Bonnie and Water

As many other dog owners can probably relate Bonnie hates getting bathed but she loves to have a little swim in rivers and streams. She also doesn’t care at all about rain no matter how heavy it is!

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Drowned rat – please let me out already!
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Little paddle in the river

But one thing Bonnie has always had an issue with is the sea. The sight and sound of waves (especially noisy crashing waves on a windy day) would absolutely drive her mad. She would lunge, whine, bark and we couldn’t get her attention whatsoever! I had always envisioned taking my dog to the beach way back before we adopted Bonnie so I was quite disheartened.

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First beach outing was a total disaster – was our fault as we had her only about 2 weeks here and hadn’t a clue

We went to the beach maybe 3 times in the first year with her before we had all but given up hope. Instead we concentrated on getting her confident and focused in other scenarios and in the past several months it has really started to pay dividends especially as my own learning has progressed and skills improved.

Back in September on our trip to Portrush it was the first time she had been to a beach in ages, and if you have read that post you’ll remember how she embarrassed me on that beach! But hey at least I was able to get her back, I don’t think there would’ve been a chance earlier on in our training.

Since then though we have been going from strength to strength and have had 2 really successful beach trips – one in November and one at the start of this month. I uploaded the video below to our Facebook page showing the before (October 2015 and before we really hit our groove with training) and the after (November 16)

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Bonnie – a beach dog after all?

Our recent beach trip was the best yet and I was so so proud of her. She was able to be off lead without chasing the waves, chasing the other dogs and their balls or running away. She was able to focus, play with her ball and even stopped when I called her name as she was thinking of chasing the other dog. Also just before the video starts she was enthusiastically chewing on a bit of seaweed which I was able to get her to drop without any force and also could pick up her ball while she was playing with it to continue our play – these successes mean a lot to us as she used to resource guard food and toys, so lots of wins for us!

I really am so pleased with how well Bonnie is doing these days and I’m glad our hard work is paying off!

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As long as you’re by my side ❤

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It’s been a while!

That was a bit of an unintended break to say the least! Rather than explain away my absence with excuses I thought I would post a little catch up and hopefully start posting more regularly again as I have missed posting as well as all the blogs I follow. Last time I was talking to you all it was Halloween and Bonnie’s 2nd gotcha day. Now it is the middle of December (where has this year gone?!) and this is a bit of what we’ve been up to;

Bonnie is still healthy, happy and generally loving life as usual! She is a big girl now and has free roam of the living room while we are out instead of being in her play pen – no accidents or destruction (yet anyway – fingers crossed!).

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Her wee cosy area – her play pen now protects the Christmas tree xD

We got her titre tested this year and her results came back positive and strong positive so she didn’t need any boosters.

We went on Holiday to Berlin for a week which was great and I really enjoyed myself – it was my first time abroad out of the UK so was very interesting! I might share some more photos at a later point. It was the longest we’d been away from our pets and I had really missed them all by the end of our trip so our next holiday will probably be a dog friendly place close to home so Bonnie can join in!
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We have started thinking about adding a second dog (a puppy) to our family! We have starting buying in a few things for a pup and we had gone to see Newt a 13 week old Border Collie at Dogs Trust but the timing isn’t quite right for us yet. We will continue to slowly buy in things for a puppy and get Bonnie used to the new items such as a baby gate, puppy’s play pen, toys etc and keep on the lookout for border collie pups in rescue centres with the aim of adopting sometime next year, most likely the first half of the year.

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Lovely Newt but unfortunately it wasn’t quite right for us

Before we had gone on holiday we had seen a lone degu with cataracts in our local Pets at Home adoption centre who was very sweet and we were totally smitten. Unfortunately as we were going on holiday we didn’t want to take her and then leave my partner’s mum with another degu to take care of while we were away. So we talked with a member of staff who said she would try to discourage people so as to keep her for when we got back, unfortunately for us but fortunately for the degu she was rehomed while we were away. Since then we have been looking out for a special lone degu to rehome and today we added Kimchi to our family! He is a total sweetie and I will probably post more about him soon when he is more settled but I love him already!

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He’s a confident little one ❤

The dog behaviour class finished up last week, all the assignments have been handed in and now I am eagerly awaiting my results! I have also been sporadically helping out at the dog classes and behavioural visits too when I can. I had my first scare working with dogs – a nervous dog snapped at my hand fortunately resulting in no damage except a slightly bruised ego but an important lesson learned!

