Monday, 23 July 2012

Ten Things About Tara

Tara often gets mentions in my weekly photo post, but I thought it was about time for a little post just about her, so here are ten little facts about Tara.

1. Tara has recently decided that our bed is her bed. When we got her, she came with a bed all of her very own, a lovely soft red padded one. Despite having plenty of proper dog toys, she quite enjoyed killing her bed, so we moved it from the end of our bed to my side of the bed. So she largely abandoned it, choosing to sleep on a jumper of Mr Click's on his side of the bed.

Well, recently she decided that there was more comfort to be had on our bed. Whereas she used to wake us up in the morning by sticking a cold wet nose under the covers, now we get to sleep in relative peace, as long as we tolerate the large labrador lying between us. Sometimes she turns around sidey-ways with her bum on my legs and her head on Mr Click's legs. She's very comfy... we're kind of pinned into the bed, but at least it's very cosy so we probably won't need any heating on this winter!

2. Tara very quickly got the hang of travelling by car. Then she realised that up front with us looked like a far better place to sit, so she started trying to climb through between the seats. Luckily my in-laws had an old dog-guard that we were able to get installed in the back, so she started eating the mat in the back. Just when we thought we'd solved that problem Mr Click opened the back of the car one day and Tara took off down the lane.

We've now rigged up a fancy dog seatbelt in the back for her and since doing that she's back to being a model passenger (apart from occasionally trying to eat her lead). She happily sits in the back of the car, watching the world go by, and sometimes shouting at other drivers who she thinks are getting too close.

3. Tara has many nicknames. I often refer to her as Tara!pup (although she's not so much of a puppy any more, no one seems to have informed her of this). Tara is close enough to 'Terror' that she practically answers both. When we're talking about her she's 'Madam' and 'Trouble', sometimes she's Tara-Trouble or just Trouble for short when we're calling her. She's also our little 'Sock Monster'. My Mum-in-law also calls her Tara-Clara (a play on her maiden name). Generally speaking she answers to anything, as long as there's a biscuit at the other end of it.

4. She loves tea! It all started with my in-laws giving her a cup of tea when everyone else has their cup of tea at mid-afternoon, but then she was feeling a bit left out when they had their morning cuppa, so now she has one then as well. Her favourite, I'm reliably informed, is Yorkshire Tea (though when she's at home she has to make do with the boring Scottish Blend stuff). Apparently tea is very good for dogs' coats, and I think it shows, she's ever so shiny.

5. Tara is very interested in the rats; the rats are quite interested in Tara. Tara's quite happy to lie down in front of their cage (which is at dog-level) and watch the goings-on in there. Occasionally she gets a little excited and will bump the cage bars with her nose, which is obviously when we would intervene. When she's getting a little too friendly or if we're wanting to watch TV in peace without having to worry about what Tara's getting up to with the girlie!rats we rig up a little divider by opening the cupboard opposide the cage and wedging a board across the gap. It means Tara can still watch the fun in the cage, but can't actually get to the girls.

She's very interested in rattie tails, sometimes she'll try to lick at them which is something we're trying to stop her from doing because we really don't fancy taking any rats to the vets because Tara's gotten carried away. Of all the rats I think her favourites are probably Holly and Carol (Bell tends to lunge towards her which winds her up and Ivy is a bit scared of her); Carol climbs up and down the bars letting Tara sniff and lick at her belly and tail, while Holly thinks we don't feed Tara enough and posts bits of paper out the bars for Tara!pup to clean up, hehe.

6. She's gotten much better on her lead. We've gone through several leads since we got her, partly because she's eaten them! But partly because we've been trying to find out what works best for her. My Mum-in-law lent us a choker-type lead which was very good for walking her, except that she liked chewing it, and it was made of rope, so it didn't last long (read: about three walks). We replaced it with a pink version which lasted quite a bit longer along with an extendable lead (which we use for the beach and sometimes when we walk to Kerrycroy or other more open walks). The extendable lead has been a bit chewed but is holding up quite well.

