|Taken this week. Snuggled up close, as usual.|
|Hector, looking very much like a young dog, rather than a puppy|
Individual Update: Hector
Hector's mottled colouring and amazing fur never fails to take my breath away. It's so unusual (only 45 blue merle rough collie boys were registered in the whole of the UK last year) and so striking. He has the most enormous bushy tail and his white mane is starting to grow out. By Christmas he'll have his first adult winter coat and should look even more stunning.
|Stick in mouth, up to his mischief!|
Florian on the other hand is, and always will be, my little Golden Boy. He can't do anything wrong, and when he does we blame it on his big "brother" anyway. Florian is such a Daddy's boy. He looks like a little teddy lion collie and is always smiling and wagging his tail. He's nowhere near as bright as Hooligan, but is the happiest soul on earth.
|Golden Boy Florian|
And he's ADORABLE... I mean look at him, asleep cuddling his teddy for heaven's sake!
|It's actually a giant teddy mouse, not a bear, but hey|
It's ridiculous how rapidly they've grown, and you can see from the photos below. The first one was taken on 1 February, the day after I collected Hector. I remember thinking, gosh I could easily fit 9 collie babies in that vast boot.
|"I feel a bit lost"|
|"My, we've grown"|
Walkies and Leads
The boys adore each other. They seem to be joined by an invisible elastic band that extends a maximum of five metres when they're out on walks. Every sniff has to be examined together, every path explored in tandem, and they keep exactly the same pace. One always seems to keep a little button eye on Daddy to see where he is, and they will drop behind me as they get up to their doggy things, but they never leave each other's side.
|"Ooooh a sniff, let's explore it together"|
They're both walking perfectly off the lead by the way, when we're out in the countryside. They come beautifully when called, even to be put back on the lead. 2 years competition dog training when I was 16 has paid off with lessons for life in how to bring up a dog! Having spent 5 months now with Hector, and 4 months with Florian, I feel they are losing their "L" plates and are really starting to behave how they've been taught without constant reinforcement. That's such a joy: you put in the time and effort at the start and you have beautifully behaved dogs for life.
|Two puppies, one finger|
I literally walk them with the leads round one finger on my left hand. Hector will only pull if he's startled by traffic (remember, he's far more skittish) - Golden Boy of course never pulls and is the one who walks closest next to me. I don't know how they worked out that order, but it's always the same. Me, then Florian, then Hector on the outside. Walking all three next to each other.
Oscar virtually never wore a lead - I suspect these two will get to that stage within a year or so. For now, I want them on leads anywhere there is a road close by, just in case.
Even though they're technically distant cousins, they behave completely like little brothers. They play fight, knock each other about, get up to mischief, and then snuggle together in the evening. They love, love, love each other. I never realised just how much two puppies can give each other: even if I played hours on end with one of them, I couldn't replicate the fun they have together.
|Young tearaways up to fun and games|
They of course have a big box of toys at home, which they empty every evening and never tidy up at bedtime. The cheek! Florian is excellent at making toys squeak, whereas Hector is the expert at "fetch". Florian is generally far too lazy for that type of thing, and prefers to sunbathe, and wait for his next food. That is VERY important to him. Fat little fluffy bastard.
|A *very* rare sight. Florian actually in motion.|
They also have a box of toys kept at their Granny's for their visits, as well as a basket and bowl each kept in the conservatory. Here's a cute photo of them having a Mexican Standoff with their veggie burger squeaky toys at their Granny's.
|"My veggie burger toy is squeakier than yours"|
I've never been a believer in bathing collies: their natural oils do the job of keeping their fur clean, and in any case they hate mud and water and tend to be cat like in their personal hygiene. They get a good 10 minute brushing every day which keeps them looking great. Still, Ste convinced me that Hector really did need a shower, and I'm basically scared of Ste, so in he went.
Hector was actually remarkably good, didn't struggle, took it all in his stride, and it did do a nice job of making him extra-fluffy. Personally I'm amazed he's still talking to Ste, but he is.
|I'd have bitten him, Hector|
And my Golden Boy? No, he will NOT be subjected to this evil. Not on my watch!
Here is a lovely shot of all the boys together: Hector, Florian, Ste and Bruin (aka, Boggles) who is Ste's family's Boston Terrier. Yes he's really ugly. But absolutely gorgeous with his boggly little eyes and cuddly, adorable, soft manner!
|Who is the prettiest? GOLDEN BOY, of course!|
They have stopped squabbling about food and eat from bowls right next to one another. I used to put a guard between them so they'd feel secure the other one wasn't going to steal theirs, but so they could see and hear the other eating. One day I just stopped doing it, and now presumably they're confident that food isn't a scarce resource and they'll get their fill.
And WOW do they eat. They're on 350g each a day of Lily's Kitchen food and it disappears in seconds. I can't recommend the range more highly. The key word to look for in dog food is "meat (or animal) derivatives or by-products" - if it has them in, that means the boiled up skin, bones, offal, crushed heads, hooves and all the other cheap crap that isn't fit for human consumption. It could be from any animal: your guess is as good as mine. Derivatives and by-products are the basis of all three of the big dog food producers in the UK, as well as most snacks. Plenty of dog food has as low as 2% actual meat in it. The rest is filler and potentially harmful rubbish. Just look at what Pedigree Dentastix have in them, for example.
Check out the ingredients of what the boys are on, by contrast. It's 50% real, organic meat with a load of organic vegetables (which are so good for dogs) and a combination of herbs to keep their skin, kidneys, liver, immune system etc in good shape. No meat derivatives. No animal by-products. No additives, no preservatives, no fillers, and it's completely grain-free. It's healthy and delicious, it keeps their coats looking stunning, their breath clean smelling, their poo firm, their skin perfect and they seem in the best of health. As you can tell, I'm quite evangelical about it!
Hector's Champion Daddy
Congratulations are very quickly due to Hector's birth daddy, Ch Beldones Black Illusion (aka, "Boris"), who was awarded his "Champion" title in May. He came second at Crufts this year, and in won his third certificate in a championship competition, which means he now bears the title as part of his pedigree name. I've never seen a dog who looks more like my late, great Oscar - which is no great surprise as Oscar was his great uncle.
|Hector's birth daddy, Boris|
Florian is incensed, as his birth daddy is also a Champion, and that means the two are now equal. His mummy is just missing one more challenge certificate, at which point she also will become a Champion. He's desperate for this to happen as he will then be said to be "Bred in the Purple", a term reserved for those very few dogs whose parents both carry the Champion title. He has vowed to trade in his red polka-dot ensembles, to replace them with purple, and to wear them round the house to lord it over Hector when this happens!
|#1 On Florian's Christmas List|
Hector recently started sporadically cocking his leg up when he goes for a wee. That usually happens around puberty, at about a year old. He was typically advanced (he's SO big for his age) and did it just past 6 month old. He doesn't do it every time and he seems to lose his balance some times, but it is very cute. I've yet to get a snap. Florian is still weeing like a little girl in the squatting position.
|My little boy is growing up!!|
That's all for now. It's such a joy having these two little furry scamps in my life. I look forward literally every day to coming down and greeting them, to spending my day with them, having them at work with me, and seeing them asleep at my feet in the evenings. They fill my days in the most wonderful way possible and it's a pleasure to share my enjoyment of them with you. Thank you for reading :-) x
|"ENOUGH TYPING, DADDY, WE NEED A WALK NOW."|