Cat Attack

We took a trip away this weekend to the Peak District where we stayed in a caravan in someone’s garden (I love the things you find on AirBnB!). We were so lucky to have gorgeous weather as you never know what it will be like in Britain this time of year. The owner of the caravan did falconry and we were able to handle the amazing birds of prey and we enjoyed some beautiful walks over the long weekend.

We visited Bolsover Castle and many other stately homes and historical buildings, or at least the outsides of them. As much as we love having Kubo around, it does somewhat limit what we can do. Unless we leave him in the car we are normally restrained to the grounds only; it is completely understandable although with one, we weren’t even allowed to go onto the grounds. Often it is not suitable to leave him in the vehicle: this weekend it was just way too. He is part of the family anyway so we wouldn’t want to leave him really. Luckily, with two of us, we tend to have one person manage the dog whilst the other goes inside to ave a nose and learn.

a girl and her border collie
Enjoying the views from Bolsover Castle

We found a cavern in Castleton which allowed dogs inside. This was a pleasant surprise – we are getting used to not being able to do as much due to having the dog with us but it was lovely to be able to do this! Kubo was very well behaved, despite being pretty bored. He made up for the boredom by trying to eat all the sheep poo he could once we were out whilst we desperately tried to stop him doing so.

Dog friendly cavern in Castleton
The Blue John Cavern in Castleton

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was what happened near Chatsworth House on Sunday morning. The sun was up and it was set to be a beautiful day. We’d had a lovely weekend so far so we decided before our falconry experience in the afternoon, we would visit Chatsworth and have a walk around. To allow Kubo some time off the lead we decided to walk in the non-livestock fields behind the garden centre. The entrance to the fields was up a single track road with farm houses on either side. Kubo found huge sticks (branches) to run around in in the fields with as well as many mucky puddles but we didn’t mind – after all, a muddy dog is a happy dog. It was a perfect start to the morning, walking alongside the river with lambs prancing around on the opposite bank and we planned to visit the café for a well earned breakfast.

As we came back through the gate to the road we noticed that the last house had their dogs out in the lane. Kubo was back on his retractable lead and greeted the two Labradors nicely. I saw a fluffy black and white cat sat a little way off watching but thought nothing more of it as Kubo was occupied with the dogs and hadn’t even noticed the cat, much less caused it any bother.

We were about to start walking away when before I knew it, this cat launched itself at Kubo, taking him completely by surprise. Claws were extended as it jumped onto his face, hissing.  He just rolled over onto his back, submitting to his attacker and was yelping whilst the feline screeched and clawed at him. He managed to get up and ran to hide behind me but this cat followed and kept advancing with its attack. I unblocked his lead so he could get further away (it has an 8 metre range) and he did run away from this house but the cat chased him down, jumping on him and all the while making horrible screaming sounds and yowling. Kubo fell down again crying and yelping. It was heart breaking. The cat was going straight for his face while he was down. I screamed and presumably the cat’s owner began calling it. The noise of the animals was horrendous and I was nearly in tears. I had no idea what to do and the only thing I could think of was to kick this cat to get it away from my dog who was clearly very afraid and sounded like he was in pain. All I could think of doing was trying to save him.

I ran towards the commotion and in the meantime Kubo managed to get up and start running away again with the cat still in pursuit. He managed to get enough of a lead and the chase stopped before I had to intervene. Thankfully.

It really was a horrible ordeal and as soon as we were round the corner and sure of our safety, we checked Kubo over for any signs of damage – I was mostly worried about scratches to the eyes as I have heard horror stories of dogs who have lost their eye sight due to cat swipes. Other than a few scratches to his nose and understandable nervousness, he seemed OK.

Border collie in field
Kubo enjoying the fields

I have been left with mixed emotions after the incident and although it was only a small cat, it was so vicious and the whole thing was rather scary and seemed to go on for such a long time. I guess I am glad that Kubo is not an aggressive dog and did not fight back as if he had decided to retaliate he could have easily injured the cat quite badly, if not killed it. I know it’s much harder to control a cat; it’s not like it can be muzzled or kept on a lead. I feel if this had been a canine however it would be reported and I imagine either it would have to be put down, or kept under control in some manner. Kubo was lucky the cat did no real damage as it could have been considerably worse. Of course, I do also feel sorry for the cat to some extent as you don’t know what has happened to it in its past for it to react that way to a strange dog. Maybe it is just collies and it has had a bad experience with the breed specifically?