Just as an end note is anyone else as unprepared for Christmas as us?! The only presents I have bought is the office's secret Santa gift and things for Bonnie xD


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Bonnie’s 2nd Gotcha Day!

On Monday we celebrated Bonnie being with us for 2 years! Although she was probably just under a year when we brought her home, for convenience sake we will say she is 3 years old now. We didn’t do anything extravagant to celebrate or buy loads of stuff for her as she had already been spoiled earlier in the year so we kept our celebration pretty simple. Apologies in advance for the photo quality but my camera seemed to be a bit foggy in some photos for some reason!

We started the morning with extra cuddles in bed then as an after breakfast snack Bonnie got to share some of my yoghurt – she loves yoghurt and blueberries so she really enjoyed this one!

I love that ear of hers! Also love how cute she is when begging contrasted with her looking so silly smushing her nose while licking out the yoghurt.

As we had to wait in the house for her raw food delivery we played about in the garden with the flirt pole and the Christmas rooster stuffy that she loves so much.

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Afterwards she proudly carried her catch into the house where she proceeded to de-stuff it!

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I didn’t do anything I swear!
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All that chasing and destuffing makes a dog tired!

After a nap she got her new Kong Squeezz Jel toy (which was recommended to me I believe by Liezel’s owner over at Owning a dog with anxiety) and had a ton of fun playing with it. The squeaker did stop working only a few hours afterwards which was slightly disappointing, although she still loves it and we can watch TV in peace so I guess that’s a win!

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Oooo what’s this?
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Ahhh I love it!

Soon after finally her Nutriment raw food package was delivered! This will keep her going  for quite some time!

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Poser!
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Sniffing all around the tasty food!

After packing away all the food we were finally able to go on our walk up the glen. It was pretty quiet out, we didn’t run into too many people and no dogs bothered us so it was a great and stress free walk 🙂
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The rest of the day was filled with cuddles and treats as we stayed indoors to keep away from the fireworks. She even dropped me off and picked me up at my class so she wouldn’t have to be home alone with fireworks or trick or treaters.
Overall we had such a lovely day filled with simple pleasures 🙂 I am so glad that we decided to bring Bonnie into our family as she has completely changed our life. Here’s hoping to many many more years together ❤

For last years celebrations check out our blog post and also this album of photos from the first year of Bonnie’s life with us on Facebook (looking back on them makes me a wee bit emotional!). I’ll hopefully get around to creating an albums of highlights from her second year with us as it’s so nice to look back on 🙂


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Week in review – nearly 2 years!

Tomorrow, on Halloween day, will mark 2 years since we first brought Bonnie home! It’s unbelievable to think how this little collie has changed and influenced my life ❤

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This week was fairly uneventful except for the many fireworks let off! Thankfully Bonnie was not bothered by 95% of them and only barked at the loudest ones after being bombarded by them most of Saturday evening.

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Not amused after having a bath – she was covered head to toe in mud but we didn’t get a before photo!
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Make sure you haven’t missed any spots!

On Wednesday we were disappointed in the result of the Great British Bake Off final as we were rooting for Andrew – he’s from Northern Ireland too and such a fab baker.

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Bonnie was prepared for the bake off final – well as chief crumb cleaner at least!

With the fireworks and general festivities this week we didn’t have too many exciting walks to avoid putting Bonnie into any situations she couldn’t cope with but we did manage to get a nice trip out to Hazelbank park today for a good run around!

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It’s such a beautiful park especially with all the autumn foliage but it is slightly ruined by out of control off-lead dogs. I wish their owners would respect others’ space, I just don’t understand how they can’t see that their dog is a problem when it won’t recall – if you don’t have a good recall use a long line! I used to be afraid of dogs and remember the feeling so well that I would never want anyone to be afraid or wary of my dog’s actions whether they are an adult, child, runner, cyclist, a reactive dog owner etc.

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Off lead fun – dragging a long line just in case
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Lift off!
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Incoming!
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We love practising recalls 😀

We tried being artsy and getting some photos of Bonnie on this fallen tree trunk but it didn’t work out so well and I somehow ended up standing in poo of god knows what type of animal xD
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I spent another Saturday with the dog trainer and really enjoyed it again – I’m learning so much! I also had my first experience of holding onto a large breed while it tried pulling and lunging – thankfully I was able to hold my ground! I’ve only ever walked small – medium dogs before so I was very proud of myself xD

I’ll end this post with a very typical looking nail cutting scenario – note the packet of ham, phone used as a torch (black nails are the worst!) and plenty of belly rubs along the way!

