Dog owners and left-bag syndrome

Update: Wrote this this morning, and then heard a big piece on the BBC news about it this evening! Very Woo Woo!


Dog waste – called poo, or mess, or any number of other more or less colourful euphemisms – is a divisive subject.

Would you stop your dog cr*pping here

A plea from the heart

Clearing up dog mess is the thing most often cited by our non-dog owning friends as a reason not to have a dog. And certainly, clearing up after a large Spinone with an upset stomach is not the most pleasant occupation.  However, anyone with children will have faced far worse.

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The Fair-skinned Spinone

Dogs scratch.
We all know dogs scratch.
But over Christmas and into the early months of this year our Spinone seemed to be scratching more and more.  We were reasonably confident it wasn’t the age-old enemy, fleas. For a start, this was a funny time of year for them, and anyway we, along with a large number of other dog-owners, have been following what we hoped was preventative ‘best practice’. We’ve been keeping his bedding as clean as possible, and using Frontline® for his outsides and Drontal® (and new kid on the block Plerion® once, but we struggled to get that in Ozzie – but that’s another story…) for his insides. This is not a cheap routine, although the liberalisation of the sale of these drugs means that in the UK there is at least a little price competition now. As we live in the countryside, Ozzie has access to all sorts of rubbish by the river, and we are often passing through fields where cattle or sheep have grazed, so it just seemed the sensible precaution to take.
Anyway, we didn’t think his scratching was likely to be fleas or anything like. We wondered if it was perhaps caused by the extreme weather conditions. Ozzie had been moving from warm centrally-heated houses to freezing temperatures and snow, and back again, thawing wetly on our floors, several times a day, for what seemed like weeks on end.  Surely this was likely to make him itchy?

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Not more snow…

“Oh no, not more snow!”

>> pictures at the end again!

These are words we had never expected to hear from our youngest, but hear them we did. The first snow was greeted with delight, but it wasn’t really very much, just a light covering.  But then, after the thaw, came much more – 15cms overnight.  More delight, although this was tempered by the fact that their school had already broken up for Christmas, and it is well known that the very best snowfall is the sort that means school has to close. We all enjoyed exploring the new white world, with Ozzie bounding around flinging snow everywhere.

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A Spinone in Wonderland

-> Pictures at the end! – Oz.

We are all, to a lesser or greater extent, creatures of habit. This suits our Italian Spinone, who is definitely a creature of habit. He does not need clever modern technology to tell him when it is time for his next meal, or next walk, or the school run. Although he handles change of routine pretty well, and positively enjoys trips to new places, most of the time things are routine.  I think this applies to most dogs and their owners. We tend to take our dogs out for walks at the same times, and usually to the same places.  This means that on our routine walks we often meet the same dogs and their owners, all out on their routine walks. This gives all concerned a chance for some social interaction.

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The loneliness of the winter dog walker.

When we settled on adding an Italian Spinone to the family, we thought one of the positives would be that it forced me to take breaks from work, reconnect with reality and get out and about – in short, walk the dog. And that has indeed been the case, and I feel all the better for it. But as another winter approaches, I’ll admit to mixed feelings.

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The Spinone Carrot Ninja

A 36 kilo hairy gundog ninja is perhaps hard to imagine. Amongst our daughter’s school friends, ‘ninja’ has become a verb, as in ‘to do a Ninja’. Well I can now exclusively reveal that our Italian Spinone can do a ninja, too.

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A Spinone on the Northumberland Coast (#2)

Sadly, the holiday is behind us now – holiday weeks are always the shortest of the year, aren’t they?

Warning! This post seems a bit like a travelogue. But it might help fellow travellers feel confident to visit the area with their dogs.

We had a great time. Great company, beautiful scenery, plenty to do, and good dog-friendly options. The weather was very kind, but the cold wind needed treating with respect. We were impressed with our holiday home, which had nice little ‘extras’ which we kept finding as the week went by. Although we were a little less excited about the immediate locality, we did love the old part of Beadnell, the harbour and the wonderful beach. It formed the perfect base to explore the area, which we would heartily recommend as a holiday destination. We stayed with a company called Stay Northumbria ( and are happy to recommend them!

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A Spinone on the Northumberland Coast (#1)

What a great few days!

The journey up to Northumberland went well. Ozzie had a good walk just before we left, and after a brief clean up he was keen to leap into the back of the car, knowing full-well that we were off on a trip. He has a fair bit of boot space to himself in the back, and usually settles down once we reach any speed. We don’t use a crate – although we did when he was a puppy.

Ozzie the Italian Spinone on Beadnell beach, Northumberland, October 2010

On Beadnell beach, Northumberland

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Packing the Spinone, too.

Delighted to say that Ozzie’s leg seems to have recovered by itself.  The inflammation has settled and he has been moving freely and not even bothering to lick it. This is a real relief, because we are about to go to the coast of Northumberland for half-term week and we expect plenty of walking, on the beaches, in the Cheviots, and around Berwick, Alnwick and the like.  We are staying in a holiday let with close friends. They don’t have a dog themselves – but Ozzie has adopted them anyway.

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Possibly, maybe

This morning the wound on Ozzie’s leg had actually opened up again a little, and we had some discharge, but Ozzie seemed quite relaxed about it.

After the school run it was back to the vets, and quite a long wait in the waiting room. Unusually, there were two separate German Shepherds in the room, and both were very aggressive, snarling and barking, which made the atmosphere a bit tense for all.

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