Posts filed under ‘Socialisation’

“Pretty Good for his 1st Show!”

So yesterday, along with tens of thousands of others, we ventured West to the Royal Cornwall Show for what was to be Mingus’ first ever show.

The day was extremely hot and the showground literally jammed with people, many of whom (seemingly) wanted to stop us and ask what breed Mingus was or to comment on his “adorable face” etc. This was a benched show, and lots of other gundog exhibitors had placed signs  above their dogs saying: “Please don’t talk to or touch the dogs as they are hot and grumpy and might chew your arm off” (and variants thereof) but Mingus was happy to see and be seen by everyone, taking the scale of the event in his stride.

As we’ve previously established, Mingus really doesn’t like the heat at all. It’s not that he gets grumpy or bothered, more that he turns into a floppy-ball-of-panting-lollop, so we were keen to keep him in the relative cool of his benching marquee for as much time as possible and then zip him straight to the ring when the class time arrived. It took Tim the best part of 6 months to figure out exactly how best to prepare Phoenix for the ring, (and even then things don’t always go according to plan – see Crufts 2010!) so this was the first time for him to learn about Mingus’ ring-time foibles. As it was he moved really nicely (as commented on by many who were impressed by how fluid he was for one so young) and stood well too, happy to be examined by the judge, which was a big relief.

We were delighted to be awarded 1st in HWV Open and then take both Best Puppy in Breed and Best of Breed.  The judge really seemed to like him quite a bit, so we were hopeful that she might still like him when the time came for the Gundog Groups. Trouble was that time turned out to be more than 6 hours later on, by which time Mingus was getting a tad frustrated by not being able to run around and “do-fun-stuff”.

Despite keeping him cool and rested the heat took it’s toll too, so in the Puppy Group (we skipped the adult Group in the hope of keeping Mingus fresh for the Puppy Challenge) he was less than keen to “perform”. At just 6 months Mingus was by far the youngest of the 10 puppies in the group, and still managed to move very well (again, attracting lots of positive comments) but definitely didn’t give his best when stacked, when he decided it might be good to start leaning backward or forwards or sideways….

Nevertheless, the judge pulled Mingus out for her short-list of 5, although he wasn’t awarded one of the 4 Group places…so he was judged 5th out of 10 Best Gundog Puppies in Breed. The judge shook Tim’s hand, grinned and said “Pretty good for his first show!” and we can’t say better than that really.

The 13 hour show day ended with a joyous romp in the foothills and streams of Cornwall’s Rough Tor, when Mingus could finally let off some steam and much fun was had by all.

13/06/2010 at 12:28 1 comment

So that’s where the last month has gone…

Shockingly it’s been over a month since our last update…slapped wrists all round…we blame pressure of work and puppy juggling… so we’ll now attempt a potted history of the last month-in-the-lives-of Mingus & Phoenix.

Twin engine.

Firstly, like Phoenix before him, Mingus has been busy at his Puppy Guru’s training classes, the third of which is coming up in a few days. His initial foray into the class was undertaken with some trepidation (but then he was only 11 weeks old at the time and hadn’t yet started getting out and about to meet and greet) but since then he’s really got into the swing of things and is incredibly quick to learn and easy to train. We’ve mastered come, watch, sit, up, down, (plus the infamous sit-up-down sandwich) heel and wait. This week should be “stay”.

Mingus at large.

Meantime Tim took our little lad along to his first ringcraft class last week, mainly to introduce him to the cut-and-thrust of the training environment. Luckily he loved the whole experience and, of course, received LOTS of attention from humans and canines alike as well as some extremely favourable comments from several of the Champ show gundog judges who were present. He also did several pretty presentable laps of the hall in fine style,so, all in all, a very pleasing start.

Having an explore on the Common.

Back at base Tim is slowly attempting to shape Mingus’ stacking technique using the same positive training methods that (eventually!) worked for Phoenix. This time round at least one of the two parties knows roughly what they’re doing, so hopefully by the time he’s 6 months Mingus should have a pretty decent stack to show the world.

Watching the action at the Wadebridge show.

We all went to visit a dog show at Wadebridge in Cornwall last weekend in order to give Mingus more full-on socialization opportunities. Despite the cavernous venue and the many, many dogs of all shapes and sizes, he took it all firmly in his stride and trotted round with great enthusiasm and curiosity – again, receiving much attention and many oohs, aahs and coos along the way.

Ready to roll at Rough Tor.

Soggy-bearded Phoenix en route to the top of Rough Tor.

