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I am Bella,

Dog owner, Seaside adventurer , Runner, Military wife and now Blogger…

An introduction to me

 

So… new to blogging, please be kind! I guess the polite thing to do is introduce myself?

 

I’m Bella, I’m in my mid-twenties and currently live in Dorset. I’m a runner so this will probably feature highly in this blog; I love running and like most runners I talk about it a little too much! I’m a newly married military wife, recently graduated university, moved home and entered ‘grown up life’. I’m a seaside lover and relish in the opportunity to take photos of it which is great because I live on the coast. I love the zoo, food (which will feature massively as I like to eat), shopping, sleeping (which probably won’t feature as you can’t talk much about sleeping!), fitness and going on little adventures. Currently I’m pestering my husband for a puppy so hopefully that will show up on here down the line (fingers crossed).  I’m dyslexic so I hate to say it but you may see a spelling issue or grammatical mistake that you will have to deal with if you continue to read! Although I do promise to try to keep them to a minimum.

 

I can’t say how often I’ll post as I’m new to this but it should be fun so watch this space

 

Featured post

Big-dog-little-handler: First week of obedience classes.

I have a very large baby: My mastiff-cross-Rhodesian-Ridgeback is approaching 6 stone, very muscular and pretty long! I am not the biggest person in the world at a just bellow average 5ft2 weighing in at over 9 stone.

The most common, unsolicited, comment I receive is regarding my dog’s size in comparison to mine. They often go as follow: “that’s a big dog for a little girl” (oi I’m 25 years old, that’s not condescending at all!”, “I bet he pulls you over”, “I bet you struggle to control him”, “can you hang on to that lead?” ( YES I can, tried and tested), “that’s a big boy he will take you over one day”.
Yes my upper body strength has increased greatly since we rehomed the gorgeous 8 month old Duke but I wouldn’t walk a dog I couldn’t, if needed, keep tight hold of. Dukes excitable and young. So like many dogs his age he can act as boisterous as any teenage dog would and, like most rehomed adolescent dogs, he was stuck in many puppy behaviours when he first came to us. He has greatly improved with lots of time since first coming to us. But there our some behaviours I would like to stop:

1. He does still jump up.
2. He doesn’t listen while out on a walk (although he use to!).
3. His recall isn’t perfect.
4. Dogs, bikes, tractors, cows are all things that cause great excitement and pulling.
5. He doesn’t follow commands around other dogs or big distractions.
There are also some key commands I wanted him to learn and learn reliably:
1. A strong recall.
2. A stay (when around other dogs he will stay while in the house).
3. An effective “leave it” around plants that he likes to munch.
4. To bark and stop barking on command.
5. And to stay CALM.
6. An Emergency stop.

This list is just to start; you gotta start somewhere.

Now that we have had him over 6 months and he is settled in our home and family we decided to take him to obedience classes and after the initial comments being centred around my size it did make me wonder: is it any different being a smaller person with a big dog? Does my size really matter?
Now I wouldn’t call myself small, thin, frail looking or even slim; but apparently my size causes great concern for other people when I am holding on to the lead. My husband is 6ft and I quite often find myself handing the lead over to him when people are around to avoid concerned stares! But does my size really make a difference to the amount of control I have over the hound?

We turned up to the obedience classes as nervous as can be our hound on the shortest lead we could find. He doesn’t pull any more on a lead unless he sees other dog or exciting looking people; there was of course other dogs galore and an abundance of other dogs. Straight away It was suggested by a gentleman that we invested in a different type of lead as “Your partner is going to get pulled over by a dog his size” (he addresses my husband of course and I had successfully kept tight hold of the lead despite all the excitement). Internally I’m laughing. I’ve had 6 months of holding him in the midst of a crazed moment of excitement; I know I can keep hold of him when I need to. I often feel a bit self-conscious as soon as people seem to mention my control of Duke is limited by my weight of height. I tried to look positive and like I wasn’t offended or taking it personally; perhaps it wasn’t meant the way I was taking it.

