Thursday, 14 August 2008

Day 6

After a fantastic night's sleep with no barking whatsoever and without weeing in his crate, Branston Beans got a little treat this morning. We ran out of milk last night and so I needed to do an emergency dash to the shop first thing this morning. As Bran can't go walking yet, I popped him into a backpack, which I wore on my front, so that he could come with me and see the world outside of our house and garden a little more. He seemed very interested in everything and was quite happy to listen to me babbling on to him. He weighs considerably more than I'd anticipated though and I was absolutely shattered by the time we got home!!

Does this face look impressed with this mode of transport to you??

After dropping Fi, Luke and Tamsin at the airport, my next door neighbour stopped to talk to me and mentioned that they were going on holiday the following day. I replied that hopefully the puppy would have stopped his barking at night by then and she was gobsmacked. She hadn't even realised that we have a puppy! That pleased me no end as I've been worried that his yapping has been disturbing the neighbours. Obviously not though :o) I brought him out for her to meet and we had a lovely chat about puppies and dogs in general. Flora then came out to sit next to me and to get her own share of the fuss ;o)

This evening Bran discovered the joys of roaching....

That podgy little puppy tum was just crying out for raspberries to be blown on it, but there was no way that I was disturbing our peace to administer them!!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Day 5

Famous Last Words indeed....

Bran discovered his voice late last night and decided to object loudly to being put to bed. He eventually settled down but started up again at 1am! I was in a bit of a quandry as to what to do: should I go into him - thus teaching him that barking loud enough for long enough makes me appear, but settling him quickly; or should I ignore him - thus aggravating my neighbours but teaching Bran that barking doesn't get him what he wants?? It was 1 am for goodness sake - my brain was like mush! I ended up doing a bit of both and came downstairs, opened the lounge door and told him to be quiet, then waited outside of the door until he settled down. I was then stuck with the question do I go back to bed normally, or do I tip-toe so as not to disturb him again?!?

To my absolute shame, when I got up this morning, I found that Bran had done a poo in his crate :o( It had been there for some time, so the poor fella must have been telling me that he needed to go with the barking extravaganza. Hindsight is a glorious thing.

That's something for me to investigate today: what am I supposed to do if he tells me that he needs to toilet during the night? He only seems to "tell" me when he is in his crate, he doesn't do it during the day. So do I praise his awareness by letting him out to the garden - whatever time of night it is? Or is there something else I should be doing?

Our friends Wendy, Dolly and Wiggle came by for the afternoon. Bran was *very* excited to meet more labradors and I found it hard to believe that he will ever grow to be as big as Dolly and Wiggle! He did his best to fit in with the big dogs though.....

I don't think that Auntie Wendy liked him very much. I can hardly blame her - he's a particularly smelly and vile brand of poopie ;o)

I was surprised to see just how easily Dolly took to Bran. As an ex-brood bitch I just assumed that she wouldn't like having yet another chocolate baby around her, but she certainly showed me....

There was something very special about seeing 2 chocolate puppy farm rejects who were lucky enough to be rescued by Auntie Fi before being sent on to their new lives snuggling up without a care in the world (for the moment anyway!).

Auntie Fi then came for an overnight visit with 2 of her grown up children in preparation for flying out of Bristol the following morning. Considering Fi had only last seen Bran on Saturday morning, her first words on seeing him were "Oh he's grown!!".

With so many extra people in the house, I opted to sleep on the sofa in the lounge with the dogs and - thankfully - Bran decided not to exercise his voice and to just let everybody sleep peacefully!!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Day 4

At last! A quiet day ahead!!

Bran woke me at 6 o'clock this morning and I had to literally drag myself out of bed to let him out. However, he had not done a wee in his crate!! I'm so proud of my clever boy!

He objected to the fact that it was raining when he went out of the back and plonked himself on the back door step in protest, but soon headed off when his body woke up properly!

Wonderfully, both dogs came back in and spent half an hour playing whilst I cuddled up on the sofa, then Flora curled up in her bed and Bran curled up on the sofa with me and we all fell fast asleep.