Kubo was on edge the rest of that day, barking and growling at shadows and even a bronze deer, generally keeping near to us: I can’t blame him! I just hope this doesn’t affect him long term as he isn’t the most confident dog anyway and I really don’t want him to become aggressive towards cats or particularly fearful. I am so glad that when we got home later that evening he didn’t take it out on Cally or Soda and still seems fine with them. Let’s see what happens next time he meets an unknown cat.

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Kubo tries Flyball

Now that Kubo is nearly a year old, we are able to do a little bit more with him and we had always known that as a Border Collie, something to focus him would him be a good idea. We have been considering Flyball and Agility as potential sports for him and last week went to our first Flyball session.

I had been talking to the captain of the team beforehand via Facebook who asked what his recall was like … this made me worry straightaway. His recall is OK … most of the time … assuming there is nothing else he would rather be doing! I was honest about this and expressed my concerns. My main worry was that he would decide going to say hello to all the other dogs which would be an awful lot more fun. Thankfully, he is good at dropping the ball so that’s something. Little did I know at the time that he wouldn’t actually be going near a ball.

I was very nervous going in with no idea what to expect. The car park was full of 4x4s, vans and estates: when we got Kubo out of the car, they all erupted in loud barking. We were warmly greeted by the captain and told that we would be running according to the schedule stuck on the board. She then continued her duties and I stood with Kubo, unsure of what to do next. As someone who does get shy and nervous I panicked a little. How would I know when we were due up? I didn’t know any of the other dogs so I couldn’t use them to figure it out. What did I do when we weren’t training? Most people didn’t actually have their dogs on them and they were all discussing races and shows with lingo that I barely understood. I did get talking to a couple of nice people, obviously about their dogs, although I never actually got their names (I do know the dogs’ names).

The club was indoors at a sports hall and I learnt that when we weren’t running or involved we were sat on plastic chairs in the corridors, watching through the long glass window. It reminded me of when my Dad used to take me to swimming lessons when I was a child and he would sit in the spectator seating (probably falling asleep!) with all the other parents.

We were called in within the first half hour which I was grateful for but I really had no idea what to expect. I was told Kubo would be held, I would run next to the lane calling him and he would be released to run towards me and the finish line, getting a treat at the end. Simple enough but I would have to run?! I was not expecting this. Sure, I’ve seen Flyball before on the odd video but I’m not sure I ever paid that much attention to what the handlers were doing. Suddenly, the women in workout gear made sense and my jeans and Converse felt even more out of place. Before we could even get started I had to empty all my pockets for fear of my mobile, hair clips, assorted change, dog treats, poo bags and anything else lurking in the depths, flying out. The next challenge was getting Kubo to be held. He did not like a strange person holding him around the back legs (I’m sure there’s a term for where they hold the dogs…) which was totally new to him and he thrashed and fidgeted. Once I started running away though, his focus kicked in and after ‘Ready, Set, Go!‘ he was off!

flyball run training
One of his first runs … blurry due to epic speed!

He did come to me and had his treat (a little piece of beef) but the next minute he was gone! He didn’t go, as I expected, to greet another dog but instead had spied a tennis ball on the floor and being all exited, zoomed off to grab it and play. Once I’d managed to get him back with me and the floor was cleaned up of rogue balls, we tried again. It is no surprise that he is a much faster runner than me so I had to start further forward and run quicker to ensure I was past the start line but the time he got to me so he learnt to run past the gates.

A few more runs and I was knackered! He was actually really good and after the first ball incident he didn’t run off again. He was never keen on going back to be held but he clearly enjoyed the running after. I unfortunately forgot his rope as a play reward but luckily with such a food focused beast he was content with my excitement and treats as a reward.

We were then done for a while and sat back in the waiting area, watching through the glass. Kubo did not go back in the car even though almost everyone else put their dogs away. Interestingly, a lot of the dogs didn’t interact. Considering how many were there, Kubo only met a handful. I really thought it would be a bit of a social for the dogs but actually a lot of them I found didn’t mix well with others.

We waited a really long time before he got to go in again. We learnt a few more of the dogs names (no idea on their peoples’) and we overheard many conversations full of jargon I didn’t understand. Kubo fidgeted while I tried to keep him entertained and calm and I mostly played with my phone once I ran out of contributions about the common topic we were there for. I did say something to someone about trying Kubo on agility too to find which he prefers. They queried why I wouldn’t let him do both to which I replied ‘I need a life too!’… I was laughed at. Apparently I am quite naïve.

I spoke to one family who had multiple dogs in the household and I don’t mean two or three but six or seven! They had a really impressive van which inside was fashioned in a way that reminded me of bunk beds for multi-level dog housing.

