What just happened?

Sitting at my desk just now I heard the cat flap bang, followed by a squeak.

‘Hmm,’ I thought, ‘neither of my animals make that noise.’ In fact, from past experience that noise is usually the result of Cat bringing home a still live rodent to play with so it seemed prudent to go into the kitchen and investigate. Sure enough Cat was sitting under the kitchen table, her go-to place where she takes her hunting trophies to play with. Usually there will be a small, still, furred or feathered body sitting in front of her which she will hit half-heartedly with a paw to see if it will move again (hint: it usually doesn’t).

Cat garden

However, this time there was nothing there. I had a quick look round to see if whatever it was had made a dash for freedom and was somewhere in the kitchen but couldn’t see anything. Then my subconscious nudged me that Willow had gone running in to the kitchen on hearing the squeak and I’d then heard the cat flap go again. Standing up, I looked out the window into the garden. Sure enough, there was Willow at the end of the garden sitting very still and watching something in front of her.

Willow garden

Taking my investigative skills out into the garden, I found a mouse trying very hard to burrow under a leaf on the lawn where Willow was sitting. I managed to pick it up without getting bitten for my pains and had a quick examination. There was no blood, all four limbs appeared to be intact and its eyes were open and it was breathing. It did, unsurprisingly, appear to be in deep shock. So I put it somewhere relatively safe and brought both animals inside and locked the cat flap.

I can only assume that Cat brought the mouse in and Willow promptly grabbed it and took it outside again. I admit to surprise that a) the mouse was still alive and in relatively good shape after being carried by BOTH my animals and b) that Willow didn’t tear it into bloody shreds as she’s half terrier and that’s what she’s bred for.

Here’s hoping it was that mouse’s lucky day!


Growing Old Gracefully

This appeared in my feed today and I found it quite moving. The process of aging in dogs happens so quickly compared to humans, especially in the larger breeds. And obviously older dogs are often harder to rehome when they end up in rescue. So, grab a coffee and take five minutes to appreciate the dignity of older dogs:


And if you prefer younger dogs, this is Ms Willow catching up on her beauty sleep:


Let’s Play!

One thing I have been struck by in the time that we’ve had Willow is the number of other dog owners who, whilst watching their dog playing with Willow, have said, “Oh, he/she doesn’t usually play with other dogs,” she definitely seems to bring out the playful side in her canine compatriots. This may be down to the fact that Willow is obviously on the small side but she’s also very non-threatening; I’ve also watched the way she initially ‘reads’ other dogs that we meet in the park and she seems quite tuned in to their body language. She will initiate play with a ‘play bow’ with some but just avoid the more aggressive, stand-offish ones.

I was interested then to chat to pet behaviourist, Jo Cottrell, when I picked Willow up from her first experience of doggy daycare in March. Apart from the fact that the first thing she said to me was, ‘What a cracking little dog,’ (proud owner moment), I mentioned that Willow had come from a puppy farm via a rescue charity. According to Jo, dogs from puppy farms often interact very well with other dogs but poorly with humans due to the fact that they spend their formative months with other dogs in poor conditions and have limited human contact. This may well be the case for Willow although she is a lot more relaxed around people these days.

I was also interested a little while later to read this blog about the interaction between cats and dogs. Cat is surprisingly tolerant of Willow and puts up with her ‘air nipping’ very close to her face. She obviously realises that Willow’s intent is not to hurt her but to play, even if Cat really doesn’t want to. This scenario usually ends with Cat having had enough and smacking Willow and running away. I wouldn’t say that I have ever really see them play together.

Until Monday, when I saw this:

Cat and dog playing through fence

To explain, Cat was lying in a very relaxed position in the flower bed poking her paw through the fence to Willow. Willow kept trying to put her nose through the fence to Cat and the to-ing and fro-ing of nose and paw continued for several minutes accompanied by lots of tail wagging on Willow’s part and very little on Cat’s part. Now, given that Willow can easily get over the fence and has done on numerous occasions to hassle Cat, this was definitely a bit of fun for both of them.

I have to say, I was very surprised but also very pleased at this latest turn of events. Later the same day they were back to normal with Willow hassling and Cat putting up with it, but I do think their relationship may be thawing!

Cat and dog on either side of a picket fence.

27 Reasons To Never Have A Staffordshire Bull Terrier As A Pet

I have always admitted to having a huge soft spot for Staffordshire Bull Terriers, even now I only have to see one and it makes me smile. From what we saw when we were looking at rescue centres, about 75% of rescue dogs at the time were Staffies or Staffie crosses and I always assumed that would be what we ended up with. Instead we ended up with this little bundle of joy:

Willow on rug

But my soft spot is still there so, as you can imagine, I had a big smile on my face when I found this webpage:

27 Reasons To Never Have A Staffordshire Bull Terrier As A Pet


And smile😀

In Praise of Small Dogs

This blog post was going to be about Willow’s Big Kennel Adventure, but I’m suffering from writers block on that one so you’ll have to have this one instead!