At only 12 weeks old Mingus is limited to walks of 10 to 15 minutes at the moment (so as to protect his developing joints) so he still gets to be carried once his allotted walk time is up…we did manage a quick trip to the beautiful moorland of Rough Tor on the way back from Wadebridge though, and this allowed Mingus the opportunity to splash around in the shallow river and see some horses close up. Phoenix and Tim then went for a great romp up to the top of the tor itself whilst Mingus and Adam want for a snooze in the sun back at the car….

It's all go on the dog-sofa.

Phoenix & Mingus are still very much besotted with one another, but (again, with joints and hip-scores in our minds) we’re now very wary of allowing them to play together for more than a few minutes. We currently running an alternating-dog schedule of play, walks, training and confinement which, although very time consuming, seems to be working fairly well, but can’t wait for the time that they can both hit the moors and beaches together.

Throwing a semi-point on Torrington Common.

Mingus’ big-boy cage arrived last week, so he’s now upgraded to a full-on adult-sized den, which he clearly loves, and voluntarily hops into when he wants some quiet time. He’s been completely toilet trained for a few weeks now, but still wakes up a couple of times each night, so the 3AM toilet run has yet to fade into memory (unfortunately…) That’s pretty much the only area that needs work though, in all other respects he’s a total delight to live with, incredibly affectionate and responsive and such a cutie!!

20/02/2010 at 09:00 Leave a comment

Sling Shots.

Riding in the sling on the Tarka Trail.

Mingus reached the grand old age of 9 weeks yesterday, and has been with us for 1 of those weeks, so it seems like a good time for an update. He’s settled in incredibly quickly and remarkably easily, is very eager to learn and be trained – again, the miracle of clicker/treat training works every time, in every situation – and he and Phoenix are now inseparable…

What's that about letting sleeping dogs lie?

More sofa action.

He’s almost toilet trained, and today, for the first time, he trotted to the front door to ask to be taken to the toilet – where he gets a click and training treat. After some “howl” issues on nights 2 and 3, he’s  slept well for the last 4 nights in a row, and, with two night time trips out to the toilet area, he doesn’t wake ’til after 7:00AM, which is fine with us!

Sling ride.

Mindful of that vital 8 weeks to 12 weeks socialization window we’ve been taking Mingus out and about as much as possible so he can get used to all the wonders of his world. Because he’s not fully vaccinated for another 3 weeks he travels in the same baby sling that we used for Phoenix, which works fine for a while, but he’s already getting increasingly frustrated that he can’t zoom around like his big sister, and after 20 mins or so starts to get very wriggly.

Taking in the world.

"But Dad, I wanna get down and run around!"

Ultra-confident, so far he’s been unfazed  by all manner of people, dogs, prams, cycles etc. etc. and travels without any concern in the cars, but was a little spooked by the traffic when we went out and about in Torrington town yesterday, so that seems like the one area to focus on.

Curiouser and curiouser.

24/01/2010 at 13:01 3 comments

Meeting Mum.

Mother and Daughter

Mother and Daughter.

Florie and Phoenix

Florie and Phoenix.

10/05/2009 at 12:49 Leave a comment

The (Half) Sisters.


Phoenix met up with her half-sister Henna (Ebeegeebees Razzie) together with her breeder and human companion Catherine today. Henna is almost a month to the day older than Phoenix but the two pups are more or less the same size and look incredibly similar to one another. After much bouncing  ‘n’ boinging at one another on-lead – and much to their delight – we let them both off their leads where they proceeded to have a good old tear-around.  One of the things that was really interesting to see is how the two “girls” completely tuned into one another and reacted to everything as one pup-unit,  something that we’ve not observed Phoenix do with any other puppy. Somehow both pups knew that they were with another of their own kind….but can you spot which is which in the above pictures????

02/05/2009 at 12:41 Leave a comment

The Business of Show.

We’re now in full preparation for Phoenix’s official first show – she’s in a graduate class at the 3 day long Taunton and District Canine Association Open Show in a couple of weeks where she’ll be showing amongst much older and considerably more experienced handlers and dogs. It could go either way: she’ll either show like a dream, or wreak havoc and chaos around her like an anarchist mob in a grump. It’s the not knowing that lends an edge to the whole thing….

Meanwhile Phoenix continues to grow apace and we’re hoping that she eventually slows down before morphing into a new breed: the GHWV (Giant Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla). This impression wasn’t helped any when we were approached by an admiring family when out walking recently. They said in an emphatic rather than questioning way: “She’s a Great Dane, isn’t she?”