Our biggest battle is keeping Duke’s attention on us while other dogs are around so of course there was much pulling and not much following of commands (even the ones he definitely knows). But it’s his first time in that situation and he was ultimately very well behaved. He jumped at one of the trainers a bit when he took control of the leash to demonstrate how he would do an “off” command. Duke started to understand what was expected of him pretty swiftly and started to pay less attention to other the dog (only alittle less attention but it was all new). Of course after the trainer had held dukes real weight he commented that I must be relatively strong.

This was our first session, my husband and I plan to do two a week for as long as it takes. We will share the handling responsibility as he is both of our baby. But it’s important for me to show that Dukes size, given the right training and direction, means nothing. I also walk Duke the most as I love being outside. I am going to take in all the training gather as many training tips as possible and prove: Little handlers work great with big dogs!

Wish us luck…. And we will pass on any gems of knowledge!

Running: some progress would be lovely please.

Running has not been going as planned lately. I’ve made 0 progress in fact I have gotten worse and my times are slipping.  Especially since I hit a patch of low mood a few weeks ago. In my grump I let my running slip even more; and after two weeks of patchy running I have finally got back to it this week.

I kept my distance short, but last week I finally got my butt back into gear. I must admit I was helped along by a spurt of good luck: I got a new job, had a week off, good running weather and after a few lovely days I had the motivation needed. So with all this good luck I managed to get out 4 out of 7 days. I’d normal aim for 5 or 6 out of 7 and do more mile for each run but as I have been so flaky for month I thought I would take it slow; sort the motivation and then sort the miles after.

My times haven’t been too bad! But I have a Tough Mudder, the Great South Run and the Bournemouth 10km to train for. I downloaded a new album to try keep the positive mood. Just hoping I can reliably rebuild my mileage without hitting a slump again or hitting a wall. My running goals for the last 6 months haven’t been met and I’ve definitely not been feeling as confident as I would like. Its hard to believe this time last year I was training for a half marathon and felt relatively confident!
I keep trying to not compare my self to others, but its really annoying that even comparing myself to how I was last year is depressing! I need my mojo but most importantly I need to keep myself in a ‘good running place’ for a good period of time. the bad week, good week, bad week, good week cycle is killing me.

Any motivational tips welcome

For now I better lace up and head out!

Finding a second dog. 

We have been on a casual hunt for a brother or sister for our wonderful hound. Finding a four legged friend is difficult because I’m keen to make sure Duke doesn’t get pushed around by his new companion. 
The hunt for the right companion has sparked many debates. 

We decided a smaller pooch was key as Duke weighs or 32kg, when I don’t weigh much more than 55kg, two dog Duke’s size would easily outweigh me if they both where pulling on the lead! When we got Duke he was a nightmare on the lead and it took a lot of work to get him to the point he is today; and he still pulls when he sees another dog or a particularly exciting puddle. 

I would like a dog who will play, run and cuddle with Duke and of course us!! I like most dogs if I’m honest, but when it comes to our lifestyle a small dog wouldn’t work. I’d adore another Ridgeback cross because dukes been so amazing; but they can be quite large! I love large breeds. My ideal 2nd dog would be a Golden Retriever, my husband’s? A Bulldog. So a little different. Much debate ahead I think. 

We have Borge looked and seen wonderful dogs. But decided to take things slow at the moment and not rush into a second beasty. 

We are looking to rehome again. I like the idea of giving a home where it’s needed. We need a lively, playful, medium sized dog. Who won’t boss my big baby about too much! Much research ahead.

1) What breed, breed mix to get.

2) How to introduce them.

3) How to make sure our first fur baby dosnt feel like he’s loosing out. 

Bucket List update: 101. Reach our 1st wedding anniversary.

I popped this on my bucket list with no doubt it would happen; but excited for it to happen.

