Friday, 8 April 2011

Bailey and Friends

Bailey and Friends

Bailey is becoming a wonderfullyconfident dog since he started training with Maxine the wonderful behavourist that visits our home weekly to put both Bailey and myself through our paces. I feel his unusual grieving behaviour when Taffy passed away is beginning to finally dissipate as he is accepting life without him at last..

Recently I had to leave home to film "Amazing Ways With Watercoloour" my new DVD and I hated parting with my dog. Especially at a crucial time when his training programme was going so brilliantly.  However Maxine was fantastic and visited each day while I was away to  continue his sessions. In the above photograph Bailey was walking with a group of dogs which will teach him appropriate behaviour around other pets. His manners are not all as they should be so who better to put him in his place and correct him than someone who speaks his own language! Another dog,one who has perfect manners! Daisy and Trudy are beautiulf border collies and they are incredible to watch in action.

In Bailey I have a disruptive teenager on my hands who has always had difficulty in learning the term "respect".Taffy always corrected him but as he is no longer here all of Baileys bad manners came leaping to the surface and it wasn't pleasant at first. But he is coming around and life with him is so magical. His comical expressions whenever he looks at me can do nothing other than raise a huge smile and his wagging tail is definitely something I adore seeing.

All the love,time and patience to turn my pet around  really is has been so worthwhile but finding the right help at the right time was definitely my saving grace. Recognising there is a potential problem and dealing with it correctly was a wise move as our home is far happier and relaxed now. And so is Bailey!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Sad News.

Buster and Bailey

Still learning to get over the loss of Taffy who felt like the heart of our home at times we have had more very sad news today.When we took Bailey to the vets we also took one of our cats in as he had a  lump on his head that I was worried about.The vet decided it would be wise to remove the lump and so Buster under went surgery last Thursday.

He came home a little groggy from the aneasthetic and I nursed both of my four legged male patients.We have waited for the results from the test on the growth that was removed and have now heard poor Buster has cancer. There is absolutely nothing the vets can do.The growth was attached to bone and  Buster has two months to a year to live. 

I am absolutely heartbroken.These two pets have been inseperable since Bailey arrived as a puppy at the same time as Buster when he was a kitten. They have bonded in such a sweet way. Every evening there is always the usual  playtime where they will communicate and play with the other.This always fascinates friends visiting to see a dog and cat so happy together.

Poor Bailey will be losing yet another close companion in such a short period of time.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Osteo Arthritis In Dogs

Bailey on Wednesday in sunshine

The last few weeks have seen my beatiful Bailey blossom as he goes through one routine after the other in training with Maxine the wonderful behavourist that visits our home to help me re train Bailey after the loss of sweet Taffy.

The training programmes began with basic steps at first to sessions involving lead work and walking with other dogs. He has been brilliant and I look forward to every new command and game we play which as an owner feels really special.  Each day starts with small rewards inside the home followed by lead work/walks outside and then the training session in the garden. Working from home as an artist I appreciate I have the time to do this as I spend hours a day with my pet. I take breaks from painting and  these are even more relaxing times to work with my dog.

Unfortunately during these training sessions both Maxine and I have picked up a problem in Baileys front shoulders and legs. At times he appears to limp slightly or walk differently. He hasn't had longer walks during the training sessions so this puzzled me. In fact he has had  shorter walks while training with more focus on each new command. When Bailey was a young pup we were advised he may have elbow dysplasia but following specialist advise then and care as he matured all signs of the problem seemed to vanish so we had hoped this wasn't an issue.

We took Bailey to the vet  this week where under aneasthetic x-rays we could look into what was really going on. Bailey has Osteo Arthritis. His  x-rays showed very clearly where the problems  lay. I feel so sorry for him because  this condition can get worse as he ages. We return to the vets on Monday and will be looking into ways to handle making Baileys life as wonderful and comfortable as possible. Sadly we have been advised to avoid long walks which is such a shame for a young dog who adores running as fast as he can. His diet will be easy to monitor as he eats healthily already and is not over weight.
The mental stimulation he recieves from his training sessions will help so much to keep him happy and will now become even more important. I am going to research all the options for  treating dogs with osteo arthritis. I know Maxine will be able to help me when she visits next.The vet has been fantastic so with help Bailey will still have a wonderful life.