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Hurry up and give me the ham!

I hope you all had a safe Halloween weekend and that your pets weren’t too disturbed by all the commotion.


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Week in review – same old!

I have a bit of time between work and my dog behaviour class so thought I would throw out a very brief week in review post! This week was very much a case of same old, same old. Bonnie is getting on well, the degus are well, work and the course is going well. I shadowed the dog trainer for another Saturday which was just as interesting as last weeks and I’m loving absorbing all of the information!

The weather has got very chilly suddenly and it feels like winter is just around the corner. This time next week (on Halloween day) we will be celebrating Bonnie being with us for 2 years which is very exciting! Hopefully I’ll get a few more regular posts up about her gotcha day celebrations. We are usually more active on social media as it’s much quicker than writing a post so check out our links below if you’re interested in keeping up with Bonnie’s adventures! We didn’t take many photos this week but here are some of my favourites 🙂

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I love belly rubs!
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More belly rubs please!
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Rare photo of all three at once! Love little Azoth posing for the camera ❤
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Bonnie wrapped up in the cold weather behaving lovely
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Stopping to “smell the roses”
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Those cold autumn walks sure do take it out of her!
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Sleepy little tongue sticking out ❤

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Week in review – Busy, tired but content

These weeks just seem to getting more and more busy which has left me a bit exhausted but I’m learning to cope and I’m very happy with how things are going. I have a week long holiday in a few weeks time though so I’m really looking forward to that although we still have a few things we need to buy before we go away. Anyway onto what happened this week!

On Monday I attended the 2nd class of my dog behaviour course. I’m still getting used to Monday routines as it means a full day of work, having dinner in the office, travelling to class then getting home around 9.30 and by that time I’m ready for my bed! In case anyone is worried Bonnie is catered for as we have a dog walker at lunchtime and my partner arrives home at the normal time.

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How we feel about Monday mornings!

On Tuesday we worked from home and at lunchtime we took Bonnie into town with us to get some milkshakes as a treat (this may be becoming an awful habit xD). She wore her “Do not disturb” vest and it seemed to make some people aware. She was on her best behaviour and as we were heading back to the car we came across a westie that was barking and lunging at Bonnie while tied outside a shop. Bonnie startled a bit but kept her cool and walked beside me calmly then.

Then at the top of the street there was a woman with three dogs – one terrier type was again barking and lunging, but Bonnie still kept her cool. The woman seemed to purposely avoid coming near us so hopefully the vest is working! It was quite funny as some elderly women nearby seemed to be commenting on how well behaved Bonnie was in comparison to the two shrieking dogs xD Tuesday was a long work day and I didn’t get finished work until well after dinner time so I didn’t have any energy to do a blog post or progress on my assignments.

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Tuesday not much better!

Wednesday was a fairly normal work day for us and I was finally able to do the blog post on the class and made some more progress on my assignment.

On Thursday I worked from home and had planned to go out for drinks with co-workers after work but that didn’t quite work out! At lunchtime I took Bonnie out for a walk but we had a bit of an incident with a wasp which was just inside the front door of our house. As you might know Bonnie got stung 7(!) times in total a while back now and clearly is still terrified of them.

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Don’t jump Bonnie! – there’s a stream lower down over this wall and I’m waiting for the day I need to pull her out of it!

We did a normal walk and when we came back to the house Bonnie wouldn’t go through the front door. I eventually managed to get her in but she went out to the kitchen and lay down for a few hours totally avoiding the living room and front of the house. Needless to say I wasn’t going to go out and leave her alone and terrified in the house so I sat with her to make sure she was okay and she eventually came around. Later that night I collected my partner from the night out and by the time we went to bed it was well after midnight!

Friday was a normal work day and I was pleased that I had finally got a project sorted which I’d been working on for some time. But with how busy we had been this week when we came back from work we pretty much feel asleep without even having dinner. Thankfully we had the animals fed and sorted and Bonnie was very accommodating and just snoozed with us!

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That was a tough work week!

Saturday was a very exciting day for me! Earlier in the week I had contacted one of the trainers who runs the dog behaviour course asking if I could help out or observe at any of his classes and events to gain more practical experience. He very kindly offered me the opportunity to come along to his classes on Saturday morning and also that I was welcome to attend his behavioural home visits afterwards. I couldn’t believe my luck! I set out to met at his house for 9am and we travelled down to the location for the classes together.