In 2 days we have been married a year. A whole, full, wonderful, unpredictable year. Has married life changed us? I think its brought us closer. In that year we have moved into a married quarter, gotten a dog, made the most spectacular memories and actually lived together. We didn’t live together before we had gotten married for one simple reason; Karl’s in the army so he moved around a lot. We would spend months at a time together; but this is our first house. No longer do we only spend weekends and holidays together, no longer is there a long journey to just spend few precious days together. And I love it! It’s wonderful. The move has been a big lifestyle change that’s for sure. But I’m lucky to say every time I look at my husband every time I think about him I feel this huge rush of love.

I remember being genuinely fearful that he might run away the day we got married and being shocked at his ease and calm. He was relaxed and natural and I the shaky mess. Marrying my best friend, my first love and my deepest love felt natural but definitely emotional. The 7 years we have known each other had been a whirl wind of emotions, feelings, disasters and romance; but 4 years ago we decided to give it another shot and we haven’t looked back since. We found ourselves stood on a beach  in South Wales and he calmly suggesting we got married (as though he was suggesting that we go out for dinner) and 3 months later we did just that.  We held hands, swapped rings and drank, laughed and where merry with our closest loved ones. And here we stand a year on and I love him with everything that I am. I feel like the luckiest person in the world and can’t wait to reach many more anniversaries.

The year has been crazy in all the best possible ways: we added a four legged baby to our family, we went on lots of little adventures and we have made our house into a home. 



 

6 Months on : where has the time gone!

We took Duke home just over 6 months ago. I’m actually in a bit of shock! It feels so strange to think 6 months ago he wasn’t part of our lives. 6 months ago I could leave the back door open without worry he would fly out to play with the nearest animal, 6 months ago there was no woodland walks in the rain, no mud splattered all over my kitchen, no eyes on me every time I ate a treat and I had tons of free time. 6 months ago there was no rushing home to let the dog out, putting cushions out of the reach of a mischievous mutt, no poo bags in every coat I own, my pockets weren’t full of treats and I had considerably less upper body strength. When we brought a 6 stone, nervous, energetic 8 month old ridgeback mastiff cross we had no idea how much joy he would bring into our lives.

I had nagged and nagged for a dog. I really wanted a third member of our family; I wanted them to be four legged and furry. My husband Karl wanted a dog but was set on a bull dog (and on not having one quite so soon). Being the wonderful husband he is he regularly looked online at different dogs for adoption or sale. We both researched dogs, training, breeds and everything we could think of. One day he came across a dog advertised on the Blue cross website; he applied and we had no response. I was devastated I felt we were a perfect home for a four legged friend of any kind; Active, young, experienced with dogs, child free and willing to put 100% in. A few weeks later with no response Karl sent me a screenshot of Duke from the internet. I fell in love instantly. Karl wasn’t sure! He was worried about the breed mix, size and lots of other wise worries. We went to see Duke and I fell more and more in love. I don’t think I have ever nagged him as much as I did that day! And when he finally agreed I think my heart stopped. For all his worries Karl fell in love with Duke just as hard as I did.

Duke was terrified of so many things, pulled like crazy on the lead, jumped up continually, mouthed incessantly, couldn’t be let of the lead without chaos, went mental every time we saw another dog (out of extreme excitement) and humped things whenever we told him off!! He was also very sweet, cuddly, had soulful eyes and was extremely loving! The only accident he had in the house was when we moved his cage; I think he though we were getting rid of him! With a trainer his lead pulling has gotten so much better, to the point now that pulling does happen every now and again on a walk but isn’t continual throughout, it is becoming more and more infrequent. His mouthing to decreased with firmness and consistency. He is so much braver and his tail is up high on walks, no longer between his legs all the time. He still gets a bit excited about other dog particularly on the lead …but that is a work in progress. With the help of other owners and their four-legged babies he is well socialised and knows how to play with others. I’ve even made friends because of meeting people due to duke. He’s often let off the lead and when he is he approaches other dogs well, plays well and will even leave other dogs alone (although that still needs some work). His recall is getting more reliable but for now we keep very close. He rarely humps, in fact since we had him ‘Fixed’ I don’t think I have seen him hump anything. He still loves a cuddle and loves attention; and I love cuddling him! He’s fabulous with the children in our lives and is so gentle with them. He is daft and full of character. He picks up tricks wonderfully and very much holds a place in both mine and my husband’s hearts. He’s well and truly a member of our family!