As Bailey was under aneasthetic we have also opted for health reasons to neuter our dog which was a very hard decision to make.  I realise it wouldn't be wise to breed from Bailey as his problem could be genetic. I also understand that prostate cancer in male dogs is a risk I don't want to put my wonderful boy in danger of. There were other issues that we were advised could be improved if the operation took place.  Bailey has bounced back very quickly from his trip to the vets and is waiting by my side for his next treat and game so I had best get off this computer!

Any Bearded Collie owner will tell you it is absolutely impossible to ignore big brown eyes pleading for the next game or playtime!

I have been asked so I will mention,yes. I have contacted Baileys breeder to let them know how Bailey is which is always wise and  in my view the correct thing to do when health issues arise.

Life with Bailey in Spring 2011

Bailey in sunshine this week

This week has been one full of  sunshine and moments in the garden where life is absolutely fantastic. Bailey has taken to sitting under the same tree that Taffy used to love. In the above photograph he is smiling at the camera after demolishing quite a few small treats during his now daily training routines. To be honest these sessions are so much fun for both of us and I am keeping very fit. His latest game is learning  how to walk between my legs as seen in agility dog shows. This must look a little ridiculous to passers by on the other side of the water bank.The early stages of his training have me walking like the ministry of funny walks performed by John Cleese!

Getting an established and experienced behavourist in when Bailey was grieving was the best action I could ever take as a dog owver. Even though I loved Bailey I couldn't read the signs. I knew something was terribly wrong and many suggested a new puppy could be the answer as maybe a new companion would help. But I felt Bailey needed to adjust to life without Taffy first.

We were recommended to bring in an amazing person in the form of Maxine Corrie Thomas. A friend nearby had been experiencing problems with her male dog some time ago after the loss of her husband. I listened and knew this could be the person to help. How right I was. Maxines' son has just won an award at Crufts as Junior Dog Handler of the Year so her way with animals must run in her family.

The difference in just a few weeks from having an expert walk in and quietly help is incredible. Friends now visiting wonder if we have actually changed Bailey for  a different Beardie! He is so happy, full of life,eager to learn his new tricks and by my side as always constantly but this is something I need to learn to change.

I have to allow Bailey to follow instructions from  others so that he learns  it isn't only me in his life that counts.The bond between us is very close indeed so we now play games involving him having to come to others commands which will help balance his confidence and help him grow into a more sociable pet.
Bailey going through his paces with my Grand Daughter Cassie.
He is waiting for the next command and eagerly looking  at her face for the next move she makes which will by hand asking him to " touch".

The last few weeks have seen such a terrific change in my lovely boy. He is now a sheer joy to own and  every minute spent turning him around has been worth it. But this will be a constant programme involving love,time and patience. I am not sure if I will ever introduce another puppy. I feel Bailey needs this time alone but if the time ever is right we will consider the option. 


To anyone reading my blog who has problems with their dog I really do suggest seeking expert help. There are times in life when human relationships don't work out or they go through hiccups. The  change in  Bailey after losing Taffy was really too great for me to deal with alone.  I strongly believe if the love is there things can be resolved. But the key word definitely has to be love And of course  looking into ways to correct what is going wrong.


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Crying Out in Pain

Bailey in our garden with Mali 2008

It all started out so wonderfully.We owned a beautiful Bearded Collie called Taffy who had travelled all over the world with us. It seemed only natural to add another  dog of the same breed to our family when we finally settled in UK after living all over the world with our dear Taffs. 

 Taffy, a giant of  a Bearded Collie jumping for pebbles, a favourite pastime!

 And so Bailey came into our lives six years ago as a very sweet little puppy who seemed to hero worship Taffy from the minute they met. He would follow him everywhere. And so it began.Our life with two Bearded Collies.

 Taffy and Bailey

Bailey always was different, right from the very start. All dogs are different in personality but he was demanding where as our sweet Taffy had been quite passive. At a puppy naming party we nearly called Taffy "Prozac" as he was so laid back. This would have been a very unsuitable name for our next pup! Bailey was a "chewer" demolishing not just one but four cat flaps during his periods of being initially left alone because he would be completely disgusted the cats could come and go as they pleased. However dear old Taffy was always there to calm him and keep him under control. And there is where the problem lay.With Taffy around I owned the two sweetest dogs you could ever imagine. But last year we lost our dear old companion and my heart broke into a million pieces. In fact I was so badly emotionally affected that I couldn't face coming into this Bearded Collie Blog. 

Here were  many memories of my gorgeous boy who kept me company while I painted all over the world for over thirteen years. If you have wondered where I have been this is the reason why this blog fell silent.
Taffy,  a gorgeous Beardie, one in a million!
I miss Taffy terribly. I can still cry when I know he won't be greeting me as I walk through our door and  I will always feel that familiar ache when I waken to know he won't be at my side licking my hand daily.

