The last few weeks have been quite busy with us going to a couple of dog shows with Akita Rescue & Welfare. The first was in Coventry for Suki's Canine Rescue where we spent a beautiful day on a rugby field surrounded by dogs and puppies in lovely sunshine. We were thrilled to meet 5 of the puppies that had been born into the rescue's care, two of which came with their new families, two waiting to go to their homes and were in foster care, and one that was handed over that afternoon. We were the stars of the show, everyone loving those little bundles of fur.
We were a little worried how Hugo and Pip, Hugo in particular, would get on with the puppies as Hugo likes to be in charge and is not always popular with other dogs because of it. We need not have worried - Pip was her usual, laid back, couldn't care less one way or another, self but it was Hugo that surprised us most. He loved the puppies and actually laid down with little Toshiko and seemed to be guarding them all. What had come over the bold, bad Hugo - he must have a softer side! And no, this does not mean we are having a puppy - two Akitas are quite enough thank you very much!
The second show we went to was our annual pilgrimage to Paws in the Park in Birmingham last Sunday. This is the show where two years ago we met Pip for the first time before bringing her home for good. Hugo and Pip were really excited first thing in the morning and seemed to know what was happening - perhaps it was something to do with us all wearing our black ARW tops or maybe it was because Toby took them up to Selsley Common at 7.30am for a good walk before we set off. We weren't quite ready to leave when they got back so Pip kept running back and forth giving quick little barks. Needless to say that, when we did set off, we had to stop five minutes down the road, before we got on the motorway, for her to relieve herself - typical girl!
At the show we met up with the rest of the crew, including Orange Dog (a.k.a.Marvin the Staffie), Hugo's rival, Shoga and the woman in his life who he loves to hate - Princess Tia. We had to keep these three out of sight of each other but, apart from that, they were very well behaved. Pip, as usual, kept herself to herself and showed no interest in any of the other dogs, just wanting tummy rubs and cuddles from the humans. Some of the puppies came to see us again and Hugo continued to be fascinated by them - unfortunately he did attempt a death roll (for Hugo this is a form of affection) on little Lexi but she didn't seem particularly bothered and kicked him away. Akita puppies are made of strong stuff!
Toby and I have had a few days off this week so we planned out a couple of walks we wanted to do if the weather allowed. On Monday we returned to Standish Woods where we haven't been for months. As we went earlier in the day and didn't have any time restrictions we walked much further than we have before and estimated we did about 4 miles - most of this is uphill so we were all relieved to get back to the car. We hardly saw anyone until we got back to the car park so it was a lovely, relaxed walk, apart from when we got a bit lost, but Hugo and Pip weren't bothered by that and had a wonderful time running up and down the banks and sniffing out different smells.
Following the excitement of the show on Sunday (which always wears Hugo and Pip out for a day or two) and then the long walk on Monday I only took them for a short walk on Selsley Common yesterday but we made up for it today. Toby and I drove Hugo and Pip to Woodchester Mansion which is only about 5 miles from where we live and another of those places that, despite living in the area for 34 years, I have never visited. What a gem! We arrived early, knowing that today was one of the days the house itself was open to the public and was likely to be busy so there were only a couple of other cars in the car park when we got there. We had already printed off a route for a 3.5 mile walk and set off down a long steep track, around the back of the mansion, alongside and round the middle lake and back through fields, in front of the mansion and back up the steep track. Again, hardly a sole in sight and we had a fantastic time in such beautiful, tranquil surroundings - and the sun shone all the time we were there. Just past the house Hugo made an acquaintance with a sheep although he didn't seem to quite know what to do as we hadn't pulled him away like we do with the cows on the common and they just stood and stared at each other for several minutes.
As the morning got warmer Hugo and Pip took advantage of any puddles left by the recent rain and paddled whenever they could. They loved it when we finally got to the lake and they could dip their toes in the cool water, and had a great time in one place where a lovely, fresh stream, trickled down and they could wade and drink to their hearts content.
We crossed a field that had big bales of hay wrapped in black polythene standing along one edge. Hugo approached these but suddenly leapt back - silly boy had only seen his own reflection in the shiny plastic!
The final stretch was the worst as it was back up the steep track and we made several stops (mainly for me to get my breath) but Hugo would lie down each time and have a good rest - Madame Pip was still full of beans and wanted to climb the banks in search of rabbit smells. Although we had seen a few people walking down the track as we went up we were amazed to see that the car park was full when we got there - the estate is so large it just swallowed them all up. Once back at home, Hugo and Pi both wolfed down their food and have hardly moved for the rest of the day.
I think we will have a quiet day tomorrow, but we do still have a couple more possibilities for walks so we shall have to see.