Where do we go from here? Well I really hope to find Duke a brother or sister. Another dog to keep him company, to be a playmate and of course for us to love. I want to get Duke to an obedience class. We do a lot of training at home but I think it’s time to step that up. I would like his recall to be much more reliable and for him to be able to listen to us when other dogs are around; particularly when on the lead. I would also like him to stop barking at me when he thinks I’m ignoring him! But I think he’s a bit spoilt and knows I love to give him attention.
We have lots of years of cuddles and of course rolling in muddy puddles! Here is some lovely photos documenting the last 6 months…

 

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” I decided very quickly that I like to cuddle”

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“I’m a big softy”

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Duke very quickly took over the sofa

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he proved to be a good pub companion!

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Naps are a big part of his day!

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Training was sometimes brilliant…. other times he didn’t listen

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His Cuddles are always brilliant

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He is daft to the core.
 

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He loves to photo bomb
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Running on a waist lead is a work in progress
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He did not like the cone of shame

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He made friends easily

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“I Love my ball”

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He’s daft

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Loves sleep

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Baths not so much

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He high fives

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He plays a good game of fetch

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He loves muddy puddles
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He loves his daddy

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and he apparently loves cows

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“I’m super good at catching”

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He is my boy

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He got over his fear of the sea

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He’s really good 90% of the time

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He loves cuddling his mum

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He is beautifal

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He loves the sea
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He also loves the forest
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“I hear something”
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Family
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Gin is joy. 

We have lived around or visited  wareham requently for a little while now. Some how we have managed to miss the amazingness that is The Red Lion. 

It looks like a standard village/town pub a local that you might visit if desperate for a bit in town but nothing special. 
The lure for us? Gin. I spotted a sign a few weeks ago “over 200 Gins”. Naturally that court my eye because … well Gin!! 

We invited a friend for dinner so we all ate out. Now the Gin collection was impressive. But they haven’t got a list of the Gins they carry. This is because they change them a lot. BUT if your like me and can’t remember which one you tried 30 minutes ago not having a list is a shame. I vow to write it down in some way next time.

 Between the three of us we tried 9 Gins. Siping and trying what the others had ordered. I adored the chilli one; but because of the lack of a list I can’t tell you who the manufacturer is! It was lovely though. Really warm and subtle enough to not overpower my dinner. 

We had dinner there to. Which was surprising good. But most importantly really well priced! ( the reason this is important is because Gin has become very trendy and trendy often translates to over priced!!) 

The three of us ate, had three drinks each (the boys had doubles) and the boys had deserts. All for £75. I’m pretty impressed with that. 

The atmosphere in the pub was very calm and the staff lovely. Such a good evening. Definitely not what I expected in the middle of wareham. We will be back. 

Not feeling myself this week.

 For reasons I won’t specify this week has been hard for me. Maybe the hardest week in a very long, long time. I find myself as a result neglecting my running, not eating properly, missing out on sleep and being a bit of a grump. It’s hard sometimes when you hit a low. It can be hard to re-level yourself and feel like normal, for me at least, it can be easy to stay bogged down in my low mood. But I have a secret weapon; my husband, my friends, a glass of gin and juice (or maybe two) and of course the dog!

If only I had Duke the days I had boyfriends that didn’t text back!!! And when I was writing my dissertation; it’s hard to be stressed or to over think when the dog needs a walk and 100% of your attention. Especially when that dog is 6 stone of madness who will nag and nag until you take them out and cause chaos if you don’t pay attention to them! Throwing a ball around with the pooch is its own kind of therapy. not to mention it’s always nice to have a cuddle and feel loved; especially when I’m not showing myself a lot of love.

