Best. Day. Ever.

(Well best hour ever, at least)

We’ve just come back from spending a few days on the lovely Isle of Mull where Husband’s parents live. Mull has lots of things going for it as a destination: amazing wildlife, beautiful scenery, mountains and, most importantly, some incredible beaches. One beach we go to is very popular in the summer with visitors, but we prefer to go there in winter when we get the wide open space to ourselves. And, boy, is it ever a wide open space:

Sandy beachSpot Willow in this photo!

The downside of the beach is the long length of winding, bouncing single track road to get there (actually that’s most of the roads on Mull, not just this one). Luckily Willow seems to be overcoming the car-sickness she suffered from when we first got her.

We parked up and took Willow on her lead across the swathe of machair down to the beach. As soon as we let her off her lead she ran – big looping circles around us. She ran, and ran, and ran, stopping long enough to roll in the sand and then off again. There was a real joyfulness to her running.

Willow on beachI took her down to the sea to see what she would make of it. The sea was quite calm with very small waves breaking in it. Willow had a little paddle, tried drinking it and I swear she made a face when she discovered it was salt water. After another run around I took her back to the sea and this time she plunged straight in and started paddling, which I really didn’t expect as she’s always shown a tendency to avoid getting her feet wet. When I called her out I think she realised how cold the water had been because she was doing the normal dog-shake manoeuvre but was combining it with a sort of shivery dance. This obviously called for some more running to warm up again.

Willow spent a good hour, running on the beach, investigating a few other dogs who had bought their owners out for a walk, but always coming back when called, which was great reinforcement of that particular command.

I have to say, when we got back from the beach, there was a definite contentedness to her.

Ten things I’ve learned since owning a dog

1.    Dogs take up a LOT of time. Dogs can get really bored so you need to interact with them much more than you do with cats – teaching and reinforcing tricks is good as it makes them tired. It is a lot easier to work from home if your dog is tired and content to sleep while you’re trying to work. To achieve this you first have to make your dog tired.

2.    Dogs that haven’t been properly socialised as puppies can be scared of the most unexpected things. Be patient with them while that baby in a pushchair/ man with a hat/ couple under an umbrella walk past.

3.    There are a lot of irresponsible dog owners out there who do not clear up after their dogs. This is a bit of a problem if you are a responsible dog owner of a dog with coprophagia. Willow has coprophagia. If you have a dog then clear up after them. End of story.

4.    There are also dog owners who bag up their dog’s leavings and then leave the bag hanging from a fence or a tree. That’s just disgusting. Come on, people, at least if you leave it on the ground it will eventually decompose… or get eaten. If you leave it in a bag hanging in a tree it will be there a LONG time. Unless it gets found by a particularly tall or agile forager with coprophagia, which is highly unlikely. Bagging your dog’s mess does not count as clearing it up unless you also dispose of the bag responsibly.
Dog face
5.    Dogs have a great sense of smell. They are especially good at finding things that other dogs have left behind. See number 3.

6.    There are a lot of irresponsible people who may or may not own dogs but who leave a LOT of rubbish around. Some of this rubbish smells interesting and/or edible to dogs or consists of dangerous items such as broken glass or torn drinks cans.

7.    Dogs are weird. They just are. They probably have good reasons for doing some of the things they do (e.g. ripping their bed to shreds) but to a human it’s just weird.

8.    It is quite possible to swing from thinking your dog is the best dog in the world, ever, to wondering why you ever adopted her within the space of about five minutes. This is usually dependent on what your dog is doing at the time.

9.    Dogs chew stuff. A lot. It’s better if they chew things you give them for that purpose rather than letting them decide for themselves what is chewable as, to a dog, EVERYTHING is chewable.

10.    Do not leave socks on the floor. Willow’s favourite thing to chew is socks.

Another of Phill’s great photos of Willow by the way!