But I am human. 

I knew what was happening for the last twelve months as Taffy struggled with an unfortunate illness. Bailey our youngest Bearded Collie did not.

At fsrst we witnessed silence.It was eery to place a bowl of dog food on the floor and watch a once healthy dog just lie passively with complete disinterest at food being near by.You could buy chicken, steak and all manner of goodies but whatever you did you were never going to get this dog to eat. Nor were you ever to get to see the slightest glimpse of light in his eyes. Bailey was fading and fast.

Pining is a word many dismiss but my young dog was doing just that and he gradually lost all interest in the world around him. He was " flat" in  spirit and hard to deal with.

Next came other issues of destructive behaviour.Having just renovated a beautiful old cottage any idea o f leaving him for the shortest of times was scuppered as he took to totally destroying the oak doors and furniture. To make matters worse he then became  aggressive with other male dogs while we were walking. It seemed as though he was assuming the " alpha dog role" but was inadequate in that position. His impressions of when to start a fight were completely unjust and his insecurity heightened daily. To the point where taking him out at all started becoming almost impossible.

Bailey Resting

Bailey was confused and depressed. He became a complete nightmare to have around. I began to dread morning walks rather than look forward to them. I hated leaving him  because my home was being destroyed each time I left. Returning was becoming  stressful  as we  never knew what was going to be ruined next. In the home Bailey wouldn't leave my side at any second so even the smallest  of visits to the bathroom meant listening to painful whimpering from him sat outside any closed doors we were seperated by.

I couldn't go on. Life was becoming far too difficult as things were and  my energy levels were so low I too was sinking. We came to the dreaded point of considering rehoming Bailey but I love him so much. Having just lost one dog I couldn't bear the thought of losing another. And on top of this in my heart  knew Bailey was grieving for Taffy. If he went to new owners this would distress him even more.

Out of desperation we called in a dog behavourist and a miracle is happening. Only after a few weeks have I got the dog back that I love so dearly.

It seems Bailey had " pack bonded" with Taffy and now is having trouble adjusting to being alone. He has never shown me respect as the " pack leader" as Taffy always had that role So Bailey has had to go back to baisc training to do so.

The change is incredible. His lead work is wonderful. He is playing and interacting as if for the first time in his life and loves it. He looks into my eyes for  commands and eagerly waits for me to give them. He is eating twice daily and looks forward to doing so.

We have such a long way to go as I too am still grieving for Taffy but unless I show positive signs of recovering Bailey never will. Together we are working this period out and together we will both make it.
We are both winning now, and I look forward to each new day with him.

One day we may have another puppy but not until Bailey has learned how to behave on his own.

To anyone reading this blog who has problems with a dog,things can change but you have to be prepared to put the time in and love along with so much patience to turn your pet around. But in the end you will gain the a wonderful companion.

To Bailey, my little friend who right now still needs so much love and guidance!


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Bailey in Snow

Relaxing after a run in fresh snowfall

It really is taking me some time to get over losing Taffy and add to my Bearded Collie blog. The home still feels very empty without him in it. Having just been away to South Africa the return home really made me realise how much I miss him still. There was no friendly giant to greet me at the door.This is the first time Bailey has been left alone without us but as he stayed in our cottage with friends his routine wasn't affected too badly.

Taffy adored snow and reverted to a puppy state each time he saw it. Eating it, barking at it, rolling in it and basically having fun to the point that anyone watching him would have to laugh. It was impossible to be serious around him as he was always such a comedian.

 Taffy last year

 I opened the door to the garden this week for Bailey who simply stood looking outside without wishing to place his feet in the white blanket on the ground. There was no Taffy to  race outside and encourage him to join in the fun. I donned warm clothing and gathered his lead and camera setting off for a beautiful walk in the fresh snowy surroundings with Bailey at my side. 

 Hampshire Woodland

 In seconds he  remembered  the fun he had last year and he was off. Racing around like an idiot and thoroughly enjoying his new game. It does seem very strange taking photographs of one dog not two though. I will admit I have lost tears  yet again this week thinking of my wonderful huge sloppy Beardie who was always so much fun when we had days like this to  make the most of.

Enjoying the fresh snow

We often see a herd of cows who always come to the hedge or fence to see Bailey. I have no idea why they are so curious but to see their big noses against Baileys smaller one is so comical. A very strange friendship seems to have formed indeed but as beardies are wonderful herding dogs perhaps Bailey is  wishing he could have fun rounding them up.