There are few things in the world that make me laugh and forget my worries. My husband is one of those. Always in my corner, always fighting on my side. He is my biggest advocate, constant supporter and toughest defender. He does his best to fix a problem. If it can’t be fixed? He gives me unwavering support. I’m not saying I can’t fight my own battles, I’m tough when I need to be, but it’s nice knowing that there is forever someone fighting alongside you.  Plus, when I’m in a grump he will just annoy me till I smile. This week, as always, he has been amazing. He can see the low mood on my face even when I think I’m hiding it, he can read it in my body language, and sets out to let me know all will be okay.

with all the chaos of this week I was careful who I confided in. its a universal truth that you cant trust everyone.  Its not always everyone you reach out to with give you the support you need. Those reached out to this week  where suitably outraged and offered their ear and support. I’m lucky to say I have made some good friends. Having my feeling validated made me feel much better. But most importantly I spoke to friends who I knew would put me straight if I need it. Sometime a brew and a chat makes all the difference right?

 

 My best friend listens to my rambling and helps me make sense of my thinking, always, she’s great. Validates my thinking with reasoned argument. But most importantly takes my out of the blue phone calls and answers my emotional texts. Friends are important, the family we choose, having at least one good friend makes such a difference. I think I would go mad without my best friend. She had been there when I have been utterly irrational and helped me rationalises seemingly impossible situations.

When all the tears have been cried, all the manic attempts to fix the situation have been exhausted and I’m finally starting to feel better… I pour the glass of gin! I’m really careful not to drink when I really feel I need one. If I feel desperate for a drink it’s time for a brew! But now I’m feeling better I can pour a glass. The knowledge in the back of my head that I must be doing a lot better if I’m allowing myself to have a drink. Self medicating can be far to easily done.

Most importantly this week has reminded me that its okay to not feel okay, to be cross or sad. Its okay to have those days or even weeks where you want to cry. I’m lucky to have those wonderful fail safes when things aren’t right. When things are hard. But its okay to feel out of control. Not matter how many wonderful people and things you have in your life, no matter much love, its okay to have a bad week. To cry, shout, feel like things wont go your way. Because sometimes things just aren’t okay.

Even feeling as sad as I have this week: I’m so lucky. I’m not quite feeling myself today but I’m making plans to see my best friend, have just been for a wind walk with my crazy hound, tomorrow I plan for a long run, I have a glass of gin and I’m waiting for my wonderful husband to come home. Things will be okay.

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Weeks 25: Duke meets the family.

As usual Duke has had a busy week; we have had family round. The nieces and nephews! This was a a big test for him. Could he stay calm? Could he be relaxed? He was so good. He was a star. He chilled out, played nicely and was relaxed most of their stay. He was gentle and patient with children. However he didn’t like the water balloons! Water balloons where not his friend. I tried to make sure we took some time the three of us to relax together at the end of each night and give him some individual attention. We took some walks just us and gave him space to retreat to if he had had enough. He’s stopped barking at karl’s dad, thank goodness, and seems less unsettled about people being in the house. 

We took Duke to the beach with the children. I let Duke off the lead while the beach was quiet but kept him on when it got busy. I didn’t want it to be too much for him. He was pretty good. He loves the sea but once he got tiered he was happy to lay next to me and relax. Keeping a close eye on the kids! 


He loves the sea but will only go in up to his belly. No matter what we try he is still too scared! 

Dukes training continues (and I’m guessing will never end). We have been trying him on loads of different leads. I use a small lead when to teach him to stay close. I mostly use it if I’m going to let him off the lead to play fetch. I’m hopeful it will teach him that he need to stay close by; I also feel much more in control when I need to redirect him or when I’m trying to introduce a new command while walking. Since using it there has been much more slack on the larger leads. As intended he stays pretty close-by most of the time and hardly pulls! His exstendable lead is for when I’m not going to let him off; it gives him freedom to roam as it’s not always practical to let him off. 