The first class was a puppy class and the puppies were absolutely lovely and the owners were really keen and did a brilliant job. We had a Newfoundland, a Chihuahua, an Akita, a Cocker Poodle cross and a Cocker Spaniel so was a good mix! A Mini Schnauzer didn’t turn up so maybe we will see them next week. The second class was for adult dogs and it was great to see the owners try their best especially as some of them were rescue dogs.
Then we went on to do three home visits which was really interesting to see different behavioural issues and solutions for those. All the owners seemed really keen and committed which I was really impressed with.I finally got back home before dinner time so was almost like another work day this week! I am welcome to come back again next week so we shall see if I can hack it!

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Bonnie’s crisis – why does mum smell like so many other dogs

Finally today on Sunday we travelled to Pet Warehouse again to stock up on Bonnie’s raw food and also some treats for her Birthday coming up on Halloween day! Then afterwards we went out on a lovely walk in a local park. It felt very autumnal and we had a blast with the frisbee – Bonnie is starting to get the fun of the game!

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Feeling like Autumn now!
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Wee poser!
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Look at her go!
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Both ears up!
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Ahh so exciting! I love the frisbee now!
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Throw it that way!

Needless to say we are taking it easy the rest of today! Hope you guys had a great weekend and are re-energised for the week ahead!



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“Stay away” Accessories

We have done a lot of training with Bonnie so that she can keep her calm while out on walks as she used to be hyper vigilant, very easily over aroused and she loves to greet people. We have put in a lot of work on loose lead walking, staying calm and not having to stay on high alert outside and now in most situations she can calmly walk past people and keep her focus on me. Obviously she is still not perfect and this is ongoing training but we have encountered so many setbacks from people who just have to get involved in one way or another.

We have had people bark at us, do that tongue click thing to get Bonnie’s attention, calling to get her attention, kids at a age that really should know better and kids too young to know better bum rushing her and parents standing back and not caring to intervene. We have had people literally follow us with their off lead dogs after we have made it clear that we do not want to interact with them or their dogs. We have people who will come right up to greet her and before we have a chance to get away Bonnie is now greeting them in her usual omg new person I must jump up and hug and kiss style – and they reinforce it by petting and loving on her! Of course I don’t have a chance of discouraging her or her even listening to me saying “Off ” once they are reinforcing her and I don’t want to use force to stop her in case she finds it aversive and associates strange people with bad things or even worse thinks that strangers are nicer than her apparently angry and mean mum!

But enough complaining about it this is our action plan going forward! We have got the two items below to help discourage people from getting too involved while out on our training walks (we probably won’t use them for off lead walks up the glen etc because I don’t think much will really stop owners and their off lead dogs unfortunately).

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Love that ear of hers!
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Lead slip and vest in action

We bought the lead slip from Saint Roch. I really loved the selection from this site as it had lots of different phrases to pick from which covers all types of scenarios. They also have a good range of colours to pick from but we choose the bright yellow as that stands out well and people usually associate that with a warning sign anyway and something to take note of. It has a little handle with a popper so that you can attach it to any lead that has a handle or in our case we attached it to one of the multi length attachment loop things on our training lead (review here – we love this lead!).

We bought the vest from Ebay . The vest can be customised with 6 different colours, any colour font, 7 different font types and with any wording that you want on it. It also comes in three sizes. We choose size M, colour yellow with grey writing in font 3.Stadium Font with the text “DO NOT DISTURB”. It’s quite a light material so would be perfect even in warmer weather and the reflective bands on the back, chest and edge of the vest is really appreciated in the darker months. I really like that it has the writing on both sides at the back as well as on the top as it means it can be seen all around and although harnesses will cover the top message the sides can still be read clearly so is still effective.

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Without the harness covering the vest
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Photo taken with flash to show the reflective detailing

We had our first outing just earlier today with her kitted out (when we took the photos above) but we didn’t get a proper chance to test it as it was pretty quiet out. I did get quite a few stares from cars as we were waiting to cross roads etc but to be honest I don’t mind because if it makes even one person stop and think that maybe not all dogs like to be disturbed on walks then that makes it all worthwhile, it’s all baby steps!

We did pass one man who had to walk across our path so I told Bonnie to stop and sit, body blocked just a bit in case she tried to greet him and fed her treats. The man said gooood very softly when she listened to me so I guess he was being supportive of us trying to train but it was a bit random haha I didn’t know what to think. We shall see how our future walks go with it and update later to see if it really helps or not. I have also been considering buying a Julius K9 IDC harness because of the adjustable labels (and because I’m totally obsessed with dog accessories xD). I am also going to be more assertive and let people know in no condition to disturb us and if they do I will simply turn and walk away rather than try to explain myself as that never really works out.

