't found the right trainer yet. So to have the help we were after has made a massive difference, we're also enjoying the training and I think this makes it fun for Barry & Mars.

In a later blog I’ll talk about our second visit… Sue had Barry (a real puller who wears a Halti) walking on a lose lead, won’t lie to you folks, it bought a tear to my eye…

Monday, 30 July 2012

Dog Tired Lawn

''If we're very good can we have a treat mum?''
Our dogs have changed our lives. Right now, as I’m in the final stages of setting up the website for our dog treat business I couldn’t be more aware of the changes that started when we got Barry our Gordon Setter X. A little later Barry was followed by Mars, a Gordon Setter who's convinced he's a lap dog! This blog has been a long time in the making, but it always lacked that essential starting point, and our sorry excuse for a lawn seems to have given it just that. I’ll be blogging on everything doggy, with my two there’s never a shortage of things to write about.

Barry and Mars are big boisterous dogs who seem hell bent on leaving me lawnless. Between artful slides, chasing in ever decreasing circles and peeing with wild abandon I’ve begun to feel live giving up on the lawn, they certainly have no plans to give up playing on it!

So, when my mum won a competition for Gardeners Question Time at Tatton Park and we were asked to submit a question, I saw my chance to ask the experts… Sadly my question wasn’t chosen. Initially I thought this might be because my question lacked the necessary razzle dazzle; however, throughout the day I had the slow realisation that perhaps they just thought I was a lost cause. So I came home from a fantastic day at RHS Tatton Park Show, full of enthusiasm for creating the kind of garden that was more relaxing haven than dog play pit.

A little bit of a back story on the history of our lawn… We moved into our new house a few months ago, and the lawn had been totally destroyed by the previous occupants children (so maybe the dogs aren’t that bad!). The lawn was a combination of bare patches, weeds and over grown grass. So we cut the lawn, and reseeded with a generic lawn seed, months on it’s not a success. The constant rain has left us with a sodden lawn that’s being trashed by two big dogs. We have a separate paved area so the dogs can’t always make it out on the grass, but playing fetch and watching the pair of them bounce around on the grass is way too much fun to keep them off it all the time.
B&M think the lawn is a race track!
So, how do you get the lawn looking fabulous? It seems that you can take a few different approaches to getting it right. Firstly, it seems that when I decided all grass seed was the same I was sorely mistaken. After trawling the internet doing my research, I decided to ask an expert, and came across Jack Wilkinson of Lawns UK, he pointed me in the right direction and explained the importance of using the right seed in the first place. As I’d already seeded my lawn, without success Jack explained that I could overseed the lawn with a more hardwearing mix. For more info about getting the right seed their website gives plenty of info  Sadly the only problem with reseeding is that you have to keep the dogs off it whilst the seed establishes. So I’m going to have a crack with their Dogs & Sprogs mix and will let you know how I get on!

There are also products on the market designed treat and reseed smaller patches that contain gypsum, which is alleged to neutralise the nitrogen which causes your yellow patches (although the jury seems to be out on the effectiveness of gypsum or lime as an additive!). These products contain coir (a special growing medium) and are reported to get really quick results for small areas. The down side is that these products aren’t cheap, so I’m going to hold off for a while! 

Our lawn is very far from lush!
There is a great looking product on the market called Dog Rocks. They work by absorbing some of the impurities in a dogs drinking water that contribute to burnt patches on the lawn (like the ones you see in the photo of my lawn to the right!). They get really positive reviews so I'm going to trial these to see if they help to prevent the dead patches in the first place. I spoke to Chris at Dog Rocks UK as after I’d done my own research into the rocks I was convinced they’d stay in the bowl for two minutes before the dogs dragged them out. Chris suggested putting them in a jug of water and leaving them for a few hours to do their thing before pouring the water into the bowl. You can read about the science of Dog Rocks on their website Sadly the Dog Rocks take about 5 weeks to start to work, so again not a quick fix but definitely worth it if I can stop trailing behind the dogs like a mad woman with a watering can! I'll keep you up to date with how we get on.

 Having a good poke around the net there are a number of products on the market designed to give you a helping hand with the lawn, but I’ll be just testing a few of them. With everything from dog loos to Astroturf there are lots of potential solutions but I’ve decided to keep it cheap, easy and hopefully cheerful. I’ll report back over the coming months to let you know my results, and will post the odd photo so you can see how I’m doing. So, whilst I keep looking for solutions I'm pretty sure I'll never achieve a bowling green, but watch this space.

I'd love to hear from you if you if you have any tips for me, or you want to share something that's worked for you and your lawn. I'll do my best to answer any questions and will keep readers updated with how we're all getting on!