Memorable recent canine HPR interactions for Phoenix have included numerous Weimaraners in a variety of shapes, ages and sizes, and a gorgeous pair of GSP (German Shorthaired Pointer) boys with whom she had a great romp whilst we owners all held a mutual appreciation meeting.  She also took a particular shine to Merlin, the spectacular Irish Wolfhound whom we met at ringcraft. Merlin was rescued from a pub in Liverpool where he was being “kept” by a couple of teenage boys who mistakenly thought that because Wolfhounds were very big, they’d make good fighting dogs.  Wolfhounds are *very* gentle and who knows what horrors would have befallen Merlin if he hadn’t been scooped up and delivered to his new and very loving home.  It’s nice to hear of a happy ending for a change…

05/04/2009 at 06:18 Leave a comment




Phoenix was very briefly attacked by a collie-cross while we were out walking recently. She approached her potential new pal, wagging and jolly to say hello who then promptly, and without warning bit her on the face.  She now has an inch-long and currently rather conspicuous cut on her cheek. We’re desperately hoping that this won’t leave a long term scar, but it will probably be some weeks before we’ll know. Thankfully it hasn’t in any way put her off saying hello to other dogs though, which is good.

Her recall and general ability to sit, stand etc. has improved enormously and she regularly manages to impress other people when we call her away from them. That click and treat thing has worked wonders.

On our walk today Phoenix was cooed over by a family with two Border Terriers who referred to them as their “border terrorists”, which made us giggle.

26/03/2009 at 09:37 2 comments

We’re Not Scared of Sinking Sand.

By the Sea.

By the Sea.

On the Beach.

On the Beach.

WOW what a warm and calm day it was today, too good to be stuck on the internet. So we packed a flask and some water and headed out to the beach again. This time we touched down on Northam Burrows which, when the tide is low, is really like being on another planet.  The sea was at least a mile out, so we were walking on the seabed with all its little pools and strange patterns on the sand. We ignored the story our friend Robie had told us about her plunging hip deep into sinking sand and just strode on to the horizon without a care…

Larging it with a Spaniel.

Larging it with a Spaniel.

Crab Hunting.

Crab Hunting.



Phoenix swam with a spaniel, splashed in the sea, dug in the sand, hunted for crabs and met a Weimaraner and a Pointer together, making three Pointer Sisters but with better hair.


Seaweed Hostage.

The light was fantastic today with lots of warm tones being emphasised because of the low sun. This meant that Phoenix’s coat was radiating an intense copper glow.  She looked great.

15/03/2009 at 21:03 Leave a comment

The Graduate.


Officially Socialised.

Phoenix graduated from Puppy Gurus tonight! She’s officially socialised. She is now the proud possessor of a purple rosette and a certificate. We haven’t attempted to pin the rosette on her crate because she would just chew it into tiny purple shreds. But it’s there in spirit.

Phoenix can now “do” – sit, up (which is stand), down (which is er…down), wait, come, stay, fetch, drop, shake paw, stand (which is stack), heel, off.



About two weeks ago she suddenly clicked into “learning mode” with a vengeance and is now at the stage where she can be taught just about anything and can pick it up almost immediately; so far we’ve taught particle physics (God don’t get her started on quarks), brain surgery and hatha yoga. We think this is because she has settled into her environment and is really happy and confident in every aspect of her home and routine. She knows what’s what and what’s expected of her. She’s also sleeping through the night now too.  Which is nice.

09/03/2009 at 20:31 Leave a comment

Trip to the Sea.

Digging at the Beach.

Digging at the Beach.

Collecting Shells.

Collecting Shells.

We are blessed here in North Devon to be located very near to several of the countries best beaches, and we figured that at 14 weeks old, it was about time that Phoenix was introduced to the joys of the sea and sand. With this in mind we headed to Saunton Sands on an unseasonably warm and sunny Winter’s afternoon (alongside half the working population of North Devon who had also bunked off work at the first hint of sunshine).

Striding on with Fred and Ad on an "overcrowded" beach.

Striding on with Fred and Ad on an "overcrowded" beach.

Phoenix met lots of dogs (including a 12 week old Weimaraner boy, the world’s largest Labradoodle and an even  larger and exceedingly bouncy, playful Bernese Mountain Dog) alongside many human admirers.

Into the Sea.

Into the Sea.

She enjoyed digging in the sand and hunting for shells, although she was a little more dubious about the icy cold Atlantic Ocean. Tim, Freddie and Phoenix all suffered chilly toe syndrome which took some time to recover from.  Chips helped to chivvy along the cure…

20/02/2009 at 20:17 Leave a comment

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