 When we return from a walk Bailey always races  for his favourite fir tree to  roam under to scratch his long back. He wasn't expecting a shock as he disturbed the resting snow on the branches above. His face and expression was hilarious as a mountain of snow fell on him. But nothing  prevented him from his mission of a brilliant shake!

Bailey shaking after scratching his back on the branches of a fir tree.

Next came the time to lay in the the snow and attempt to eat some.

This year has flown by. There have been very happy times with two wonderful dogs and now fun times with one.

Taffy is still very much with me at times. And my heart is still aching with the loss of a gorgeous  four legged friend. I'm not sure I ever will get over losing this wonderful old boy.

I believe Bailey is still missing him very much too.

It still hurts.

 Sweet Taffy 2009


Friday, 17 September 2010

When Pets Grieve

Bailey keeping Taffy warm last Christmas

It has been really hard to come into this blog and talk about Taffy. I can carry on as if nothing has happened and then burst into tears for my faithful friend. I tell myself off frequently and try to be stronger but Taffy was the most special dog anyone could ever wish to own. Bearded  Collies can easily live to a very old  age and still be very healthy so in his breed terms Taffy passed away far too soon.

The last six months have seen me on an emotional roller coaster as we dealt with one health issue after another. Just before last Christmas 2009 Taffy  was unwilling to go on walks and as he never complains it was difficult to work out what was wrong. I think that was one of our main communication problems. He desperately didn't want to be ill or cause a fuss so put on a brave face for me, often. But his reluctance to come on the morning walks and then even worse his refusal to go outside the front door  had us taking him to the vets.This was followed by a visit to a specialist when he then started going downhill. At this time he had his spleen removed and Bailey our younger Bearded Collie slept next to him whilst he recovered.

Bailey is an active,boisterous and very independant young dog prone to racing around on his own. Never leaning on any of us or Taffy for company.Or so I thought.

When Taffy fell ill a second time with a blood problem again Bailey helped him by barking for Taffy when he needed attention for going out or coming in,even when he needed a drink or food. Bailey became Taffys guardian and keeper. He had a very important role and he relished it.

Taffy recovered yet again and Bailey seemed to be his usual independant self but at night it was always Bailey who barked to go in the garden or come in fo rthe both of them and it was always Bailey who woke us at six or seven in the morning with even more really loud barking. But I have now learned this was Baileys way of letting me know Taffy was awake and needed me.

Taffy is now gone and I had another critical problem on my hands.

Bailey refused to eat after Taffy passed away.

Out of all the dogs we have ever owned Bailey is not the one I thought would pine but he did and it was pitiful to witness. Not only would he not eat but he became listless and looked really depressed. At this point  I was advised to get another puppy but I waited and patiently cooked meals to tempt Bailey around. My own heart was breaking and yet I had to try to convince this younger dog that life was worth living without his dearest friend.

Bailey has never been a single dog. He has slept with Taffy since he was a puppy and has also always eaten with Taffy.

Things got worse and a week went by where  I was running out of ideas on how to help  Bailey pull around.
I started a new routine of walking Bailey at different times on different routes. I allowed Biscuit our female cat to sleep with him. But he never barked at us in the mornings to come to him Instead I was woken each day by the saddest whining and howling I have ever heard in my life from an animal. It tore me apart and I would race downstairs to comfort him. But no cuddle helped. I was not who he wanted to see.

I felt helpless and even more miserable. But finally something changed. I bought toys for Bailey to play with. Ropes, bones that you find in pet shops, the safe variety and I threw sticks and raced for him to follow me in the garden. Slowly  and daily there were small improvements in his spirit and mine. He ate bits. Just tiny morsels  at first. He did  fetch the rope once or twice and he did come to me for cuddles. But he continued to cry in the mornings when he woke to find Taffy was still not there.

He did not understand.

This week we have both crossed a milestone.

Bailey is eating twice a day now and eagerly bringing his rope to me to play with.We are walking with friends and their dogs which helps a lot, especially a young Border Collie puppy who we have come to enjoy seeing.

Our new daily routine really is helping us both. I have to be here for Bailey and in turn he is  making me see my tomorrows are going to be full of joy owning a young dog who has stood in the shadow of an older hero for too long.

It's Baileys turn now to take centre stage and I need to let him.

Pets do grieve and we need to understand they need help too when they lose  a companion.