Thankfully we have a lot less lead pulling these days ! Win! 

We have a new command “back off” which is supposed to get Duke to stop focusing his attention on a dog/animal or person. He’s treated every time he responds to the command by walking away from the person/animal. It’s early days but we will see! My hope is it will help me when he tries to make friends with dogs who are agressive/scared or when he tries to make buddies of runners. 

We have been working on Duke’s impulse control. We have been throwing the ball but telling him to wait rather than fly after it straight away.  Waiting till he is told to go and get it. He seems to be following the command quite well , he loves his ball so it’s a good way to teach him to wait for something that makes him excited. In fact he loves the ball so much that if it’s in my hand there is no way he like take his eyes off me. Unless of course another dog comes along. And even then after he had said hello his focus is back on the ball.


He has been realy good off the lead. Free of distractions he comes back when called. His recall however isn’t perfect still. Every now and then he just does his own thing! But he doesn’t wonder too far and he doesn’t cause too much chaos thankfully. 


We still have a way to go but Dukes come so far and I’m so proud. 

100 days of happiness: 100 days done. 

100 days of pinpointing the little and big things that bring me happiness. When I started it I didn’t realise how much good it would do me. I live a life full of happiness even in my worst days there is always something wonderful to focus on. 
I suppose there is no secret to living a happy life, no formula, no instruction cheat sheet no number one rule we can all follow in order to live happily. You have to find what makes you happy. 


For me happiness is… my husband. Nothing revolutionary I’m sure. But my husband works everyday to bring me happiness. He’s my best friend, my soulmate, he brings a ray of sunshine to every day. I try to do the same for him and that makes me even happier. Trips out together, days at the beach or lazy days at home; a million reasons to smile. 



For me happiness is… my little circle of friends. I have a small group of friends just a few people. Spending time with them brings joy. Weather that’s a phone call or a trip away. I aim to keep the people in my life who make me happy. People who bring you grief shouldn’t be given the time of day. 


For me happiness is… my dog. My dog bring me so much happiness. He is daft, crazy, cute and wonderful. He makes me smile definitely. He improves my day. whether it’s dog walks or dog cuddles Duke brings endless joy. Haveing a pet is great! And of course I think my boy is the best pet anyone could wish for. 🐕


For me happiness is… a cup of tea or a good snack. So the reason I’m not thin is I love food; food brings happiness. I couldn’t live life watching what I eat continuously. Eating clean is beyond me. I’ll eat a salad but I’ll happily follow it up with a massive slice of cake. And as British as it sounds Tea is the savour of the soul! It brings goodness to the day. Sometimes you can’t avoid having a bad, but you can make it better with a brew. I love loose leaf tea; I like the ritual of making it, pausing my day, taking the time to do something that makes me happy.


For me happiness is… a run . Especially a run in the rain. I love to run in the rain (now we aren’t talking a down pour). But the rain helps me feel alive. I love it. It also stops me over heating. 

For me happiness is… sleeping. Sleep is important to me that’s for sure! Whether it’s a nap, lay in or an early night I am one of those people who not only needs sleep but sleep makes me happy. Lack of sleep kills me. It just breaks me. Taking time to recover from long days is important. 

Happiness is a good book, a day off, a good movie, a glass of wine in the sunshine, it’s a walk to the beach, a moment to myself. Happiness is all these little things. 

The one thing I have learnt? Things that don’t bring me happiness, bring me down or make me unhappy definitely shouldn’t be allowed to make my day an unhappy one. Shouldn’t be dwelled on. Not when there are so many things that bring me happiness. Got to shift my focus on the those wonderful things. Maybe the key to a happy life is exactly that: focusing on those everyday thing that bring joy.

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