I woke up with a start thinking that we'd dozed for an hour to find that we'd all been asleep for 3 hours!!!

We've had a pleasantly quiet day today.Well, me and the kids have. The dogs have had their now usual routine of wrestling and snoozing and eating and playing tug and snoozing and racing and snoozing and eating and wrestling some more!

Bran has been very good today at proving how clever he is: he has stopped chewing whatever he was intently chewing when told "no" and has happily chomped on his nylabone instead (when Flora hasn't been hiding it from him!); he has been perfecting his sit in front of the treat jar routine; he has been expertly jumping up on to the sofa so that he can attack Flora's head as well as her ankles and.........drum roll please.............I have only had to clear up one puddle today!!!

All in all (and please feel free to mark this down as Famous Last Words) having a puppy in the house is proving to be a MUCH more positive experience than I had banked on. He is just such a delight to have around and can make everybody smile with no effort at all.

Every home should have one ;o)

Day 3 - Monday 11th August

Another good night's sleep! I was woken at 7.45 by a little voice telling me that they needed to go for a wee. Again, he'd had a wee in his crate during the night so again the day started with putting the washing machine to work ;o)

Rainy morning fun involved my standing out in the rain in my pyjamas waiting for Bran to decide whether he *really* needed a wee or *really* needed to chomp on Flora's tail first! After spending half an hour racing around the garden, then half an hour racing around the house, I gave Bran his breakfast and settled him in his crate for an hour whilst we had our breakfast.

Being a lab AND a puppy, he's very food orientated and seems to lose all control of his manners when food appears!! However, every time he's coming in from having a wee outside, I've been asking him to sit for a treat and that's working like a charm. He's slowly realising that he gets a treat straight after Flora so doesn't need to try to steal her's out of her mouth!

More friends came to visit today - my heavily pregnant best friend Sarah and her nearly 3 year old son Zack. Zack arrived in a not great mood as he'd been sleeping on the journey over and needed to be woken upon arrival here, so he wasn't very thrilled with the welcome he received from the dogs! After a little while though, he felt better and was happy to pat them on the head. Bran started to go into his crocodile mode* though and so I popped him into his crate with a chew for a break. He happily chomped on his chew, then settled down for a sleep without a murmur of complaint. Bless.

Again, the little fella was ready for bed by about 10, so we followed his lead and settled him down. He sat and barked for a couple of minutes tonight, but then settled beautifully.

Bran - Day 2 - Sunday 10th August 2008

Wow! Very unexpected good night's sleep had by all last night! Bran woke me up at 7.00 this morning because he needed to go out for a wee - what a good boy! He had done a wee in his crate at some point in the night, but it's just a little duvet needing to go in the washing machine - no bother!

It was wonderful to receive a very enthusiastic puppy welcome alongside Flora's usual energetic greeting this morning - until the greetings turned into wrestling!!

As Bran only received his first vaccination on Friday 8th, he won't be able to go out for a proper walk for another 3 weeks and so his exercising at the moment is limited to hooning around the house and garden with his big sister!!

However, I'm going to be making a start on his basic obedience and get him used to walking on the lead around the house and garden. I'm also going to try and fashion out some kind of carrier so that he can be taken out to socialise.

My mum and dad came to visit later in the morning and to meet the new arrival - they were both smitten immediately! Nina, Stewart and Tom left after lunch - after trying to smuggle Bran out! - and we were left to settle as our complete, new family.

Bran started to flag just after 10pm so we put him to bed and we all headed up to bed to read. The little boy let out one little yip and then settled for the night.

The Bran Landing - Saturday 9th August 2008

"No name! The puppy has no name" were the first words uttered by me on the morning of Saturday 9th August!

My favourite up until then had been Frog (linking in to the whole Frogmella/Brown baby/Harry Enfield sketch that we'd been alluding too since knowing of the existence of our brown baby). However, Jacob was away up in Cheshire with friends and had made it quite clear that he disapproved of Frog.

Eventually we arrived at Bran - still alluding to the whole braaaaaaaaaaaaan baby sketch ;o) It stuck.