Regular readers of this blog might remember my friend’s dog Millie. As a huge favour to my friend we had Millie to stay overnight at New Year and, as an even bigger favour, she’s now back for the entire weekend. Don’t get me wrong, Millie is a beautiful dog:


… she has a lovely temperament, is a real softie and not particularly big for a GSD but, compared to Willow she is HUGE.

And it’s hard not to make comparisons. So, my list of the advantages of small dogs:

1. They physically take up less space. I know, it’s in the name – SMALL dogs. But when you’ve got a small house and a dog that’s in the way, it’s a lot easier to step around/over a small dog (and when they decide to get under your feet it’s also easier to step ON a small dog, but this is not an advantage.)

2. They are physically less intimidating (obviously not a plus if you’re looking for a scary dog). If Willow stands on her hind legs, she comes to about the top of my thighs. If Millie stands on her hind legs, her face is level with mine. Not only that, a primitive part of my brain kicks in at that point gibbering with fear that I’m about to be eaten. If you don’t believe me try it – stand up eyeball to eyeball with a dog that’s big enough and no matter the temperament of the dog, there is something about being that close to a mouth full of canine teeth that kick-starts the ‘I’m prey’ part of your psyche.

3.  Talking of eating, small dogs need a lot less food. I buy my food in 1.5kg bags one of which will last about 2-3 weeks. The largest size bag I can quickly find is 30kg which, by my calculation, would last Willow about a year. Buying in bulk is obviously cheaper but buying food for a small dog is cheaper still.

4.  Because they eat less small dogs excrete less. Today I found myself thinking ‘Do poo bags really only come in one standard size?’ Because one standard size is fine for clearing up after Willow, but really not up to the task of clearing up the mountain of excrement that Millie deposited shortly after arriving. And the odour is definitely in proportion to the quantity….

5. Small dogs make much better lap dogs. We don’t encourage Willow to be a lap dog, but when stretched out on the sofa if she decides to lie on top of me it’s not a problem. Many years ago Millie’s Mum owned a Rottweiler/GSD cross who took a real shine to Husband and frequently attempted to sit on his lap. Well, it was funny for the rest of us but not a pleasant experience for Husband.

6. Small dogs are easier to control. We took both dogs out for a walk at lunchtime, or rather Millie took me out for a walk and Husband and Willow trotted along behind trying to keep up. By the time we got to the field to let the dogs off the lead, my arms and legs were aching from trying to keep Millie in line. Big dogs are just that much stronger and have the weight to put behind it. Conversely, as a last resort you can pick a small dog up and carry them to where you need them to be.

Having said all that, it is by no means a criticism of Millie as a dog. She and Willow have a great relationship and it’s really sweet to see them together: Willow and Millie

So what have I missed? Any other advantages of having a small dog? Let me know in the comments.

Greyfriars Willow

In Edinburgh City Centre there is a life size statue to Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier. The story of Bobby is either a bittersweet tale of doggy devotion or, depending on how you look at it, a cautionary tale of the stubbornness of terriers.

I only mention this as I was strongly reminded of the story of Greyfriars Bobby this afternoon on a walk with Husband and Willow. We’d walked up to a local meadow popular with dog-owners about a mile away from our house and once there we’d walked a lap around the field before starting the walk home through a residential area. Shortly after we’d left the field Husband, realising he’d dropped our plastic container of poo bags somewhere on the field,  said, “Go on, I’ll catch you up,” and went back to look for it. Willow watched him jog out of site and then sat down and refused to move.

Stubborn Terrier
I tried to encourage her to start walking, “Come on, let’s go!” she ignored me. I tried tugging on her lead to get her moving; she dug her paws in. I tried tempting treats; she ignored them. Hang on, she ignored food? This was serious. No matter what, I could not get her to move so instead I stood on the pavement outside someone’s house for five minutes next to my stubborn dog who sat and stared intently at the corner that Husband had disappeared around. Occasionally she sniffed the air to see if she could smell him.

Thankfully he reappeared fairly soon after and was surprised to see the two of us still there. As soon as he was on the pavement with us Willow stood up and started trotting home quite happily. Husband seemed to think the whole thing was rather sweet.


Incidentally, my first introduction to the story of Greyfriars Bobby was through watching the 1949 film Challenge to Lassie as a child. I remember being very moved by the film and then a few years later surprised to find out that the real Bobby, a Skye Terrier, bore no resemblance to the famous rough collie movie star! Still, Hollywood never lets the truth get in the way of a good story.