The second time we went in, we continued running up and down the mat, but this time with another dog running the opposite way at the other end of the hall. Each time we brought the dogs closer together until they were running on lanes next to each other. Kubo held his focus and watched me, in fact, his biggest issue was by far going back to the scary lady who would hold him by the back hips – I was actually really proud of him!  After this exercise that was us done. The training was still ongoing but we had been there for several hours already and I wasn’t sure how I could contribute so I managed to slink off.

Due to holidays, their shows and other generic life events, it looks like we won’t be able to go back to the club for at least a month which is a shame as despite all the sitting around, when he was working, Kubo really enjoyed Flyball.

The experience has left me with lots of questions though such as what is the etiquette in joining multiple clubs (since Kubo would have to wait so long before going back to this one)? If we go regularly will I really end up with no spare time for myself? I expected this with children but I don’t have them yet! Do dogs always go back into crates or cars when not working? Will I be expected to do the same? Why do people run other people’s dogs? How do people live with 7+ dogs? Will I ever understand the lingo? How long does it take a dog to get used to the hold?

It was a very strange feeling to be proud of a dog for essentially running up and down a mat but I was just really nervous that he would go off and do his own thing, maybe even be asked not to come back if he was a real troublemaker, so maybe a lot of it was relief!

We will be back and see how he gets on as there is a lot more to learn. In a couple of weeks I will also take him to agility to see how he gets on there. I kind of hope he really doesn’t get on at either one of the two as having to choose may be difficult and I do still want a life …

furry dog border collie moulting
Because one dog is not enough!

 

 

Shadow hunting and evil strawberries

We have been a bit quiet lately over here. As so often happens, life can get busy and stressful and things just pile on! I have been finding it difficult to have any down time and the stresses have built up a little.

Over the last month or so things with Kubo have been hard, also. Firstly, he got ill. I was so worried and as much as his relentless energy can be a huge pain in the backside, when he just wanted to lay around and sleep all day it was totally heartbreaking. For 4 days he would hardly eat anything: he would have one or two pieces of kibble and then go and lie down. We tried other foods and soaking his kibble but he always just took a small amount and then gave up, walking away dejectedly. He didn’t want to go out or go for walks and was stuck by my side, wanting to just lay down near me. I cried a fair amount as it was so sad to see and I can be a worrier. It turned out to be nothing in the end (thankfully) – we took him to the vet who said she couldn’t find anything much wrong. His temperature was normal, stools were fine and there was no vomiting. After another couple of days he thankfully starting eating again and his energy picked up. Before long he was totally normal and back to himself. I guess the vet was right, puppies do just pick up things, or eat something that doesn’t agree with them and have a few ‘off’ days but when it’s your pup it is so scary! I don’t think you realise how much you love your dog until there is a possibility that there is something wrong.

The other thing that has happened with him which has now started taking up a lot of time is a fixation on chasing (or looking for) lights and shadows. We are aware of how this can turn into a bad OCD, especially for collies, and so are putting in a lot of work to distract and redirect him but it is really hard. It zaps your energy. Our kitchen lights cast lots of shadows so the evenings I am on my own consist of desperately trying to cook by the under counter kitchen lights whilst simultaneously doing my best to distract him from shadow hunting. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried cooking in semi-darkness but it is not fun. He stopped laying calmly at my feet when the attention was not on him and instead busied himself with this behaviour. After a long day at work it is exhausting as you cannot sit down for 5 minutes. He is getting lots of walks and runs (as much as he should have considering he is not yet a year old) and we are still training him and teaching him new things every week. It just takes time but we will crack this. I can completely see why this develops into a serious problem for dogs if left to continue.

This weekend we are taking him to a local Fly ball team’s training to see how he gets on. We are hoping that it is something he enjoys and takes to as it would be good to get him focused on something. I am nervous as I don’t doubt he’ll run to get a ball but the likelihood of him then running around to show every other dog the ball and ignoring me is quite high! A new environment and new dogs? I feel I have no chance! I will report back how his first session goes – you never know!

The only other vaguely interesting dog-related news is that I have found a food Kubo does not like! Considering he is the most food focused beast I’ve met who will try to eat anything (including t-shirts and  his own fur he finds on the floor) this was a bit of a surprise to me. The offending food? Strawberries. He will take a piece if offered, spit it out, and look all hurt about it! ‘Why didn’t you give me something tasty?’ he look says, dreaming instead of beef, kibble, cucumber or literally anything else.

strawberries

Well, that summarises our last month or so. I look forward to sharing Kubo’s first Flyball experience and as always, if there is any advice on the shadow obsession I will gladly take it on board!

Arianna x