Jacob was due to be delivered back at home by my friends (who were also stopping for the weekend) about an hour before Bran was due to arrive. However, they hit lots of traffic on the M6 and M5 and the weather was appalling.

Loobie's updates told me that the story from the M4 was similar.

Tentatively laid plans were suddenly up in the air and it was just a case of everyone getting here when they got here, but I received frequent texts from Loobie telling me how beautiful, quiet, sleepy and handsome the puppy was.

Jacob arrived home in a flurry of excitement and Flora was thrilled to greet my friends, Nina and Stewart and their son Tom, plus their 2 cavaliers (also from Lizzies Barn).

I had just enough time to make coffee before Loobie, and her Puppy Monitor son Callan, arrived with the cutest little chocolate bundle I'd ever laid eyes on!!

Bran strutted in and said hello to everybody as if he'd always been here. My entire family seemed to let out a huge sigh of relief that said "he's home, we're whole again". I'm sure that that sounds like utter madness to those of you who have never had dogs but it honestly felt like the most natural thing in the world for this little boy to be here.

Flora adored him from the second she laid eyes on him. Within 5 minutes of his arrival, they were racing around the garden and playing tug and wrestling and playing hide and seek.

And so the pattern was set for the rest of the day: Bran made himself at home; Flora assumed the role of big sister; the children learnt that puppies have *very* sharp teeth ;o)

He made it very apparent that he is not afraid of anyone or anything, he happily wagged at the cats, he respected the personal space of the grumpy cav (with a little encouragement), he proved over and over again just how robust and brave he is by launching himself at Flora with all of his teeth exposed and we realised just how utterly lovable he is.

Come bedtime, Bran sat in his crate and let out 3 little yips then snuggled down and went to sleep.

Preparing for the arrival of a smelly poopie

Before I start on this new adventure, I'd better give you a bit of a background.

Our family consists of me (Sarah), Jacob (12), Sophie (10); 4 cats - Kevin (12), Summer (5 1/2), Mango and Mika/aka the Ginger Demons (1); and our dog Flora - a 2 year old American Bulldog. Back in May there would also have been our collie boy Bear (aged 14 1/2) included in that list. In lots of ways he still is, but physically he left a huge gap in our family and we all missed him terribly.

Our very handsome Bear.

After giving ourselves time to grieve and adjust to Bear's loss, it was decided that our now very independant Flora would be happiest allowing a puppy to share our lives rather than an adult dog.

My wonderful friend Fionna of Lizzies Barn Sanctuary (where Flora came from) promised to keep her eye out for a likely candidate. As it was, she came to stay with us for a few days last week and announced - as she stepped through the door - that she had to make a few calls about chocolate labradors that were due to arrive at the rescue. Upon making the calls, we heard that a 14 week old bitch puppy needed a space and so that was our plan scuppered as we needed a dog puppy to allow for the easiest transition for Flora.

However, the following day we discovered that the previous information was wrong and that the puppy was indeed a dog!! It was agreed that we would take him on as soon as possible.

One of the first photos that we received of the puppy needing a home.

Then my car died :o(

And so my wonderfully wonderful friend Loobie offered to collect the puppy and bring him to us. This is *not* the way that the rescue normally does things, but Fionna made an exception as she knows myself, my family and my home so well and she also knows Loobie well enough to know that she would take the best of care with the precious cargo.

Excitement gripped as we realised that we had just 2 days to prepare for the arrival of a chocolate whirlwind!

The garden and house had to be puppy proofed, treats needed to be purchased, suitable toys needed to be placed and the lounge needed to be rearranged to accommodate a crate. It was all done in a flurry with Flora looking utterly bemused at the random bouncing around the house and occasional shrieks of "puppypuppypuppypuppy"!!

Having only taken on rescue dogs who at their youngest had been 7 months, we really had no definite ideas of what to expect of living with a puppy and so I mentally prepared myself for the worst scenario: no sleep, lots of barking, destroyed belongings, chewed furniture, constant puddles on the floor.

Little did we know just what was about hit us!