Do you ever get strangers trying to call or distract your dog, or have problems with kids running up without permission? And do you have any strategies on how to deal in those scenarios? I’d love to hear what other people’s experiences are!


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Week in review – new phone & slow mo videos

This week I felt pretty tired, unmotivated and like I hadn’t achieved much but now looking back it was actually a pretty busy and productive week, funny how that happens! This time last week I got a new phone and I have been really enjoying using all the new functions and the camera on it, it’s definitely a big upgrade from my previous 3 year old phone and it’s nice to not have to always be bugging my partner to take photos or borrow his phone haha.

For this week’s walks we did a mixture of walking around our neighbourhood, into town, along the seafront and also to our favourite park Hazelbank to take final advantage of the summer opening hours as it now closes early at 8pm 😦 As always we are continuing our loose lead training, general focus outside and muzzle training.

Nothing too out of the ordinary happened this week on walks except 1. A small grumbly match between her and an off-lead lab but it wasn’t really anything to worry about and she came away easily 2. In Hazelbank while me and Bonnie were playing off-lead another off-lead dog came out of nowhere with owners halfway across the park and started a chase game with Bonnie. Thankfully since Bonnie was already in a playful mood from playing about with me she didn’t take offence and just had a bit of fun with it, but it was really difficult to get them to stop and the other dog’s owners didn’t attempt to call it back or even walk closer to help out.

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Carrickfergus castle
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Posing outside Shake Shack – we have become slightly obsessed with their milkshakes!
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Muzzle training on our walks – not paying attention at all as there is a bird over there xD

I have been having a lot of fun with recording videos especially slow motion as it’s so fascinating to watch things slowed down! The first video is after a few attempts at learning a switch sides cue while walking. And the other two are just fun slow motion videos 🙂

We bought a frisbee this week to see how Bonnie would react and if she would like to chase it as when we first got her she didn’t really know how to play at all. As you can see below she didn’t quite get the appeal!

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After so much muzzle training recently this is what she came up with haha

Our office took part in the Macmillan Cancer coffee morning on Friday and we baked some chocolate brownies to contribute. Bonnie tried her best to convince me that she deserved a brownie too – sorry Bonnie but not a chance!

We went back to Pet Warehouse NI to buy more Nutriment as she is really getting on fab with it. We have had no upset stomachs yet since switching her over so fingers crossed! She did great in the store but we got ambushed by a man who encouraged her excitement and when we said sorry please ignore her we are training rather than him acknowledging that and backing off, he instead encouraged her jumping, petted her and asked what she was training for and asking us to clarify multiple times. God I was so mad as both me and my partner tried to make it clear that we didn’t want to be disturbed but anymore we are just going to walk the other way than try to explain ourselves. When we came home we ordered a slip lead and customised vest/jacket thing to hopefully get the message across to ignore us as her little training bandanna is quite hard to notice so we will do a post on those items when they arrive.

Later that night I had a little chilled out grooming session with Bonnie (cutting her nails, trimming her hairy feet, brushing) and I thought it was adorable that she feel asleep between my legs afterwards although my legs were starting to go numb hanging off the sofa as I didn’t want to disturb her haha

Today we don’t have anything too exciting planned – we are going to have a relaxing day since tomorrow I will be starting my dog behaviour course(!) which means I have a 14hr day ahead so think I’ll need the energy for then! Hope you guys all had a great weekend and are refreshed for the week ahead!

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Looking super fit at the minute 🙂 not that you can see much because of the long fur!

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Ready for her close up!

Bonnie loves to pose and doesn’t mind the camera or our phones pointing at her at all. Here are a few recent shots!

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She was “hugging” the camera here with one paw on top of it 🙂
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As chilled out as you can get
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Wee hairy hobbit feet that need a trim!
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Less hairy front feet
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She loves being held like a baby – she’ll lay there for ages until she gets up of her own accord
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Her default pose now is a sit pretty – she offers this for nearly everything now!
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She even does the pose for our dog walker who captured this lovely photo on their walk
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Posing with the gang – also taken by her dog walker

The two photos above were taken by our lovely dog walker Ashleigh from Ashleigh Young Dog Services who Bonnie absolutely adores!

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All that posing tires a girl out!

It’s been a busy start to the week so unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to write much but I can’t wait to catch up on everyone’s posts soon! See you about!


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