Several people recommended 'haltie' leads for her because she can be a bit pully, but she's got to the stage where most of the time she walks quite well unless there's someone up ahead that she's wanting to go and say hello to. But the chewing on the lead was a bit inconvenient, so we invested in a couple of metal chains and a new collar for her and since then she's been doing much better. She still occasionally tries to nibble on it, but is gradually learning that this isn't such a good idea.

7. One of the best things that I've bought her was a black (for 'extreme chewers') Kong. She had a bunch of run of the mill dog toys that she gradually destroyed. Some of them only lasted minutes before she'd broken a piece off and was in danger or swallowing the squeak or some other bit of it. I was a little bit sceptic of the Kongs, we'd never given our dogs them before and considering the rate at which she was getting through the other dog toys I was a little worried that I would throw £15 away on something that wouldn't last any longer than the others.

Well I was wrong. It's quite heavy and the rubber is super thick, so even after a month and a half of almost daily chewing it's still barely got a mark on it (do I sound like an advertisement for these things?). You can get things to stuff inside it too, though we've not bothered with any of that, instead I've discovered that you can post some of the kibble mix we put in with her tinned food in through the big hole (but it doesn't come out the small hole at the other end), then use a bit of dog biscuit to plug up the end. Even after she's pulled the bit of biscuit out, she has to roll the Kong end over end to get the kibble out, which can keep her occupied for a little while.

8. We've only got a small garden, it's got a paved area right outside the back door and then the rest is gravel. It's also kind of shared with our next door neighbour so we don't really go out there to play. What we do instead is go for really long walks around the estate. As a result of this, she really seems to think that the whole of the grounds belong to her. She trots around the place like she owns it.

We've got three main walks; to the back gate, to the front gate and to Kerrycroy. Generally on a morning before work we'll do the walk to the back gate and then do one of the other two walks after work (if it's a dress down day Mr Click will drop us off at either Kerrycroy or the front gate and we'll walk back home from there). On average we estimate that we walk about five miles a day with her, which is doing wonders for our daily step counts.

9. I've been working to teach her some little tricks. She already knew 'sit' and 'paw/five' when she came to us. I'm a little bit pleased that she does tricks best for me, though it would be nice if she would do them for other people too. So far I've got her to 'stay' while we're getting her food. The other day I kept on saying 'stay' and she stayed with her food on the floor for quite a while. She's gotten really good at waiting for her food (though it does depend what it is, sometimes she'll totally ignore you because the food is obviously far more interesting than you are).

She's slowly getting the hang of 'roll over'. I thought she'd find it easy because she likes to sleep lying on her back with all her legs in the air (something she's done since she was a tiny pup, judging from the photos), but she's not really very good at the actual roll over bit. So far she kind of tips onto one side and waves a paw in the air, which is close enough for me. To begin with she would sort of belly crawl along the floor if she wasn't sure what you wanted her to do, so I'm thinking I might try teaching her to crawl at some point.

10. Tara is a bit of a thief, she likes picking things up on her walks or wandering off with things around the house. It started several months ago when I realised that one of my stuffed toys in the spare bedroom had decided to travel across the room apparently of its own accord. All was revealled several days later when Tara came downstairs with the aforementioned stuffed toy in her mouth.

She's taught us to be more religious about emptying the living room bin (the bedroom bin now lives on top of the wardrobe in the bedroom). She likes to help herself to tissues out of the bins (which are apparently a great delicacy if you're a dog); she also makes off with receipts which have been hanging around in the recycling too long (apparently she's concerned about identity theft as well). Out walking she'll pick up random bits of leaf or twig as well as one of her person favourites on the sea front; mussle shells, hehe.

I've also learnt to be more careful with the laundry. She likes helping with the socks, taking them off the airer if they're becoming too dry (and chewing on them to make them nice and wet again), or removing them from your feet if she thinks they're getting a bit smelly (even if you've only just put them on!) I also have the tastiest feet on the planet, she likes to lick them and will happily nibble on my toes if I let her (which doesn't happen that often because sometimes she gets carried away and nips a bit too hard, also, slimy dog slobber feet aren't very attractive).

So that's ten facts about Tara. I'm planning to post some about the Holly, Ivy, Carol and Bell as well, just as soon as I can coax them to sit still long enough for some new photos!

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